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How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything Paperback – 13 May 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (13 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846688914
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846688911
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

It is terrific. I can't remember the last time I read a book that was more fascinating and useful and enjoyable all at the same time. (Bill Bryson)

an engaging book that manages to present serious science without preaching.It offers tools that any reader will be able to use and make informed choices, and even seasoned eco-enthusiasts will be in for plenty of surprises (New Scientist)

Mike Berners-Lee knows more about carbon footprints than anyone else in the UK. Enjoyable, fun to read and scientifically robust. A triumph of popular science writing (Chris Goodall.)

If we're serious about really addressing climate change, we need to become energy and carbon literate, and get to grips with the implications not only of our choices but also the bigger infrastructures which underpin the things we consume. How can we educate our desires unless we know what we're choosing between? Mike Berners Lee, to my complete delight, has provided just the wonderful foundation we need - a book that somehow made me laugh while telling me deeply serious things. (Peter Lipman, Director of SUSTRANS)

This book is amazing. I was either going "wow" or snorting with laughter. (Rachel Nunn, Director, Carbon Neutral Stirling)

Curiously fascinating to both climate geeks and well-rounded human beings alike. (Franny Armstrong, Director of The Age of Stupid and founder of 10:10)

Book Description

Packed full of information yet always entertaining. From text messages and plastic bags to wars and volcanoes, How Bad Are Bananas? has the carbon answers we need

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE on 21 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love popular science books and programmes. As a trained scientist, who still does useful but not challenging science at work, (I'm a school lab technician), at best, these books are great at keeping the science bit of your brain ticking over while managing to also entertain, but it's great when you learn new things from them and use that to spark off question and debate.

That was definitely the case with this book. Berners-Lee which I shall abbreviate to B-L, (by the way, I was unable to find out whether he is related to Sir Tim B-L, the creator of the interweb - does anyone know?), is a environmental expert in calculating the total carbon footprint of everything. The important word here is `everything'. His method factors in not just manufacturing, but the footprint of the ingredients too and the corporations that make and sell things, plus the footprint of the item in use through to its eventual disposal - ie the total contribution of an item to global warming (its CO2e - equivalent). This complete way of looking at things throws up some amazing results, but more on that in a minute.

After the explanatory introductions, the book is presented in increasing CO2e from under 10g to 1 million tonnes and beyond, and is compared against a target lifestyle of up to ten tonnes per year for the average human. One thing B-L is clear on is that in aiming to improve our own carbon footprints we should all apply a sense of scale. What good is choosing a better hand-drying option when you spend your life on planes? But having said that, he says we should pick our battles, and work out where we can get the best return for our efforts.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A. Meikle on 16 May 2010
Format: Paperback
When it comes to climate change, I have often wondered what I should worry about. If I am going to change my carbon footprint, where should I put the effort in? How can I make sure I "don't sweat the small stuff?" This book helped me distinguish the big issues--the ones where I really need to focus, and the small ones that don't make much difference. Mike Berners-Lee approaches the whole subject with a light-heartedness and humour, so I never felt that he was preaching to me... More like we were having a chat.

Did you know that your plastic bags account for one thousandth of the foot print of the average weekly shop? Supermarkets would have you think it's a far bigger deal than that... But no, hidden on the supermarket shelves are some things with a truly extraordinary footprint.

The book is laid out in bite sized chucks, with each chapter dealing with things that have a bigger impact than the previous. Just flicking through the contents pages, I started to get a sense for where the big issues are. My copy of this book will get very well thumbed, and well quoted. Think I'll either be lending it out, or getting more copies come Christmas time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ivan on 6 Dec 2012
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I work calculating carbon footprints, so I knew what I was getting. I enjoyed reading it, and actually when I finished I decided to start my own personal carbon footprint calculation. Recommended for those interested in knowing more about the environmental consequences of our daily activities and consumption.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joe Marksman on 20 May 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a great book - informative, thought provoking and fun.

It tells us what we need to know about the impact of the types of products we buy and the sorts of things we do. I was particularly impressed with the layout, ranking the items in ascending order is a great idea - it gives proper perspective to which things have the biggest influence on our carbon footprints.

The writing style is clear and conversational - never judgmental or labouring the point - the book left me feeling empowered rather than guilty.

Zestier than "Driving Over Lemons" fruitier than "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit", "How Bad Are Bananas" earns a prime place on my bookshelf, where the books I expect frequently to refer to reside.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anna Pitt on 25 Mar 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is my favourite book on carbon footprint.

It is refreshing to find a book about carbon footprint that's also an enjoyable read. Unlike most books on carbon footprint, that I plough through for my research, 'How Bad Are Bananas' was hugely entertaining in a page turning way. I read the book from cover to cover in a weekend and couldn't put it down, thanks to the engaging style of writing, humour and clarity of presentation.

I have used the book over and over again for my research, and in my workshops for schools. The book gives a good sense of magnitude of carbon footprint and there are a few surprises (no plot spoilers in this review!) Whether or not low-carbon living is important to you, this book is well worth the read. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, this book can and will help.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Martin on 13 Sep 2012
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I myself like to think I am climate conscious, but I like many can slip up from time to time. This book is written is such a way, being humorous but still serious; it can picked it up by anyone. And precisely for that reason I truly believe this will have much more impact that many of the government's token environmental campaigns, for example "drive 5 miles less a week" in 2009.

As I expected this book uncovers some surprises, but hearing some of the items' carbon foot prints, it gives you a sense of guilt that's not too far off, how I'd feel being one those wealthy skiers in the Alps, who paid for a plane just to fly over their favourite breakfast from Paris.
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