Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Green book review: What Has Nature Ever Done For Us by Tony Juniper

There ain't no such thing as free lunch. This notion that Harvard economist Greg Mankiw described as "to get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another" is mostly true, but we tend to forget about it when it comes to natural capital.  

Yet, this is wrong, very wrong, as nature provides the 'natural services' that keep the economy going, explains Tony Juniper in his new book. Why? This important book written by one of the top 10 environmental figures of the last 30 years explains it, and it is our pleasure to have it on this week's green book review:

What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?: How Money Really Does Grow on Trees by Tony Juniper with a Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales (publisher: Synergetic Press) 

What this book is about?
During recent years, and since 2005 in particular, the environmental debate worldwide has been dominated by climate change, carbon emissions and efforts to achieve low carbon economies. But a number of academic, technical, political, business and NGO initiatives indicate that there is a new wave of environmental attention focused on a wholly different set of subjects: namely that of 'natural capital,' 'ecosystem services' and 'biodiversity,' or in other words, what Nature does for us.

From Indian Vultures to Chinese bees and from recycling miracles in the soil to the abundant genetic codebook underpinning our food and pharmaceutical needs, Nature provides the 'ecosystem services' that underlie our economies. It is been estimated that these and other services are worth about twice the global GDP, and yet we take most of these services for granted, imagining them free and limitless- until they suddenly switch off.

This is a book full of immediate, impactful stories, containing warnings, such as the rabies epidemic that followed a disappearance of Indian vultures (hormones in cattle killed the birds and resulted surplus in carcasses, creating an explosion of wild dogs), as well as promising and enlightening tales of how birds protect fruit harvests, coral reefs shield coasts from storms and how the rainforests absorb billions of tons of carbon released from automobiles and power stations. Tony Juniper's book will change the whole way you think about life, the planet and the economy.

About the author:
Tony Juniper is a campaigner, writer, sustainability adviser and a well-known British environmentalist. For more than 25 years he has worked for change toward a more sustainable society at local, national and international levels. From providing ecology and conservation experiences for primary school children, to making the case for new recycling laws, to orchestrating international campaigns for action on rainforests and climate change, his work has sought change at many levels. Juniper presently works as a Special Adviser to the Prince of Wales Charities' International Sustainability Unit. For more info, visit 

Our review:
This book, What Has Nature Ever Done For Us, by Tony Juniper was an interesting read. It has many stories that are very current today in our drive to retain our world and the creatures within it. We, humans, tend to see immediate consequences to our actions, but I think most of us tend to forget about the long term consequences. The stories within the pages of this book bring them front and center, and make them hard to ignore. As an added perk the book is written in an easy to read and understand format.

The author also keeps you interested and turning the pages as the stories and events are told in a manner that I found to be compelling and entertaining. Some of the events I was quite aware of all ready before reading the book, but the author found more information and more background to add to what I already knew. I liked that a lot. It wasn’t just a quick fact dump either. Instead it was a comprehensive telling of the events and the story behind them. I really enjoyed this read.

There were a few sections I found to be a bit wordy and long, but that is my only real complaint. Anyone interested in our environment and in the world we live, I think will find use of this book. The more versed in this area may not get as much out of it as the newer people, but I still recommend it all the same.

The book is available on in both hardcover and paperback formats.


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