ISBN 978 1 84668 868 3. “Ten Technologies to Save the Planet” by Chris Goodall was published in 2008 by Profile Books. A 292 page paperback of the kind we like – a quick & easy read. We have been a big fan of Chris’s since his “How to live a Low Carbon Life” in 2006. What is more he is a nice chap who has been happy to trade E:Mails with us on several occasions about such topics as lightbulb libraries and recycled biodiesel for electricity generation versus transport. We have had few, if any, quibbles with his work and have enjoyed his carbon commentary blog too. “Ten Technologies” is Chris on good form. When Mark Lynas sings his praises with words like “superb” (from the front cover) you know you are onto a winner. This book is also far more optimistic than the similar “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” by David JC Mackay which makes it a far more pleasant read too. The ten ‘technologies’ are wind, solar, wave/tidal, CHP, insulation, electric cars, 2nd generation biofuels, carbon capture, biochar and land management. Certainly Chris is no environmentalist and appears to have little sympathy with green-dogma against cars or biofuels.
He kicks the book of very early by saying “The world needs a mix of technical advances and complementary reductions in energy use – including substantial lifestyle changes -…” which strikes an agreeable chord. However he fails to explain exactly what he means. Could it me that he agrees with the concept that renewable energy will not sustain a consumer society? We hope so. Maybe it makes him a bit more green than he will admit to! Generally he does not describe any political process or mechanism for GHG emission reduction (such as contract and converge, Transition Towns, and so on). This is not the sort of ‘technology’ he means. This is technology in a conventional sense, not the social and political sense. Of course we need all aspects to be covered but the author sticks to what he knows best. We might say Chris is a techno-optimist without it becoming any sort of fetish. He is realistic and, in this, he is no different from other commentators who tell us that we already have all we need to know to solve the problem of decarbonising our economies. The only faux pax is the title of the book. “Saving the planet” Chris? Really? Saving ourselves methinks. Recommended