Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Paperback – Mar 30 2010
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“Goleman's critiques are scathing, but his conclusion is heartening: a new generation of industrial ecologists is mapping the exact impact of every production process, which could challenge consumers to change their behavior in substance rather than just show.”
-- Publishers Weekly
“A convincing case that information alone–provided that it’s easy for shoppers to access–can spur an ecological revolution.”
-- Kirkus Reviews
“Former New York Times columnist Goleman (Emotional Intelligence)… persuasively argues that radical transparency–which includes environmental, social, biological, and worker safety and health impacts–will better enable consumers to make decisions based on what matters most to them. Goleman's discussion of individual shopping habits is particularly interesting, including the need to be aware of superficial service and product claims…Although individual decisions are important, he asserts that group action and institutions can create market pressure to shift to sustainable practices and that digital tools can play an effective role in shaping collective awareness and creating coordinated action. Recommended for readers interested in business or environmental issues.”
-- Library Journal
"Ecological Intelligence is a fascinating whodunit revealing the intricate processes that create our material world. Written by the acknowledged master on how to be a truly intelligent human being, Goleman reveals the complex web of impacts everyday products have upon people and habitat and how a new form of intelligence can radically alter consumption patterns from destructive to constructive."
-- Paul Hawken, Author of the Ecology of Commerce and Blessed Unrest
“The eight hundred pound gorilla behind virtually all of the ‘sustainability challenges’ is you, and me, the consumer. The problem is not that we are bad but that we have been blind to the impacts of our every-day choices - which is about to change. As Goleman shows, new information technologies and growing public concern are awakening our intrinsic desire to do what is right to shape a healthier world for our children and grandchildren.”
-- Peter Senge, Director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management and author of The Fifth Discipline, The Dance of Change, Presence, and The Necessary Revolution
“Drawing on his capacious intelligence Daniel Goleman dissects the issues involved in the attainment of long term sustainability and details promising and intriguing solutions. Once again, he has written an essential book.”
-- Howard Gardner, author and Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education
“Our civilization faces a sobering, momentous challenge, one of the most profound in its history: the ominous possibility of ecological collapse, and Dan Goleman provides fresh insight and the most intelligent, thoughtful plan to confront it. Goleman skillfully weaves together his argument, through a masterful combination of logic and persuasion, about how we can apply our intelligence to this pressing question. Goleman makes a powerful and compelling case that how we answer this question will determine not just our fate, but the fate of our children and even life on this planet. This book should be required reading for every politician, policy maker, and citizen of this planet. It should sit on the desk of everyone who is concerned about making the best, most intelligent choices for our destiny.”
-- Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics, author of Physics of the Impossible and Parallel Worlds
“The market place is a democratic voting booth, if we chose to make it so -- we the consumer get to decide which companies will succeed and which ones fail. Dan Goleman's Ecological Intelligence provides tools for voting consciously and rationally. An eloquent "must read" bridge between business and consumer that crosses generational gaps and lights the path to an environmentally sustainable and socially just destination.”
-- John Perkins, bestselling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
DANIEL GOLEMAN is the author of the international bestsellers Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence, and Social Intelligence, and the co-author of the acclaimed business bestseller Primal Leadership. He was a science reporter for the New York Times, was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and received the American Psychological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his media writing. He lives in the Berkshires.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
It's one thing to have power over the Earth; it's another to take good care of that gift. Dr. Daniel Goleman has long been concerned about how people can become more aware of the trade-offs that affect their health, the purity of the environment, and the sustainability of the resources that are being wasted. Most of the rules of thumb we learn about what's best for the environment are wrong in many particular instances. As a result, you need someone to analyze everything very carefully and tell you what the net effects are of option A versus option B, much as details about food contents of packages help consumers pick the best choices for their families.
In this book, Dr. Goleman looks at the information challenges and how people have responded to being provided with better information. He makes an aggressive and optimistic argument that information alone will provide the basis for people to make more rational decisions about ingredients, practices, and eliminating waste. While I hope he's right, I think he's over optimistic. While Dr. Goleman doesn't believe that government has a useful role, it's entirely possible that pollution and waste taxes can provide additional incentives to make more appropriate decisions.
Based on many years of best practice research my students and I have conducted, I agree with his assertion that eliminating waste, taking out harmful ingredients, and upgrading the surrounding environment is more profitable than the alternative.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In my mind, this approach of telling stories and conducting forensic investigations into "stuff" should be embedded throughout education, because it is inherently interdisciplinary, combining math and science, but also social studies, history, psychology, business, sociology. It's also timely and would contribute to "eco-school" and 100% green school goals that are currently being developed.
For business people, this book is a must. While the "greening" of business is nothing new and is all too often manifest as "green-washing," there are signs that business is taking "cradle to grave" analysis of products and the supply chain seriously, in part because regulation of embedded greenhouse gases will require careful accounting, in part because of increased social responsibility, and in part because, when done correctly, it can save money, reduce waste, and provide a competitive advantage over the competition.
Goleman rightly points out that we can't consume our way of the dire situation we are in, but we can reduce our consumption and buy smartly. While a few individuals by choice or circumstances leave little environmental footprint, for most of it the challenge is to become significantly more aware of the impacts or the products and services we choose, thereby minimizing not only our carbon footprint, but our overall influence on the planet.
Both the book and the CD version (spoken by the author) are well reasoned, well presented investigations into "stuff" in all its shapes and sizes, providing fresh insights into the complexities and hard choices that must be made at all levels of society in order to turn the tide of waste and social/environmental degradation and foster the new energy economy with resilient, sustainable communities.
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.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
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.
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