Magazine article Mother Jones

The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the Worldwide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth

Magazine article Mother Jones

The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the Worldwide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth

Article excerpt

The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the Worldwide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth

By Jeremy Rifkin. Tarcher/Putnam. $24.95.

One way or another oil is on its way out. Either we will start to run out in the next couple of decades-and Jeremy Rifkin begins his book with a compelling case that it will be sooner rather than later-or the prospect of global warming will force us to find other fuels. As this comprehensive volume makes clear, the postcarbon world really has only one option to rely on: hydrogen fuel cells. These generators are more than twice as efficient as combustion engines and produce only water and heat as by-products. And unlike other forms of clean energy, they can be made to power anything from a Chrysler to the Chrysler Building.

Hydrogen is ubiquitous in nature, but it's usually bound up with other elements (as in H2O). At present it is cheaper to strip it from natural gas, but if hydrogen is to sustainably replace fossil fuels, Rifkin writes, we'll need to split it from water instead, using wind or solar power. …

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