THE DEVOURING DRAGON
How China’s rise threatens the natural world
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.