Synopses & Reviews
A search for the contemporary Nikola Teslaconsidered a mad scientist by his society for predicting global warming more than 100 years agofuels this analysis of climate issues, which introduces thinkers and inventors who are working to find possible ways out of the energy crisis. From Louis Michaud, a retired refinery engineer who claims we can harness the energy of man-made tornadoes, to a professor and a businessman who are running a company that genetically modifies algae so it can secrete ethanol naturally, these individuals and their unorthodox methods are profiled through first-person interviews, exposing the social, economic, financial, and personal barriers that prevent them from making an impact with their ideas. The existing state of green energy technologies, such as solar, wind, biofuels, smart grid, and energy storage, is also explored, creating a sense of hope against a backdrop of climate dread.
"Hamilton, energy columnist for the Toronto Star, examines an array of ambitious ideas for alternatives to fossil fuels, such as nuclear fusion, space-based solar power, and man-made tornadoes. Hamilton argues that even if inventors on the fringe fail to develop new sources of energy 'they still succeed by leading, by taking risks, by pursuing great leaps, and by keeping open minds when others remain so closed.' Hamilton's vivid portrait of some of the people touting new technologies offers insight into why they've had trouble finding mainstream acceptance: one researcher who lays claim to inventing a machine that generates more power than it consumes considered a scientific impossibility drew the attention of musician Neil Young who entered a contest to design a car that achieves 100-miles-per-gallon. Hamilton approaches his subjects with an egalitarian bent, but it's not self-evident that a lone scientist's attempt to create a perpetual motion machine should be accorded the same weight as plans for space-based solar power by Solaren which already has secured a contract with Pacific Gas and Electric of San Francisco. Still, Hamilton isn't interested in forecasting winners and losers as much as arguing that any and all efforts to develop new energy sources will boost the odds of 'black swans': unexpected events that 'can blindside the optimists and the pessimists alike.' (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tyler Hamilton writes a weekly green energy and technology column for the Toronto Star and a popular blog called "Clean Break." He is the author of Privacy Payoff. He lives in Toronto.