“At last! An authoritative, objective, scientific analysis of the full range of energy options we face. Botkin’s book cuts through the mass of hype, bias, and myth that characterize most of the information that the public receives and gives us a clear assessment of the sources, costs, environmental impacts, and potentials for the energy that supports America--and the world. Clear, well-researched and well-written, this book should be required reading for decision makers and voters alike.”
Lee Talbot, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia; and Senior Environmental Advisor to the World Bank, UN Agencies, and numerous national governments
“A thought-provoking analysis of the nation’s energy future. Botkin demonstrates that we can have a safe, secure, stable energy future without sacrificing our quality of life, but not without major changes. It will require significant improvements in energy efficiency and a new mix of energy sources with much greater reliance on renewables--but it is achievable and affordable. You may not agree with his preferred allocation of energy sources in the portfolio for 2050, but he’ll make you think, and his list of proposed energy programs provides a valuable roadmap for our federal leaders.”
Jerry R. Schubel, President and CEO, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California
“Powering the Future is the best primer on the supply of energy. Botkin looks at each form of energy and discusses our options to move away from fossil fuels. Using scientific methods and suppressing personal biases, he follows the energy data trail to logical conclusions. ...Chock full of examples, illustrations, and data.”
Matthew J. Sobel, William E. Umstattd Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
“If you want to read one book that will give you a comprehensive, realistic assessment of the available options, their benefits and costs, and the political changes that must be made to address global climate change, increase the use of renewable energy sources, and use our existing nonrenewable sources more efficiently, this is it.”
Dan Tarlock, Distinguished Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Director, Program in Energy and Environmental Law, Chicago, Illinois
The future of civilization depends upon the continuous availability of sufficient energy. But we’re approaching the practical limits of some of the energy sources we depend upon most. What should be done? Few issues are as controversial. In Powering the Future, a leading scientist cuts through the controversy, presenting the facts about our energy needs, desires, and supplies and the environmental and human effects of obtaining and using energy.
Dr. Daniel B. Botkin objectively assesses the true prospects, limitations, costs, risks, dangers, and tradeoffs associated with every leading and emerging source of energy, including oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, nuclear, wind, solar, ocean power, and biofuels. Next, Botkin addresses the energy distribution system, outlining how it currently works, identifying its inefficiencies, and reviewing options for improving it.
Finally, Botkin turns to solutions, offering a realistic, scientifically and economically viable path to a sustainable, energy-independent future: one that can improve the quality of life for Americans and for people around the world.
The Future of Fossil Fuels
What can we realistically expect from oil, gas, and coal?
Will Alternative Energy Sources Really Matter?
Running the numbers on solar, wind, biofuels, and other renewables
Must We All Wear Sweaters and Live in Caves?
The right role for efficiency--and why energy minimalism isn’t the solution
Where We Can Start--and What Will Happen if We Don’t
No magic bullet, but there are sensible, realistic solutions
Table of Contents
About the Author xv
Introduction: Blackout 1
Section I: Conventional Energy Sources 15
Chapter 1 Oil 19
Chapter 2 Natural Gas 37
Chapter 3 Coal 51
Chapter 4 Water Power 73
Chapter 5 Nuclear Power 85
Section II: New Energy Sources 115
Chapter 6 Wind Power 119
Chapter 7 Solar Power 141
Chapter 8 Ocean Power 163
Chapter 9 Biofuels 173
Section III: Designing an Energy System 197
Chapter 10 Transporting Energy: the Grid, Hydrogen, Batteries, and More 199
Chapter 11 Transporting Things 211
Chapter 12 Saving Energy at Home and Finding Energy at Your Feet 227
Chapter 13 Solutions 245