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Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet by [Steffen, Alex]
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Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet Kindle Edition

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Length: 139 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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"Alex Steffen may be the world's boldest, most innovative thinker about future cities. Carbon Zero will stretch, provoke, inspire, and reassure. It's the perfect gift for your smartest friends."

—Denis Hayes, Earth Day founder and president of the Bullitt Foundation

“Can planet Earth support 10 billion people? The answer depends on what happens to the world’s cities. Alex Steffen illuminates the strategies by which, in an age of climate and population changes, we can hope to innovate, act and prosper.”

—Chris Anderson, curator, TED conferences

“Could help us find a way to survive and even thrive in the face of a planetary challenge that political leaders… have been reluctant to face.”

—The Atlantic

“Hurricane Sandy reminded us that cities are where climate change crashes into everyday life. But the news isn’t all bad — this remarkable little book shows how the future of the planet depends on building better cities and the kind of new thinking we need to get started. Read Carbon Zero right away, because time is short.”

—Bill McKibben

“A deep and inspiring manual for imagining how our cities can become the solution to our climate woes.”


“Carbon Zero shows us how rethinking cities can enable us to cut emissions, bring nature back into our communities and build a constructive path forward into the future. Please read this important book. It’s time to get to work.”

—Mark Tercek, President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy

“Redefines what being a successful city means in a rapidly warming and increasingly urbanized world.”


Carbon Zero is a short, clear, optimistic look at how cities can succeed in the age of climate consequences. It's about changing how we grow our cities, so we can seize a better future. Whether your main concern is the future of your neighborhood or the future of the planet, this is a book you need to read.

The climate crisis is upon us, it's massive and it's getting worse quickly. We must make bold and rapid reductions in our climate emissions. In fact, in just the next couple decades we must achieve net-zero climate emissions. That target, zero carbon, presents a stupendous challenge.

Our cities, though, give us amazing opportunities to reduce our climate emissions while improving both our economy and our communities.

Solutions abound. From cutting edge green buildings to more walkable neighborhoods, new "walkshed" technologies to green infrastructure, the sharing economy to the reconnection of urban places to rural nature, we have a tool chest of approaches that can make our lives frugal in energy but abundant in wealth and quality of life. If we bring the best solutions together in our cities, we can build cities that can lead us into the zero-carbon future.

We can't build, though, what we can't imagine. Carbon Zero takes on the task of imagining how all these innovations might work together, and gives you the tools to reimagine the possibilities of your city. It's not a blueprint. It's not a manifesto.

Carbon Zero is an invitation to imagine winning the climate fight.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1600 KB
  • Print Length: 139 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Alex Steffen (Nov. 27 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #358,908 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9c28f6c0) out of 5 stars 20 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bbf6090) out of 5 stars A New Hope: Cities Nov. 28 2012
By Brice Maryman - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
From Steffen's work at WorldChanging to his TED talks, Alex's work has always been about seeking out and promoting pragmatic, empowering solutions to the world's most pressing environmental problems. In his newest book, Carbon Zero, Steffen highlights one of the most important strategic solutions for combating global climate change: climate-neutral cities. In the face of rising sea levels, nation-wide droughts and dramatic coastal devastation along the Eastern seaboard, the messages and strategies outlined in this book have never been more pressing or important. A must-read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bbf60e4) out of 5 stars A Compelling and Necessary Book Nov. 28 2012
By robharrisonAIA - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Alex Steffen's =Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet= is a compelling and necessary book. In prose that is straightforward, optimistic but not pie-in-the-sky he lays out concrete strategies for steering the ship of our cities toward carbon zero. The vision is one of increased security, comfort and conviviality. The suggested means are mostly simple, and at our disposal this very moment. He takes down a few sacred solution-cows, like electric cars, and in this book you'll find no grand schemes for geo-engineering the planet. He doesn't say it will be easy, but he does think it can be done. My son, gods willing, will live to see the end of the 21st century. I would like the world that he inherits from my generation to retain the beauty, wonder and promise I've seen, and I work toward that daily in my personal and professional life. =Carbon Zero= will help me intelligently advocate for bright green solutions. Please buy it, read it, and help make it happen.

Rob Harrison AIA

Disclosures: I was on the Board of Directors of Worldchanging, the non-profit dedicated to solutions-based journalism started by Alex Steffen et al, and I reviewed and commented on draft portions of the book prior to publication.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bbf651c) out of 5 stars Good ideas but no specifics Dec 7 2014
By mark smith - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book contains a lot of good information that is already well established in this field of study, so it would provide idea a solid overview for students. For me as a professional in the field for 25 years, I found it depressing because I don't see our country or world making much progress toward many of the book's goals. It also contains no details about how to achieve any of the goals, stating that it is up to the country to figure that out. Given what I've seen in the past, and our current inability to overcome political gridlock for even simple, obvious solutions, the absence of such details is frustrating.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bbf6504) out of 5 stars Not enough critical detail March 11 2013
By Dan Lyke - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a cheerleading overview of some of the strongest claims of the new urbanism movement, this is as good a manifesto as any. However, if you're already versed in some of the tradeoffs and social issues involved in urbanism,this book doesn't go deep enough.

There are many places where suggestions made here could either be augmented or discounted by back of the envelope calculations. The lack of that critical thinking means that they're left as an exercise to the reder, and when we do such calculations, we find that the scenarios aren't nearly as rosy as their presented.

By all means, dig deeper, but do so with one of the many more in-depth treatments of the topic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bbf68c4) out of 5 stars Some of the Best Recent Ideas on Sustainable Cities Dec 6 2012
By greenkindle - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I worked with Alex on his ealier venture: the excellent inertia defying and inspiring WorldChanging blog. I also had the chance to give some feedback on early stages of CarbonZero. After two years of work the book is done, and it's a real success.

What you get here is a short punchy introduction to some of the most important ideas that are shaping how we are thinking about, and creating, green cities. The field has changed enormously over the past two decades. We've gone from talking about one-off projects (think LED traffic lights) to complex and interconnected visions of cites that are simultaneously livable, efficient, and productive (economically, socially, and environmentally).

Steffen lays out that new vision in plain language without hyperbole or pretension.