cover image Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

Richard A. Muller. Norton, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-08161-9

UC-Berkeley physicist Muller (Physics for Future Presidents), who made headlines for first criticizing and then vindicating global warming research, explores the contentious issues that will increasingly preoccupy politicians and citizens, in this no-nonsense scientific primer on energy policy. Muller brings fresh, often contrarian perspectives to topics that have been saturated in misinformation and hype, arguing, for example, that new techniques to extract the stupendous reserves of petroleum in shale and tar sands will eliminate all talk of peak oil; that wind power and photovoltaics will boom while corn ethanol, geothermal, and tidal power will fizzle; that household energy conservation is a great investment, while public transit is usually a bad one; and that China’s soaring carbon dioxide emissions will render America’s almost irrelevant—and that the best way to abate China’s emissions is by switching from coal to natural gas. Especially revealing is his positive assessment of nuclear energy, which effectively debunks the alarmism surrounding the March 2011 Fukushima accident. The author’s explanations of the science underlying energy production are lucid but never simplistic—and often fascinating in their own right. Policy makers and casual readers alike can benefit from Muller’s eye-opening briefing, which sheds lots of light with little wasted heat. Photos. Agent: John Brockman, Brockman Inc. (Aug.)