Walt Patterson On Energy
What they are saying about Electricity Vs Fire: The Fight For Our Future
“This is a wonderful, provocative and enlightening book. After more than 50 years working in the
‘energy economy’, Walt Patterson has come up with a compelling new story. Sweeping back over
the whole history of humankind’s use of energy, he reveals our day-to-day lives through a different lens,
changing the language to help us focus on the differences between fire-fed forms of energy
(from coal, oil, gas and even nuclear) and fire-free electricity from the sun and other renewables.
In urging us to stop ‘feeding the fire’ he maps out what is in essence ‘the most fundamental transformation’
of the way we live on Earth. A revolution, in effect, as we move from the Fire Economy
to the Electric Economy.”
- Jonathon Porritt CBE, co-founder Forum For The Future, former chair, UK Sustainable Development Commission
"This is a short, engaging and inspiring book. And it may change the way you look at one of the most important issues
in the world: how people make and use energy. In it, Walt Patterson tells the fascinating story of a
current global transformation: the move of human societies away from dependence on fire. Walt Patterson succeeds
here in providing the kind of easy distillation of complexity that can only be achieved by a real master of the field.
The book is fascinating in its insightful details and compelling in its general arguments. It wears great scholarship
with ease - offering authoritative understanding without the need for references.
"As a pioneer of independent critical thought on these issues, Walt Patterson has often had to work under great adversity.
His kind of vision and analysis threatens many entrenched interests. But on issues like the safety and economics
of nuclear power; the potential and feasibility of renewables; and the move of focus away from centralised energy supply
to distributed smart energy demand, Walt Patterson's early carefully-reasoned advice has repeatedly and consistently
ended up being shown to be right.
"Only time will tell. But the signs are that Walt's done it again."
- Andy Stirling, co-director, STEPS Centre, University of Sussex
"Walt Patterson shows why electricity, once discovered, became the delivered energy of choice.
He argues that the last stage in its progress towards a cleaner, safer future will be
to squeeze fire out of its production altogether. Inspiring stuff for an essential energy debate!"
- David Fisk CB, Professor of Systems Engineering and Innovation, Imperial College, London
"You’ve written a book that is a very engaging, and very personal, a tour of the whole history
and range of our human experience. But you’ve brought that whole story together to give a powerful insight
into the central challenge of how we move forward sustainably. It’s as if you have reduced everything to
the simple concept of 'fire' only to show us that inside that concept there is a whole universe of understanding.
"It’s always been a privilege for me to have learned from you. What’s really wonderful is
how you just keep me opening new doors to learn from!"
- Ronan Palmer, Chief Economist, Environment Agency, UK
"Walt Patterson’s book strips bare our thinking about how we heat, cool, light and power our lives.
He even manages to put the popular use of the word ‘energy’ under a spotlight – a natural one, of course.
Whatever you think about the carbon issue or the use of resources, this book will fire up some new questions."
- David Porter, former Chief Executive, Energy UK
"It won't be a new and improved light bulb that transpires the transition to a brighter future,
it will be a new and improved narrative. In Electricity Vs Fire: The Fight For Our Future,
physicist and master storyteller Walt Patterson provides a hopeful metaphor for our troubled times. Read it and leap!"
- Ralph Torrie, Principal, Torrie Smith, Canada
"If there is one person in the world who can write a book about energy without using the word 'energy' that is Walt Patterson.
Walt's vision in the field of energy began more than 50 years ago. Today his vision is beautifully synthesized in his latest book...
an excellent manual of how humans can do things differently ... for humans to recover the ancient love story between our planet and the Sun.
... for humans stop being predatory exploiters of natural ecosystems and other human beings and start cooperating with both of
them...to learn to live with the rhythm of the Sun.
"In the The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake (1757-1827) wrote 'Energy is eternal delight'.
Now Walt Patterson writes: 'We should rescue the valuable word "energy", and restore its original meaning, as
scientists and engineers have always understood it. Energy is the unifying principle of the universe... ".
"Many thanks for writing this marvelous book."
- Josep Puig, Chairman, Board of Trustees, EUROSOLAR - The European Association for Renewable Energy
"The change that must occur is delightfully and simply explained in a comparison of Electricity Vs Fire.
Read it and you will agree that we need to put the fire out."
- Carl Weinberg, worldwide Consultant, former manager of R&D, Pacific, Gas and Electric Company, California
"Walt Patterson provides an eminently succinct and readable account of the physical and chemical processes
and the historical developments on which society’s current energy systems are based. He describes the problems which our current ways
of obtaining energy services are causing for humanity and the planet. He then describes how use of
currently available technologies, and the efficient use of electricity generated from sources not burning carbon fuels,
could overcome these problems.
"The word ‘climate’ does not appear at all in the book. In every other respect,
however, it could not differ more widely from the Australian government’s recently published Energy White Paper.
Electricity vs Fire: The fight for our future should be compulsory reading for everyone who believes
that energy is a commodity or that markets for fossil fuels and electrons are the best means of
guaranteeing society’s continuing future access to safe and secure energy services."
- Hugh Saddler, Principal Consultant Energy Strategies, Pitt&Sherry, Australia
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