Note: The 2009 edition of this book is available for Kindle.
“A critique of the present economic system and its destructive effects on natural assets, coupled with ideas about how to make it work better. The Lovinses, directors of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a resource policy center, and business author Hawken (The Ecology of Commerce, 1993, etc.) merge their talents and experiences here to offer practical guidelines for reducing the environmental messes made by the industrial world, including pollution, transportation congestion, erosion, and wasted energy of all types. While suggesting solutions, however, they use a good deal of space to attack both contemporary enterprises and those dating to the Industrial Revolution. Targets include specific technologies, corporations, and general business practices, as well as wasteful consumer habits. The aluminum can, for example, is examined in particular detail, from ore mines to assembly lines. Capitalism as an economic system is criticized as a financially profitable, nonsustainable aberration in human development. Also attracting debate is the free market, vilified as one of the forces causing waste and pollution. This seems unfair, since the same system is an underlying aspect of the solutions cited throughout the book. Rather than abandon capitalism altogether, the authors argue for modification, yielding what they call ‘natural capitalism.’ This could mean, for example, assigning value to electricity that is unused, what they call ‘negawatts.’ They offer detailed explanations of ideas that yield positive resultsi.e., reduced energy usage in a mechanical appliancebut fail to provide a step-by-step plan of action for broader applications. The book nonetheless yields unique value as a broad collection of intriguing ideas that work and compelling pleas for the benefit they bring: increased profits. Despite their unease with the present economic system, the authors ultimately favor individual responsibility and local and entrepreneurial initiatives for solving environmental problems.” — Kirkus Reviews. Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.