Whether this is an exercise in thinking globally and acting locally or vice versa, a thoughtful, eminently reasonable set of...

CLIMATE OF HOPE

HOW CITIES, BUSINESSES, AND CITIZENS CAN SAVE THE PLANET

Just in time for Earth Day, yes, a hopeful book of strategies for delivering the planet from our worst environmental depredations.

“Cities and nations thrive when leaders anticipate the future—and dream big,” writes former New York mayor and media magnate Bloomberg, who partners with former Sierra Club chairman Pope in alternating chapters. In a time when national leadership seems bent on denying the facts of climate change and failing to plan for the likely consequences of it, the authors propose that smaller-scale efforts are more likely to produce the desired results, efforts that “empower cities, regions, businesses, and citizens to accelerate the progress they are already making on their own.” For instance, Pope—who seems, on the whole, wonkier than Bloomberg—looks at ways in which electrical utilities can lead the way in shifting to renewable sources of power as opposed to being forced into it, one measurable result of which has been bad blood in coal country as a result of the Obama administration’s headlong plunge into cleaning up the coal industry without making necessary provisions for the workers who would be left jobless. Which isn’t to say that Bloomberg isn’t without his techno-nerdy side: he writes assuredly of the many ways in which cities such as New York have re-envisioned the role of the automobile, though with a political slogan or two tucked inside his prose for good measure: “more city leaders are recognizing that when the interests of cars and people diverge, people should come first.” Elsewhere, Bloomberg looks into the role of buildings in climate change—they are, as he notes, responsible for some 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions—while Pope notes that the future of climate change is not yet written, though sticking to a reasonable and salutary regime of energy consumption will “take decades to be felt.”

Whether this is an exercise in thinking globally and acting locally or vice versa, a thoughtful, eminently reasonable set of proposals for saving New York—and therefore the world.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-14207-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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