Why are we fascinated by islands? They’ve always had a certain magic. The word ‘utopia’ comes from a story by Sir Thomas More (as in Henry VIII, Hilary Mantel, etc) in which a king called Utopus creates an island to start a perfect society.
Wanting to ‘get away from it all’ is an understandable human trait, even if at the moment we’re all marooned on our own domestic islands.
All in all, Bonnett has written a most readable and sympathetic account of the various guises islands can take around the world and rightly points out the ecological consequences of human building projects. He notes the destruction of many sandy islands and sandbanks to feed the global appetite for concrete, saying that ‘nearly all modern artificial islands have a deleterious impact on the environment’. He adds a telling statistic: ‘In just three years, between 2011 and 2013, China used more concrete than the US did in the entire twentieth century.’