Live Sustainably Now

A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life

Karl Coplan

Columbia University Press

Live Sustainably Now

Pub Date: December 2019

ISBN: 9780231190909

224 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $28.00£22.00

Pub Date: December 2019

ISBN: 9780231549165

224 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $27.99£22.00

Live Sustainably Now

A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life

Karl Coplan

Columbia University Press

Any realistic response to climate change will require reducing carbon emissions to a sustainable level. Yet even people who already recognize that the climate is the most urgent issue facing the planet struggle to understand their individual responsibilities. Is it even possible to live with a sustainable carbon footprint in modern American society—much less to live well? What are the options for those who would like to make climate awareness part of their daily lives but don’t want to go off the grid or become a hermit?

In Live Sustainably Now, Karl Coplan shares his personal journey of attempting to cut back on carbon without giving up the amenities of a suburban middle-class lifestyle. Coplan chronicles the joys and challenges of a year on a carbon budget—kayaking to work, hunting down electric-car charging stations, eating a Mediterranean-style diet, and enjoying plenty of travel on weekends and vacations while avoiding long-distance flights. He explains how to set a personal carbon cap and measure your actual footprint, with his own results detailed in monthly diary entries. Presenting the pros and cons of different energy, transportation, and lifestyle options, Live Sustainably Now shows that there does not have to be a trade-off between the ethical obligation to maintain a sustainable carbon footprint and the belief that life should be fulfilling and fun. This powerful and persuasive book provides an individual-level blueprint for a carbon-sustainable tweak to the American dream.
Karl Coplan's vision for living an ethical, meaningful, and sustainable life in the face of the climate crisis is an inspiration to all those who care about the environment. Without losing sight of the need for collective global corporate and governmental action, he shows us that it is possible to enjoy life and have fun without sacrificing the future of the planet for the instant gratification many of us have come to expect from life in the twenty-first century. Tatiana Schlossberg, former New York Times science writer and author of Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have
Talking the environmental talk is one thing, but if you want to walk the walk, too, Karl Coplan's book will tell you how to do it and how to do it happily. Colin Beavan, author of How To Be Alive and No Impact Man
A paralytic feeling can come when deeply confronting the global nature of climate change, given how a multitude of dispersed human activities are contributing to worldwide shifts in climate and coastal patterns that will build and persist for centuries. In this educational, entertaining account, Karl Coplan, law professor and long-distance sailor, argues for and, better yet, demonstrates a completely different kind of reaction—passionate engagement in shaping a fulfilling and fun low-carbon life. Andrew Revkin, former New York Times environmental writer and director of the Initiative on Communication & Sustainability, Earth Institute, Columbia University
In clear prose, sometimes taking a colloquial turn, Coplan walks the reader through questions of individual culpability for global warming, ranging—quite usefully, in my view—between philosophical abstractions and quantifiable realities of daily life. He balances theory and practice with aplomb. Mark Hineline, author of Ground Truth: A Guide to Tracking Climate Change at Home
Coplan reminds us that low-carbon living not only contributes to the cultural shift required for systems-level change, but is satisfying, meaningful, and fun. Peter Kalmus, climate scientist and author of Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution
Preface
Prologue: Climate March at the Crossroads
1. Climatarianism: Our Personal Moral Obligation
Carbon Diary: September 2015
2. Why Both Individual Action and Collective Policy Will Be Needed to Address Climate Change
Carbon Diary: October 2015
3. Some Climate Basics: What We Mean by “Carbon Footprint,” How We Measure It, and Why It Matters
Carbon Diary: November 2015
4. Sustainability: What Is It Anyway, and Who Can Really Claim to Be Doing It?
Carbon Diary: December 2015
5. What Is Individual Carbon Sustainability, Then?
Carbon Diary: January 2016
6. Going on a Carbon Diet to Save the Planet
Carbon Diary: February 2016
7. Surprising Carbon Impact Comparisons: If You Are Only Going to Sweat One Kind of Stuff, Sweat Big Stuff, Not Small Stuff
Carbon Diary: March 2016
8. Grappling with the Big Four: Electricity, Heat, Transportation, and Food
Carbon Diary: April 2016
9. Having Fun on a Carbon Budget
Carbon Diary: May 2016
10. Medium-Term Goal: Getting to Zero
Carbon Diary: Summer 2016
Postscript: Individual Climate Action in the Trump Era: Now More than Ever
Appendix: Sample Carbon Footprint Calculation
Index

About the Author

Karl Coplan is professor of law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, where he directs its environmental litigation clinic. He is a coauthor of Introduction to Environmental Law: Cases and Materials on Water Pollution Control (second edition, 2016). Coplan is also a member of the board of directors of Waterkeeper Alliance, a global network of clean water advocates.