Before the Lights Go Out, a book by Maggie Koerth-Baker

I just finished a book that I think portrays well our current situation regarding our use of carbon based fuels.

The author, a contributor to, explains the complexities of the situation as well as the fact that there will likely be no simple solution.  She has clearly spent time understanding the nature of electrical energy generation, transmission, and distribution. She discusses issues associated with the inherent variability of most alternative energy sources.  Distributed generation is discussed as well as the so-called “smart grid.” Unintended consequences of the use of devices that consume electric power more efficiently are also discussed.

In general, I think that this book is well-grounded and presents a balanced view.

Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us
Acknowledgments Page#
Introduction: Choice and Change p. 1
1Making Apple Pie from Scratch p. 9
2One in a Quadrillion p. 22
3The Efficiency Paradox p. 36
4The Emerald City p. 52
5A Box Full of Lightning p. 67
6Good and Good Enough p. 84
7The View from Merriam’s Peak p. 102
8The Take-Charge Challenge p. 121
9The Olive Green Revolution p. 135
10The Default Option p. 150
11Home Fires p. 173
12Bigger Little p. 186
13Good Citizens of the Grid p. 211
Notes p. 226
Index p. 279

And, in case you are wondering, I do believe  that we have a serious problem that requires a pretty speedy response if we are to avoid large and undesirable consequences.


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