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Vaclav Smil

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Energy Myth and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate


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Energy Myth and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate (American Enterprise Institute) deconstructs some of the most common energy myths (including the glorious future of electric cars, imminent peak of crude oil extraction, possibility of a rapid repowering of America, exaggerated potential for liquid biofuels, contributions to be made by wind-powered electricity generation […]


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Energy Myth and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate (American Enterprise Institute) deconstructs some of the most common energy myths (including the glorious future of electric cars, imminent peak of crude oil extraction, possibility of a rapid repowering of America, exaggerated potential for liquid biofuels, contributions to be made by wind-powered electricity generation and a dubious promise of carbon sequestration) and offers a reasoned approach to addressing the world’s energy challenges.

Myth: New energy sources and technical innovations will eliminate the need for fossil fuels within a few decades.

Reality: Comprehensive energy transitions take several generations.

Myth: Carbon sequestration is the solution to global climate change.

Reality: Because of its costs, technical challenges, and problems with social acceptance, carbon sequestration will not be able to prevent further substantial rise in carbon emissions.

Myth: Electric cars will replace conventional automobiles in the near future.

Reality: Electric cars are expensive, their adoption rate will be slow, and internal combustion engines will dominate the market for decades to come.

These are just a few of the misconceptions about the future of global energy often presented as fact by the media, politicians, business leaders, activists, and even scientists–wasting time and money and hampering the development of progressive energy policies. Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate debunks the most common fallacies to make way for a constructive, scientific approach to the global energy challenge.

When will the world run out of oil? Should nuclear energy be adopted on a larger scale? Are ethanol and wind power viable sources of energy for the future? Vaclav Smil advises the public to be wary of exaggerated claims and impossible promises. The global energy transition will be prolonged and expensive—and hinges on the development of an extensive new infrastructure. Traditional energy sources and established energy conversions are persistent and adaptable enough to see the world through that transition.

Energy Myths and Realities brings a scientific perspective to an issue often dominated by groundless assertions, unfounded claims, and uncritical thinking. Before we can create sound energy policies for the future, we must renounce the popular myths that cloud our judgment and impede true progress.

George Anderson, Fossil Policies, Literary Review of Canada, May 2012

Philippe Faucher, L'âge du charbon, 28 février 2011

Richard L. Gordon,  Regulations, Winter 2010-2011

The Oil Drum, Vaclav Smil's “Energy Myths and Realities” - A review, October 18, 2010

Bill Gates, A Rational Look at Energy: Energy Myths and Realities, October 13, 2010.

Duncan Currie, A Call for Energy Realism, National Review Online, August 2, 2010


"America needs energy, it’s how to get which is the massive debate. “Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate” is a realistic approach to the energy crisis that encourages progress but at the same time realizes there is no silver bullet solution to America’s energy issues. With thoughtful research, Vaclav Smil looks at history and draws a map to where we are now and the many solutions that sit before us. “Energy Myths and Realities” is a core addition to any environmental and political studies collection."

 

Internet Bookwatch, December 2010

  • © Vaclav Smil 2014