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September 05, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE THIRD REVOLUTION: Population, Environment and a Sustainable World by Paul Harrison (Penguin: $12; 377 pp.). In this cogent ecological treatise, Harrison states, "Human history is the history of increasing numbers, increasing consumption and increasingly invasive and disruptive technology. The compound action of these three elements lies behind our increasingly destructive impact on the planet." This impact occurred in two accelerating waves: the introduction of sustained agriculture and the Industrial Revolution; the results of the current efforts to sustain the planet's rapidly increasing population will constitute the third. The author emphasizes that the present environmental crisis is not the simple result of overpopulation, but the product of a vast web of behaviors and questions that encompasses the destruction of resources, the education of women, reproductive rights and the wasteful greed of industrialized societies. Harrison is less interested in assigning blame than in rallying people to stem the deadly tide of pollution, destruction, hunger and disease.

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