Customer Reviews


19 Reviews
5 star:
 (12)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that can change your life.
I have not only read this book but I have had the honour of hearing author William Rees explain the world's current environmental predicament. His analysis -- as stated in the book and by other readers-- is so simple yet profound. I believe the ecological footprint analysis tool offers one of the best ways to explain to people why they must change their lifestyles. I...
Published on September 29, 1999

versus
15 of 137 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars this guy is a treehugger
I was assigned to read this book for an nature and human values course. And I must say that this book is by far the worst assigned reading, the level of reading is average, but what bothers me the most is how the author talks down to the other side of the spectrum of the arguement. It is also extremely repetive and I found myself dreading the reading of the next...
Published on September 14, 1999


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that can change your life., September 29, 1999
By A Customer
I have not only read this book but I have had the honour of hearing author William Rees explain the world's current environmental predicament. His analysis -- as stated in the book and by other readers-- is so simple yet profound. I believe the ecological footprint analysis tool offers one of the best ways to explain to people why they must change their lifestyles. I believe so much in the concept, I have started a business to help the corporate sector implement sustainable practices and policies. Our society probably has a better chance of survival if we can change the way influential companies do business, rather than changing one individual at a time. This book provides the basis for understanding why we must change. Then read Natural Capitalism by Hawken and Lovins and you'll understand how much progress has already been made and how much more is achievable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Running Out of Room: Economists' Viewpoint, October 13, 2004
This book is about the environmental costs that humans have on our planet, especially those humans living in developed countries. The authors contend that we are using up the resources of the planet at an astounding rate, such that little will be left for generations of the future. In other words, our present lifestyle is unsustainable. The authors argue that a measure of sustainability can be calculated by adding up the resources used by a group of people, and translating this to area on the earth, which yields roughly the total amount of land needed by the group to live sustainably, or their "ecological footprint". They point out that people in developed countries tend to have much larger ecological footprints than those in developing countries, but even amongst developed countries, there are large differences, and that Americans have huge ecological footprints compared to people from most other countries. In fact, in order for everyone on Earth to live as Americans do, it would require several additional planets to provide the resources and disposal space for waste.

The beginning chapters of the book define sustainability and the concept of ecological footprint. They also argue that our present practices are not sustainable. In the third chapter, we find the general idea of how an ecological footprint can be calculated, and the types of resources that need to be accounted for. The authors also run through a few examples of how footprints can be calculated on a nation by nation basis. They don't claim to have developed a conclusive method for calculating ecological footprints, especially on an individual basis, though they invite interested readers to do so on their own (there are numerous suggestions for how to do so on the Web). The last part of the book suggests some possible strategies for creating a more sustainable world. Endnotes citing sources appear following each chapter. There is a glossary, but no index. The book includes a number of black-and-white illustrations and cartoons.

The authors argue that "The strength of the Ecological Footprint analysis is its ability to communicate simply and graphically the general nature and magnitude of the biophysical `connectedness' between humankind and the ecosphere." They go on to comment "Ecological Footprint analysis can estimate the balance of trade in load-bearing capacity as embodied in the energy and material flows associated with trade goods and biogeochemical cycles." These ideas are interesting and hefty- -the text is somewhat theoretical and aimed towards those who are fascinated with macroeconomics. The style of writing is not for everyone, but there are some very valid points to mull over. For example, in a box discussing efficiency gains and sustainability, the authors point out that in the past, efficiency gains have led to more consumption rather than a decrease in resource usage, so we can't rely on efficiency gains as a solution to over-consumption.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for the right audience, December 14, 2003
By 
merrymousies (Waterford, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This is an interesting book. I bought this originally as a gift for my aunt but upon receiving it I decided it was far too technical for her. Its a great book but you need to already have a basic understanding of and interest in sustainability. If you already have this basic understanding then this book is superb - it can help you take that basic understanding to the next level and not just in terms of understanding how local issues fit together but how global issues do. The authgors try in parts of the book to make this whole thing easy and fun but ultimately this is a pretty technical book - getting into things like the environmental impact of a person/community in Norway versus a person/community elsewhere in the world. Really interesting and definitely more complex than the online tools that you can use to measure your individual impact on the world but again, you need to really be interested in the subject of sustainability to enjoy this book. Lots of "meat" in here to chew on, now a quick read by any means.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, jolts one from the rat race..., September 7, 1997
By 
hakoon@tm.net.my (Masai, Johor, Malaysia.) - See all my reviews
I stumbled upon this book in the journal D&G, at a time I was thinking hard about the direction of the civilization. So I ordered one.

It was an unassuming book, neatly printed and illustrated with black and white caricatures. At first I thought it was a mistake to order such a book. But as I read on, the insights of the authors emerged, so profound, yet so simply explained. Really, after swallowing all the contents for five consecutive nights, one will ask, "How come I did not think of this??".

The concept is vivid : it tried to explain what the ecological footprint means : how much of land is required to support yourself. And it turned out that there is already not enough for the world. Further proliferation of current lifestyles is suicidal.

The authors devoted a whole long chapter on proposals of alternative lifestyles. These are nowhere hardcore technical, rest assured. They are blindingly simple, and yet hard to swallow. Just ask any Tom, Dick and Harry whether he or she wants such a life, you will get an awkward stare : are you in your right mind? The authors may be right, but when we have gone so far astray, we have forgotten the road from which we come.

This book cannot score 10 points, though. The examples on how an economy can develop without growth are not solid enough. While the writers are not economists, to force the reader to think twice about current lifestyles, they must fork out a marvellous thesis, which has yet to be clearly stated.

This is a good book at the introductory level. Although it sometimes touch on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the reader is not expected to have an a priori understanding. It's explanation is vivid and simple. While it may insult Professors and those high brow academics, it is a book easy to follow.

Worth a try
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! A must for everyone concerned with our future., August 17, 1999
By A Customer
Professors Rees and Wackernagel have developed a new concept to assess individuals and countries impact on the environment, a quantitative measure which acts as a common denomintor for all peoples, at all levels of affluence or poverty. This will become the yardstick of our future, like the invention of money by the Babylonians or Assyrians has become the unit of exchange in the trade of goods and services. Clearly written, the book is needed to be understood by all politicians, bankers, voters, leaders and living humans. Knowing ideas such as these is crucial and essential for our survival in the biosphere.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that started the ball rolling, April 4, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Back when Rees and Wackernagel wrote Our Ecological Footprint, no one was looking at the problem in that way.

Now that everyone has jumped on the "our-planet-is-finite" bandwagon, we need to be reminded that this is where it started.

Much research has been done since it came out, and some of the figures will no doubt be out of date, but it still belongs in every environmentally conscious person's collection. Buy it while you can!

G. Bisaillon
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for understanding "sustainability", July 15, 2004
By 
Joe Nolan (Ithaca, NY USA) - See all my reviews
I believe this important book is the first to supply a method for individuals and societies to get a quantitative understanding of what "sustainable" really means. Footprinting allows families, cities, and countries to analyze their "ecological budget", and to learn to live within their fair share of available natural resources. The wonderful cartoons convey key concepts brilliantly, and make a potentially heavy text more fun to read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must reading for anyone worried about the Earth's biosphere., August 12, 2005
By 
D. Kustudic (Kentville, Nova Scotia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
During the past half a century human beings have been

multiplying at such a rate that the number of humans on Earth has

more than TRIPPLED ! Also, the "well to do" section of humanity has been increasing constantly their desire to have a bigger and bigger share of Erth's "goodies". The unfortunate result of these two factors has DEVESTATED the Earth's environment to the point of collapse. This book, which is written in a language which anyone can understand clearly, gives an excellent account of such important items like "true sustainability", HUMAN footprint on the biosphere, and what will happen if we all do not start realizing that we have already exceeded the Earth's capacity to carry us by 200 to 300 % !! So, please READ IT !
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The unsustainability of capitalism illustrated with sharp numbers, February 13, 2009
The GNP is a downright stupid way to measure the economic activity of a society, since the GNP really measures the destruction of nature. A tree is worth 0 USD until it is cut and sold as wood. A whale is worth 0 USD until it is caught and cut to pieces. What capitalism leaves behind is a total depletion of natural resources, and this is what we then call "progress" or "welfare". The authors lead us back to the basics, when they state : "We do not have a body, we are a body; we are not surrounded by an "environment"; we are an intimate part of the ecosphere." Therefore, they introduce an alternative indicator to the GNP, the Ecological Footprint (EF), which is certainly a much more intelligent way of measuring what finally really supports humankind. The EF "is estimated by calculating how much land and water area is required on a continuous basis to produce all the goods consumed, and to assimilate all wastes generated, by that population."

This is probably the greatest breakthrough in economic thought of the 20th century (however, it has not been rewarded with a Nobel prize, since those are only given to economists following mainstream capitalist dogma's, even if mainstream thinking means heading for doom, and heading fast).

The authors call our attention to the fact that the EF has been changing throughout human history, with an exponential increase in the 20th century. In 1900 the US had an EF of about 1 ha/cap. This rose to about 2 ha/cap around 1950. In 1995 the US reached 5.1 ha/cap, showing a deficit of 80 % of its productive land surface. Japan has even a bigger deficit, requiring 8 times more than its net productive land surface to sustain its current production and consumption level. In this way, the EF also measures how "developed" countries depend on the "Third World" to sustain their production and consumption.

The last 15 years we entered a new phase in capitalist development, with China and India trying to catch up with the western way of life. The authors warn us : "If everybody lived like today's North Americans, it would take at least two additional planet Earths to produce the resources, absorb the wastes, and otherwise maintain life-support. Unfortunately, good planets are hard to find..." The ecological carrying-capacity of spaceship Earth is limited. "Beyond a certain point, the material growth of the world economy can be purchased only at the expense of depleting natural capital and undermining the life-support services upon which we all depend." What capitalism believes in, money, is - in the end - totally worthless. You can't eat dollars, euros nor yens. The only real assets we have, as humankind, are oceans full of life, uncut tropical forests acting as the lungs of the planet, and fertile agricultural land. If we continue to fish beyond sustainability, if we continue cutting tropical forests, if we continue farming producing erosion, and above all, if we continue to believe that we really produce value in this way (in the form of money), we will end up totally broke.

We should stop pretending to be homo sapiens and behave like fools ! We should begin acting in a wise way ! The solutions are really simple. It means transforming our consumption in a sustainable way, at all levels. A lot can be done at a personal level. It means producing your own electricity with solar panels. It means reducing your dependence on fossil fuels by transforming your home in a passive solar house. It means driving an electric car (Fiat will launch the Phylla with solar panels incorporated in the vehicle in 2010). It means buying organics, so that you not only help to sustain pesticide-free agriculture, fertilized with nutrient-rich compost, but even improve your health.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Measuring ourselves, November 26, 2007
This wonderful little book presents an excellent tool for evaluating human impact on our planet. The idea is simple but the ramifications are profound. We each require a certain amount of land area to provide the wherewithal to continue living. The requisite area depends first on absolute needs and expands depending upon other consumption. This space requirement is our ecological footprint. When that idea is extended to cities or countries we can get a clear picture of a culture's impact on the planet. Using this lens we find that the North American per capita footprint is over ten times that of India with the other Western industrial nations clustered near our end of the scale. As we are often reminded, if our consumption patterns were to be implemented world wide, we would need a few extra planet's worth of land and resources. The dilemma facing us in the very near future is how to reduce our current footprint, allow space for improvement in the lives of the one billion persons living in absolute poverty, and preserve some vestige of the natural world as both an ecologic shock absorber and inspirational wellspring. The authors suggest that one way to make impact more tangible is to work from a standpoint of "fair share," our footprint size in an equitably apportioned world. They estimate that after subtracting ice caps, oceans, deserts and mountains, and setting aside current wilderness areas as critical to ecologic stability, there are 8.9 billion hectares of land on earth available for human support. Our per capita share of that number has fallen from 5-6 hectares in 1900 to 1.5 today. Americans each currently command 4.3 hectares worth of goods and services. (A daily newspaper alone consumes 10% of an individual's fair share. Commuting alone by auto is off the chart.) The good news is that standard of living and resource consumption do not move in lockstep. We can do more with less, and the whole notion of a sustainable future depends on how well and how quickly we move in that direction. The bad news is that we have to move very fast. OUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT provides a fine perspective for evaluating and changing your own lifestyle, and should be a required reference for policy makers around the globe.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth (New Catalyst's Bioregional Series, No 9)
Used & New from: $71.00
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.