Green Illusions
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Green Illusions

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  422 ratings  ·  45 reviews
We don’t have an energy crisis. We have a consumption crisis. And this book, which takes aim at cherished assumptions regarding energy, offers refreshingly straight talk about what’s wrong with the way we think and talk about the problem. Though we generally believe we can solve environmental problems with more energy—more solar cells, wind turbines, and biofuels—alternati...more
Paperback, 456 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by University of Nebraska Press
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I picked this book up at the library hoping it would provide an accurate critique of green technologies and was sorely disappointed. It is very weak on the science and economics of each technology and very biased toward the model of everyone living in dense urban areas and using mass transit - complete with personal references to glorious periods of time lived abroad in energy paradise and fear mongering anecdotes to scare everyone away from each technology.

The errors begin no later than page 7...more
This is a book both devastatingly honest and realistic about the challenges we face, but also full of reasons to be hopeful. Personally, I think it is the only environmental book that really addresses the inter-connectedness of the many challenges we're confronting as a society, and Zehner does so with searing intelligence and quite a bit of humour. His critiques are forceful without being pedantic or accusatory. And his writing is extremely accessible and engaging. What's particularly impressiv...more
Sonali Daneil
Zehner is like us - he does not know the answers, but this book lays out the bigger questions we should be asking and thinking about. The first part of the book exposes a lot of the dirty secrets about clean energy. The latter parts deal with how to move forward. And, the ideas seem a lot more convincing and realistic than a lot of the other ideas floating around out there in green tech la la land.
I want to divide this book into two sections - the first section is awesome. He explains the reality of alternative energies extremely well. I appreciated his point of view and the fact that finally someone is putting into print the realities of the situation. I should have stopped reading there because I would have given it a strong 5 star rating.

My love for this book started to wane with the second half of the book where the author connected everything to our piggish use of energy. Everything...more
This is an amazing book that everyone interested in alternative energies should read. In fact I think ALL of our policy makers should have this book as mandatory reading. The book is easily read, fast paced and full of good anecdotes and straight forward thinking on the 'business' of alternative energy sources. Mr. Zehner offers so many practical solutions to our growing energy crisis. Green Illusions will turn your Alternative Energy thinking on it's head. As I said, Green Illusions is a must r...more
I won this book through a giveaway. I found it to be very interesting and enjoyed that it included both pro and con sides of different types of green energy. I also enjoyed that it wasn't a bore to read :) Keep up the great work Ozzie Zehner! My 14yr old son has requested to read this next :) When he is done I have a friend I will be mailing it to.
Jane Madison
This book exposes corporate greed and disregard for the planet under the cover of green energy. It's revealing, thought-provoking and it changed my mind about a lot of green initiatives (and others I suspected were good and actually are!). Prof. Zehner does not take sides, but shows what's really going on.
Patrick Johnson
I bet this book will change your opinion of putting solar cells on buildings for environmental and health benefits. I definitely thought solar energy through photovoltaic cells was great for the environment. I had overlooked other possibilities. Highly recommend for other environmentally-minded people.
Julia P.
This isn't a big oil book. It is a Deep Green book. Prof. Zehner tells some great stories and shows the real facts that are hidden by corporate influences (even those you thought were green).
Cassie Bennett
This has given me insight into how easily we humans are fooled into believing what we want. Going green has become a religion - a notion I have considered but never followed through with research.
Brigitte Fortin
I found this book to be an interesting, academic and critical evaluation of the current state of environmentalism. It includes a frank discussion on natural gas as an "alternative fuel."
Wow - an eyeopener. A great realistic look at the limitations of renewables, and strong answers - we must simply use less energy! Practical and clear eyed.
Greg Allan Holcomb
I like that the varying sides of arguments for or against a type of energy weren't the same ones that we're beaten over the head with.
Very informative, should have been a 4 but it took me 2 months to finish it!!!!
INteresting evaluation of the pro & cons of green energy
Henri Hämäläinen
Latest book I read was Green Illusions by Ozzie Zehner. For once it was a book I have no preconceptions and I didn't really have a clue what was coming. I don't even know how I actually picked it up and ordered it, but I'm glad I did.

Green Illusions is a book explaining what current green initiatives there are ongoing in the world and why many of those will never solve the actual problem of us ruining the globe. It goes through in very detail solar power, wind power and all other electricity bas...more
Mac Gray
If this were just some conservative oil loving blowhard's diatribe about how alternative energy sucks I would have never bothered picking up the book. It isn't though. Instead this book demonstrates how we fail to see the amount of production and consumption of energy as the problem and we instead fantasize about a future with all the energy we need powered by wind turbines, solar panels, and hydrogen fuel cells.
If you are a liberal who loves solar cells you may hate the first seven chapters wh...more
This is a much needed slap in the face to our mainstream environmental movement. The central premise of the book argues that we are focusing far too much on clean energy production to the exclusion of a reduction in energy consumption. For example, we should be promoting more walkable and bikeable urban communities instead of fantasizing about furnishing our suburban McMansion with the latest and greatest electric car, the latter of which is still incredibly resource-intensive and wasteful in it...more
Kristina Rocks
This book gives a stunning indictment not only of renewable energy, but of our entire social, economic and political system. A way of life that has many superior qualities, but that also encourages exploitation of our natural and human resources for short-term profit. What really disgusted me--even more than the expose on mis-information about so-called green energy or how industries target children in their ads--was the realization that the US government not only allows corporations to do this,...more
Let me summarize this book for you and save you a great deal of time.

The beginning of the book (7 chapters) is about how alternative sources of energy won't produce much energy and how all sources of energy create pollution of one kind or another.

The second half of the book is about how we can reduce energy usage, both through using less energy without significantly reducing quality of life and reducing the population. He does offer clear specific (and ethical) examples of how to do these things...more
Jhone Chris
If this book were just an ax-grinding diatribe against green energy or a climate change denialist, I would not be bothering rating the book. Instead this book offers a lengthy (sometimes too lengthy) analysis of the history, ideology, religion, culture, etc, etc, etc of green identity and the present state of affairs. While he makes no secrets of where his sympathies lie with regard to corporate influence, his more practical ideas are more pro-community than outright socialist manifesto. He ends...more
Jason Smith
We had to read this for class and write a response paper. I wrote about the section on carbon taxes vs energy taxes. The author argues that carbon taxes allow other side effects of energy production like radiation, groundwater pollution, and deforestation to go ahead without the same tax penalty. So, energy production would shift to those technologies and leave us with different problems. He argues for ENERGY tax instead, which brings down all energy consumption, not just the carbon based types.
A very real picture of what is needed to change our approach to reducing the carbon footprint. I recommend this to all.
Nadeeka Danthanarayana
My favourite book on environmentalism. I read for a class at University.
The truths that Ozzie Zehner lays bare about alternative energy sources in this book are a slap in the face for the mainstream environmental movement. I consider myself pretty in the know about the environment and what actions are most effective, but I can’t deny that I have swallowed the mass media’s version of our energy future, thinking that at any time there would be a huge breakthrough which will lower costs for solar or wind or electric batteries and that within a decade or two oil and coa...more
This is a book directed towards Americans about their energy usage and how best to obtain it and use it. As such, it accomplishes its task, but it does so in a very uneven way. The beginning chapters are about the alternatives to fossil fuels. Clearly, it is aimed at the "soft" environmentalists who think that being an environmentalist is as simple as just opposing what the Republicans want. (No diehard Republican would be caught dead reading this book.) In short, the book quite effectively tear...more
This book is in three sections. The first section is a critique of various non-fossil fuel and green energy production options and how they are used in the USA. The second and third sections are Zehner's suggestions of the changes that the USA should make to deal with the future of energy supply and demand.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first section. I worked as a trading analyst for a large energy company for ten years. I know quite a bit about energy options for Europe, and the UK in particular. I...more
Ryan Carroll
What happened to our promise of alternative energy and a better, greener future for America? Author Ozzie Zehner gives a critical and documented insight into the lies and false hopes that alternative energy goals have presented, especially as a platform for environmental good. Zehner demonstrates that it's not the prohibitive cost and limited technology involved in implementing solar cells, wind turbines and nuclear power (among other energy sources) that have stalled these alternatives from tak...more
The opening half provides a very good overview of a range of "green" energy production technologies, such as photovoltaics, wind turbines, and biofuels. Zehner does a good job of highlighting the environmental hazards and drawbacks in all of these technologies. He also argues that there's no guarantee that adoption of any or all of these will reduce fossil fuel consumption; as history has shown, they many simply add to the total quantify of energy we consume, as we burn coal, oil AND solar panel...more
Rohan Ramakrishna
The alternative energy movement/industry has been co-opted by Big Oil and is a massive ruse to get subsidies. Solar power is inefficient. Wind power suffers from unpredictable supply issues and adverse environmental side effects. The risk of nuclear(fission) power is too high. Fusion is unfeasible. Hybrid cars are a red herring and a PR gimmick by the oil and car industries. So where do we go from here?

The author's basic premise is that technology is not a panacea and we need to completely revis...more
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energy policy 1 6 Feb 09, 2014 02:10PM  
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Ozzie Zehner is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley STSC and author of Green Illusions (

He has spoken about energy and environmental issues on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, Science News Radio, New York Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, and numerous college campuses. He has written for a variety of academic texts and magazines including Christian Science Monitor...more
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“Wind is renewable. Turbines are not.” 10 likes
“Environmentalists generally object to battery-powered devices and for good reason: batteries require mined minerals, employ manufacturing processes that leak toxins into local ecosystems and leave behind an even-worse trail of side effects upon disposal. Though when it comes to the largest mass-produced battery-powered gadget ever created—the electric car—environmentalists cannot jump from their seats fast enough to applaud it.” 8 likes
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