Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Books to Buzz About

Recently a few intriguing books have come to our attention, and we're more than happy to share!

David Owen, a writer for the New Yorker, has released a thoughtful book with a lengthy title--The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse.  Bloomberg Businessweek's review sums it up as "[Owen's] catalogs the parodoxes of living green, including why driving a Prius may just make things worse."

The more efficient an activity gets, the more people do it, canceling out environmental benefits. Illustration by Alex Nabaum 

Climate Change and Cities
Explore the link between city organization and greenhouse gas emissions with the newly published Climate Change and Cities: First Assessment Report (ARC3).  Edited by top names in the field the report speaks to city leaders as "first responders" to climate change.  Their position is that while cities are documented to produce upwards of 40% of greenhouse gases--up to 80% by some estimates, they may also be powerful incubators for timely and effective adaptation.  For both citizens and design professionals, it's enlightening to take a peek at the data and recommendations that are being digested by policymakers around the world.

Cynthia Rozenweig, with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is one of the editors and suggests that city management at the macro scale, and business entities at the micro scale, are both positioned to more ably respond to accelerating changes than ponderous national and international governments.

According to a recent article on, "Rosenzweig says climate risk poses at least three major challenges to cities and business: risk framing (in both mitigation and adaptation); adaptive capacity and strategy; institutional management and structure.  Essentially, at multiple scales we must assess risk, figure out how to address it, and implement management strategies.  This commonsense approach will become even more crucial as urban populations are ballooning.

WK book