Published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Cooler Smarter offers a glimpse into cutting-edge carbon reduction strategies from five years ago. It distills efficiency guidelines into real-world actions that individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint, offering statistical analyses of each step toward carbon reduction. It is a moderately engaging read, though it suffers from the same ailment that hobbles many cabalistic scientific publications: it is wholly impractical.
Plans of action and CO2 reduction goals are laid out by both percentage and annual-ton, setting standards that individuals are unlikely to ever follow. Who will really make a household energy reduction plan based on a professional energy audit, and check the efficiency of every household appliance against government standards and the efficiency of their other appliances? Who will really calculate the precise amount of traveling to avoid in order to hit a reduction goal? If people need to go somewhere, they go. Flesh-and-blood human beings are not going to hem and haw over the carbon they will release on the way to the grocery store. Life is not statistics, and people are not motivated by statistical gains.
Despite their efforts at popular science, the Union of Concerned Scientists have created a book that reads like a government pamphlet. It offers many guidelines and sound advice (interspersed at times with blatantly unsound advice, as current research shows) that will never be followed, or will be followed only by a few souls, already doing their best, beyond the reach of the rest of us.