POWERING CIVILIZATION: The Complete Energy Reader by James--Ed. Ridgeway

POWERING CIVILIZATION: The Complete Energy Reader

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An anthology of writings--sometimes illuminating, occasionally vapid--on six aspects of the energy problem: the origins of the modern energy industry; coal; oil; nuclear power and synthetic fuels; alternative energy; and energy monopolies. In each case, an introductory outline by editor Ridgeway (Who Owns the Earth? etc.) is followed by excerpts from a wide variety of sources (books, articles, government studies, congressional documents, etc.) and by assorted big-name authors--Lewis Mumford, John Blair, Anthony Sampson, Edward Teller--whose concerns range from the economic and technical to the social and environmental. The section on coal, for instance, features: clashes between bristling UMW leader John L. Lewis and coal magnate George Love; agreements that led to labor peace, mechanization, and miners' welfare; and present-day conditions--continuing environmental damage, persistent health hazards, and the indifference of mine owners and operators to both. On oil, Ridgeway's sources show, the industry's problem has been (and is) surplus, not shortage. The Seven Sisters still dominate: by operating as a cartel through shared refineries, pipelines, and leases; by purchasing coal, uranium, and solar energy firms; by using the fear of an oil shortage to gobble up independents, force price control, and eliminate the remnants of competition. Can Big Oil be outfaced? Well, Ridgeway presents arguments for and against nuclear power, as well as accounts of alternative renewable, non-polluting energies (which tend to be rosyhued). Some interesting background material, then, to give dimension to the issues.

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1982
Publisher: Pantheon