Physicist David MacKay published a book four years ago, Sustainable Energy–Without the Hot Air. I just learned about this great book from a review in this week’s New York Review of Books. I’ve read the first two chapters this morning. I realize this is a book that Energy Stewards® colleagues and all the school students we touch should know about. The book describes the big picture of energy use in the context of climate change, and then looks at the potential for different renewable sources to provide sufficient energy for the future.
The author has made his book available free for download from his website, www.withouthotair.com.
Mackay believes that understanding our energy requires numbers and he presents the energy numbers in an accessible and inviting way. Indeed, “…the aim of this book is to help you figure out the numbers and do the arithmetic so that you can evaluate policies; and to lay a factual understanding so that you can see which proposals add up.”[emphasis in the original text], p. 16.
If you don’t already know about the book, I encourage you to go get it and read it so you can build your own understanding of future energy resources and use.
Let us know what you think of the book, too!
UPDATE, May 1: I have finished all but a couple of technical chapters. MacKay is a master at synthesizing and presenting numbers and science related to sustainable energy on a country and planet scale. He organized his book to sequester the more challenging science and math in those technical chapters, which should be accessible to high school students and others willing to apply themselves a bit.