Reading List

A couple weeks ago, an article from the NYT outlined a few new books on ecothings. Three were highlighted for their emphasis on pragmatic solutions and lack of partisan bickering (well, relative lack…Newt).

Two of the three books I’ve discussed here- Gingrich’s A Contract with the Earth and Nordhaus and Shellenberger’s Break Through.

Actually, speaking of Break Through, I finished that a month ago and never found time to review it for you. So:

Break Through spends about 280 pages outlining in detail why, based on sociology and history and economics and street life in Brazil, the authors are very very right about environmental policy and why environmentalists are very very wrong and also negative, angry people. They talk a lot about Brazil. There’s not a whole lot of explanation of their actual policy or anything- other than Thinking Positively and Treating the Crisis as an Opportunity. Also, we must Deal First With Related Issues (this has something to do with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) and they mentioned like one or two bills that they were working on or approved of that were related to this. I was really hoping for a book with 1/2 of the extra examples and four times the practical policy advice. They focus on what government should do, but not on people making them do it. This is a theoretical framework with references to Brazil, which is a start, I suppose.

All in all, the book was a good read and framed a lot of issues well. The examples are interesting and the analysis fresh and totally sensical. I’d recommend it if you are at all interested in environmental policy. If you want to borrow my copy, it’s available.

With respect to Newt, I haven’t read his book and I don’t intend to. If anybody does and it says anything interesting (ie, about anything other than tax cuts for everybody! and no emissions caps) then let me know, otherwise I’m going to assume I’ve got Gingrich pegged.

The third book is by Bjorn Lomborg, Skeptical Environmentalist. Now, “skeptical environmentalist” could mean a lot of annoying things, but he’s written a few books already and they’ve gotten some solid reviews. Apparently conservatives tend to like him, so I’ll let him substitute for all the Newt I’m not reading. I’ll let you know how he rolls once I find him and crack the cover.

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2 Responses to “Reading List”


  1. 1 millie November 27, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    I’m very proud of you for realizing that you do not have to read every book, just because it has been published – or even just written – life’s too short not to read in a discerning manner.

    As for Green literature – I’m finding more and more people writing books on green topics – as well as more and more labels on things promoting them as green – anything to grab the mighty “green back.”
    I hope that this time the green movement gets more momentum then it did 20 years ago and is not treated as just a bandwagon.

  2. 2 Kestrel November 27, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Is it going to be “edgy” and “cool” now to begin wantonly burning through resources? Is our next gen of angsty teenagers going to be running around saran-wrapping styrofoam left and right? While this would of course be anything mainstream, it’d be interesting to see if some sort of anticulture evolved (or didn’t, hopefully) from the green wave.


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