Electrify, The Book

Thanks to MIT Press for this preview:

How to Fix Climate Change (A Sneaky Policy Guide)

We may already have a “miracle” fix for climate change: Electrify everything.

Climate change is a planetary emergency. We have to do something now — but what? Saul Griffith, an inventor and renewable electricity advocate (and a recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant), has a plan. In his book “Electrify,” Griffith lays out a detailed blueprint for fighting climate change while creating millions of new jobs and a healthier environment. Griffith’s plan can be summed up simply: Electrify everything. He explains exactly what it would take to transform our infrastructure, update our grid, and adapt our households to make this possible. Billionaires may contemplate escaping our worn-out planet on a private rocket ship to Mars, but the rest of us, Griffith says, will stay and fight for the future.

“I want readers to be able to understand the main arguments of this book without getting stuck in too many details,” he writes in one of the book’s appendices, excerpted below. “Here, I will try to offer you dinner party-ready talking points for the main questions that people will inevitably have for the main argument of the book. Each topic is worthy of a book in itself. If I dispose of a favorite baby of yours too quickly here, or you think I have it all ass-backward, then we should grab a beer sometime.”
—The Editors

Yes, and . . . What about Carbon Sequestration?

Carbon sequestration would be a great technology to support, if only it were a good idea. It is attractive because it gives us the illusion we can just keep on burning fossil fuels if we can figure out how to suck the emissions back out of the air.

This idea derives from the natural processes that have kept our planet in balance for millions of years. Trees, plants, and microbes evolved to turn atmospheric CO₂ into a useful product — biomass or wood. They do so using cascades of elegant chemical reactions and enzymes. Plants create a large surface area in their leaves and branches, which allows them to do a great job of absorbing CO₂ from the atmosphere. All of the planet’s trees and grasses and other biological machines pull a grand total of about 2 gigatons (GT) of carbon a year. To put that in context, our fossil burning is emitting 40 GT a year. Imagining that we can build machines that work 20 times better than all of biology is a fantasy created by the fossil-fuel industry so they can keep on burning…

Read the whole preview here.

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