Kveldulf Gunnar Larsson offers an important critique of the modern environmental movement and a stark assessment of what people are doing to the planet. As being “green” becomes ever more popular, the true ramifications of the devastation being done to the Earth by humanity — what Larsson refers to as ecocide — becomes obscured by what sustainable products we can buy or the pro-environment movies we can attend, for example. Attempts at reversing the tide of climate change still often result in consumerism, and as he notes this popular environmentalism can make people feel good without actually doing good.
While I was reading his book, his line of thought hit home with me, as I receive alarming quantities of paper mail from environmental groups seeking donations for their work. Do I believe in their mission? Of course. But the hypocrisy of cutting trees down to spread their pro-environment message is unsettling. This book made me think critically about many aspects of the environmental movement I had not considered before.
It is admirable that Larsson wrote the book in English and not his native Norwegian, however, The Alternative of Real Ecology needed a stronger editor. The structure of the book was sometimes difficult to follow, and layout and grammatical errors often caused confusion. I was also a little confused by his framing of the book itself. He writes that “It has no scientific, academic or literary value. It was not written to entertain or make money. It has no educational value; it was not written to educate. It doesn’t even have any environmental value as it’s not an environmental book.” Perhaps he sees himself as a true advocate for nature, and the book as a call to action, but this remains unclear until the very end of the book.