Our Choice Paperback – 3 Nov 2009
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
`An excellent primer in the key problems around energy and what we can do to "green" our behaviour, through everything from conserving forests to biofuels to transforming the carpet industry ... Well informed - and up to speed on relatively recent shifts in thinking on climate change' --Evening Standard
About the Author
Al Gore was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1976 and to the US Senate in 1984 and 1990. He was inaugurated as the forty-fifth Vice President of the United States on 20 January 1993 and served eight years. He is chairman of Generation Investment Management, a London-based firm that focuses on a new approach to sustainable investing. He also serves as chairman of Current, an independently owned cable and satellite television network for young people based on viewer-created content and citizen journalism. Al Gore is the author of the bestseller Earth in the Balance and An Inconvenient Truth, the companion book to the award-winning documentary film. Like Our Choice, An Inconvenient Truth is also available as a young adult edition.
Top customer reviews
What most impressed me is the fact that Gore does not pick any winners beforehand, as many environmentalist groups love to do; instead he presents the whole menu of options, even the potential of nuclear energy is discussed, and surprisingly, also bioethanol, as both of these options are rejected by many environmentalist advocates. He even goes into the details explaining why Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is sustainable and a low-carbon fuel as compared to American corn ethanol, though his favorites are second and third generation biofuels. He also presents quite a fair discussion of the food vs fuel debate. Gore recognizes the importance of clean low-carbon fuels and electricity in order for the new electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles to actually contribute in reducing greenhouse gases. It also called my attention that right from the beginning Gore now relates the urgent need for low-carbon energy not only to climate change but also for national security and energy independence reasons.
Despite a more technical and moderate approach, every time Gore talks about climate change he insists on remind us about the "scientific consensus" and the "fact" that the debate is over. I find this repeatedly preaching really annoying because it feels like scientism, in the omnipotence sense. In the first place, avoiding such unnecessary repetition could have helped the book to be attractive also to the "non believers" but concerned with energy independence and national security. Moreover, he seems to be trying to convince the reader that these assertions are an absolute truth not to be questioned, reflecting his blind faith on scientists, particularly climate scientists. However, free inquiry and lack of dogmatism are among the key features of any scientific enterprise, so his implicit assumption that scientists are infallible is completely out of place. And please, climate science has not the predictive accuracy of Newtonian physics, and particularly climate simulation models are not as precise nor reliable as he thinks, e.g. see the recently published SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance which has a controversial and politically incorrect chapter discussing the limitations of climate change predictions and proposes a more cost-effective solution. For a more in-depth analysis read Simulating Nature: A Philosophical Study of Computer-Simulation Uncertainties and Their Role in Climate Science and. For a concise take on this issue see The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud**And those who are too fearful to do so, Chapter 8 presents criticism by renowned physicists Freeman Dyson and Antonino Zichichi, questioning the confidence and validity of climate simulation forecasts, particularly regarding the use of parametrization or "fudge factors". Also look for Hendrik Tennekes arguments regarding the lack of falsifiability from Popper's philosophical point of view.
Furthermore, though the financial and economic feasibility of the low-carbon energy options are discussed, and Gore's recognizes that particularly solar and wind have some way to go before becoming competitive, his view tends to be more romantic rather than strictly economical, as implementation of most of these technologies in the short term will require government subsidies and energy prices charge to consumers unavoidably will be higher, both in the developed and developing countries. He seems to downplay this fact and instead he just highlights the green jobs that will be created, and what about the ones lost from dirty industries? The cost/jobs issue is not that simple.
Though this time the book avoids the sentimental touch (as he did in AIT), he couldn't help it, as the book closes with a romantic view of the problem, describing Gore's wishful thinking and dreamed solutions being implemented, beginning with the Obama administration change of policies regarding climate change, and closing with several warm religious thoughts. Finally, though exaggeration was also avoided in this book, I could not avoid noticing the lack of realism of the Earth images in the front cover, showing a green Earth as it is today compared to a devastated Earth where climate change wrecked havoc. This artist's rendering includes four or more hurricanes twisting around North America, and a good part of the southern tip of Central America submerged. Never mind that several of the submerged Central American countries have mountain ranges with heights between 1000 to 3000 meters!
PS: For those who think I was harsh regarding Gore insistence on scientific truths and scientific consensus, please take the time to read Judy Curry's comment posted on the website Climate Audit regarding the hacked e-mails from Britain's Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. This a short and brilliant piece on how the mainstream climate science should be conducted, with transparency! Read also the two pieces in the Dec 4th edition of The Economist: politics and science make uncomfortable bedfellows!
The analogy to cigarette smoking makes a lot of sense. It took decades for people to believe that smoking kills, largely because many scientists said smoking didn't affect health. Many people criticized advocates of anti-smoking campaigns, just like many criticize Gore now. It's worth mentioning that many people still smoke, still ignore the overwhelming body of research showing that smoking kills. Gore summarizes the overwhelming body of research (with specific citations) showing the existence of human-made global warming. He also makes a convincing case for starting to solve the problem with existing, low-cost options, and moving on to more ambitious options. It's refreshing to see the problem of global warming or energy independence described so clearly along with many possible solutions.
What I will say is that as a civil engineer who is currently studying for my masters in sustainability, climate change and renewable energy I believe the book to be very good. The reader is given a good and accurate insight into the relevant topics in a manner which a non-academic could understand.
No, it is not a post graduate text book with all the science, it would need to be six times the size.
The fact that the topics are available, in a generally understandable format, to the general market is fantastic.
The book is interesting and educational. If anyone wants a good insight into this (complicated and generally missunderstood) topic area I would recommend this book highly.
Look for similar items by category