Yet another prospective solution to climate change, but one of the most feasible.

SPEED & SCALE

AN ACTION PLAN FOR SOLVING OUR CLIMATE CRISIS NOW

A venture capitalist and a host of relevant contributors lay down a practical path in the fight against climate change.

The book features firsthand accounts from Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Al Gore, Mary Barra, and other big names in the “cleantech” world. Doerr warns that even in the unlikely event that nations keep their pledges from the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world will still be more than four degrees hotter by 2100, a global catastrophe. Experts agree on the critical importance of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and getting halfway there by 2030. Doerr approaches the problem as a hard-nosed businessman who sees an opportunity, creates a plan, and organizes resources before moving ahead. Using this approach and prose that is superior to many similar books, the author crafts a specific, comprehensible description of the elements that contribute to climate change and what needs to be done. Six chapters propose six solutions. Few will surprise readers (“Electrify Transportation,” “Clean Up Industry,” “Protect Nature,” “Remove Carbon”), although “Fix Food” requires major changes in agriculture as well as our diet, cooking, and waste disposal. Throughout, readers are guided by ingenious illustrations and often startling facts—e.g., China and the U.S. rank No. 1 and No. 2 in greenhouse gas production, followed by the world’s 1 billion cows. The concluding four chapters describe how to meet zero emissions. “We need a quantum leap in speed and scale,” writes the author, “unprecedented sums on a very tight schedule...as much as $1.7 trillion each year—and we’ll need to go full throttle for twenty years or more.” While acknowledging obstacles, Doerr points out that the world is moving in the right direction. Governments (China and the EU if not the U.S.) have approved green policies with definite goals, and mass movements have persuaded innumerable businesses to promise zero emissions—whether they deliver will be critical. Entrepreneurs are paying attention. In January 2021, their clean technology investments exceeded the total for all of 2015.

Yet another prospective solution to climate change, but one of the most feasible.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-42047-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

THE CONTAGION NEXT TIME

The Covid-19 pandemic is not a one-off catastrophe. An epidemiologist presents a cogent argument for a fundamental refocusing of resources on “the foundational forces that shape health.”

In this passionate and instructive book, Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, writes that Covid emerged because we have long neglected basic preventative measures. “We invest vast amounts of money in healthcare,” he writes, “but comparatively little in health.” Readers looking to learn how governments (mainly the U.S.) mishandled the pandemic have a flood of books to choose from, but Galea has bigger issues to raise. Better medical care will not stop the next epidemic, he warns. We must structure a world “that is resilient to contagions.” He begins by describing the current state of world health, where progress has been spectacular. Global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. Malnutrition, poverty, and child mortality have dropped. However, as the author stresses repeatedly, medical progress contributed far less to the current situation than better food, clean water, hygiene, education, and prosperity. That’s the good news. More problematic is that money is a powerful determinant of health; those who have it live longer. Galea begins the bad news by pointing out the misleading statistic that Covid-19 kills less than 1% of those infected; that applies to young people in good health. For those over 60, it kills 6%, for diabetics, over 7%, and those with heart disease, over 10%. It also kills more Blacks than Whites, more poor than middle-class people, and more people without health insurance. The author is clearly not just interested in Covid. He attacks racism, sexism, and poverty in equal measure, making a plea for compassion toward stigmatized conditions such as obesity and addiction. He consistently urges the U.S. government, which has spared no expense and effort to defeat the pandemic, to do the same for social injustice.

An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-757642-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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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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