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Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air [Hardcover]

David JC MacKay
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 20 2009 Without the Hot Air
Addressing the sustainable energy crisis in an objective manner, this enlightening book analyzes the relevant numbers and organizes a plan for change on both a personal level and an international scale—for Europe, the Untied States, and the world. In case study format, this informative reference answers questions surrounding nuclear energy, the potential of sustainable fossil fuels, and the possibilities of sharing renewable power with foreign countries. While underlining the difficulty of minimizing consumption, the tone remains positive as it debunks misinformation and clearly explains the calculations of expenditure per person to encourage people to make individual changes that will benefit the world at large.

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"If someone wants an overall view of how energy gets used, where it comes from, and the challenges in switching to new sources, this is the book to read."  —Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft

"I would choose Sustainable Energy as a text over its competitors because MacKay has moved the energy discussion in the direction where energy alternatives can be considered quantitatively."  —American Journal of Physics

"A new academic book written by David MacKay, a physics professor at the University of Cambridge, is being hailed by some as a "game changer": a text that could revolutionize popular thinking about our future energy needs and how we could supply them."  —

"May be the best technical book about the environment that I've ever read.  This is to energy and climate what Freakonomics is to economics."  —

"The main text of his book is readable (and witty) and its technical appendices bristle with equations. If the planet and its people are the patient, MacKay's book is the the lab results, temperature chart and electrocardiogram." —The New York Review of Books (April 26, 2012)

"This is a brilliant book that is both a racy read and hugely informative . . . It shows . . . how cars might become far more efficient but why planes cannot."  —David Newbery, director, Electricity Policy Research Group, University of Cambridge

"A tour de force . . . As a work of popular science it is exemplary . . . For anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the real problems involved [it] is the place to start."  —

"If only all scientists could adopt this approach, then perhaps there would be no need for politically motivated TV documentaries."  —The Sun

About the Author

David MacKay is a professor in the department of physics at Cambridge University, a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Climate Change, and a regular lecturer on sustainable energy.

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By David Wineberg TOP 100 REVIEWER
The true value of Without (the) Hot Air is that it reduces all forms of energy consumption to a single common denominator. This allows us to compare them right up against each other. At last we can see the true potential - or lack of it - in all the various alternatives (wind, sun, light, ocean, tide, biofuels, coal, nuclear ...)that are continually foisted upon us as the panacea. They aren't - and here's why, and why you should be wary of snakeoil salesmen in any domain. Get the facts; see for yourself. Be able to smirk to yourself when you know they're lying. Good wholesome fun for all. If everyone read this book, it would raise the level of discussion by an order of magnitude.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best overview out there Dec 7 2009
I was astounded at how this book managed to cover this vast and complex topic so thoroughly. Truly worth reading, and fun too. I have a PhD in engineering, and am so pleased someone cut through the baloney out there and laid it out all in nice graphical and numerical format. Perhaps there are a lot of numbers for some, but this is a book built on fact, not opinion. PS. you can download it in electronic form [...].
I bought the paperback because it was good enough I wanted one on my shelf to show people!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely recommend. Aug. 4 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great read for anyone who is interested in our world's energy situation using entry-level thermodynamics. MacKay sticks with his theme of 'Numbers, not adjectives' to great effect when describing 'green' technologies and their possible real-world impact. He stays unbiased regarding green technologies until the numbers speak for themselves.

Definitely recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard numbers Nov. 16 2009
Excellent book. Very easy to understand despite the copious amount of numbers. The quantitative approach, even if there are lots of guesses and ballpark figures, is refreshing. The author tries to find out of things add up (for the UK specifically, but this can be extrapolated to other countries), and in the process learns a lot. I recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Green Energy 101 Dec 20 2011
By smur
This was a book I purchased and not having an energy or science background made me apprehensive at first. This is an excellent book for anyone - including novices. The author, despite being a professor of physics, writes in a manner that is easily understood by policy-makers and decision makers.
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