Global climate change is one of the most important issues humanity faces today. This book assesses the sensible, senseless and biased proposals for averting the potentially disastrous consequences of global warming, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions on switching to more sustainable energy provision. Burton Richter is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who has served on many US and international review committees on climate change and energy issues. He provides a concise overview of our knowledge and uncertainties within climate change science, discusses current energy demand and supply patterns, and the energy options available to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. Written in non-technical language, this book presents a balanced view of options for moving from our heavy reliance on fossil fuels into a much more sustainable energy system, and is accessible to a wide range of readers without scientific backgrounds - students, policymakers, and the concerned citizen. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (9)
Questions submitted to the author, Prof. Burton Richter [Full disclosure: the author is my uncle]:
Dear Uncle Burton,
I have been reading your new book on climate change, which I ordered through our public library system.
I find it very well written, presenting with reasonable clarity an extremely complex topic.
I would like to ask you a couple of questions that have occurred to me as I begin your book.
You assume that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is due to the burning of fossil fuels. How do scientists know that it is not due, at least partially if not preponderantly, to the destruction of forests and timberlands, which are nature's natural consumers of CO2?
You write that fossil fuels are produced through the transformation of vegetative materials over millions of years. Are you familiar with the abiotic theory of oil generation? How do scientists explain the presence of huge underwater oil reserves such as the one that recently blew out in the Gulf of Mexico? How much vegetation would be required to produce a field of millions of barrels of oil? How did such vegetation come to be at depths of 30,000 feet beneath the surface of the earth? Is it even reasonable to assume that vegetation was the source for these oil reserves?
A related question: of the estimated 4 trillion barrels of worldwide oil reserves known today, how much vegetative mass would be required to have produced such huge reserves? And is there any evidence that such amounts of plant material have ever existed in the entire history of the earth? And how did such materials come to be found even at relatively shallow depths of the thousands of feet beneath the surface of the Arabian desert and other similarly easily accessible locations?
Thank You for whatever insight you can provide about these questions.
Michael Korn - Your Nephew
Dear Uncle Burt,
Another series of questions that comes to mind concerns your discussion, in chapter 12 of your book, of nuclear energy. There you describe also the process by which nuclear waste is utilized to make nuclear weapons by extracting the plutonium, which comprises about 1% of reactor waste. This raises the following questions:
1. Is plutonium the favored fuel source for nuclear weapons today? I know the original bombs dropped on Japan were made from both uranium and plutonium.
2. What is the source for the weapons-grade plutonium used to manufacture American nuclear warheads? Is it mainly derived from spent reactor waste?
3. The book, Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal & American Foreign Policy, describes how Israel uses its Dimona reactor to generate plutonium for making the 200-400 nuclear warheads it is believed to possess. According to this book, by respected journalist Seymour M. Hersh, Dimona did not generate one kilowatt of usable electricity or desalinate one liter of seawater, as Ben Gurion deceitfully had assured the world it would. Does this suggest that one of the main utilities of American nuclear power plants is to generate the plutonium by-product necessary to manufacture nuclear warheads? Are there other equally practical ways to obtain plutonium besides from spent reactor waste?
4. Given President Bush's directive to expand America's nuclear arsenal, is it possible that the current push for nuclear power, justified as a tactic in combating climate change, really is necessitated by the military's growing appetite for plutonium?
5. In your description of how North Korea obtained nuclear weapons, you suggest that they used the nuclear waste from the cooling ponds at the reactor site. Does this mean that possibly many North Korean technicians and soldiers died in a kind of kamakazee mission to extract the plutonium from what you state is extremely dangerous radioactive material. (You write that normally a person would die within minutes of exposure to coolant pond reactor waste.) If so, why was a humanitarian outcry not raised by international agencies, the UN, etc?
Shalom beShem Yeshua,
Singing Rosary in Hebrew (Raz means Mystery in Hebrew!)
PS I don't really expect you to answer either these questions or those I submitted to you yesterday. I am writing this just to show you that we are on to the lies and deceptions of the establishment scientific elites and their financial and political handmaidens. Take it as a reminder that while you might be able to deceive some of the people all of the time, you cannot deceive all of the people even some of the time.
PPS Consider this a follow-up to my letter from a few years' back about 9-11 and the claim of your former student, Prof. Stephen Jones, that the WTC towers were destroyed by pre-planted super-thermite demolition charges.
Buy This Book
This is a very informative book.As the author states he wanted to write a book about global warming and energy matters for the general population.He succeeded.There are compelling arguments that global warming is real, but the meat of the book has to do with energy and energy sources.
Great book, badly needed at the present time.
If there was a way we could require all Congressman and Senators to read this book, it would probably do more towards reducing future US budget deficits, than anything else I can think of. It would also be hugely beneficial towards bringing our ballooning balance of trade deficits back into acceptable ranges.Nobel Laureate (Physics) who writes for the layman and explains what makes the most sense now, and into the immediate future. As usual Congress is all over the map chasing crazy schemes and wasting billions while so many real and sensible courses of action on energy policy are wilfully ignored. (It is a Cambridge U. Press offering, so there may be a wait once it is ordered...it is worth the wait).
This book is not unbiased
I don't understand how they can get away with saying that a nuclear physicist is not biased about the feasibility of nuclear power vs other sources of power, especially if that nuclear physicist was until recently a member of the board of the U.S. subsidiary of the French nuclear reactor builder Areva. That seems pretty biased to me.
And the bias would is borne out in the conclusions of the book: that we should embrace nuclear power. A pity. He doesn't discuss power grid vulnerabilities, or the absurd costs of nuclear power and how diverting funds into building reactors will delay safe, decentralised solutions by crucial decades while at the same time making grids more vulnerable to accidents or attack.
Writing in an even tone with lots of good scientific information doesn't make someone unbiased. It just makes someone good at hiding their bias... perhaps even from their own mind.
Clearly written account of the science
I highly recommend this book to anybody who wants to be well-informed about the science behind global climate change and energy consumption. This book hits on both carbon emission and energy usage. It uses accessible language without talking down to the reader. The book doesn't go quite as deeply into the politics as it does the science, but the political aspect is mentioned and is given a few chapters. As the author points out, "...politics --particularly international politics-- is much harder than physics."
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