The Conundrum by David Owen

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The Conundrum is a mind-changing manifesto about the environment, efficiency and the real path to sustainability.

Hybrid cars, fast trains, compact florescent light bulbs, solar panels, carbon offsets: Everything you've been told about living 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 green and efficiently. But David Owen argues that our best intentions are still at cross purposes to our true goal - living sustainably and 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. Efforts to improve efficiency and increase sustainable development 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.

David Owen's The Conundrum is an elegant nonfiction narrative filled with fascinating information and anecdotes takes you through the history of energy and the quest for efficiency. This is a book about the environment that will change how you look at the world. We should not be waiting for some geniuses to invent our way out of the energy and economic crisis we're in. We already have the technology and knowledge we need to live sustainably. But will we do it?

That is the conundrum.


About David Owen

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Owen has enjoyed an extensive career in scientific research and journalism. Among his many accomplishments, he has written award-winning features for such prestigious papers as the Sunday Times.
Published February 7, 2012 by Riverhead Books. 270 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Computers & Technology. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Owen does make useful points by encouraging us to reframe problems of the environment more precisely—urging, for instance, that the key to protecting wilderness is to make cities livable enough that people want to stay in them rather than out in the sticks and “not to encourage sprawl by treating...

Feb 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Conundrum

Publishers Weekly

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As Owen notes, “efficiency initiatives make no sense, as an environmental strategy, unless they’re preceded—and more than negated—by measures that force major cuts in total energy use.” The book examines reality by taking a contrarian approach, exploring solutions generated by a wind th...

Dec 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Conundrum

Business Week

“If the only motor vehicles available today were 1920 Model T’s,” Owen writes, “how many miles do you think you’d drive each year, and how far do you think you’d live from work?” He wants to impose energy frugality by increasing fuel taxes and capping consumption.

Feb 09 2012 | Read Full Review of The Conundrum

Mother Jones

David Owen's new book argues that we already know how to prevent environmental catastrophe—we just don't like the answers.

Feb 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Conundrum

Birmingham Public Library

If you add more lanes to a highway to solve a congestion problem, you soon attract more drivers and the congestion the lanes were built to solve returns.

May 02 2012 | Read Full Review of The Conundrum

we even had a little contretemps around the water cooler between those who think that electric cars are a step forward and those (namely me) who think they are a pointless diversion from the real problem, which is urban design.

Feb 13 2012 | Read Full Review of The Conundrum

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