Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism

( 3 )

Overview


We don’t have an energy crisis. We have a consumption crisis. And this book, which takes aim at cherished assumptions regarding energy, offers refreshingly straight talk about what’s wrong with the way we think and talk about the problem. Though we generally believe we can solve environmental problems with more energy—more solar cells, wind turbines, and biofuels—alternative technologies come with their own side effects and limitations. How, for instance, do solar cells cause harm? Why can’t engineers solve wind...
See more details below
Paperback
$20.81
BN.com price
(Save 30%)$29.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (15) from $14.98   
  • New (9) from $18.88   
  • Used (6) from $14.98   
Sending request ...

Overview


We don’t have an energy crisis. We have a consumption crisis. And this book, which takes aim at cherished assumptions regarding energy, offers refreshingly straight talk about what’s wrong with the way we think and talk about the problem. Though we generally believe we can solve environmental problems with more energy—more solar cells, wind turbines, and biofuels—alternative technologies come with their own side effects and limitations. How, for instance, do solar cells cause harm? Why can’t engineers solve wind power’s biggest obstacle? Why won’t contraception solve the problem of overpopulation lying at the heart of our concerns about energy, and what will?

This practical, environmentally informed, and lucid book persuasively argues for a change of perspective. If consumption is the problem, as Ozzie Zehner suggests, then we need to shift our focus from suspect alternative energies to improving social and political fundamentals: walkable communities, improved consumption, enlightened governance, and, most notably, women’s rights. The dozens of first steps he offers are surprisingly straightforward. For instance, he introduces a simple sticker that promises a greater impact than all of the nation’s solar cells. He uncovers why carbon taxes won’t solve our energy challenges (and presents two taxes that could). Finally, he explores how future environmentalists will focus on similarly fresh alternatives that are affordable, clean, and can actually improve our well-being.

Watch a book trailer.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Hladik - Great Plains Research

"As a nation, we have hard decisions before us. We need to find actual, tangible solutions that will make a real difference. Our path begins with critical thinking and informed choices. This book helps us get started."—Jonathan Hladik, Great Plains Research
Booklist Online

"What set Zehner's work apart from the glut of other environment-related titles are his fresh ideas and superlatively engaging prose."—Carl Hays, Booklist Online

— Carl Hays

slate.com

"With chapter subtitles like "Step Away From the Pom-Poms" and epigraphs from the likes of Dr. Seuss, Zehner is a delightful apostate in the church of green energy."—Sarah Rothbard, slate.com

— Sarah Rothbard

International Journal of Healing and Caring

"This book is a must read for anyone concerned with sustainable living."—Daniel J. Benor, International Journal of Healing and Caring

— Daniel J. Benor

Booklist Online - Carl Hays

"What set Zehner's work apart from the glut of other environment-related titles are his fresh ideas and superlatively engaging prose."—Carl Hays, Booklist Online
slate.com - Sarah Rothbard

"With chapter subtitles like "Step Away From the Pom-Poms" and epigraphs from the likes of Dr. Seuss, Zehner is a delightful apostate in the church of green energy."—Sarah Rothbard, slate.com
International Journal of Healing and Caring - Daniel J. Benor

"This book is a must read for anyone concerned with sustainable living."—Daniel J. Benor, International Journal of Healing and Caring
Choice - K. J. White

"All Americans should read this book."—K. J. White, Choice
John Perkins

“Provocative and essential! Green Illusions shakes us awake to the true challenges we face as a species . . . and inspires us to take action.”—John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Kirkus Reviews
Alternative solutions to the growing energy crisis other than alternative energy. "Green" technology and energy solutions are all the rage as global warming, rising populations and unheard-of oil prices confront the world. However, asks Zehner, "do we have a society capable of being powered by alternative energy?" His answer is no. With thorough research, the author demonstrates that no amount of solar panels, wind turbines, biodiesel, nuclear plants or "clean" coal will solve these global problems. The underlying issue is not the lack of energy or a new way to generate it but overconsumption of available energy and resources. Zehner proves that many of today's "green" solutions would be prohibitively expensive on a grand scale and/or cause more environmental damage than good. The author examines "some ideas that, hopefully [will] spur some thought into how we might practically move from material and energy consumption to more durable and meaningful forms of social growth and well-being." These ideas include the creation of more "walking communities," cities in which the basic needs of citizens can be reached on foot or by bicycle. He also advocates "advancing the rights of women and girls," since contraceptive education is just one part of the puzzle of population explosion, and he suggests the creation of a "Department of Efficiency," which would be responsible for reducing the rampant waste of energy. "America has plenty of energy—more than twice as much as it needs," he writes. "We just waste most of it." By offering readers numerous steps toward reaching attainable goals, Zehner hopes environmentalists will initiate a shift of focus to "women's rights, consumer culture, walkable neighborhoods, military spending, zoning, health care, wealth disparities, citizen governance, economic reform, and democratic institutions." A bold look at the downside of green technologies and a host of refreshingly simple substitute solutions.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803237759
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Series: Our Sustainable Future Series
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 404,905
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Ozzie Zehner, who has collaborated on numerous projects in industry, government, and academia, is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 12, 2012

    Within the alternative-energy landscape sound a cacophony of lef

    Within the alternative-energy landscape sound a cacophony of left or right leaning pundits espousing the merits or the drawbacks of this windmill or that coal plant. In this milieu stands author and professor Ozzie Zehner, a beacon of sound and level-headed reason amongst the hoards of ideologues. His chapters on solar and wind power expose the often unheralded drawbacks and weaknesses of these repeatedly trumpeted solutions. Without a hint of extremism, Zehner attempts to fill in the gaps of public knowledge through "shades" of arguments. It's clear that in a day and age of polarizing political campaigns we need a voice like Zehner's to lead the way to real and thoughtful conversation.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 9, 2012

    This is an amazing book that everyone interested in alternative

    This is an amazing book that everyone interested in alternative energies should read. In fact I think ALL of our policy makers should have this book as mandatory reading. The book is easily read, fast paced and full of good anecdotes and straight forward thinking on the 'business' of alternative energy sources. Mr. Zehner offers so many practical solutions to our growing energy crisis. Green Illusions will turn your Alternative Energy thinking on it's head. As I said, Green Illusions is a must read for all students, educators and policy makers concerned with the growing

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 1, 2012

    This is a book both devastatingly honest and realistic about the

    This is a book both devastatingly honest and realistic about the challenges we face, but also full of reasons to be hopeful. Personally, I think it is the only environmental book that really addresses the inter-connectedness of the many challenges we're confronting as a society, and Zehner does so with searing intelligence and quite a bit of humour. His critiques are forceful without being pedantic or accusatory. And his writing is extremely accessible and engaging. What's particularly impressive is that Zehner grounds his analysis in social science scholarship, yet you never feel like you're reading an academic book. He reminds us that scholarship cannot only show us where we've gone wrong in our thinking and actions, but in piercing through the fog of our own desires, carve out a realistic path forward. This is an impressive book that I believe will become a classic not only in specific studies of energy technologies, but for the environmental movement more broadly.

    Zehner's central critique is that alternative energy technologies are unlikely to make much impact on displacing fossil fuel consumption. This is largely because of what Zehner calls a "boomerang effect" consistent with basic economic principles: Producing more energy (alternative or not) lowers the cost of energy overall, thus leading to increasing energy consumption. In other words, unless you implement some kind of backstop such as an energy tax on all types of energy, alternative energy technologies simply lead to more consumption via lower costs, rather than displacing fossil fuel use. This is a compelling argument and one largely supported if we consider energy consumption historically (e.g., construction of nuclear power plants was accompanied by more, rather than fewer, coal-fired power plants). What's more, says Zehner, these technologies have serious limitations of their own. For example, solar cells contain elements that are quite toxic, require environmentally-unfriendly mining operations, and pose significant disposal issues at the end of their lifespan. They're also expensive. So expensive that they divert funds from much more promising, though less technologically-sexy, alternatives. This might be tolerable if they were doing something to offset fossil fuel use (though even then they would entail trade-offs). But they don't. And, they simply do nothing to change the way we live, which Zehner says is unsustainable given increasing population and therefore, increasing levels of consumption.

    Though Zehner critiques the contemporary environmental movement for having lost their way by placing too much emphasis on so-called "green technologies" that simply aren't, his critique is not borne out of animus. Rather, it emerges from deep concern about the future and faith that the environmental movement can do better. It has done better. And Zehner says we need to return to the powerful fundamentals that have less to do with technological "solutions" (solutions that simply allow us to continue consuming without feeling guilty) and more to do with what kind of society we wish to live in. In what may be a counter-intuitive argument to many, focusing our attention on issues like healthcare, women's rights and how we organize our communities in ways that not only reduce consumption but simultaneously improve human relationships will do more to address our unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels than all of the solar cells, wind turbines and electric cars combined.

    This book is simply a must-read for anyone concerned about issues of consumption and environmental justice, or even those who are simply skeptical of the hype around alternative energy technologies.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)