The Books We're Reading
In no particular order, here are the books we're reading for perspective, inspiration, and instruction. This is always a partial list as we'll being adding more as we go.
Note: in the spirit of carbon reduction and resource conservation, we're getting all of our books through the used market, as pass-alongs, or in some cases as review copies from our editor.
We're also using an Amazon Kindle. This is a revolutionary device that has very low power consumption and promises to save whole forests worth of paper. I don't imagine that this device (or others like it) will elimiate paper books (nor would I want it to), but I do think it has the potential to increase the total number of books being read, increase readers' access to books, while significantly lowering the proportion of books manufactured using paper.
Pollan is one of my all-time favorite writers. I'll read his books just to hear his voice and enjoy how well he crafts the language.
In this book he shares some alarming revelations as he traverses our modern food chain. The implications for energy source and consumption are large, and beyond that, the health implications of our industrial feeding process are frighteningly clear. In the midst of the Swine Flu (H1N1) epidemic in Fall of 2009, the facts Pollan reveals about the antibacterial resistant microbes being grown en mass on industrial feed lots as a by-product of the beef industry's quest for market share and profit is plainly disturbing.
This book delves into the nature of our global consumption, economic trajectories, and such fundamental human conditions as happiness and misery. McKibben draws clear lines from our economic behavior to our relative happiness or unhappiness. McKibben's lucid thought resounds with my growing sense that reducing our consumption and our carbon footprint goes hand and foot with a close examination of all of the economic ideals we've taken for granted over the past 50 years. Take the lessons from Deep Economy with those of Better Off, and I think you have a realistic picture of the worldview the next generation will have to assimilate in order to live satisfying, healthy lives.
This book chronicles the eighteen month experience of the Author, an MIT scientist, and his wife as they attempt to live an unplugged life among an Amish culture somewhere in the midwest. This is not an experience many people are likely to undertake, but the lessons learned and shared by the author are instructive and the tale quite entertaining. The author's quest is to build a realistic perspective on technology, its true value and its real costs.
The author follows a normal day by disecting common things to reveal the materials and energy expended to provide us with the everyday things we take for granted. At only 76 pages, this book is a quick read, and mind-blowing at the same time. If you've never followed this type of analysis, this book is an excellent way to do it. The perspective you'll gain is lasting, and the book includes an good notes and resouces section.
The Consumer's Guide to Effictive Environmental Choices
With very little editorializing, these scientists give you the skinny on the state of the environment and climate change, with numbers to back it up. Where their research and analysis isn't adequate to draw conclusions, they don't try to shine you on or make something up. They simply say "We don't know that." I like these guys for their straight-shooter approach and their tone of scientific integrity. Their agenda seems to be to give you the facts as they know them. They also give clear direction for those who want to attempt solutions to our environmental problems.
Getting Green Done
Schendler casts a cold eye and provides a necessary perspective for anyone who wants to throw in to try to save the planet. He doesn't mince words or sugarcoat the brutal realities nor the hard work involved in effecting any measurable improvement in the environment and climate change arena. His aim is clearly not to encourage you with false hopes but to tell you straight up and from his own experience what it's going to take to bring about real change.
We're reading this one on the Kindle. The author offers some interesting and sometimes startling data on the carbon and energy impacts of the food industry. For example: it takes 40 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of beef protein. Industrial livestock for meat also has a higher global carbon footprint than transportation.
The author also provides simple-to-follow, easy-to-implement strategies for healthier, lower carbon footprint eating habits. We also like that he doesn't advocate any extreme changes or rigid rules. Most people will find that they are not that far off from his methodology.
Brown focuses on global food supply, water usage, and population growth to describe the trouble he sees for the global economy and the health of the planet. He makes an effective argument for why Plan A, or business as usual, won't work and will lead to disaster after disaster. Then Brown describes Plan B, his map for raising food production cutton carbon emissions, raising productivity of the water supply, meeting social and economic challenges, and beginning to stabilize population.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
This quick reference guide is organized by categories such as Heating and Cooling, Cooking, Washing and Cleaning, Shopping, Work, Transportation, among others, and provides concise tips for making better energy choices. You can dive into any section to find something relevant to what you're doing or thinking about right now, and get a bullet point or information bite that can answer an energy question for you or point you in the direction of making a better choice.
This book is just what the subtitle advertises. It's a quick read, tells a compelling story, and provides easy access to ideas and habits you can develop to live a lower carbon footprint life. This book is particularly strong in the area of green cleaning products and consumer goods.
It's Easy Being Green
We haven't finished this one yet.
The author takes you through the sometimes arduous and frustrating process of building a low carbon and energy footprint office studio next to his suburban home in British Columbia. His process is well highlighted with insights and reality checks. We recommend this book for its perspective on individual action.
Sustainable Engery -
This one is great for facts and figures. The author purposefully reserves his opinions on things in favor of giving you the straight math. In many cases he encourages you to use the statistics he's gathered to come up with your own calculations and conclusions. This book is a very useful tool in thinking about energy production and consumption in realistic, concrete terms.
This page last updated on: 2009-12-31