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Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? [Paperback]

Andrew Simms , Joe Smith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Jan 2008
Climate change is currently presented by campaign groups and scientists as an impossibly daunting threat. On the face of it, it would seem we must make impossible sacrifices if we want to do our bit for the environment and lead more sustainable, less damaging lives. This book shows that isn't the case at all. It brings together household names who share a conviction that, on the contrary, living well needn't cost the earth – and will tell you why and how. Their collective vision, covering areas from architecture and politics to food and happiness, will completely reframe the way you think about climate change and what you're willing to do about it. Far from the usual doom and gloom, many here argue that climate change presents a once-in-a-century opportunity to address a whole basket of problems with energy and imagination. If we get things right, instead of an environmental apocalypse we could end up in a win-win situation – with both more satisfying lives and robust answers to these pressing, seemingly unsurmountable, problems. Contributions include: Phillip Pullman, A C Grayling, Oliver James and John Bird on love, happiness and telling tales Kevin McCloud, Nic Marks, Stephen Bayley and Wayne Hemingway on good design. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Colin Tudge and Rosie Boycott on good and sustainable food. David Cameron and Caroline Lucas on the politics of the good life. Tom Hodgkinson, David Boyle and David Goldblatt on having a good time. Anita Roddick, Adair Turner, Ann Pettifor and Larry Elliott on good business and work.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (24 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845296435
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845296438
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 452,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"* 'An eloquent and persuasive account of modern corporate greed, and how and why we should resist it... should make all but the Gordon Geckos of this world determined to do something about it.' - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall * 'Terrific... no one can read this book and ever think of supermarkets as benign and life enhancing again.' - Rosie Boycott * 'Simms shows the creeping, invading unsustainable world of the supershop, its tentacles strangling the life out of our communities. Read it.' --John Bird, founder of The Big Issue

The marvellous thing about reading this book is that, at the end, you feel as though you have read about fifty ... [its] different facets add up to one illuminating whole. --Resurgence

Book Description

Climate change is presented by campaign groups and scientists as an impossibly daunting threat. This book brings together household names who share a conviction that, on the contrary, living well needn't cost the earth - and will tell you why and how.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
By Mr X
Not knowing much about environmental issues I thought this book was excellent. It discusses the environment, not in a narrow sense, but, instead in a way that brings together all sorts of different disciplines including psychology, economics, politics, employment and the work place as well as ecology/environmentalism.

The book is not written by one author but instead by a cross-section of about 12 people who have different backgrounds and specialisms. The main thing which comes out of the many articles is that in order to live a good life (ie one which is fulfilling but doesn't "cost the earth") Western society needs to have a good think about what it's goals are. It is a fact, proven by the latest research that materialism and consumerism and the struggle for greater wealth do not translate into greater happiness. However, materialism and consumerism do have deeply negative impacts on the environment and on people's wellbeing - but to what purpose if wealth doesn't even make you any happier?! I liked the quote, "if you want to be happy for a few hours then get drunk. If you want to be happy for a few years then get married, and if you want to be happy for your lifetime, get a garden"!

The book also provides interesting insights as to what the real solutions are - less work and greed and more time spent developing relationships and being involved in our local communities. Especially interesting is the chapter explaining why the international banking systems is so onerous to all but those who are already rich and are getting richer as a result of the system. Another very interesting point was that over the course of their lifetime, in fact Ferraris are more environmentally friendly than electric cars!

Everyone should read this book now!!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The concept behind this book is simple, but very important - good lives do not need to cost the earth. Where many environmentalists have called for sacrifice, abstinence, and the wearing of hair-shirts, the contributing writers to this collection call for more parties, tighter communities, healthier work patterns, better architecture, and better food.

As you may have guessed, this is a very varied set of contributions. Philip Pullman warns environmentalists that they need to tell better stories. David Goldblatt discusses the future of sport and worries that golf's days may be numbered. Anne Pettifor explores how credit is created and demands free money, and Tom Hodgkinson of the Idler calls for us all to do less. There is plenty of food for thought here, all delivered with a lightness of touch. It brings together the environment, economics, psychology and politics to explore a holistic sustainability agenda, and the emphasis is on inspiring, not berating.
Perhaps Colin Tudge says it best in describing the movement as a renaissance - something that is grass roots, but not a revolution - just people seeing things differently and changing their lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book argues that what doesn't work for human happiness and wellbeing doesn't work well for the planet. Good lives should not, indeed ought not to be allowed to cost the earth. The argument, delivered trough a fractured prism of more than 20 (British) voices, unfolds at two levels.

First there is the growing body of science that shows how increasing levels of affluence do not translate automatically into a greater sense of wellbeing. Above a certain, fairly modest level of material and financial security, intangibles such as family relationships, meaningful work and health become much more important predictors of happiness than income. However, our selfishly capitalist society works hard to keep us onto the "hedonic treadmill" and make us forget these essentials.

The environmental agenda puts the discussion on a moral plane. Climate change is forcefully telling us something that we've known for a couple of decades: we have been overconsuming our natural resource base and as a result we have burdened ourselves with a potentially disastrous ecological debt. This is a moral issue as the downside consequences of our gluttony not only affect us but also the billions in less developed countries and those unhappy generations inheriting the planet.

This book argues that this crisis can only be successfully tackled by taking the sting out of the consumerist virus. We have to jump of the threadmill, get thriftier and do more with less. That much is clear. But a set of questions emerges upon which authors in this book formulate different answers.

One question has to do with the level - personal or policy - from which this transformation needs to be driven.
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