A passionate, but not ideological, argument that offers a practical approach to solving real problems.

LIGHTING THE WORLD

TRANSFORMING OUR ENERGY FUTURE BY BRINGING ELECTRICITY TO EVERYONE

The former chairman, president, and CEO of Duke Energy, the largest electric power company in the United States, argues that access to clean, sustainable electricity should be a basic human right.

Without access to electricity, education, health care, efficient farming, and development are barely conceivable. One out of every 6 people worldwide (1.5 billion total) lack any access to electricity. Another 1.5 billion have limited access. Discussing income equality, equal rights for women, and other issues without talking about electricity, writes Rogers, “is a huge blind spot.” Everyone, he insists, will benefit from dramatically reducing the use of expensive and polluting kerosene and firewood and improving health and educational levels. The primarily coal-based supply systems of North America and Western Europe, which India and China are instituting, will not provide a sustainable solution. What is needed, Rogers argues, is “a new way to deliver [electricity] that doesn't involve the heavy pollution of power plants, or the complex grid of electrical wires.” The author presents case studies from India and Africa to show how small-scale solar power and battery-storage combinations are being used to provide light and cellphone charger capabilities at the village level. Rogers also examines installer education, maintenance, and payment systems, developing the case for power generation by way of franchises and locally authorized monopolies. As he notes, for remote rural villages, central generating and long-range grid distribution are not practical. Rogers provides a comprehensive overview of sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Indonesia as potential major contributors to the needed post-coal redesign of electrical production and distribution in America and Europe. He compares fuel sources and generating technologies in light of the challenges of reducing carbon emissions and global warming, and he both points out the problems and ranks proposed solutions.

A passionate, but not ideological, argument that offers a practical approach to solving real problems.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-137-27985-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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