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THE CARBON CRUNCH by Dieter Helm Kirkus Star

THE CARBON CRUNCH

How We're Getting Climate Change Wrong--and How to Fix It

by Dieter Helm

Pub Date: Nov. 27th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-300-18659-8
Publisher: Yale Univ.

A serious attempt to address climate change: “why it matters, what causes [it], and who is responsible.”

Broadly speaking, it has been 20 years since global warming received the attention it deserved, and still, writes Helm (Energy Policy/Univ. of Oxford), “the emissions keep going up, and nothing of substance has been achieved.” The author is well aware of the issues involved, and he displays a facility in explaining the complexity of global warming mechanisms and the nature of energy. This is no time for dithering, he writes. We must identify the culprits, find alternatives and take immediate action. Helm fingers coal as the greatest man-made contributor to the greenhouse effect, and we are all perpetrators, from South Africa to the United States to Europe—although juggernauts China and India are really dashing to coal as cheap energy. The U.S. and Europe may have sloughed off the worst polluting operations to the Far East and the subcontinent but have not in the least decarbonized consumption. Helm writes that we must integrate carbon into our economy and pay for the emissions we cause through carbon pricing. The author points out the serious sustainability problems of current renewable energies—wind, solar, biomass and biofuels—and suggests a transitional strategy of switching from coal to natural gas, which has half the carbon footprint of coal (the author is well aware of the issue surrounding fracking), and start investing in research into new low-carbon technologies, including energy storage and smart technologies.

An optimistically levelheaded book about actually dealing with global warming.