The Conundrum

How Saving the Planet can make our Climate Problems Worse

by David Owen

  • Published: 03 May 2012
  • Price: £8.99
  • Format: Hardback
  • Extent: 176p
  • ISBN: 978-1-78072-105-7

Hybrid cars, fast trains, energy-efficient light bulbs, solar panels, carbon offsets… Forget everything you ever thought you knew about living green.

The Conundrum is a mind-changing manifesto about the environment, efficiency and the real path to sustainability. We are consumers, and obviously we like to consume efficiently. But as David Owen argues our best intentions are still at cross purposes with our true goal. The truth is that efficiency, once considered the holy grail of our environmental problems, turns out to be part of the problem. The more efficient we are, the more we consume. The more we try to save the planet, the more we trash it.

Thinking of buying a more energy efficient car? Don’t. More inexpensive cars which can do a hundred miles to the gallon means more roads; more roads mean more suburbs; and more suburbs mean more energy use and environmental damage in every category.

The Conundrum is an elegant nonfiction narrative filled with fascinating information and anecdotes which take you grippingly through the history of energy and explain the increasing absurdities inherent in our quest for eco efficiency. This is a book about the environment that will change how you look at the world. As he argues, we should not be waiting for some geniuses to invent our way out of the energy crisis we’re in. We already have all the technology and knowledge we need to live sustainably. But will we do it? That is the conundrum.

“David Owen sounds a wake-up call for everyone who thinks they re solving the problems of climate change and resource depletion by eating local, buying more fuel-efficient cars, and fitting their house with compact fluorescents.” – Publishers Weekly

“Owen s critique resonates far beyond the United States… He gently dismantles the foundation of standard environmental behaviour with a series of succinctly turned arguments that (are)… presented with considerable wit and self-deprecation.” –

About David Owen

David Owen is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of a dozen books. He lives in northwest Connecticut with his wife, the writer Ann Hodgman.