Time to Think Small
Myers (Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism Is Harming the Environment) proposes that combating climate change, pollution, and drought requires small, decentralized technologies, like smartphone apps, rather than top-down government programs. Environmental policy made strides in the 1970s, but Myers contends that governments are slow and politically shortsighted whereas lightly regulated companies and nonprofits are nimble innovators in a marketplace of ideas. His approach includes empowering consumers to act in their own best interests and giving them the data to make informed choices about, e.g., residential utilities, and to report if something has gone wrong (like a water leak). Myers contends that making consumers’ individual decisions even marginally more environmentally friendly can, collectively, create significant positive effects. Similarly, individual smartphone users could form a global network of environmental sensors and wildlife-conservation data gatherers; even crowdsourcing image identification or handwriting digitization can accelerate scientific progress. Myers attempts to address the privacy and security concerns raised by his proposed solutions, but he downplays their potential environmental costs (e.g., the energy use of blockchains).
VERDICT Myers’s call-to-action and survey of current tech may appeal to environmentally conscious readers.
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Todd Myers, author
Todd Myers is the director of the Center for the Environment at Washington Policy Center. He is one of the nation's leading experts on free-market environmental policy. Todd is the author of the landmark 2011 book Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism Is Harming the Environment and was a Wall Street Journalexpert panelist for energy and the environment. He formerly served on the executive team at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and was director of public relations for the Seattle SuperSonics and director of public affairs for the Seattle Mariners.
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