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Words, Words, Words

A catalog of my comments and thoughts on books, reading, and writing as well as anything I come across that seems interesting. I used to sell other people's words at an independent bookstore but now I hope to get by on selling my own.

The Conundrum

The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse - David Owen David Owen attacks conventional "green" thinking with this rather bleak account of the challenges facing us in the battle against climate change. I liked that it exposes locavores and prius drivers for the superficial efforts that they are, they look nice, make you feel good, and give you cause to brag, but they miss the point. To Owen, increase efficiency is a dead end, applied to current models it seems an easy way to cut energy use, but really it encourages consumption, which is the greater evil after all. This is where it gets ugly. With no good answer to our energy problems in sight, and even when we do reduce dependence on fossil fuels, the biggest problem remains, energy consumption. To cut back on that would involve radical changes, not just to our daily behavior, but to the nature of ou society. Our economy is based on growth, but in order to stop climate change we need to shrink. Perhaps just as daunting is getting our environmentalists to actually agree (is the risk of nuclear energy worth getting off of fossil fuels? should we build giant wind turbines in nantucket? Should we continue to destroy hydroelectric dams to restore the natural habitat of the river?) The book is enlightening but as the title implies, it offers more problems than answers. To put it another way, it does have answers, but they are the problems themselves. It seems it would be easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than to get a rich society to instill a truly green initiative.