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Articles by Daniel Akst

Daniel Akst is a writer in New York's Hudson Valley, where he's working on a book about the problem of self-control.

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Dan AkstThank God for Earth Day: another occasion for affluent white Americans to feel good about themselves by enacting some pointless environmental ritual. Perhaps we can all drive to the festivities in our hulking SUVs.

Can you blame me for being cynical? Every dinner party I attend is marked by pious denunciations of greed and excess, yet all the guests have multiple cars, multiple homes, and a tendency to break out in hives if they don’t take a planet-warming plane flight once a month or so.

Recently an acquaintance of mine, at such a gathering, condemned the horrors of Hummers — then brightened when she had the chance to tell us about the major addition she was about to tack onto her house, the better for her tiny family to rattle around in. I was at another dinner party where the hosts, who also hold all the right environmental views, both work more than 100 miles from home. And “home” is a fashionably old farmhouse that appears to be devoid of insulation.

My kids’ school is “going green.” So far, this seems to mean requiring pupils to buy a metal water bottle — just the sort of fetish-object we environm... Read more

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  • Could chain stores actually be good for the environment?

    To some environmentalists, the shoppers of the world have nothing to lose but their chains. If only people stopped spending at these awful big-box stores, the thinking goes, the earth might be saved — and local businesses would flourish. Shop to it! From an environmental perspective, there is in fact much to dislike about the […]

  • School choice could be an answer to sprawl

    Imagine a country — we’ll call it Hobsonia — that requires all its residents to shop at officially assigned supermarkets based on where they live. Now, Hobsonians care passionately about food, and since the law allows them to move if they wish, citizens decide where to live based largely on where they can buy groceries. […]