Fueling the Future: How the Battle Over Energy is Changing Everything edited by Andrew Heintzman and Evan Solomon (Anansi), 416 pages, $37.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
Instead of rehashing old arguments about the dire state of the world's fossil fuel addiction, this new multi-author volume is a collaboration born of optimism. It takes off from The Ingenuity Gap, in which Thomas Homer-Dixon worries that human ingenuity can't keep up with the necessity of solving increasingly complex problems. Fittingly, Homer-Dixon writes the first chapter in Fueling The Future, although it adds little that isn't in his own book.
The broad collection of analysts, journalists, activists and engineers look at what it would take to provide future generations with clean, renewable energy. Indeed, the strength of Fueling The Future is its breadth.
A brilliantly written piece by Gordon Laird entitled At The Frontier Of Energy takes the reader to the Mackenzie Delta, where he talks to Inuvialuit who have formed a reluctant yet prosperous relationship with companies including Imperial Oil.
There are a few unabashed paeans to non-renewable sources like nuclear power or hydrogen fuel cells, but they are almost always followed by a countering voice. The editors cherish this dialogue as a healthy way of examining our options.
Industry representatives sometimes lapse into self-congratulation at how Shell and other companies are embracing new energy initiatives. They say they're changing rapidly through both the market's pull and public policy push.
Ken Wiwa discusses clean energy and IT initiatives in his native Nigeria after his activist father was murdered by the military during Shell's exploitation of that nation's oil fields.
There are a few dull passages, and the book would have benefited from an index. Nevertheless, the authors have answered Homer-Dixon's call for ingenuity: they just might ensure we've got a clean future of hot showers and cold beer.