Alternatives to Alternative Energy

Article excerpt

Green illusions: the dirty secrets of clean energy and the future of environmentalism by Ozzie Zehner. university of nebraska. 2012. 449 pages. paperback. $29.95.

Pursuing new alternative-energy technologies is fine and good, but society will not resolve its energy troubles unless it changes the underlying problem of energy and resource overuse, argues University of California-Berkeley visiting scholar Ozzie Zehner.

He suspects that heavy investment into solar energy, wind energy, and other renewable systems may actually set us back, since it leaves us with less capital and lower motivation to pursue other energy strategies that work better.

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Zehner examines all the best-known alternative-energy sources--solar, wind, nuclear, hydrogen, hydro power, geothermal, and clean coal--and explains why each one is demonstrably incapable of displacing fossil fuels. He notes further that many of them emit greenhouse gases of their own, drain exorbitant amounts of natural resources, and drive up society's overall demand for more energy. …