Friday, 15 April 2016

Confessions of an Eco Sinner by Fred Pearce

In this book, Fred Pearce aims to travel to the places where his stuff comes from, investigating among others: Kenyan green beans, paper recycling in China, electronics recycling, fair trade coffee, fair trade organic socks and many other items.

He also investigates his environmental footprint - not just the carbon footprint, but the water footprint and mineral footprint, including looking at the travel he undertook to research the book and the publishing and printing footprints of the book's production. (The book is produced on paper that meets Forest Stewardship Council guidelines, but he looks into more than that).

This is a very informative book, very detailed and quite dense in the amount of information it gives without ever becoming hard going. Well it's readable anyway, though it is often depressing at the same time. As I read, it was often difficult to escape the conclusion that 'we're all doomed'.

It actually isn't all doom and gloom. There are chapters on environmental activists, ethical jewellers and recycling merchants. The last section of the book focuses on the positive too, considering how we can slow down climate change, how the population time bomb isn't as bad as we think and how cities can become environmentally friendly places to live.

I did think that the book didn't explore some issues in enough depth, which I guess is a natural consequence of wanting to cover as many relevant topics as possible. The section on transport I found particularly unsatisfactory, as the tricky issues of what forms of transport are genuinely less carbon intensive was covered in just enough detail to probably be actually misleading (yes, an empty bus trundling through the streets is more carbon intensive than a private car, but if all the people in the private cars leave them at home and take the bus then the bus is obviously less carbon intensive, plus it reduces pollution, reduces congestion and probably reduces the risk of traffic accidents - we need to look at the potential best scenario and work towards that, not bemoan the fact that some buses are empty).

This book is slightly out of date (published in 2008) but still very well worth reading as an overview on many environmental issues that affect many of us on a daily basis.

Confessions of an Eco Sinner by Fred Peake published by Eden Project Books


eileeninmd said...

Hello, sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the review. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

sage said...

Sounds interesting and very insightful

Anonymous said...

This book sounds very informative,a good post.

Lynn said...


Anonymous said...

I'm reminded that I had a book back in the 1980s -I forget what it was called- that told you how to turn old oil drums into wind turbines (with bicycle bearings and old electric motors used as dynamos), how to roll up and glue newspapers to make them into logs to burn, not to mention how to make houses out of the roofs of old cars. I've no idea what happened to it but I often wish I still had it!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

It is good that he offers some suggestions and solutions. I hate reading books that ONLY tell you wnat is wrong. I know there aren't easy answers to much of what is wrong ... but if there's no hope at all, we might as well not read about it. So this sounds like one I'd read. (Also I was glad to read that he talked about how he got to those places because it does seem like a lot of people tell us what we should and shouldn't do but they themselves think nothing of jumping in planes to investigate ....). I guess the title tells us something about how much he realizes too.