Who Owns the Sun? People, Politics and the Struggle for a Solar Economy

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Narrated against a backdrop of diminishing fossil fuels, environmental degradation, avaricious corporations, and worldwide competition for natural resources, Who Owns the Sun? shows how existing solar technologies combined with local management present logical remedies for our energy gluttony.
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Overview

Narrated against a backdrop of diminishing fossil fuels, environmental degradation, avaricious corporations, and worldwide competition for natural resources, Who Owns the Sun? shows how existing solar technologies combined with local management present logical remedies for our energy gluttony.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Environmental activists Berman and O'Connor offer a scathing explanation of why solar technology has played such an insignificant role in meeting America's energy needs. Politicians, utility companies and even many mainstream environmental groups come under attack for either their lack of leadership on this issue or for their downright hostility to solar possibilities. The authors argue convincingly that the impediment to widespread adoption of environmentally friendly energy sources is no longer technological but rather the fear that private utility companies' profit margins will suffer. Numerous examples of the ways in which renewable energy advances have been sabotaged by politicians and utilities are presented, as are a wide array of solutions. The most interesting solutions include public ownership of utilities, enlightened building codes favorable or at least neutral to solar technology, utility company buy-backs of excess electricity generated by homeowners, tax breaks for the installation of non-polluting sources of power, removal of massive governmental subsidies of fossil fuels and equalization of governmental research dollars for renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. Where such reforms are already in place, in the Netherlands and Israel, for example, solar energy is playing a very significant social role. This is a book likely to stir people to action. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Environmental activists Berman and O'Connor have written a critique of U.S. energy generation and use in which they lay the blame for the decline of the solar industry on the electric utilities and their allies in Washington, D.C., and state capitals. Beginning with a short history of U.S. energy policy, they detail the accomplishments of solar-power pioneers and enthusiasts, then depict an industry addicted to fossil fuels that is leading the country down a dangerous path. Though parts of this book are instructive, its authors never convincingly confront the core issues. For example, they presuppose that the Gulf War was fought over oil and had nothing to do with the invasion of a U.S. ally by a hostile country, and we aren't fully told why solar power must receive sizable tax breaks to compete with fossil fuels. This does not add up to a satisfying whole.-Randy Dykhuis, Michigan Lib. Consortium, Holt
Kirkus Reviews
An impassioned, well-defended argument for solar power in the place of our current fossil-fuel-based economy.

Two decades ago, environmentalists Berman and O'Connor write, Jimmy Carter installed a solar water heater on the White House roof, donned a cardigan, and announced that the ongoing energy crisis was "the moral equivalent of war." One of Ronald Reagan's first acts as president, however, was to order the heater removed, and during his tenure Department of Energy support for research into solar buildings fell from $100 million to just $1 million. The authors maintain that subsequent administrations have been no better at exploring alternative sources of energy, leading to imbroglios like the Gulf War. They trace this problem to a number of causes, not least the political influence of oil and utilities concerns, and they argue, as have many other writers, that we have an unhealthy addiction to fossil fuels and nuclear power. The authors are sometimes zealously simpleminded, as when they claim that the landlords of Hawaii oppose solar power because water heaters would be "an extra maintenance hassle" (and not, as may be the case, because such heaters are expensive to purchase and install). But drawing on the work of "soft energy" expert Amory Lovins, they demonstrate convincingly that converting to a solar- or mixed-energy economy would in the long run be profitable for all concerned, and certainly more environmentally sound. They offer reasoned suggestions as to how this conversion might be effected, including wedding microchip manufacture to photovoltaic production, because both use similar technologies; and they urge government agencies and private citizens alike to move "renewable-energy issues into the mainstream political discourse."

A thoughtful, provocative, and accessible book that should inspire much discussion in green circles.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780930031862
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/15/1996
  • Pages: 331
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Foreword
Introduction
Ch. 1 Solar America: A Dream Deferred 1
Ch. 2 Keeping Solar Culture Alive 12
Ch. 3 The Empire of Oil 48
Ch. 4 Public Power 65
Ch. 5 Green Capitalism and Wall Street Environmentalism 104
Ch. 6 Labor, Solar, and the Energy Economy 135
Ch. 7 Solar Homesteaders or Solar Sharecroppers? 171
Ch. 8 Fighting for a New Solar Society 213
Notes 246
Index 315
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