Safe Planet: A Review

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SafePlanetCoverBy Rowan Wolf

[J]ohn Cowsill took on a huge challenge in writing Safe Planet: Renewable Energy plus Workers’ Power. Namely that challenge involved four components.

First the identification and cogent presentation of the environmental problem. I say problem, not problems, because virtually all the problems are interlinked – from ecological destruction, to peak resources, to ocean acidification, to global warming. They all have substantial links to fossil fuels, and to the second component.

Second, the identification of the source of many social problems; from economic, to political, to health, to wealth disparities. They are all tied up in capitalism.

Third, clearly discussing sustainable energy sources and their effectiveness.

Four, engaging in an integrative discussion and laying out a path forward.

I was relieved when it became clear that Mr. Cowsill was firmly grounding his discussion in the true root of our problems – capitalism, with its drive for profit and the concentration of power and wealth that results. This presents a radically different approach than has become typical of addressing global warming, peak oil, etc. Namely, capitalist prescriptions that turn the future of renewable resources into a “losing proposition” and leaves the control in the same hands that have squandered current resources. Under a capitalist orientation, there is virtually no challenge to the existing structure. The questions become how to make alternatives both profitable and acceptable to the plutocracy. Such approaches quickly become an effort to persuade the rest of us who question that this is in our best interests.

What we can see, and John Cowsill points out without hesitation, is that staying within the capitalist perspective not only doesn’t work, it exacerbates the problems. Every “alternative” is either eaten up by the powers that be, or structured to fail. Any attempt by communities to address the crisis in a cohesive way must have current resource giants in the middle of it. Big Energy even “funds” some projects in blatant greenwashing, or they bring their economic might to squash any alternative that might challenge their interests.

John Cowsill has done an excellent job on all fronts in identifying the problems, explaining how and why these are more political problems than natural ones, and proposing system oriented solutions.

Five stars on this one.


Safe Planet is published by John Hunt Publishing.

Visit John Cowsill’s personal website at

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