Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#308 / I Would Like To Recommend This Book!

Bob Stayton. pictured above, has been thinking about solar energy and our energy future for a very long time. Back in the 1980's, he was a member of Santa Cruz County's Energy Advisory Committee. Just recently, he has published a book, Power Shift, which he calls his "lifework on solar energy." 

I would like to recommend this book!

Power Shift is written in deceptively clear language. What's the deception involved in the "clarity" of Stayton's presentation? Like truly clear water in a lake, you can stare into the depths and not realize, because the water is so clear, how deep those waters really are. In other words, although this book is easy to understand, and is written in clear and simple language, and even though this book is the opposite of pretentious, Stayton's message is profound.

Anyone who regularly reads this Two Worlds blog will remember my frequent statements to the effect that we must "end the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels." Take as an example this statement from 2014, commenting on a column by Paul Krugman, "Errors And Emissions."

Talking about "ending the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels" is one thing. And it's a good thing to talk about, and to think about, but the fate of human civilization actually hangs in the balance. What will count most is not "talking" or "thinking." What will count is "doing."

Stayton's book maps out an achievable all-solar energy future, and it's an envisioned energy future for the world, not just for the United States. In fact, the challenge of global warming is properly named. It is a "global" challenge. We must either find a way to act, finally, as a unified humanity or we will die. I personally think it's just that dire.

Here is an example of how Stayton makes clear our situation:

Today, there are basically four energy solutions with potential to [become the basis of a new energy system that will be free of carbon dioxide emissions and that will be big enough to replace fossil fuels]: 
  • Choice 1: Stop using modern energy.  
  • Choice 2: Continue to use fossil fuels but capture and store the carbon dioxide output.  
  • Choice 3: Use nuclear energy.  
  • Choice 4: Use solar energy in all its forms. 
Stayton very objectively analyzes all the options, and convincingly concludes that only making a wholehearted commitment to Choice #4 can meet the global warming challenge.

I liked the conclusion of Stayton's book, because it's hopeful. And I doubly liked it because its hopeful conclusion is not naive.

I also liked the way that Stayton begins Power Shift, by observing that human beings are the only animals who have ever figured out how to use energy that comes from a source external to themselves.

Our ability to mobilize the power of external energy is the force that has allowed us to create our human world.

To maintain that world, we must now change our power source. We have to make that "power shift."

Profound changes are needed. Deep changes.

Power Shift tells us just how we can (and must) make the changes that are, in the end, our only choice.

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