Thursday, March 18th, 2010
William F. Stewart is the author of Climate of Uncertainty: A Balanced Look at Global Warming and Renewable Energy, from Ocean Publishing. He is co-chair of the climate change and energy practice at Cozen O’Connor.
CleanTechies had four questions about his new book.
CleanTechies: You promise a balanced look in your title, and you give the global warming nay-sayers a chapter. Why do you feel it’s important to take this approach?
William F. Stewart: I know it is a cliché, but skepticism really is the lifeblood of science. Historically, it is through the intense questioning of conventional wisdom that advancement has been possible. Although there are certainly a lot of cynics and charlatans masquerading as skeptics, good faith skepticism itself must be embraced if we are to achieve new discoveries. (more…)
Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
Is it worth spending a whole book dissectinig the writing of Bjørn Lomborg, the self-proclaimed “skeptical environmentalist?” Certainly not in terms of the quality of Lomborg’s argument, which simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. But Lomborg’s writing has been permitted to exercise a widespread and harmful influence.
For that reason, Howard Friel’s painstaking book The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight About Global Warming represents time well and usefully spent.
Friel identifies two strains in Lomborg’s work: his “theorem” that though global warming is happening and is human-induced it is far from a catastrophe; his “corollary” that there is therefore little need to incur the costs of reducing greenhousegas emissions to the extent urged by concerned experts. (more…)
Monday, March 15th, 2010
The harnessing of solar energy is expanding on every front as concerns about climate change and energy security escalate, as government incentives for harnessing solar energy expand, and as these costs decline while those of fossil fuels rise. One solar technology that is really beginning to take off is the use of solar thermal collectors to convert sunlight into heat that can be used to warm both water and space.
China, for example, is now home to 27 million rooftop solar water heaters. With nearly 4,000 Chinese companies manufacturing these devices, this relatively simple low-cost technology has leapfrogged into villages that do not yet have electricity. For as little as $200, villagers can have a rooftop solar collector installed and take their first hot shower.
This technology is sweeping China like wildfire, already approaching market saturation in some communities. Beijing plans to boost the current 114 million square meters of rooftop solar collectors for heating water to 300 million by 2020. (more…)
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
There is an often-vicious debate occurring within the environmental community about nuclear energy. While there are those like Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, who are arguing in support of nuclear power, there are still many others against it.
Gwyneth Cravens is one environmentalist participating in this debate who supports nuclear energy and wrote Power to Save the World in favor of this energy source. Cravens wasn’t always a nuclear energy supporter. In fact, she once helped support initiatives that prevented a nuclear power plant from being completed in Long Island, where she currently lives.
However, this book shows how she went from being firmly anti-nuclear to believing that nuclear energy is actually environmentally friendly while at the same time following the life cycle of nuclear fuel from extraction to use to storage.
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
This article has been updated.
In her forthcoming book, Prefabulous + Sustainable, author Sheri Koones sets out to show how beautiful and green a prefabricated home can be.
The book is divided into three categories –- “green, greener, greenest” –- and the homes featured vary in style, design, type of construction and size. Koones walks the reader through each of the homes, explaining the materials, strategies and systems used to create a sustainable living environment. CleanTechies had a few questions about the methodology and the pre-fab industry.
CleanTechies: Tell me how you chose the houses you profiled.
Koones: I was looking for houses that were as sustainable as possible, but also attractive, in various locations of the country using different methods of pre-fab construction, and in city, residential and suburban settings.
CleanTechies: How did you find them and ascertain which ones you wanted to look at? (more…)
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
We can’t successfully tackle climate change without changes to the corporate regime which has been in place in America since the Reagan presidency. That’s the underlying message of Charles Derber in his latest book, Greed to Green: Solving Climate Change and Remaking the Economy. It’s a message he delivers with directness in a book much more readable than I expected from an academic sociologist.
He accepts the position of scientists like James Hansen and others who point to the ominous dangers of tipping points in climate and conclude that we are already above a safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which they consider no more than 350 parts per million. It’s not a happy acceptance. “No sane person would wish it to be the scientific truth,” he writes.
Derber recounts the terrible difficulty he had, after realising with despair the seriousness of climate change, in dealing emotionally with the prospect of mass, collective death — “more difficult than dealing with my own personal death.”
The only good news he discerns is that the scientific truth may be spreading and leading to a tipping point in the world’s social and political awareness. (more…)
Sunday, February 7th, 2010
“All indications are that we should be alarmed about the future of sea level rise and should be doing something about it now.”
So say Orrin Pilkey and Rob Young, eminent coastal scientists, who wrote The Rising Sea to provide substance for that alarm and to offer suggestions as to how we can plan ahead to reduce the severity of the impact of the rising sea.
The authors begin by reminding us that it’s not a distant prospect. They describe what is happening to Alaskan shoreline villages such as Kivalina and Shishmaref, the Pacific atoll nations such as Kiribati, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, and the city of Venice, places already grappling with rising sea level.
Rising tide gauge data and an increase in coastal erosion along many of the planet’s shorelines provide clear evidence of the rising sea and of the warming of the planet.
Monday, February 1st, 2010
This is the second book review of Stewart Brand’s new book “Whole Earth Discipline” posted on CleanTechies. Read the first review by Todd Woody here.
When James Lovelock, Edward O. Wilson and Ian McEwan jostle to praise a book I assume it will be worth attention. Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto doesn’t disappoint. The title echoes the Whole Earth Catalogue which he founded over forty years ago as an ambitious reference aid for skills, tools and products useful to a self-sustainable lifestyle.
Times have changed and Brand has changed with them. Climate change has become a clear and present danger. He has become more of a pragmatist, though no less of an environmentalist. His pragmatism leads him to regard with favour three factors which put him to some extent at odds with others in the environmental movement. The three are urbanisation, nuclear power and genetic engineering, and part of the purpose of the book is to urge the Green-inclined to consider how the three may now be considered significant contributions to facing up to climate change.
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
A new book touts energy efficiency as one possible environmentally and economic solution for solving the global energy crisis. In Crossing The Energy Divide, authors Robert and Edward Ayres argue that we need to reform the way we manage our existing energy systems to double the amount of “energy service” we get from every drop of fossil fuel we use. They claim the resulting improvements in energy efficiency can bridge the global economy until clean renewables can fully replace fossil fuels.
CleanTechies put three questions to the authors:
CleanTechies: Is the U.S. government listening to you on your energy efficiency/waste-to-energy arguments? If so, where are we at in terms of implementation of your proposals?
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
David Archer and Stefan Rahmstorf are notable climate scientists. They are also excellent communicators of the science to the general reader, as is apparent in their new book The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change. The authors seek to provide an accessible and readable account of the “treasure trove” of the IPCC reports.
They distinguish their work sharply from the Summaries for Policy Makers officially provided by the IPCC, which are negotiated between government representatives and exclude much of what scientists think and write in the full report.
But while they draw heavily on the latest IPCC report and feature many of its informative graphs and tables, they also refer to new findings since the 2006 cut-off date for the report, and draw attention to weaknesses they sometimes see in the report.
Most of the book deals with global climate science, the focus of IPCC Working Group I, with subsequent brief attention given to the impacts of climate change (Working Group II) and to mitigation (Working Group III). (more…)