Synopses & Reviews
Thirty years ago, our global energy landscape did not look remarkably different from what it does today. Three or four decades from now, it certainly will: dwindling oil reserves will clash with skyrocketing demand, as developing nations around the world lead their citizens into the modern energy economy, and all the while, the grave threat of catastrophic climate change looms ever larger. Energy worries are at an all-time highand#8212;just how will
we power our future?
With The Powers That Be, Scott L. Montgomery cuts through the hype, alarmism, and confusion to give us a straightforward, informed account of where we are now, and a map of where weand#8217;re going. Starting with the inescapable fact of our current dependence on fossil fuelsand#8212;which supply 80% of all our energy needs todayand#8212;Montgomery clearly and carefully lays out the many alternative energy options available, ranging from the familiar, like water and solar, to such nascent but promising sources as hydrogen and geothermal power. What is crucial, Montgomery explains, is understanding that our future will depend not on some single, wondrous breakthrough; instead, we should focus on developing a more diverse, adaptable energy future, one that draws on a variety of sourcesand#8212;and is thus less vulnerable to disruption or failure.
An admirably evenhanded and always realistic guide, Montgomery enables readers to understand the implications of energy funding, research, and politics at a global scale. At the same time, he doesnand#8217;t neglect the ultimate connection between those decisions and the average citizen flipping a light switch or sliding behind the wheel of a car, making The Powers That Be indispensible for our ever-more energy conscious age.
"This is a beautifully written and highly engaging book that tackles nothing less than the general global problem of energy. This question has been examined by many books and articles, both academic and more popular. What is extraordinary about this work is that it takes all of these issues and blends them smoothly into a cohesive, understandable single work. Any reader will put down The Powers That Be
understanding how difficult the problems we face are, while also realizing that there is much hope that we will be able to substantially solve many of them. It is a timely voice of reason in our complicated, troubled world."
"This exhaustive yet accessible look at the global energy supply weighs the future of fossil fuels and carefully considers the alternatives."
"This exhaustive yet accessible look at the global energy supply weighs the future of fossil fuels and carefully considers the alternatives."--Discover
"Scott Montgomery has written a much-needed book about global energy for a general nonfiction audience. He approaches the issue with humanistic nuance and offers a refreshing voice of clarity and composure on this topic." Saleem H. Ali, author of Treasures of the Earth: Need, Greed, and a Sustainable
and#8220;Scott brings a much needed element of realism to the discussion of energy in a well-constructed, accessible fashion. In laying out the course from past to present, he gives the reader the ability to envision a reasonable path forward. Importantly, he recognizes the scale of the issues we face today, and, in doing so, provides insightful discussion of controversial issues such as energy independence, peak oil and the long and short run potential of renewable energy technologies.and#8221;
"Informative and unexpectedly entertaining."
CHOICEand#160;Outstanding Academic Titles, 2011
About the Author
Scott L. Montgomery is a consulting geologist and independent scholar, and the author of The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science and Science in Translation, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
1 What Binds Us All
2 Our Energy Past: Does It Hold Any Lessons?
3 Our Energy Present: Global Trends and What They Mean
4 Oil Reality: Burning Questions
5 Natural Gas: The Lighter Side of Fossil Fuels
6 Coal: Once and Future King?
7 The Great Debate: When Will the Wells Run Dry?
8 Nuclear Power: A New Context, Changing Views
9 Renewable Energy 1: The Real and the Possible
10 Renewable Energy 2: Sources, Technologies, Limitations
11 Hydrogen: Forever Fuel, or Wishful Thinking?
12 Fusion Energy: Some Like It Hot
13 Geopolitics and Energy: An Evolving Geography
14 The Technology Imperative: Some Reflections
15 Climate Change and Energy: Playing with Fire, Air, Earth, and Water
16 Conclusion: Final Thoughts on New Beginnings