Energy production and alternative energy by Debra A. Miller 123 p. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven 2011. 978-0-7377-5106-2
All of the volumes in Greenhaven’s Confronting Global Warming series accept climate change as a given and offer explanations of potential consequences and some possible mitigations. Textual analysis is supported by raw data, a range of charts vividly depicting energy shortages and consumption habits, gas emissions over time and by source, and consumption based on economic sector.
The change, the book posits, began when energy requirements increased markedly at what we can now see is a fossil fuel era. Beginning with the Industrial Revolution, steam and then oil engines fueled the evolving electrical grids and transportation systems. Now both consumption and emissions have risen in tandem, with the end result energy-related global warming in concert with dangerous dependence on finite resources. Burning those resources contributes to frequent heat waves, heavier precipitation, and higher sea levels. But given new energy demands in the developing world, regulating dependence on fossil fuels is often presented as the prerogative of post-industrial countries, given the historic association of carbon emissions with economic growth and development. But with global oil consumption verging on a half gallon of oil per capita per day and more than two thirds of that related to transportation, the demands for alternative sources are apparent.
If peak oil does inspire exploration of less conventional energy sources and force transportation innovation, global consensus will be required with regard to curtailing other sources of carbon emissions.This book catalogs domestic regulatory measures to improve energy efficiency standards for buildings, appliances, electronics, and other consumer products, both through transparency in energy star ratings and efforts to promote energy efficiency written into the economic stimulus plan. Other energy efficiency measures described include lifestyle changes, such as limiting travel and improving weatherproofing and insulation. There are other, biological mechanisms described with potential for generating energy, including geoengineering projects advocating reforestation to stimulate plankton growth.
Maps throughout show clean energy job distribution, international rates of carbon emissions in terms of relationships to target rates, and U.S. shale deposits, but cleaner coal and natural gas are limited to description as transitional steps. While technology concerns itself with cleaner and more renewable sources, existing biofuels have been shown to negatively affect food prices, and global warming could mean less moving water for hydroelectric energy production. Despite one model for clean energy in the southeast African nation of Malawi, wind-generated electricity is characterized as inefficient and expensive. Other possibilities include renewable geothermal heat in the earth’s crust, believed to surpasses the energy required by human needs.
There are discussions of the political opposition and environmental impact of alternative energy, but the energy crisis is presented as global race with China for improved technologies to fuel the coming century. The series manages to present factual information - which can be at times lost in the miasma of ideological associations related to global warming and climate change discussions - in a well-documented and politically neutral format. Each chapter ends with notes on sources, and the conclusion summarizes the entire text succinctly. There is a five page glossary, list of resources for further resources in a variety of formats, and an extensive subject index. Recommended for school libraries.