Reversing Global Warming For Profit by Bill Butterworth

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Reversing Global Warming For Profit by Bill Butterworth

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Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A convincing argument for the significant role recycling to land could play in arresting the catastrope threatened by global warming. Some of the detail may be too much for some lay readers, but for anyone interested or involved professionally, it's a must-read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 200 Date: November 2009
Publisher: MX Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1904312810

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There aren't many climate-change deniers left, are there? We all know it's there. We all know, too, that the world's population growth is on a collision course with the dwindling of its resources. The world's going to get hotter, its weather more extreme. Fossil fuels are going to run out. More and more people will compete for fewer and fewer of civilisation's luxuries. We're all worried.

There's another elephant in the room though: even if we do manage to get population growth under control, and even if we do manage to find ways of controlling the production of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide in particular, how will we maintain stability and sustainability of food and energy production? What can we do to keep ourselves that we can continue to do for thousands of years?

Bill Butterworth thinks recycling of waste to land is the answer. Most people know that farmers traditionally used manure from livestock to fertilise their land. Few people know that traditionally they also took local waste for composting and after time, used that too as fertiliser. Post-climate change, Butterworth's suggestion is that proximity recycling of waste can be used by farms to produce biofuel for local use and food for wider use, creating a kind of closed-loop system in which food and fuel are grown from composts made from wastes, pumping oxygen back into the system. The key to this idea is that the closed-loop does not rely on matter exchange with any part outside of the system.

My first reaction was "great idea, but how do you scale it up?" - Butterworth says it can be scaled up and gives some examples and ideas, and I didn't see anything in his argument that I could contradict, but you should read his book yourself to see what you think.

Butterworth has an informal style and is mostly very easy to read. However, the book - necessarily - does go into quite a bit of detail, and sometimes the narrative flow suffers for it. I don't think it's anything that could have been easily avoided though. Proofreading falls on the odd occasion and some tougher editing might have tightened it up a little. Overall, however, the book reads like a presentation or long talk and is absolutely appropriate to the practical approach to the topic.

We do need more of this practical approach in the debate about climate change, I think. We hear politicians grandstanding and campaigners being emotive, but what we actually need are costed and simple plans. Butterworth's closed-loop recycling of waste to land is without a doubt a great example of such a plan. The blueprint is relatively simple, relatively cost-effective, understandable by just about everyone, and doesn't frighten us by prescribing too painful a hair shirt.

I hope his ideas gain popular currency. You can find out more at the Land Network website.

My thanks to the nice people at MX Publishing for sending the book.

For more general reading on climate change, look no further than Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot. If you want to make a personal difference, try The Everyday Activist by Michael Norton. And if you have children who need educating, then Planet In Peril by Anita Ganeri and Mike Phillips is a great choice. You might also appreciate Climb the Green Ladder: Make Your Company and Career More Sustainable by Amy V Fetzer and Shari Aaron.

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