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The conundrum : how scientific innovation, increased efficiency, and good intentions can make our energy and climate problems worse

Author: David Owen
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2012.
Edition/Format:   Book : English : 1st Riverhead trade pbk. edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
This is a mind-changing manifesto about the environment, efficiency, and the real path to sustainability. Hybrid cars, fast trains, compact florescent lightbulbs, solar panels, carbon offsets: everything you've been told about being green is wrong. The quest for a breakthrough battery or a 100 mpg car are dangerous fantasies. We are consumers, and we like to consume greenly and efficiently. But the author argues  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Anecdotes
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: David Owen
ISBN: 9781594485619 1594485615
OCLC Number: 729341510
Description: ix, 261 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.
Contents: The conundrum --
Setting things on fire --
Fossil fuels as credit card --
LEED-certified landfill --
Problems innovate, too --
The greenest community in the United States --
Learning from Manhattan --
Unconsciously green --
Sierra Club or Manhattan Club? --
Sierra Club or AARP? --
Why oil is worse than coal --
Let them eat kale? --
Traffic congestion is not an environmental problem --
Transit that's bad for the environment --
Fast trains and the Prius fallacy --
Increased efficiency is not the answer --
William Stanley Jevons --
The coal question --
How increasing efficiency causes overall energy consumption to rise --
Rebound creep --
The importance of less --
What would a truly green car look like? --
Plentiful, inexpensive natural gas is not an environmental solution --
Cheap, efficient lighting is not an environmental solution --
Using water more efficiently will not solve the world's steadily worsening water problems --
Burning trash is not the answer --
When solar power isn't green --
Green or not green? --
Flying a kite --
Harnessing wind without windmills? --
The discouraging economics of innovation --
Getting from lab to grid --
Retrograde innovation --
The conundrum.
Responsibility: David Owen.
More information:

Abstract:

This is a mind-changing manifesto about the environment, efficiency, and the real path to sustainability. Hybrid cars, fast trains, compact florescent lightbulbs, solar panels, carbon offsets: everything you've been told about being green is wrong. The quest for a breakthrough battery or a 100 mpg car are dangerous fantasies. We are consumers, and we like to consume greenly and efficiently. But the author argues that our best intentions are still at cross-purposes to our true goal: living sustainably while caring for our environment and the future of the planet. Efficiency, once considered the holy grail of our environmental problems, turns out to be part of the problem, one discovered in the late nineteenth century by a twenty-nine-year-old English economist named William Jevons. Efforts to improve efficiency only exacerbate the problems they are meant to solve, more than negating the environmental gains. We have little trouble turning increases in efficiency into increases in consumption. The author's narrative, filled with information and anecdotes, takes you through the history of energy and the quest for efficiency. He introduces the reader to some of the smartest people working on solving our energy problems. He details the arguments of efficiency's proponents and its antagonists, and in the process overturns most traditional wisdom about being green. We are not waiting for some geniuses to invent our way out of the energy and economic crisis we are in. We already have the technology and knowledge we need to live sustainably. But will we do it? That is the conundrum.

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