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Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning (Anglais) Relié – 10 février 2008

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Two things prompted me to write this book. The first was something that happened in May 2005, in a lecture hall in London. I had given a talk about climate change, during which I had argued that there was little chance of preventing runaway warming unless greenhouse gases were cut by 80%[ref]. One of the questions stumped me.

“When you get your 80% cut, what will this country look like?”.

I hadn’t thought about it. Nor could I think of a good reason why I hadn’t thought about it. But a few rows from the front sat one of the environmentalists I admire and fear most, a man called Mayer Hillman. I admire him because he says what he believes to be true and doesn’t care about the consequences. I fear him because his life is a mirror in which the rest of us see our hypocrisy.

“That’s such an easy question I’ll ask Mayer to answer it.”

He stood up. He is 75, but looks about 50, perhaps because he goes everywhere by bicycle. He is small and thin and fit-looking, and he throws his chest out and holds his arms back when he speaks, as if standing to attention. He was smiling. I could see he was going to say something outrageous.

“A very poor third-world country.”

At about the same time I was reading Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Saturday. The hero, Henry Perowne, comes home from a game of squash and steps into the shower.

“When this civilisation falls, when the Romans, whoever they are this time round, have finally left and the new dark ages begin, this will be one of the first luxuries to go. The old folk crouching by their peat fires will tell their disbelieving grandchildren of standing naked mid-winter under jet streams of hot clean water, of lozenges of scented soaps and of viscous amber and vermilion liquids they rubbed into their hair to make it glossy and more voluminous than it really was, and of thick white towels as big as togas, waiting on warming racks.”

Was it my responsibility to campaign for an end to all this? To truncate the luxuries Perowne celebrates and which I - like all middle-class people in the rich world – now take for granted?

There are aspects of this civilisation I regret. I hate the lies and the political corruption, the inequality, the export of injustice, the military adventures, the roads, the noise, the waste. But in the rich nations most people, most of the time, live as all prior generations have dreamt of living. Most of us have a choice of work. We have time for leisure, and endless diversions with which to fill it. We may vote for any number of indistinguishable men in suits. We may think and say what we want, and though we might not be heeded, nor are we jailed for it. We may travel where we will. We may indulge ourselves “up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics.” We are, if we choose to be, well-nourished. Women – some women at any rate – have been released from domestic servitude. We expect effective healthcare. Our children are educated. We are warm, secure, replete, at peace.

For the first three million years of the history of the genus Homo, we lived according to circumstance. Our lives were ruled by the vicissitudes of ecology. We existed, as all animals do, in fear of hunger, predation, weather and disease.

For the following few thousand years, after we had grasped the rudiments of agriculture and crop storage, we enjoyed greater food security, and soon destroyed most of our non-human predators. But our lives were ruled by the sword and the spear. The primary struggle was for land. We needed it not just to grow our crops but also to provide power – grazing for our horses and bullocks, wood for our fires.

Then we discovered the potential of fossil fuels, and everything changed. No longer were we constrained by the need to live on ambient energy; we could support ourselves by means of the sunlight stored over the preceding 350 million years. The new sources of power permitted the economy to grow – to grow sufficiently to absorb some of the people expelled by the previous era’s land disputes. Fossil fuels helped both industry and cities to expand, which in turn helped the workers to organise and to force the despots to loosen their grip.

Fossil fuels helped us fight wars of a horror never contemplated before, but they also reduced the need for war. For the first time in human history, indeed for the first time in biological history, there was a surplus of available energy. We could survive without having to fight someone for the energy we needed. Our freedoms, our comforts, our prosperity are all the products of fossil fuel, whose combustion is also responsible for climate change. Ours are the most fortunate generations that have ever lived. Ours might also be the most fortunate generations that ever will. We inhabit the brief historical interlude between ecological constraint and ecological catastrophe.

Oh, those distant, sunny days of May 2005, when we believed we could solve this problem with a mere 80% cut! After my talk a man called Colin Forrest wrote to me. I had failed, he explained, to take account of the latest science. He sent me a paper he had written whose argument (which I will explain at greater length in the next chapter) I could not fault.

If carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels reaches a certain concentration in the atmosphere – 430 parts per million parts of air – the likely result is two degrees of warming. Two degrees centigrade is the point beyond which certain major ecosystems begin collapsing. Having, until then, absorbed carbon dioxide, they begin to release it. This means that 2° inevitably leads to 3°. This in turn triggers further collapses, releasing more carbon and pushing the temperature 4-5° above pre-industrial levels: a point at which the survival of certain human populations is called into question. Beyond 2° of warming, in other words, climate change is out of our hands: there is nothing we can do to prevent it from accelarating. The only means, Forrest argues, by which we can be fairly certain that the temperature does not rise to this point is for the rich nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2030. This is the task whose feasibility Heat attempts to demonstrate.

So is this a manifesto for the destruction of civilisation? Am I attempting to reduce our lives to those of “a very poor third world country”? No. This book seeks to devise the least painful means possible of achieving this preposterous cut. It attempts to reconcile our demand for comfort, prosperity and peace with the restraint required to prevent us from destroying the comfort, prosperity and peace of other people. And though I began the search for these solutions in the spirit of profound pessimism, I now believe it can be done.

Heat is both a manifesto for action and a thought experiment. Its experimental subject is a medium-sized industrial nation: the United Kingdom. It seeks to show how a modern economy can be de-carbonised while remaining a modern economy. Though the proposals in this book will need to be adjusted in countries with different climates and of greater size, I believe the model is generally applicable: if the necessary cut can be made here, it can be made by similar means almost anywhere.I concentrate on the rich nations for this reason: until we have demonstrated that we are serious about cutting our own emissions, we are in no position to preach restraint to the poorer countries. The rich world’s most common excuse for inaction can be expressed in one word: China. It is true that China’s emissions per person have been rising by around 2% a year. But they are still small by comparison to our own. A citizen of China produces, on average, 2.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. A citizen of the United Kingdom emits 9.5, and of the United States, 20.0. To blame the Chinese for the problem, and to claim that their rapacious appetites render our efforts futile is not just hypocritical. It is, I believe, another manifestation of our ancient hysteria about the Yellow Peril. After looking at what the impacts of unrestrained climate change might be, and at why we have been so slow to respond to the threat, I begin my search for solutions within my own home. I show how years of terrible building, feeble regulations and political cowardice have left us with houses scarcely able to perform their principle function, which is keeping the weather out. I look at the means by which our existing homes could be redeemed and better ones could be built, and discover what the physical and economic limits of energy efficiency might be.

I would like to believe that the changes I suggest could be achieved by appealing to people to restrain themselves. But though some environmentalists, undismayed by the failure of the past 40 years of campaigning, refuse to see it, self-enforced abstinence alone is a waste of time.

What is the point of cycling into town when the rest of the world is thundering past in monster trucks? By refusing to own a car, I have simply given up my road space to someone who drives a hungrier model than I would have bought. Why pay for double-glazing when the supermarkets are heating the pavement with the hot air blowers above their doors? Why bother installing an energy-efficient lightbulb when a man in Lanarkshire boasts of attaching 1.2 million Christmas lights to his house? (Mr Danny Meikle told journalists that he needs two industrial meters to measure the electricity he uses. One year his display melted the power cable supplying his village. The name of the village - which proves, I think, that there is a God - is Coalburn.) …. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Revue de presse


“Each furious chapter in Heat throws out more intellectual challenges by the page than the Canadian media does in a year. . . . Uncompromising in its message, intelligence and honesty. Parents. . . should consider it required reading.”
The Globe and Mail

Heat is funny and fully aware of its own self-delusions. . . . [Monbiot] understands that any campaign for a renewable and sustainable energy future is really a campaign against ourselves and the ways we choose to live our lives.” —Boston Globe

“The great thing about this book is that, while it contains much useful information about the cowardice and futile gesture-making of our elected politicians, it doesn't paint a completely bleak picture. . . . [Monbiot] does this all in a most winning way. For a doom-and-gloom merchant (which he isn't unless you have vested interests), he has quite a perky sense of humour. This is more than just a pleasant stylistic filigree. It shows that he can sympathise with the ordinary human reaction.” —The Guardian

Heat is a well-written and well-argued attack on pernicious corporations, governmental spin and individual complacency and shows that the only possible solution is a drastic reduction in our consumption of carbon-intensive products and services.” —Observer

Heat is a solidly researched manifesto for change. . . . The combination of practical detail and creative thinking is immensely impressive.” — Guardian (UK)

Heat is a comprehensive and compelling examination of the measures needed to deal with this, our most pressing environmental problem.” —The Scotsman

“A cogently argued book that is easily the best of the latest climate-change crop.” —Observer (UK)

“Monbiot’s research, complete with an up-to-date forward to the Canadian edition, is thorough, footnoted and detailed. This is not just another attempt to convince you global warming is happening and leave you there. In an engaging and accessible way, Monbiot outlines what can and should be done about it.” — Edmonton Journal

“A book that anyone who thinks they know what should be done about global warming must read.”
—John Gray, in The New Statesman

“I was hooked right away. It's by far the best single source on climate change that I've read: rigorously researched, honestly argued, and very well written.”
— Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress

“With a dazzling command of science and a relentless faith in people, George Monbiot writes about social change with his eyes wide open. I never miss reading him.”
— Naomi Klein, author of No Logo

“This book is a brilliant and terrifying critique of the crisis of human-induced climate change, and the prospects of stabilizing temperatures before catastrophic runaway warming ensues. George Monbiot brushes aside our rationalizations to maintain the status quo, shallow targets and mechanisms, and the empty promises of political rhetoric and corporate PR spin, to examine the real opportunities and what has to be done to achieve up to 90 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the industrialized nations.”
David Suzuki

“George Monbiot has written a stunning book.  It could easily be titled The End of Hypocrisy, because Monbiot systematically unveils the denial, deceit, and self-delusion that are our common responses to the enormous challenge of global warming. . . .  Then with a step-by-step plan grounded in the latest research he explains how we can achieve a 90 percent reduction–in our vehicles, factories, retail centres, and homes–without wrecking our standard of living. When it comes to global warming, it’s time to stop being hypocrites and get on with saving the planet, and this book shows us how.”
Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Ingenuity Gap and The Upside of Down

“Monbiot is ahead of the pack. Instead of just warning us about climate change, he lays out clearly and engagingly what we can still do to stop it. This powerful book is for anyone serious about confronting what appears to be the most urgent crisis of our time.”
Linda McQuaig, author of War, Big Oil, and the Fight for the Planet: It’s the Crude, Dude

"An engaging, lively, and sometimes fiery analysis of the possible technological and political responses to the crisis of climate change, that starts where so much of the debate remains stalled. To those who say that the requirements of the Kyoto protocol are impossible to meet, Monbiot responds not only that it is possible to hit far, far more ambitious targets, but that it is urgently imperative that we do so. And then he shows how.”
David Chernushenko, deputy leader, Green Party of Canada, and climate change critic.

“Avoiding disastrous climate change is the central challenge of our time. George Monitor addresses it with wit, verve, and rigor. He shows that all of our excuses for inaction are just that — excuses. If you care about the future of the planet, you should read Heat, and then give a copy to a friend.”
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.

Praise for George Monbiot’s work:

“George Monbiot knows not only that things ought to change, but also that they can change. . . . At last, the global movement has found a vision as expansive and planet-wide as that of the American neoconservatives.”
Independent on Sunday

“As he well says, if we do not like his ideas, then think of better ones. He believes that leaving things as they are is not a serious option.”
Financial Times

“Monbiot is a writer of eloquence and passion. . . . The most astute political and ecological cartographer of his time.” —Observer

“Appealing, provocative and idealistic … shows that alternatives are possible.”
Sunday Times

“We need people like Monbiot more than ever before.”
New Scientist

“Not only challenges us to question the status quo, but also inspires us to want to change it.”

“The originality of this thought makes him uniquely influential.”
The Times (London)

From the Trade Paperback edition. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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58 internautes sur 67 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Bullseye! 26 novembre 2006
Par Stephen A. Haines - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
With many politicians and scientists asserting that the Kyoto Protocol emissions levels cannot be met, should we abandon it for an "alternative solution". George Monbiot says that's the wrong question. The proper query is: "Have we really tried?" Monbiot thinks not and lists numerous cases of inattention, indifference and downright dishonesty in why our society continues to pour greenhouse gases into the air we breathe. However, unlike so many viewing our climate situation with alarm, Monbiot is neither a "calamity howler" nor a hand-wringing commentator waiting for somebody else to set a good example. Instead, this book is a catalogue of solutions to the problem.

None of the correctives proposed here are beyond us, either as individuals or nations. Monbiot, with admirable clarity and understanding of how to accomplish them, lines out easily implemented steps we can take and/or propose to our neighbours. After introductory comments on various "alternate" energy options, Monbiot discusses how we reached the energy consumption levels we enjoy. He deems our situation a "Faustian Pact" and heads each chapter with a quote from Christopher Marlowe's play "Doctor Faustus". Like Faust, we have made a deal, but it's with Nature, not with a devil. For Monbiot, Mephistopheles is fossil fuel and our use of it has advanced. The time for settling up on the bargain is now.

After a massive research effort, Monbiot is able to describe the problem in graphic detail and targets the means of continuing our existence. He quickly dismisses the "envirosceptics" as people who are as out of touch as those who believe in magic. There are some imposing numbers involved. The UK uses 400 terawatt hours per year. A terawatt is a one with twelve zeros trailing after it. Why, for a society of that size, is the number so big? The author examines closely and clearly the circumstances he lives in and how those are threatening the future. Housing and other buildings must be built or retrofitted to exacting standards. Most importantly, those standards must be enforced. Roads that expand capacity which is quickly filled is exactly the wrong policy. The same is true for airports, which encourage more carbon dioxide-producing flights.

His chapter on transportation is even more arresting than the one on housing and buildings. He's particularly scathing on the Bush administration's encouragement of "biofuels" to replace petrol. The lands taken up to produce ethanol will reduce even existing croplands and could instead be turned over to reforestation projects. The types of crops that would provide petrol replacement are hugely thirsty, adding to the depletion of an already overtaxed water supply. Air travel is a conundrum even this perceptive observer cannot resolve. Transatlantic flights, the transport of "exotic" foods to our mega-grocers to entice our palates, and the long-distance vacations generate an astonishing amount of pollutants. How many "business" flights can be replaced by teleconferencing? Yes, if you're dealing with somebody in Sydney, one of you will have to arise early. There will be adjustments, but these need not be severe.

Monbiot devises a cute catch phrase to arouse individual sensitivity to the immediacy of the task ahead. He proposes all people be assigned "icecaps". This isn't a cure for hangover, but a weight measured in acceptable carbon emissions per person. The "cap" is the maximum allowable carbon discharge we each produce to keep the planet cool enough for us to survive. From these "caps" Monbiot demonstrates the costs involved in maintaining them. That is the particular advantage of this book over the extensive list of other "climate change" works. Monbiot's cost assessment and value received for whatever investment we can make in protecting our children and ourselves. And children, as Monbiot admits "discovering" in his concluding chapter, is what this book and the circumstances it describes is all about. Having produced an offspring, Monbiot is keen to see her survive in a liveable world. It's a feeling many of us share.

Although this book's focus is United Kingdom, the issues are global. The book should be left in hotel rooms instead of those works of fiction called The Gideon Bible. As my copy is a "Canadian Edition", perhaps a first step has been taken. In his Foreword in this edition, Monbiot notes how poorly Canada is performing in emission control. He almost presciently forecasts the hopelessly inadequate "Made in Canada Solution" introduced by the present Conservative government. Even Monbiot, however, could not have seen our "solution" will require that government to be elected to power eleven times before the provisions come into effect. What is the situation in your country? [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
21 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Incisive, as ever, but UK emphasis 2 novembre 2006
Par H Marcuse - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
An oddly disappointing book. Chiefly because GM talks mostly about the UK, not the world.

I guess GM isnt flying 'abroad' much these days, as jet aircraft are the most noxious carbon emitters he has discovered.

His columns pack a wallop, they are diffused in his book.

However, it is likely one of the most important books around.

.......... T CO2 per person

china..... 2.7

UK........ 9.5

USA....... 20.0

"micro wind turbines a waste of time and money"

I recall staying in a hippie hovel on Great Barrier Island. On the roof was a bicycle wheel with a hub generator. Pieces of tin as vanes, in the spokes. Fantastically inefficient, but on an island miles from any grid, a zero-cost way to run a radio, or charge a cell phone (which didnt exist then).

Tens of thousands of outback farms used small windmills to pump water. Way less investment than pv/electric.

GM reckons that emissions trading is like shoving food around your plate & pretending its eaten.

Taxes are unfair. What we need is rations & regulations. I cant fault him, but on my bicycle in clouds of carbon, it seems unlikely.

At present: Huge subsidies to carbon, falling investment in alternatives.

GM scatters mentions of good things being done in Germany & Sweden & Switzerland etc.

Then he returns to Leaky houses in gloomy England venting scads of carbon.

Giant Plasma TVs 5x crt

Vacuum panel fridges 12% of current fridge energy use.

Smart meters: an idea he doesnt develop.

We have the smart sensors to turn streetlights, roomlights on only when something moves nearby.

Water heaters should heat water just before its needed (they could learn)

Dimmed lights until you need to find something.

Burying CO2: GM is bullish, although he admits the maps of suitable strata arent available.

I fear this is a boondoggle.

Worlds powerstations: 10.4E9T/yr (nice to see a 'world' figure)

He mentions 'underground coal gassification' but omits the more realistic CCCGassification, which SciAm claims may be the only realistic way to capture CO2.

Uranium. The blatant unreality of the situation where the State agrees that nuclear power doesnt need to insure against disaster. The constant leaks. Every reactor sits beside a pool cooling spent fuel. If the pool dries, tens of thousands die, cities become wastelands.

The good ore isnt plentiful.

Highvoltage DC cables (1700km in DRCongo) mean that wind etc can be spread about.

"In Helsinki 98% of heating comes from district schemes" - we need another book maybe "New Energy schemes in continental Europe" , GM's book begins to seem like "dreary failure of Englands energy vision"

GM rabbits on about Hydrogen "fairly cheap" (sic) - I fear he has bought into another big-carbon boondoggle.

On Land transport, GM reckons that buses are best. I regretfully must concur. I hate the things, from a bicycle seat they are unhuman scale. The answer seems to be to give them special lanes. Fine on Freeways, but in the city, the kerbmost lane is designated bus-only. Guess where bikes go?

Buses are ten times more efficient than cars.

GM doesnt bite the bullet and recognise that we meed micro-transport; 30kph electric cars, more like golf carts than current cars. We could drive one to the bus stop, then use another (hired) to drive around town.

Europe features briefly again: "Holland,Germany,Switzerland & Denmark several different kinds.. vehicle tracking systems, gps, call centres, shared taxis."

I await the European Energy book for more details.. this isnt it.

Fast trains: above 180kph they use huge amounts of fuel.

Shop and shopping trips are a huge waste. GM'sobvious answer is delivery.

Air travel: There is no solution, we just must stop flying. I personally vote to allow GM to fly to conferences anywhere in the world. He deserves the break.

Hydrogen airships at 130kph are ok, but dodgy in strong winds.

Some of the things GM attacks seem perverse. He criticises tree planting for offsets, but I reckon tree planting per se is a darn good thing. GM also hits out at the 'rebound' effect whereby increase in efficiency is followed by increase in use such that more energy is used. GM may be correct in saying that regulation is required, but its hardly an argument against efficiency.

Read this book, but keep an eye out for the real book on 'how to stop the planet burning'
18 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Written in a language even America may understand... 8 janvier 2007
Par M. Correia - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I have yet to find a more illuminating write up on the subject of Global Warming.

Monbiot is convincing and challenging at the same time; this book flat out asks the reader to either pay attention or go out and find a better examination on the issue.

Precise and without fanfare, Monbiot brings a most burning problem close to every home and incites discussion and interest.

Buy one for yourself and three to give to the most important persons in your life.
14 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
What would it take? 5 juin 2007
Par Stephen Balbach - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Heat is an optimistic response to more pessimistic works such as Lovelock's The Revenge of Gaia which suggest we should prepare for the consequences because it is too late. Monbiot asks the hard question: what specific solutions could reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2050 and thus save the world from the worst impacts of global warming?

He examines electricity production, transportation, housing and in some case examples, retail stores and concrete production. Relying on government reports, think tanks and other sources he discovers that it may "just" be possible, so long as a society we approach it like we did WWII, with a massive and focused effort and some sacrifices. Except for long distance travel (by air, train or ship), everything else it should be possible, says Monbiot, to reduce by 90%.

Monbiot mainly addresses England. However, England is one of the worlds best organized countries politically and economically, so anything difficult for England is going to nearly impossible for other nations - can Georgia or Belarus or Chile or China reduce carbon emissions by 90%? It is a global problem and Monbiot doesn't look beyond England and the US, thus it is difficult to see how the entire world can turn around in such a short period of time. There are big areas that Monbiot does not address, such as agriculture. He also does not look at "climate surprises" or tipping points, where a little CO2 increase by humans triggers a massive CO2 release in nature (see Fred Pearce With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change).

Monbiot is optimistic solutions are available, but I found his solutions so politically difficult to implement, and nearly impossible globally, I came away even more depressed about our prospects. However, one thing is clear, we have no choice but to try.
10 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent evaluation of problems & solutions for global warming 21 mai 2007
Par H. Mccartor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Monbiot accepts the reality of global warming and looks closely at the measures at hand we can use to prevent the worst possibilities. I am impressed with the thoroughness with which he has researched the problems for our homes, our power and transport systems and the possible solutions. He is optimistic if we make maximal effort soon but somewhat pessimistic about the political will to do so. He is convinced that we will largely have to do with technology that already exists, although often not yet developed, rather than hoping for major scientific breakthroughs because of the typically long delay in implementing new energy technology. I would urge you to read this book if you want to understand the trade offs that will be required to meet the global warming threat.

Since writing this review I have come across another very important book on energy policy -A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies by the Yale economist, William Nordhaus. This book looks at the trade-offs of various approaches to ameliorating global warming using computer modeling to forecast the cost and results. A gradually increasing carbon tax, maximal participation by all nations and industries and support for alternative energy research come out best. The Gore approach (which is similar to Monbiot's) of stringent carbon restriction from the start ends up costing much more to reach the same results which surprised me.
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