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.