April 30, 1990 12:00 PM

by Ruth Caplan and the Staff of Environmental Action

Much of the Earth Day message calls on people to look inward, to analyze the ways in which their own habits and homes are contributing to the deterioration of the planet. But although the importance of individual action can’t be overestimated, it will never solve a problem that is at heart systemic. Until our profit-driven economies are redirected to take long-range effects into account, the earth will continue to be polluted.

Environmental Action executive director Ruth Caplan sums it up in the first chapter of this basic text: “Not only must we change personal life-styles, we must change the way America does business.”

Caplan and her co-authors deliver clear, concise explanations of the dangers of the greenhouse effect, ozone depletion, toxic substances and the nuclear power threat. At the end of each chapter, they urge readers to “Get Political,” and explain how to do such things as organize community groups, lobby, write letters to Congress and file freedom-of-information requests.

The book is sprinkled with inspiring profiles of ordinary people who have won victories: West Milford, N.J., children who forced their school to substitute paper cups for Styrofoam; a Palo Alto city councilwoman’s establishment of a “bicycle boulevard” through her city. (Bantam, paper, $10.95)

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