Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? edited by Andrew Simms and Joe Smith.  Having a limited range of understanding about environmental issues I thought this book was excellent.  It discusses the environment, not in the traditional narrow scientific sense, but, instead in a way that brings together all sorts of different disciplines including psychology, economics, politics, employment and the work place as well as ecology/environmentalism.

The book is not written by one author but instead by a cross-section of contributions come from a wide-range of influencers including:

  • Phillip Pullman, A C Grayling, Oliver James and John Bird on love, happiness and telling tales.
  • Kevin McCloud, Nic Marks, Stephen Bayley and Wayne Hemingway on good design.
  • Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Colin Tudge and Rosie Boycott on good and sustainable food.
  • David Cameron and Caroline Lucas on the politics of the good life.
  • Tom Hodgkinson, David Boyle and David Goldblatt on having a good time.
  • Anita Roddick, Adair Turner, Ann Pettifor and Larry Elliott on good business and work.

The main thing which comes out of the many articles is that in order to live a good life (i.e. one which is fulfilling but doesn’t “cost the earth”) Western society needs to have a good think about what it’s goals are.  It is a fact, proven by the latest research that materialism and consumerism and the struggle for greater wealth do not translate into greater happiness.  However, materialism and consumerism do have deeply negative impacts on the environment and on people’s wellbeing – but to what purpose if wealth doesn’t even make you any happier?!  The following quote made me laugh:

“if you want to be happy for a few hours then get drunk. If you want to be happy for a few years then get married, and if you want to be happy for your lifetime, get a garden”!

The book also provides interesting insights as to what the real solutions are – less work and greed and more time spent developing relationships and being involved in our local communities.  Especially interesting is the chapter explaining why the international banking systems is so onerous to all but those who are already rich and are getting richer as a result of the system.

Everyone should read this book now!!


Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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