Getting Educated

I recently read three worthwhile books published in 2011, each addressing energy and climate.

The Third Industrial Revolution by Jeremy Rifkin;

Finding Higher Ground by Amy Seidl; and;

But Will The Planet Notice? by Gernot Wagner.

Each were fascinating, reasonably approachable (you didn’t need a specialized degree to understand them), and packed with information that all of us needs to grasp.  While these books focused on energy, climate, and our future they were very different from one another.

The Third Industrial Revolution introduces the concept of local power generation and sharing much like how content (think YouTube or Facebook and the millions who contribute to them) is developed and shared on the Internet. Wait a minute, what? Yes, his view of where we are headed includes the development of many localized energy sources where each of us is far less dependent on huge, centralized energy producers and the new energy makers (such as homeowners, office buildings, or shopping malls) can not only supply much of their own power but sell excess power for profit to the “energy Internet”.

Finding Higher Ground assumes the view that no matter how many of us make changes in our behavior to avoid climate change, that the planet is too far down that road and climate changes are already, and will continue to be, happening. Whether or not you are convinced of this, this book about “adaptation in the time of warming” gives hopeful examples of how nature has adapted before and how we, as a species, will do it again. 

But Will The Planet Notice is both pessimistic and optimistic about our likely future with regard to energy and climate. Wagner, a self described “environmental economist”, says that while traditionally economists (growth is good) and environmentalists (growth will do us in) have contradictory perspectives, it is in fact the environmental economists and their “smart economics” that will save the world. 

Each of these books provide a very good read and between the three of them, almost anyone will find something that they can get excited about– and it is everyone that needs to be getting educated about this defining aspect of our future.