11/21/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Other Reason "Green Collar Economy" Became a Best Seller

Van Jones' new book The Green Collar Economy has rocketed to #12 on the New York Times Best Sellers List for a lot of reasons, notably a killer Web site, grassroots organizing, and viral marketing, as Nicholas Sabloff points out. But there's (at least) one more reason: the question-to-answer ratio. What will our future economy look like? What would be my role in it? Politicians on the world stage, professors, plumbers, and just about everyone else, it seems, want to know.

On Friday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, "Together we need to rebuild a capitalism that is more respectful to man, more respectful to the planet, more respectful to future generations and be finished with a capitalism obsessed by the frantic search for short-term profit,". In his role as president of the European Union (a rotating office with a six-month term), Sarkozy may have one of the loudest microphones, but his push for an overhaul of international financial regulation ahead of a planned summit at Camp David comes amid a rumbling of calls to rethink measures of economic growth.

As we noted
last month on The Green Life, economist David Suzuki spoke during his West Coast Green keynote of "putting the 'eco' back in economics." And New Scientist asked in a recent special report, "How do we square Earth's finite resources with the fact that as the economy grows, the
amount of natural resources needed to sustain that activity must grow too?"

Peter Dauvergne, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, takes up a similar riddle in his new book The Shadows of Consumption (MIT Press), due out on Thursday. He mines the histories of cars, leaded gasoline, refrigerators,
beef, and seal hunting for clues, but reaches only vague conclusions: traded goods should reflect more of their environmental and social costs, international aid should compensate for damage wrought by production of consumer goods in developing countries, multinational corporations should hew to consistent standards.

So here are two more questions: Have you read these books? Which would you like to see hit #1?