Of the many works I have read on the subject, this is the most cogent and
A brilliant masterpiece, a perfect combination of form and content.
You might be content with that, if the issues it illuminates were not
so weighty. Indeed the book has an implicit poignancy, an air of
imminent tragedy: Given the time scale and magnitude of the
challenges, the challenge of an appropriate response is intimidating.
The crisis still has an air of unreality - nothing visible has
happened yet - and yet is as inevitable as the First or Second World
Wars can be seen to be in retrospect.
The main service is to rank the energy options on a uniform and
intuitively clear scale with credible precision. The DESERTEC
project (for harvesting sunlight in the Sahara) in particular lends
itself to the kind of effort that governments are capable of making
- especially if they grasp the scale of the issues. It will require
a national effort similar to that of the World Wars to come to grip
with - but is something tangible that can be done, and can serve as
a rallying focal point. It is the sort of thing that nation-states do
well. It is similar in scale to the unrolling of the automobile
economy and the electrical grid. And if it comes a little short, if
we have to cut our suit to fit the cloth, that is still within our
capacity to adapt.
Chichele Professor of Economic History,
All Souls College, Oxford