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Al Gore won’t be blurbing this one, but advocates of renewable energy should familiarize themselves with the book, since...

“Oil is greener than nearly everything else that might replace it,” writes Texas-based energy journalist and Energy Tribune managing editor Bryce in this contrarian, discontented approach to renewable energy

Energy sources must be judged, the author writes, by the four imperatives: power density, energy density, cost and scale. By that measure, oil is a good source of energy, while corn ethanol is not, since corn-ethanol production requires huge swaths of agricultural land put in the service of making something that is inferior to gasoline, containing “just two-thirds of gasoline’s heat content.” So far, so good—and indeed, the ethanol craze has already passed. But Bryce has it in for other much ballyhooed forms of energy production as well. Wind doesn’t cut it because it takes lots of land to build towers that in turn don’t produce much electricity, whereas a coal-burning plant performs wonders. The author harbors special hopes for nuclear energy, observing that many of its former foes—Stewart Brand notably among them—have since recanted. He is right to note that even if the United States succeeds in reducing carbon emissions to Kyoto Protocol levels, the rest of the world, and particularly the energy-poor world, will not “ignore the relatively low-cost power than can be derived from hydrocarbons.” Though his arguments will provide comfort to the drill-baby-drill set, Bryce’s recommendations are not without qualifications. He opposes mountaintop removal for coal, for instance, and has hope for an expanded role for solar power. Though he defends some of the old sources of energy production by assuming that technological improvements will remediate environmental damage, the author seems reluctant to allow that renewable forms of energy are not static—wind generation technology is steadily improving, for instance, while biofuels are becoming ever easier and more cost-effective to produce. A little less sneering and fewer straw men would have improved this statistics-rich and generally capably argued case.

Al Gore won’t be blurbing this one, but advocates of renewable energy should familiarize themselves with the book, since oil, gas and coal lobbyists surely will.

Pub Date: April 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58648-789-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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