Electric cars are really very cool. Air-source heat pumps are great.
The discussion about energy options tends to be an intensely emotional, polarised, mistrustful, and destructive one. Every option is strongly opposed: the public seem to be anti-wind, anti-coal, anti-waste-to-energy, anti-tidal-barrages, anti-carbon-tax, and anti-nuclear.
When the Industrial Revolution started, the amount of carbon sitting underneath Britain in the form of coal was as big as the amount of carbon sitting under Saudi Arabia in the form of oil, and this carbon powered the Industrial Revolution, it put the ‘Great’ in Great Britain, and led to Britain’s temporary world domination.
The United States consumes power per land-area at a rate three times the average. Even though they are more energy efficient, densely populated industrial countries like Germany, Britain and Japan have even bigger power consumption per area.
Most of physics is about energy, and physicists understand inefficiencies. I wanted to write a book about our energy options in a neutral, human-accessible form.
The only thing that really scales up apart from nuclear is solar power from other people’s deserts.
To have constructive conversations about the world’s energy options, one needs to take a calm look at the numbers.
Solving climate change is a complex topic, but in a single crude brush-stroke, here is the solution: the price of carbon dioxide must be such that people stop burning coal without capture.