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ENVIRONMENTAL DEBT by Amy Larkin

ENVIRONMENTAL DEBT

The Hidden Costs of a Changing Global Economy

By Amy Larkin

Pub Date: June 25th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-137-27855-5
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

A mostly cleareyed look at how taking environmental concerns into account is good business.

Greenpeace veteran and environmental activist Larkin tenders a highly optimistic combination of her love for the natural world with an admiration for the dynamism and effectiveness of business, in particular, how to tame the near-unlimited influence of profit to guide our future relationship with the Earth. We must rewire the economy to connect financial and environmental debt, “defined as polluting and/or damaging actions that will cost other parties (people, businesses or governments) real money in the future”—e.g., the effect of global warming spiking the costs of cotton, wheat and soybeans, or the real cost of coal once the various health issues are figured into the equation. Larkin proposes a framework of action she calls “nature means business. Pollution must not be free or subsidized, and government must pay a vital—and even regulatory—role to catalyze technological answers and prevent environmental destruction. The author explores some surprising nexuses between environmental activists and their corporate counterparts—McDonald’s, Unilever, Wal-Mart, Tiffany—where forward-thinking executives saw their best interests served by environmental responsibility. Occasionally, Larkin’s enthusiasm gets the better of her argument—“Nothing except nature can transform the world as swiftly as can business”—and even the most ardent greenhouse gas advocate appreciates that we do not have enough understanding of climate and meteorology to state that, “Today’s extreme weather is caused by greenhouse gas emissions.” Such comments undermine her authority, as does her vested interest in biomimicry and the tired cheerleading of such proclamations as, “This is our chance to create a new paradigm.”

Generally frank and well-meaning but also boosterish and not always tight in its arguments.