Published by Green Books, Time’s Up! by Keith Farnish is an intriguing analysis of industrial civilisation which depicts a denunciation of populist consumer culture and an ideal of an environmentalist global population which ‘re-connects’ with the natural world. It is clear and well written but thorough and in no way is it a light read…
In terms of the success of the book in not only explaining the motives for change and the methods by which we could make the change, the clarity of the language is equalled by the confusion of ideas; although there are admirable concepts explained well throughout, Farnish is never able to completely get to grips with them.
The book is structured initially as an explanation of global warming by scale – for example, climate change would have effects on the proliferation of viruses as well as the rainforest eco-systems. This is a fresh way of looking at the issue and works well, even if I was left a little terrified. Moving on, the reader wades through the vast mire of the immorality of consumer culture, before Farnish unveils his ‘subversive’ solution to these problems as ‘Undermining’ western culture and thus saving the planet in one self-righteous swoop.
Farnish critically analyses many of the predominant issues which link our consumer lifestyles with environmental decay. The main problem with the book however is that Farnish comes across as someone who has addressed a lot of post-modern theory without thoroughly understanding it; his somewhat shameful plagiarism of Baudrillard’s Gulf War casualty statistic does not go un-noticed and his constant relation to some form of neo-Marxism is never fully explained.
Furthermore, I was left wholly dissatisfied with the conclusion of the book as Farnish talks up the ending constantly. A quote on the back by Ana Salote, Author of Tree Talk that it is, ‘the most subversive book I have ever read,’ is almost embarrassing and Farnish’s assurance that we can make a global change through undermining is insufficient.
However, Farnish’s assertion that the key lies with education shows that he does at least identify where change must be made for the good of the environment although he never fully develops this crucial idea.
In sum, the book is well written and thorough but does suffer from becoming a bit heavy in the middle as Farnish bashes western culture. Indeed, Farnish appears much more distracted with deploring modern consumerism than espousing environmental issues, which unfortunately serves to fatally undermine Farnish’s authority on the environment.
Time’s Up costs £9.95 and is available from Green Books.