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Changing Energy outlines how humanity established the current energy economy through three previous transitions, and how we now stand poised for a necessary fourth transition. Human societies around the globe have received immense benefits from uses of coal, oil, gas, and uranium sources, yet we must now rebuild our energy economies to rely on renewable sources and use them efficiently. The imperative for a fourth energy transition comes from dangers related to climate change, geopolitical tensions, documented health and environmental effects, and long-term depletion of today’s sources. John H. Perkins argues that a future in which current levels of energy service benefits are sustained can come only from investments in the technologies needed to bring about a fourth energy transition. Changing Energy envisions a viable post–fossil fuel economy and identifies the barriers to be overcome.
John H. Perkins is Professor Emeritus at The Evergreen State College, where he taught Environmental and Energy Studies and directed the Graduate Program on the Environment. He is a Senior Fellow with the National Council for Science and the Environment as well as Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the author of Geopolitics and the Green Revolution: Wheat, Genes, and the Cold War and Insects, Experts, and the Insecticide Crisis: The Quest for New Pest Management Strategies.
"Changing Energy offers a reasoned set of criteria to appraise future energy systems. It subsumes the key facets of energy’s importance to modern society under one cover and offers the important insight that energy transitions require new analytical frameworks and types of expertise. Essential reading for decision-makers."—Sharlissa Moore, Michigan State University
"Energy has a past, a present, and a future. This book will give you a new perspective on all three."—Cathy Middlecamp, University of Wisconsin–Madison
"Proposing changes to the world’s energy regime is no simple matter. Some would dismiss them as out of hand. Yet, Changing Energy is not only refreshing but optimistic about a sustainable energy future. Giving serious thought to alternative ways of understanding energy development and use may open some new doors to chronic naysayers. The book is not a roadmap but an invitation to contemplate our energy wants and needs."—Martin V. Melosi, University of Houston
"This important book weaves together strands of history, science, politics, and economics to give readers the background they need to understand our current energy issues and the necessity for a transition to renewable sources of energy. I’ve been teaching energy for more than ten years, but I learned important things from this book—things I need to know."—Barbara L. Whitten, Professor of Physics and Environmental Science, Colorado College
"A rapid transition to an energy economy built upon energy efficiency and renewable sources is both necessary and feasible. John Perkins makes a comprehensive interdisciplinary case for this transition. Changing Energy frames our current challenge in the context of the three previous transitions, showing how the provision of energy services has enabled modern civilization. The trajectory of future civilizations depends upon how we make the fourth transition to cleaner energy."—David Blockstein, Chief Scientist, National Council for Science and the Environment
"Changing Energy makes a significant contribution to our understanding of energy transitions by connecting the history of human uses of energy to contemporary efforts to tackle decarbonization. This book should be on the shelves of everyone from energy scholars to teachers who want to train the next generation about the great energy challenges facing human civilization."—Dustin Mulvaney, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, San Jose State University