Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies: 2” as Want to Read:
No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies: 2
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies: 2

(Carbon Ideologies #2)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  90 ratings  ·  24 reviews
The Infinite Jest of climate books.” —The Baffler

“Incontestably important.” —The San Francisco Chronicle

An eye-opening look at the consequences of coal mining and oil and natural gas production--the second of a two volume work by award-winning author William T. Vollmann on the ideologies of energy production and the causes of climate change

The second volume of William T.
Kindle Edition, 687 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Viking
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about No Good Alternative, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about No Good Alternative

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  90 ratings  ·  24 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies: 2
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
[this my third Review today so I'lls keep it short for ya]

It should be known, Viking made a serious mistake pub'ing this in two volumes. Let it be made clear, this is a single work, a single book. I have to make that clear because I was a little non=plussed with that first volume (a lot of number crunching, a lot of frisking; Japan and nuclear aren't up there on the top of my interests generally) ;; but it's only the ground laying and beginning of his argument. It's just the laying down of some
The two volumes should be treated as one, but the second is a better “book” than the first. Anyway, essential reading for our failed human experiment; though it is rarely entertaining, it is often deeply humane. I adore Vollmann. We are doomed.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are attracted to and desirous of immersion in Grade A glut, then you either know or should know that William T. Vollmann is your man. His last novel, THE DYING GRASS, was over 1300 pages long and apparently he was forced to expend some effort cutting it down to that. Reading THE DYING GRASS was extremely rewarding in the way hard work often is. It was not a breezy readerly dalliance. Having now read the twin collections comprising the single work that is CARBON IDEOLOGIES (together chalki ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Jun 24, 2018 marked it as to-read
No Literary Merit
Christopher Condit
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"...within the time granted by the laws of physics to delay, prevent and alleviate global warming, nothing could now be done." He's absolutely convinced me that the situation is completely hopeless.

Volume 1 was largely hard science, plus witnessing in the area ruined by nuclear disaster in Japan. Volume 2 is sociology, blending at the end into philosophy. It is more readable and engaging, shows more of Vollmann's delightful personality, and engages many, many others in interviews: West Virginia
Scott Lupo
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Whew! Volume II done. Well, the news doesn't get better, does it? While Volume I mostly dealt with Japan and its nuclear disaster, Volume II focuses on oil, gas, and coal. This volume is much more interviewing intensive where the reader gets first hand impressions from those working on the front line or fighting on the front line. For me, it was a shocking read that only confirmed even more that we have no way out of this mess. Reading the comments from West Virginia to Abu Dhabi to Greeley, Col ...more
Chris Via
“There had only been one hope for us: To reduce demand” (627).
A less negative carbon ideologue then I might interpret the lonely wariness of Mr. Winkler and of Sharon Carlisle as proof of wrongheaded irrelevance. Socrates was equally irrelevant once the Athenians had served him his hemlock. The insipidities of the hollowed out Greeley Tribune, the no comment of most people to whom I “reached out,” and the typical anomie of an American metropolis, whose citizens I rarely saw except in their cars, in retail establishments or at the Fourth of July parade, ope
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whew. Together with Volume 1, that is one long, depressing book about how we're killing the Earth and everyone on it. Good, though! Vollmann gets into oil and coal and natural gas in this volume. He interviews all kinds of people, from the little to the big, from pro-coal/oil/gas to anti, and no matter what anyone says, however hopeful or pessimistic, however uninformed or insightful, the takeaway becomes clearer and clearer the more one reads: we are doomed, doomed, and still more doomed. We ca ...more
Steven Peck
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most powerful, disturbing, frightening, insightful books on the on the ground contributors to climate change I've read. A must read for those who want a dose of reality about Climate Change.
Robert Stevenson
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you are looking for book on the facts on climate change and greenhouse emissions and understanding the Carbon Ideology of our times. There is no better book.

But be warned this book is not a uppie book. Together “No Immediate Danger” and “No Good Alternative” include over 2000 pages of climate journalism covering everything from Nuclear power, including extensive details on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, coal usage around the world and West Virginia specifically, Fracking energy exploitation
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I listened to this book and it’s companion volume on Audible. I’m glad I did. They provide a comprehensive look at why we use the sources of energy we use and why we are so lackadaisical about the effects our energy creation and usage have on our environment, global ecosystem, and the lives of those living now and those to come. Along with many numbers collected mostly from government sources — which may cause you to fall asleep in the bus, miss your stop, and be awakened by the bus driver — it ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this volume, Vollmann tackles coal, natural gas, and oil. It's significantly less math heavy than the previous volume on nuclear technologies, and it leans a little further on Vollmann doing his on the ground work, going to the places where these energies are born and finding out what exactly could have been done about them to make the world a healthier place before our inevitable climate induced deaths. Vollmann is always at his best when he's a journalist, talking to working class people fr ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is definitely a weaker book for having been cleaved in two, and like most of Vollman's fiction (but unlike most of his nonfiction), it would probably benefit from some slimming down. The coal section of the book is much longer than the other two, and feels a bit repetitive as you're reading it, though each person's view is as unique in a nuanced way as you'd expect from individuals. Which is Vollman's nonfiction strength: presenting individuals as individuals. It all adds up to a powerful, ...more
Heidi Thorsen
The author continues in the same tone as the first volume, but with a focus on coal, oil, and natural gas rather than nuclear power. My short summary is, “Wow, look at all the carbon we are releasing in order to move about the planet and cook our food and heat and cool our homes! And everything else in the modern world that requires electricity! Too bad no one can envision a way around the global warming catastrophe that is bound to ruin the earth at some unspecified time in the future!”

I think
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book, along with Volume I: No immediate Danger, is an impressive and important work, which should be read/understood by every voting citizen of the US, especially as we try to decide upon which leaders to chose as we make decisions which will impact our global future.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is more approachable than Volume One because it's less scientific and covers a wider variety of fuels and locations. The last 50 pages are devastating as Vollman tries to explain what we could have done to prevent "the hot dark future."
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
See my review of Volume One.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
extremely good, way better than the first installment. the structure of this book is kind of questionable as the first part is kind of trivial in comparison to what’s in this one
James Aura
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
In the end, this is more a reference book than a work of nonfiction. Lots of ground covered in remarkable detail.
Shane Papendorf
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this may be one of the bleakest and most honest books i've ever read...perfect reading for a long, hot, humid summer suffocated by rampant tourism in NYC.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
More reader friendly than the 1st volume but relentless in showing our shortfalls.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[edited] Now I am all the way through. The whole thing is jaw-dropping.

I am only 1/2 way through, but I have to say, Vollmann's analysis of U.S. coal mining policy is a peak reading experience.
ryan green
rated it really liked it
Oct 03, 2018
Sean Campbell
rated it liked it
Dec 20, 2019
rated it really liked it
Jan 06, 2019
E. G.
List of Maps and Illustrations

--Carbon Ideologies Volume II: No Good Alternative


(For source notes to both volumes of 'Carbon Ideologies', please see:
rated it it was amazing
Mar 22, 2019
rated it really liked it
Nov 15, 2019
Jeremy Townsend
rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2018
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Invitation to a Beheading
  • After the Program Era: The Past, Present, and Future of Creative Writing in the University
  • Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration
  • The Gift
  • Private Citizens
  • Brecht Collected Plays: 5: Life of Galileo; Mother Courage and Her Children
  • Laughter in the Dark
  • Mumbo Jumbo
  • The Luzhin Defense
  • Suttree
  • We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast
  • Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me
  • Ducks, Newburyport
  • The Recognitions
  • The Sot-Weed Factor
  • Snow White
  • The Traitor's Niche
  • The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019
See similar books…
William Tanner Vollmann is an American novelist, journalist, short story writer and essayist. He lives in Sacramento, California with his wife and daughter.

Other books in the series

Carbon Ideologies (2 books)
  • No Immediate Danger: Volume One of Carbon Ideologies

News & Interviews

In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
35 likes · 24 comments
“Once again I choose to quote the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (If somebody were to ask why I believe that organization instead of one that made opposing claims, I suppose I would say: About scientific matters a scientist is more credible than a non-scientist. A large panel of peer-reviewed scientists, expressing a common judgment, with the caveats and qualifications denoting honesty, increases this credibility from the beginning, while I start by distrusting a lobbyist who was paid to say a certain thing. Scientists may be as corruptible as anybody else, but why was it that the regulated community, with all the money at its disposal, found so few individuals in lab coats who would oppose the climate change Cassandras?—To which a true believer could always say: "I don't care about that, Bill. I rest easy. You'll see how wonderful it will be once God steps in.")” 0 likes
“As long as Death keeps himself out of sight in our hot dark future, we need not face facts.” 0 likes
More quotes…