THE DE­VOUR­ING DRAGON

How China’s rise threat­ens the nat­u­ral world

The Australian - The Deal - - Ideas and Books -

Craig Si­mons; Scribe, 287pp.

Back in the 1970s, the Club of Rome warned about the lim­its to growth, sug­gest­ing the West’s con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion would bank­rupt the planet’s re­new­able re­sources. Si­mons adapts and up­dates the idea, us­ing China’s grow­ing ca­pac­ity to con­sume ev­ery­thing the planet pro­duces and the ef­fects of cli­mate change as ex­am­ples. The book is based on an enor­mous amount of re­search and it ex­tends way be­yond China, in­clud­ing de­for­esta­tion in Pa­pua New Guinea and drought in the Grif­fith re­gion of NSW. It’s im­mensely read­able, like an an­thol­ogy of well- re­searched mag­a­zine pieces, but that is also a prob­lem. While read­ers do not re­mem­ber news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, books are much more durable and parts of this one are al­ready dated. When Si­mons was on the banks of the Mur­ray, it was in the grip of drought. But it has rained quite a bit since. Over­all, Si­mons is an op­ti­mist, ar­gu­ing hu­man­ity can live well and within its re­sources and that China is part of the so­lu­tion. If this is in­deed the Chi­nese cen­tury, they will not want to stuff the planet up.

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