Thursday, February 09, 2006

Energy Beyond Oil - Paul Mobbs

If I were to recommend one book on the energy crisis, to a reader in the UK, it would be this one. It is thorough, running through all the aspects of the problem – Peak Oil, viability of alternatives, conservation and consumption. It is almost entirely non-partisan, and steers clear of discussions of foreign policy, concentrating primarily upon the physical constraints that a diminishment of energy represents. It is written from a UK perspective rather than a US or world perspective, which makes it more readable and relevant for a UK resident.

It reads in many ways like a school text-book, and I mean that as a compliment. There are a great number of ‘side boxes’ going into detail about various technical elements, and Mobbs takes great pains to explain all the different terms that he uses.

Of course, the bottom line remains the same however it is explained, and his essential point is expressed pithily: could you cut your energy use by 60%? I found his final discussion of alternative paths quite useful – the ‘burn everything’ model, as opposed to the ‘renewables only’ model. In a hundred years the amount of energy available to the economy from choosing those opposite paths is exactly the same(!) – the difference is that one will cause global warming, exacerbation of income inequality and associated chaos – whilst the other will minimise all those associated problems.

It is clear which way we must go. We just have to summon the spiritual will to walk that path.


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