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Kicking the Carbon Habit: Global Warming and the Case for Renewable and Nuclear Energy
     

Kicking the Carbon Habit: Global Warming and the Case for Renewable and Nuclear Energy

by William Sweet
 

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With glaciers melting, oceans growing more acidic, species dying out, and catastrophic events like Hurricane Katrina ever more probable, strong steps must be taken now to slow global warming. Further warming threatens entire regional economies and the well being of whole populations, and in this century alone, it could create a global cataclysm. Synthesizing

Overview

With glaciers melting, oceans growing more acidic, species dying out, and catastrophic events like Hurricane Katrina ever more probable, strong steps must be taken now to slow global warming. Further warming threatens entire regional economies and the well being of whole populations, and in this century alone, it could create a global cataclysm. Synthesizing information from leading scientists and the most up-to-date research, science journalist William Sweet examines what the United States can do to help prevent climate devastation.

Rather than focusing on cutting oil consumption, which Sweet argues is expensive and unrealistic, the United States should concentrate on drastically reducing its use of coal. Coal-fired plants, which currently produce more than half of the electricity in the United States, account for two fifths of the country's greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Sweet believes a mixture of more environmentally sound technologies-wind turbines, natural gas, and nuclear reactors-can effectively replace coal plants, especially since dramatic improvements in technology have made nuclear power cleaner, safer, and more efficient.

Sweet cuts through all the confusion and controversies. He explores dramatic advances made by climate scientists over the past twenty years and addresses the various political and economic issues associated with global warming, including the practicality of reducing emissions from automobiles, the efficacy of taxing energy consumption, and the responsibility of the United States to its citizens and the international community to reduce greenhouse gases. Timely and provocative, Kicking the Carbon Habit is essential reading for anyone interested in environmental science, economics, and the future of the planet.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Polar icecaps are melting, ocean levels are rising, greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating-and, says Sweet, the villain of catastrophic climate change is coal, whose sooty carbon emissions make it the single worst energy source. That's the essence of science journalist Sweet's sweeping survey of the America's energy options. He's no fan of oil but acknowledges that its use is too entrenched in our car-driven culture for consumption to be cut anytime soon. He's pessimistic about the time line for implementing fuel-cell technology and sees no fast fix through solar power. And while he agrees that natural gas is cleaner than oil or coal, transmission and storage costs, as well as Chinese and Indian competition for supplies, limit its usefulness for America. That leaves wind generation, among the cleanest energy sources, and nuclear plants, perhaps the most feared, as his chosen methods for powering America's future. Sweet points to Denmark and Great Britain among countries turning to wind farms as a major source of electric power. And in an argument that will dismay many, he cites the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as an aberration in the generally safe record of nuclear energy. It's a grim but realistic assessment. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Reports of the Antarctic ice sheet melting and the addition of polar bears to the endangered species list raise the question-is it global warming, or is it just age-old fluctuations in climate? Sweet, editor of IEEE Spectrum (the official publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), uses interviews and scientific models from leading experts to argue cogently that there is indeed a drastic change occurring in the world's climate owing to global warming. Rather than focus on cutting oil consumption, he proposes the United States should instead drastically reduce its use of coal-especially for coal-fired plants that currently produce more than half the nation's electricity-by effectively using a mixture of technologies such as wind turbines, natural gas, and safe nuclear reactors. Together with Mark Lynas's High Tide: The Truth About Our Climate Crisis, this work is for readers who have already made up their minds about global warming, not for readers on the fence. For all academic and public libraries.-Eva Lautemann, Georgia Perimeter Coll. Lib., Clarkston Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The Chronicle Review
His lively, clear reporting of both the science and politics of climate change... Make the book a pleasure to read.

— Doug Macdougall

Wall Street Journal
Sweet knows what he is talking about... Kicking the Carbon Habit is a great place to kick-start the debate and cool down the rhetoric.

— William Tucker

Globe and Mail
An important contribution to the debate.
Choice

The book is extremely well written... Highly recommended.

Future Survey
Clearly written and very well-informed.
Physics Today
A must-read for anyone who wants a good summary of our current understanding of global warming and the options before us.

— Andrew C. Kadak

The Exeter Bulletin
Sweet's book is a readable, compelling and hard-nosed analysis of this vast and complicated subject.
The Midwest Book Review
[An] excellent survey perfect for both school and public libraries.
Globe & Mail
An important contribution to the debate.
The Chronicle Review - Doug Macdougall
His lively, clear reporting of both the science and politics of climate change... Make the book a pleasure to read.
Wall Street Journal - William Tucker
Sweet knows what he is talking about... Kicking the Carbon Habit is a great place to kick-start the debate and cool down the rhetoric.
Physics Today - Andrew C. Kadak
A must-read for anyone who wants a good summary of our current understanding of global warming and the options before us.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231510370
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
06/22/2006
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

"Rather than indulge the fantasy that carbon emissions can be sharply cut by persuading literally hundreds of millions drivers to radically change their ways, we should embrace the notion of replacing our 100 or 200 dirtiest coal-fired power plants with superior generation technologies." -- Kicking the Carbon Habit

What People are Saying About This

Henry N. Pollack
William Sweet has a bold prescription for stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions in the USA—remove coal, America's most abundant domestic energy resource, from the national energy menu. He lays out a scenario of how coal can be replaced with a troika of conservation, renewables, and nuclear energy, in a time frame that can lead to emissions stabilization by mid-century. You may not like the taste of Sweet's medicine, but he argues well for both its necessity and its efficacy.

James Gustave Speth
William Sweet's admirable new book provides both an excellent overview of the most serious issue societies face today—climate change—and a compelling argument for focusing hard on the principal threat—coal. If something is not done quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we will leave a ruined world for our children and grandchildren.

Meet the Author

William Sweet is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Princeton University. He is senior news editor at IEEE Spectrum, the flagship publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. His work has appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and MIT's Technology Review.

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