Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Materials Matter: Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Materials Matter: Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy

Article excerpt

Review: Materials Matter: Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy By Ken Geiser Reviewed by Xavier E. Gros Mitsui Babcock Ltd., Scotland Ken Geiser. Materials Matter: Toward a Sustainable Materials Policy. Cambridge, MA:MIT Press, 2001. 479 pp. ISBN 0-2625-7148-X (softcover). US$24.95. Recycled, acid-free paper.

At a time when the United States is refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, at a time when European researchers are rediscovering that copper is more appropriate than steel to help fight food-related diseases due to its inhibitory properties, Materials Matter examines the environmental pollution caused by industrial materials and illustrates the advantages and shortcoming of the material industry by focusing on environmental and economical aspects. It shows that the emergence of a new culture that is trying to develop materials respectful of the environment is more a trendy aspect developed for economic or policy reasons rather than to show consideration for the planet and its inhabitants.

Materials Matter is the eighth addition to the Urban and Industrial Environments series, and is a rich volume that may at first impress by its size. Divided in four sections, each one made of three to five chapters, the book reaches nearly 500 pages. But this bulky volume is easy to read and provides a comprehensive historical and scientific study on a wide range of materials. Materials Matter is not a publication of academic nature, as its jargon-free style makes it accessible even to the non-specialists, while the history of materials makes the book interesting on a general level. The presentation of only useful diagrams and tables and the mixing of data within the text make it more enjoyable to read (rather than a volume overloaded with graphs), while notes and an extensive bibliography provide materials for further reading.

The first part presents an historical background on materials development, production, market globalization, health damage caused by handling and disposal of toxic substances, and gives an insight into the economy of industrial materials. The policies for the management of natural materials resources are addressed in Section Two. It is shown that since material manufacturers are more interested in profit than environmental protection, environmental directives have to be proposed and implemented by the government. …

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