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According to the authors of this optimistic assessment of the global energy crisis, the current gluttonous dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels is merely an ecologically ruinous interlude between "energy ages." In the authors' decidedly long view, mankind survived for centuries without much need for oil, coal and natural gas—although humans were using all three in limited fashion as early as 3000 B.C., petroleum was first pumped from a well in Pennsylvania only in 1859—and can do so again. The Hoffmans argue that as technology improves efficiencies, solar fields, wind farms, geothermal drilling and biomass crops will replace fossil fuels as energy sources, a process driven as much by economic self-interest as by pressure for a more sane environmental future. They dismiss both the hydrogen economy and corn-based ethanol as unfeasible energy sources, but suggest that an African weed, jatropha, has the potential to turn "that poverty-stricken continent into the Saudi Arabia of biofuel." Accessible and surprisingly entertaining, this informed overview of available paths to relatively pollution-free energy resources is a level-headed primer on the world to come. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.