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Ecological Intelligence

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Ecological Intelligence

How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything

Broadway Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Well-informed shoppers want ecologically sound products, so companies that furnish both data and green goods will benefit.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening


The manufactured world has produced incredible variety, luxury and convenience, but at what cost to the environment and to human bodies? Emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman persuasively argues for “radical transparency” about environmental impact. He says that if people could see at a glance the harm that the products they buy wreak upon the earth and human health, they would make ecologically sounder choices. Goleman asserts that such transparency would add to the legions of eco-conscious consumers, help the environment and even boost corporate profits. Though it is not as tightly written as his previous books, getAbstract recommends this compelling, detailed work of advocacy for marketplace transparency. Goleman works hard to prove that it is an idea whose time has come.


Industrial Ecology: Measuring Products’ Effects on the Environment

“Ecological intelligence” is awareness of how your actions affect the world around you. This includes learning the impact of various products and processes on the “geosphere,” the “biosphere” and the “sociosphere,” which covers human concerns, like the societal results of workers’ conditions. Once you develop your ecological intelligence, you are likely to become a different kind of consumer. When most people shop, generally they aren’t aware of how the items they buy are made, what goes into their manufacturing or how the company treats its employees.

The relatively new field of industrial ecology, located “at the cusp where chemistry, physics and engineering meet ecology,” looks at manufacturing in context. It covers multiple factors, from the environmental cost of basic materials to how goods are discarded. A product’s use of natural resources and the pollution it causes indicate its resource burden. Other metrics used to assess a product’s biosphere outcomes include “biodegradability,” “cancer impact,” “loss of biodiversity,” “embedded toxicity” and “disability adjusted life years,” the span lopped...

About the Author

Two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Daniel Goleman wrote the bestsellers Primal Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence, and covered science for The New York Times.

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