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Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit.

When all the bottom-line issues have been summarized, one of the most significant books about business in the 1990s may turn out to be Earth in the Balance by Vice President Al Gore (Houghton Mifflin). Of special merit, not only because it is well researched and cogently presented, this book should not be ignored because the author is now in a position to effect many of the changes advocated here. The thesis itself is well-balanced, because rather than set government against business, Gore invites all the players (consumers, labor, managers and politicians) to cooperate for our mutual advantage.

Cost Side Questioned

Gore's description of the interaction of Western civilization with the natural environment starts with a well-documented analysis of the environmental problems, followed by a description of the human responses that currently have been brought to the scene, and concludes with a workable strategy for the future. With this proposal, the new vice president joins the growing ground swell of experts who seriously question the cost side of the cost-benefit analysis when it is presented to the business community without due consideration for the deterioration of the global infrastructure as fundamental to the economic equation.

In his thesis, Gore devotes particular attention to the inadequacy of the gross national product as a true index of the nation's performance, suggesting we would be better served by yardsticks that reflect actual profit and loss. His wide-ranging, effective illustrations lend credibility to his conclusions and encourage the reader to follow the argument. The book's subtitle, Ecology and the Human Spirit, suggests the author's interest in relating the hard facts of the ecological crises to a discussion of the philosophical and religious assumptions that guide everyone's decision-making process. Without positing any quick, easy answers, Gore encourages us to undertake long-range solutions to our immediate problems.

National Common Purpose

The book calls for a new national common purpose and offers, in some detail, what the author calls a "Global Marshall Plan." He divides this plan into five strategic goals, suggesting the need for United States leadership in order for the world to realize these goals. An ample bibliography provides the reader myriad suggestions for pursuing specific interests. Mr. Gore concludes that "if we cannot embrace the preservation of the earth as our new organizing principle, the very survival of our civilization will be in doubt." This excellent book can well serve as a guideline for the interdisciplinary, nonsectarian cooperation that a growing consensus of the population believes is mandated by the increasingly dangerous predicament of the earth.

Albert G. Cohen has been a campus minister at California State University, Los Angeles for 24 years. He is convenor of the Network for Environmental and Economic Responsibility of the United Church of Christ. Reverend Cohen participated in the Earth Summit last year in Rio de Janeiro.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Cohen, Albert G.
Publication:Business Forum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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