- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Green Profile (13 May 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846688914
- ISBN-13: 978-1846688911
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
How Bad are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything Paperback – 13 May 2010
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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)
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 needSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Some people will find it readable (if you are really interested in the topic and analytical, perhaps) while others will see it more as a reference. Perhaps it's in between. Read a quarter of it and return to it a week later could work.
However the charts and tables are hard to read in the Kindle edition and I had to take photos of them on my phone and zoom in. Some stars in the text that are presumably meant to appear at the bottom of a page are all lumped together at the end which is almost useless.
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.
I was finally flummoxed when I got to the final section (an appendix?) where the author really compares different harmful things and also ways to reverse the polarity by being carbon negative. When he explains you can save an acre of rainforest for about £4 a ton of CO2E (which would be the same as eating nothing but cheesebugers), I couldn't understand why I'd spent the whole book finding out about beer vs wine, buses vs trains etc. There are obviously some very cheap and easy ways to be carbon negative when compared with being fastidiously carbon anorexic.
It's an interesting read, but the fact that trying to be green is so unintuitive that we need a book to tell us we're doing the wrong thing by accident even if we do care shows this stuff is simply beyond the capacity of the general public to come around to. It might make you feel a little less personally guilty, but just following its advice would be missing the big picture that industry, technology, social norms and the lack of transparency about the real costs of the choices we make are going to be the real factors that influence our planet's future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've been aiming to live a lower carbon lifestyle for a while, but had no real way of measuring my carbon footprint. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Kindle Customer
An incredibly useful and intelligent book for alerting us what how much we are individually contributing to global warning. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Edward B. Crutchley
Brilliant book. Really helped me to know what is sustainable and what isnt. Interestingly written too.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Mike Berners-Lee is thorough and treats what could be a very dry subject with great humour. There are some surprising facts. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Allen
This is not a book to read. This is a reference book. It's great if you need to refer.Published 20 months ago by Raibeart