Bruce Nixon is a veteran change agent, activist, writer, speaker, facilitator and business school teacher and he is passionate about sustainability, global justice, inclusive democracy and non-violence. In this comprehensive book, he brings all his knowledge and experience into the analysis of the state we are in, how we got here, and – more importantly – how we can turn things around and create a new and positive society by facing “the biggest challenge in our history”.
Nixon began writing this book at the start of the credit crunch in 2008 and finished it shortly after the UK Coalition government was formed in 2010, recording the unfolding of the political, environmental and financial events throughout this period as he analyses their causes and outlines their effects. His aim is to provide “the best handbook on the environmental and economic crisis for Everyman.”
His writing is clear and accessible throughout as he explores and analyses the complex background to the problems we face. The book is divided into two parts: in the first, entitled “Making Sense of the Situation We are In: how we, 6.7 billion people, are robbed and our futures are endangered by a few,” Nixon examines five main issues we are facing:
- climate change,
- “peak everything”,
- the destruction of the ecosystem on which all life depends,
- poverty and economic injustice
- and violence, war, terrorism and the threat of nuclear annihilation.
Nevertheless this is not a book which leaves the reader trapped in some doom and gloom scenario. In the second part, entitled “A Vision for a Better World: what needs to be done and how we can make it happen” Nixon explores how we can change the very system that has caused the problems we are facing, emphasising the need to focus on the common good instead of raw self interest, developing ideas rooted in Gandhian philosophy as well as in the more recent work of the New Economics Foundation, and focusing in the power of participatory democracy to create lasting change.
Each chapter in the second section includes a comprehensive mapping of current thinking about ways of dealing with the problems we face, and offers extensive action resources, making this book a DIY manual for creating change. Nixon has gathered a huge amount of information in one place, offering potential solutions to address all the major issues that he raises in the first half, showing us the dangers of continuing as we are, while at the same time giving us the means to respond to the problems.
The book can be read from beginning to end as a kind of primer on the current crisis, but its clear and detailed chapter headings also allow easy access to information on areas of particular interest to different readers. This is a book that will stay on my E-reader: a handy reference guide to dip into whenever there is a need to review the background to the challenges we face, as well as to source information about ways of addressing them – a real manual for building a better future for everyone. Reviewer: Joanna Crowson: www.casagaia.co.uk