Sunday, 31 January 2016

Don't buy this book!

I follow a jolly interesting chap on Twitter called Jeremy Leggett who has just written a book entitled "The Winning of The Carbon War". The Carbon War in the title is the battle for a clean energy future versus a dirty fossil fuel based one. The fight for ways to tackle climate change against the business as usual approach that will make global warming worse as time goes on.  Its a war every country is involved in, and which will affect us all whether we like it (or even know it) or not. I've been reading his book as a monthly part work since the first episode came out, and the whole thing is now finished.

But don't buy this book.

Jeremy was trained to look at rocks for oil and gas companies but "saw the light" many years ago and instead turned to running a solar company called Solarcentury. He's also involved with a charity that tries to get more solar power installed in Africa. He knows some of the great and good in the energy world, and a few of the bad as well. He gets invited to some exciting high powered investment meetings around the globe that help shape the future of energy, finance and the society we live in. Whilst not a "general" in the Carbon War, he's definitely one of the officer ranks, and the book shows us foot soldiers in the climate change trenches some of the decision processes at play.

But don't buy this book.

In the book he provides his view of the two years leading up to the UN's COP21 Paris negotiations in December 2015. Its mostly a first person narrative of his travels and meetings in those two years, with a liberal sprinkling of quotes from people he's heard, met or talked with thrown in. He addresses large meetings in halls, talks to campaigners in a village, gets invited to schmooze with captains of industry, chin wags with global politicians, see's first hand some of the victories and defeats of the clean energy industry, marches with protesters and helps direct some of the skirmishes in the Carbon War. Its a peek behind the curtain of the global stage that we rarely get to see and the mainstream media don't cover much.

But don't buy this book!

So why not buy this book?

Is it badly written?  No, it's a pretty good read with just a few typos and bits a proofreader should spot, but nothing serious. The style is quite informal and it draws you along through the world he moves in.

Is the subject matter boring then?  Absolutely not! Whilst a book detailing meeting after meeting sounds like the sort of dry tome that would send you to sleep, Jeremy's narrative style keeps you engaged, and some of the facts that spill out keep you turning the pages to find more. There's much to learn from in this book.

Is Jeremy's writing too biased? Well, obviously he's most definitely sitting on one side of the fence, so we can't say that he is at all neutral. Yet the book never claims to be anything other than his view of the process that he's involved in. Its certainly not a simple sales pitch for his solar company. I'm guessing we'll have to wait for one of the oil, coal or gas bosses or climate change denying politicians to come out with a similar travel diary from their point of view to see the other side of the debates.

No, the reason you shouldn't buy this book is the Jeremy has generously made it freely available for you to download. Now you could buy a paper copy, but I'm going to suggest to you that you don't because:

1) Its yet more "stuff" that needs to be made, stored, shipped and then takes up room in your house.  An e-book can have a lower impact on the planet for many reading habits, which is after all what he's talking about.

2) (much more important) Jeremy's charity in Africa, Solar Aid, needs your support for its mission to help rid the continent of dirty, unhealthy, expensive kerosene lamps and replace them with solar lighting. Rather than buy the paper book and have the profits go to Solar Aid, just give them all the money that you would have spent on the paper book.  Better yet, give them two or three times that.

So please don't buy this book.  Download it, read it, find out about the climate change process and then help Solar Aid tackle some of the problems. Be part of the winning army in the Carbon War.

EDIT: If you're really, really determined to buy this book, Jeremy now has it listed on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. But come on folks - just give your cash to SolarAid!