The book is about global energy use, its past and present, and its increasingly uncertain future. It lists the various ecological problems facing our planet, not just climate change, and how their gravity has been underestimated. It briefly looks at the various solutions, apart from renewable energy, proposed for solving the problems our present energy use raises, including solar radiation management, carbon dioxide removal, nuclear energy, and energy efficiency. Renewable energy is seen by many as the panacea for a variety of environmental challenges, and with the New Green Deal, even as a means of accelerating economic growth. The book critically examines the prospects for renewable energy. It concludes that although it is essential that the world shifts to renewables, not only will the ecologically sustainable energy from all renewable energy sources likely fall well short of even present global energy use, but the very short time frame left for effective action means that renewables cannot be more than of minor help. Hence, deep energy reductions will be needed, especially in high-income OECD countries. The book uses an Earth Systems Science approach, which is necessary because of the interconnection between the various challenges our Earth faces. It aims to combine the latest findings from a diverse array of biophysical as well as socioeconomic sciences to uncover the increasingly constrained energy options we will encounter.
Patrick Moriarty is currently an adjunct associate professor in the department of design at Monash University Caulfield. He taught civil engineering at the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology from 1971 to 1976 and carried out field research on low-cost housing in Tanzania. From 1977 to 2009, he taught and researched in the civil and mechanical engineering departments at Monash, and more recently in the Department of Industrial Design. His research interests include urban land use and transport, alternative transport fuels, and renewable energy more generally. An important part of this research has been the climate change implications of different fuels/energy sources for transport and electricity generation.
Damon Honnery is a professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and the deputy dean (operations) of the engineering faculty at Monash University. His research interests cover a broad range of topics including energy systems, climate change mitigation, and transport. He jointly directs the laboratory for turbulence research in aerospace and combustion in which much of his fundamental experimentally based research is undertaken on high-speed multiphase flows and supersonic jets and engines. He was a lead author in energy systems in the fifth IPCC report.