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Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century Paperback – Bargain Price, March 1, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This 600-page companion to the eco-friendly website of the same name (www.worldchanging.com) is chock-a-block with information about what is going on right now to create an environmentally and economically sustainable future-and what stands in opposition. Along the way, editor Steffen and his team make the stakes perfectly clear: "Oil company experts debate whether we will effectively run out of oil in twenty years or fifty, but the essential point remains: if you're under thirty, you can expect to see a post-oil civilization in your lifetime." The organization of the hefty volume mimics that of the website, divided into sections on Stuff, Shelter, Cities, Community, Business, Politics and Planet. Typical readers will be introduced to new concepts such as harvesting rainwater, zero-energy houses, South-South science and the use of flowers to detect land mines in entries on everything from "Knowing What's Green" to "Demanding Human Rights." Each entry is brief but comprehensive; for example, the passage on "Better Food Everywhere" focuses on "Where it Matters Most," "Better Restaurants," "Community Gardens," and "Urban Farming." All entries wrap up with reviews of pertinent resources-including books, websites and moves-where readers can get more detailed information. With color photos on nearly every page, and written by a small army of contributors living and working around the world (with biographies almost as fascinating as their contributions), it's hard to imagine a more complete resource for those hoping to live in a future that is, as editor Steffen puts it, "bright, green, free and tough."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"'The Whole Earth Catalogue for the iPod generation' - Bill McKibben."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810970856
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,414,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Updated June 18/07 to add one more star (up from 2 to 3) simply for listing so many ideas. Also added a little qualification to my list of further references at the end.


The primary challenge, I think, of those who seek to change the world is to figure out a way of garnering a critical mass of like-minded individuals and then implementing the change on a large enough scale to make a difference.

It seems a bit of a watershed was reached this past summer, vis-a-vis environmental awareness, with the cinematic release of Al Gore's doc "An Inconvenient Truth (AIT)" and various reports on climate change out of the EU and the UN. The book Worldchanging fits in well as a follow-up to AIT for people who are only now realizing that biosphere-threatening problems exist in the world - ecological, social, economic and cultural. As a pre-emptive strike against the masses being overwhelmed and simply escaping into their Starbucks addiction (or perhaps as simply a shot in the arm), the folks at the Worldchanging blog site have compiled a large collection of specific ideas and initiatives garnered from around the world .

The idea is great and for the purposes of an introduction to a host of topics which could fall under the slippery rubric of "sustainable development" in a manner accessible to the general public, this book is probably a good choice. I haven't come across any other book which so captures the variety of topics in an intellectually accessible way. It's a bit like a (non-comprehensive and very brief) encyclopedia which could capture the imagination of teens and adults seeking exposure to local/global issues and cultures who haven't had the opportunity to gather information from sources other then mainstream press.
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Format: Hardcover
If Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" moved you, then Steffen's "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century" will move you to action. This is a beautifully crafted book that should be cherished - so full of resourceful ideas from around the world on how to live a more eco-friendly, sustainable life - without having to turn your back on the comforts of the 21st century. It's the ultimate feel-good book that lets you know there's hope for the planet if you're willing to make changes here and there in your daily life that really aren't all that inconvenient. Don't worry - the book doesn't lecture. It just INSPIRES.
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Format: Hardcover
Even starting to read Worldchanging has restored my faith that humanity can solve our current looming environmental, energy, and societal challenges. The introductory pages first stagger you with the size and severity of our global problems, and with just how unsustainable the current American way of life, consumption, and transportation are. But soon the pages start to reveal ideas and projects that are already starting to effect positive change -- some incredibly simple, others incredibly profound. I cannot read more than a couple pages at a time without just having to put the book down to either go "Wow" and comprehend what I've just read; or get up and do something . . . like write this review! For those concerned with our planet and future, reading this book, and acting upon what you read, is as important as, and equal to, voting. As this book shows, each changed person, even a changed habit, can add up towards making a huge and crucial difference in our environment and future -- towards a Changed World.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How do we coherently integrate and mobilize our evolving consciousness, technology, outright madness, and pig-headed, luminous human potential? Worldchanging is not the formulative answer but it's the best step in the right direction I have seen so far.

Worldchanging is a users guide and the starting point needed to begin millions (hopefully billions) of important conversations. It is filled with what we need most: straightforward, bite-sized summaries, directives and how-to instructions on most of the topics that we humans desperately need to know about in order to drive positive change. From under-reported successes in urban areas and environmental movements across the progressive spectrum to alternative energy solutions and simple facts and figures about the millennia we face, it carries the reader through the full intellectual and emotional spectrum.

I read about 25% of it in the first sitting and finished it the following day. Its rare that I am inspired, educated and empowered with specific tools for action in one sitting. My head was spinning and my eyes hurting but my spirits were quite lifted. I couldn't believe how much I did NOT know about each of the subjects.

And perhaps therein lies the essential value of Worldchanging: it equips ordinary individuals with information and resources to take immediate, meaningful and impacting action in their lives and on behalf of organizations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Worldchanging website has been operating for 2-3 years now. It is a compendium of the most balanced, practical, pragmatic, and thought provoking articles you are likely to find on the web. Concentrating on how to make the world a better place, it discusses climate change, environmental degradation, resource overuse... and most importantly, WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT!

That's the website. I'm pleased to say the book carries on the tradition splendidly!

At 600 pages, it carries a wealth of information grouped into several sections ranging from how we use 'stuff' through to how we can better plan cities and dwellings, through to social interactions and politics and ultimately, providing good custodianship of the planet.

Just as important as the content is the presentation. The topics this book covers are far too important to risk doing badly, and they have not been. Sagmeister has done a great job of laying out the information in an easily navigable form. Book and website have interacted: the book takes its two column layout from the site's blog style, and the site has recently been redesigned to match the organisation of the book.

Even more important than presentation is the spirit of presentation. Weighty (and potentially chilling) topics such as global warming are pitched with enthusiasm and are interspersed with lighter pieces and good humour. After all, a civilisation that can come up with a 3D chocolate fabricator (p 95) can't be all bad!? Far from it!

That spirit is infectious, and it needs to be. The website format allowed (and still allows) for a lively discussion of each article.
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