I’ve heard so many good things about this book I really should give it a read. If anyone really popularised environmental activism in America, it was Edward Abbey; he was cantankerous, misanthropic, but often very funny. I’ve read some of his other stuff and found it very moving. Monkey Wrench Gang includes the line: “One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork.”
Personally I don’t tend to go for books which hector me into consuming more responsibly. It’s a fine art, writing a good eco friendly book. In recent months I’ve been building up a pretty good selection now in the store. I just wish I had the time to actually sit down and read more of them.
Chris Goodall’s book How To Live A Low Carbon Life is a particularly good one. This is a received recently in The Guardian:
Goodall, a businessman who is standing for the Green party in the next election, opens with a lengthy consideration of the difficulties governments and companies face in taking the lead on global warming. He concludes that people will have to go it alone. From that position, he takes a bottom-up view premised on a calculation that the UK’s total greenhouse emissions, divided by its population, entail an individual responsibility for 12.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. Since stopping warming means very deep cuts in all emissions of greenhouse gases, each of us has to cut the 12.5 tonnes to 3, Goodall believes.
Six tonnes of the 12.5 come from our direct emissions: the running of our homes and our average travel. Six-and-a-half tonnes come from indirect emissions on our behalf: those produced by the creation of steel, concrete, food, plastic, and the other stuff that makes up where we live, what we eat, and how we spend our time. Goodall then calculates the breakdown of direct and indirect emissions, providing useful endnotes for those intent on serious bean-counting.
It is instructive to see where the main challenges lie, in order of importance. Our average 6 tonnes of direct emissions are led by 1.8 from air travel, then 1.2 from car travel, 1.2 from home heating, and 0.6 from electric appliances other than lighting, which is 0.1. Cooking, assuming that we use gas, is a surprisingly low average of 0.1. Goodall then leads us through each category and shows how and where we can cut, and how much money we save or expend along the way, until we reach his target of 3 tonnes.