Just in time for Earth Day Saturday, April 22, DK Books asks What’s Really Happening To Our Planet? and offers The Facts Simply Explained ($19.95).

I found the book by Tony Juniper quite depressing, and likely shouldn’t have read it from cover to cover before going to bed; I was still thinking about the information in the morning when I got up.

Despite the scary outlook for Earth, the book is really interesting with lots of information broken into easy-to-read graphics, infographics, pull-quotes as well as short paragraphs of facts and details.

To make it simple, What’s Really Happening To Our Planet is there are too many of us living longer (By 2047, people aged over 60 will outnumber children), living in cities and using too much of the Earth’s resources (Two per cent of the world’s land surface is occupied by cities, which consume 75 per cent of the world’s natural resources) while demanding more energy, which in turn produces dangerous emissions (in London, England, for example, the city’s physical footprint, or the area it covers, measures 659 square miles or 1,796 acres. Yet its ecological footprint in 2000 was 121 million global acres or 293 times its size of its geographical footprint).

On top of that you have people who want more (“If we want a sustainable society, we need to get consumers to think about their purchases,” David Suzuki, Canadian scientist), and therefore waste more (in 2000, the world’s population wasted 3.3 million tons a day). And where does that waste go? It depends on where you live, but in the U.S., 57 per cent goes to the landfill, 12 per cent is incinerated, 24 per cent is recycled and eight per cent is composted.

So what can individuals do? Learn what can be recycled, avoid unnecessary packaging and avoid plastic bags. Governments can set targets to shift more waste to recycling; provide incentives to waste operators; and encourage companies to make more products recyclable.

The book talks about the acid rain, forest clearance, declining wildlife species and other consequences of people, and governments, not making the necessary changes.

I liked the tips on what individuals can do to help our world as well as the tips we can ask our governments to take.

I know Canada is a small player on the world stage, but I would have liked to see Canada in all of the countries by the numbers fact boxes.

“As human beings we are more urbanized than ever before, and we are out of touch with the natural world. Yet we are 100 per cent dependent on its resources.”

Sir David Attenborough, British broadcaster and naturalist

Something to think about this Earth Day.

A copy of this book was provided by DK Books for a honest review.

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