The Energy Glut

Posted November 23, 2017 by Denzil in Reviews / 2 Comments

energy glut ZED Books
The Energy Glut by Ian Roberts
Published by Zed Books Ltd. on April 4th 2013
Genres: Political Science, Public Policy, Environmental Policy, Medical, Public Health, Epidemiology
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781848138704
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World-wide, over a billion adults are overweight and 300 million are officially 'obese', more than 3,000 people die every day on the world's roads and global warming and war threaten our survival as a species. The Energy Glut tells the story of energy and how our abuse of fossil fuel energy links all of these public issues as manifestations of the same fundamental planetary malaise. This exciting new book argues that the pulse of fossil fuel energy released from the ground after the discovery of oil not only started the process of catastrophic climate change, but also propelled the average human weight distribution upwards. The author presents a frightening vision of humans besieged by a food industry that uses sophisticated marketing techniques to sell mountains of energy-dense food to those who are 'functionally paralysed', with fewer opportunities to move our bodies than ever before. We see why the accumulation of body fat is a political, not a personal, problem. This insightful new work offers and appraises for the reader a set of personal and political de-carbonising strategies, but to 'tread more lightly on our world' we first need to make sense of the systemic processes, and The Energy Glut takes expert first steps in this direction.

This is an excellent book that deserves to be read, achieve best-sellers’ lists and made compulsory reading at schools and colleges.

The authors don’t mince their words: “the human race is getting fatter and the planet is getting hotter, and fossil fuels are the cause of both.” With an easy style and credible statistics, they then explain their thinking and lay the blame firmly at the over-use of motorized vehicles: “motorization has meant that petroleum has replaced food as the main energy source for human movement.”

That global fatness and global aspects of the same energy problem is no new scenario – I can vaguely remember something along these lines being reported in The Sun newspaper a few years ago! – but here the authors give the problem a weight of supporting data and incontrovertible evidence.

They first introduce the global obesity epidemic before focusing on the main villains of the story – motorization and food. But the authors do not lay the blame on personal failings, instead stating that obesity is the normal human response to a sick environment – the natural consequence of living in a world flooded with cheap energy. They point the finger at the oil & gas companies, the marketing gurus and the politicians. They then examine in detail why fossil fuel energy is so cheap and looks at the consequences.

So much for the problems – what about some solutions? The authors are not short on them either, although the practicalities of some of them may need some serious, if not downright revolutionary, thinking. But the end result will undoubtedly be positive for the planet and its inhabitants: “Treading more lightly on our planet will make us healthier and happier and richer in every sense of the word.”

I congratulate Mr Roberts and Mr Edwards for researching and writing such an excellent and relevant book. I still can’t make my mind up though if they are idealists, describing solutions that unfortunately will never be implemented, or prophets, looking forward to the inevitable day when the oil runs out and these measures will simply have to be implemented.

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2 responses to “The Energy Glut

  1. Hans De Keulenaer

    We’ve heard about the energy-water nexus as well as about the energy-food nexus. This book appears to touch on the latter, while introducing an energy-health nexus. It keeps amazing me how energy touches on so many aspects of life in such a significant manner.

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