How Bad Are Bananas? Book Summary - How Bad Are Bananas? Book explained in key points
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How Bad Are Bananas? summary

Mike Berners-Lee

The Carbon Footprint of Everything

4.2 (273 ratings)
26 mins

Brief summary

How Bad Are Bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee is a guide to carbon footprinting, exploring the impact of everyday actions and suggesting changes we can make for a more sustainable future.

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    How Bad Are Bananas?
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    A carbon footprint takes into consideration many harmful gases, and the average size varies around the world.

    These days, you don’t have to be an environmental scientist to have heard the term carbon footprint. It gets used a lot in discussions about global warming or climate change and refers to the amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) that gets released during certain processes, whether by a corporation or just one person.

    However, carbon dioxide is but one of many gases that contribute to global warming and a carbon footprint. Such harmful emissions are known as greenhouse gases and some of them are far more damaging than CO₂. Methane (CH₄), for example, is twenty-five times as harmful as CO₂, and nitrous oxide (N₂O) is three hundred times worse. And then there are refrigerant gases, which are used in cooling systems and can be several thousand times more potent than CO₂.

    In the United Kingdom, CO₂ accounts for 86 percent of its greenhouse gas output, while methane accounts for 7 percent, nitrous oxide 6 percent and refrigerant gases 1 percent.

    Since we know how potent all these other gases are in relation to CO₂, a carbon footprint provides an accurate reading on all the major harmful emissions being released. This conversion method is known as carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO₂e.

    The average size of a carbon footprint varies from country to country, but it tends to be bigger in the developed world. In Malawi, for example, the average carbon footprint of a person is around 0.1 metric tons of CO₂e per year. The average person in the United Kingdom, however, measures up at around 15 metric tons per year, while the average North American comes in at around 28, and Australians at 30 metric tons. As for the planet as a whole, in 2007 we produced around 49 billion metric tons of CO₂e.

    Being British, the author hopes to help the United Kingdom reduce harmful emissions by a significant yet reasonable amount. Berners-Lee has laid the groundwork for such a reduction through what he calls the 10-tonne lifestyle, which would result in the average person going from 15 to 10 metric tons per year – a one-third reduction of each person’s carbon footprint.

    In the blinks that follow, we’ll take a closer look at the steps you can take to adopt this lifestyle.

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    What is How Bad Are Bananas? about?

    In How Bad are Bananas? (2010), author Mike Berner-Lee provides readers with an A-to-Z guide of how they can start living a more environmentally conscious life and reduce their own carbon footprint. You may think you’re familiar with climate change and carbon footprints, but do you really know the everyday activities that contribute to the current environmental crisis? From grocery shopping to washing your clothes, you’ll learn how to be more efficient and less wasteful.

    How Bad Are Bananas? Review

    How Bad Are Bananas? (2010) by Mike Berners-Lee is an eye-opening exploration of carbon footprints and the environmental impact of everyday activities. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with fascinating facts and figures, it reveals the surprising carbon footprints of various products, helping us make informed choices for a more sustainable future.
    • Using clear and accessible language, the book breaks down complex topics to educate readers about the environmental impact of seemingly innocent actions.
    • Its practical tips and realistic solutions empower readers to take meaningful steps towards reducing their carbon footprint, inspiring positive change without overwhelming them.

    Best quote from How Bad Are Bananas?

    In 2008, one-fourth of all texts came from China.

    —Mike Berners-Lee
    example alt text

    Who should read How Bad Are Bananas??

    • Anyone curious about their own carbon footprint
    • Environmentalists in the fight against global warming
    • Consumers who want to make more informed purchases

    About the Author

    Mike Berners-Lee is a professor at Lancaster University and the founding director of Small World Consulting, a company that specializes in measuring the carbon footprint of services and products worldwide. He is also the author of The Burning Question: We Can't Burn Half the World's Oil, Coal and Gas. So How Do We Quit? (2013) and a frequent contributor to the Guardian.

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    How Bad Are Bananas? FAQs 

    What is the main message of How Bad Are Bananas??

    The main message of How Bad Are Bananas? is to understand and reduce the carbon footprint of everyday activities.

    How long does it take to read How Bad Are Bananas??

    The reading time for How Bad Are Bananas? varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in around 15 minutes.

    Is How Bad Are Bananas? a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How Bad Are Bananas? is worth reading because it exposes the hidden impact of our actions, helping us make more informed choices.

    Who is the author of How Bad Are Bananas??

    Mike Berners-Lee is the author of How Bad Are Bananas?.