Here's the rub: a city dweller, especially an apartment dweller, is almost always using fewer resources to heat and cool their homes. We (yes, I'm a city dweller) have more options for public transportation and we also tend to walk more. But our spaces aren't nearly as green (literally, green), and many of our buildings tend to be inefficiently constructed. We also tend not to have as much access to fresh produce, if for no other reason than that our soils are deficient and sometimes toxic. It's very easy to feel impotent to change any of these things when we are "city-locked".
This guide is for people who already see the need to make a change. Although they provide some information as to why city dwellers and everyone else should try to live sustainably, it's not exhaustive. However, they do give some information that isn't common knowledge (or at least getting talked about as much). I didn't realize the extent to which urban soils were depleted, and I didn't realize that we were going to approach "peak uranium" in 50 years at the rate we're going. Not that I was ever a proponent of nuclear power, but now the building of new nuclear power plants seems even more ridiculous. Also, although everyone is going to be squeamish when it comes to the subject of human waste, it's pretty hard to deny the need to do something along those lines when the authors explain how inefficient, wasteful and polluting the current sewage process is.
The book is divided into strategies and techniques for Food, Water, Waste, Energy and Bioremediation (bringing soils back to life). I'm not the expert, but it seemed that they tried to list out solutions that could work reasonably well in an urban environment on a small scale. And sometimes not that small- the bathtub setup that they explain for rain water purification seems doable but heavy duty to me. You might also have to gulp a little bit before you do things like purify and use used vegetable oil as biodiesel for your car. Not a big production, but something that needs to be done with extra care to make sure you don't damage your car.
I sighed as I read this. Because I lack an independent outdoors space, many of these solutions are not accessible for me. However, it inspires me to continue the things I can do in my community, like composting and community gardening. I'm also now on the lookout for like minded friends who want to join me on some of the bigger projects, like rainwater capture and greywater recycling.
Yes, there are some politics here, and it seems that the authors assume you're already on the same page with them. It is also more than a little survivalist, and sophisticated urban dwellers who have easy access to finished goods might not buy into it. However, it seems that the ultimate argument they are using is that the energy resources we have come to depend on are dwindling faster than we can manage, and we need to change now. They got a thumbs up from me when they noted that the the "green consumerism" movement isn't going to get us out of our current problems. If you don't agree with that, this really isn't the book for you.
I would have liked to have seen more examples of the integrated systems in action. Not that we should have a blueprint for how to do it, but seeing how it has worked can be inspiring.