Jaccard's book is a good survey of many of the issues and problems surrounding energy use. But he pays lip service to some critically important issues.
Despite a few brief glimpses outside, Jaccard takes the usual economist's "closed system" approach and couples it with the usual technotopian idea that humans have the ingenuity to find technological fixes for virtually any problem. In talking about the future impact of human activity on the natural world, Jaccard comments that "any individual unavoidable hazards can be ones from which the system could recover within a reasonable time, either from natural processes alone or in concert with human remediation efforts" (p. 355)
A BBC News report that states that, due to human activity, "organisms are disappearing at something like 100 to 1,000 times the background levels' seen in the fossil record." ( [...] ) This loss of biodiversity has a direct impact on human health and wealth. To date, "natural processes" and "human remediation efforts" have not managed to bring back any extinct species.
Jaccard promotes the idea of "zero emission" fossil fuels at the point of use, but neglects the fact that large quantities of fossil fuels and resources are required by the operation of, and even production of, the machinery and infrastructure required to produce those fuels. He talks about the expansion of "clean" nuclear energy, but again neglects the emissions from mining, processing, and transporting fuel, storing and safeguarding spent fuel, and the construction of power plants and machinery. More importantly, Jaccard fails to mention the social irresponsibility of leaving behind toxic mine tailings and wastewater, spent fuel, and power plants that are decommissioned after their relatively short life span. Despite protocols and regulations, these will pose a hazard to future generations for thousands of years.
As a further example of "closed system" thinking, Jaccard talks about the expansion of "renewables," including solar and wind power, again without mentioning how dependent upon fossil fuels these energy sources are t present, for materials, production, and maintenance.
Finally, Jaccard neglects to mention that the growth he predicts depends heavily upon so many other resources, many of which are becoming increasingly scarce, and which rely on the current relatively cheap and abundant fossil fuels for extraction, processing, and production.
Despite the title of his book, Jaccard does briefly acknowledge that fossil fuel use, even in the manner he promotes, is not indefinitely sustainable, and would require enormous efforts and will to reduce GHG emissions, let alone solve all the other waste stream and resource issues. Indeed, almost appearing as repentance at the last minute, Jaccard's very last sentence acknowledges that a "sustainable fossil fuel future does not guarantee a sustainable human presence on this shrinking planet." (p. 361)
So much for sustainability.