Blessed Unrest is environmentalist Paul Hawken's explanation and celebration of worldwide anti-globalization activism. Though there are millions of nonprofit groups and community organizations dedicated to a myriad of different causes, Hawken ties them together into one collective entity loosely described as an environmental and social justice movement . He likens the decentralized movement to the human immune system, with civil society antibodies combining to defend life on earth from greedy and rapacious corporations. - James M. Sheehan The rationale for the movement is sprinkled through the book like smelling salts. By the middle of the century, Hawken writes, resources per person on the globe will drop by half. Pesticide residues are prevalent in soft drinks in India. The World Bank helps pay for an oil pipeline through the Mindo Nabillo Cloudforest in Ecuador. Species extinction and poverty abound while profits soar. The world's top 200 companies have twice the assets of 80 percent of the world's people, and that asset base is growing 50 times faster than the income of the world's majority, Hawken notes. According to Hawken, the movement's modus operandi is to work at the edges, on lower levels. The movement is an alternative to the old choice of Communism or capitalism, and the current one of freedom versus terror. Instead of isms it offers processes, concerns and compassion, he writes. The movement demonstrates a pliable, resonant and generous side of humanity. It does not aim for the utopian ... but is eminently pragmatic. When you read about the movement, Hawken says, its members are usually described as anarchists or at least nut jobs as was evident during the anti-W.T.O. demonstrations in Seattle in 1999, when a bumbling police force turned a protest into a riot, and the TV news crews focused on the relatively few ski-masked window breakers rather than the scores of scientists, conservationists and community service workers who were demonstrating. Hawken sees the roots of the movement in the dawn of abolitionism in 19th-century America and in Gandhi's Thoreau-inspired civil disobedience even though the abolitionists and Gandhi would probably say there had been a movement, also with a public relations problem, long before they showed up. The high point of the book is Hawken's excellent critique of the chemical industry's attack on Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962, which shows that the corporate P.R. response to ecological criticism has not changed much. Carson (who kept private the cancer that was killing her) was billed as a hysterical spinster and a fanatical defender of the cult of the balance of nature. Carson linked the health of the environment to public health, a genius stroke given that the green movement has often been susceptible to the kind of criticism directed at it by a California congressman: I know you care about black bears, but do you care about black people? Blessed Unrest attempts the next step: to link the environment to issues of social justice and even culture. The death of languages, he writes, is tantamount to a blow against human diversity diversity being the engine of a species biology and, in turn, our ecosystem's health. For the developed world, Hawken writes, there is a choice to be made: to promote economic policies that despoil indigenous lands or to support cultures and the remaining biological sanctuaries. Blessed Unrest is not a glass-half-full book. But Hawken does imply that the movement which he estimates at perhaps two million organizations strong is a sign of life stirring in the beaten-up bowels of the planet, part of the earth's own immunological response. - Robert Sullivan is the author of Rats and Cross Country.