For centuries, human activity has been dominated by the need to fuel human civilization. Energy is unique: no other physical resource in society has had such a wide-ranging impact on our ecosystems, economy, public health, and personal liberties. And as the era of fossil fuels stumbles to a close in the West, much of the rest of the world is still just waking up to coal. We have found ourselves on the cusp of a transition in how we get energy that is both obvious and profoundly uncertain. We must decide our next steps quickly. How can we invest responsibly now in a way that will ensure our access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy for the decades to come? In Power Trip, energy expert Michael E. Webber takes readers on a global tour of energy's role in society across many regions and several hundred years. Starting with energy's end-uses and outcomes--water, food, wealth, cities, transportation, and war--Webber uncovers the complicated relationship our civilization has both with energy and its outputs. We've stimulated entrepreneurship, innovation, and opportunity beyond our wildest dreams--but it's come at the steep cost of accelerating climate change, geopolitical insecurity, increased economic inequality, and environmental degradation. Energy has proven to be something we can't live with, and we can't live without. But, as Webber argues, with long-term thinking, global interconnection, and an emphasis on conservation, we can simultaneously solve our energy supply's significant downsides while setting ourselves up for a much brighter future.
Impressive to say the least --Wall Street Journal Power Trip is a delightful combination of fun facts, personal anecdotes, rigorous scientific data, and good advice. And it's full of surprises about the way energy is hidden right in front of us, embedded in every object and issue. It's a must-read for anyone who cares about the future, not only of energy, but of the planet. --Betty Sue Flowers, former director of the LBJ Presidential Library and co-editor of Realistic Hope Michael has provided us an extraordinary volume -- it is comprehensive, sweeping and well-written, easy to read and yet extremely informative. The book is remarkably thorough in its description of the ways in which energy -- its generation, storage, transmission and use -- impact every facet of life on earth. It is a book that convincingly makes the case that energy is the key to understanding virtually all human activity and development... that whether you're considering agriculture or mobility, cities or manufacturing, energy lies beneath and enables it all. --Eric Toone, Executive Managing Director of Breakthrough Energy Ventures From creating wealth to starting wars, energy permeates our lives. Webber gives us a sense of just how inseparable energy has been to our past, and will be in our future. --Martin Doyle, professor in the Environmental Sciences at Duke University To all of us concerned about new energy shocks and still hopeful of creating a better energy future -- this book explains why the stakes of energy transition are higher than ever. It's a really good read and highlights how access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is essential in everything we do as citizens, consumers, communities and whole societies. --Angela Wilkinson, Senior Director of Scenarios and Business Insights for the World Energy Council Energy is central to everything we care about in society. But it's also hard to understand. With this book, Webber has done a service by explaining energy in a way that is easy to understand and fun to read. --Ernie Moniz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy