The Future of Energy: Earth, Wind and Fire by the Editors of Scientific American
Since the Industrial Revolution our civilization has depended on fossil fuels to generate energy - first it was coal; then petroleum. But there are two problems: the first is that petroleum isn't an infinite resource; and the second is that burning coal and oil puts billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trapping heat. Temperatures have risen by about 0.6 degrees Celsius over the last 100 years, which may not sound like much, but even that small increase is showing some large effects. For one, records have been set for the seasonal loss of arctic ice. If business as usual continues, we are looking at a world where sea levels will be high enough to submerge many coastal cities and extreme weather events like 2012's Hurricane Sandy are the new normal. In this eBook, The Future of Energy: Earth, Wind and Fire, we review the energy problem and analyze the options from the mundane to the far out, beginning in Section One with an overview of issues and solutions, including the comprehensive "A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030" and "7 Radical Energy Solutions." As these authors show, a multitude of possibilities exist. Renewable energy is more than photovoltaic cells and wind turbines - though these are viable options - and subsequent sections look at various sources, including solar power, hydropower, geothermal power, nuclear power and yes, wind power. For example, Section 4's "Can Nuclear Power Compete" examines the possibilities for nuclear rebirth and Section 5's "Turning the Tide" and "Moving Parts" discuss how tides could power coastal cities. Meanwhile we need to power transportation, and Section 7 reviews the search for biofuels that do not negatively impact the environment. Of course, all technologies have drawbacks that must be addressed, and not every idea will succeed. That isn't the point. There's no choice but to change the way we power our lives. The question is how and when. The longer we wait, the more painful the transition will be.