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Solar roof panels, backyard wind turbines and biofuel stills: in this how-to vision of a future without hydrocarbon fuels, small really is beautiful. Faced with the paired (and frightfully imminent) dangers of global warming and the point at which half the total recoverable oil on Earth has been extracted and production begins to decline, Pahl champions a spectrum of alternative energy sources. Separate chapters on water, geothermal and biomass (firewood and plant matter) energies in addition to solar, wind and biofuel (the distillate of corn, soy and other crops) sources are both practical and inspirational. First comes technical information; then Pahl reports on community and cooperative alternative-energy successes. In Asheville, N.C., 24 clustered townhouses use solar panels for heat and hot water. Toronto powers 250 homes with a cooperative-owned lakeshore wind turbine. Micro-hydro projects (100 kilowatts or less) power small businesses and homes in Nepal, Pakistan and off-the-grid American communities. A short-run train in Sweden—a nation committed to achieving an oil-free economy by 2020—runs on biogas generated by fermenting cow guts; it gets about two-and-a-half miles per cow—proof, as this readable book illustrates, that ingenuity and small-bore efforts are one way to deal with an energy crisis. (Mar.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.