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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief, provocative, illuminating, uncomfortable reading
For such a short book, (only 126 pages ignoring the final "100 ideas" chapter), "Sustainability" covers a lot of ground, and addresses matters that most readers, even the most environmentally aware, will probably never have thought about much, such as the world's use of steel and cement. There are surprising ideas; one I particularly liked, was that if manufacturers make...
Published 18 months ago by Alun Williams

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An uneven analysis
This is a topic which provokes strong emotions and polarised points of view; a topic which needs to be written about in a disappasionate manner in order to be effective (after all if all you're trying to do is 'preach' to the converted rather than persuade the 'unconverted' then what's the point?). As with many other publications on this subject Chris Goodall's book is...
Published 10 months ago by D. P. Mankin


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief, provocative, illuminating, uncomfortable reading, 16 Mar 2013
By 
Alun Williams "mathematician manqué" (Peterborough,England) - See all my reviews
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For such a short book, (only 126 pages ignoring the final "100 ideas" chapter), "Sustainability" covers a lot of ground, and addresses matters that most readers, even the most environmentally aware, will probably never have thought about much, such as the world's use of steel and cement. There are surprising ideas; one I particularly liked, was that if manufacturers make profits from renting out rather than selling products, then they will be motivated to make things that last as long as possible rather than things that wear out. "Sustainability" will probably manage to challenge many potential readers by coming out against some favourite "green" practices: the book advocates the use of synthetic rather than natural materials; is sceptical about organic methods of food production; the author believes that nuclear power is essential if the world is to reduce its use of fossil fuels. Chapters on food, steel, clothing, and energy summarise the differing sustainability challenges these economic sectors face.
A contrarian streak pervades the book, which advocates economic growth as the way to achieving sustainability. The author believes that Earth's resources are sufficient to provide everyone with a high standard of living provided we recycle materials efficiently and develop alternatives to materials which run short. He justifies this perhaps surprising belief by numerical and scientific arguments, which is one of the things I most like about the book: Chris Goodall is not afraid of using calculations to attempt to answer questions, and even if you disagree with his figures, the methods he uses are a useful way to think about the issues.
As someone who is very pessimistic about the outlook for the world forty or fifty years from now, "Sustainability" provides some comfort. The author argues that even with a population of 10 billion the world will easily be able to grow enough food to feed itself, but only if the trend for increasing meat consumption is reversed. In face the "Food" chapter was the one I found least satisfactory, I felt too little attention was paid to the potential disruption of food supplies by rising energy prices and climate change, and the author dismisses organic agriculture with hand-waving rather than numerical argument. I found the "Clothing" chapter quite challenging, and will need to rethink my buying habits in this area. Chris Goodall is very complimentary about hemp, and his coverage of the true cost of using cotton is sobering.
This is a great little book - lots of information, easy to understand, plenty of suggestions for further reading, and making some strong arguments. Well worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting!, 12 May 2014
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This is an interesting little book and is good for guiding the reader thought the issues concerned.

I found that I dipped in and out of this book, choosing to read about areas that interested me most, and it is quite possible to use this book in that way - ie as reference tool / educational tool about a specific area.

It is a good book, with lots of ideas - some more intuitive than others.

Would recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An uneven analysis, 5 Nov 2013
By 
D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This is a topic which provokes strong emotions and polarised points of view; a topic which needs to be written about in a disappasionate manner in order to be effective (after all if all you're trying to do is 'preach' to the converted rather than persuade the 'unconverted' then what's the point?). As with many other publications on this subject Chris Goodall's book is much stronger on analysis than proposals for change. Perhaps this is a reflection of the extent to which argumentation is too often opaque. The quality of argumentation is critical in this type of book. It needs to be well honed and accurate, carefully crafted - with all sources accurately cited so that arguments stand up to scrutiny. The author doesn't always do this so perhaps stronger editing was needed in order to make this text stand out from the crowd.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great value starting point!, 28 Oct 2013
By 
A. Williams "Barry Fan" (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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Sustainability is a great value read which covers a broad selection of topics, but rather than diving too deeply into the nuances of each of area, takes key points as a way of representing an over all argument. This argument, as Chris admits, is a contentious one, is that sustainability does not necessarily require a massive reduction in the quality of living that people have grown used to or in fact that it requires the over all reduction in GDP. This is at odds with the standard views of the eco band camp (which I am undecided if I am in or not).

The book is decidedly negative about humanities current situation, however, rather than goading the population, Chris is optimistic and discusses how we can turn the boat of progress onto a more sustainable path rather than demanding an overarching stop to it. However, although he admits and acknowledges that this is not easy, he does not provide many answers.

This in my opinion is the best part of this book, however was going to be my major gripe with it (until I reached the final section). This book, to me, is a starting point, and a reference point of brining the many strains of human sustainability on earth. It gives you vectors to look into, while still understanding that vectors connection with the over all picture. However, although it is notated with many concise and useful diagrams illustrating points, it does not give vary many references for the reader to conduct further research.
However, the 100 ideas section at the end of the book provides an original form of bibliography with 100 sections of interest and their corresponding research locations.

Overall, a good read with interesting points and a great concise book to refer to for anyone with an interest in this area for a very reasonable cost.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential read, 5 Sep 2013
By 
Gary White "gwhitegeog" (Fulham, London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a short, small book but a frightening but necessary book to read. Chris Goodall is a very well regarded author on green and environmental issues but he is no 'tree hugger'. The facts are presented dispassionately looking at plain and simple economics, and practical aspects of resources and demand. This book is a fine general read - the sort of book that you can read on a train or air journey - but is a useful primer for students and teachers and those who have a more academic interest in the subject. This book is logically laid out, well written and authoritative. The amount of water required to 'make' one kilo of beef, or grow arable crops or make a pair of jeans should make us all sit up and take note, for example. Well recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and intelligent primer with some contentious viewpoints, 18 Jun 2013
By 
bomble "bomble" (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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I have read several of the works that underpin Goodall's rapid and valuable precis of the questions of sustainability. In some cases, I don't entirely agree with his reasoning but overall I found this to be a stimulating and instructive distillation of a complex and contentious subject.

Armed only with this book, and better yet having followed the links proposed in the '100 Ideas' section, you will be much better qualified to judge the merit of what is said about sustainability. You will be able to spot where marketing has trumped genuine sustainability credentials; where things fit in relative importance on the impact to sustainability and how to shift to ethical and moral arguments leaving political and economic dogmas behind.

To have managed that in 150 swiftly readable pages is a triumph. I will be adding it to my list of must-reads on the subject (along with titles like David Mackay's Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air and Here on Earth by Tim Flannery).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be afraid: be very afraid !, 18 Aug 2013
By 
Duncurin (Manchester) - See all my reviews
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This is an amazing, but ultimately very scary book. Like all scary stories, the author draws you in slowly, carefully; and then comes Chapter 4 and you realise just what awaits you. It would be much easier of course if the author was some `tree hugger' intent on scaring you with well-told stories and simple hype, but you realise that the facts are presented with a smooth, logical and entirely credible progression that makes this volume much more scary than any work of fiction. I suggest that every person should be presented with one of these perhaps at the age of 16: for the author makes it clear that if we are to leave more than a barren rock-covered dust-bowl for our children, then we had all better get on the programme and this book makes very clear just how much work there is to do - and we had better do so pretty quickly.

The chapters are laid out beautifully with the main problematic areas and I particularly enjoyed ( or was terrified by! ) the discussion about beef, cotton, water and of course over-fishing, over cultivation of land and unfortunately many, many more.

Even more than this, however, the thing that frightens me even more is the fact that I suspect that the Earth is supporting as many humans as it possibly can. I base this on any newspaper that one may care to pick up. The terrible natural disasters that occur in over populated, over farmed, flood-plain-built areas or areas that have been denuded of natural protection like a forest ! In addition, the scramble for natural resources that I suspect is only just hotting up and I wonder what will become of old Blighty when much more affluent countries have bought up all the oil or perhaps the wheat - and just what are we going to do about it - not a lot I fancy.
Moreover, humans are not a very happy bunch for all our wonderful advances, our longevity and our mobile computing devices - peoples lives are more and more isolated, less fulfilled; and this is before we take into account the terrible atrocities that we visit on each other, our children, wives, girlfriends - the list is endless, and I suspect is growing by the day.

Most scary of all, however, are the countries who really need to think about all of the above are the ones who will see no need for change or modification of their behaviour and I suspect nothing will happen until some really horrible event occurs and by then is suspect it may well be too late for us all, let alone our children.

So, a beautifully argued book, which makes its case with a calm and calculating precision - read it, if you dare. Many thanks.
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4.0 out of 5 stars We need to think about the future, 15 May 2014
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
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With the growth of huge nations like China and India and their increasing prosperity we're using up all kinds of resources more quickly than ever. What is going to be left for future generations?

This book posits sensible strategies for this and provides a lot of issues to ponder over.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction and overview of Sustainability, 6 Nov 2013
By 
Mart (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Sustainability is one of today's key topics - a much used word but not necessarily always well understood. Chris Goodall's book is clearly written and easy to follow, with plenty of graphs and tables to summarise the text. Some of the figures make startling reading, for example in the UK, the total weight of clothing sold increased by about 40% between 1999 and 2007 - attributed to a change in how people considered clothing to be disposable, worn a few times and thrown away to landfill. Topics such as these provide much food for thought in our ever increasing demands on earth's natural resources.

The 10 chapters, a total of 150 or so pages, include Food, Steel, Energy, Clothing, and various topical discussions. The last chapter `100 Ideas' provides further sources of reading for each chapter.

Good thought provoking reading combined with clearly described topics and easy to digest facts make this a compelling book to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sustainability: All That Matters, 13 Aug 2013
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Another interesting book that you can dip in and out of at will. I chose this book due to an interest in the sustainability and the environment in general but specifically because I wanted to read the sections on food and clothing which are full of really helpful, useful information and facts. I read those sections first and after reading the introductory chapters and have skipped a few of the others for now but the ethical challenge chapter and the 100 ideas chapter which is really a helpful further information/reading list source are also definitely worth checking out. 4/5
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