Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Definitely Worth Reading: New Books on Alternative Energy

Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future by Jeff Goodell

"Few of us realize that even today we burn a lump of coal every time we flip on a switch. Coal already supplies more than half the energy needed to power our iPods, laptops, lights - anything we use that consumes electricity. Our desire to find a homegrown alternative to Mideast oil, the rising cost of oil and natural gas, and the fossil fuel-friendly mood in Washington will soon push our coal consumption through the roof. Because we have failed to develop alternative energy sources, coal has effectively become the default fuel for the twenty-first century."

What we don't hear about in the news is that the byproducts of coal burning continue to rain down upon us, poisoning our water, causing birth defects in our children and contaminating the soil in which we grow our food. The Bush Administration's energy policy is a disaster for all life in North America. Read this book, and you'll be able to recognize all the bullshit and lies corporate-coal is trying to sell you.

Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options by Greg Pahl
Natural Home Heating is the first comprehensive guide to heating your home with renewable energy sources. Greg Pahl offers a well-organized, easy-to-understand tour of all available home-heating options, including traditional oil and gas furnaces, wood stoves and masonry heaters, active and passive solar systems, and heat pumps. Included is everything you need to know about the fuels, systems, technologies, costs, and advantages and disadvantages of each option. Pahl teaches homeowners how to retrofit existing heating systems and choose renewable replacements, or design an entirely new house that can be heated comfortably with minimal environmental and financial impact.

The New Independent Home: People and Houses That Harvest the Sun by Michael Potts

"In this newly revised and expanded edition, Potts again profiles the solar homesteaders whose experiments and innovations have opened the possibility of solar living for the rest of us. Potts provides clear and highly entertaining explanations of how various renewable energy systems work, and shows why they now make more sense than ever. He is a brilliant guide to the stages of planning and design faced by everyone who seeks to create a home that reconciles the personal and global dimensions of ecology.

Over the past five years, the concept of an independent home has evolved beyond the energy system to encompass the whole process of design and construction involved in planning a renovation or a new home. Independent homes are homes with integrity and personality. Beautiful abodes are now being built with age-old materials, such as straw bales and rammed earth, and combined with state-of-the-art electronic technologies for harvesting free energy from the surrounding environment."

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