One day, that I can’t remember now, although I’m sure it involved procrastination of some sort, I stumbled upon Goodread’s list of Best Non-Fiction (non biography) books. I’m a fan of a good non-fiction book once in awhile, but I was still surprised by how many on the list that I’ve read and really enjoyed. When I saw Green Illusions (2012) by Ozzie Zehner, I was intrigued and a little wary:
“We don’t have an energy crisis. We have a consumption crisis. And this book, which takes aim at cherished assumptions regarding energy, offers refreshingly straight talk about what’s wrong with the way we think and talk about the problem. Though we generally believe we can solve environmental problems with more energy—more solar cells, wind turbines, and biofuels—alternative technologies come with their own side effects and limitations. How, for instance, do solar cells cause harm? Why can’t engineers solve wind power’s biggest obstacle? Why won’t contraception solve the problem of overpopulation lying at the heart of our concerns about energy, and what will?”
I have a background in natural resources and environmental law. My personality is naturally geared towards conservation, and I appreciate the beauty of the woods and open areas that I was lucky enough to grow up around. However, at first glance, I couldn’t tell if this book was an attack an alternative energy, only useful as propaganda for the oil and gas industry. I was not interested in reading a partisan, right-wing screed aimed at attacking environmentalists. On the other hand, I find the dire, “the world is ending, and we’re all screwed” themes of many environmentalists rather alarming and depressing. After doing some research, Green Illusions did not seem to be either one of these so I managed to snag a copy from the library.
Green Illusions is split into two parts. The first half of the book describes in detail why alternative energy is not going to be the environmental saving grace of our society, while the second half focuses on practical changes we need to make in order to deal with the energy and consumption issues facing the world now and in the near future. Glancing through the Table of Contents before reading, I was intrigued that there was an entire section on “Women’s Rights.”