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Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Paperback – Mar 30 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (March 30 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385527837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385527835
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 12.9 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #317,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Desperately needing organization-- April 8 2011
By N. Forrester - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like Daniel Goleman, but this was so poorly organized, I found it hard to read. An interesting topic but in need of an editor--
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A call to become an eco-conscious consumer Sept. 21 2010
By Sarah B. Warren, PhD - Published on
Format: Paperback
As a psychologist, environmentalist and concerned parent, I eagerly read the father of emotional and social intelligence's contribution to the growing field of literature on the ecological impacts of our choices. Goleman applies the same wisdom he displayed in Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence to what might be considered the most pressing issue of our time--the dire state of the natural world that nourishes and sustains us.

Daniel Goleman helps us understand our difficulty confronting hard truths about the state of our planet. He points to the need to stop telling ourselves comforting "vital lies" that mask hard truths. He nicely describes from an evolutionary and psychological standpoint why it is difficult--although not impossible-- for us to register and therefore act on gradual threats such as the increases in temperature we are experiencing. I am a highly informed, engaged, environmentally aware psychologist, and even I struggle sometimes to face the reality of the state of our natural world and the implications for our society--and our children's lives.

He offers a wonderful of example of recycling as a vital lie that allows us to feel like we're doing our part, when in fact we're barely making a dent given the nature and scale of the problem. Recycling is one of our favorite eco-actions-- it's a no brainer. Yet he suggests that until we have "total recycling" in which all the components of a product can be completely reused, we are simply lulling ourselves into thinking that we are doing enough when in fact we are doing very little of real environmental good. This kind of vital lie, he argues, "creates a collusion among us all not to look squarely at the hidden impacts of our choices."

He makes a compelling argument for "radical transparency' on the part of companies that would allow us to make fully informed choices about what we buy. To achieve radical transparency, however, will require us to use not just our wallets but our voices and votes to incentivize companies to reduce their impact on the natural world--and to tell us fully what they are doing.

My mission is to empower people to take action to protect the planet for our children and grandchildren. Ecological intelligence is required of us if we are to protect the planet-- the air we breathe, the fields that feed us, the oceans we enjoy-- for those we love.

If you want to be a conscious consumer-- or business leader, for that matter-- read this book. Pause, reflect, pass it on to a friend, and use your spheres of influence to act in an ecologically intelligent manner-- on the greatest scale possible.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book is not about ecology and it lacks intelligence Jan. 15 2014
By Mark - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am appreciative of Goleman's idea of highlighting different branches or domains of intelligence, which is why I purchased this book. However, ecological intelligence is the wrong title for this book because neither of these subject areas are covered. I am a practicing ecologist and I am working on a second masters degree in ecoliteracy education. I am also the primary author for the Wikipedia ecology page. Hence, this book seemed like a good place to turn for my research. This book is about changing market decisions that are considered to be more 'ecologically' ethical in Goleman's mind, but the problem is that the connections between the market choices and their ecological impacts are not clear at all.

This book needs an introduction to ecology. For example, Goleman could have introduced some of the work by Howard Odum, a classical ecologist who ushered in a new era of understanding in the ecological sciences and wrote about the unification of ecology, economics and energy. Perhaps a historical account of the ecological sciences going back to Linnaeus or even Haeckel who first coined the word ecology. This would give some perspective on what ecology really means. Goleman needs to introduce and then build upon actual ecological literature to make the correct linkages. There was lots of opportunity to visit some of the ideas of natural capitalism and ecosystem services as they relate to critically to ecological intelligence. He mentions these, but so briefly that the reader cannot leave with an understanding of what these subjects are really about. There is no mention of the research in environmental education looking at the psychological or affectual relations between learning and ecological immersion, which would have been a good place to start.

This book is nothing more than a consumers guide to green shopping behavior. It is questionable if the green guides advocated by the author have any real ecological benefits because Goleman is clearly out of his area of expertise. Biodiversity is mentioned briefly on page 36 and 63, which is shocking given that ecology and biodiversity go hand in hand. On page 63, for example, he talks about biodiversity in life cycle assessment, one of the few places where he reaches a bit beyond the margins and into the realm of ecology, yet he makes a terrible mistake: "Loss of biodiversity refers to the degree of species extinction caused by a given process or substance." This is false. Biodiversity is more than species, it includes the functional side to ecosystems such as migration plus the nested hierarchy of life including genes, organisms, species and all the way up to the biosphere. Goleman briefly mentions a few key ecological concepts, but he does not explain them properly or by trying to make the text simple to read the deeper meaning of the concepts is lost in translation.

If I buy a book on ecology and intelligence, it needs to be intelligently written and I want to learn something about ecosystems. If the title of a book is about ecology and intelligence these two subject areas need to be clearly defined and addressed. This book fails on all of these accounts.This book presents a mainstream view on what ecology might mean. The unfortunate side to this is that Goleman is a popular author. Many people will read this book and will leave with little understanding of ecology, they will spread further myths about 'ecology' and what it means, and the same holds for the meaning of intelligence as it relates to this important topic. It is as though Goleman is thinking too narrowly about human ecology, but even if he is geared solely on the human dimension he misses the holistic side to the debate. This is surprising because ecology is a holistic scientific discipline, whereas Goleman reduces it down to consumer behavior and how this might change things on the periphery. I have no idea where he is going with this and it certainly isn't ecological. Goleman needs to read up on the ecological sciences if he is going to write about this subject. I hope that Goleman writes another version of this book, because he can do much better than this and needs to fix his mistakes.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good high-level product views. Recommended Nov. 24 2010
By J. Flynn - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend it. Nothing else quite like it out there. I'm literate and numerate and in these times there's a huge need to be eco-literate to go with the other two. I recommend Innumeracy also. You don't want to be innumerate. Climate science is way too complex to grasp if you don't have some basic foundation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Ecological Intelligence July 13 2012
By Pauline Poncy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must read for anyone exploring sustainable activities. Daniel Coleman has focused perspective that illuminates details of the world of sustainability. Going green is a necessity in today's economy and this book will help you with the process.