Must read book: Getting Green Done

gettinggreenfinal_covver__jan_1_401x600I am in the process of reading a terrific new book, by Auden Schendler, Sustainability Director for Aspen Skiing Company. But Andrew Jones beat me to the punch with his review. So am reprinting his post here. This allows me to kill two birds with one stone [Note to self: Need new, eco-friendly metaphor], since I also wanted to draw attention to Andrew’s amazing work using climate simulations to educate policymakers on what it will take to preserve a livable climate. Auden is well known to CP readers as one of the hardest working people in the sustainability trenches (see Schendler I: Those quotes in Businessweek’s “Little Green Lies”) and a skeptic of rip-offsets (see “Schendler II: Good RECs vs. Bad RECs“).]

Old friend and fellow Rocky Mountain Institute alumnus Auden Schendler this week has released a gem of a book: “Getting Green Done — Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution.”

I gobbled down over the past few days. The delightful experience of reading Auden’s insights and real-world anecdotes about reducing the environmental impact of the Aspen Skiing Company reminded me of reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce in 1993 or hearing Interface’s Ray Anderson’s classic keynotes soon after. Inspiring. Hopeful. Asking for the best from business and all of us.

And yet “Getting Green Done” is a book for a new decade and responds to the urgency of this year by taking an extra step: in his on-the-ground projects, Schendler has won, lost, lost again, and he reflects honestly about the journey. He breaks with the sustainability pack that spreads the half-truth that “Green is Easy” and prepares us for the important yet challenging work of remaking our economy to support the viability of life on Earth. And makes us laugh along the way.

Schendler writes:

We need to radically increase the ratio of grunts to visionaries, with fewer grand pronouncements made from podiums and more belly-crawling through the swamps.

And you can watch and hear Auden in a short video here.

Having just returned from making grand pronouncements from DC podiums, this book stung in the best way. It is time to roll up our sleeves, people!

— Andrew Jones

[JR: Auden has said he will give me a book excerpt to publish as soon as I figure out which one would be the best. But I don’t recommend a lot of books and this one should be read by anyone who wants to understand the hard work of sustainability.]

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16 Responses to Must read book: Getting Green Done

  1. “This allows me to kill two birds with one stone [Note to self: Need new, eco-friendly metaphor].”

    The start of my environmental ethic was my mother saying, “That kills two stones with one bird – because we don’t like killing birds”.

  2. Chris S says:

    How about, “Feed two birds out of one hand”?

  3. MikeB says:

    Killing two birds with one stone: how about co-generation of heat and power from one plant?

  4. MikeH says:

    How about “pop two bubbles with one crisis”? We’re popping the economic and ecological bubbles at once, these days, right?

  5. “Plant two Trees with one throw.” (As in casting seeds)

    Check out my blog, ROOT SAUCE. I deal with issues readers here should care about.

  6. justus says:

    “Feed two birds with one scone.”

  7. justus says:

    While I agree that the ratio of pronouncements to belly-crawling needs to change, this shouldn’t come from fewer pronouncements, but from more belly-crawling.

    After all, if we’re not able to inspire people to get down in the mud with us, what’s the point? We need more doers, but not at the expense of those people who can help us see where the hell we’re going.

  8. rich sequest says:

    Regarding your search for metaphors, consider:

    People have a hard time getting their head around greenhouse gases. What are they, what do they look like, why are they dangerous, etc.

    On the other hand, people generally understand today that cigarette smoke is bad stuff.

    Smoking (cigarettes) is bad for you. Cigarette smoke contains carcinogens which can cause cancer which can kill you.

    Combusting (fossil fuels) is bad for you. Fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases which warm the planet which can kill you.

    Thus, if we could get people to look at the danger of greenhouse gases the same way they look at the danger of cigarette smoking, the perils of a warming planet might be more personalized.

    This could lead to a whole new p.r. campaign: LET’S STOP COMBUSING!
    I QUIT, HAVE YOU? etc. etc.

    I know, this all sounds a little hokey, but we have to pull the stops out on this thing.

  9. Green will not be easy, and it is not (as its critics sneer) just another fad of the lunatic left. The science is conclusive that something needs to be done, urgently, about CO2 emissions. The question is, how?

    Conservation will help some, and so will biofuels, solar, and wind. But these are not sufficient, in the near term, to avoid the tipping point.

    What is needed is post-combustion CO2 capture and treatment at existing pulverized coal power plants. That is where we in the US, and especially India and China, get most of our baseload power, which keeps the lights on. It is important that the Green Team gets realistic about that fact.

    The manufacturing base in the US has been devastated by the short-sighted greed of Wall Street and its naked short-sellers. Starting new businesses in America is a minefield of huge costs and vague liabilities, and takes much more money that most people have access to. So the infrastructure to implement any solution lies in ruins in the Rust Belt. The so-called “free market” is only available to millionaires and giant companies like GM and GE, and they are scared to do anything now.

    So although there are many people interested in getting something done, the free market we are counting on will not come through. Call it socialism if you want, Rush, but a massive government effort is our only hope.

  10. paulm says:

    My family went skiing on Sat. I tried in vein to find out information on the CO2 footprint of the sport (didnt think to ck Climateprogress:) This, I thought is a bit of a mystery…surly skiing and snow making has got to be one of the worst per capita activities for generating CO2. (A bit ironic isn’t it).

    Anyone know of online resource in this area?

  11. “Feed two cats with one bowl ” is my favorite and almost a hundred others at:

  12. hapa says:

    only two birds to a scone, must be big birds.…

    ok ok wait. what about grunts and visionaries. handiwork desperately needed. dreamers, designers, engineers, from fantasy to functional in just one chain hard-working people. but we are leaving out the money, which is where the hand-waving comes in. a solid base of public spending driving down risks and costs and making a lot of it happen. that public commitment and the funding stream that follows is what’s been missing most, in a finance world that counts lower frontside costs as the most-favored-benefit.

    just making sure political gruntwork — securing visionary policy — doesn’t get lost between the categories here.…

  13. Mike D says:

    How about “killing two invasive European starlings with one stone”?

  14. David B. Benson says:

    What Mike D just wrote.

    Those pests have started showing up here.

  15. Heartfelt says:

    Catch two birds (or fish or other creature) with one net.

  16. Goran says:

    In Sweden we say (translated): Killing two flies in one blow. Maybe we need to change that (soon) to two malaria mosquitos in one blow