Virginia Jacobs's Reviews > Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century

Worldchanging by Alex Steffen
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's review
Sep 01, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: i-own

This book was written like a website, which makes sense because it IS a website. However, that does not make for very enjoyable reading, at least for me. It is not the sort of book you read cover to cover, which is why it took me FOREVER to read. Also, given the topic, it seems like a silly thing to turn into a book because environmental information, and pretty much anything else that belongs in "A User's Guide for the 21st Century" is constantly changing.

That being said, I do have some notes (of course I do):

p. 145 recommends a resource called "Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time," which seems useful if you're trying to figure out how to go green in your remodel. I flagged it because at some point, I'd like to remodel my kitchen.

p. 159 lists an office chair that's supposed to be both ergonomic and passed the McDonough and Braungart Cradle to Cradle product certification, meaning it was created with it's entire life cycle in mind, which is pretty awesome.

p. 165-6 lists five things you can do to conserve energy (I love lists, and I love actionable items). I'm not going to tell you what the five things are, though, because you should at least check out this book, even if you don't read it cover to cover.

I noticed somewhere around the middle of the book that the authors started referring to the "Global North" and "Global South," but I don't recall a definition. Generally, as far as I can tell, the "Global North" is the northern hemisphere and the "Global South" is the southern hemisphere (obvious, right?), but then I think places like Australia fall into the "Global North" despite their geographical location. Anyway, I really dislike when terms are thrown around without first defining them.

p. 209 had an idea that I thought was great: compostable tent city. Basically current refugee camps are disgusting cesspools of disease and general grossness. But Rocky Mountain Institute has designed a refugee "tent" that is made of cardboard-based panels, and therefore intentionally wears out over time. But, the panels are infused with local seeds, so as the cardboard breaks down, plants grow, enabling refugees to start gardens (I'm not exactly sure where they'll be living at this point, but it still seems like a nicer idea than the images we currently see on the nightly news).

p. 228 discusses how density is efficient. The example given is New York City: "New York City is more populous than all but 11 states; if it were granted statehood, it would rank 51st in per-capita energy use." Another reason for us New York-centrics to continue to think the city rocks!

p. 257 talks about green facades, which is something I'd like to build on my home (I haven't told my husband this yet. We've got other projects to get through first).

p. 281 talks about how big cities actually benefit women, mostly by giving them more control over their lives through increased opportunities and freedoms.

p. 337 because I'm a super-dork, I LOVED that there was a reference to Mordor thrown in here: "on the information-technology front, the most pernicious culprit in robbing nations of self-determination is 'anticircumvention,' first seen in the 1996 treaties from the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a body with the same relationsihp to wcked copyright law as Mordor has to evil." (Yeah, I was totally confused, despite dorking out, until I read the next paragraph, which said, "anticircumvention laws make it a crime to tell people how to get around the locks placed on digital works, regardless of whether those locks protect anything guaranteed in law.")

p. 357 mentions obsteric fistula, which I was excited about because I had just read "Cutting for Stone," in which this condition plays an important role. It was totally one of those "no way! I was just thinking of you when you called me" sort of moments which are really just a series of statistical probabilities, but always seem serendipitous when they happen.

p. 367 suggests a book called The Practical Nomad: How to Travel around the World, which "offers tips, resources, and advice sure to benefit the intrepid travelers among us."
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Reading Progress

September 1, 2010 – Started Reading
September 1, 2010 – Shelved
September 1, 2010 –
page 100
August 31, 2011 –
page 109
September 27, 2011 –
page 186
August 19, 2012 –
page 162
August 19, 2012 –
page 262
December 27, 2012 –
page 384
February 10, 2013 – Finished Reading
March 8, 2013 – Shelved as: i-own

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