Book of the Month
The Burning Question
is hailed by Al Gore; former Vice-President of the United States and global campaigner for all things environmental, as ‘Fascinating, important and highly recommended’. If you want to challenge your thinking on the future of society I would recommend it too (just in case you weren’t already swayed by Big Al!)
The authors have posited some uncomfortable ideas which go to the heart of what the notion of ‘Sustainability’ means; arguing that the rise of clean energy has not actually slowed the rate of extraction of, or exploration for, fossil fuels. Many readers will be familiar with Rebound theory – the idea that increased energy-efficiency results in savings that are spent elsewhere on energy-consuming goods, or in extended use of the now-more-efficient device. So it seems to be on a global scale. The burning question of the book title is whether the world can be persuaded to abandon oil, coal and gas reserves worth trillions of dollars – at least until we have the means to put carbon back in the ground. What mix of politics, psychology, economics and technology might be required?
It would be easy to dismiss the premise of the book as fanciful and idealistic but it is important that the big-picture issues facing our planet are elucidated. In the hands of Berners-Lee and Clark this book dares to ask very awkward questions in a style that is eminently readable.
DO READ IF: You are interested in the scale of the challenges to humanity and how we might develop a low-carbon, climate-resilient society.
DO NOT READ IF: You are a sensitive CEO of a global oil giant.