Monday, January 11, 2010

All About Clean Energy

Edward Hujsak
Mina-Helwig (2009)
ISBN 9781886133129
Reviewed by Ron Standerfer for Reader Views


As I write these words, representatives of about two-hundred nations are converging on Copenhagen to begin talks on a new international climate accord.  The issues they will be discussing have the potential to dramatically impact the world we live in for generation to come.  Yet the debate on the core issues will be conducted against a background of cynicism if not outright attacks on the basic science of global climate change.  How can this be?

Few subjects have vexed politicians and scientists alike like "global warming."  To some, global warming is an anathema to industry and the global economy; while others view it as the number one problem in the world today---a problem that must be solved for the sake of mankind's survival on this planet.  But if some of the (arguably) brightest minds in our global society cannot reach an accord on the basics of global warming, how can the rest of us participate in the debate and fulfill our responsibilities to be stewards of Planet Earth?  What is needed is a basic primer on the subject that can serve as a baseline for reading and understanding the issues as they are being debated.  That's where Edward Hujsak's thoughtful and well-written book, "All About Clean Energy" comes in.

The first thing I should point out is that the focus of Hujsak's book is on "clean energy," not global warming.  But that's okay because as he points out in the book's Foreword, clean energy is all about lowering greenhouse gas emissions, which of course is the key to reducing global warming.  I should also mention that the book is targeted specifically to gifted teenagers, as a project reference book, as well as an assist in determining what career choice would be most rewarding in a rapidly growing industrial area; however, having read the book twice, I can assure you that the book is a worthwhile read for all of us that are concerned about the wellbeing of our planet.

"All About Clean Energy" begins by reviewing the earth's climate behavior over hundreds of thousands of years and discusses how the present situation is anomalous and due to human activity.  Subsequent chapters examine photovoltaic energy (terrestrial and space based), solar thermal, geothermal, wind, tides, hydro, ocean currents, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion research, and biofuels.  The final chapter is concerned with conservation measures, describes the smart grid and predicts the demise of the internal combustion engine.

Hujsak's easy and readable writing style undoubtedly reflects the fact that he has written several books including "The Future of U.S. Rocketry," "Who Rang the Church Bell," a children's book, an award-winning book of short stories titled "A Pig in the Rumble Seat," and two books of poetry.  He is also a career rocket engineer who was propulsion engineer on John Glenn's famous orbital flight.  The latter suggests to me that perhaps it does take a "rocket scientist" to explain what's going on with global warming. In any case, "All About Clean Energy" by Edward Hujsak is a remarkably simple and understandable book that should be mandatory reading for everyone who is concerned about the health of our planet.