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Books

The IM Book Club features our favourite reads. All the authors have appeared on the Inside Ideas podcast with Marc Buckley – so just click on the links for the inside track from the authors.

For younger children, aged 6-12 years, we recommend checking out the SDG Book Club.

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The Life You Can Save

PROFESSOR PETER SINGER

The Life You Can Save has been a guide in showing millions of people how to take actions that are powerful in transforming the lives of people thousands of miles away. The book is all about effective altruismdoing the most good. And it is much more than book, The Life You Can Save has mobilised a global movement achieving outcomes that can be characterised by the amelioration of human lives. “We have a whole movement now called effective altruism that talks about how to be the most effective altruists. To not only give away some of your money and do some good but really make sure you are getting the best value for everything that you give,” author Peter Singer told Marc Buckley on Inside Ideas.

Patterns of Connection

Fritjof Capra

Patterns of Connection contains essential essays from five decades of Capra’s life, which he says provide ‘not only an account of my intellectual journey but also an account of the various social movements that I encountered and became part of’. The book opens with a detailed account of his experiences in the 1960s, a time which saw him study eastern philosophy and take psychedelics, and a time which he says were the ‘great formative years of my life’.

Patterns of Connection is a collection of essays with a narrative that interweaves the essays, and gives the historical and philosophical context. And it is really the story about how my thinking evolved over five decades. So in this narrative I talk about all my books so when you read this one, you get all the references because it’s really an account of my journey,” he told Marc Buckley on Inside Ideas.

Revolutionary Power: An Activist’s Guide to the Energy Transition

Shalanda H. Baker

Shalanda, recently appointed Joe Biden’s new deputy director for energy justice at the U.S. Department of Energy, argues in her latest book that the transformation of the energy system is a civil rights issue and offers practical steps to upend the energy sector’s unequal power dynamics. Shalanda talks about the inequities of the U.S. energy system, including the fact that nearly half of Black and Latinx households experience energy insecurity; and her personal connection to this issue as an energy-justice advocate, lawyer, and queer woman of colour, including her family’s experience in a polluted Texas oil town.

Sex Robots & Vegan Meat

By Jenny Kleeman

The award-winning film-maker and journalist, Jenny Kleeman, was one of the first guests on the Inside Ideas podcast with Marc Buckley. She spoke to Marc on the eve of the release of the book, which has just the best title of any book you are likely to pick up this year And the content is every bit as good as Jenny takes you on a journey through the ever changing realities of what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world. One where you can ‘eat meat without killing animals, have the ideal sexual relationship without compromise, and have the perfect death without suffering’. Jenny goes beyond these in her exploration of the other ways human nature is likely to change in the years ahead.

A World of Three Zeros

Professor Muhammad Yunus

Nobel Peace Prize Winner, creator of microcredit and social business, Professor Muhammad Yunus, writes about the economics that can deliver zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions.

Flames of Extinction

JOHN PICKRELL

The first book to tell the stories of Australia’s record-setting fires, focusing on the wild animals and plants that will be forever changed. It tells the story of the scientists, wildlife rehabilitators, and community members who came together to save wildlife and protect them in the future.

The Physics of Climate Change

In his groundbreaking new book, The Physics of Climate Change, best-selling author, Professor Lawrence M. Krauss, examines the various predictions being made about a planet plagued by rising temperatures and reveals the data-backed projections countries need to acknowledge and address, and those which are a bit more speculative.

Sitopia

by Carolyn Steel

Carolyn Steel was the second guest on Inside Ideas with Marc Buckley. She was a brilliant guest so it is no surprise Sitopia is every bit as engaging and enlightening. In Sitopia Carolyn explores how food can safe the world and at every stage she says she uses food as a ‘lens to explore the origins and dilemmas of our current situation’, which is being shaped by issues such as climate change, pollution, deforestation, and antibiotic resistance. And Carolyn looks at the ways food choices will ultimately dictate how successful we are in overcoming these challenges.

For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World

by Sasha Sagan

Sasha’s first book, inspired in part by the work of her parents, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, is an exploration of the marvels of nature, as revealed by science, which require no faith in order to be believed. The book is an exercise in skepticism without cynicism, told through memoir and social history. It is a remarkable read, which Kirkus Reviews called ‘profound, elegantly written ruminations on the exquisite splendors of life’.

Planet Palm: How Palm Ended Up in Everything – and Endangered the World

Jocelyn C. Zuckermanspot

The award-winning, Brooklyn-based writer, Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, joined Marc Buckley on Inside Ideas to talk about her first book, Planet PalmHow Palm Ended Up in Everything – and Endangered the World. “The oil palm is indigenous to west and central Africa so it grows best at 10 degrees to the north and south of the equator, which is the same latitude Indonesia and Malaysia are on,” she said. “The problem is that it’s that exact swathe of the planet that is home to our tropical rainforests. Which, as we know, are massively important for sequestering carbon, and are home to our most important biodiversity. Much of it also sits on top of peatlands, organic matter that has accumulated over millennia, and the companies burn that, chop down the forests and then burn it, so it’s carbon flowing into the atmosphere for years and years. Back at the turn of the century no-one was thinking about carbon emissions or biodiversity loss – it wasn’t on our radars so we’re learning as we go and hopefully it’s not too late.”  In the book she explains how it all went wrong and what the next chapter might hold.

MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us

Dr Parag Khanna

If we know the southern hemisphere is going to suffer more from climate change than the northern hemisphere, the question is: what are we going to do about it? In his new book the best-selling author, Dr Parag Khanna, tackles this question and explores who the winners and losers might be in the climate geography lottery, and whether there is a way everyone can walk away with the winning ticket. He writes about four possible scenarios in the book, each depicting a different future for the world. The only one anyone would want he calls Northern Lights, which would involve new settlements being built that are circular, use renewable power, hydroponic agriculture, waste water treatment, rain water collection, and all of the things that would prevent a repeat of past mistakes in terms of mass urbanisation. 

“This is fundamentally a book about geography, like all my other books. It’s not about one geography but geographies of resources, people, borders and infrastructure, bringing those together in a dynamic way that actually benefits us,” he told Marc Buckley on Inside Ideas.

Management: A Commonsense Revolution to Restore Our Environment

Allan Savory

Allan Savory says mismanagement of our resources is one of the main reasons for the major problems facing humanity. Recognised as the father of holistic management – which takes a systems thinking approach to resource management, the co-founder of the Savory Institute, a global movement of regenerative farmers and land managers, describes in the book his efforts to find workable solutions people can implement to overcome many of the problems besetting communities and businesses today.

 

Diet for a Small Planet

Frances Moore Lappé

The three-million bestseller Diet for a Small Planet has – for decades – taught people in America about the plant-based food solutions that can support the health of people and planet. This new, and much anticipated 50th-anniversary edition has new features on how food systems can help restore ‘our damaged ecology, address the climate crisis, and move us toward real democracy’. 

“The sense of urgency and the more rich and various reasons why – for health reasons, ecological reasons, economic reasons, and climate reasons that a plant-centred diet is one way to make a significant dent in this is because our food system contributes 37% of greenhouse gas emissions and among those is methane from cows – which packs a particularly strong climate punch so there is extra gain by limiting beef consumption,” the author told Marc Buckley.

A Small Farm Future

To create the small farming world of the future he envisions, farmer and author Chris Smaje says it is time to ditch destructive agriculture practices. In place of the behemoth global farming systems and networks currently destroying soils and leaving hundreds of millions of people malnourished, Chris wants to see a shift to A Small Farm Future where local economies are the cornerstone of a resilient and thriving world.

Diet for a Hot Planet

Anna Lappé

In her book Diet for a Hot Planet, author and leading expert on global food systems, Anna Lappé warns that without radical change to food systems run away climate change is inevitable. Lappé takes the reader on a journey from food systems being the problem to food as a solution. She says we cannot ‘miss the food systems opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions’. “Even if we got everything right in every other sector, even if every one of us had solar panels on our homes, and we stop fracking and we stop drilling for new oil; even if we got everything else right, we would still blow our carbon emissions,” adds Lappé.

Regenerative Business

Carol Sanford

Carol Sanford is the author of five best-selling books and Senior Fellow of Social Innovation at Babson College. Her titles are required business school reading at Stanford and Harvard. In The Regenerative Business Sanford puts business at the heart of regeneration, though she questispotifyons some current interpretations of what regeneration means. “My grandfather taught me about the word regeneration, and he knew a version of it in Mohawk, but he taught me to understand that regeneration was more about revelation. I mean that in two ways. One is that you can reveal something that can’t be seen, kind of like a detective using their mind in a different way. But you can also reveal something in you that you didn’t know. The word reveal is closer but people have translated regeneration now in the popular press and their word means restore, renew – they’re taking everything that was already popular – biomimicry, circular, sustainability and they are renaming it that.”

Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers

Mark Shepard

“Restoration agriculture is more like describing a process than a prescription. It’s not do this, do that, more: these are the ecological principles that we’re working with, this is how this seems to work in this area, if it’s hot, cold, dry, wet, all of those things affect how the system will work,” Mark Shepard told Marc Buckley. “It is also a little bit more deliberate than a rewilding in that we intentionally set up the ecological ecosystem that’s native to the area. We use genetics that have already been improved for yield, pest and disease resistance, and then arrange them in orderly patterns based on managing the rainfall and potential run-off that will hit the site.”

He added: “So our interactions with the system more closely mimic the natural disturbances that would manage and maintain those systems in the wild. So we try to mimic fire, we mimic grazing, that sort of thing. It is a little bit more deliberate and intentional than a rewilding. But similar principles apply, in that once we set up the system, it’s a semi-natural system.”

For more from the pages of Restoration Agriculture click on the links.

Overtourism: Lessons for a Better Future

Dr Martha Honey and Kelsey Frenkiel

The book charts a path towards sustainable tourism, one that is underpinned by a commitment to people, planet, and prosperity. The authors say lessons can be learned from Covid to come up with a better future for the tourism industry. The book includes 13 guiding principles and a roadmap that are designed to help it move beyond the pandemic.

“We never imagined that, in the middle of writing this book, tourism would halt completely and I think in 2020 there was only something like 400 million international arrivals, which is still a huge number, but for a time it was halted completely, obviously brought on by a global health crisis,” Kelsey Frenkiel told Marc Buckley on Inside Ideas. “I think what we saw was that Covid 19 triggered new and unique challenges for tourism and it actually proved to us that this information was more timely than ever. So we took that opportunity to frame the book, talk about the pandemic and how this information could be used.”

Reinventing Food Banks and Pantries: New Tools to End Hunger

Dr Katie Martin

In the US, food banks and pantries provide billions of meals a year to people in need. And yet hunger still affects one in nine Americans. What are we doing wrong? In Reinventing Food Banks and Pantries, Katie Martin offers an inspiring new paradigm for tackling hunger, one where success is measured not by pounds of food distributed but by lives changed. The key is shifting our focus from a lack of food to strategies that build empathy, equity, and political will. Martin shares solutions in a warm, engaging style, with simple steps that anyone working or volunteering at a food bank or pantry can take today. Solutions range from providing client choice, where individuals select their own food with dignity, to offering job training programs and joining the fight for a living wage. As Martin writes, it takes more than food to end hunger. Picking up this insightful, lively book is a great first step.

Building Community Food Webs

KEN METER

One of America’s most renowned food system analysts explores the civic networks being led by ‘grassroots food and farming leaders’ in the U.S. that are working to deliver healthier, more equitable food systems that can combat hunger.

A Blueprint for Coastal Adaptation

A Blueprint for Coastal Adaptation: Uniting Design, Economics, and Policy – identifies a bold new research and policy agenda and provides implementable options for coastal communities.

Sustainable Action: Overcoming the Barriers

Christian Berg

The book Sustainable Action – Overcoming the Barriers was accepted as the new report to the Club of Rome. In it, Christian, who featured on the Inside Ideas podcast, gives a comprehensive account of barriers to sustainability and suggests action principles for sustainability which support actors in contributing to the realization of the SDGs.

Untethered

Untethered: Overcome Distraction Build Healthy Digital Health and Reconnect With Life

Sini Ninkovic

Speaking about his book to Marc Buckley on the Inside Ideas podcast, Sini Ninkovic said: “I think this book talks about technology as a very positive tool that comes with one downside, that it allows us to use it unconsciously. When Americans are asked how much time they think they spend unconsciously with their devices, it’s about 50% of their time. So if we are connected for 12 hours, that’s over six hours being spent unconsciously. If that was turned into action, into alignments with our ourselves, just imagine. One can become a millionaire in this country with a few years of six hours a day.”

He added: “There is a lot of wasted potential and that wasted potential can be used for a lot of good.”

THE elea WAY

Professor Vanina Farber and Dr Peter Wuffli

The book offers practical advice on how to best integrate entrepreneurship and capital for impact and innovation by using elea’s philanthropic investing approach to fight absolute poverty with entrepreneurial means as an example.

The Creative Mindset

Jeff DeGraff

The Creative Mindset, brings six creativity skills to everyone and is now available. On Inside Ideas, Jeff said: “Everyone is creative. We are just creative in different ways and in a wide variety of situations. Believing you are creative is the first step to mastering a creative mindset. Once you do that, you can make innovation happen anywhere and anytime.”

Human Business

Professor Thomas Juli

Written in German, the book argues for the return of the human in the digital age. During the Corona period, we learned to appreciate technology. Thanks to the internet, we were still connected to the outside world, video conferences and online seminars shot up like mushrooms. But can we still be human in the digital age? Or is digitization taking over our lives?

The book explains how human business is a focus on people – be it employees, entrepreneurs, customers or the social environment. That it stands for a new, shared sense of responsibility and a corporate culture characterised by trust and respect.

Listen to Thomas talking about the book on Inside Ideas.

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