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Energy for Future Presidents
Cover of Energy for Future Presidents
Energy for Future Presidents
The Science Behind the Headlines
Borrow Borrow Borrow

The author of Physics for Future Presidents returns to educate all of us on the most crucial conundrum facing the nation: energy.The near-meltdown of Fukushima, the upheavals in the Middle East, the BP oil rig explosion, and the looming reality of global warming have reminded the president and all U.S. citizens that nothing has more impact on our lives than the supply of and demand for energy. Its procurement dominates our economy and foreign policy more than any other factor. But the "energy question" is more confusing, contentious, and complicated than ever before. We need to know if nuclear power will ever really be safe. We need to know if solar and wind power will ever really be viable. And we desperately need to know if the natural gas deposits in Pennsylvania are a windfall of historic proportions or a false hope that will create more problems than solutions. Richard A. Muller provides all the answers in this must-read guide to our energy priorities now and in the coming years.

The author of Physics for Future Presidents returns to educate all of us on the most crucial conundrum facing the nation: energy.The near-meltdown of Fukushima, the upheavals in the Middle East, the BP oil rig explosion, and the looming reality of global warming have reminded the president and all U.S. citizens that nothing has more impact on our lives than the supply of and demand for energy. Its procurement dominates our economy and foreign policy more than any other factor. But the "energy question" is more confusing, contentious, and complicated than ever before. We need to know if nuclear power will ever really be safe. We need to know if solar and wind power will ever really be viable. And we desperately need to know if the natural gas deposits in Pennsylvania are a windfall of historic proportions or a false hope that will create more problems than solutions. Richard A. Muller provides all the answers in this must-read guide to our energy priorities now and in the coming years.

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About the Author-
  • Richard A. Muller is professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and the best-selling author of Physics for Future Presidents. For his outstanding work in experimental cosmology, he was awarded a 1982 MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, and also a share of the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the discovery of dark energy.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 21, 2012
    UC-Berkeley physicist Muller (Physics for Future Presidents), who made headlines for first criticizing and then vindicating global warming research, explores the contentious issues that will increasingly preoccupy politicians and citizens, in this no-nonsense scientific primer on energy policy. Muller brings fresh, often contrarian perspectives to topics that have been saturated in misinformation and hype, arguing, for example, that new techniques to extract the stupendous reserves of petroleum in shale and tar sands will eliminate all talk of peak oil; that wind power and photovoltaics will boom while corn ethanol, geothermal, and tidal power will fizzle; that household energy conservation is a great investment, while public transit is usually a bad one; and that China’s soaring carbon dioxide emissions will render America’s almost irrelevant—and that the best way to abate China’s emissions is by switching from coal to natural gas. Especially revealing is his positive assessment of nuclear energy, which effectively debunks the alarmism surrounding the March 2011 Fukushima accident. The author’s explanations of the science underlying energy production are lucid but never simplistic—and often fascinating in their own right. Policy makers and casual readers alike can benefit from Muller’s eye-opening briefing, which sheds lots of light with little wasted heat. Photos. Agent: John Brockman, Brockman Inc.

  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2012
    Regarding the merits of clean energy technologies, eminent scientist Muller (Physics/Univ. of California, Berkeley; Physics for Future Presidents, 2008, etc.) offers a road map through the minefield of competing claims by security analysts, environmentalists and potential investors. The author distinguishes between concerns about a coming domestic oil shortage and the threat posed by global warming. The author explains that the necessity to import petroleum is a threat to military security and the major cause of the U.S. balance-of-trade deficit, but it is not a significant contributor to global warming. "As far as global warming is concerned," he writes, "the developed world is becoming irrelevant. Every 10 percent cut in US emissions is completely negated by 6 months of China's emission growth." Muller writes that a decent alternative would be a worldwide switch from coal to natural gas, which could halve the rate of carbon dioxide emissions. For the longer term, he anticipates that the developing sector will adopt nuclear power, employing small modular nuclear reactors that are designed to be intrinsically safe. Muller makes an intriguing case that for the U.S., extracting natural gas and oil from shale will be cost-effective, can be regulated to ensure environmental safety, and is a plentiful, untapped source of supply (substantiating his claim with a detailed overview of the technology). In his opinion, plug-in electric automobiles will prove unfeasible because of the time required to recharge them and the replacement cost of batteries, but hybrid vehicles that use gasoline or natural gas as fuel are an attractive option. An informative, comprehensive discussion of important economic and environmental issues.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2012
    In a follow-up to his best-selling Physics for Future Presidents (2009), Berkeley physics professor Muller reprises the device of addressing U.S. presidents current and future directly, in this case delivering an armload of facts about energy. The idea here is to present the strictly legitimate science behind the headlines and hyperbole spun by journalists and various power-scheme promoters so politicians can craft rationally based energy policies. Muller begins with a reality check of recent environmental disasters like the Gulf oil spill and Fukushima meltdown by pointing out that the BP catastrophe was hardly the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, as the president opined, with most Gulf beaches remaining untouched, while radiation damage from the Japan reactor was dwarfed by casualties from the tsunami that triggered the accident. Muller then addresses the pluses and minuses of both alternative and conventional energy, from solar power to natural gas, with many surprising insights. Despite the professor's lofty academic pedigree, his prose is a model of clarity that will enlighten not only presidents but also energy's average beneficiaries.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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