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book image Sustainability
Ethical Markets:   Growing the Green Economy
By Hazel Henderson
300 pp.
Chelsea Green. US$30.00
ISBN-10: 1933392231 / ISBN-13: 9781933392233

There is a concept in philosophy that says you can't fully understand a system you are inside of. This is a concept that applies to paradigms. It is very difficult for us to grasp -- or even to perceive -- the paradigm we are in. Every once in a while a book comes along that helps us do just that. Hazel Henderson's Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy is such a book.

In Ethical Markets, which is based on Henderson's widely acclaimed public television series, Henderson not only helps the reader understand the current paradigm, she alleviates the hopelessness many feel when confronted with apparently entrenched and intransigent corporate interests. With analysis that is at once readable and incisive, Henderson explains how the diverse threads of corporatism, money, sustainable growth, oil, the media, health care, social responsibility, women, outsourcing, and international finance have created the world we live in and how they have the potential to move us past this "planet-poisoning" stage of human existence. Using interviews, statistics, analysis, and explanation, she shows that the pathways to a sustainable, happier future already exist today, and have existed (but not been counted) for many years.

She points out that fifty percent of worldwide economic activity goes unreported and uncounted because it is not based on money. Only the money-based part of the economy is counted. Barter, volunteer work, and the household work of raising children and nurturing families are all ignored in economic reckoning, even though they are undoubtedly part of economic functioning of human life. For example, in the United States alone, approximately 89 million people volunteer an average of 5 hours a week. If they stopped, they would certainly have an economic impact on thousands of organizations. Yet, in our money-based way of counting, volunteer work in not accounted for in indexes such as the gross domestic product.

From her first chapter on redefining success, in which she poses questions like, why do economists count money and factories but not human, social, and ecological forms of capital, or why does the calculation of the gross national product treat education as a cost instead of an investment, to the last chapter where she shows the tremendous power and success of socially responsible investing, Henderson discusses the impact of reevaluating economic concepts that have been accepted for decades as true. Her chapters on green building, women-owned businesses, shareholder activism, clean food, health and wellness, and renewable energy are all presented with sensitivity and clarity.

Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy will be valuable to readers with an interest in understanding the global economy and its movement toward a more ethically-based way of living. It will also be useful as a textbook in college classes where professors want their students to acquire skills in critical thinking, in picking apart the dominant, accepted "truths" about the economy and society. The classified bibliography of sources, including web sites, will assist readers who want to further pursue the ideas covered in the book.

Hazel Henderson is widely recognized as an expert on sustainable development. She won the 2007 Nautilus Silver Book Award for Business/Conscious Leadership and the 2008 Axiom Bronze Business Book Award for Business Ethics, both for Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy. In addition to Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy, she has authored seven other books, including Beyond Globalization. Her columns are syndicated in 27 languages and published around the globe.

Sylvia Breau, for Notable Book Reviews
Notable Book Reviews received one or more copies of this book in exchange for this review.
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