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Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  189 ratings  ·  38 reviews
The near-meltdown of Fukushima, the upheavals in the Middle East, the BP oil rig explosion, and the looming reality of global warming have reminded the president and all U.S. citizens that nothing has more impact on our lives than the supply of and demand for energy. Its procurement dominates our economy and foreign policy more than any other factor. But the "energy questi ...more
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Published August 27th 2012 by Tantor Media (first published 2012)
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Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines by Richard A. Muller

"Energy for Future Presidents" is the educational, informative and accessible book on energy. The book covers popular topics on energy: energy disasters, energy landscape (modes of transportation), and "new" technologies. Professor of physics and author, Richard A. Muller, succeeds in providing the public a wonderful topical book that covers the most important topics on energy. The author uses a cleaver approach i
Richard M. Muller, a physics professor at University of California Berkeley, has written another book on science and national policy, this one focused on energy use. His previous book Physics for Future Presidents, had a broader scope. Topics covered include the 2011 nuclear accidents at Fukushima, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010, climate change, the recent group in natural gas and shale oil reserves from a combination of fracking and horizontal drizzling, energy productivity (aka efficienc ...more
Christian Dibblee
A book well worth reading, if only for the purpose of learning about the overriding energy considerations currently at play. The science is certainly interesting, even if it's tough to remember going forward. If there's a complaint I have, it's almost that the fire hose of information may be totally undigestible...I find it hard to believe a lay reader could remember lots of the key numbers/scientific theories in here.

Muller harps consistently on natural gas as the obvious outlet for future ener
Neil Coulter

This is just the book I was looking for after reading Michael E. Mann's The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (reviewed here). Mann helped me understand the climate change issue more clearly than I ever had before, and at the end of his book I wanted to know: what do I do? Do I buy carbon credits? only use electric cars? buy compact fluorescent light bulbs for all my friends? I wanted to do something, but I didn't really know what to do.

Then I saw a review of Richard A. Muller's Energy for Futur

My full review is here:

It's well written. Many will disagree with his thoughts on EV's and natural gas though. He is very pro-nuclear, but his arguments are very convincing, I have to admit.
Awesome book, very balanced, very informative, sticks to the science and the policy implications. Muller speaks with reason and authority, and everythign you'd want to know about the realities of energy storage, production, and use in our world today.

Electric cars? Bad; batteries are too expensive
Hybrid cars? Good, mostly
Solar power? Good, but very limited potential
Wind power? Good, but also limited potential
Global warming? Real, but not as big a problem as some say. Also not as much we can do a
Karina van Schaardenburg
This book is good if you want a comprehensive overview and justification of current energy policies. It's also good for a detailed description of the mechanics of fossil fuel technologies and nuclear. I learned a lot from this book.

That said, I hated this book. Muller acknowledges that there's an inherent tension between short term economics and long term climate change. Without going through climate change models, or mentioning the number of degrees of warming that scientists think we can susta
Ralph Hermansen
The name of the book is, "Energy for Future Presidents" written by Richard A Muller. I became aware of this important book while watching the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. Richard Muller was Rachel's guest and he was discussing his new book with her. This author had become a news item worth reporting on the show because he had changed from being a skeptic about global warming into a convinced scientist. He stated that global warming is real and that 99% of it is due to human causes. Moreover, the ...more
If you believe (in a religious sense) in electric vehicles and their utility, at least one chapter in this book is sure to piss you off. However, if you can put that aside, this book is an _excellent_ survey of the state of energy around the world. Richard Muller teaches a great class at Berkeley called "Physics For Future Presidents" see YouTube playlist here: Muller excels in making difficult concepts easy to understand, provide reasonable data without ...more
Muller walks the reader thru all the hype around global warming and energy sources to reach the science behind it. And he does it in an entertaining and clear way. Nuclear power, gasoline, electric, natural gas, wind and solar; learn their advantages and disadvantages.

Why I started this book: Christmas present from my brother.

Why I finished it: I've talked to my co-workers about this, I've talked to my roommate and I will gladly talk to a random stranger about this. Fascinating, informative and
Caitlin Riggs
Excellent book that hits current events in Energy as they relate to government policy in the US. A great read for those interested in learning a little of everything when it comes to US energy, getting started with understanding why we use energy sources the way we do, and what energy sources may take over in the future.
My dear most clever boy,

I'm glad you asked me to read this book. I'm thinking everyone should read this—not just future presidents! This is the book to read to understand the issues of today in regard to energy. It’s got it all—oil, nuclear, climate change, alternative energy, natural gas, everything. Though there are several science-y things in here that I don’t really understand, it is mostly intelligible to me. It is the most reasonable and transparent view of these issues that I have ever re
Abdelhamid Abdou
In this book Richard Muller takes the reader in a journey to learn about energy. The book covers different energy sources and discuss their potential. It clears a number of misconceptions circulated by the media around topics like the dangers of nuclear energy and the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

I recommend this book because it will give you a good overview of energy topics and allow you to make informed choices as a citizen about the different energy challenges we face today.
Tim Sneath
Learned so much from this book about the myths and misunderstandings of energy security and climate change. He has a clear point of view, but it's based in data and current research. This book will date quickly, I suspect, but it's a great primer on a topic that is filled with misconceptions and strong opinions.
Alexander Lesher
There is a wealth of good information and many logical approaches here that are refreshing to read. Unfortunately, the author doesn't seem to always hold himself to that same logic but it does become a fascinating read in rhetoric.
Rishi Garg
This book offers excellent basic science explanations for most modern energy-related policy problems, technology questions and newsworthy disasters. I gave it three stars only because it failed to account for the radioactive fish/water issue that has emerged due to Fukashima. Mr. Muller did not address the matter in his book and it seems now to be important and potentially catastrophic. I wish Mr. Muller spent more time discussing energy broadly, something he does at the end of the book but only ...more
Sarah C
Muller's latest book for future presidents was able to break the energy crisis down for the lay person yet again. I found his thoughts to be provoking, and insightful. It made me think about some my energy choices both now and in the future, although I do not think I will stop recycling. As with any non-fiction author it is always important to remember the author is writing with a certain amount of bias, so weigh his thoughts against what you believe, and do your own research. However, I feel li ...more
Sam Motes
A one sided look at the options available for future energy sources and policies that covers everything from why fracking isn't as bad as some believe, to why bio fuels and full electric cars are not the angels of carbon footprint reduction they are made out to be. Certainly seems to error on the side of wait and see rather than taking action against global warming and seemed to be right in the camp of the FUD slingers Conway warned about in his book "Merchants do Doubt". Still some interesting ...more
Alex B
I liked this one better than Physics for Future Presidents (which I enjoyed but didn't go nuts for).
Excellent discussion on energy sources, technology and the energy culture in the 21st Century.
Chris Bowman
Informative and easy to read. Well worth the time.
John Wyss
The first chapter was good, had some interesting points about fukushima and presented some actual scientific evidence. I would have kept reading but the next chapter on the gulf oil spill was absurd. The primary evidence the author cited that for the spill not being as bad as it was made out to be, was a study done by BP. Seriously? How I am supposed to take that seriously? I stopped reading at that point.
Adam Hallihan
One of the best books I have read that does not present a one-sided argument for a certain energy source, renewable or otherwise. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for information to draw their own conclusions about renewable energy sources and not be fed information by someone with a vested interest. I am going to take excerpts from his book and use it in my environmental science class that I teach.
Superb. I was a fan of physics for future presidents and I think this book is even better. There is objective analysis of the economics of our various energy sources and a sobering look at how the future of global warming is almost entirely in the hands of the developing world (China in particular).

Highly recommended as an accessible, fascinating read into the present and future energy landscape.
Ira Brodsky
Very interesting and relatively non-technical survey of energy solutions. Though Muller famously changed his mind about global warming, I'm not sure he chnaged his mind all that much. The book's greatest asset is that it provides a fair and realistic assessment of different solutions, revealing what's real, what's hype, and what's exaggerated.
As an environmentalist, Muller challenged my views and simplified many issues regarding energy today. His perspective is invaluable and proves all points with facts and statistics. This is a must read for anyone remotely concerned with the world's energy supply today. On a side note, I was recommended this by another physicist.

Helpful book. I'd also recommend reading "Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air" ( for a similar physical perspective (with detailed calculations and so on) but coming to slightly different conclusions.
Tutti dovrebbero leggerlo, non solo coloro i quali aspirino a guidare una nazione.
Specialmente coloro i quali sono affiliati a varie associazioni ecologiste, persone disprezzabili per la loro ignoranza e per come riescono a farsi manipolare da idioti appena più furbi di loro.
Let me preface this by saying that I am a history major, so science is certainly not my forte. I had to read this as part of an academic core chemistry class, and I expected to hate it. But the author makes the information readily understandable and easy to follow.
Very cranky conservative Berkeley scientist explains why hybrid cars are great, Fukushima and Katrina were not so bad, and climate change is real but we can't do anything about it so what's the use complaining.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Richard A. Muller is professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a past winner of the MacArthur Fellowship. His popular science book Physics for Future Presidents and academic textbook Physics and Technology for Future Presidents are based on his renowned course for non-science student
More about Richard A. Muller...
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