Foundation Reference for Future of Business Without Waste
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 16 years ago
This is easily one of the top ten books on the pragmatic reality of what Herman Daly calls "ecological economics" (see my list of Environmental Security). The author excels at painting a holistic view of the realities that are not being addressed by the media or by scholars in anything other than piecemeal fashion. The bottom line: what we are doing now in the face of accelerating decay (changes and losses that used to take 10,000 years now take three years) is the equivalent of "trying to bail out the Titanic with teaspoons." On page 21-22 the author states that we are using 10,000 days of energy creation every day, or 27 years of energy each day. This is a practical book. In brief, we can monetize the costs of the decay, we can show people the *real* cost of each product and in this way inspire both boycotts (of wasteful products) and boycotts (Jim Turner's term) of solar energy and long-lasting repairable products. The author appears to be both pro-business and very wise in seeing that the cannot save the environment by destroying business, but rather must save business so it can save the environment--we must help business understand that doing more with less is what they must do to survive. The author includes a recurring theme from the literature, that diversity is an option generator, and hence one of the most precious aspects of life on Earth. Diversity is the ultimate source of wealth, and anything that reduces diversity is impoverishing the planet and mankind. In a magnificent turn of phrase, the author states that the loss of a species is the loss of a biological library. At its root this book is about missing information, needed information, about the urgency of making all inputs, processes, and outputs from corporate production transparent. He quotes Vaclav Havel on page 54 as saying that this is an information challenge, a challenge of too much (or too little) information and not enough actionable intelligence supporting sustainable sensible outcomes. This is also a financial problem that has not been monetized properly. Although E. O. Wilson takes a crack at the strategic or gross costs of saving the Earth in his book "The Future of Life," this author looks at the retail level and describes the waste inherent in our military system. He reminds me of Derek Leebaert's "The 50 Year Wound" when he notes that the US and the USSR spent over 10 trillion dollars on the Cold War, enough to completely re-make the entire infrastructure of Earth, including all schools. As I myself like to note, for the half trillion we have spent on the war against Iraq, we could instead have given a free $50 cell phone to each of the 5 billion poor people, and changed the planet forever. The author is compelling in pointing out that conservation alone would save more energy than drilling in Alaska, and that President Reagan not rolled back gasoline mileage expectations, we would today be free of any dependency of Middle Eastern energy. A good
An outstanding book about healing our environment and our indifference to the crises of planetary po
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 17 years ago
Our planet is threatened on the one side by pressures of overpopulation and on the other side by pressures of nearly exhausted natural resources and pollution that are threatening to make our world uninhabitable. Paul Hawken does a masterful job of explaining the problems we face and suggesting creative solutions to these problems. Hawken points out that our pursuit of material gain has grown to be such an accepted goal and one that has been so successful for the industrial nations of the world, that it is difficult for most people to realize that the western standard of living cannot be sustained much longer. Hawken suggests that it is entirely possible to create companies that are profitable but do not destroy the environment - either directly or indirectly. The problem in most Western countries is the limited vision of environmental proponents. They are doing a good job addressing recycling and reducing pollution, but are missing crucial broader principles. Hawken recommends taxation on pollution. Hawken cautions that the public must stand vigilant guard on issues of protecting the environment, because our government is run by those who have vested interests in corporate profits rather than in the general good of all. This is an outstanding book about healing our environment, the conduct of business, governmental management of both - and most importantly, about healing our indifference to the crises of planetary pollution and our limited healing of these problems. This book is very highly recommended - despite its publication a dozen years ago.
Excellent, especially the second time around
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
When I first tried to read this book, I didn't even get past the first chapter. But when I picked it up again almost a year later, I absorbed it like a sponge. Even when I interviewed the president of a sustainable business for my website, SustainableWays.com, I found that the same thing happened to him. The fact of the matter is, this is an excellent book, but it's also somewhat of a pragmatic call to arms. It wasn't till I'd explored and developed my ideas about the environment and resolved to do something about it that I could fully appreciate this book. For someone who's still exploring their position on these issues, Paul Hawken's prescriptions for action will probably seem irrelevant and premature. But if your ideas are ripe and you're ready to put them to work, The Ecology of Commerce is an invaluable resource.Before I read this book, I used to think that business and the environment were inherently at odds. But then I realized that this doesn't have to be the case. According to Hawken, the problem lies in our economic system's design, and no amount of management or programs is going to change that. In order to make things better, we're going to have to rethink our economic structure, and in that possibility is where Mr. Hawken finds hope. As he so eloquently put it:"To create an enduring society, we will need a system of commerce and production where each and every act is inherently sustainable and restorative...Just as every action in an industrial society leads to environmental degradation, regardless of intention, we must design a system where the opposite is true, where doing good is like falling off a log, where the natural, everyday acts of work and life accumulate into a better world as a matter of course, not as a matter of conscious altruism." (Hawken, p. xiv)The Ecology of Commerce is dedicated to envisioning such a system, and discussing how we can get from here to there. The restorative economy contemplated by Hawken may seem like a long shot, but he demonstrates that it IS possible because his approach is to work WITH natural processes, not against them. That not only includes those processes existing in ecosystems, but also the ones present in ourselves, like our unique ability to innovate. You see, what makes these ideas inspiringly hopeful, and what I love most about this book, is the author's willingness not just to acknowledge the way things really are, but also to use them to our advantage. For example, he's smart enough to know that any system, program, or law that asks people to sacrifice happiness, comfort, or convenience ISN'T sustainable because ultimately, it just won't work. "Humans want to flourish and prosper," he explains, "and they will eventually reject any system of conservation that interferes with these desires...[A sustainable society] will only come about through the accumulated effects of daily acts of billions of eager participants" (Hawken, p. xv).This is the kind of book I'd encourage you to buy if
Someone's gotta do it
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 24 years ago
It seems some are skeptical of Hawken's book because his ideas are too radical and no one will actually adopt his idealist suggestions. But this is the first book I've read that has made concrete suggestions that please both the business world and the environment. Yes it's radical, but the world is soon going to require radical solutions. I loved this book and admire his ingenuity.
Essential Reading for anyone who hopes for a future on earth
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 27 years ago
The Ecology of Commerce is not easy reading, not because Hawken's prose or style is difficult, but because it is difficult to remain optomistic or hopeful in the face of the overwhelming case made by him about the certainty with which our current system of business is doomed to destroy us. The changes he proposes are both incredibly simple, yet incredibly unlikely to be implemented or even paid attention to in the next twenty to thirty years. It will take virtual eco-collapse in the Industrialized nations before the wise words of Hawken and his colleagues will be heeded. And of course it will be much, much too late. Should you have the stomach for it however, you will find the Ecology of Commerce an extremely well crafted argument for some simple logical principles that could save the life that we love and actually improve business and our standard of living in the process
ThriftBooks sells millions of used books at the lowest everyday prices. We personally assess every book's quality and offer rare, out-of-print treasures. We deliver the joy of reading in recyclable packaging with free standard shipping on US orders over $15. ThriftBooks.com. Read more. Spend less.