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Environment Article
Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment

Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment By James Gustave Speth. Yale University Press, 299 pp., $24.00.

LIKE NOVELIST Richard Brandford, James Gustave Speth, one of America's premier environmentalists, uses the familiar nautical adage "red sky at morning, sailors take warning" to title a coming-of-age story--here the story of the international environmental movement. As Speth reports, the movement has had a disappointing adolescence and it faces dark prospects on the horizon. "Global environmental problems have gone from bad to worse and governments are not yet prepared to deal with them." Few are better credentialed to sound this alarm. Dean of Yale's environmental school, Speth has advised presidents, helped found the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute, and headed the UN Development Program.

His keen-eyed account chronicles the meager international response to deforestation, desertification, water pollution, loss of biological diversity and climate change. Lamenting the economic and social causes that accelerate ecological decline, he warns that "we have wasted much of the 20 years that we could have spent preparing for action.

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