Synopses & Reviews
Where does the energy we use come from? Its absolutely vital to every single thing we do every day, but for most people, it is utterly invisible. Flick a switch and the lights go on. It might as well be magic.
Science writer Jeremy Shere shows us in Renewable: The World-Changing Power of Alternative Energy that energy is anything but magical. Producing it in fossil fuel form is a dirty, expensive—but also hugely profitable— enterprise, with enormous but largely hidden costs to the entire planet. The cold, hard fact is that at some point we will have wrung the planet dry of easily accessible sources of fossil fuel. And when that time comes, humankind will have no choice but to turn—or, more accurately, return—to other, cleaner, renewable energy sources. What will those sources be? How far have we come to realizing the technologies that will make these sources available?
To find the answers, Shere began his journey with a tour of a traditional coal-fueled power plant in his home state of Indiana. He then continued on, traveling from coast to coast as he spoke to scientists, scholars and innovators. He immersed himself in the green energy world: visiting a solar farm at Denvers airport, attending the Wind Power Expo and a wind farm tour in Texas, investigating turbines deep in New York Citys East River, and much more.
Arranged in five parts—Green Gas, Sun, Wind, Earth, and Water—Renewable tells the stories of the most interesting and promising types of renewable energy: namely, biofuel, solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower. But unlike many books about alternative energy, Renewable is not obsessed with megawatts and tips for building home solar panels. Instead, Shere digs into the rich, surprisingly long histories of these technologies, bringing to life the pioneering scientists, inventors, and visionaries who blazed the way for solar, wind, hydro, and other forms of renewable power, and unearthing the curious involvement of great thinkers like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Nicola Tesla.
We are at an important crossroads in the history of renewable technologies. The possibilities are endless and enticing, and it has become increasingly clear that renewable energy is the way of the future. In Renewable, Jeremy Sheres natural curiosity and serious research come together in an entertaining and informative guide to where renewable energy has been, where it is today, and where its heading.
In this rigorous impassioned and nonpartisan study science writer Shere blends first person reportage and anecdotal history bringing the state of renewable energy vibrantly alive. A quick glimpse of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison riding together in a Model T through the Florida Everglades in search of land to grow ethanol producing crops gives way to Shere standing in the pouring rain looking over a field of swaying Chinese silver grass—the best choice to replace corn as the basis for ethanol. A description of elegantly attired British colonialists sipping champagne and marveling excitedly at a solar powered irrigation system in early 20th century Egypt transitions to an account of researchers at Purdue University and MIT who are making unprecedented advances in solar energy efficiency using nanotechnology. Unfailingly positive never speculating about entrenched interests profit margins or global greed the stories nevertheless generate provocative contrasts. The fascination awe and excitement with which our forbearers viewed advances in alternative energy contrasts markedly with the skepticism cynicism and outright hostility that colors the conversation today. While the debate over renewable energy remains mired in politics Shere’s approach provides a refreshingly optimistic outlook grounded but not suffocating in technical detail and confirming that while the relatively low price of oil keeps advances on the margins the work necessary to wean ourselves off fossil fuels is ongoing. Agent: Irene Goodman Irene Goodman Agency. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"A bright, accessible account of renewable energy and its role in our lives."--Kirkus Reviews "A refreshing yet serious look at alternative energy sources...[Shere] invites readers to tag along on his journey of discovery as he visits particular locales, interviews today's experts, and tours renewable energy facilities...Shere does all this without getting bogged down in scientific details an djargon. Shere's use of abundant current and historical anecdotes provides general readers with a clearer picture of renewable energy technologies than a more scholarly treatise would. recommended for all readers interested in a deeper understanding of this subject."--Library Journal
Science writer Jeremy Shere travels around the country to see firsthand what's new in alternative energy and discover what the future holds for us
Jeremy Shere began thinking about alternative energy sources the way so many of us do—wondering how and when they would affect his life. In Renewable, Shere's initial consideration of "green" choices for his family has broadened into an inquiry to examine how energy is changing in today's United States. Shere began his journey with a tour of a traditional coal-fueled power plant in his home state of Indiana, but continued on, traveling from coast to coast as he spoke to scientists, scholars and innovators. Immersing himself in the green energy world, he installed solar panels, drove through a wind farm, investigated turbines deep in the East River, and interviewed scientists who create fuel from algae and grass. He also examined the role of renewable energy in history, including surprising and entertaining stories of innovations—like plant-based fuels and giant windmills—and the curious involvement of great thinkers like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Nicola Tesla. Jeremy Shere's natural curiosity and serious research of energy technology in history and of today is leavened by lively writing and a Michael Pollan-esque approach, to create an intriguing vision of the future.
About the Author
JEREMY SHERE is a science writer who has written and produced for some of public radio's top nationally syndicated science programs, including Sound Medicine, Earth & Sky, and A Moment of Science. His work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Reuters, Matter Network, The Jerusalem Report, Bloom, and Reform Judaism, among others. Shere teaches journalism and magazine writing at the School of Journalism at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he lives with his wife and twin sons.