27 February 2012

Review: The Conundrum

The Conundrum
The Conundrum by David Owen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book really is a conundrum. The conundrum, according to the book, is how technological advances and sustainable living practices are doing little to help the environment that said advances/practices are trying to save. A lot of it is based off of some compelling historical theoretical data, a lot of it based on simply how we've gotten used to living overall.

The conundrum, for me at least, is that the focus is overwhelmingly on the answer to this question and how to deal with it while completely missing the boat as to why people prefer, say, suburbs to cities, or why being able to do more with a similar amount of energy may not, in fact, be a bad thing. It's very singularly focused, which is its right, but I would have preferred some actual solutions instead of laments about the reality of humanity and its desire to consume and live freely.

This isn't to say the book is worthless, far from it. While there are some minor historical/factual quibbles I could poke at, the book offers a lot of different perspectives on life in general, and I did learn some new things about consumption practices and sustainability ideas that I didn't know before. I didn't find the case here completely compelling, and without any credible or probable execution ideas to work with, it's more a 250 page exercise in thought, but the book is not a waste of time by any means.

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