Customer Reviews


32 Reviews
5 star:
 (26)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book, with a profoundly important message
This book is full of vividly quotable aphorisms. Here's one: "'Logical' is the last thing human thinking, individual and collective, is. Too compelling an argument can even drive people with a particularly well-insulated belief system deeper into denial."

Heeding its own advice, that there are drawbacks to presenting arguments in an overly rational or logically...
Published 10 months ago by David Wood

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
interesting view
Published 1 month ago by marduc


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book, with a profoundly important message, 26 Sep 2013
By 
David Wood - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (Paperback)
This book is full of vividly quotable aphorisms. Here's one: "'Logical' is the last thing human thinking, individual and collective, is. Too compelling an argument can even drive people with a particularly well-insulated belief system deeper into denial."

Heeding its own advice, that there are drawbacks to presenting arguments in an overly rational or logically compelling format, the book proceeds down a parallel course. A large part of the book reads more like a novel than a textbook, with numerous fascinating episodes retold from the author's diaries.

The cast of characters that have walk-on parts in these episodes include prime ministers, oil industry titans, leading bankers, journalists, civil servants, analysts, and many others. Heroes and villains appear and re-appear, sometimes grown wiser with the passage of years, but sometimes remaining as recalcitrant, sinister (yes), and slippery (yes again) as ever.

A core theme of the book is risk blindness. Powerful vested interests in society have their own reasons to persuade public opinion that there's nothing to worry about - that everything is under control. Resources at the disposal of these interests ("the incumbency") inflict a perverse blindness on society, as regards the risks of the status quo. Speaking against the motion at a debate, "This House Believes Peak Oil Is No Longer a Concern", in London's Queen Elizabeth II Congress Centre in March 2009, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis brought on by hugely unwarranted over-confidence among bankers, the author left a trenchant analogy hanging in the mind of the audience:

"... I say that this debate is all about the risk of a mighty global industry having its asset assessment systemically overstated, due to an endemic culture of over-optimism, with potentially ruinous economic implications. I pause to let that sentence hang in the air for a second or two. Now that couldn't possibly happen, could it? This none too subtle allusion to the disaster playing out in the financial sector elicits a polite laugh from the audience..."

Nowadays, people frequently say that the onset of shale oil and gas should dissolve fears about impending reductions in the availability of oil. The author sees this view as profoundly misguided. Shale is likely to fall far, far short of the expectations that have been heaped on it.

As the book makes clear, our collective risk blindness prevents society as a whole from reaching a candid appraisal of no fewer than five major risks facing us over the next few years: oil shock, climate shock, a further crash in the global financial system, the bursting of a carbon bubble in the capital markets, and the crash of the shale gas boom. The emphasis on human irrationality gels with a lot of my own thinking.

The book concludes with a prediction that society is very likely to encounter, by as early as 2015, either a dramatic oil shock (the widespread realisation that the era of cheap oil is behind us, and that the oil industry has misled us as badly as did the sellers of financial hocus pocus), or a renewed financial crisis, which would then precipitate (but perhaps more slowly) the same oil shock. To that extent, the book is deeply pessimistic.

But there is plenty of optimism in the book too. The author believes - as do I - that provided suitable preparatory steps are taken (as soon as possible), society ought to be able to rebound from the forthcoming crash. He spends time explaining "five premises for the Road to Renaissance":
1.) The readiness of clean energy for explosive growth
2.) The intrinsic pro-social attributes of clean energy
3.) The increasing evidence of people power in the world
4.) The pro-social tendencies in the human mind
5.) The power of context that leaders will be operating in after the oil crash.

But alongside his optimism, he issues a sharp warning: "I do not pretend that things won't get much worse before they get better. There will be rioting. There will be food kitchens. There will be blood. There already have been, after the financial crash of 2008. But the next time round will be much worse. In the chaos, we could lose our way like the Maya did."

In summary, it's a profoundly important book. I found it to be a real pleasure to read, even though the topic is nerve-racking. I burst out laughing in a number of places, and then reflected that it was nervous laughter.

The book is full of material that will probably make readers want to underline it or tweet an extract online. The momentum builds up to a dramatic conclusion. Anyone concerned about the future should make time to read it - and then join the ongoing discussion about the matters addressed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informed, compelling and accessible, 11 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (Paperback)
This book is a great and sobering read. The style is very accessible, offering a flowing narrative with the right amount of detail. I devoured it in short order, finding it gripping, clear, concise, well informed and compelling.

Leggett is brilliantly positioned to comment on these topics.

The book reminded me of and strengthened my concerns over climate change and financial risk, re-energising my resolve to fight back against what Leggett calls the "energy incumbency" and a slow descent into climate chaos.

I recommend this book.

Andrew Turner
MSc Sustainable Energy Futures
Imperial College, London
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books you could read today, 29 Dec 2013
This review is from: The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (Paperback)
The reasoned voice of Jeremy Leggett guides the reader through the complex and murky waters of the energy industry to give a revealing account of systematic crises in the 21st century. The Energy of Nations narrates the socio-political and economic forces which have driven the ever-changing discourses on peak oil, climate change and the financial system. This is a must read for: any student looking for a clear perspective and overview of these issues; any person who holds a position of power and has a responsibility to understand and influence the different paths we face; and for any new or seasoned campaigner looking for a new voice and inspiration.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal insights into the financial backbone of our energy economy, 28 Sep 2013
By 
Sam Carmalt (Chambésy, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (Paperback)
This is Dr. Leggett's account of the interplay amongst finance, business and government in the energy sector, primarily in the London/UK context. It does not paint a terribly optimistic picture. Dr. Leggett documents his own personal experiences with many of the primary decision makers, and gives example after example of the difficulty in changing the culture of cheap, available oil. But it is all presented in a way that makes for fun reading. The book gives an insider's view of how power is actually exercised in a 21st century democracy.

The shorter, about the final 20%, part of the book, offers some thoughts about where this may all lead. As with any prognosis for the future, this is more uncertain. While the messages are important, the contrast with the recorded history of the first part of the book is somewhat disconcerting. Dr. Leggett is a scientist, and is clearly less comfortable without hard data, which the future obviously doesn't provide. The major problems indicated by past data are clear; how it may evolve is less so.

This is in part because Dr. Leggett realizes that the way we humans respond to data is not purely rational. The book brings in recent psychological research that helps explain how people persist in beliefs despite data to the contrary. But this psychological dimension is not a central theme; it could have been a much greater part of the book.

The ENERGY OF NATIONS will explain a great deal about the problems that our societies face today, presented in an engaging, first-hand report. For anyone who cares about the problems it documents it is required reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Advance warning of looming systemic risks?, 1 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (Paperback)
Jeremy Leggett has written an important book that should be mandatory reading, not least for directors of listed companies with obligations to protect the long-term interests of shareholders. This is not a book for the faint-hearted as it identifies potentially devastating, fundamental risks to the global economy which are inter-related: an oil price shock after 'peak oil'; disruptive impacts of climate change; another financial system crash; the 'carbon bubble'; and inflated estimates of the sustainability of the present shale gas boom.

There are few other people who could have drawn these risks into a coherent narrative. Like Tony Juniper, another distinguished environmental author, it was Jeremy's work as a scientist - particularly his research into the geological history of the oceans and hence ancient climates - which led to a deep concern about the health of planet Earth and the likelihood of irreversible climate change unless the global economy changed course. In leaving academia to become Greenpeace's climate change campaigner in 1989, Jeremy was not abandoning science but deploying it for another purpose. When he established SolarCentury in 1997, it was to take his campaigning into the markets and directly drive the adoption of renewable energy; similar, in joining Swiss private equity fund New Energies Invest AG as a non-executive director in 2000, it was to help harness the power of financial markets to fund the low-carbon energy transition.

The Energy of Nations skilfully combines analysis and anecdote. It is a very good history of the key developments in geopolitics, energy, finance and climate negotiations over the last decade and longer. Blended into almost every chapter are Jeremy's recollections of discussions he has had along the way with political, business and civil society leaders. It also articulates a sharp assessment of the constraints and realities of power in democracy as well as the neuroscience that explains the human bias for optimism and resistance to troubling predictions - no matter how soundly based in science.

Not everyone will welcome or agree with Jeremy's hypothesis and conclusions - and this book, like Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers (2003), is long on diagnosis and short on specific solutions. While closing with confident optimism that a shift in the context of power will build a determined Road to Renaissance, in common with Paul Gilding he believes this will only happen after a great disruption - in this case an economic and financial crisis triggered by escalating oil prices and deep supply constraints in the years after peak oil.

Readers can choose to disagree with Jeremy's views, but not to ignore them. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said: "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts". The Energy of Nations, and the IPPC's assessment reports, are grounded in facts - and the facts are as worrying as the scenario Jeremy paints. As with all effective scenario mapping the point is to inform discussions and decisions today that have long-term consequences. To that end, The Energy of Nations is an invaluable contribution to the debate.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Houston ... we have a problem - compulsive reading, 10 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You can read this even if you don't operate in any of these worlds.

I do and I wanted to know if this was just another dry energy book. But given I used to head hunt his staff in the early days, some of whom were embarrassed by his vocal emotional outbursts on the corporate circuit, something told me this might be an entertaining read.

And boy was I not disappointed, he has the kahones(?) to really tell it straight - and he's bang on right. So kudos for honesty and realism - given there are global economies and chaos themes riding on the back of this ...not something you take on lightly.

In a great world diary of events and corporate meetings he successfully draws together all the noise and rhetoric around climate change, oil running out, energy black outs, capitalist greed, wanton consumption, politics, lobbying and corporate and human behaviour.

He shapes out what it means for the average human being and, more importantly what has to be done to counter it - practically.

its a great fly on the wall docu-diary read of an exec who cares about the planet.

The suppression, arrogance and human insight is fascinating. It's great he shares his real inner thoughts during meetings - a nice insight that a reader really connects with.

Should be compulsory reading for every person - particularly parents.

This might be the equivalent publication today that Darwin's Origin of Species was in 1859 ... it'll certainly face the same picky dissection from the climate neysayers and energy, oil & gas fraternity. Whether you believe in climate change or not - there's no denying "Houston we have a problem" and its all in this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 7 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (Paperback)
interesting view
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A way forward in a post carbon world?, 5 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Less depressing than several other books I've read documenting/predicting the rise and fall of the developed (and oil dependant) countries. The author has an in depth knowledge of the self- preservation mechanisms of both oil producers and governments which continue to spout the 'all is well' message. A brutally honest, often frustrating but totally consuming insight into oil dependency and our renewable salvation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A good summary of our current ills, 29 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first part of the book is an easily readable summary of the recent history of the intertwined worlds of energy and finance. Although a little light on how it can be achieved, part two sets out how we can avoid a devastating and for society, a potentially fatal crash. In effect, leave the carbon in the ground and put all our efforts into intrinsically egalitarian renewables.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the single most important book you will ever read. EVER.., 16 Mar 2014
By 
Pal Dinessen "Jasmine hotel Thailand" (Pattaya, Chonburi. Thailand Thailand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (Paperback)
11 calories to 1. The curtain is drawn aside and the window is open for those who wish to see. Sadly as Winston Churchill stated so clearly stated "Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong - these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history”. This will be the MOTHER of History lessons). This book is on par or well above, even miles ahead of other relevant books, Peeking at peak oil, The last Oil Shock, Snake oil, Drill Baby Drill and more, This disaster that is closing with the speed of a freight train coming to level our race back to sustainable levels. Today some call Oil "The Devils excrement" In just a few short years time this term will become a reality for most if not all humans.
Purchase and read this book.

Paal S. Dinessen..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance
The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance by Jeremy Leggett (Paperback - 23 Sep 2013)
£18.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews