For a more general review of Easterbrook, see Thomas E. Lovejoy, "rethinking Green Thoughts," Scientific American (February, 1996), 127-128. (Lovejoy is "counselor to the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution for biodiversity and environmental affairs, and senior advisor to the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.")
Lovejoy sees the same sorts of things I do - while he was expecting to find some good ideas here, "...I was stunningly disappointed by the book's rambling prose and profusion of inconsistency and error." (127) His opening example is Easterbrook's claim that "nothing Carson forecast in Silent Spring came to pass." This omits the obvious point Lovejoy makes: by pointing out the dire consequences - i.e., bird extinction - of continued use of chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as D.D.T. early on, Carson's book led to regulative efforts to prevent those consequences. In logical terms, Easterbrook can be accused here of suppressed evidence.
In fact, Lovejoy draws the harsh conclusion. Regarding Easterbrook's dismissal of such dire projections as publicized by Carson, he notes that "Sad to say, it is in fact quite rare for such projections to be totally wrong. To dismiss such efforts as doomsaying, and to portray the brave and prescient individuals who raise such warnings as biological Cassandras, does a disservice to society." (127)
Lovejoy acknowledges that Easterbrook's "recounting of how far we have come serves a useful function." (127) And he rightly raises the problem of environmental problems in developing countries - but Lovejoy observes that "a lot of the sustainable development guidelines that emerged from the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero do speak to these points and mulilateral development plans have increasingly taken them into consideration. He is wrong, however, to question the prominence of climate change as an environmental issue at Rio: this problem is one that can be addressed only at the international level." (127f.)
The overall problem with A Moment on the Earth is that it consists of such a jumble of value judgments, anecdotes and errors that the constructive thoughts are often obscured. Easterbrook's most absurd assertion, building from a misunderstanding of evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis's work, is that cooperation is dmoinant in nature. That notion completely ignores the existence of food chains, competition and disease. Yes, there are a lot of social insects, but vaguely mentioning that "for instance, deer greatly outnumber wolves" does not prove that "cooperative species are far more numerous than combative species and usually have larger populations." There are also problems of sheer sloppiness. it is hard to believe an editor overlooked the nonsense geography of the statement that "the North American population when Columbus landed may have been as high as 100 million, with most of this number living in Central and South America." (128)