volume of new oil discoveries peaked in the 1960s and has been decreasing
ever since. Production will peak sometime in the next 30 or so years.
The need to develop other sources of renewable energy has never
been more apparent.
Two recently published books, Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global
Climate Change by Guy Dauncey and Tomorrows Energy: Hydrogen,
Fuel Cells and the Prospects for a Cleaner Planet by Peter Hoffman,
engage the important discussion that is needed in order to redirect
our national energy policy toward more sustainable and renewable
Stormy Weather is about global warming and the environmental challenges
that we face if we cannot wean ourselves from our addiction to fossil
With the possibility of irreversible climate change on the horizon,
the author takes on a most ambitious project to pose all the energy-related
questions and to provide a series of solutions aimed at each issue
relevant to specific interest groups. Dauncey is able to reduce
his topics to their essential elements in order to make them easily
comprehensible. Written in an easy and understandable style, it
is a rare combination of science and activism that makes this book
The book is creatively organized into 11 sections, the first of
which provides a great panoramic view of all of the dimensions of
this energy crisis and a primer on all the various types of alternative
energy sources. The other 10 sections consist of 101 solutions to
the problems posed by our dependence on fossil fuels. Each solution,
or chapter, is designed as a two-page spread with practical solutions
examined and peppered with engaging charts and graphs. The Web sites
listed throughout the book will be greatly appreciated by anyone
who needs a quick reference guide for energy-related issues. It
is an immensely accessible book that will inspire understanding
as well as action.
Both of these
books are required reading
if you want to understand what is at stake
with our continued dependence
on fossil fuels and to learn how to move
toward sustainable forms of energy.
As the scientific debate rages on as to whether the planet is heating
up or whether the forests of the Earth are shrinking or holding
their own, I think the argument is a false one.
Since everyone understands the model of global warming, we know
what can happen if the temperature of the atmosphere continues to
rise or the forests ability to sequester carbon is compromised;
however, we dont act on this knowledge.
Daunceys book is about providing information and solutions
so that anyone, from individuals to corporations, cities, states
or nations can take steps to prevent the worst climatic scenarios
from happening. He shows us, unequivocally, that fossil fuelsspecifically
oilare the common link for most, if not all, of our environmental
problems. And with the recent terrorist attacks fresh in mind, most
of our geopolitical woes can also be easily traced to our addictive
dependence on oil.
Whereas Stormy Weather states the climatic problem that we face
rather emphatically, the offered solutions are overviews, and the
book is generally horizontal in its treatment of the subject matter.
Peter Hoffman in Tomorrows Energy, on the other hand, does
not expend much energy on the statement of the problem, but rather
delves vertically deeper into the science and technology of hydrogen.
Its a foregone conclusion that hydrogen is the key to creating
an absolutely clean atmosphere of the future. This is a scholarly,
in-depth look at the history and development of hydrogen as an energy
Hoffmans book provides the background knowledge and the detail
for an informed public to demand changes from our legislators. In
his chronology of events, he details how President Reagan cut the
renewable energy budgets by 80 percent immediately after taking
office. It is amazing how the low-point in official interest in
hydrogen came as recently as 1987 when the U.S. Department of Energy
proposed a mere $1 million for hydrogen research and development
for the 1988 budget.
While Dauncey states that the federal government provides $20 billion
a year for subsidizing fossil fuels, Hoffman discusses in more detail
how corporations, as well as the government, tend to support technologies
and policies that continue the viability of the current energy establishment.
He also points out that the physical infrastructure of our present
energy providers is not going to see much change during the first
quarter of the 21st century. However, the choices we make in this
time frame for future power requirements will be critical in determining
the course of the remainder of the centurythe general health
of the environment, the quality of our air and the overall quality
Finally, the author discusses a series of scenarios that the World
Energy Council developed to help map viable pathways to the prosperous
future that we all desire.
Scenario A is characterized by a no limits technology
mindset with high rates of economic growth. This, of course, leads
to very high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Scenario B describes
slower technological development, lessened economic growth and lessened
energy requirements that nevertheless create a greater dependence
on fossil fuels.
This was described as muddling through. It is apparent
that we are somewhere between these two models at the present time.
It is actually Scenario C that we should be aiming for in the critical
20-year period immediately ahead of us. Of course it is the most
challenging vision to implement. It is ecologically driven, characterized
by several renewable energy technologies and green taxes employed
to create the desired economic response. The gross national product
(GNP) would not be as great as Scenario A, but it would be more
equitable and greater than Scenario B. Scenario C shows the use
of fossil fuels declining throughout the century with renewables
accounting for 40 percent of global energy consumption at mid-century
and increasing to 80 percent by 2100.
Both of these books are required reading if you want to understand
what is at stake with our continued dependence on fossil fuels and
to learn how to move toward sustainable forms of energy. Guy Dauncey
references Barry Commoners four laws of ecology in his last
chapter. The fourth law states, There is no such thing as
a free lunch. As the author so succinctly puts it, We
can have polar bears, or we can have fossil fuels. We cannot have
Polar bears, salmon and myriad other life forms on this planet dont
get to vote on how we change the planets environmentits
up to us to become good stewards and maintain the health of the
planet by making wise energy choices.
|WHERE CAN I GET THEM?
Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change
by Guy Dauncey, with Patrick Mazza
© 2001 New Society Publishers
Tomorrows Energy: Hydrogen, Fuel Cells
and the Prospects for a Cleaner Planet
by Peter Hoffman
© 2001 The MIT Press
Richard Walthers (firstname.lastname@example.org) is
founder of PRAIRIE fish; a Chicago IL-based consulting firm dedicated
to design and sustainability issues.