Most of the stories are about what Madrigal calls failures or what went wrong, He does a good job of pointing out many of the reasons for a technology's failure to thrive: e.
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While a number of the chapters are too short to provide even a superficial survey Lowell, electric car others are interesting and more in-depth my favorite is about Luz International. For a historian of technology the book did not get off to a good start.
On the first page of his introduction Madrigal says "there's almost no institutional memory of what happened before the energy crisis of the '70s, and little of what happened technologically during that time has been documented in any serious way" p. This, he explains, is based on his typing "solar" into the Library of Congress's American Memory site.
The chapters range widely, and perhaps wildly. Madrigal starts off with Lowell,moves to steam power and Pittsburgh, discusses Thoreau, moves on to early wind power in the West, the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania, a [End Page ] short discussion of Reuben Rube Goldberg, and on to early electrification.
Books: Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology – Mother Jones
All of that in the first sixty-eight pages! The book gets interesting when Madrigal writes about solar power. Chapter 12, "The Solar Home of the s," describes the promising early experiments at MIT and the Libbey-Owens-Ford glass company and their ultimate failure due to the convenience and cheapness of the all-electric home compared to the careful and expensive planning and design required of the solar home. This chapter makes good use of dates and sources, which are often lacking in other chapters. Chapter 13 discusses the Solar Energy Research Institute. Chapter 14, the longest, strongest, and most detailed twenty pages , tells the story of Luz International, a solar engineering company that built plants in the Mojave in the s and '90s, and its visionary founder Arnold Goldman.
We are then taken down another path—seven pages on algal research in briny lakebeds of the desert Southwest, the unrivaled algal sample bank collected over twenty years by the National Renewable Energy Lab, and its destruction during the Reagan years.
Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology
It is a very interesting story that deserves more discussion and integration into something larger. The rest are superficial and tend to rant, such Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.
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Putnam--a feat that would not be duplicated for another forty years. Likewise, while many remember the oil embargo of the s, few are aware that it led to a corresponding explosion in green-technology research that was only derailed when energy prices later dropped. Alexis Madrigal is senior editor and lead technology writer for TheAtlantic.
get link He lives in Washington, D. He shows beyond a doubt that the past will lead the way to a greener future.
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Madrigal has produced a kind of anti-history: a chronicle of paths not taken, failed visionaries and cranks, near-misses and fiascos. Along the way there are lessons learned, but no Grand Theories or first principles.
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With epistemic humility that's rare in the green space, Madrigal picks through these events for observations about what seems to work and how we might avoid our past mistakes. Madrigal shows that American policy toward green energy has been a mess, long before this new batch of Republicans went into Congress fixed on dismantling environmental protections. Headlines filled with nuclear disaster and soaring oil prices have reignited the energy debate while news stories about alternative energy focus almost exclusively on the sexiest new technology.
Powering the Dream provides that…This book is far from a dull scientific read.
Madrigal is a storyteller. He seems naturally drawn to the drama of success and failure and the fascinating eccentrics and visionaries that taken part in the battle of energy technologies…Those who are concerned about the future of energy and the environment will find Powering the Dream a very informative and useful resource. With an eye to misfires in America's past…he astutely points to what it might take: technocrats wise enough to see that we need to reinvent not just our technology but our relationship with it.