Book Review: The Turning Point by Gregg Braden

23 Jun 2014

The Turning Point by Gregg BradenThe Turning Point: Creating Resilience in a Time of Extremes by Gregg Braden Reviewed by Tara Rivkin
ISBN: 978-1-4019-2923-7 (hardback) 978-1-4019-2926-8

Depending on your viewpoint on a variety of issues, you will either find Gregg Braden’s The Turning Point fascinating or maddening, or both simultaneously. About the concurrent economic, resource and climate crises facing our world today and the imperative that we change our way of thinking in order to avoid disaster, Braden’s book is an urgent call to action for individuals, communities and nations to combat an unprecedented convergence of global debt, energy depletion and climate change. View video

Braden is a New Age author who combines science, spirituality and ancient wisdom in his writing and who is not without controversy. In The Turning Point, he suggests that climate change is the result of cyclical earth patterns and not human activity; states as fact that “human life shows unmistakable signs of design;” and rejects evolutionary theory. I am not going to insert my own views here but it is safe to say that some of his ideas may not be to everyone’s taste. The first part of the book, which explores the state of our world today, is necessary, interesting and seems to be well researched. Braden writes about the “perfect storm” of crises facing our world today and how they are bulging under the weight of unprecedented population growth and rapid globalization.  Braden writes, “…nature is already at a tipping point of losing the oceans, forests and animals that make life as we’ve known it possible. When we factor in the reality of broken economies, vanishing resources, climate change, and the loss of entire industries – along with the jobs they provided for our families and communities—then the individual extremes take on a new meaning.”

The biggest crisis, Braden argues, is that of our thinking. In the face of huge shifts in our world, we must move away from “ways of thinking and living that are no longer sustainable.” We cannot put our heads in the sand because our world is a more connected one than ever before, and we are all affected. It is, Braden writes, “inevitable that big problems in one part of the world will affect the lives of entire communities in other parts of the world.” Braden’s points are salient but the question remains: is it really possible to change the thinking of the world’s population before it’s too late? This may be alarmist, but the cynic in me questions how broad scale changes in thinking will come about and how the things that need to change will.

Braden’s idea that we need to shift our thinking from a ‘what we can take from the world’ attitude to a ‘what we can give the world’ one is profoundly worthy and should be adopted by all. It is let down, unfortunately, by unqualified statements about modern science and evolutionary theory and unsupported claims about the “new knowledge” that isn’t being disseminated broadly. You be the judge; whether you agree with Braden or not, The Turning Point is well worth a read.

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