Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Contents

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. viii

List of Figures

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

To begin, I’d like to extend special thanks to numerous anonymous individuals who risked their standing or job security to connect me with leads, offer guidance, spill dirt, and sneak me into places I perhaps shouldn’t have been...

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Introduction: Unraveling the Spectacle

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pp. xv-xx

If the title of this book makes you a little suspicious of what I’m up to, then all is well. We’ll get along just fine. That’s because the dirty secrets ahead aren’t the kind you can be told (you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway...

Part I: Seductive Futures

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pp. 1-146

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1. Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales

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pp. 3-30

Once upon a time, a pair of researchers led a group of study participants into a laboratory overlooking the ocean, gave them free unlimited coffee, and assigned them one simple task. The researchers spread out an assortment...

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2. Wind Power’s Flurry of Limitations

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pp. 31-60

By the end of grade school, my mother maintains, I had attempted to deconstruct everything in the house at least once (including a squirrel that fell to its death on the front walk). Somewhere in the fog of my childhood, I shifted from...

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3. Biofuels and the Politics of Big Corn

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pp. 61-80

Iowa. That’s the answer to a question that growing numbers of scientists, aid workers, reporters, and environmentalists are asking about ethanol and other biofuels. But before we can address the question, it would be helpful to understand what...

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4. The Nuclear-Military-Industrial Risk Complex

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pp. 81-104

On March 16, 1979, Hollywood released a run-of-the-mill film that might have been rather unremarkable had the fictional plot not played out in real life while the movie was still in theaters. The China Syndrome, starring Jane Fonda...

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5. The Hydrogen Zombie

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pp. 105-120

By the close of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the hydrogen dream might have seemed dead to any casual observer that happened to pass its rotting corpse on the side of the street. The financial foundations...

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6. Conjuring Clean Coal

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pp. 121-132

The first major earthquake recorded in Australian history rocked residents of Newcastle on December 28, 1989. Ten years later, on the other side of the planet, an earthquake hit Saarland, Germany. Separated by time...

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7. Hydropower, Hybrids, and Other Hydras

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pp. 133-146

We’ve considered several alternative-energy novelties, a few imposters, and a rogue zombie, so it might seem there is little left to discuss. But there ’s more to be sure—perhaps too much to cover fully in one book. So I will take a few...

Part II: From Here to There

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8. The Alternative-Energy Fetish

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pp. 149-169

Perhaps it’s all too easy for us to miss the limitations of alternative energy as we drop to our knees at the foot of the clean energy spectacle, gasping in rapture. The spectacle has become a divine deity around which duty-bound citizens...

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9. The First Step

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pp. 171-184

If we were gunslingers, we ’d be in trouble. Several sinister energy challenges are staring us down, but the productivists are asking us to choose our weapon from a rack of toy guns. The alternative-energy project’s fundamental weakness lies in its failure to engage with...

Part III: The Future of Environmentalism

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pp. 185-342

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10. Women’s Rights

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pp. 187-222

Women’s rights, while a noble virtue in itself, might not seem the likely extension of an argument concerning kilowatts and carbon dioxide. But in fact, one could argue that this unexpected key has greater potential for reducing greenhouse gases, preventing...

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11. Improving Consumption

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pp. 223-261

Across former meadows, rippling plumes of heat levitate above sticky carpets of black asphalt rolled out as patchwork in front of chain stores standing infinitely shoulder-to-shoulder. Their slightly faded Tupperware claddings...

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12. The Architecture of Community

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pp. 263-300

Once a prairie, the landscape surrounding _________, USA, is now subdivided into standardized formations of standardized houses for standardized humans. Troops of satellite receivers stare wide-eyed at the southern...

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13. Efficiency Culture

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pp. 301-330

If we cut our per-capita electricity consumption in half, overnight, we’d still be using more juice than those living in the Netherlands.1 This World Bank statistic forces us to entertain the possibility that Dutch people live in dark caves...

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14. Asking Questions

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pp. 331-342

If you’re a university department chair attempting to get your environmental program successfully accredited, I am likely the last person you should ask for input. That’s because the techno-fetishistic fruit being marketed by contemporary....

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Epilogue: A Grander Narrative?

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pp. 343-348

When approaching any large challenge, it is sometimes difficult to know where to start, and in our particular global crisis, nations are finding it difficult to determine who should start. In response to the statistic that China is building...

Resources for Future Environmentalists

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pp. 349-353

Notes

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pp. 355-414

Index

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pp. 415-437