Sustainable energy - do the math
April 9, 2009 8:35 AM   Subscribe

David JC MacKay's "Sustainable Energy -- Without the Hot Air" is available from his website for free download. Lots of numbers without being too heavy. (via)
posted by greensweater (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
On a wholly unrelated note, what's with the ukelele obsession? Is that a subset of steampunk or something?
posted by greensweater at 8:36 AM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

He had me at "numbers, not adjectives".
posted by DU at 9:28 AM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I chaired a science and society organization in Cambridge and we invited David MacKay to speak to us on this topic. Excellent speaker, and this work emphasizes the widely unspoken problems with "green energy." There are no silver bullets.
posted by grouse at 9:39 AM on April 9, 2009

Seconding a thumb's up to "numbers not adjectives". Of interest is the short then page synopsis (pdf), a good starting point to help you decide if you want to download the whole thing. (In my case, yes).

I am looking forward to reading the whole book. He seems quite a bit more pragmatic than many who write and advocate on this topic. I have read dozens of books and long reports on energy, fossil fuels, renewables and energy policy in the last few months. There are some real stinkers out there.
posted by bumpkin at 11:31 AM on April 9, 2009

Wow, I need coffee. "ten" not "then". "the thumb's up" not "a thumb's up".[/blushing]
posted by bumpkin at 11:34 AM on April 9, 2009

Very excellent post. Thank you. I like this McKay fellow.
posted by tkchrist at 12:05 PM on April 9, 2009

Truly excellent.
    The second part of Sustainable Energy – without the hot air explores six strategies for eliminating the gap between consumption and renewable production identified in the first part, then sketches several energy plans for Britain, each of which adds up. The first three strategies for eliminating the gap reduce energy demand: 1 population reduction; 2 lifestyle change; 3 changing to more efficient technology.
Yes. I really like this fellow.
posted by tkchrist at 12:11 PM on April 9, 2009

Amazingly, this is the same Prof David MacKay who wrote "Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms", a very good book on machine learning.
posted by ikalliom at 2:54 PM on April 9, 2009

1 population reduction

Decrease child mortality, increase standard of living, and that will take care of itself - look how Europe has to import a lot of folks or face a reduction in population to the point where care of the elderly is no longer affordable.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:14 AM on April 10, 2009

Just echoing the general theme. This is exactly the sort of thing I like to see on metafilter.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:13 AM on April 10, 2009

It's a shame the author didn't use hyperref to get real PDF bookmarks, as navigating this thing is a nightmare. I'm also inclined to think that some of the maths may have been oversimplified; the wind chapters seem rather light to me.

But then, I would say that.
posted by scruss at 6:25 AM on April 10, 2009

I've heard very good things about this, it's been winging it's way towards me from Amazon for a few days now. On a very realated note, this talk from the Long Now on 'Climate Change Recalculated' goes over just what a herculean effort decarbonising the glboal infrastructure is going to be. $25 trillion bill anyone?
posted by greytape at 6:57 AM on April 10, 2009

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