This is a small book; it won't take you long to get through it. The meat of it is 100 independent sections, each 1 or 2 pages long, discussing a thing you might be doing now that is generating more CO2 than necessary or a thing you *could* do which would cause less CO2 to be generated. The English is easy to read and the concepts are presented in a simple manner. Each section gives an estimate of how much of a difference you might make by making a change in the way you do something. Of course an accurate figure would typically depend on many variables, but they just swag everything; in truth the CO2 savings for a particular individual might be far more or less in many cases, but personally I still liked getting a very rough idea of just how much each of these things matter.
The book is primarily concerned with global warming, but there is also some mention of other types of pollution, water conservation, etc. The potential savings varies wildly across the sections -- you'll read that you can prevent the generation of around 5000 pounds of CO2 per year by replacing regular appliances with Energy Star appliances, and then you'll read that you can prevent the generation of 7 pounds of CO2 per year by using LED Christmas lights.
Overall it was an interesting, easy read; I enjoyed it.
One disappointment was the "Carbon Calculator" discussion at the front of the book. First, if you drive a car 3000 miles a year, even without adding in any other factors you automatically get their lowest rating, POOR. They set the standard so high that I suspect for most people it will be a bit demotivating.
Also, their calculator has the somewhat bizarre effect of giving people a higher rating for having more kids. For example, a family of 3 could go from a POOR rating up to a GOOD rating simply by having 3 more children. Of course, those children over the courses of their lives will be responsible for the generation of huge quantities of CO2, and they will likely produce grandkids, great-grandkids, etc. who will generate more CO2 (and pollute) ad infinitum. The truth of the matter is that if you took every step in that book, the combined effect would pale in comparison to adopting one of your children, or simply having one less. Yet this book never talks about population directly, and its carbon calculator effectively says that if you have more kids you will be a better ecological citizen. I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose, and I understand that in the U.S. we take it as a personal right to have as many kids as we please, but it was a bit of a shock to see this in their tool for self-assessment.
Still, for somebody who has heard about many things they *could* do but is wondering which ones matter the most, I'd recommend this book.
on November 4, 2010
I purchased the book thinking I would learn a few more ways to reduce my carbon footprint.
To my surprise, I learned so much more. Although I realized I was doing what I feel is my share, I realized I could do so much more. And it was little things like, unplugging completely, changing filters at home and in the car more often, and reducing my driving, and taking my name off of junk mail lists. I thank the people who published this amazing little nugget of a book. Hey, I even got the kids on board!