Book briefs. The latest in current affairs.
World Enough and Time: Successful Strategies for Resource Management, by Robert Repetto. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. 147 pp. $16 cloth; $5.95 paper. We can have a prosperous future, according to this upbeat summary of the World Resources Institute ``Global Possible Conference.'' The key to success lies in the policy realm, with its many opportunities to seek an ``all-win situation,'' where people do not benefit by imposing costs on others. We must pursue the goal of sustainable development -- a strategy that manages all natural and human resources for long-term well-being. Mr. Repetto stresses proven mechanisms that can be applied to a variety of resource situations: (1) placing priority on least-cost basics, (2) more effective management of international common resources, (3) proper pricing of scarce resources, (4) efficient design to recycle resources, and (5) building management capability by greater involvement of people and communities affected by programs. State of the World 1986: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress Toward a Sustainable Society, by Lester R. Brown et al. New York: W. W. Norton. 263 pp. $18.95 cloth; $9.95 paper.
The first two annual assessments in this important series focused on the relationship between economies and deteriorating environmental support systems. This third report expands the theme, and scolds policy analysts and decisionmakers for failing to integrate economics and ecology. As a result of ill-conceived policies and misplaced priorities, there are not only financial deficits in many countries, but also ``ecological deficits,'' where demands on a natural system exceed its carrying capacity. Extensive environmental deterioration in much of the third world poses threats to national and international security that now rival conventional military threats. A few countries, such as China and Argentina, have begun to redefine national security and cut their military budgets. Brown hopes that this demilitarization might provide the model for the future of sustained progress in all countries. Beyond Oil: The Threat to Food and Fuel in the Coming Decades, by John Gever et al. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing Company. 304 pp. $34.95 cloth; $14.95 paper.
The world is now awash in oil, but these relatively happy times will not last. This self-consciously ``neo-Malthusian'' conclusion comes from four young researchers at the Complex Systems Research Center of the University of New Hampshire, supported by Carrying Capacity Inc., a Washington environmental group. Their study is the first comprehensive computer analysis of US energy and agricultural resources beyond the year 2000, based on the hypothesis that the supply of fuels and other natural resources is becoming the limiting factor constraining the rate of economic growth. World oil production is seen as peaking around 2000, and energy substitutes of any kind will not fully offset the decline in petroleum before 2025. As a result of declining supply and efficiency of fuels, per capita GNP will stagnate by the mid-1990s, and then deteriorate until 2025, when it reaches a plateau similar to that of the late 1960s. American agriculture, now heavily oil-dependent, will only be sustained by reversing land degradation. This provocative study seems to be a ``Limits to Growth II,'' updating the controversial 1972 report to the Club of Rome. Going Sour: Science and Politics of Acid Rain, by Roy Gould. Cambridge, Mass.: Birkh"auser Boston (380 Green St.). 153 pp. $11.95 paper.
Acid rain is caused by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides released to the air during the burning of oil, coal, and other fossil fuels. The evidence is now ``massive and convincing'' that acid rain is taking a serious toll on lakes and streams, forests and soils, water supplies, air quality, and human health. Acid rain can only be reduced by burning less fossil fuel, imposing strict controls on emissions, and installing scrubbers or other pollution control devices. These costly measures will add about 10 percent to electric bills in many states. Gould describes these problems in a clear and restrained manner. He also counters objections raised by opponents of controls, who speciously argue that there is no problem, the problem is not getting worse, the causes aren't known, etc. Michael Marien edits Future Survey, published monthly by the World Future Society, Bethesda, Md.