Sustainability: All That Matters (Student review)

February 28, 2013

Author: Chris Goodall
Edition: First
Publisher: Hodder Education
Pages: 160
Price: £7.99
ISBN: 9781444174403

Sustainability is a word that is often thrown around in the business and media worlds and its many definitions make it difficult to understand. This book is a great introduction to the concept. It provides a cross- section of challenges the world will face in the future and explores the likelihood that, if we continue our current trend of living, they will pose a serious threat to Earth’s future inhabitants.

As a geography student, I feel this is a pivotal subject and have nothing but praise for the author’s determination to reach a wider audience. However, for students going into their final year and beyond, a more in- depth analysis will be required, as the coverage here is fairly broad and better suited to a novice student or the general reader.

The layout is simple with uncomplicated chapter titles and a wealth of graphs and tables. The 10 chapters range from the likelihood of the world running out of raw materials to more central sustainability issues such as food and energy, and the ethical challenge of ensuring that future generations are not disadvantaged by the way we live today.

The language Chris Goodall uses is similar to that in his articles in The Guardian and in his blog, Carbon Commentary. His statements are straightforward, with clear analysis backed by facts and figures. However, some of the information he provides is not cited - when he states that “one recent scientific paper suggested…“, he does not specify which one. As a third-year student, I expect to see citations; doubtless in part because of the book’s broad target audience, the decision was taken to include very few.

On the plus side, Goodall includes a further reading section called “100 Ideas”, which lists relevant websites and books for each chapter, encouraging readers to explore the subject of sustainability in more depth. With Sustainability: All That Matters, he has endeavoured to create an introduction to the subject and has succeeded. Students wanting a more comprehensive piece of research, however, will need to look for other sources that delve more deeply into the topic.

Who is it for?
Pre-degree and first-year students and the general reader.

Presentation:
Systematic.

Would you recommend it?
Yes, but only as a starting point for reading about global sustainability issues.

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