Review: Earth–The Sequel–The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming

5 Star, Environment (Solutions), Future, Survival & Sustainment, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity

Earth SequelDouble Spaced Very Useful Tour of the Energy Horizon, May 2, 2008

Miriam Horn

I like this book and recommend it for students of any age from high school to the geriatric crowd that I represent. It has a super index but no mention of Lester Brown or Herman Daly, but that is offset by back cover recomendations from E. O. Wilson, Mark Lewis, and Michael Bloomberg.

Highlights from my fly leaf notes:

+ 1977 Clean Air was a command and control one size fits all that did not pass the market test

+ Lead author and others with the Environmental Defense Fund were instrumental in getting the 1990 Clear Air Act passed.

+ Making clean air a commodity makes the environment a profit center

+ Although there is no mention of Paul Hawkin’s “true cost” meme, Hawkins does get listed in the index twice, see his Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World; the author mentions the urgency of accounting for the cost of pollution.

+ USA must cut its emissions by 80%

+ The author is fully aware that Acts of God are in fact Acts of Man. Another book, I cannot remember which, tells us that changes to the planet that used to take 10,000 years now take three. Not only do we need real time science, but we also need The Precautionary Principle: A Critical Appraisal

+ Clean energy is described by one sources as “the mother of all markets.”

+ The author considers the energy markets to be completely “rigged” and notes that grain based ethanol, which I have called idiocy on more than one occasion, exists because of lobbying from Archer Daniels Midland among others.

+ In 2005 solar power grew by 45%.

+ Solar is distributed power, storage is a major obstacle.

+ The author clearly excited by Silicon Valley nano-tech, and also cautious about what we do not know when it is destabilized.

+ The solar energy industry is shooting for the Home Depot marketplace, stuff so simple I could install it. The author also tells us that banks are starting to get into power purchase agreements that will finance clean energy the way a home or car might be mortgaged. Home depot level will also mean graceful degradation and no “crash” or energy equivalent of Bill Gate’s “blue screen of death”.

+ Concentrating the sun is another promising approach. The author tells us that solar energy is six times more land efficient than wind energy.

+ Cuba is sitting on a sugar cane gold mine, biofuels with zero emissions are on the way from sugar modification.

+ Algae is covered, as well as bacteria.

+ Ocean power is also making headway, and is consistent, predictable, and has a high energy density.

+ Earth thermal includes hot water that comes with oil, previously considered a nusiance.

+ Coal is getting a make-over, and biomimicry is helping. It must get a make-over because it is an essential part of the mid-term power solution.

+ Sequestration is working and will work long enough to matter.

+ Regenerative reserves (e.g. the Amazon) are an essential part of the future. More more on this see the lovely and informative Climate Change and Biodiversity

+ Manure is turning into a major league energy source (when it’s not contaminating our spinach, there is a whole land under surface water use deal here that we just do not understand.

+ Energy efficiency, hybrid cars, and smarter land use (compacting towns and cities to increase efficiency of public transportation) are part of the solution.

+ All parties will spend $10 trillion over the next thirty years to achieve clean energy.

See Other books I recommend:
Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Third Edition
Ecological Economics: Principles And Applications
The Future of Life
The Mighty Acts of God
The Republican War on Science
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Green Chemistry and the Ten Commandments of Sustainability, 2nd ed

This is a fine book. See also the WIRED Magazine Cover Story from 2000, it came out the same month Dick Cheney was meeting secretly with Enron and Exxon executives.