Forget the future. How am I going to get back the time I spent reading this book?

Have you ever read a book that was annoying yet important? I just finished Our Stolen Future, a “scientific detective story,” about how all the chemicals we’re pumping into ourselves and our environment is a Really Bad Thingâ„¢ and should be stopped. Despite a solid albeit short introduction by former veep Al Gore, I hereby object to any book in which the authors insist upon referring to themselves in the third-person. Here’s an example of just how grating this is:

    …Colborn had plowed through more than two thousand scientific papers and five hundred government documents. She felt like a beagle following its nose. She wasn’t sure where she was headed, but propelled by her curiosity and intuition, she was hot on the trail….

This is dippy enough writing without the fact that Colborn is one of the authors. I’m not sure if it sounds any less dumb if you substitute “I” for “she” in the above quote, but at least it rings a little more true. But enough with my complaints about the quality of the text. Suffice to say, it’s not well-written.

What is more important is that the book details the harmful effects of pollution and of some pharmaceutical wrong turns (Thalidomide, anyone?). Skim, scan, or search, you’ll find plenty worthwhile. I can’t suggest you read it thoroughly, however. Even I couldn’t stomach that. Perhaps a better bet altogether would be the Our Stolen Future web site. Surely those responsible for the web content don’t also refer to themselves in the third person. (If you email and tell me I’m wrong, I’m not listening. La-La-La-La.)

One of several things you can take away from Our Stolen Future (besides a distaste for poor creative writing skills) is an awareness of how we are impacted by pollutants and pills. Interestingly, problems of this nature do not usually manifest themselves in the form of cancer (though they certainly can). More often, the first evidence that something is amiss shows up in reproductive systems or in offspring. To take that one step further, that human male sperm counts have dropped by 50 percent since the 1930s should be a very clear warning sign.

Yet I find myself reluctant to join the bandwagon. Erin and I regularly eat organic, we don’t throw chemicals on the lawn to keep it green, we only eat hormone-free meats (at home; on the road we’re dopes). So it’s not like I’m rejecting the authors’ suggestions or conclusions outright. I just prefer my evidence to be incontrovertible and to be presented on a compelling intellectual plane. Right though it may be, I don’t think Our Stolen Future meets those burdens. It’s not a bad work—well, some of it is—and I buy a lot of the science behind it. It just didn’t resonate with me in the way I’d hoped. Maybe it will with you.