July 6, 2009

Jaunty environmental book

Sustainable Energy—Without the Hot Air, by Cambridge Professor David J.C. MacKay, is described as being:
"surprisingly playful, sidestepping the oughts, musts and shoulds of most eco-guides in favour of breezy sums. MacKay favours “numbers, not adjectives” and he presents them with a jaunty mix of photos, diagrams, maps, cartoons, timelines, bar charts, algebraic equations, pull-out quotes, tiny URL links, chummy headings (“gadgets that really suck”, “the war on leakiness”) and a generous dollop of exclamation marks."
More impressive than the jaunty tone, cartoons, and chummy headings, the book can be purchased - £45 hardback, £19.99 paperback - or save your dollars and just download the PDF for free. Noice.

Learn unsurprising things like this:
"The energy you save by switching off your phone charger for a whole day is used up in one second driving a car. To focus on the phone charger is like “bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon”.
Or this:
“Europe needs nuclear power, or solar power in other people’s deserts, or both.” For Britain, that area in someone else’s desert would have to be the size of Wales."
Now try to imagine how much land would be needed to provide solar power for even 50% of global power needs. It's all about energy density folks, and nothing comes close to that most dense of energies: oil.

At least MacKay's book looks like a sensible read in a sea of hyperbole and feel good "every little bit helps" dogma.

Review here ...


  1. McKay is a pretty brave person considering it's terribly unfashionable at the moment to bring logic and scientific proof to any discussion about environmental issues.

  2. Good for McKay. One can only hope that logic & the scientific method will eventually beat the emotive & irrational pseudoscience of global warming.

    I'm heartened by the reports here and there of the voices of reason starting to speak out against the heresy.