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Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century

  • Dispels confusion about all the potential solutions for averting climate change impacts, presenting both the limitations and the promise of our energy production options
  • Assesses the good and bad proposals for moving from heavy use of fossil fuels to a more sustainable energy provision in the future
  • Written in an accessible language by a Nobel Prize-winning scientist

By: Burton Richter(Author)

250 pages, 38 b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Nov 2014 | Edition: 2 | #215107 | ISBN-13: 9781107673724
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £12.99 $17/€14 approx

About this book

Global climate change is one of the most important issues humanity faces today. This updated, second edition assesses the sensible, senseless and biased proposals for averting the potentially disastrous consequences of global warming, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions on switching to more sustainable energy provision. Burton Richter is a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who has served on many US and international review committees on climate change and energy issues. He provides a concise overview of our knowledge and uncertainties within climate change science, discusses current energy demand and supply patterns, and the energy options available to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. Written in non-technical language, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors presents a balanced view of options for moving from our heavy reliance on fossil fuels into a much more sustainable energy system, and is accessible to a wide range of readers without scientific backgrounds – students, policymakers and the concerned citizen.

Review of previous edition:

"[...] a wonderfully balanced overview. It opens with a fine summary of the science linking carbon to climate [...] provides a concise primer on the economics of long-term climate policy, and concludes with a short, sensible, and well-argued set of opinions and policy recommendations."
- Physics Today

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Beyond Smoke and Mirrors

Global climate change is one of the most important issues humanity faces...

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List of units
List of conversion factors
List of abbreviations

1. Introduction

Part I. Climate
2. Greenhouse Earth
3. Climate modelling
4. The past as proxy for the future
5. Predicting the future

Part II. Energy
6. Taking up arms against this sea of troubles
7. How fast to move: a physicist's look at the economists
8. Energy, emissions and action
9. Fossil fuels: how much is there?
10. Electricity, emission and pricing carbon
11. Efficiency: the first priority
12. Nuclear energy
13. Renewables
14. Biofuels: is there anything there?
15. An energy summary

Part III. Policy
16. US policy: new things, bad things, good things
17. World policy action
18. Coda


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Burton Richter is the Paul Pigott Professor in the Physical Sciences, Stanford University and Director Emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist for his pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle.

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