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Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future Hardcover – April 27, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586487892
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586487898
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Bryce, author of Gusher of Lies and managing editor of online industry newsmagazine Energy Tribune, is nothing if not polemical. While his swings are sometimes familiar ("The essence of protecting the environment can be distilled to a single phrase: Small is beautiful") and sometimes bizarre ("The world isn't using too much oil. It's not using enough"), the points he raises merit serious consideration. In this informed, opinionated state-of-the-industry overview, Bryce contends that energy policy must be based upon four imperatives: "power density, energy density, cost and scale." Wind and solar power, he says, fail those standards due to storage problems and the vagaries of weather; Denmark, the poster child for renewable energy, nevertheless imports hydroelectric power from Norway and Sweden, relies heavily upon North Sea oil and coal, and increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.1 percent between 1990 and 2006. Pointing to the environmental cost of hydropower ("ruining habitats for aquatic life"), oil spills, and coal mining, Bryce makes a strong case for heavier reliance upon natural gas, a relatively clean and readily available carbon fuel, as a bridge technology: "The smartest, most forward-looking U.S. energy policy can be summed up in one acronym: 'N2N'," for "natural gas to nuclear power."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Kirkus
“Capably argued… advocates of renewable energy should familiarize themselves with the book, since oil, gas and coal lobbyists surely will.”

Philadelphia Inquirer
“Bryce is especially good at explaining why fossil fuels have become entrenched as our main energy sources.” 

Library Journal
“Bryce uses copious facts and research to make a compelling case that renewable sources have their place in our energy future but they aren't the viable panacea we're led to believe.”

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, April 23, 2010
“Any new Robert Bryce book, in my opinion, had one tough hurdle to clear: I’d found Bryce’s first book, Gusher of Lies, impossible to put down.”

American Spectator, April 26, 2010
“Endlessly fascinating reading.”

Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2010
“A brutal brilliant exploration… If Power Hungry sounds like a supercharged polemic, its shocks are delivered with forensic skill and narrative aplomb…. It is unsentimental, unsparing and impassioned; and, if you’ll excuse the pun, it is precisely the kind of journalism we need to hold truth to power.”

Washington Times, May 31, 2010
“[Bryce’s] magnificently unfashionable, superlatively researched new book dares to fly in the face of all current conventional wisdom and cant…. I have never yet found any book or author who does a more thorough, unanswerable job of demolishing universally held environmental myths than Mr. Bryce does…. Mr. Obama is reputed to be an omnivorous reader of serious intellectual volumes. He should drop everything else and put Robert Bryce’s invaluable book at the top of his list. So should every senator and Congress member and every self-important, scientifically illiterate pundit in America, right and left alike. They will all learn a lot.”
 
National Review, August 2, 2010
“Should be mandatory reading for U.S. policymakers.”

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Customer Reviews

Wind, solar, biomass and geothermal can't meet our massive energy and power needs for the future!
David J. Bell
Our best scientists tell us we must do better in achieving goals of sustainable biodiversity and healthier ecosystems.
Jon Boone
Mr. Bryce has authored a very interesting, fact filled, and well written book on the current energy problem.
Crosslands

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

239 of 261 people found the following review helpful By Jon Boone on April 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With Power Hungry, energy journalist and Austin apiarist Robert Bryce marshals lots of accurate numbers in context to make plain how modern culture exacts power from energy to save time, increase wealth, and raise standards of living. He also dispenses common sense to citizens and policy makers for an improved environment, a better, more productive economy, and more enlightened civil society. Inspired by the environmental economics of Rockefeller University's Jesse Ausubel and the University of Manitoba's prolific Vaclav Smil, he makes the case for continuing down the path of de-carbonizing our machine fuels--a process begun two hundred years ago when we turned from wood to fossil fuels and huge reservoirs of impounded water. As the world's population continues to urbanize, people will inevitably demand cleaner, healthier, environmentally sensitive energy choices.

Today, the world uses hydrocarbons for 90 percent of its energy, getting a lot of bang for its buck. Bryce offers convincing evidence that, over the next several generations, particularly since broad energy transformations require much time and financial investment, relatively cleaner burning natural gas will provide a bridge to pervasive use of nuclear power--" the only always-on, no-carbon source than can replace significant amounts of coal in our electricity generation portfolio." And if nuclear ultimately becomes the centerpiece for the electricity sector, which constitutes about 40 percent of our total energy use, this development would accelerate the de-carbonization of the transportation and heating sectors as well.

His narrative transcends the current climate change debate.
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103 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth J. Malloy on April 27, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
You just have to feel sorry for the advocates of global warming. They've had a bad year. First it was the continuation of a decade of stable or slightly cooling weather, completely unpredicted by the climate models. Then it was the devastating scandals, not only in the Climate Research Unit but in NASA and the IPCC as well. To add insult to injury, there was the jarring failure of Copenhagen. Then the failure of Congress to adopt a cap and trade scheme when they had a Democratic President and overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate. Now the coup de grâce, Robert Bryce hits yet another home run by completely demolishing the argument for renewables in his new book Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.

Bryce is really pissing me off. I am an energy policy expert. His earlier book Gusher of Lies was an excellent rebuttal to the demagoguery on oil imports. But oil wasn't my thing so I gave him a pass and enthusiastically supported his book. But now he writes Power Hungry about the idiocy of many of the arguments supporting "green energy." This is my field and so I am truly in awe of his ability to so cogently skewer mindless advocates of green.

Bryce is addicted to numbers. He is ruthless in presenting numbers that make his points. His main weapon is the tyranny of big numbers. Many ideas sound good in the abstract--e.g., wind power, electric cars, cellulosic ethanol--but fail miserably when put into the context of US energy demographics.

I marvel that Bryce could deliver a nugget of new insight on literally every page. (I realize I am leaving myself open to abuse.) But he does.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Jay Lehr on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Few science books are worth reading each and every page. Climatism, by Steve Gorham (reviewed here in March), is an exception. Power Hungry is not, but without doubt it contains more than enough great information to make it a terrific buy for anyone with a strong interest in the nation's energy supply.

I recommend reading only about 20 pages a day, as it is very heavy on the numbers, but it's well worth a fun 15-day investment.

Comprehensive Research
Robert Bryce spent four years researching every aspect of American energy from a fairly objective point of view. As one currently under contract to compile a four-volume encyclopedia of energy for John Wiley & Sons, I can tell you Bryce has done an outstanding job.

From time to time he throws in his personal politics--which too many authors are inclined to do--and he has too much respect for the global warming alarmists for my comfort, but these do not detract too much from the excellent analysis of various energy technologies.

A full 54 pages devoted to references illustrate the comprehensive research Bryce has done, as well as the quality of his sources. He is at his best destroying many of the myths regarding renewable energy, providing powerful mathematical proofs that anyone can understand.

He is also excellent on nuclear energy, and I will use one of his chapters as the basis for a future article on small-scale nuclear power generation in a future issue of Environment & Climate News.
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