Robin Hanbury-Tenison has lived an extraordinary life. A former vice-president of the RGS-IBG, he co-founded Survival International, and established a company that values forests on their ability to sequester CO2. His love for our planet radiates clearly, for he is but ‘the beneficiary of the clean air welling up from the greenery below’.
Displaying an in-depth knowledge of ancient peoples, Hanbury-Tenison encounters remarkable parallels with modern humans. The Maya Civilisation reached a peak population density that rivals the highest of today’s nations, yet they overharvested the natural resources on which they depended. Hanbury-Tenison retraces the demise of these early human societies to proffer an urgent warning: we must learn from history, and mobilise what they did not have – modern technology.
In a run-down of some of the latest innovations humanity has to offer, he offers radical (and sometimes controversial) solutions. A microbe-driven revolution can economise food production and empower modern medicine; the ability to engineer weather systems can save drought-stricken regions; and by making renewable technologies economically sound, we can forge a sustainable world. Yet, beneath it all is a simple message: humanity must re-educate its relationship with the natural world and accept our dependence on the biosphere.