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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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Product Details

  • Series: Our Sustainable Future
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803237758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803237759
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Causing shockwaves...Not anti-green but simply asking questions" -The Sunday Times

"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

AWARDS
  • Nautilus Book Award Winner
  • IPPY Award Winner
  • Best Earth Day Books - Christian Science Monitor
  • N. California Book Award Winner


"A bold look at the downside of green technologies and a host of refreshingly simple substitute solutions."—Kirkus
(Kirkus 2012-04-15)

"What set Zehner's work apart from the glut of other environment-related titles are his fresh ideas and superlatively engaging prose."—Carl Hays, Booklist Online
(Carl Hays Booklist Online)

"With chapter subtitles like "Step Away From the Pom-Poms" and epigraphs from the likes of Dr. Seuss, Zehner is a delightful apostate in the church of green energy."—Sarah Rothbard, slate.com
(Sarah Rothbard slate.com 2012-08-01)

"This book is a must read for anyone concerned with sustainable living."—Daniel J. Benor, International Journal of Healing and Caring
(Daniel J. Benor International Journal of Healing and Caring)

"All Americans should read this book."—K. J. White, Choice
(K. J. White Choice)

"As a nation, we have hard decisions before us. We need to find actual, tangible solutions that will make a real difference. Our path begins with critical thinking and informed choices. This book helps us get started."—Jonathan Hladik, Great Plains Research
(Great Plains Research Jonathan Hladik)

From the Inside Flap

Green Illusions is a critical primer on solar cells, wind turbines, biofuels, nuclear power, clean coal, and electric cars. It also delivers three dozen first steps around the themes of environmental justice, overpopulation, rebound effects, energy economics, degrowth, taxes, bicycling, livable neighborhoods, and energy conservation.

More About the Author

The Sunday Times describes Ozzie Zehner as "an academic who is causing shockwaves." He is the author of Green Illusions and a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. He regularly guest lectures at universities and public policy organizations.

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).

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Green illusions is an insightful and engaging look at the limitations of alternative energy technologies.
S. Block
If you want to read a book that will make you question your current way of life, and start working toward living a better life right now, read this book.
Jocelyn Mercado
This book is also a work of sheer epistemology- brilliantly interrogating the very facts and data on which our analyses lay.
J.H. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 63 people found the following review helpful By J.H. Smith on June 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
I began quite the skeptic. I know the importance of green energy and I am committed to helping slow the degradation to the environment. To be clear, the premise of Green Illusions seemed provocative to me and rather improbable. However as an academic, I knew that the The Nebraska press has a solid reputation in publishing conservationist thinkers - one of their books was just announced as a Pulitzer Prize finalist and now I know why.

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.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Isaac M. Gaetz on August 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Zehner goes right after many environmentalist sacred calves and holds nothing back in Green Illusions. The result is a really intriguing work that hammers home several key points. I'll try to summarize a few of them.

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 .
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By GlobalChangeSupercenter5 on September 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Green Illusions" is the best kind of critical journalism, written by a researcher with the good of the cause in mind. The deconstructions of solar, wind, biofuels, batteries, suburbs, "green" academia are written with verve and extensive scientific understanding to extract the reality of our energy predicament. The challenge to orthodox green techno-optimism is very strong and cogent.
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?
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