Books - 09/July/2018

Summer reading 2018

A selection of summer reading related to the energy transition and climate change from FORESIGHT’s editors.


Mega Tech: Technology in 2050

Edited by Daniel Franklin

Business newspaper The Economist has brought together a set of short essays by journalists, scientists, philosophers and entrepreneurs that examine the technology likely to shape the world between now and 2050. The essay on energy and the rise of renewables is unlikely to teach FORESIGHT readers much, but it is interesting to see the context in which the transition is taking place, the importance that will be placed on energy efficiency in this brave new world and the emphasis on the role we all have — individuals, governments and companies — in creating it.



We do things differently: The outsider rebooting the world

By Mark Stevenson

The individual is at the heart of these readable and inspirational essays about people around the world who are shaking up the status quo and creating new ways of working and thinking. Several of them focus on energy, telling the stories of individuals, such as Peter Vadasz, the former mayor of a small Austrian town that now generates and distributes its own energy, and James Johnston of London-based Open Utility, a company working to allow consumers to “access energy on the grid, the way you access information on the internet”. A good dose of optimism.



Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming

Edited by Paul Hawken

Leading climate and energy experts from the worlds of academia, business, policy and not-for-profit have come together to produce this impressive tome of the “top 100 solutions” to climate change. Covering energy, food, women and girls, land use, transport, buildings and cities, and materials, each sector details challenges, costs, solutions and case studies. An impressive undertaking that wouldn’t go amiss on the desk of every policy maker.




Climate Leviathan

By Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright

Climate change and its effects will shape the entire world order in the future, argue these two US professors. The authors suggest the world is heading towards “Climate Leviathan,” a system of global capitalism governed by a planetary sovereign and epitomised by international pacts like the Paris climate agreement, but also posit other, grimmer, possible outcomes. While many FORESIGHT readers may disagree with the authors’ starting point and conclusions, this is an intelligent and thought-provoking read that demands a response.




The Human Planet: How we created the Anthropocene

By Simon A. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin

In light of the massive impact humankind has had on the planet, many scientists believe we have moved from the Holocene epoch to be living in the Anthropocene era. Human influence has been generally negative with climate change a clear result. This book provides an impressive explanation of how we got here from a scientific, historical and political perspective and how we can start to clear up the mess humans have created. “Invest in renewable energy solutions and divest from fossil fuels, keeping them in the ground,” is an obvious starting point.



Flight Behaviour

By Barbara Kingsolver

Explaining climate change and its impact on the natural world is a difficult task often left to well-meaning NGOs, which frequently turn off their audience with their commentary on what people “must” and “mustn’t do”. Through the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a 28 year-old bored farmer’s wife living with her young family in rural Tennesse, Kingsolver manages to poignantly and simply show the impact of global warming and the need to move to a future where clean energy and more sustainable life-styles are the order of the day. Dellarobia is the mouthpiece the transition needs



By Ian McEwan

Any renewable energy expert who may be tempted to reap personal glory from the energy transition should take heed from the dark, very funny satire of Nobel prize-winning physicist Michael Beard, whose personal and professional lives are fast going awry. Beard’s efforts to save his marriage, fame and, potentially, the world by generating cheap renewable energy through a process of artificial photosynthesis make for a most enjoyable (re)read.



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