David Owen is one of those stealth New Yorker writers who is actually among the best on staff, in his modestly idiosyncratic way, whether he's writing on light pollution or George Meyer. My favorite Owen piece became an excellent book called Green Metropolis, both built around the challenging but (to me) pretty indisputable proposition that the most environmentally friendly terrain in America is not the rolling farmland of Vermont but the dense, car-unfriendly grid of Manhattan.
Now, thanks to the New Yorker's Book Bench, I see that he has a sequel of sorts to Green Metropolis coming out in February, called The Conundrum (also based on a NYer piece of his), which argues that the more efficient and energy-saving we make our machines the more we will use them, leading to no drop in overall energy consumption. Here's the punchy trailer:
Green Metropolis was sharper in its critique than in its solutions, and with a throw-up-your-hands title like The Conundrum, the new one might be too (and as an environmental writer who has written most frequently on golf and who still lives in suburban Connecticut despite his advocacy for the city, Owen does know about conundrums), but in each case he does argue that our route out of our dilemma is already within our grasp. I'm looking forward to reading more, regardless.