The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age (Hardcover)

The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age Cover Image
$28.00
On Our Shelves Now at:
Politics and Prose at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
22 on hand, as of Sep 20 1:15am
Politics and Prose at Union Market
1 on hand, as of Sep 19 10:40pm

Description


A trailblazing exploration of how we can plan better for the future: our own, our families’, and our society’s.
 
Instant gratification is the norm today—in our lives, our culture, our economy, and our politics. Many of us have forgotten (if we ever learned) how to make smart decisions for the long run. Whether it comes to our finances, our health, our communities, or our planet, it’s easy to avoid thinking ahead.

The consequences of this immediacy are stark: Superbugs spawned by the overuse of antibiotics endanger our health. Companies that fail to invest stagnate and fall behind. Hurricanes and wildfires turn deadly for communities that could have taken more precaution. Today more than ever, all of us need to know how we can make better long-term decisions in our lives, businesses, and society.

Bina Venkataraman sees the way forward. A former journalist and adviser in the Obama administration, she helped communities and businesses prepare for climate change, and she learned firsthand why people don’t think aheadand what can be done to change that. In The Optimist’s Telescope, she draws from stories she has reported around the world and new research in biology, psychology, and economics to explain how we can make decisions that benefit us over time. With examples from ancient Pompeii to modern-day Fukushima, she dispels the myth that human nature is impossibly reckless and highlights the surprising practices each of us can adopt in our own livesand the ones we must fight for as a society. The result is a book brimming with the ideas and insights all of us need in order to forge a better future.

About the Author


Bina Venkataraman teaches in the program on Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and is a fellow at New America. A former journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe who also served as senior adviser for climate change innovation in the Obama White House, she is now director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Venkataraman is an alumna of Brown University and the Harvard Kennedy School. She grew up in Ohio and now lives in Boston.

Praise For…


“How might we mitigate losses caused by shortsightedness? Bina Venkataraman, a former climate adviser to the Obama administration, brings a storyteller’s eye to this question. . . .  She is also deeply informed about the relevant science.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Most of us only see the future after it becomes the past. The Optimist's Telescope is here to change that. It's a rare read that's as fascinating as it is important. In it, Bina Venkataraman brings together powerful narrative, cutting-edge behavioral science, and the rich experience of a high-impact career.” —Adam Grant, author of Originals

“The unknown can always be scary. But in this wise, eye-opening, and hopeful book, Bina Venkataraman shows us the ways we can think more clearly and strategically about the future - in our communities, our families, and in our own lives.” —Arianna Huffington

“Bina Venkataraman illuminates how we can make better decisions for ourselves, our communities, and Earth itself. She introduces us to an array of colorful and unexpected characters, from ancient philosophers to tech entrepreneurs, all while distilling the science of foresight into practical advice we can all use. A timely and valuable book.” —Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business

The Optimist's Telescope is a noble and important book. Through stories of people who have made a difference and an acute awareness of how things can be made better, Bina Venkataraman shows how we can effect change and make the world a better place. She is the good parent this planet so desperately needs.” —Errol Morris, Oscar-winning filmmaker and author of Believing Is Seeing

“A timely reminder that time is not on our side without long-term thinking.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A thought-provoking and eminently readable debut…Venkataraman’s thoughtful and clear-eyed assessment of how to teach oneself to make more carefully considered decisions should prove a valuable tool for anyone wishing to think less in the short term and more toward the future.” —Publishers Weekly

“Chinese peasants once got paid by the piece to find dinosaur bones; soon they took to smashing the bones into tiny pieces to boost their income. This book is a sobering compendium of the many ways in which ill-conceived short-term incentives undermine valuable long-term goals.  The stakes go way beyond busted fossils: think rising sea waters, treatment-resistant pathogens, collapsing infrastructure, disappearing topsoil . . . A grim list and grounds for pessimism unless, that is, it gets read in the context of this book, for Bina Venkataraman has assembled a remarkable repair kit, full of tested tools for harmonizing the lure of present reward with the foresight we need if we are to build a durable future.” —Lewis Hyde

The Optimist’s Telescope will help you think about the biggest decisions you face in your life and that humanity faces in this historical moment. Everyone should read this book.” —Gary Knell, chairman of National Geographic Partners


Product Details
ISBN: 9780735219472
ISBN-10: 0735219478
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: August 27th, 2019
Pages: 336

Membership Benefits

Membership 
 

 Gift cards can be used online or in-store.

Gift Card