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on August 16, 2014
A biased but convincing (to me) view that radical efforts to cut all carbon emission immediately is impossible and counterproductive. This is a politically charged issue and one should look at both extremes. This treatment is pretty balanced in my view, but I am sure a significant minority in the US (including Barack Obama) would disagree. That's not a negative.
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on April 19, 2011
One line of attack on the "green energy" agenda is to question its primary rationale, namely the theory that catastrophic global warming will result unless human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are drastically reduced.

This book tackles a different question: Assuming that global warming due to carbon emissions might be a problem, is the green energy agenda well designed to achieve the environmental and economic benefits that have been attributed to it?

The authors are four academics (three being economists and/or attorneys) who describe themselves as "professional skeptics." And they do a workmanlike job of questioning the logic and integrity of green energy from various angles.

Having followed the debate about this subject, I was familiar with many of the points. The technical feasibility of a rapid transition to solar and wind power has been vastly exaggerated, while the cost estimates are correspondingly understated. Some environmentalists view nuclear power as "green" because it has the potential of reducing carbon emissions, while others will oppose it to their dying breath. There are numerous environmental objections to the government-supported ethanol program. There is no common definition of the green jobs that are promised, and forecasts are typically expressed on a gross basis (without subtracting jobs that would be eliminated, e.g., in the fossil fuel industries and in industrial operations that would leave the country as the result of higher US energy costs.) Some analysts would count jobs in regulatory compliance areas as a benefit, when they actually represent an economic cost. Claims that green jobs will necessarily provide highly paid, agreeable employment are not credible. Barring the creation of trade barriers, most wind power or solar power equipment would be produced in Asia or Europe versus the US. Etc.

It is nice to have an authoritative source to cite, with a logically organized series of chapters and a handy dandy index. And some of the conceptual points are novel, e.g., demonstration of selective optimism about technological progress in the future (assumed for green energy operations, ignored for traditional energy operations), and repeated demonstration of the Baptist and bootleggers syndrome (people with very different objectives closing ranks to support Sunday closing laws). It is amazing how ready green energy advocates are to trade the taken-for-granted benefits of a free market economy for their vision of what life on earth should be like (e.g., small pastoral communities, locally grown food, no more Wal-Mart).

However, who is the audience? For right wing think tanks and academics, the book is preaching to the converted. Left wing think tanks and academics will not read it. Corporate employees will tend to do whatever suits their own interests.

The authors suggest that the general public could use the book as a source of green energy questions (30 questions are listed in the concluding chapter) for candidates for elective office, but I doubt this will work. The material is too involved, diverse and sophisticated for the average reader to absorb and remember. Also, direct contact between the voters and politicians on policy issues is increasingly infrequent, and written communications from voters are recapped without much reflection on the content unless the sender is seen as potential source of campaign cash.

So if green energy is indeed an expensive, ill-conceived experiment in social engineering, as the authors argue, I think a simpler, more straightforward formulation of the issue would be needed to combat it.
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on March 28, 2012
This is from the Cato people so you should know where they are starting from. As long as you realise this its an OK read. Much of the information is very USA centric and as such if you are from outside you should be careful about reading USA examples into your own country.

Cato is very disingenuous at times. They complain that the Green lobby uses best case examples to push their ideas while at the same time Cato uses very carefully contrived worst case examples to shoot them down. Examples of this are in the chapter on public transport where only one traffic flow is considered rater than all the traffic flows that the system would carry. On the same chapter they complain that feeder busses don't work because they don't match the passenger load, ignoring that you can in practice change the size of the bus to match the traffic flow. In their examples it seems all cars carry 4 people and all are going to the same destination from the same departure point.

Its like this throughout the whole book, the answer is the motor car now what is your question?

They could have done much better, still if you can get it cheap or from a library its worth a read just don't take things to much to heart.
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on March 8, 2016
Explains why green energy is a joke.
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on March 19, 2013
it is an excellent book, must read for everyone that is involved in politics as well as climate change and energy issues. Unfortunately these views are not as publicized as they should.
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on July 25, 2012
Tedious read on a current subject, we need this information but not a light read, much stat, and detail, not just a story.
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