Thursday, August 4, 2011

Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America from the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels, by Congressman Jerry McNerney, Ph.D., Martin Cheek

AMACOM, ISBN 9780814413722, August 2011

Dr. Gerald "Jerry" McNerney is an engineer, energy specialist, and US Congressman from California's 11th district. Clean Energy Nation reflects his professional education and experience as well as his experiences in Congress, working to advance realistic, rational energy and environmental policies.

McNerney's message is that global climate change is real and a major threat, oil and other fossil fuels really are starting to run out--and that the two problems compound each other. Global climate change increases our use of energy to maintain livably cool temperatures, grow food in increasingly dry regions by use of irrigation, rebuild after increasingly frequent and violent storms, and eventually relocate people, their homes, and their businesses inland from the places that will be underwater as the icecaps melt. Also, somewhat counter-intuitively, quite possibly to heat an increasingly frigid Europe, if the melting of the icecaps has the effect of turning off the North Atlantic conveyor that keeps northern Europe much warmer than equivalent latitudes in North America.

Burning fossil fuels, our primary means of getting energy now, unfortunately increases global warming.

McNerney lays out carefully and clearly how burning fossil fuels contributes to the greenhouse effect and causes climate change. He explains in terms everyone can understand how the combined effects of global climate change and the climbing cost of energy due to the fact that we're reaching our limits of production of fossil fuels that took millions of years to create and which can't be replaced, has serious negative effects for our health, our food supply, and our economy.

And he explains what we can do about it, if we don't wait too long to act.

He talks about the false start of the 1970s, when Carter, with good ideas but poor political skills and an unwise tendency to micromanagement, briefly turned us to more sustainable policies--and the undoing of that under Reagan, after oil prices fell. He talks about positive changes and more sustainable choices made under both Democratic and Republican presidents, by states and municipalities, and by private companies and individuals.

McNerney also talks about changes, progress, and new projects in other countries.

McNerney's biggest message, which he covers at length, is that far from being an economic cost to develop and switch to renewable resources and sustainable practices, it's in fact the only path open to us that allows economic growth, progress, and continued world leadership.

This is a highly readable, thoughtful, important book.

Highly recommended.

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