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ACCOUNTABILITY

WHY WE NEED TO COUNT SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL COST FOR A LIVABLE FUTURE

An informative and thought-provoking framework for reckoning with total costs.

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Bainbridge presents an argument for a new approach to accounting and sustainability in this nonfiction work.

The author argues that fighting climate change requires acknowledging the true cost of products, practices, and decisions beyond their literal dollar value and ensuring that this full cost is borne by those responsible for it. The book advocates a revamped system of accounting that includes external costs, assigns a monetary value to indirect costs, and factors in the full value of natural resources and intangible inputs. While the focus is primarily on environmental implications, Bainbridge’s system also incorporates working conditions, health care, and community impact. After a comprehensive overview, subsequent chapters explain how the system applies to specific industries like agriculture, construction, and energy. The book provides examples of cases in which governments have successfully imposed financial penalties for destructive actions, such as fees charged for pesticide and fertilizer use in Scandinavia. It also details the elements of a true cost report, used to assess and convey the all-inclusive cost of an activity (the author provides guidance on how to create one). Bainbridge is an extremely knowledgeable author, and although the text can appear dense, he is skilled at crafting coherent explanations of complex topics and turning piles of data into a narrative. The book does an excellent job of providing specific examples of true costs, including a multipage enumeration of the differences between a conventional fast-food restaurant burger and a bison burger that demonstrates how their costs go beyond the price listed on the menu. There are occasional moments of clever phrasing (“A few years from now, when people ask what happened to Arizona’s water, the answer will be, ‘the Saudi cows ate it’ ”), but overall the prose is simple, clear, and unaffected. Although the book deals primarily with large structural issues—Bainbridge does not pretend that it will be easy to adopt a new system of accounting—it also offers actionable tips for readers looking to reduce their own true costs on a small, manageable scale.

An informative and thought-provoking framework for reckoning with total costs.

Pub Date: June 14, 2023

ISBN: 9798987261927

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Rio Redondo Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2023

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GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

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

“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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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THE ELEPHANTS OF THULA THULA

A heartwarming and inspiring story for animal lovers.

The third volume in the Elephant Whisperer series.

In this follow-up to An Elephant in My Kitchen, Malby-Anthony continues her loving portrait of the Thula Thula wildlife reserve, which she co-founded in 1998 with her late husband, South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony, who published the first book in the series, The Elephant Whisperer, in 2009. Following his death in 2012, Malby-Anthony sought to honor his legacy by continuing his vision “to create a massive conservancy in Zululand, incorporating our land and other small farms and community land into one great big game park.” At the same time, the elephants gave her “a sense of purpose and direction.” In the Zulu language, thula means quiet, and though the author consistently seeks to provide that calm to her charges, peace and tranquility are not always easy to come by at Thula Thula. In this installment, Malby-Anthony discusses many of the challenges faced by her and her staff, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. These included an aggressive, 2-ton rhino named Thabo; the profound loss felt by all upon the death of their elephant matriarch, Frankie; difficulty obtaining permits and the related risk of having to relocate or cull some of their animals; the fear of looting and fire due to civil unrest in the region; and the ongoing and potentially deadly struggles with poachers. Throughout, the author also shares many warm, lighthearted moments, demonstrating the deep bond felt among the humans and animals at the reserve and the powerful effects of the kindness of strangers. “We are all working in unity for the greater good, for the betterment of Thula Thula and all our wildlife….We are humbled by the generosity and love, both from our guests and friends, and from strangers all around the world,” writes the author. “People’s open-hearted support kept us alive in the darkest times.”

A heartwarming and inspiring story for animal lovers.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9781250284259

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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