“Very few pieces of writing are capable of changing the way you think about the world. The Conundrum is one of them. And unlike many other such books, but like everything else David Owen has written, it is clear, funny, graceful, and concise.”
— James Fallows, National Book Award–winning author of Postcards from Tomorrow’s Square
"After Green Metropolis (2009), a revelatory exposition of why urban life is 'green,' Owen—brisk, funny, elucidating, and blunt—illuminates a wide spectrum of environmental misperceptions in this even more paradox-laden inquiry. An enthusiastic wrangler of facts, Owen presents disconcerting statistics. Take the BP Gulf oil spill: 'The average flow rate from the BP wellhead was fifty-five-thousand barrels a day. . . Americans use that much every four minutes.' He calls us out on our tendency to delude ourselves about easy solutions to complicated problems and declares that our failure to do what needs to be done to reduce fossil-fuel consumption is the result of reluctance, not ignorance. 'In truth, we already know enough, and we have for a long time. We just don’t like the answers. That’s the conundrum.' He recites this mantra, 'That’s the conundrum,' while explaining why traffic congestion is a good thing and organic farming is not, and while presenting, with wit and precision, mind-boggling yet crucial information about the 'ruinous' consequences of outdoor artificial light, refrigeration, the gargantuan amount of energy burned to give us all access to the Internet, and hydrofracking for natural gas. By replacing fuzzy green dreams with rigorous analysis and clear-eyed realism, Owen enables us to proceed on firmer ground."
Donna Seaman, Booklist, 2/23/2012
"New Yorker staff writer Owen (Green Metropolis) takes a penetrating look at the earth’s shrinking and misappropriated resources and the delusion underlying our solutions to these problems. In the process, he persuades us that the serious environmental problems that humanity faces won’t be fixed by scientists and engineers, but by our behavioral changes, namely consuming less. Owen’s latest becomes a declaration against the massive greenwashing campaigns of the past decade and the presentation of scientific data that lets us ignore questions we already know the answers to and don’t like."
Publishers Weekly, 12/5/2011
It's Too Easy Being Green, by David Owen, Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2012
adapted from The Conundrum.
Why Energy Efficiency Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be, by Bryan Walsh, Time.com, 2/7/2012.
Book Review: The Conundrum by David Owen, by Michael Rosenwald,
Bloomberg Businessweek, 2/9/2012.
David Owen on the Environment, Unintended Consequences, and The Conundrum, podcast discussion with Russ Roberts, EconTalk.org, 2/13/12
The Prius Driver's Conundrum
by James McWilliams,Freakonomics.com, 2/14/2012
Book Review: The Conundrum
by Alyssa Battistoni, Mother Jones, 2/14/2012
The Conundrum: David Owen Explains How Good Intentions Hurt the Environment
by Torie Bosch, Slate, 3/7/2012