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The Great Disruption

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  377 ratings  ·  68 reviews
It's time to stop just worrying about climate change, says Paul Gilding. We need instead to brace for impact because global crisis is no longer avoidable. This Great Disruption started in 2008, with spiking food and oil prices and dramatic ecological changes, such as the melting ice caps. It is not simply about fossil fuels and carbon footprints. We have come to the end of ...more
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Published March 1st 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2011)
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For those who are truly interested in how the coming crisis will unfold, read The End of Growth instead of this incomplete analysis.

The author makes a lot of really great points and presents some very compelling information, but his arguments are all over the place, unorganized, and often contradictory. He often comes very close to hitting on logical points, but, in many cases, falls short of identifying the real underlying problems and realistic solutions for them. Although his main points abou
Gilding's premise is that the current "system" (economy and culture based on continuous growth and the accumulation of "stuff") is unsustainable and must be replaced by one that is sustainable (steady state economy with redistribution of wealth and a focus on personal development, human relationships, and community). Using climate change as an example of how the current system is dysfunctional, he points out that we are currently using 1.4 planets worth of resources to fuel the growth of our eco ...more
Amy Flaherty
I heard of this book on NPR and was intrigued because it was a book about the next 20-50 years that was not completely doom and gloom. Much different than the usual "run for the hills and raise hogs and chickens" type of message. The author is a veteran environmentalist who has actually put his money where his mouth is several times. He writes of his personal struggle with the change in the environment but then also how he has worked with many of the "game changers" such as the CEO's of large co ...more
In the last five years I have read a lot of books about climate change, peak oil and the economic outlook caused by these events. In the past I would be filled with a sense of dread over the coming global changes. Now it seems that authors are trying to give us a sense of hope rather than despair. They tell us that, yes, the Earth has changed for good due to human activity, but all is not lost, things will actually be better in the long run when we are forced to change our ways. This book falls ...more
Steve H
Gilding is evidently in between the strong environmentalist and climate change denying camps. He's worked for Greenpeace but has also been an environmental consultant for many a major corporation. So, I tend to think of him as coming from a somewhat fair and balanced place.

This book is disturbing in its implications that climate change as well as issues related to overpopulation and overconsumption will have dramatic and inevitable impacts on the world, its environment, its species, and our econ
Please read this book. Gilding makes the most coherent argument that I have read about the interconnections between capitalism, peak energy, and climate change, including several basic arguments that would ideally be understood by everyone.
1) The capitalist expectation of infinite economic growth is unsustainable because it cannot surpass the natural limits of the Earth.
2) Because our capitalist society is based on growth, significant social and economic destabilization will occur when those nat
The first 60 pages and the last 100 were very interesting. Somewhere in the middle, though....yawn...he goes on and on about his opinion and the people he talked to who think the same way he does, but with very little fact to back things up. I also feel he did a poor job marrying his two theses: that the impending doom of climate change (never really spelled out, but "hundreds of thousands will probably die") will cause the collapse of the world's financial system. I don't think anyone argues t ...more
If you no longer need argument and proof that the resources of this planet are finite skip to chapter 16. The author's premise from that point on is that the imminent catastrophic events that will precipitate the meltdown of our ecosystem as well as our civilization will jolt us into a mode of hyper-focused activity and creativity that he compares (relentlessly) to the war effort in America and Britain during WWII. This pulling together will then guarantee the human race a triumphant emergence o ...more
We have much more than climate change to worry about. The unraveling of the global economy due to limits on growth which the environment is placing on the system (peak oil, overfishing, lack of irrigation water for food crops, etc) is the other Big Problem which we are beginning to face. Paul Gilding thinks that things will get much worse before we finally "get it" and get to work on facing these predicaments. He assumes that once the majority finally sees the problems they will pressure governm ...more
No mas!! This was "the great disruption" to my reading zen. I could only make it to page 64. I was very, very disappointed with this book. I had heard an interview with the author on NPR and he was stimulating. This book is a poorly organized rant and all over the place with gratuitous information about his personal life and belaboring a point and going down streets and alleys of irrelvant information and a myriad of metrics. He has too much passion and tries too hard to make his point that the ...more
I appreciate that Paul Gilding takes time and care to build a wide context for his discussion of climate change: historically and culturally. He draws us into catalytic turning points in awareness about the natural world at various stages of his childhood and early adulthood, which ultimately became part of the foundation for his profession. He illustrates a cultural shift from nature as a nice place in which to retreat, toward perceiving the inherent interconnectedness of people and nature. The ...more
Rachel Bayles
This is a solid, well thought-out book by a man who I can respect. Yet, he doesn't quite make his case. Maybe it's because there are so many examples of societal collapse (see Diamond Jared) in situations of resource overreach, that Gilding's analogy to WWII doesn't entirely ring true. Or at least not as strongly as I would like. I came away from this book wanting to be optimistic, but not being comfortable with the reasoning.

Well good in parts.
His basic premise is that as things get truly awful government, business and the general population will then go into full gear combating climate change. The effort will be as fierce as the American, British and Russian (although can't remember him saying Russian) effort during WW2.

I'm not so sure.

The depths vested interests will go to save their position is pretty damn low. You could make out a case that it is not so much a WW2 response that is instructive but rather the re
Miz Lizzie
A difficult book to read but an important one. Gilding painstakingly outlines why we can't continue on our current course as limited resources and climate change are rapidly bringing the economic crisis that he calls The Great Disruption to a head. He theorizes in great detail how the crisis will arrive. Since we are already consuming the resources of 1.4 planets, it's coming soon. Ultimately, however, his outlook and his message is positive as he believes that when the environmental crisis beco ...more
Michael Young
This is indeed a marvelous book. So many words, arranged around marks of punctuation, formed into sentences and paragraphs which are then grouped into chapters, while at once remaining so utterly vapid and devoid of syntax. Had I not viewed it with my own eyes, I would not have believed that it could be done. One cannot help but marvel. It's packed with rhetorical gems, such as this from page 116: "This means that to succeed we will have to rapidly expand our response to other sustainability iss ...more
Jeff Posey
I give this 5 of 5 stars because of Gilding's synthesis and thinking, not because of his writing. As a writer, I give him 2 of 5 stars. This book could have been about a third of its total length and it would have been better. But, that's not a valid reason to dismiss it. The intellectual content is worthy of digging through all those extra words.

Gilding, the former head of Greenpeace, has been an environmental activist essentially all of his life. As such, he did what many others have done --
The world faces some hard limits to growth that are threatening to smack our economy in the face. Paul Gilding has a hard look at these limits and how we need to deal with facing them.

What is interesting about this book is it is not just a set of policy prescriptions on how to respond; it is a deeply personal account of how to deal with facing the harsh realities which most of the world is still denying.

Gilding's argument is that we are unlikely to avoid slamming into the limits on our growth a
Harry Steinmetz
Of all the future is going to hell in an environmental handbasket books out there, this one best answers the implicit question, where do we go from there? Cogent and well versed in politics and economics, Guilding suggested the path forward may not be as rough as others have suggested; but it depends on our choices. I came away form this book with a clear sense and a reassuring feeling that corporate capitalism is over. Since a hack salesman like Romeny seems to be the best they can come up with ...more
Alan Cunningham
I've endured a couple of huckstery books this spring, and am thirsting for something more informative. I can always tell how I'm going to read something by the frequency of exclamation points at the end of the sentences. This book had plenty I had little patience for the author's fundamental assertion that people he agreed with were "respected" and those he disagreed with merely venal. While there were some good interactions with industry types, it was always as reformed monsters, no longer the ...more
Xavier Shay
Fantastic high-level book from former Greenpeace CEO and environmental consultant Paul Gilding. He directly addresses activist nihilism ("everything is fucked what's the point") at a time when I needed it. He's not optimistic in the "everything will work out fine" sense, but talks from direct experience figuring out what role he was going to play. If you're feeling down about the climate situation, have a read.
Usually with these end of the world type books they are just depressing and you lose all hope and want to curl up in bed and die.

But this book is different -- it is an optimistic view of the end of the world! I truly believe that as a society we will be able to get through our failing economy, etc. etc. etc. I do. I also believe that we have reached a tipping point and SOMEthing will happen, whatever it will be. I am not sure when it will be (and neither do any of the experts) but I suppose we a
Rob Smart
If you're growing concerned with the breakdown of many of our established systems, whether energy, food, political or political; if you're concerned about the increasing separation of wealth in the US and around the world, including startling increases in poverty; if you want a picture of what an evolved human race might look like; then I highly recommend you read The Great Disruption.

It is equal parts slap-in-the-face (and/or punch-in-the-gut) and pick-you-up-and-dust-you-off.

In the end, I hope
I have given up on this book.

Before I started reading, I was already convinced that climate change and peak oil would change the way we live. I was hoping for a glimpse at HOW it would change things, and how we might best prepare.

Three chapters in, the author is reiterating in 500 different ways that 'he told us so' and no-one listened. So I skipped forward to chapter 10, hoping for some practical advice... more of the same, alas.

Perhaps this book holds hidden gems about the future, but I've g
Emily Finan
A throw-down by the former head of Greenpeace International. Paul Gilding puts forth a macroeconomic and geopolitical argument that is very powerful and well researched.
Carlos Burga
Paul Gilding manages to be terrifying as well as uplifting in his account of what awaits us. He takes quite a bold view of what will happen but manages to convince his audience by his ingenious analogy with WWII and by a plethora of studies both of the physical and the social sciences. Likewise, he brings to bear an issue that I have only marginally heard discussed at the same time as climate change, that of the end of growth and the need to switch to steady-state economics. This seemed quite a ...more
Ok, done! Very convincing book. He's a really good writer. One of the things i thought he did really well is to use great metaphors to hammer home his points. For example, he is comparing The Great Disruption to WWII in that people in the US kept denying it was coming our way, but when it did finally come, we were able to mobilize in some unbelievably fast and powerful ways to win that war. He thinks we can do the same in this even bigger battle to save our planet. I hope he's right!

So far my p
Picked this book to read because he is so optimistic about our ability to redirect human society to a more sustainable model as climate changes. He is a big believer in adaptability but also feels that it is too late to save us all from most of the worst changes ahead. He describes a very interesting economic model, which he believes must change, fast. His arguments for the kind of changes needed are compelling and others are beginning to echo his vision. That said, he has a pollyanna view of th ...more
An insightful, disturbing, and at times transformational book that had me re-thinking what really matters in life. As with so many books dealing with major crises, it doesn't provide a viable solution, and maybe that's the point. The author definitely hints at means of change and is not afraid to put the stamp of approval on other people's ideas that he is not afraid to incorporate as his own and is able to use real-world examples of what the future might look like. The disconnect is where, when ...more
Climate change. Peak oil. Financial collapse. It really does seem like everything is culminating into a gigantic reckoning, and this book outlines a lot of it in stark detail. Given how dire the situation seems to be, his proposed solutions seem way too impractical. After hearing politicians, both Democratic and Republican, talk about growing our way out of debt and into prosperity, and after watching the dysfunction in Greece and Italy, reading about a steady-state economy and people sacrificin ...more
Peter Franklin
An interesting book that held my interest. Paul Gilding describes the problems of the finite resources that we are using at a rate that means they can not last based on the scientific and mathematical evidence; facts that many people readily agree with. His conclusion is that we won't change until the economic consequences of this starts to come into play. He is confident that we will act and act very quickly when things become dire; virtually on a war footing. I would have liked to have had mor ...more
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