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Saturday, 14 April 2012
Heat: How We Can Stop the Planet Burning is a book on the challenges of global warming. The book rapidly assumes that; 1. Global warming is happening 2. It is a result of mankind usage of consumption 3. Pricing of carbon is insufficient and an immoral way of deal with the issue. The book jumps onto the idea of cutting emissions by a massive 90% and doing so as soon as possible. Each chapter then deals with the ways in which this can be done. At no stage is there an assumption that technology will ride to the rescue. Instead the solutions are generally economic or political, based on technologies we have now. The chapters deal with areas such as travel, heating, a couple of industries and power generation. Each solution is proposed and then well examined. An interesting solution is a ring of coaches around the M25 that could run from service stations every couple of minutes. Other examples are for supermarkets to be switched to warehouses from which goods are delivered(this saves on refrigeration, lighting, heating, lower transport costs, etc). In general the author is able to propose solutions although he derides many of the more commonly offered one(micro-wind generation and bio-fuels are criticised heavily). This book is heavy going, there are lots of statistics and evidence to back up the arguments and it is well researched. The author is clearly left of centre and has no time for arguments that market mechanisms can correct environmental issues. Overall the message seems positive as he believes we can continue our lifestyle and cut greenhouse gases, the only really unsolvable problem is flight, the era of international flying is over. I enjoyed this book but found David MacKay “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air to be more readable”. This book is available for free on line at the authors website, the two books are similar in approach and complement one another. David MacKay is a physicists and doesn't assume global warming, but looks at how we will generate and use energy without carbon based fuels. Whereas Heat is written by a political activist and tend to consider sociological factors more. I think the two can be read together.