Top positive review
An excellent read but no magic bullets
on 5 January 2016
This is certainly a very readable and thought provoking book about balancing individual freedoms against the common (environmental) good. The author reminds us that from an environmental point of view we are presently behaving like children in a sweet shop knowing that sugar is bad but unable to resist the temptation. Somewhat scarily he advocates the need for more government in order to ensure (a) equality (a study shows a direct correlation between income inequality, characteristic of more liberal economies, and index of health and social problems), (b) manage employment (fewer working hours if necessary in order to counter the growth effect of productivity gains, moving towards low carbon labour intensive activities), and (c) all else that is needed for a rapid transition away from rampant materialistic consumerism driven by unsustainable novelty seeking and planned obsolescence (in favour of a sustainable society more focused on the common good, citing Mahatma Gandhi’s “live simply so others might simply live”). The book argues how GDP needs to be redefined in order to reflect resource depletion and carbon footprint. Studies show that as a nation’s income increases towards the current levels of developed countries there is a significant tailing-off in education level, life expectancy and happiness index. But the problem for the reader is the difficulty of imagining the precipitation of such a transition away from our planet-destroying way of life with the rapidity needed and without crashing the economy in the process. Much more ominously, though, is the fact that this book was derived from the work of the UK Sustainable Development Commission which was closed down in 2011 by the incoming “greenest government ever”.