Book Review: Heat, How to Stop the Planet from Burning

Well thanks to Tony I heard about this book and took it out from the library. I have to say I’m impressed. Rather than the typically book of ‘ the world is going to end’ George Monbiot by writing Heat tries to answer a very important question. What would our lives look like with a 90% cut of CO2 emissions from our current level by 2030 in the UK?

Rather than just go off the deep end of low emissions regardless of lifestyle, George writes the book with the goal of keeping as much as our current lives the same. So the world he paints is familiar, just modified to a low carbon lifestyle. I also give him credit for being realistic with math to back it up that you can’t produce all our power from low carbon sources like wind and solar some nuclear and coal with carbon capture is likely required.

George also provides some interesting conclusions about the UK bus system and how it could be much better than driving a car if you changed a few things like travel path and better seating. How unfortunately air travel would have to be cut back. How really wasteful your local supermarket is to distribution food in terms of emmissions and how online shopping might be a real solution to it. He also discusses how the average home is a horrible waste of energy (I knew that before, but it interesting to see how bad it is in the UK). On a somewhat off topic note I recently learned how bad our homes are in Canada and how an R2000 home is better, but with a few additional modifications it can be much better (see Factor 9 for details of a new house in Regina that is clone of my most of my ideas for an Ecohouse).

Overall the book wasn’t doom and gloom but rather factual that this is the level of change required. It also points out how numbers don’t mean much until you have something to connect the ideas to in your life. For George it was the birth of his daughter that took the book from numbers to real. It’s a surprisingly up beat read that isn’t too long. I highly recommend this book.

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