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Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism (Our Sustainable Future) Paperback – June 1, 2012
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"Terrific book. . . . Zehner is especially good at untangling sloppy thinking." -David Owen, The New Yorker and author of Green Metropolis
Top Nonfiction Books --Goodreads
"This book takes a look at the dark underbelly of 'green energy' and attempts to shift the US dialogue to a more pressing problem: consumption."--Christian Science Monitor
- Nautilus Book Award Winner
- IPPY Award Winner
- Best Earth Day Books - Christian Science Monitor
- N. California Book Award Winner
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More About the Author
Ozzie Zehner has written for Christian Science Monitor, The American Scholar, The Humanist, Grist, The Futurist, Women's Studies Quarterly and other publications. He has spoken on energy and environmentalism on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, BBC, CBC and numerous local TV & radio programs. He attended Kettering University (BS -Engineering) and The University of Amsterdam (MS/Drs - Science and Technology Studies).
Top Customer Reviews
To say that this book is simply powerful would actually be to shortchange it. This book is not just an incisive analysis of our current state of environmental affairs. This book is also a work of sheer epistemology- brilliantly interrogating the very facts and data on which our analyses lay. Given his work as an environment consultant, he should know. Yet, there is a keen sense of sophisticated thinking that requires us to think deeply about "solutions" - taking the time to examine the presuppositions that undergird them and the axioms that allow them to go unchecked. This work of disentangling facts from fiction is prodigious on its own. Yet, to connect this disentanglement to the larger the social, political, and moral obligations that befalls our society makes what was a merely sophisticated argument into an ineluctably ethical one.
I came to this book as an educated skeptic. But the book not only brought me to think in important new ways, it also made me realize why these issues were so incredibly important. The author argues that it doesn't matter how many answers we discover if we are asking the wrong questions to begin with. I certainly had been asking the wrong questions. While I still disagree with the author on some issues, I think that the larger thesis is actually quite profound.Read more ›
1. Increasing energy production sources (by using power from "renewable" wind, solar, geothermal sources etc. or improving fossil fuel technologies) results in a reduction in energy prices, which history has proven time and time again, results in a rebound effect in which consumption rises, consuming whatever short term gains were accomplished.
2. Comparing the environmental impact of renewable energies to fossil fuels is fundamentally flawed because being more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels is a preposterously low bar which to clear. This results in "less bad" technologies being portrayed as "good" because they are slightly better than the previous "bad" options.
3. Looking exclusively at the power generation side of the equation, whether fossil or renewable, is an approach akin to treating a symptom. Environmentalism would be more productive treating the causal side of the equation, which is consumption.
Zehner's Green Illusions first section is quite similar to Robert Bryce's Power Hungry http://www.amazon.com/Power-Hungry-Myths-Energy-Future/dp/1586487892 . Zehner systematically goes down the list of energy technologies, fossil and renewable, and describes the realities of both their energy production potential and their environmental impacts.
The latter half of the book is closer in tone to Robert Laughlin's Powering the Future http://www.amazon.com/Powering-Future-Eventually-Civilization-Tomorrow/dp/0465022197 .Read more ›
The difficulty comes in the more gee-whiz kind of "solutions" banality that occupies the latter half of the book. Zehner is quite right to state that walkable, bikable cities with less consumption would be the way to have some shot at human "sustainability," so his architect background leads him to envision this or that green living utopia, from Dutch cities to kids on bikes to efficient retrofits. Fine - yet where is the data to suggest that this is going to come out of the present supersystem of greenwash and big corporate extraction? All the necessary instruction in how we should have designed our global social infrastructure is irrelevant if we are Too Far Gone.
Robert Laughlin, in "Powering the Future," does not make the assumption that walkable/bikable/voluntary simplicity is the next phase of human social reality - carbon is going to come out of the ground, one way or another, until the last drop or chunk.
Look at the CO2 numbers - too high already, and on track to blow through any Gladwellian cliche. Look at the population figures, the server farms, the global waste, the complete corruption of the political governing bodies and process - and yet there is to be biking and non-coerced Amish living across the energy-hungry globe?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Exposes the flaws in our current approach towards mitigating clean energy/climate change and offers numerous avenues for improvement. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Derrick
From Energy Consumption to Energy Conservation -- after reading Green Illusions I totally agree that the true solution includes many social, political, economic as well as... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Andrew Fisher
I read this book several years ago and at the time thought that it was the most well-researched, thought-provoking book I had ever read about energy policy and technology. Read morePublished 8 months ago by milkweed beetle
I live in MT where wind farms have popped up like weeds. The promises of cheap power have long since given way to higher energy costs. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Tom Connor
An outstanding effort put forth by someone with leftist sympathies who truly wishes alternate energy was viable, but is honest enough to come to grips with the current reality of... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Philip W. Tatler
This author has very little faith in human innovation, and is basically advocating all of us living like a third world country. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Alex Pfister
Review of book is not very descriptive on what the book actually isPublished 15 months ago by Shane
The book started out as a review of "alternative" energy sources. It then turned into a green rant about how the only solution is to reduce human welfare and, presumably,... Read morePublished 16 months ago by J. P. Lane