Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (1998)

Billions & Billions might be one of the most personal works Carl Sagan ever wrote. It opens with views of a mind-boggling massive expanding universe then moves onto the dilemmas facing contemporary human society. Chapters range from the evidence/facts for global warming, the dangers of nuclear armament, detailed portrayals of the US and USSR conflicts, complete historical and scientific looks at abortion, and perhaps even more importantly: his final writings as he battled myelodysplastic syndrome cancer for two years.

What humans have managed to accomplish in the last 100 years is beyond compare. The major dents put into our delicate atmosphere and planet are notable, as are the shit-ton of nukes hoarded and capable of destroying Earth a few thousand times over. Of course the major milestones of space exploration, medicine, and technology allow us to live longer and lead more fulfilling lives. But we’re still trying to get it right, we live relatively safe days gobbling up resources and eating like fat cows whilst spending trillions on military defense, far from the millions facing starvation, genocide, rape, poverty, and disease. It’s not all doom and gloom though, Sagan offers a scientific and realistic portrayal of the world and scientific and realistic ways to tackle our problems. There’s a better way and in this hope ¬†Sagan remains realistically optimistic.

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