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Who Turned Out the Lights?: Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis Paperback – Bargain Price, October 27, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


“I would hope that government officials, politicians, and everyone that should be involved in the energy crisis- which means you and me-would read Who Turned Out the Lights? This book is factual but not boring. Its suggestions for energy consumption are meaningful.” (

“In this clear, concise, and accessible book, Bittle and Johnson go beyond name calling and finger pointing and take a refreshing middle ground. It’s an invaluable read for anyone interested in our energy past, present, and future.” (Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, authors of The Clean Tech Revolution)

“How far will we go to satisfy our oil addiction, and who will decide our energy future? If you want in on this discussion, then this book is for you. There are also real solutions available right now; all we have to do is listen, learn, and act.” (Antonia Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil: the World's Most Powerful Industry—And What We Must Do To Stop It.)

From the Back Cover

From the editors of, an entertaining, irreverent, and absolutely essential nonpartisan guide to the energy crisis

Energy: It's a problem that never goes away (despite our best efforts as a nation to ignore it). Why has there been so much talk and so little action? In Who Turned Out the Lights? Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson offer a much-needed reality check: The "Drill, Baby, Drill" versus "Every Day Is Earth Day" battle is not solving our problems, and the finger-pointing is just holding us up.

Sorting through the political posturing and confusing techno-speak, they provide a fair-minded, "let's skip the jargon" explanation of the choices we face. And chapters such as "It's All Right Now (In Fact, It's a Gas)" prove that, while the problem is serious, getting a grip on it doesn't have to be. In the end, the authors present options from the right, left, and center but take just one position: The country must change the way it gets and uses energy, and the first step is to understand the choices.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1 Original edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061715646
  • ASIN: B003UYV1TM
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #894,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Regis Schilken on November 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
In a nutshell, Who Turned Out the Lights? involves one major theme. We need to find ways to balance the earth's natural resources with the growing demand for energy. Since our fragile atmosphere, too, is a natural resource, our balancing act must not destroy it.

Any educated person by now must believe science's forewarning that global warming can eventually destroy life on our planet. Yet all of us are aware of the bothersome inconveniences caused by shortages. Remember rationed gasoline? Remember long lines of cars waiting for high priced fuel at gas stations? So our seesaw act between saving earth's atmosphere and/or demanding more fuel to use carelessly is a two edged sword.

If 70% of all energy in the United Stated is used for either transportation or electricity, from whence doth it come? Much of it comes from fossil fuels. Millions of years ago, vast numbers of plants and animals around the earth died when our planet's crust covered them with increasingly thick layers of dirt and rock-like substances. The downward pressure and heat dramatically altered this buried goo both physically and chemically. The result: fossil fuels--petroleum, coal, natural gas.

Bringing these resources to the earth's surface to provide the world's energy demands can continue--but only until they're gone. And there's the rub. Scientists are warning consumers that the deeply hidden pockets of these fuels are disappearing. They are irreplaceable because the pressurized fossilization process has stopped. Are we then doomed?

Who Turned Out the Lights? would say no.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ellen P. Lafleche-christian on November 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Who Turned Out the Lights? is an invaluable resource for the person who is trying to decipher all the political jargon out there right now. This book goes beyond partisan explanations of the energy crisis and shows all sides of the argument in language your average person can understand.

This book begins with how we got to where we are today and goes on to discuss the challenges we are facing as a country. Who Turned Out the Lights? talks about all forms of energy from coal to oil to electricity to solar to wind to geothermal. It explains how each type of energy is made and the pros and cons of using it or other sources.

The authors discuss a wide variety of topics including global warming, energy efficient homes, hybrid cars, nuclear power accidents, our aging electric grid and President Obama's promises regarding the energy crisis.

If you're looking for an easy to understand book that will introduce you to the energy crisis and offer non-biased explanations and suggestions, I'd highly recommend you read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dunyazad VINE VOICE on December 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a basic introduction to the energy crisis, written in an accessible and humorous style. I was initially concerned that the pop-culture references would be a bit too much (both Homer Simpson and Paris Hilton make appearances on the first page), but in the end I actually enjoyed some of them.

The goal of the book is to present possible solutions to America's energy problems in an unbiased way. The pros and cons of each solution (more nuclear power, increased oil drilling, a tax on carbon emissions, etc.) are explained, and the authors try to avoid making judgements about what's best, leaving it for the reader to make up her own mind.

I do think that they succeed in explaining the issues clearly, though ultimately, I can't really say that I learned very much from this book. I suspect that, like me, many of the people who would be inclined to read something like this are already reasonably well-informed.

Still, I think this is a good introduction to the topic. Perhaps the highest indication of its success is the fact that I'm considering reading the authors' previous book, Where Does the Money Go?, about the federal budget crisis. As a Canadian who just recently moved to the United States, that's something that I really know nothing about--making me fit perfectly into the target audience.

So, in brief, Who Turned Out the Lights? is a good introductory book, very accessible and easy to read, but not necessarily for those who are already familiar with the topic.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on October 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a nice change from the agenda-driven works that have dominated the literature on energy policy. But there are some problems, which I will discuss later.

Overall, the authors do a great job of assembling and explaining the facts related to energy policy (government, private, and personal). They did very little advocacy and instead tried to present a balanced view. If you want to make up your own mind about things and don't have time to wade through a few dozen books on energy, then get this one book. Just understand it has some errors in the details (discussed later).

While most nonfiction titles consist of 10 chapters, this book consists of 16. The authors begin (in the preface) by talking about why they wrote the book, who they are, and what their goals are. They tell us they aren't experts, so they had to see what the experts had to say. Some of their sources were not good, but most were.

In the first chapter, the authors talk about the importance of the topic. They list six reasons, but my list would be a bit different from theirs. Still, they get the book off to a good start by laying this foundation.

Chapter Two discusses how we got where we are today and why this problem isn't new. Chapter Three extends this discussion a bit.

Chapter Four discusses some "flawed ideas," one of which irritates me highly. When people talk about increasing supply so we can achieve "energy independence," my first reaction is to try to sell them some beachfront property in Arizona. The authors explain why this idea is loony, and they hit some other ill-founded notions. Much of this kind of nonsense undergirds the bad public policy that we've been plagued with for the past few decades.

Chapter Five lays out 10 facts you need to know.
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