This review originally published here.
Back in early August, I was inducted into the Voices For Change Honor Roll at the Greenhouse Neutral Foundation. A few days later, I purchased the book Zero Greenhouse Emissions: The Day the Lights Went Out (Our Future World) by Robert Williamson.
I bought the book* with the plan to read it right off and do this review as well as to learn some of the background on the Global Warming issue. The book itself is available as either a hard cover or an electronic book (I got the e-book) and is about 200 pages long. Proceeds from the book go towards the efforts of the Greenhouse Neutral Foundation and it's Chairman, the author Bob Williamson.
Obviously, I didn't read it right off as I was in the middle of a major research project at the time. I finished the book over this weekend and have been kind of mulling it over for a day or two while I worked on some political ghost writing that left the non-political parts of my brain free to ruminate on the climate. Which it did.
The book is sort of in two parts. Mostly, it's the story of an individual and his community when the CO2 problem finally shuts out the lights. This person (it's written in the first person) lives in Australia in an average-sized town near a larger city. The story begins with the shutting off of electricity and a basic inventory of items that are dependent on that and the resulting loss of access to petroleum and so forth.
This part is interesting because unless your odd (as I am and apparently Bob is), you have probably never gone through your house considering how much of the stuff you use and depend on requires either electricity or petroleum/carbon-based fuels.
I did this personally about three years ago when I began thinking about how much things cost in terms of dollars and cents. I'm self-employed, so every dollar I make requires my time and effort. I prefer to use my time and effort on things I enjoy doing (which generally don't make much money) rather than on things I have to do (which often are what make me more money).
To cut to the chase, when I first looked at how much of our lifestyle was dependent on energy (both electric and gas), I was amazed. I challenge you just to go into your kitchen and see how much you can do in there, right now, without using any petrol-based energy. It changes your perspective, whether you're a global warming believer or skeptic.
As the hero of the book continues, the perspective is on the first few days and then weeks of living without power. As the book progresses, the perspective gets wider and wider, taking in a more global (from a local point of view) scope. Some parts of the world are hit a little harder by the change than others.
Throughout this, the second portion of the book begins to emerge. This is the science and background information on the man-made global warming phenomenon. Being a skeptic, I had a rough time with some of this information, but the general gist was real enough for me that the individual details aren't worth fighting over here. No matter how much of a climate skeptic you are, you have to admit that resources are waning and are going to be gone.
Whether the trigger event is a greenhouse gas, the disappearance of industrialized phosphorous or nitrogen from agriculture, or the final outcome of running out of cheap petroleum resources, the result is basically the same. Our consumerism will have to stop and our huge energy dependence will have to end.
In Bob's scenario, it was easier and nicer than it appears it will be in reality, but his point wasn't social commentary, but on how people can cope with a lifestyle change. His underlying point is even more fundamentally important: it's possible to make these changes now, without waiting for the plug to be pulled. On this, he and I are in total agreement.
Overall, I would highly suggest this book to anyone who can read. Whether you're a greenhouse gas skeptic or not, you'll get something important out this book.
Fair warning, so you don't go in blind as I did, since Bob is Australian and the book is written in Queen's English. So some translation for us Americans is in order while reading. Although I don't think he used the word "crikey" and never once mentioned Foster's. So I'd question his authentics as an Australian.
Disclosure for our heroes at the FCC: I am not a member of nor an officer of the Greenhouse Neutral Foundation. I did not receive compensation or remuneration for the writing of this review nor will I receive other incentives for future sales of the book due to this article or the links herein. The book was purchased with my personal funds and was not a gift. Thank you, lawyers at the FCC, for making me make ridiculous statements like this in my reviews now. I love my government and the terro... umm... nice bureaucrats who make it run so well.