Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century

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Overview

"Global climate change is one of the most important issues humanity faces today. This book assesses the sensible, senseless and biased proposals for averting the potentially disastrous consequences of global warming, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions on switching to more sustainable energy provision. Burton Richter is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who has served on many US and international review committees on climate change and energy issues. He provides a concise overview of our knowledge and uncertainties within climate change science, discusses current energy demand and supply patterns, and the energy options available to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. Written in non-technical language, this book presents a balanced view of options for moving from our heavy reliance on fossil fuels into a much more sustainable energy system, and is accessible to a wide range of readers without scientific backgrounds - students, policymakers, and the concerned citizen"--Provided by publisher.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is rare that a scientist with the credentials of the author, Burton Richter, 1976 Nobel Laureate in Physics, attempts to communicate to society in a way that makes such an intimidating and contentious topic as climate change and the complexity of the associated energy issues that must be tackled seem easy to understand. This is a brilliant book written in a very informal way yet packed with easily understood information. Richter’s judgment is superb in assessing the role that the various possible solutions may play in averting a global warming catastrophe. His long experience as an energy advisor to US governments shows clearly in this discussion. He manages to communicate calmly but objectively the urgency of tackling the issues under discussion. ... Richter has been extremely successful in presenting the big picture about the implications of climate change and how the rise in global mean temperature can be minimized. ... It should be on the reading list for 2011 of all concerned citizens. Physicists should read this book because it is a template for how they should proselytize about science to the general public. As Richter observes “I have learned one thing: politics – particularly international politics – is much harder than physics”. This reviewer can only add that the effort to communicate to the political system is well worth the effort." - Harvey A. Buckmaster, Canadian Association of Physicists

"...the author adequately outlined the past, current and future effects on greenhouse gas emissions without requiring the reader to have any preconceived notions of the topic. I would recommend anyone with an interest in climate change to read this book with complete understanding toward those with a background in high school level general science." CMOS Bulletin

"As a compendium of vital energy information, clear facts on climate change and insights into how political decisions about energy are made in the U.S. and the world, Richter's book is an invaluable resource. EnviroLine" EnviroLine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521763844
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2010
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Burton Richter is Paul Pigott Professor in the Physical Sciences, Emeritus and Director Emeritus, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at Stanford University. He is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist for his pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle. He received the Lawrence Medal from the US Department of Energy and the Abelson Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Over the last decade, he has turned his attention from high-energy physics to climate change and energy issues, and has earned a strong reputation in this field as well. He has served on many national and international review committees, but his most direct involvement is with nuclear energy where he chairs an advisory committee to the US Department of Energy. He is also a chairman of a recent American Physical Society study on energy efficiency, and a member of the 'Blue Ribbon Panel' that oversaw the final edit of the US climate impact assessment that was released in 2000. He has written over 300 papers in scientific journals and op-ed articles for the NY Times, Washington Post, and LA Times.

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Table of Contents

Preface; List of units; List of conversion factors; List of abbreviations; 1. Introduction; Part I. Climate: 2. Greenhouse Earth; 3. Climate modelling; 4. The past as proxy for the future; 5. Predicting the future; Part II. Energy: 6. Taking up arms against this sea of troubles; 7. How fast to move: a physicist's look at the economists; 8. Energy, emissions and action; 9. Fossil fuels: how much is there?; 10. Electricity, emission and pricing carbon; 11. Efficiency: the first priority; 12. Nuclear energy; 13. Renewables; 14. Biofuels: is there anything there?; 15. An energy summary; Part III. Policy: 16. US policy: new things, bad things, good things; 17. World policy action; 18. Coda; References; Index.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 29, 2012

    Professor Richter Built Good Case for the Science!

    Professor Richter built a good case for the climate science, probably reflecting since own journey of understanding the range of scientific evidence when he first participated in a National Academy of Sciences / National Reseearch Council review of the 2001 report "Climate Change and Its Impacts on the United States." He described the many lines of evidence that give the compelling conclusion that warming of the Earth's climate system is certain. His analysis of the policy options are insightful, though those of us engaged in the climate policy debates for as long or perhaps longer than he has can probably advise him of improvements in his arguments. While cap-and-trade is out of favor with many people, the idea of a carbon tax could be a good idea but "the devil is always int the details" of any policy option. Taxes too are very well known to have exemptions and can be gamed easily. Professor Richter has talked to me and numerous colleagues in the business world as well and understands this. His book is a fine contribution to the high-level of vigorous discourse in this arena. I recommend it strongly.

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