While the authors’ enthusiasm should be taken with more than a grain of salt, they raise ideas worth considering and offer...

SEASTEADING

HOW OCEAN CITIES WILL CHANGE THE WORLD

The founder and communications director of the Seasteading Institute make a case that the survival of the planet depends on moving out from the land onto the sea.

Venture capitalist Friedman, the grandson of economist Milton Friedman, and novelist and science writer Quirk (Call to the Rescue: The Story of the Marine Mammal Center, 2009, etc.) present an optimistic if biased argument for the many advantages to be gained by setting up floating cities outside of the control of any current national governments. The most intriguing of these arguments involve environmental concerns. For example, the authors suggest that massive farming of seaweed for food and energy will help to slow or reverse the effects of climate change, and they describe a new approach to fish farming, pioneered by the Velella Project, in which large, open cages for fish are circulated through ocean eddies, allowing waste to be deposited on the deep ocean floor. While their suggestions are encouraging, they also depend on global consumers making the choice to switch to eating seaweed and fish such as kampachi, “the placid sheep of the ocean.” Their libertarian arguments are more problematic: suggesting that the world’s population will distribute itself more equitably outside of conventional governments is overly idealistic, and proposing that medical institutions operate offshore to avoid government regulation raises as many problems as it solves. Their vision of floating cities, complete with “upside-down floating skyscrapers—seascrapers,” is tantalizing, though aspects of it are far-fetched. The use of insider jargon—“seavilization,” “aquapreneurs,” “bluetopia”—can be off-putting, as can the constant plugs for their institute. In the useful and concise concluding chapter, the authors address possible reader fears such as tsunamis, rogue waves, trash disposal, pollution, and piracy.

While the authors’ enthusiasm should be taken with more than a grain of salt, they raise ideas worth considering and offer hope for a future when life on land has grown grim.

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9926-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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