A BRIGHT FUTURE by Joshua S. Goldstein


How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow
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A rational if somewhat unlikely strategy to reverse global warming using current technology and without self-denial.

According to Steven Pinker, who contributes the foreword, Goldstein (Emeritus, International Relations/American Univ.; Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide, 2011, etc.) and Qvist, a Swedish engineer and clean energy consultant, offer “climate change for grown-ups. Rather than starting from baby steps and hope these add up, it starts from where we need to end up and asks how we can get there.” The world’s energy mostly goes into electricity generation, transportation, and heating. The future requires electricity produced without burning fossil fuels. After the usual gloomy introduction—the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide in the world remains coal—the authors point out that several countries (e.g., Sweden and France) are steadily reducing carbon dioxide production without inconveniencing their prosperous, nonabstemious citizenry. Writers in this genre often prefer solutions that require personal actions (recycling, smaller cars) that have little impact, a frugal lifestyle that most people oppose, or a miraculous revolution in energy storage that is essential to making solar or wind power practical 24 hours per day. The authors argue for nuclear power, and the facts are certainly on their side. Nuclear plants are safer. Aside from producing global warming, the soot, heavy metals, sulfur, and nitrous oxides poured into the air from fossil fuel plants kill thousands every day from cancer and lung disease. Rapid decarbonization of the atmosphere—the only action that will reverse global warming—requires nuclear power. Despite an avalanche of facts and statistics, the authors are taking a “pro” position on a debate they largely lost 30 years ago. Opposition to nuclear power exerts great political influence on most developed democratic nations, and some (Germany, Switzerland) have sworn to eliminate it.

A reasonable argument directed at a lay audience, many of whom have already made up their minds.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5417-2410-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2018


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