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ELECTRIFY

AN OPTIMIST'S PLAYBOOK FOR OUR CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE

Surprisingly optimistic, realistic, and persuasive.

Positive news on climate change from an expert.

The degradation is well underway, and matters will get worse before they get better. However, according to this enthusiastic account by engineer and MacArthur fellow Griffith, real change is possible with today’s scientific know-how and an energetic effort. Overcoming the problem of global climate change—essentially by reducing carbon-dioxide emissions to zero—requires a tricky combination of politics and technology. Largely avoiding politics, Griffith emphasizes technology. His solution is to electrify everything. “America can reduce its energy use by more than half by introducing no other efficiency measures other than electrification,” he writes. This climate-friendly future will contain the usual familiar objects in our lives, affecting cars, homes, offices, appliances, etc., but miraculous breakthroughs (fusion power, sucking carbon from the atmosphere) won’t be necessary. Griffith warns that America is stuck in the 1970s mindset of conservation with the mantra “Reduce! Reuse! Recycle.” This has produced great improvements in gas mileage and home insulation and more efficient appliances, but you can’t “efficiency” your way to zero. In a torrent of technical explanation, graphs, and tables, Griffith shows how solar and wind power are already cheaper despite massive subsidies and tax breaks that support fossil fuel companies. He proposes that the government subsidize upfront costs of switching—about $40,000 per household—by guaranteeing low-interest “climate loans.” As he notes, “if US policymakers can offer [these loans] at the right rate, the transition to clean energy will start saving us money today.” To critics proclaiming that the Green New Deal would be a budget-busting government handout, he points out that the U.S. has launched similar programs in the past. For example, it began subsidizing long-term home mortgages in 1933, and predictions of a massive loss of taxpayer money never happened. Indeed, writes Griffith, the result will be prosperity: more jobs and less poverty, with no sacrifice of our current lifestyle.

Surprisingly optimistic, realistic, and persuasive.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-262-04623-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: MIT Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE AGE OF GRIEVANCE

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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