A deft, fair analysis that clarifies the issues for both the general public and concerned policymakers.

THE FRACKING DEBATE

THE RISKS, BENEFITS, AND UNCERTAINTIES OF THE SHALE REVOLUTION

An examination of the pros and cons and the unknowns of the shale revolution, bringing much-needed light to the hot topic of fracking.

Raimi (Energy Policy/Univ. of Michigan) is a research associate at Resources for the Future, an organization that focuses on natural resource and environmental issues. In his first book, the author aims to address the most important issues of the debate surrounding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is commonly called, and he draws on the expertise of state regulators, environmental lawyers, leaders in the gas and oil industry, working scientists, and academics. In addition, he traveled widely around the United States, talking to people who live near fracking sites. The result is a highly readable account with straightforward explanations of what is involved in extracting oil and gas from shale. Numerous simple black-and-white charts and tables back up the narrative, and each chapter concludes with a brief summary of the issues covered. These include the mechanics of fracking, its effects on the environment and the health of those living nearby or working at a drill site, the risk of earthquakes, the effect on the economy and on climate change, and the manner in which the industry is regulated. The take-home message is that the shale revolution is here to stay and that neither proponents nor opponents have all the right answers. As Raimi makes clear, there are no easy answers to some of the complex issues involved. The final chapter gives the book a personal touch, as the author reveals the feelings of people living close to fracking sites. From his conversations with them, he concludes that they may not like the noise, dirt, traffic, and changes to their landscapes, but the money and the jobs are generally welcomed.

A deft, fair analysis that clarifies the issues for both the general public and concerned policymakers.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-231-18486-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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