Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 2
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
October 2022
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:

Book description

Written by an award-winning historian of science and technology, Planet in Peril describes the top four mega-dangers facing humankind – climate change, nukes, pandemics, and artificial intelligence. It outlines the solutions that have been tried, and analyzes why they have thus far fallen short. These four existential dangers present a special kind of challenge that urgently requires planet-level responses, yet today's international institutions have so far failed to meet this need. The book lays out a realistic pathway for gradually modifying the United Nations over the coming century so that it can become more effective at coordinating global solutions to humanity's problems. Neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but pragmatic and constructive, the book explores how to move past ideological polarization and global political fragmentation. Unafraid to take intellectual risks, Planet in Peril sketches a plausible roadmap toward a safer, more democratic future for us all.


‘The term ‘existential threat’ may be overused by those who explore global governance; but it undoubtedly describes climate change and pandemics, two of the four mega-dangers that preoccupy Michael Bess in Planet in Peril. It is hard to believe that international cooperation remains a tough sell in 2022. Imagine: global problems require global solutions! Bess spells out concrete, and hopefully doable, steps toward overcoming polarization and fragmentation. Let’s hope he’s right.’

Thomas G. Weiss - CUNY Graduate Center

‘We are threatened by our own cleverness, and it is easy to get paranoid. This book, by one of our best historians of science and technology, offers a sane, balanced, and deeply informed look at the major threats and lays out a rational way forward.’

Donald Worster - author of Shrinking the Earth and A Passion for Nature

‘In Planet in Peril, Michael Bess brings his singular voice, intellectual courage, and good judgment to bear on the four mega-dangers facing humankind – climate change, nuclear weapons, pandemics, and artificial intelligence. He avoids the simplistic thinking that characterizes too much of the public debate on these issues and offers insightful, viable solutions. It is one of those rare books that is both a joy to read and a roadmap for solving daunting problems.’

Michael Vandenbergh - Vanderbilt University

‘Written in vivid prose and combining history, science, technology, and politics in reflection and analysis, Planet in Peril offers a single explanatory framework for understanding these seemingly disparate challenges, sketching a plausible roadmap toward a safer, more democratic future for us all.'

Josh Hamel Source: Chapter 16, a Publication of Humanities Tennessee

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


Page 1 of 2

Page 1 of 2


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.