Book Review: Ten Technologies to Save the Planet

ten technologies to save the earth book photo

Photo of Earth via Aaron Escobar
Ten Technologies to Save the Planet is a timely look at the major players in clean technology and what we stand to gain from them if we put the time, energy and money into them that they require to develop.

Written by Chris Goodall, author of How to Live a Low Carbon Life, the book takes an open-eyed look at power sources, including wind, solar, wave, and heat, green home building, electric cars, carbon capture, biochar, and the soil and forests. In his usual conversational, accessible tone, Goodall points out the benefits, problems, and obstacles facing each of these elemental aspects of clean tech upon which our survival as a planet depends. It is impressive how timely this book is. At a point in our culture when green thinking is at an all time high, the economy is at a frighteningly low, and advances in the technology are happening at lightening pace, this book could not have chosen a better time to come to fruition. Members of the mainstream all over the world are getting curious about how their lives will shift towards renewable energy and sustainable living, and Ten Technologies to Save the Planet is their reference book.

There is a tone of caution throughout the book. It is not a pie-in-the-sky, isn't-clean-tech-so-perfect kind of a read. Goodall tempers the good with the bad — but also maintains that there is hope for the future. Smart investors, brilliant inventors, forward thinking governments are all given props for what they are doing to advance our switch to renewable energy sources, and so too pointed out are the shortfallings of each that hinder new technology.

A key idea put forth by Goodall that, among many, deserves to be underscored, is the idea that the countries of the world must work as a team to get anywhere at all. The idea of hiding breakthroughs in technology in order to get a jump on competitors has to be a thing of the past. Instead, each country must specialize in what they're good at, and what technology best suits them.

"Individual countries need to assess which technologies are most relevant to their particular circumstances and focus their limitetd resources on these opportunities. Cloudy Britain is wasting its money subsidizing the installation of solar hot-water units on domestic homes when it could sponsor R&D; into expoiting the country's awesome resources of marine energy. By contrast, China should continue to concentrate on small-scale biogas digesters, highly forested countries like Sweden and Austria on wood-based community heat and power plants, Spain can commit to solar energy, Denmark to maintaining its unrivalled expertise in wind power, and Australia to soil improvements. Given the importance of the car in US society, it also seems to make sense for the country to continue to lead the world in the development of second-generation biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol."

Ten Technologies to Save the Planet is the perfect book right now as a single reference point for understanding the current status of the technologies that will be our reality tomorrow. Packed with photos — many of which have been seen on TreeHugger as the technologies broke news — and well-written descriptions, anyone with any level of technical understanding will be able to finish the book with a strong understanding of technology trends, and a strong sense of what has to happen, what will happen, and what can't happen for our world to get off this kick of consumption and on to the next level of living thoughtfully within a world that can support and nourish us all with the right technology.

If you're looking for a good read about the most pertinent things happening on the planet right now, find a way to read this book. If you'd like to purchase it, it is available at

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Book Review: Ten Technologies to Save the Planet
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