Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism

By Ozzie Zehner | Go to book overview

13. Efficiency Culture

Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill is daily spun;
but there exists no loom to weave it into fabric.
—Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Upon This Age”

If we cut our per-capita electricity consumption in half, overnight, we’d still be using more juice than those living in the Netherlands.1 This World Bank statistic forces us to entertain the possibility that Dutch people live in dark caves without modern conveniences. But in reality, their houses are not dark at all; compared with American households, Dutch homes average 20 percent more light bulbs.2 They even have an enormous light bulb company, Phillips. In fact, life isn’t so harsh in the Netherlands these days, as I can attest; I’ve been fortunate enough to call the country home for part of my life. Like many Europeans, the Dutch enjoy longer life spans than Americans do, less poverty, less air pollution, lower debt, incredibly clean drinking water from the tap, and a high standard of living that somehow allows them to enjoy delicious foods like Dutch apple pie, but with a fraction of our obesity rate.3 Those slinky little rascals! It’s no wonder they consistently rank higher than U.S.

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Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Figures ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction- Unraveling the Spectacle xv
  • Part I - Seductive Futures 1
  • 1- Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales 3
  • 2- Wind Power’s Flurry of Limitations 31
  • 3- Biofuels and the Politics of Big Corn 61
  • 4- The Nuclear-Military-Industrial Risk Complex 81
  • 5- The Hydrogen Zombie 105
  • 6- Conjuring Clean Coal 121
  • 7- Hydropower, Hybrids, and Other Hydras 133
  • Part II - From Here to There 147
  • 8- The Alternative-Energy Fetish 149
  • 9- The First Step 171
  • Part III - The Future of Environmentalism 185
  • 10- Women’s Rights 187
  • 11- Improving Consumption 223
  • 12- The Architecture of Community 263
  • 13- Efficiency Culture 301
  • 14- Asking Questions 331
  • Epilogue- A Grander Narrative? 343
  • Resources for Future Environmentalists 349
  • Notes 355
  • Index 415
  • In the Our Sustainable Future Series 438
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