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Saving the planet
By Sushant Sharma

Chris Goodall's well researched book, 'How to live a low carbon life', provides a practical approach to low-carbon living and shows how easy it is to take responsibility by each one of us.


How to live a low carbon life? A lot of books, journals, and websites have tried to answer this question. But none have given an accurate and practical answer that can be followed by us all. People are fed up with reading about all the little things that one can do for the planet and fancy living proper green life. What they need now is a road map that they can follow; practical and economically viable guidelines to conserve what is left of our precious environment.

Drastic reduction of carbon emissions is vital if we are to avoid a catastrophe that devastates large parts of the world. Governments and businesses have been slow to act - individuals need to take the lead now if we are to avoid climate chaos. And that is what Chris Goodall aims at: mobilizing individuals to take the lead and help save our planet.

Chris Goodall is recognized around the world as an authority on how an individual’s choices and consumption patterns affect their carbon footprint. His latest offering carries the self explanatory title: “How to Live a Low-Carbon Life”. His no-fancy-practical title itself gives the correct impression that the book aims at being a no-nonsense practical book. The book is quoted as the carbon-reduction bible which contains the definite guiding principle to reduce our carbon footprint.

The author has released the fully revised and expanded second edition of the book. In the second edition Goodall has taken into account new global targets on emissions reductions and includes up-to-date calculations and extensive graphics clearly laying out the path to a low-carbon life.

The book leaves no stone unturned on its journey to low-carbon life. According to the book, each Westerner is responsible for an average 10 - 20 tons of carbon emissions each year, compared to 1 - 1.5 tons of carbon emission per year by an average Indian individual. The African nations contribute to only 1/7th of the global carbon emissions showing clearly that the rich industrialized countries are the ones damaging our planet the most, when they should be the ones taking lead to having a low carbon emission standard.

CO2 emissions per capita per year for different nations
According to the book, each Westerner is responsible for an average 10 - 20 tons of carbon emissions each year, compared to 1 - 1.5 tons of carbon emission per year by an average Indian individual.

Some of the findings by Goodall show that the easiest ways to cut emissions are probably 1) to stop flying and b) to become a vegetarian and c) only buy second-hand clothes. As this admirable guide demonstrates so clearly, a low-carbon lifestyle can be elegant, fun, rewarding and could save us all a lot of money - as well as the planet. Some of the finds suggest that buying a new fridge is the best single way to save electricity, natural clothing fibers have much less emissions than man-made fibers and buses and trains aren’t much better than cars if the buses aren’t full or the trains are heavy and powered by diesel. Also about a fifth of UK emissions are embedded in imported manufactured goods. That is, Chinese imports contain several tonnes of CO2 emissions for each person each year.

With the table of content reading topics as Water Heating and Cooking, Lighting, Domestic Appliances, Public Transport, Food , Renewable Energy in the Home, Goodall ensures that he provides all the ‘valuable ammunition for those who want to do something about global warming’.

“How to live a low carbon life” follows a financial approach to low-carbon living and shows how easy it is to take responsibility, providing a comprehensive, one-stop reference guide to calculating your CO2 emissions and reducing them from 10-20 tones to a more sustainable 2 tons a year.

What is the cheapest way to cut carbon emissions, what is practical and what is just wishful thinking, the book answers all these questions. All you need to know about your impact on the global climate and how to reduce it. From jet travel to jewellery, from standby power to packaging, this ‘carbon-reduction bible’ is full of eye-opening research and recommendations. An excellent and readable book of honest numbers and facts that everyone needs to know and understand. While some of Goodall’s facts and figures are widely accepted and quoted, there are a few that are hotly debated as well. The thoroughly researched book sets out in detail how we can help the planet pull back from the abyss - not through any high-powered international initiatives, but by ordinary individual actions in our daily lives.

Sushant Sharma  |  sushant91@gmail.com

Sushant Sharma is a college fresher and an avid reader.

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Feedback /Comments on this article
Saving the Planet

The book review seems to be written in the context of the western society and its citizens. How and in what way can the rich/ super rich and middle class Indians be motivated to buy the Godall's ideas and then to practice it in everyday life?

Posted By: Pandu Hegde
Dated: Friday, October 22, 2010

 Other Articles by Sushant Sharma in
Environment Development  > Risks and Hazards > Global Warming and Climate Change

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Amy Seidl's book is a perfect blend of remarkable personal observation, scientific facts and motherly concern for the land and children.
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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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