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Bite Sized Book Reviews II: Electric Boogaloo



Hello again, again!  I’m still far behind on my book reviews, and now there really is no excuse.  I do hope, gentle reader, that you can forgive my laziness.  Even so, here is a second batch of references for you.  This time we focus on “green energy” and how moving towards 100% De-Carbonization will help everyone, everywhere.  

As a compromise between creating a full syllabus (and detailed reviews), and the present urgency,  please accept these tiny blurbs about some very powerful and relevant books.  As well, even though the libraries are closed, and even though we should all be avoiding the evil Amazon Corp. when possible, it’s still possible to get your hands on these easily. has many available to ‘borrow’ for free.  Alibris and Bookshop also offer cheap used books (and supplies them to you via Mom and Pop bookstores, keeping your money in good hands).  

Last go-around, we covered some foundational texts.  There are plenty more of those available, but right just now it’s worth looking into 1 sector closely.  Energy.  How we generate it, how we use it, how it’s wastes affect us… all these aspects have been wrestled with for quite some time now.  In The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones (Harper One); he pointed out how we can retrofit American homes and businesses and create millions of good steady jobs.  We sure do need that uplift right now, seven months into an economy-destroying pandemic.  I won’t rehash those points here, you can check out the other review if you desire.

I’d actually like to start you out here, with an up-to-the-minute report from someone who’s been on this beat for decades.  Saul Griffith has a new organization that aims to do what Jones called for, and so much more.  That link will take you to a 1 hour podcast, and also a short-read interview with him for those in a hurry.  Here as well is an in-depth handbook.  Fact is we can De-Carbonize entirely, without many sacrifices, and we have all the technology to be doing it right now.  We lack mainly political will, that’s all.  That’s where you can make a difference, both where you live, and on a larger scale.

The Hydrogen Age, by Geoffrey Holland and James Provenzano (Gibbs Smith Publishing), can be your next guidepost.  What the?  Hydrogen, are you mad?

Well, no.  It’s true, in 15 years of trying, hydrogen cars have only sold a few hundred units in this nation.  But please, think bigger.  Think trucks, busses, office buildings, power plants…. all things that can be massively effective at scale, all while doing the work that petroleum products used to do.  After all, why do we burn gasoline in the first place?  To get the Hydrogen locked up in it freed, which in turn does the work of making a motor turn.  Why not skip steps 1 and 2 and simply manage to get the work done while skipping all the pollution in the first place?  Holland and Provenzano argue that we’re actually well on that path, and it looks to become vital in the coming decade.

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I would argue, that in this week where we see the giant Exxon Corporation humiliated and removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Index, that they are more right than it might appear.  Fact is, despite all the travails of 2020, this surely has been the year where the power of the Fossil Fools (oops I mean Fuels) industry has cracked.  Oil was briefly selling for Negative $36 a barrel.  Coal mines are going bankrupt.  The greed and incompetence of the nuclear power industry has already brought about its’ own collapse.  Wind and Solar are steadily proving themselves to be more cost effective, and the market has responded accordingly.  Yet, there is much to do, if we hope to avoid the worst effects of Climate Change from spoiled air.  Hydrogen is going to be a big player in the solutions proffered.

It really does seem as if the planet has suddenly arrived at an inflection point.  While predictable on the ‘macro’ scale, the exact whys and wherefores of how this came to be sure have been a surprise to all.  No matter.  The moment is here, and you dear reader are well-positioned to leverage it to build a more fair world.

And one part of that world, a large part I hope, will be the one that abandons Late Stage Capitalism.  It has served it’s purpose, and is now mostly just toxic to all that it touches.  I’m not alone in this opinion.  Capitalism 3.0, by Peter Barnes (Barret Koehler Books), writes here and elsewhere about what can be done to get off this sinking ship and live a better life in community.

Here’s a pretty long quote.  I find it to be inspiring: “Once or twice per century, there are brief openings during which non-corporate forces reign.  … We must be ready when it comes to build a strong, self-perpetuating commons sector, not easily dismantled when the political wheel turns again.  Being ready then means getting busy now.  We should, first of all, start noticing and talking about our common wealth.  Whenever we see it, we should point to it and let the world know to whom it belongs.  Second, we should demand more birthrights and property rights than we have now.  Rights that belong to everyone.  Rights built into our operating system.  Rights that protect future generations as well as our own.  The reason I stress property rights is that, in America, property rights are sacred.  They’re guaranteed by the Constitution.  Once you have them, they can’t be taken without fair compensation.  Those protections have greatly benefited those who own private property; they should also benefit those who share common wealth.  Third, we should imagine and design multiple pieces of the commons sector – that is, organized forms of what we want the commons to take.  And we should build and test our models wherever possible.  Frequently in the past, models developed locally have both replicated on their own, and risen to the national level.”

Me again: I can’t improve on that.  If you come to understand Barnes’ points, then you will understand why I post here on Mobilized.  This site, this group of people we are connecting – that’s the model.  This is the test.  And we have every reason to believe that it’ll succeed.










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