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The Energy Reader takes an unflinching look at the environmental devastation created by our thirst for energy—including supposedly “clean” renewable sources. From oil spills, nuclear accidents, and mountaintop-removal coal mining to oversized wind farms and desert-destroying solar power plants, virtually every region of the globe is now experiencing the consequences of out-of-control energy development. Essentially no place is sacred, no landscape safe from the relentless search for energy resources to continue powering a culture based on perpetual growth. Precious wildlands, fragile ecosystems, even our own communities and children’s health are at risk.

Featuring essays by more than thirty of the most brilliant minds in the fields of energy, society, and ecology, The Energy Reader lifts the veil on the harsh realities of our pursuit of energy at any price, revealing the true costs, benefits, and limitations of all our energy options. Contributors include Wes Jackson, Bill McKibben, Sandra B. Lubarsky, Richard Heinberg, Philip Cafaro, Wendell Berry, Juan Pablo Orrego. Collectively, they offer a wake-up call about the future of energy and what each of us can do to change course.

Ultimately, the book offers not only a deep critique of the current system that is toxic to nature and people, but also a hopeful vision for a future energy economy—in which resilience, health, beauty, biodiversity, and durability, not incessant growth, are the organizing principles.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780984630431
Publisher: Watershed Media
Publication date: 11/21/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 310
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Tom Butler is an activist and writer whose books include Plundering Appalachia and Wildlands Philanthropy.

George Wuerthner is a photographer and author who has published more than 30 books on America’s wild places.

As Publications Director of Post Carbon Institute, Daniel Lerch is the lead editor and manager of the Institute's major print publications.

Richard Heinberg is a leading thinker on peak oil and the author of many books, including The Party’s Over, Powerdown, and The End of Growth.

Table of Contents

Foreword Douglas R. Tompkins ix

Introduction Richard Heinberg xiii

Part 1 A Deeper Look at the Energy Picture

Introduction: Energy Literacy 3

Part 2 The Predicament

Introduction: Energy, Nature, and the Eco-Social Crisis 25

Five Carbon Pools Wes Jackson 27

Faustian Economics: Hell Hath No Limits Wendell Berry 33

Life-Affirming Beauty Sandra B. Lubarsky 43

Our Global Ponzi Economy Lester R. Brown 47

Coal: The Greatest Threat to Civilization James Hansen 51

The View from Oil's Peak Richard Heinberg 55

Energy Return on Investment Charles A. S. Hall 62

Alternative Energy Challenges David Fridley 69

When Risk Assessment Is Risky: Predicting the Effects of Technology David Ehrenfeld 77

Malevolent and Malignant Threats R. James Woolsey 84

Progress vs. Apocalypse: The Stories We Tell Ourselves John Michael Greer 95

Part 3 The Landscape of Energy

Introduction: A Tour of the Energy Terrain David Murphy 105

The Landscape of Energy 107

Part 4 False Solutions

Introduction: False Solutions to the Energy Challenge 153

Drill Baby Drill: Why It Won't Work for Long-Term Energy Sustainability David Hughes 155

Nuclear Power and the Earth Richard Bell 163

The False Promise of "Clean" Coal Jeff Goodell 171

The Whole Fracking Enchilada Sandra Steingraber 175

River Killers: The False Solution of Megadams Juan Pablo Orrego 179

Bioenergy: A Disaster for Biodiversity, Health, and Human Rights Rachel Smolker 186

Oil Shale Development: Looming Threat to Western Wildlands George Wuerthner 193

Gas Hydrates: A Dangerously Large Source of Unconventional Hydrocarbons George Wuerthner 197

Regulatory Illusion Brian L. Horejsi 201

Retooling the Planet: The False Promise of Geoengineering ETC Group 206

Part 5 Under Attack

Introduction: Onslaught of the Energy Machine 217

Will Drilling Spell the End of a Quintessential American Landscape? Erik Molvar 219

Backing the Front: Fighting Oil and Gas Development in Montana's Rocky Mountain Front Gloria Flora 226

Tar Sands, Pipelines, and the Threat to First Nations Winona LaDuke Martin Curry 241

Sweet and Sour: The Curse of Oil in the Niger Delta Michael Watts 247

Outsourcing Pollution and Energy-Intensive Production Vandana Shiva 256

Part 6 Depowering Destruction

Introduction: Toward an Energy Economy as if Nature Mattered 265

The Case for Conservation Richard Heinberg 267

Reinventing Fire Amory B. Lovins 274

Cap the Grid Robert E. King 284

Protected Areas: Foundation of a Better Future Relationship with Energy Harvey Locke 292

Three Steps to Establish a Politics of Global Warming Bill McKibben 297

Distributed Renewable Generation: Why It Should Be the Centerpiece of U.S. Energy Policy Sheila Bowers Bill Powers 303

No Ecological Sustainability without Limits to Growth Philip Cafaro 310

Part 7 What We're for

What We're For 321

Afterword: Places Where the Wind Carries the Ashes of Ancestors Lisi Krall 331

Acknowledgments 335

Credits 336

Contributors 337

Endnotes 345

Index 359

Editors 365

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