23 Feb 2012

The Enemy of Nature by Joel Kovel

The Enemy of Nature by Joel Kovel, Zed Books, £17.99
'The Enemy of Nature brilliantly lays out the current ecological crisis in all of its dimensions. Kovel reveals the real "inconvenient truth" surrounding climate change: that capitalism is responsible, and the only way to solve the problem is to get rid of it.' - from review in Socialist Review by Alison Smith, January 2008

7 Feb 2012

Sustainable Energy – without the hot air

"Sustainable Energy – without the hot air" www.withouthotair.com/synopsis10.pdf
Here are some quotes from this book, which debunks several myths about energy consumption and energy production.

For example, “leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in” is often held up as an example of a behavioural ecocrime, with people who switch their chargers off being praised for “doing their bit.” The truth is that a typical mobile phone charger consumes just 0.01 kWh per day. The amount of energy saved by switching off the phone charger, 0.01 kWh, is exactly the same as the energy used by driving an average car for one second. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t switch phone chargers off. But don’t be duped by the mantra “every little helps.” Obsessively switching off the phone-charger is like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon. Do switch it off, but please be aware how tiny a gesture it is.

 On energy production: ... for any renewable facility to make an appreciable contribution – a contribution at all comparable to our current consumption – it has to be country-sized. To provide 4% of our current energy consumption from wave power would require 500 km of Atlantic coastline to be completely filled with wave farms. Someone who wants to live on renewable energy, but expects the infrastructure associated with that renewable not to be large or intrusive, is deluding himself.

If economic constraints and public objections are set aside, it would be possible for the average European energy consumption of 125 kWh/d per person to be provided from these country-sized renewable sources. The two hugest contributors would be photovoltaic panels, which, covering 5% or 10% of the country, would provide 50 kWh/d per person; and offshore wind farms, which, filling a sea-area twice the size of Wales, would provide another 50 kWh/d per person on average. Such an immense panelling of the countryside and filling of British seas with wind machines (having a capacity five times greater than all the wind turbines in the world today) may be possible according to the laws of physics, but would the public accept and pay for such extreme arrangements?
If we answer no, we are forced to conclude that current consumption will never be met by British renewables. We require either a radical reduction in consumption, or significant additional sources of energy – or, of course, both.

Sustainable Energy – without the hot air "For anyone with influence on energy policy, whether in government, business or a campaign group, this book should be compulsory reading." Tony Juniper, Former Executive Director, Friends of the Earth