How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take To Change a Planet?

Tony Juniper: How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take To Change a Planet? – 95 Ways To Save Planet Earth. Quercus 2008, 303 pages, £7.99.

Those familiar with Martin Luther will know that in 1517 he nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of a church, which was “a direct challenge to the religious orthodoxy of his age, but were also positive, setting out what he and others saw as a better and more decent way.”

Tony Juniper also proposes ninety-five solutions “in order to underline the historic shift needed if we are to solve the pressing challenges that face us.” The focus of the book is mainly climate change and carbon-dioxide but covers a wide range of topics: how to achieve reductions in greenhouse emissions, protection of the bio-diversity around the world, farming, meat consumption, transport, recycling, sustainable products, tax reform and reform of international organisations like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.

Although Juniper’s book is now eight years old his critique and solutions are still amazingly refreshing and relevant. What makes the book so readable are the examples given of how Juniper and others have been involved in making progress on many of the 95 solutions. One gets the feeling that they are not only very sensible solutions but also achievable.

The book shows that many of the issues can be addressed locally, regionally, nationally as well as internationally. We do not wait for the world leaders to sort it out for us. In fact, the world leaders – just like the national and regional politicians - are more likely to do something about it if they see local communities getting involved.

By showing ninety-five concrete solutions to the Earth’s urgent problems - rather than just describe them - the book makes the reader optimistic that it can be done and hopefully also makes the reader motivated to be part of the solution.