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Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  392 Ratings  ·  60 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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Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
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
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ira Brodsky
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Ralph Hermansen
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt Chester
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had come across Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines by Richard A. Muller in a bookstore about a year and a half ago and immediately put it on my to-read list. Assuming I would be able to pick it up the next time I was in the store, I did not buy it that day and ended up not finding it in any bookstore I went to for the next year. However the concept of the book, giving an overview of every type of energy technology and policy that might be relevant in the coming year ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative, non-partisan and a quick read. A lot of basic facts of economics and physics that help clarify the directions we should take. The author is successful in being impartial and just discussing the facts. The biggest drawback to the book is that it is a few years out of date and I wonder if recent developments would have altered some of his conclusions. One of the biggest developments over the last few years has been the growth of Tesla, and I wonder if the greater production of batteri ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you can get past the title, this is a helpful and quantitative overview of the U.S. energy landscape with regards to CO2 emissions and energy security. The simple-to-understand analysis of Fukushima provides a concrete basis for the layman to discuss pros and cons of nuclear power. As the founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project, Muller’s skeptical perspective, regarding human-caused climate change, sets the stage for a fairly convincing argument that human activities are cau ...more
Gable Roth
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2-non-fiction
The author explains global warming in such a clear and non-alarmist manner. He recognizes that it is a problem and that it is human caused but he doesn't say "We're all going to die!!!" Better yet, he provides clear and reasonable solutions including nuclear! I used to think that nuclear was the only solution. However, and partly with the help of this book, I now recognize that wind and solar do have the potential to play a key role. Surprisingly enough he explains how natural gas will also help ...more
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite the fact that Muller doesn't seem to prioritize environmental impact *minimization* as a primary goal of energy policy, and seems to prefer the energy sources that would win in a free-market/unsubsidized system (he's very pro natural gas), I still found this book to be incredibly useful in distilling and understanding a wide variety of energy and alternative energy topics. Accessible and well-written.
brendan virnig
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book and Author. This book really gives you a good breakdown of energy current and future. The author does a great job breaking things down so that you don't need a PhD to read. I would love to see an updated version of the book.
Eric DeBellis
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only clear-headed, easy-to-grasp, comprehensive explainer of what the heck energy policy is all about I've read. I highly recommend it, especially if you care about these issues and would rather not talk out your bum about them. If only there were a book like this for energy markets...
Yginger Lee
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ravindra Airlangga
Was looking for a book which gives an appropriate background to be able to tackle the issue of energy with a nuanced perspective. The book did not disappoint.
Christian Dibblee
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: miscellaneous
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
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

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

Lucas Jim
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The tittle suggests a very basic book, with superficial things about the types of energies that we have. But actually the book has a lot of details and technical background. It is a very good reading to anyone who likes international matters, politics and strategy. The author shows authority and gives good arguments to explain his points. If the presidents had this kind of info in the past we would be in a better world by now.
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good overall read on the intersection of energy and policy. The author was famously a climate skeptic before he sat down and looked at the evidence. He produced one of the BEST charts showing the average warming trend and how tightly it corresponds carbon dioxide emissions. Unfortunately he seems to downplay the consequences of global warming with casual phrases like, some people in northern latitudes might enjoy a few degrees of warming. Climate scientists have been so annoyed with be ...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
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very accessible collection of executive summaries of current energy technologies and science. From coal to solar, algae ethanol to fuel cells, and all the other current energy technologies/resources, he provides objective and very interesting analyses of each technology from the viewpoints of science, economics, and the environmental ramifications of each. I felt the author was even tempered, giving the pros and cons on each subject, leaving the conclusions up to us. He states very cle ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A comprehensive review of energy related matters. It has a good level of depth, erring on the side of shallowness but sufficient for most non-specialists. English is simple and to the point, easy to follow with a direct style.

It's main contribution is the effort in breaking some "myths" about Fukushima disaster (less cancer than commonly assumed), the risk of political over-reaction to some events (Mexican Gulf oil spill), nuclear energy security, global warming vs climate change (agrees on "war
Leroy Erickson
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The author wrote this book with the stated intent of informing future U.S. presidents of the science of energy in the U.S. I would say that he does a fairly good job of it and treats it from a fairly unbiased angle, for the most part (other than being a little bit too biased against electric cars). He explains the current status of the various available sources of energy: oil, photo voltaic solar, wind, natural gas, nuclear, etc. He spends a long time talking about global warming and, surprising ...more
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book is amazing and should be required reading for all. From this, I learned so much about energy, the way it has shaped our country, and the way it will continue to shape our country. It's hard to weed through all of the propaganda on the media about the horrors of oil and all the talk of global warming. After reading this, I feel much more educated and informed about the truth behind what is shown on the news and much less afraid that our planet is going to turn into a giant hot house in ...more
Rishi Garg
Sep 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: energy
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
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kristin Hopper
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great educational resource for those interested in learning more about types of energy sources available to the U.S. The author covers solar, nuclear, wind power and more and conveys the importance of monitoring and utilizing different sources of energy. It also covers, from an economic standpoint, the negative and positive externalities of each source of energy we have available to us and what our presidents should do in the future to prevent a loss of energy opportunities.

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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 students. He lives in Berkeley, California.
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