Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy

Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy

Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy

Farewell Fossil Fuels: Reviewing America's Energy Policy


Energy has become America's forgotten crisis. For more than a decade, Americans have become stridently complacent towards the use and especially the availability of energy to fuel most aspects of their economic and recreational lives.

Memories of the oil shocks of the '70s have grown very dim. Long lines at gas stations have been replaced with long lines of people at auto dealers buying gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles. The United States now imports more oil, over 50%, than it did prior to the first "oil crisis" of 1973-74. Yet our reliance on fossil fuels has not been tempered by history.

Fossil fuels -- petroleum, natural gas, and coal -- are finite, and eventually they will run out. They are not renewable, and they carry significant political and environmental complications. But there are alternatives. Sidney Borowitz presents a concise, coherent narrative of the major sources of energy currently in use today throughout the world, and explains, in a cogent, jargon-free manner, how these other energy sources -- nuclear, solar photovoltaics, wind, geothermal, fusion, hydrogen, and ocean currents -- can be developed.

To continue on our present complacent course is to court environmental and political disaster. This prescient book presents a clear-eyed, even-handed explication of solutions that will help us avoid future energy crises.


This is a book about the dangers of having fossil fuels as the principal energy source of the world. It did not start out that way. At first, it was my intention to use a collaborator and write a book about energy for the general public but make it also suitable as a text or auxiliary text for a course on science for nonscience students. In the course of the writing I felt strongly about changing the focus of the book urging the revision of the energy policy of the United States, and indeed almost all of the countries of the world. I felt that such a book would serve a more useful purpose. The result might still be useful as a text for some courses for nonscience majors but it is intended mainly for a larger lay audience who might influence governments to encourage the use of alternative renewal sources of energy as replacements for fossil fuels.

The urgency of the issue of encouraging the development of renewable sources derives from the fact that there is little being done to prepare the public for the consequences of fossil fuels becoming scarce and disappearing altogether. This despite the fact that the global stores of oil are unlikely to last more than a century. Nor is there clear sailing for addressing the more immediate problem of global warming as a result of the greenhouse effect arising from the burning of fossil fuels.

I would like to thank Professor Grace Marmor Spruch of Rutgers University, my initial collaborator on an earlier book on energy, which was not completed. The collaboration clarified many points . . .

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