THE POVERTY OF POWER by Barry Commoner


Email this review


In The Closing Circle (1971), Barry Commoner predicted that the ecological crisis would soon be revealed as the harbinger of a full-blown economic crisis rooted in the fundamental flaws of our institutions. His prediction has come true, and this is his thoroughgoing analysis of the close relationship among the issues of ecology, energy, and economics. First, Commoner has sought out and deciphered some obscure statistics on the capers of the oil, agribusiness and petrochemical industries. Then he has written a top-notch textbook on such basic phenomena as the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the foundation of a far subtler and more accurate estimate of the efficiency of energy use), the origin of fossil fuels, nuclear fission, and the dynamics of the sun and its effects on earth. Building on these foundations, Commoner demonstrates just how, and for what economic motive--the government-supported profit of capital-intensive enterprises--we use high-energy sources for low-energy tasks; fail to explore domestic oil reserves ample for 60 years of self-sufficiency; shift farming, a naturally efficient enterprise, to wasteful and polluting dependency on the petrochemical industry; and invest billions in the doomed and dangerous nuclear-power industry while neglecting the versatile bounty of the anti-inflationary, non-polluting sun. Challenging.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1976
Publisher: Knopf