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A cold and rational look at solutions to climate change
on 14 January 2010
Heat is a hard nosed, unsentimental analysis of the problem of climate change and what can be done about it. Monbiot sets himself a difficult challenge of a 90% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and then tackles each source of carbon emissions in turn, from housing to transport. Some of it is familiar and easy to agree with, such as better insulation, or passive house architecture. Other sections are less comfortable reading - many popular solutions are stripped down and exposed as useless, from biofuels to small scale wind turbines. Ardent greens will find plenty to worry about as nuclear power gets a tacit nod, and the sacred cow of renewable energy gets cut down a size.
A great many ideas are discarded, but this is ultimately a book of solutions, and there are all manner of things that will work. Efficiency measures, tighter planning laws, improved coach travel, combined heat and power, hydrogen fuel cells, tele-working, internet shopping. There is no single answer, but dozens of helpful avenues that will trim carbon from our current lifestyles.
As well as the solutions, the book spends some time exploring why it has been so hard to get climate change onto the political agenda. The findings here are fascinating. A lot has been said about climate change denial and conspiracy theories. I don't have a whole lot of time for that, or for environmentalist martyrdom, but anyone tempted to dismiss those theories entirely should read Monbiot's chapter on `The denial industry.' Obviously not everyone who disagrees with climate science is in the pay of the oil companies, but a shocking number are, and there is plenty of evidence here to prove it.
As always, Heat is well researched, thorough and rational. As a guide to what can practically be done about climate change, as a society, this is second to none.