The Powers That Be: Global Energy for the Twenty-first Century and Beyond

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9780226535005: The Powers That Be: Global Energy for the Twenty-first Century and Beyond
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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 high—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 we’re going. Starting with the inescapable fact of our current dependence on fossil fuels—which supply 80% of all our energy needs today—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 sources—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 doesn’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.

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About the Author:

Scott L. Montgomery is an author and affiliate faculty member in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. A consulting geologist for more than 25 years, he has written many technical papers and monographs on energy-related subjects and is the author or coauthor of numerous books, most recently The Shape of the New: Four Big Ideas and How They Made the Modern World and Does Science Need a Global Language? English and the Future of Research, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press. He lives in Seattle.

Review:

Though often densely factual, Montgomery's thorough depiction of our global energy crisis and the ways by which we can correct it...is a must-read for anyone unsure or uniformed about the severity of our fossil-fuel dependence.  --Sierra Club

"...an unconventional, lucid, pragmatic, and thought-provoking discussion of the present global energy situation...this book stands alone above all other energy books flooding the market...Highly recommended.  All academic, general, and professional readers."  Choice, selected as one of 25 "Outstanding Titles" for 2011

Through sixteen chapters, Montgomery has presented a comprehensive review of the current energy situation in the world and our energy options in the coming decades. The book is written in a readable style for the educated public... - Rasoul Sorkhabi, Geo ExPro

The Powers That Be is an unconventional, lucid, pragmatic, and thought-provoking discussion of the present global energy situation. The book is written in plain language by a knowledgeable source whose perspective from academia and industry brings new clarity and insights to the table, especially in terms of realistically assessing what is known and not known about how much any energy source, carbon based or not, is likely to deliver in the foreseeable future...Highly recommended. All academic, general, and professional readers.   CHOICE

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