A thoughtful contribution to the climate change debate, with a unique, businesscentric approach to setting energy and...

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Small Change, Big Gains: Reflections of an Energy Entrepreneur

REFLECTIONS OF AN ENERGY ENTREPRENEUR

Debut author Stoner provides an in-depth look at climate change and the world’s energy use, offering bold, new policies that could save the planet and the global economy.

Drawing on more than 25 years’ experience as an energy company executive and capital formation expert, Stoner displays a wide-ranging grasp of the political, economic, historical and scientific issues surrounding climate change and energy policy. He maintains that rising global temperatures and sea levels and escalating superstorms such as Katrina and Sandy present an existential threat to human survival rivaling previous threats such as nuclear proliferation. Stoner avoids debate about the science of climate change and whether it’s man-made; instead, he takes a pragmatic approach, suggesting that determining the best forms of renewable energy for a healthy environment is essentially a business problem. And, like all business proposals, it’s essential that the interests of all the stakeholders are met—in this case, lender, supplier, user and environmental steward. Stoner contends that a market-based approach will lead to inexhaustible energy supplies, a better environment and a thriving economy. Using forecasts created by Project Butterfly, his not-for-profit clean-energy enterprise, Stoner establishes a worthwhile business goal for this century: “[I]f we can keep atmospheric CO2 concentration below 550 ppm, the Project Butterfly Financial Model forecasts that the increase in average global temperatures will slightly exceed 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), a situation to which humans may still be able to adapt.” But how? He advocates using natural gas as a transitional energy source and promoting voluntary carbon credit exchanges. However, his primary recommendation is carbon taxes, for which he advocates using what could become the next political slogan: “[T]ax what you burn, not what you earn.” Although the material reads at times like a textbook, the author’s references to his family lend a personal feel, and interesting historical side notes—about topics such as the failure of Solyndra, rural electrification under FDR and the rise of nuclear power—also help enliven the text. His ideas are well-supported with extensive citations found in the endnotes, and dozens of charts effectively explain the complex data behind climate change and energy use.

A thoughtful contribution to the climate change debate, with a unique, businesscentric approach to setting energy and environmental policies.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62634-002-2

Page Count: 556

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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 deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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