Book Review: Energy, Convenient Solutions by Howard Johnson

Howard Johnson, a chemical engineer, provides a comprehensive review of energy systems. He looks at the totality of energy sources, from animal dung to nuclear fusion, and examines the production, transmission, and use of energy, and the pros and cons of each.

The book is about ideas and solutions to our energy problems. “Any solution or group of solutions will be based on total energy systems. The systems involved include power-grid stations, transmission lines, fuel procurement and manufacture, waste disposal, local power generators, vehicles and vehicle power systems, transportation and distribution systems for fuels, and maintenance and repair facilities.”

Johnson laments that we don’t develop more of our own domestic resources. “America has a virtual sea of oil within its borders and around its shores. Thanks to what I believe to be misdirected effort to influence elected officials by some overzealous environmentalists, the most accessible of our known oil fields are off limits to American oil companies.” At the same time, he proposes to transition away from our use of fossil fuels for transportation and electrical power. This reduction in fossil fuel use is not because of any concern over carbon dioxide emissions, rather, Johnson resents our having to give our dollars to unfriendly or despotic foreign countries. He has a section devoted to the global warming issue.

To transition away from fossil fuels, Johnson advocates more use of biofuels, made from non-food sources, and use of geothermal energy. He explains each in detail.

Johnson has a chapter on politics and expresses some well-placed cynicism. “The reality of politics and political ideologies means that many politicians and bureaucrats, who know virtually nothing about energy, energy systems, and the economics of energy, will be making many of the decisions on what systems we use, the vehicles we drive, and how we create and pay for the new infrastructure.”

All in all, this book is a good primer for anyone wanting to learn about energy systems, their potentials and problems.

The book is published by Senesis Word Publishing and is available from Amazon.

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4 comments

  1. One of the largest contributors to our energy woes was the forced introduction of political land use policies (suburbs/subdivisions) which resulted in possibly the most inefficient possible transportation systems to and from work and businesses – the dependence on the single passenger personal car.
     
    The history of the US – like that of Europe – was focused on rational land use policies which resulted in efficient mass transportation and easily accessible businesses. Whether it is foot traffic to area business or mass urban transportation (trolley, bus, subway) to municipal business or regional rail.
     
    The current system – primarily post WWII – really cant be saved in the long run. And why should we bother? Its a bad system. Why should we allow the nature of our existence to be decided by realtors and car manufacturers? We have done that and need to undo it. Its not that a car has no use – it does. But most of our transportation needs can be met more efficiently and quickly by reintroducing a more rational land use policy.
     
    This is the one thing that is off the table. Someone somewhere doesnt appear to be interested in solutions.
     
     

    1. You are absolutely right. Unfortunately, the urban sprawl mentality is still very much with us. Witness our very own Rep. Antenori’s bill to hand-over Pima County wastewater facilities to the town of Marana at a bargain basement price. With control over it’s wastewater and together with it’s “over-allotment” of CAP water, Marana will be able to meet it’s 100-year assured water supply, thereby continuing the urban sprawl machine that continues to creep along I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix.

  2. As a comment, this ..
     
    “The reality of politics and political ideologies means that many politicians and bureaucrats, who know virtually nothing about energy, energy systems, and the economics of energy, will be making many of the decisions on what systems we use, the vehicles we drive, and how we create and pay for the new infrastructure.”
     
     
    .. assumes something that doesnt exist. Engineers do not make policy – corporate or otherwise. Corporate policy cant be assumed to be consistent with engineering principle. We know what corporate policy will look like – profits – which may be inconsistent with rational policy. (Energy companies are in the business of delivering profits not energy) One of the failures is the disconnect by the citizen from government.

    1. Comparing apples to potatoes, doesn’t compute. In our present political environment, politicians make many if not most of the policy decisions that will decide. Big investors are next in line and many of them are in bed with the politicians. That holds true whether those individuals are doctors, ditch diggers, engineers or attorneys, and most politicians are attorneys. Make no mistake, MONEY drives every one of those decisions, Money for the pockets of politicians, business people, attorneys, and even engineers as well as Mr. and Mrs. average American. “It’s the economy, stupid.”

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