Welcome to the blog of the Broad Curriculum course Living Sustainably: A complete guide to surviving a changing planet. This course is run by Professor Nick Gray of the Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: Fundamentals of Sustainable Development by Niko Roorda


There is an ever increasingly large number  of books on the market dealing with sustainable development, so any new book has to offer something new.  Fundamentals of Sustainable Development By Niko Roorda published under the  Earthscan imprint by Routledge (2012) offers just that in a very innovative way.  It goes against the trend of specialization within the area of sustainable development, which often creates inaccessible and  to my mind overly confusingly complex views, but gives a fresh approach to understanding the problems and to some extent the solutions to the crisis facing us today. Roorda describes the crisis in the develop world as the triple crunch  (i.e. climate change, economic crisis and oil depletion), which illustrates his no nonsense approach.

The book is broken down into two parts. Part I is called SWOT analysis (i.e. strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) which explores the global situation. This is made up of four chapters: 1. Sustainable development: an introduction; 2.  Flaws in the fabric: people and nature; 3. Flaws in the fabric: people and society,; and 4. Sources of vigour, this later chapter dealing with global strengths.  Part II is Solution Strategies and  explores some of the ways in which sustainability can be achieved through a further four chapters : 5. Here and there; 6. Now and later; 7. Climate and energy; and 8. Sustainable business practices.  Based on case studies and littered with other examples and colour images  this is a fascinating book  and is as complete a text as I think could have been achieved.  It has numerous student questions which, with the support of an equally innovative and exciting website (www.routledge.com/cw/roorda), makes this text very interactive.

The book really is interdisciplinary, and while challenging in places is truly accessible to readers of all backgrounds.   The presentation of the book is excellent and the format makes this a very attractive paperback, and at 350 pages, it is not too big for students (and lecturers) to carry around. This is a colourful and intriguing textbook which I highly recommend.  It is the sort of book you wish you had written yourself, but Niko Roorda has done just that and in the process added a remarkable edition to the sustainability library.

Nick Gray