Feeding the world, climate change, biodiversity, antibiotics, plastics, pandemics – the list of concerns seems endless. But what is most pressing, and what should we do first? Do we all need to become vegetarian? How can we fly in a low-carbon world? How can we take control of technology? And, given the global nature of the challenges we now face, what on Earth can any of us do, as individuals? Mike Berners-Lee has crunched the numbers and plotted a course of action that is full of hope, practical, and enjoyable. This is the big-picture perspective on the environmental and economic challenges of our day, laid out in one place, and traced through to the underlying roots – questions of how we live and think. This updated edition has new material on protests, pandemics, wildfires, investments, carbon targets and of course, on the key question: given all this, what can I do?
What is New in this Updated Edition? Notes on Units
2. More on Climate and Environment
4. Travel and Transport
5. Growth, Money and Metrics
6. People and Work
7. Business and Technology
8. Values, Truth and Trust
9. Thinking Skills for Today's World
11. Big-Picture Summary
12. What Can I Do? Summary
Appendix: Climate Emergency Basics
Alphabetical Quick Tour
Notes on Units
Mike Berners-Lee thinks, writes, researches and consults on sustainability and responses to the challenges of the twenty-first century. He is the founder of Small World Consulting (SWC), an associate company of Lancaster University, which works with organisations from small businesses to the biggest tech giants. SWC is a leader in the field of carbon metrics, targets and actions. His previous books include How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything (2010) and The Burning Question: We Can't Burn Half the World's Oil, Coal, and Gas. So How Do We Quit? (2013, co-written with Duncan Clark). This book explores the big picture of climate change and the underlying global dynamics, asking what mix of politics, economics, psychology and technology is really required to deal with the problem. Berners-Lee is a professor in the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University, where he develops practical tools for thinking about the future, and researches the global food system and carbon metrics.
"Books about climate change usually make for grim reading. Even before you pick it up, you know the plot: the Earth is doomed and humans are to blame. It is refreshing, then, to come across one that takes a different approach, presenting itself as a "handbook" for how humanity can thrive in dark times. The author, Mike Berners-Lee, is a university professor and carbon emissions consultant, and some of his suggestions are rather surprising. In the book he examines what it would take to reduce emissions to nearly zero – and, even more importantly, what sort of civilisation might be able to accomplish this. Berners-Lee frames the challenge not as a technological problem, but rather as a question of values. If the world is going to cut emissions and make sure everyone on the planet can still live a decent life, then "humanity has to raise its game", he writes. "We simply can’t get away from the question of values. Like it or not." [...] Depending on your view of human nature, that may sound unlikely. But it is at least honest. Too often climate cheerleaders paint a portrait of a win-win world, one where emissions are lower and everybody benefits. Such facile arguments feel out of touch at a time when decades of climate policy have failed to reduce emissions, which keep rising. [...] The central question that the book addresses, though, is probably the greatest issue of our time: how can we keep living happily on this planet? As the world continues to warm, it is a question that will become ever more urgent. Berners-Lee does not have all the answers, but certainly makes a noble start."
– Leslie Hook, Financial Times
"We don’t need telling that the world is in a horrible mess. What we need are solutions and, better still, pragmatic prescriptions based on sound psychology and effective economics, precepts that can ease society through the transitions we have no choice but to make. [...] The book is as jargon-free as possible to ensure maximum reach, while endnotes hold the details for the technically minded. Amazingly, it manages to make the complexities of planet-scale economic and environmental interconnectivity fun: a platter of potential doom, served with a smiley face and sparkler. And to underline the take-homes, every section has a summary to read before embarking on the rest. [...] Buying the book and adopting its key guidelines and mindset will go a long way to ensuring the planet we hand on may just be liveable. Despite the visions of people such as Stephen Hawking, leaving Earth is not an option given the huge amounts of energy needed to propel us to an off-world colony. We will also lack the right technology for several hundred years to come. As Berners-Lee writes: “Whatever we make it into, Earth will be our only home for a very long time to come. There is no Planet B.”"
– Adrian Barnett, New Scientist
"Mike has created a wonderfully abundant buffet-table of knowledge about sustainability and you can enjoy it all at one sitting or benefit from visiting for bite-size chunks. Either way, you'll come away wiser, healthier and also entertained. In our household, we noticed people couldn't resist picking up a draft copy for a quick look and dipping in for far longer than they'd expected. Mike doesn't preach, instead he shares his insights with warmth and wit, and his book could not be more timely."
– David Shukman, BBC Science Editor
"If you've ever felt overwhelmed by the scale of the global challenges we face, then read this book. There Is No Planet B is full of practical guidance, evidence-based and robust, yet completely accessible, and sets out the difference any one of us can make. In an increasingly complex and confusing world, this book stands out as a beacon of common sense, clarity and – crucially – hope."
– Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, UK
"This is a massively entertaining compendium of bite-sized facts [...] It's also massively important, given the current state of the planet."
– Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
"A much-needed, critically important, straight-talking handbook for absolutely everyone on our long-suffering planet. We ignore it at our peril."
– Mark Carwardine, co-author (with Douglas Adams) of Last Chance to See
"Mike Berners-Lee has a unique ability to communicate vital information on some of the world's most pressing challenges. In this highly readable book, he shows how severe our problems are, but also what we can do to reduce the threats we face."
– Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Fix Energy and Climate and The Switch: How Solar, Storage and New Tech Means Cheap Power for All
"Who should read There is No Planet B? Everyone. Mike Berners-Lee has written a far-ranging and truth-telling handbook that is as readable as it is instructive."
– Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker and author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
"This clearly written and organized book is so sensible and useful that it becomes an unexpected aesthetic pleasure as well as a guide to action. No matter how much you already know, this book will help orient you to where we are now on this, the only planet we have (I can testify that Mars won't do). It would be best if everyone read it."
– Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy and New York 2140