From Publishers Weekly
What one change could preserve democracy, increase national security, reduce health care costs, increase business output, and improve public health? U.S. Congressman and renewable energy engineer McNerney (of Pleasanton, Calif.), with tech journalist Cheek, cover the history and future with fossil fuels, illustrating the enormous potential of renewable energy-including solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, geothermal, water, and hydrogen-to head off a grim fate for Western civilization, from diminishing food supplies to setbacks in education. With milestones including 75 percent energy independence from OPEC by 2020, the authors compare their goal to the American Revolution in importance and scope, but never grow sanctimonious. In measured language, this volume reviews current, past and future U.S. policy, as well as renewable energy projects and goals around the world, concluding with concrete suggestions for implementing clean energy (including education, international partnerships and financing). Addressing skeptics, the authors question whether "our nation's free market system truly benefits by providing petroleum companies with substantial financial subsidies," and make a convincing case for other arrangements.
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Not surprising for a member of Congress whose credentials include a career in renewable energy engineering, McNerney, with veteran journalist Cheek, frames his arguments regarding our current energy crisis in historical terms. Not since the American Revolution has this country faced such an overwhelming challenge to break the bonds of dependency. Only this time, our reliance is on foreign oil, and our failure to achieve energy independence could have consequences as dire as anything the emerging nation faced in 1776. Reviewing the sequence of events that have contributed to the present situation, the authors explore options for replacing fossil fuels, and examine how the responsibility for sustainability falls to diverse areas both in the government and private sectors. Frequently spinning scenarios that illustrate an Armageddon that could befall the nation should it fail to reverse current trends, the authors nevertheless ultimately paint a hopeful picture for the future based on contemporary successes, outlining steps necessary for progress, including the development of funding resources and structured timetables. --Carol Haggas