All of this started with reading David MacKay’s excellent Sustainable Energy – without the hot air. For many who find it difficult, if not impossible, to asess the the relevance of a host of different energy options, MacKay’s book has been a relief.
Essentially, MacKay’s approach consists of giving you the numbers that go together with the use and the production of energy. This makes it possible to think for yourself. And speaking as a philosopher, I think that thinking for yourself is sort of a holy grail. MacKay simply states that we need to make a comparison between the options we have, and make a plan that adds up.
And, as he says, (p.3): to make this comparison, we need numbers, not adjectives.. Some pages further he states: ‘In a climate where people don’t understand the numbers, newspapers, campaingners, companies, and politicians can get away with murder.’ MacKay cites Lovelock, in agreement: ‘We live in a time when emotions and feelings count more than truth, and there is a vast ignorance of science.’
MacKay proceeds whith wonderfully clear and understandable calculations and graphics on how much energy the British use. And for how this energy could be produced by sustainable means. He builds his story as an exciting race between the consumption and production figures. An exemplary work of popular science (says The Economist).
This site has taken to heart the lesson of MacKay that we need a plan that adds up. It also takes into account that whether or not we are willing to consider this specific addition depends on fashion…