There Is No Planet B by Mike Berners-Lee

The Blurb On The Back:

We have the chance to live better than ever.  But, as humans become ever more powerful, can we avoid blundering into disaster?

Feeding the world, climate change, biodiversity, antibiotics, plastics – the list of concerns seems endless.  But what I most pressing, what are the knock-on effects of our actions, and what should we do first?  Do we all need to become vegetarian?  How can we fly in a low carbon world?  Should we frack?  How can we take control of technology?  Does it all come down to population?  And, given the global nature of the challenges we now face, what on Earth can any of us do?

Fortunately, Mike Berners-Lee has crunched the numbers and plotted a course of action that is practical and even enjoyable.

There Is No Planet B maps it out in an accessible and entertaining way, filled with astonishing facts and analysis.  For the first time you’ll find big-picture perspective on the environmental and economic challenges of the day laid out in one place, and traced through to the underlying roots – questions of how we live and think.  This book will shock you, surprise you – and then make you laugh.

And you’ll find practical and even inspiring ideas for what you can actually do to help humanity thrive on this – our only – planet. 

You can order There Is No Planet B by Mike Berners-Lee from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Mike Berners-Lee is Professor at Lancaster University’s Institute for Social Futures and in this informative, thought-provoking but depressing book (that at times gets too caught up in the numbers and analogies), he sets out some of the facts and figures relating to climate change (which he expands to look at food supply, biodiversity and plastic use) to give the reader ideas for how to reduce the damage they do to the planet.

Berners-Lee breaks the book down into different topics, including food, energy, travelled transport, monetary growth, work, business and technology.  He also includes a chapter on values and trust, which I found interesting and useful given that there is definitely an ethical stance to thinking about these issues and given that we’re in a world of fake news it’s good to see a focus on how to assess arguments and the people making them.  

However, I have to say that I was less convinced by the comments on religion and spirituality because Berners-Lee professes to come at it from a pragmatic point of view but at the same time tacitly admits that religious influence is needed because sentience is not scientific and because the problem isn’t being solved by an evidence-led approach, which doesn’t seem terribly pragmatic to me.

For me the most interesting chapter was the one about food where Berners-Lee looks at issues like food sustainability, whether veganism is really the answer and biodiversity.  There’s a lot of really interesting information in this chapter (some of which he says he drew from a previous book HOW BAD ARE BANANAS?) And he did make me rethink what I eat, how often I eat meat and dairy and I had no idea that rice could be so damaging to the climate.

Writing wise, Berners-Lee has an accessible style and there are a lot of facts and figures and analogies in use here to try and get the facts across and I like the fact that he invites people to contact him with ideas and suggestions that he hasn’t considered.  However, at times I did find some of the analogies a little excessive and it was difficult to get my head around all the figures being used.  Also, I wasn’t convinced by his comments on flying – not because I disagreed with the impact on climate change – but because his own experience shows how difficult it it to avoid, although I did enjoy his look at alternative ways of powering airplanes.

My concerns aside, if you’re concerned about climate change, the environment and your impact upon it, then you can do a lot worse than check out this book as it will make you rethink elements of your life and where you can make changes.  

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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