Thursday, September 1, 2016

TransportiCA Book Club - September 2016: "Our Renewable Future" by Richard Heinberg & David Fridley. Why this book?


For the September 2016 Book Club selection, TransportiCA chosen Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path for One Hundred Percent Clean Energy, by bestselling author Richard Heinberg - Senior Fellow-in-Residence at the Post Carbon Institute, and David Fridley - Post Carbon Institute Fellow and scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Why This Book?

First and foremost, the tone of Our Renewable Future is, well....quite refreshing and deeply inspiring.  Despite the urgency of climate (in)action and leadership in the U.S., Heinberg and Fridley do not convey the apocalyptic / self-prophesying message traditionally found in publications on climate.  Simply put, they are not climate alarmists, but rather, energy strategists, and provide scientific and objective dimensions to securing a fully-renewable energy future.  In the book, there is no shortage of examples from around the world where renewables have become the sole source of energy - including Burlington, Vermont, America's first all-renewably powered city - and how these accomplishments can be transplanted to the West and other developed countries.  Further, Heinberg and Fridley are realists, in the sense they are more than aware the waning of fossil fuels will take time, but do advocate the immediate need of such a monumental transition.  The authors find the beautiful, yet often illusive balance in calling attention to the issue at-hand, and how to go about addressing the energy challenge facing today.

For TransportiCA, the greatest takeaway is the challenge of current aviation and maritime energy sources in the pursuit of sustainable transportation.  The world has become far too connected, benefitting immensely from this, for any society to abandon these mobility forms.  Heinberg and Fridley address the challenges of fuel sources for these transport forms, but also provide the direction needed for such adaption.

Lastly, as you read, Heinberg and Fridley differentiate themselves from other authors, pundits and so-called "experts" in their determined approach to qualifying conditions and findings, as well as, simply letting the reader know when there is not an immediate solution available.  This cautiousness also notes further research is needed, and that society has addressed like challenges before, creating a solution beneficial to many, and achieving success in a systems approach.

It is for these reasons and more, TransportiCA is proud to announce Our Renewable Future as our September 2016 Book Club selection.

Richard Heinberg and Our Renewable Future on WGBH Boston's "Forum Network" (01 August 2016).

More information about Our Renewable Future can be found at Island Press; below is the official summary and various praise for the book.  Use discount code 4RENEW for 20% off your purchase of the printed book.

The next few decades will see a profound energy transformation throughout the world. By the end of the century (and perhaps sooner), we will shift from fossil fuel dependence to rely primarily on renewable sources like solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal power. Driven by the need to avert catastrophic climate change and by the depletion of easily accessible oil, coal, and natural gas, this transformation will entail a major shift in how we live. What might a 100% renewable future look like? Which technologies will play a crucial role in our energy future? What challenges will we face in this transition? And how can we make sure our new system is just and equitable?

In Our Renewable Future, energy expert Richard Heinberg and scientist David Fridley explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the shift to renewable energy. Beginning with a comprehensive overview of our current energy system, the authors survey issues of energy supply and demand in key sectors of the economy, including electricity generation, transportation, buildings, and manufacturing. In their detailed review of each sector, the authors examine the most crucial challenges we face, from intermittency in fuel sources to energy storage and grid redesign. The book concludes with a discussion of energy and equity and a summary of key lessons and steps forward at the individual, community, and national level.

The transition to clean energy will not be a simple matter of replacing coal with wind power or oil with solar; it will require us to adapt our energy usage as dramatically as we adapt our energy sources. Our Renewable Future is a clear-eyed and urgent guide to this transformation that will be a crucial resource for policymakers and energy activists.

"A fascinating look at some of the ways our energy future may play out—and a reminder that every day we delay getting serious about climate change will make the eventual reckoning that much more difficult."  Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy.

"The future of renewable energy is obscured by ignorance, noise, ideology, and all sorts of misconceptions —from both cornucopians and catastrophists. Our Renewable Future describes the reality: the transition is possible, but it won’t be easy."  Ugo Bardi, University of Florence and The Club of Rome.

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