ISBN 978-0-300-18659-8 (hardback). “The Carbon Crunch – how we’re getting Climate Change wrong – and how to fix it” by Dieter Helm was published by Yale University Press in 2012. Dieter Helm is a professor of energy policy at University Oxford and Fellow in Economics at New College Oxford. He is a member of the Economic Advisory Committee to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Chair of the Natural Capital Committee. In 2011 he was Special Advisor to the European Energy Commissioner. All this and he comes up with a book title that sounds like breakfast cereal, & a book which should be taken as seriously as if it were breakfast cereal. It’s muesli – a mixed bag - you will either hate it, or REALLY hate it. Continue reading
ISBN 978-1-846-14448-6. “How Much is Enough? The Love of Money, and the Case for the Good Life” by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky was published by Allen Lane (Penguin Group) in 2012. Robert and Edward are a father & son team; Robert is Professor of Political Economy whilst Edward is a lecturer in Philosophy. This work combines their interests and starts with Robert’s three volume biography of John Maynard Keynes. Their argument follows a torturous alternative path to a conclusion that we can all agree with: the pursuit of money, as an end in itself, is destructive. The Skidelskys propose a more paternalistic (less utilitarian) approach to economic management that helps us all focus on our quality of living. In their words “the good life”.
ISBN 978 1 84694 671 4. “No Local – Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change the World” by Greg Sharzer as published by Zero Books in 2012. This is a small book by a relatively unknown author. Its cover and title attempts to ape Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” but there is no comparison. At first glance the concept was very attractive to us: a critique of re-localisation. Yes, it is a critique but one by a devout Marxist. As such it is tortuous reading. It is like studying the work of an 18th Century Catholic theologian who argued that Buddhism was the work of the devil because Buddhists didn’t care how many angels could be stood on the head of a pin. The critique only makes sense if you are a Marxist.
ISBN 978 14088 2483 2. “Merchants of Doubt – How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming” was written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway and first published by Bloomsbury in 2010 (this paperback in 2012). If you fast forward to the Conclusion in this book you may be forgiven for thinking you were still reading the last book we reviewed “Debunking Economics” by Steve Keen. For what links the two is how a dogmatic belief in “free market fundamentalism” can cause people to abandon all reason. As if under the influence of some bizarre cult perfectly reasonable people start to deny the very principle of reality: they start fighting scientific rationalism with propaganda.