MixedFinancial Times (UK)In his zeal to make his argument, Smil can over-reach ...This is a shame, because it detracts from a central argument that is undeniable: for all the vows that countries and companies are making to ditch fossil energy and reach net zero emissions by 2050, progress outside electricity generation has been achingly slow ... Yet the larger problem with the book is that, while it deftly diagnoses many of the obstacles to decarbonisation, it offers far too little in the way of policy remedies. Indeed, political considerations of any sort are curiously absent. For a scholar of Smil’s breadth, this is disappointing ... His deep understanding of the slow pace of past energy transitions may make him overly pessimistic about the prospect of a rapid green shift today. But the current crop of global leaders are offering depressingly little policy action to disprove his analysis any time soon.
MixedFinancial Times (UK)... what looks like the book for this moment...Alas, it does not quite deliver ... The first part of this story is deftly told, starting in the US with the pioneers who beat considerable odds to find a way to extract oil and gas from underground rocks known as shale. Yergin writes with the flair for dramatic detail that helped him win a 1992 Pulitzer for The Prize, a magisterial history of the oil industry ... Readers of The Quest, Yergin’s 2011 follow-up to The Prize, will find some of the new book’s terrain familiar. A little too familiar in parts ... There is, nonetheless, much to admire elsewhere. In chapters on China, the Middle East and Russia, Yergin offers sprightly insights for any general reader seeking to understand tensions in the South China Sea and the strife-torn Middle East or the background to Vladimir Putin’s efforts to restore Russia to great power status ... Yet readers keen to learn about the impact of climate change and the energy transition must wait until well after the book’s halfway mark ... But anyone hoping to read about solar power’s answer to George Mitchell, or about the people shaping the multibillion-dollar offshore wind industry, or the oil chief executives trying to drag their companies into the renewable energy business will be disappointed ... The foundations of the global energy system have shifted; it is hard to imagine a reversal and the book that explains who was responsible, how they did it and what happens next is still waiting to be written.
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)Klein is a gifted writer and there is little doubt about the problem she identifies ... Uncertainties remain over the role of climate change in specific extreme weather events and the precise impact of future warming. Klein acknowledges these but argues the risk is so great that emissions must be cut. This is not radical thinking. The International Energy Agency, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund all say emissions have to come down ... her arguments about why leaders have failed to respond adequately are not always persuasive ... And some of her prescriptions for how a shift to a fairer, renewable energy-based economy might be achieved...are precisely what groups from the IMF to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have long proposed ... Klein would say we no longer have time to see if such centrist prescriptions will work. A centrist might say we don’t have time to wait for capitalism to be dismantled to find out. But the longer the world waits for any meaningful response to a changing climate, the more appealing her arguments may become.
MixedFinancial Times (UK)It bears all the marks that have made Gladwell one of the most successful non-fiction authors of his generation. Superb writing. Masterful structure. Eye-catching facts drawn from elegantly repurposed academic studies ... This time, the result is just as enjoyable to read, yet also oddly unsatisfying ... It appears at a time when trust in political leaders and institutions is under acute strain. Yet it avoids examination of, say, a figure such as President Donald Trump, whose leadership surely says much about our understanding of those we do not know. The book feels incomplete and distant as a result. It is too much to say that the times no longer suit Gladwell. But this would have been a better book if it took a harder look at the troubled age in which it has been published.