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Capitalism As If the World Matters [Hardcover]

Jonathon Porritt
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2005
As our great economic machine grinds relentlessly forward into a future of declining fossil fuel supplies, climate change and ecosystem failure, governments are at long last beginning to question the very structure of the global economy. In this fresh, politically charged analysis, Jonathon Porritt wades in on the most pressing question of the 21st century: can capitalism, as the only real economic game in town, be retooled to deliver a sustainable future? Porritt argues that indeed it can, and it must, as he lays out the framework for a new ?sustainable capitalism? that cuts across the political divide and promises a prosperous future of wealth, equity and ecosystem integrity.

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Capitalism As If the World Matters + Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet + Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (1 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844071928
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844071920
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'A message that businesses may find they are surprised to agree with.' Financial Times '... could not have come at a more timely and critical moment ... A vital contribution to the most compelling issue of our times.' Will Hutton, author of The Writing on the Wall: China and the West in the 21st Century '... the best account of where we are now and how we might move ahead. Porritt's book is a brave and important working draft for an essential positive alternative.' The Observer 'To renew and rebuild, we need to listen to the voices of the few truly selfless and thoughtful individuals among us, and Jonathon Porritt is one of them.' James Lovelock, creator of the GAIA theory 'One of the most prominent voices promoting green issues over the last 25 years.' Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair 'This is a very thoughtful and timely book. Many of those working towards a more sustainable future for our planet see capitalism as a big part of the problem. And with good reason. But if capitalism and free markets cannot be bent towards sustainability - towards being part of the solution - then I believe there is no solution. Hence the importance of this book. Read it.' Lord May, President, The Royal Society 'This is a genuinely important book by one of Britain's most eminent environmentalists' Jonathan Dimbleby, political commentator and broadcaster 'As ex-chair of the Green Party, one-time director of Friends of the Earth, and co-founder and Director of Forum for the Future, Porritt is possibly the best person to write a book such as this. The reader can feel confident that his views are based on a desire to create a sustainable future rather than less laudable reasons ... an important factor when dealing with such a revolutionary book.' Pauline Thomas, The Waste Paper 'No US authors have matched this book's treatment of the interconnections between the environment, finance and economy, industry and technology, psychology and politics. Porritt depicts chilling vignettes, and decries greed and unbridled materialism without impugning business as a whole ... The book invites and repays detailed study.' Choice 'This book is excellent, readable, comprehensive and ultimately quite optimistic. Essential reading for anyone interested in the world, the environment, humanity or the future.' Warmer Bulletin 'This book may well challenge any Christian environmentalists that see capitalism as the enemy.' Methodist Recorder 'In this brilliant and timely book Porritt has thrown down the gauntlet and provided the necessary data and analysis on our collective dilemma.' David Lorimer, Scientific and Medical Network Review 'Too many environmentalists see capitalism as the enemy. Porritt grapples with its reality - a system capable of delivering sustainability and enhancing wellbeing, but only if we think carefully about what form of capitalism we want. This book stimulates that thinking.' Adair Turner 'All too often, NGOs have to campaign against commercial activities that cause environmental degradation around the world. Our message about unsustainable lifestyles is increasingly understood, but greater thought leadership among business and governments is needed. In this refreshing observation of capitalism, Porritt positions the opportunities provided by sustainable development brilliantly.' Robert Napier, Chief Executive, WWF-UK 'Here's a compelling book that should sound the trumpet for a whole new generation of engaged and optimistic young people, establishing once and for all that we still have choices - we don't have to sleepwalk our way into the future.' David Puttnam 'Porritt has applied a decade of experience with business and government to address the dilemma that, while capitalism is the most effective system for satisfying human needs, that process is putting intolerable strains on our ecology and climate. The book is a lively and penetrating discussion of how we can build on growing business interest in the challenges and opportunities.' Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman, Anglo American plc Porritt's green credentials are unquestioned, and I was impressed by his obvious desire to try and reconcile the gulf between environmentalists and supporters of capitalism.� � The Tablet (Catholic Weekly) Jonathon Porritt has done us all a service by synthesizing a compelling vision of the goals we must steer towards, the main stages of the journey, and how each of us can joyfully bend to our oar. The breadth and incisiveness of his vision oblige us to be grateful, attentive, and engaged.' From the Foreword by Amory B. Lovins 'We need more people like Porritt ... prepared to ... find the best ways to save both the environment and the capitalist system' Professional Investor

From the Publisher

Contains a foreword by Amory Lovins, co-author of Natural
Capitalism and Factor Four.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bold new vision for capitalism 4 April 2007
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Activist Jonathon Porritt offers the startling proposal that capitalism may provide the best solution to poverty and global environmental degradation, though his solution requires reshaping capitalism. Porritt is aware that conventional environmental activists, greens and political academics favor socialism more than capitalism. However, he takes them to task for ignoring the power and potential of such capitalist mechanisms as markets and property rights and for their naļveté in expecting voters or political leaders to embrace their dismal vision of environmental responsibility as asceticism. We find his book more suggestive than programmatic. It meanders like a river and is sometimes directionless. The author makes his passions apparent, including anti-Americanism and scathing criticism of certain forms of Christianity. Though Porritt does not offer a detailed description of his vision or the practical steps needed to realize it, he does suggest a path toward a utopian ideal; for that hope, he deserves appropriate attention.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can capitalism ever be truly sustainable? 3 Oct 2008
In a consumer society slowly eating itself, there's no more pressing question than whether or not capitalism and sustainability can ever go together. Johnathon Porritt sets out here to prove that they can. On the one hand, "global capitalism as we know it today would appear to be inherently incompatible with the pursuit of either ecological sustainability or social justice." On the other hand, "capitalism is now the only economic game in town."

Capitalism has been effective in providing goods and services, in creating wealth and raising standards of living. It has also created gross inequality and laid waste to the planet. Business as usual will lead to ecological suicide, quite simply.

In its place, Porritt argues for better regulation, costings for externalities, better metrics than GNP alone. He questions our fixation with growth, and tests the limits of corporate responsibility.

Porritt has got in trouble with some environmentalists for working a little too closely with big business, and he explores some of these initiatives in some detail here - business excellence, business aimed at the poor, experimental corporate reporting. It's easy to see why he's been accused of selling out as he sings the praises of Dow Chemicals, but the corporation aren't going anywhere any time soon, so I applaud him for working alongside them to develop better business models.

For all its problems, capitalism is what we have to work with right now. Although it could do with an extra chapter after the events of summer 2008, this book is still a useful guidebook to the changes already underway, and a roadmap for more responsible capitalism.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The thrust of environmental discussion is so often that current 'capitalist' attitudes are totally at odds with environmental concerns, and are a cause of the current 'crisis'. Consequently the need to depart from capitalism is often seen as a prerequisite for environmental progress. Such a departure, however, is almost impossible to imagine.

This book addresses those apparent contradictions, and explores a possible route to more environmentally responsible capitalism, using the mores and mechanisms of the established global economic understanding to move to a hopefully more sustainable relationship with the world. It is a book for environmentalists, social scientists, students and ordinary readers alike. Presuming no previous in depth knowledge or scientific background, it guides the reader from the beginning, drawing together common knowledge from various arenas and building on this with easily followed arguments, to a refreshingly positive but realistic conclusion.

If this book were required reading for environmental policy makers, perhaps they could stop thinking in terms of environment *or* trade and development, and start moving towards some workable solutions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 21 July 2014
By lorna
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very good although difficult read! Arrived in god time and in good condition. Many thanks.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Chris
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For an in-depth, well-researched and an incredibly well-written summary on the crisis of capitalism, then look no further than this book. Porritt has a wealth of experience on the subject due to his time at time at Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and his time spent consulting organisations and governments on the subject. He takes a pragmatic view and is well-aware that the subject needs an approach not covered by the extremists within the green movement. It's long and detailed though, so I would not recommend trying to read this in a hurry.
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24 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air 12 Jan 2006
Capitalism: As if the world matters is a very topical and thought provoking read. Jonathan Porritt addresses many key environmental issues for our plant and also opens up a discussion concerning why it is important to attempt to work with the capitalist social structure in which our society operates within if we are serious about actually addressing and solving serious long term environmental problems rather than instead trying to work against the capitalist social structure. It felt like I was reading a book that I had been waiting for somebody to write. A very enjoyable book.
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