This post was written by Steven Nadel, Executive Director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and a contributing author at the ACEEE blog.
A new book by David Owen was just released entitled The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse. This book expands upon an earlier article Owen wrote in The New Yorker that ACEEE criticized. Owen makes some useful points and does attempt to address some of the criticisms of his earlier work, but his book still suffers from the major flaw of his article — a tendency to make conclusions based on anecdotes when a more careful look at the data would have shown that these claims are exaggerated.
To start with the good aspects of this book: He’s an excellent writer and the points he raises will get people thinking. He does correctly note the substantial and growing energy consumption, plus the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with new and expanding energy uses such as travel and air conditioning. He also correctly notes that dense cities have lower energy use and emissions per capita since they avoid dependence on cars a... Read more