Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
by Jonathon Rafferty
published by Austin Macauley Publishers
Paperback: 274 pages 18 x 3.2 x 20 cm
Written by retired chemical engineer, Jonathon Rafferty,’ Servatur Gaiae’ tries to use the power of fiction to wake readers up to the destruction their over-population, over-consumption and general disregard for their planet is causing. Told through a compelling story that straddles both fantasy and reality, readers are invited to join the life of an environmental scientist who could be about to save the world... but only if he can convey his message to ignorant world leaders!
John, an environmental scientist and his wife Angela enjoy a romantic holiday away from their work and children. After seven years together, they are still very much in love and try for a third baby, but to no avail. Is the cause of their lack of success the same as problems affecting tropical rain forest workers?
Pablo, one such worker, becomes severely ill, his site is shutdown, and he is forced to seek work elsewhere. En route he finds himself on the run from drug gangsters before arriving in England.
To uncover what's happening, John has to assemble a team to investigate the problem. Professor Andrew Kowalski, chosen to lead the team, hears a message from an amazing electronic communication device that appears while they are on expedition in the jungle. This explains what will happen worldwide due to overpopulation, overconsumption of the earth's resources and habitat destruction. How will the Professor convey this message to the world leaders? And, will they work together to do anything about it?
The entire story is wrapped up in the kind of action and adventure, interspersed with humor and some satirical descriptions and the author even included the obligatory sex scene some of which take place on a yacht. We could, probably, have done without the repeated sex scenes in the first parts of the book but, as John and his wife were trying for a third child – which does not work out and the reader will later in the book learn why not – it may have been necessary, to some degree.
The book uses the vehicle of fiction to help readers explore a host of real-world problems; namely pollution, deforestation, exhaustion of resources, over-population and species extinction. It also explores what happens when we get past the point of no return, and control from outside our own solar system will be required if humanity is to be saved. Though, personally, I doubt that we will have aliens aiding us any time soon, but the truth behind the narrative is that we only have a finite amount of time in which to stop allowing our ecosystems to continue being destroyed.
“Servatur Gaiae” is a timely book dealing with the greatest issue facing mankind, namely the destruction of the global ecosystem through over consumption though whether it is largely because of over population I would like to question. Predominately our over consumption is due to the way products are made today with a built-in obsolescence so that we have to buy the same thing every couple of years or so. In a time not so long ago things were made to last and were repairable; today they no longer are.
The book, unfortunately, takes a while to get going, to to speak, but I do urge the reader not to give up; it does get better, a lot better, after about page 50.
A good knowledge of Latin would have been a good one if one wants to use Latin (and Greek) terms as part of the title. It should have been Servator for preserver as Servatur means reserved, in other words the title should have been “Servator Gaiae”, as in preserver of the Earth and not Servatur Gaiae.
Proofreading as regards to the typesetting would also have been very good before letting a book go out to the public. There is a serious issue with it on pages 60-61.
However, the blatant government propaganda for nuclear energy that was put in on page 253 calling wind and solar dead-end technologies was not a good move, and actually turns this from a rather good book into something not so good.
Nuclear energy is not carbon-neutral and can never be, then neither is wind or solar, when we consider the making of the panels or turbines, but nuclear leaves us with a biosphere legacy, namely the waste, that will be poisons for centuries and even millennia to come.
And no, so far there is no way of neutralizing the radiation from nuclear waste and to pretend that there ever will be is not just dangerous; it is a lie and fooling people. Nuclear energy could, possibly, be safe if we could make nuclear fusion work on a larger scale than those that have been tried so far, the first reactors of this kind back in the 1980s in the Soviet Union. But so far the technology just is not going to do it on a scale other than very small reactors. There is no radioactive waste from those.
Rating 4 out of 5, and that only because of the blatant promotion of nuclear energy and especially the suggestion that – in the not so distant future – we would be able to render the radioactive waste harmless.