Books  Sustainable Development  Energy 

Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us

By: Maggie Koerth-Baker

John Wiley & Sons

Hardback | Mar 2012 | #197797 | ISBN-13: 9780470876251
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NHBS Price: £18.99 $24/€21 approx

About this book

Hi, I'm the United States and I'm an oil-oholic. We have an energy problem. And everybody knows it, even if we can't all agree on what, specifically, the problem is. Rising costs, changing climate, peaking oil, foreign oil, public safety--if the fears are this complicated, then the solutions are bound to be even more confusing. Maggie Koerth-Baker--science editor at the award-winning blog makes some sense out of the madness. Over the next 20 years, we'll be forced to cut 20 quadrillion BTU worth of fossil fuels from our energy budget, by wasting less and investing in alternatives. To make it work, we'll need to radically change the energy systems that have shaped our lives for 100 years. And the result will be neither business-as-usual, nor a hippie utopia. Koerth-Baker explains what we can do, what we can't do, and why "The Solution" is really a lot of solutions working together. This isn't about planting a tree, buying a Prius, and proving that you're a good person. Economics and social incentives got us a country full of gas-guzzling cars, long commutes, inefficient houses, and coal-fired power plants out in the middle of nowhere, and economics and incentives will be the things that build our new world. Ultimately, change is inevitable.


Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: Choice and Change 1

1 Making Apple Pie from Scratch 9
2 One in a Quadrillion 22
3 The Efficiency Paradox 36
4 The Emerald City 52
5 A Box Full of Lightning 67
6 Good and Good Enough 84
7 The View from Merriam's Peak 102
8 The Take-Charge Challenge 121
9 The Olive Green Revolution 135
10 The Default Option 150
11 Home Fires 173
12 Bigger Little 186
13 Good Citizens of the Grid 211

Notes 226
Index 279

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Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at, one of the ten most popular blogs and the number one science blog in the world. A former editor for "Mental-Floss", she has contributed articles to "Scientific American", "Discover", and other magazines. She is the coauthor of the Mental-Floss book "Be Amazing".

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