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The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need [Hardcover]

Chris Turner
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 5 2007
After the fierce warnings and grim predictions of The Weather Makers and An Inconvenient Truth, acclaimed journalist and national bestselling author Chris Turner finds hope in the search for a sustainable future.

Point of no return: The chilling phrase has become the ubiquitous mantra of ecological doomsayers, a troubling headline above stories of melting permafrost and receding ice caps, visions of catastrophe and fears of a problem with no solution. Daring to step beyond the rhetoric of panic and despair, The Geography of Hope points to the bright light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

With a mix of front-line reporting, analysis and passionate argument, Chris Turner pieces together the glimmers of optimism amid the gloom and the solutions already at work around the world, from Canada’s largest wind farm to Asia’s greenest building and Europe’s most eco-friendly communities. But The Geography of Hope goes far beyond mere technology. Turner seeks out the next generation of political, economic, social and spiritual institutions that could provide the global foundations for a sustainable future–from the green hills of northern Thailand to the parliament houses of Scandinavia, from the villages of southern India, where microcredit finance has remade the social fabric, to America’s most forward-thinking think tanks.

In this compelling first-person exploration, punctuated by the wonder and angst of a writer discovering the world’s beacons of possibility, Chris Turner pieces together a dazzling map of the disparate landmarks in a geography of hope.



While most of the world has been spinning in stagnant circles of recrimination and debate on the subject of climate change, paralyzed by visions of apocalypse both natural (if nothing of our way of life changes) and economic (if too much does), Denmark has simply marched off with steadfast resolve into the sustainable future, reaching the zenith of its pioneering trek on the island of Samsø. And so if there’s an encircled star on this patchwork map indicating hope’s modest capital, then it should be properly placed on this island. Perhaps, for the sake of precision, at the geographic centre of Jørgen Tranberg’s dairy farm.

There are, I’m sure, any number of images called to mind by talk of ecological revolution and renewable energy and sustainable living, but I’m pretty certain they don’t generally include a hearty fiftysomething Dane in rubber boots spotted with mud and cow shit. Which is why Samsø’s transformation is not just revolutionary but inspiring, not just a huge change but a tantalizingly attainable one. And it was a change that seemed at its most workaday–near-effortless, no more remarkable than the cool October wind gusting across the island–down on Tranberg’s farm.
from The Geography of Hope

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Review

Praise for Chris Turner and Planet Simpson:

“One of this country’s smartest and most original pop-culture commentators.”
Hour (Montreal)

“[An] absolutely must-have tome for the many Simpsons freaks, not just an over-sized fan’s guide but an absorbing take on why it matters.”
Toronto Star

“Turner has written the definitive Simpsons study. He shows both a lightness of touch suitable to his subject and the intellectual rigour to grasp its vast purview.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

“[A] brilliant critique of western culture from the mid-90s to the present. . . . Turner understands pop culture in a way few others of his generation have been able to articulate thus far.”
The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo)

“Smart and funny, Turner is clearly one of the converted, and he writes with fitting enthusiasm for his subject while working in seemly references to cultural theory and TV-insider politics.”
The Hollywood Reporter

“One of the more fascinating and entertaining works I’ve read.”
The Globe and Mail

“A broad-minded analysis that connects the television show to some of the most pressing issues in contemporary life.”
Alberta Views

About the Author

Chris Turner is the author of the national bestseller Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation. His culture and technology reporting for Shift magazine earned him four National Magazine Awards from 1999 to 2003, including the 2001 President’s Medal for General Excellence, the highest honour in Canadian magazine writing. His writing has also appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Independent, the Sunday Times, Time, Canadian Geographic and Utne Reader.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book We Need Oct. 22 2007
Format:Hardcover
I'll let the Globe & Mail review say it all:

Published in the Books section, October 6, 2007

THE GEOGRAPHY OF HOPE
A Tour of the World We Need
By Chris Turner
Random House Canada, 480 pages

A year of living optimistically
Review by EVAN OSENTON

Bad news might sell books and turn science authors into global celebrities, but it isn't particularly good at changing minds, motivating people or inspiring hope. It certainly isn't convincing our species to give up our game of ecological Russian roulette.

Chris Turner would know: In the mid-1990s, he took a summer job for Greenpeace as a door-to-door canvasser in Kingston, Ont. His specialty - indeed, he notes, most environmental groups' specialties then and now - was bad news. Doom. Gloom. Lurid descriptions of bleached coral and starving polar bears, cracked hardpan and skyrocketing asthma rates, rivers of glowing Chinese factory effluent and mutilated seal pups. On one doorstep, Turner recalls a seven-year-old girl "so consumed with worry over the planet's health, [her parents] told me, that sometimes it made her stomach ache too much to eat." Mostly, Turner remembers people's weary indifference to his spiel.

Fast-forward a decade. Chris Turner is a writer of national renown, fresh off his bestselling, lushly enthusiastic Planet Simpson (quite possibly the most comprehensive book published on the most important pop-cultural phenomenon of the past 20 years). Turner never quite stopped believing the bad news, but, like so many of us, he'd become overwhelmed and moved on.

And then his wife gave birth to a baby girl.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What would Homer do Dec 28 2007
By Ken Kardash TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I have no background in environmentalism or connection to the author. As a general reader I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it informative, inspiring and entertaining in equal parts. An unequivocal five stars!
The author is a journalist and disillusioned environmental activist. He is also a new father, and, concerned for his daughter's future, decided to do a global survey of existing, practical methods of achieving environmental sustainability. His perspective is what makes this book so refreshing: tired of the mainstream environmental movement's two main weapons of guilt and apocalyptic predictions, he searches for not just the means but the inspiration to change the way the world's resources are used. I found this practical, hopeful approach much more compelling than the doom-and-gloom, armchair analyst approach of, say, George Monbiot's Heat.
Potential readers should keep in mind that the author's previous opus was Planet Simpson, an exploration of the cultural significance of an animated cartoon series. This is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it informs his writing with a pop-culture sensibility that makes for entertaining asides and a contemporary grasp of how cultural fashions evolve. On the other hand, the one time I felt we may be getting a little too much information was in the final chapter. There he describes how the epiphany of embracing environmental sustainability occurred to him at a Seattle Lebowski Fest, a cult-like celebration of a movie that he admits to "only begin to understand after the fifth viewing". Presumably fatherhood changed his priorities, and rather than strain his credibility, I found this geeky anecdote disarming. A Greenpeace diatribe this is not.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The trouble with the majority of writing about climate change and other environmental worries is that they make people think, "Oh, hell. It's too late anyway. Why even try to do anything?" The Geography of Hope is an antidote to this kind of thinking. I am now 54 years old, and when I was 20 years old or so, I devoured ecological jeremiads such as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. The trouble is, back then I actually thought my civilization was doomed to fall apart before the end of the 20th century. This, fortunately, didn't happen and in the meantime I got sidelined by matters too complex to detail here. Now at last I am returning to my environmental roots, but I find I simply no longer have the patience and strength to wade through dour predictions of ecological gloom and doom. Chris Turner's The Geography of Hope is the first book on this topic that I have felt glad to pick up, because it shows that it is really possible to put the brakes to the looming climate train wreck before it occurs and that sustainability is already within our grasp using existing technology, if only we would commit to it. How inspiring!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Positive and encouraging Oct. 12 2008
Format:Hardcover
When I read this book, I was very glad to see that there are solutions to the problems we face and that there is hope that our quality of life can become much better than it is. I really appreciate all books that tell us about solutions to problems and/or better alternatives to the status quo!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good outlook Nov. 16 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed the positive outlook that Chris puts on environmental movement. I recommend this book at anyone who is looking to learn more about sustainable projects around the world.
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