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Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy [Paperback]

Daniel Goleman

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Book Description

March 30 2010
The bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership now brings us Ecological Intelligence—revealing the hidden environmental consequences of what we make and buy, and how with that knowledge we can drive the essential changes we all must make to save our planet and ourselves.

We buy “herbal” shampoos that contain industrial chemicals that can threaten our health or contaminate the environment. We dive down to see coral reefs, not realizing that an ingredient in our sunscreen feeds a virus that kills the reef. We wear organic cotton t-shirts, but don’t know that its dyes may put factory workers at risk for leukemia. In Ecological Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reveals why so many of the products that are labeled green are a “mirage,” and illuminates our wild inconsistencies in response to the ecological crisis.

Drawing on cutting-edge research, Goleman explains why we as shoppers are in the dark over the hidden impacts of the goods and services we make and consume, victims of a blackout of information about the detrimental effects of producing, shipping, packaging, distributing, and discarding the goods we buy.

But the balance of power is about to shift from seller to buyer, as a new generation of technologies informs us of the ecological facts about products at the point of purchase. This “radical transparency” will enable consumers to make smarter purchasing decisions, and will drive companies to rethink and reform their businesses, ushering in, Goleman claims, a new age of competitive advantage.

Frequently Bought Together

Ecological Intelligence: The Hidden Impacts of What We Buy + Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence
Price For Both: CDN$ 31.20


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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: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #354,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Desperately needing organization-- April 8 2011
By N. Forrester - Published on Amazon.com
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
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is not about ecology and it lacks intelligence Jan. 15 2014
By Mark - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A call to become an eco-conscious consumer Sept. 21 2010
By Sarah B. Warren, PhD - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good high-level product views. Recommended Nov. 24 2010
By J. Flynn - Published on Amazon.com
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecological Intelligence July 13 2012
By Pauline Poncy - Published on Amazon.com
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.

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