Ecological Intelligence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 August, 2009, 12:00am

Ecological Intelligence
by Daniel Goleman
Allen Lane HK$242

Don't be turned off by the words 'personal journey' at the start of this book: Daniel Goleman, who made a name for himself with Emotional Intelligence, leaves psychobabble at the door, instead opening the way to clear arguments with examples such as 'greenwashing', the claims some companies make about the eco-friendliness of their products. Goleman's findings about the complexity of making even the simplest goods are reinforced by industrial ecologists, who consider the environmental, health and social impacts of production. Some are shocking: by investigating certain Canadian tomatoes, he discovers research and development for the fruit was conducted in France. The seeds were grown in China and sent back to France, where they were treated and shipped to Ontario, from where the sprouted seedbeds were trucked to Quebec, where they were harvested. In trying to lift hopes about how to assess carbon footprints, Goleman shows how 'radical transparency' (complete information about a product's history) will empower consumers. Whether such accountability will ever be available is the question.