book review: Our Renewable Future by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley

A new book titled Our Renewable Future by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley is available to read online for free here.

The book is an excellent primer on energy and does a nice job of summarizing the challenges we face as fossil energy depletes.

Heinberg’s style is to present an intelligent fact-based view of the challenges while simultaneously offering positive things we could choose to do to make the future less bad. He avoids predicting pain or collapse although having followed him for years I think this is likely a politically correct veneer. He also tends to ignore the effect of de-growth on our debt-based economy and the resulting small amount of wealth we will have available for investment.

I like the fact that the book uses a wide lens and discusses things often ignored like high temperature industrial processes that cannot run on renewable energy (concrete, metal, and silicon chip production, for example) and discusses the use of fossil energy as feedstocks (fertilizer needed to feed 7 billion, for example). I also like that it discusses honestly the need to reduce our population.

If you’d like a calm intelligent summary of our predicament with lots of space to draw your own conclusions this book a great place to start.

As an aside, I remember David Fridley from an excellent talk he gave in 2007 on the Myths of Biofuels. It’s still relevant and worth watching here.

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