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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Ecological Economics

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February 16, 2011

Book Roundup Wednesday: Books About Ecological Economics

Environmental Books Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. Today we're recommending books about ecological economics.

Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart’s Green Revolution (by Edward Humes, $28, Harper-Collins Publishers, 2011): Can a giant corporation such as Wal-Mart ever be considered sustainable? Pulitzer-winning author Edward Humes addresses this and more in an engrossing tale about what happens when the big, bad business meets an environmentally conscious hero. At large, this book focuses on the environmental revolution that grips Wal-Mart, a company that produces one of the largest carbon footprints, but it opens with a more basic premise: the unlikely partnership between renowned river guide Jib Ellison and Wal-Mart's CEO, H. Lee Scott.

Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World (by Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell, $26, Rodale, 2010): Now that “sustainability” has become the new big word on the market, major companies such as Nike and Avon are all pushing for greener ways to make money. Business experts Aron Cramer and Zachary Karabell spotlight these new (and often unexpected) sustainability champions, companies that quickly realized that their strategies had to evolve in order to accommodate the oft-changing business world. The book uses anecdotes and strategies to provide insight into what makes businesses today sustainable — and therefore successful.

Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change (by L. Hunter Lovins and Boyd Cohen, $26, Hill and Wang, 2011): Alliteration isn’t the only thing this book’s got going for it. Climate Capitalism isn’t the fastest read (its more than 300 pages are packed with information), but it very comprehensively shows how environmental challenges, including climate change, can be linked to business opportunities for all. Through case studies and the authors' own expertise, Climate Capitalism makes a powerful case for the two major "C"'s of today's society.

Cracking the Carbon Code: The Key to Sustainable Profits in the New Economy (by Terry Tamminen, $30, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011): From former California EPA secretary Terry Tamminen, Cracking the Carbon Code offers an insider's view on how to use carbon to measure business success. The numbers are key: using five steps, Tamminen shows how six greenhouse gases can help measure efficiency and waste. Through extensive discussion, charts, statistics, and a helpful glossary, the book outlines what companies can do to reduce waste and maximize profit.

Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back (by Kimberly Palmer, $15, Ten Speed Press, 2010): The act of managing money is hardly a new thing, but Kimberly Palmer shows readers a novel way of looking at it. In Generation Earn, she introduces monetary issues concerning the current generation in three separate sections: money in relation to the self, the home, and the world at large. Rather than live up to their unflattering name of “Generation Debt,” today's young people are better informed about green spending, sustainable donating, and supporting nonprofits. Or at least they will be after reading this book.

--Shirley Mak

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