Electrify by Saul Griffith [8/10]

No doubt you read climate crisis books compulsively, like I do. Nothing is more important in our lives, so nothing is more important to read, right? “Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future” stands out from the pack as a completely practical one-solution blueprint. Focusing on America, the author, an engaging entrepreneur and inventor, prescribes Manhattan-Project-level policy decisions: switch electricity to solar, wind, and (with some hesitation on his part) nuclear; switch petrol-fueled cars to electric vehicles; switch home heating to reverse-cycle air-conditioning (he calls it heat pumps); fund innovation but only for the tail of the problem (industry, air travel, food); transform the electricity sector to allow households and businesses to freely exchange juice with utilities; and provide cheap government loans to get over the financing hump. Griffith has analyzed extensive U.S. energy usage data, coming up with amazing ideas, for example that about half the energy used in America is employed to extract and move fossil fuels, so that the national transformation required is much less than envisaged. He is scathing (rightfully so) on climate-washing notions like carbon capture and hydrogen. All up, Electrify is an exhilarating jolt of positivism that everyone should read.

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