The Energy of Nations

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Jeremy Leggett book review

This is a powerful book about the systemic risk to global economies: oil supply shortages, climate change, and financial crises. It is in part a personal journey by Jeremy Leggett, founder of solar power company Solar Century, and convenor of the UK Industry Task Force on Peak Oil and Energy Security. He has long been an activist seeking a rational, preventative approach to the oncoming storm. The autobiographical segments track Leggett in his journey from 2003 to today. He paints a frightening picture of fossil-fuel apologists and a financial system with inbuilt flaws which have not been addressed, despite the financial crash of 2007/8. Leggett believes in reason and rational analysis, but also displays incomprehension, even anger, when he finds decision-makers who seem to deliberately close their eyes to the evident problems.

At the end of the book he outlines two different approaches to the future: “The Mayan Road” – no prizes for what that is going to be, and “The Renaissance Road” – rebuilding and rebalancing our societies using renewable energy, distributed systems, stable finance and social justice. He believes that a serious crises, triggered either by an oil shock or a financial shock (or of course both) will break open the logjam of perceptions, and precipitate previously unimaginable change.

This is a formidably argued, but also very accessible book, which has lots of material for environmentalists to digest and use to campaign for a cleaner, better society. Buy a copy now for the Christmas stocking of a petrolhead today.

Published by Routledge 272 pages £19.99.

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