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Author Tom Rand sees alternatives to burning fossil fuel not only as an important consideration but absolutely unavoidable if we are to alter the rising carbon emissions problem on a global scale. With that in mind, he has released his book, “Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our World”. This work captures ten clean technologies which desperately need funding for continued research and development but also have the potential to stop the global warming trend.
“Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit” is an absolutely fascinating discussion on each of these ten clean technologies presented, both with pros and cons. The information contained also notes their possible impact and the companies that are currently working through the obstacles to bring them to light on a large, commercial scale. Complete with gorgeous photography worthy of a ‘National Geographic’ magazine, “Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit” serves as both an informative ‘green living’ book and a vibrantly colorful coffee table book. For the most part, it’s very well organized and edited, only displaying a couple of errors. The only obviously noticeable issue was the incorrect notation of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ name in this sentence, “TelePresence is to video-conferencing what Mark Phelps is to swimming.” Oops.
“Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our World” will be thoroughly enjoyed by not only those well-versed in green technologies but an eye-opening read for those just beginning to learn about these important alternative energy options. Frankly, I was amazed at how far behind the United States was in compared to other countries’ efforts in minimizing fossil fuel dependence. While lifestyle habits in these other countries have made the incorporation of ‘cleaner living’ a little easier than in the U.S., other difficult obstacles such as much higher tax rates make their commitment to this endeavor a truly selfless example worth following. Rand does an excellent job not only informing his readers of what these technologies are all about but what people – real people – are doing to further this global effort. His writing style flows with inspiring language and motivation that will kick start even the most stubborn of skeptics. Well done!
Reviewed by Vicki Landes, author of “Europe for the Senses – A Photographic Journal”
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If fossil fuels were Big Macs, then McDonalds would be the only restaurant left in North America.
We are fossil fuel addicts, according to Tom Rand, and we participate in that addiction compulsively and without joy. His view is that there is no logic -- business or personal -- that adds up in our continued reliance upon fossil fuels, and we need to smarten up.
“It is sometimes claimed that we cannot do without fossil fuels,” he wrote. “That is false, although I once thought it true. In exploring renewable technologies like large scale solar, wind and geothermal, the engineer in me changed my mind. It is possible to change our energy use to 100 percent renewable. This book is a celebration of that idea.”
The unique thing about Tom Rand is that he is not only an engineer, but he is also a venture capitalist. In his exhaustive research, he drew the conclusion that it not only makes sound environmental sense to replace our dependency on fossil fuels with a reliance on renewable energy sources, but it also makes sound business sense. In his assessment, we can either develop renewables ourselves, or find ourselves paying for someone else’s solution once fossil fuels run out or climate change forces our hand.
In his book, Rand lays out in writing -- with large, breathtaking illustrations -- 10 renewable energy sources that are environmentally safe, more cost-effective and more sustainable for our future than the fossil fuels we use today.
For each technology, he asks the question: “What do you get for a trillion dollars?” The answers may surprise you. That amount may sound overblown, but as Rand points out, we need to spend that sort of money on clean energy if we are expecting to move the needle on fossil fuel use.
He explores a wide variety of energy sources, including:
• Solar – Solar is not just panels on rooftops. There are three sources: concentrated solar and solar photovoltaic (PV) for electricity, and solar thermal for heat. Concentrated solar is the exciting stuff. Giant plants use the sun’s heat to make electricity, and can store that heat in giant thermoses to generate electricity 24/7. Solar PV uses millions of individual panels on millions of roofs to produce huge amounts of electricity and works on cloudy days but is the most expensive of the three. And solar thermal, solar hot water in particular, contributes important energy by offsetting natural gas or electric heat, while solar thermal plants developed on just 1% of the surface of the Sahara Desert could produce all the world’s electricity demands.
• Wind -- Mr. Rand says a trillion dollars of wind-based energy can supply 20 percent of our energy needs easily, and up to 40 percent with storage, grid balancing and the installation of 1.5 million two-megawatt wind turbines over the next 10 years.
• Geothermal – This is the game-changer, according to Rand. He wrote that heat from Earth’s interior is one of the few renewable energy sources that is not precisely reliant on the sun. Geoexchange could provide heating and cooling for 80% of U.S. homes and reduce energy use by 40%. In the North American continent, there are already 1 million geothermal installations. Enhanced geothermal, “the holy grail” of renewable energy, says Rand, only requires digging a couple of holes four to six miles deep underground, anywhere in the U.S., fracturing the hot, dry rocks there and taking out the heat to make electricity. A trillion dollars of enhanced geo could replace the entire North American coal infrastructure.
• Biofuels -- Fuels that originate in plant life could eventually replace our dependency on liquid fuel, and limit our CO2 emissions. Scientists are working on cellulosic biomass (wood) but it is limited in scope due to limited arable land. The best ideas come from third generation fuels such as algae (the “truly green fuel”) and halophytes (saltwater-loving plants). Converting the Sahara Desert to halophyte biofuels could provide 94% of the world’s power and replace all of its oil supply, according to