Book reviews

In Review

Another World is Possible: Popular Alternatives to Globalization at the World Social Forum
William F. Fisher, Thomas Ponniah eds.; Zed Books, 2003 $19.95
Good News for a Change: How Everyday People Are Helping the Planet
by David T. Suzuki, Holly Dressel, Gary L. Saunders; Greystone Books, 2003 $16.95

As 2003 winds to a close, we’ll once again celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. While sometimes this habit is about as exciting as watching the car’s odometer roll over, good things often emerge from this annual ritual. We make fresh promises to try harder, do better, and achieve greater things. But, for the environmentally conscious, who face a seemingly unending mountain of woes, the energy necessary to accomplish anything can be sapped quite quickly. If you feel bushed just thinking about how the government pushes you backward two steps for every one you take forward, there are two books you might consider to fuel your fire in 2004.

In 364 pages, Another World is Possible spells out the problems of the world. Through a series of essays and conference notes covering such topics as violence against women, education, food production, and Third World debt, editors William F. Fisher and Thomas Ponniah provide readers with insight on the major thorny problems facing global societies. Not all of the material presented includes much introduction; this book is designed primarily for those who are already quite knowledgeable on the issues.

The contributors, representing countries in Asia, Africa, South America, North America, and Europe, present concrete solutions to the problems they address, spelling out positive steps for which activists and others can strive. The solutions may seem glaringly obvious, but clearly there are numerous barriers that need to be broken down in order to bring our world closer to the ideals presented in this collection. There is inspiration and energy to be found in the determination of those who are struggling to get us onto the right path.

Whether or not you are involved as an activist in any of the issues featured in this important book, you will find new ways of thinking about the world and the organization of the human species, opening your eyes to brighter possibilities for a more humane future .

In Good News for a Change: How Everyday People Are Helping the Planet, Holly Dressel teams with renowned Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki to compile inspirational tales about people who see their parts of the world not as isolated clumps of land to be managed and contained, but as integral pieces of a critical puzzle that faces mankind. Written with great respect for the diverse species of plants and animals whose rights to survival should not be superceded by human greed, this book will make you feel a part of the movement to wean ourselves from the destructive patterns that have been in place since the Industrial Revolution. Good News for a Change contains tales of the courage of people who have struggled against corporate giants bent on tapping the planet’s every resource for short-term gain. The heroes of this book are not only those whose names you’ve heard if you are immersed in the environmental movement, but also others who are quietly contributing in their own small way, generating ideas that battle disempowerment, and reincorporate ethics, morality, and science into our current economic system, finding the true meaning of wealth along the way. This book goes beyond simply providing profiles of individuals with the earth’s best interests at heart; by examining historical patterns, Good News gives readers a complete picture of where we’ve been, celebrating victories and highlighting mistakes, and spelling out ways we can adjust our thought patterns to create a better future. Without skirting the difficult issues, Good News provides encouragement to those who know there is a battle worth fighting, reminding us that we do not need a full majority to implement the desired changes. “Historically, only 10 to 15 percent of the human population has had to actively embrace new ideas for the world’s culture to change, radically and very rapidly.” Suzuki and Dressel provide a bibliography and list of organizations for those who want to take part in the radical revolution. As the authors wisely note, if enough people are on board to make the changes critical to the planet’s future, the movement will no longer be viewed as radical.

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