Author Options:

Without Hot Air: Mackay's new Book on Global Warming Answered

My friend told me about a new book by David Mackay. I've added screenshots of two of the really nice graphs he put together in his book. Says my friend:

Forwarded Message:

David Mackay, Cambridge U Physics Professor and a flat-out rockstar in
the field of statistical inference, has written a book on Sustainable
Energy, which he is (as usual) giving away for free on his website.


There's also a few slide decks for the overview:


and a blog:


I'm not much through it yet, but the gist seems to be putting real
numbers on the size of the energy problem, much as Saul Griffith has
been doing. It's written in his usual style, which is to say it reads
like common sense you feel you should have known all along.


The forums are retiring in 2021 and are now closed for new topics and comments.

12 years ago

NIce work. Too bad it's so UK-centric.

The picture for the US is significantly different. One one hand, the US consumption of energy and production of CO2 per capita is more than twice the average even for heavily industrialized Europe (a pretty mind-blowing fact all by itself...). On the other hand, the US also has far more open space for biocrops, wind and solar farms than the UK.

Many of MacKay's conclusions still hold though:

1) "'First, for any renewable
facility to make an appreciable contribution – a contribution at all com-
parable to our current consumption – it has to be country-sized. [...] Someone who wants to live on renewable energy,
but expects the infrastructure associated with that renewable not to be
large or intrusive, is deluding himself."

2) "Second, if economic constraints and public objections are set aside, it would be possible for the average European energy consumption of 125 kWh/d per person to be provided from these country-sized renewable sources."

3) "Such an immense panelling of the countryside and filling of [...]
seas with wind machines [...] may be possible according to the
laws of physics, but would the public accept and pay for such audacious
arrangements? If we answer no, we are forced to conclude that current
consumption will never be met by [...] renewables. We require either
a radical reduction in consumption, or significant additional sources of
energy – or, of course, both."