The best of the latest sustainability literature

Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry
By Caroline W. Lee

Paperback: 304 pages, £19.24

Publisher: Oxford University Press USA

Published: January 2015

ISBN-10: 0199987262

In this fresh look at participatory democracy, sociologist Caroline Lee examines how public engagement innovations have reshaped American civic life in the last 20 years. New technologies and deliberative practices have democratised the ways in which organisations operate, but Lee argues that they have also been marketed and sold as tools to facilitate cost-cutting, profitability, and other management goals, often at the expense of citizen empowerment.

Green Innovation in China: China's Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy
By Joanna I Lewis

Paperback: 304 pages, £17.50

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Published: January 2015

ISBN-10: 0231153317

As the biggest coal producer and consumer in the world, China seems an unlikely haven for wind power. Yet the country now boasts a world-class industry that promises to make low-carbon technology more affordable and available to all. This book explores China's remarkable transition and the possibility of replicating its model elsewhere.

The Patient Will See You Now
By Eric Topol

Hardcover: 384 pages, £18.91

Publisher: Basic Books

Published: January 2015

ISBN-10: 0465054749

Is medicine experiencing its "Gutenberg moment"? Much as the printing press liberated knowledge from the control of an elite class, new technology – from smart gadgets to machine learning – could democratise medicine. In this new era, Eric Topol argues, patients will control their data and be emancipated from a paternalistic medical regime in which "the doctor knows best". The path forward will be complicated, but the result – better and cheaper health care – will be worth it.

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World
By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler

Hardcover: 336 pages, £18.04

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: February 2015

ISBN-10: 1476709564

Both a manifesto and a manual, this book offers a radical how-to guide for using emerging technologies, moon-shot thinking, and crowd-powered tools to create extraordinary wealth while also positively impacting the lives of billions.

The West without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow
By Lynn Ingram and Frances Malamud-Roam

Paperback: 280 pages, £16.95

Publisher: University of California Press

Published: February 2015

ISBN-10: 0520286006

Could California run dry? Part detective story, part call to action, this book documents the tumultuous climate of the American West over twenty millennia, with tales of past droughts and deluges, and predictions about the region’s water future. Looking at California’s current water crisis, the authors show that the American West may be ill-prepared for the future climate changes that are likely to beset it.

Rebalancing Society: Radical Renewal Beyond Left, Right, and Center
By Henry Mintzberg

Paperback: 120 pages, £10.40

Publisher: Barret-Koehler

Published: February 2015

ISBN-10: 1626563179

The world is out of balance, says Henry Mintzberg, but we can set things right. His book argues that a healthy society rests on three balanced pillars: a public sector of respected governments, a private sector of responsible enterprises, and a plural sector of robust voluntary associations (non-profits, NGOs, etc.). Mintzberg offers specific ideas for strengthening the plural sector, which has the potential to lead radical renewal by challenging unacceptable practices and developing better ones.

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