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A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  55 reviews
The first book to offer a proven, fast, inexpensive, and practical way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change.

As climate change quickly approaches a series of turning points that guarantee disastrous outcomes, a solution is hiding in plain sight. Several countries have already replaced fossil fuels with low-carbon energy sources, and done s
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by PublicAffairs
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Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am suspicious of anything that Steven Pinker is a part of. He seems to be an academic who was grown in a vat by oligarchs specifically to make them feel better about feeding on the wreckage of the third world and owning more wealth than the bottom half of humanity. So I came into this book skeptical. I am between a 3 and a 4, but to be generous I am going to award it 4 because it sold me on the part that I was really interested in: nuclear power.

The arguments I have heard in opposition to nuc
Apr 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Those who believe in the impending climate change apocalypse are likely to have a favorable view of only renewable energy as the solution. The authors of this book are very much in the apocalypse camp. The book’s opening lines give it away with “If you think climate change is a serious problem, we have bad news; it is worse than you think.” With such a view, one would think that they would offer renewables and more renewables as the only carbon-free solution. So, I was agreeably surprised to see ...more
Jessica Shepard
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whoa, I’ve always been kind of meh about nuclear power. I was pretty uneducated about it, but it just seemed less inherently sustainable than solar and wind power. Boy was I wrong. The authors explained how Sweden has already had a lot of success with decarbonizing through nuclear power. They use one-third more energy per person than Germany (who has been phasing out nuclear power and replacing it with renewables) but Germany emits twice as much carbon per person. They also talked about how plan ...more
Sagar Jethani
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science, tech
A pro-nuclear treatise written by a nuclear energy consultant.

I wish this book had taken its mission more seriously, because the topic is of immense importance: is nuclear energy the only realistic path toward a carbon-free energy paradigm? Unfortunately, the authors utterly fail to advance their case.

Rather than seriously address legitimate safety concerns about nuclear power, Goldstein and Qvist engage in partisan attacks against critics by mischaracterizing them as being categorically uninfor
Cheryl Campbell
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An exceptionally insightful book on the science behind our climate crisis. But it truly shines in giving an overall history of nuclear power, including the good, bad and ugly. Turns out the ugly is quite maneagable and the engineering on this is very far along. The efficiency of nuclear power, relative to a coal powered plant, is so effective that the author believes we probably cannot "get there from here" unless we incorporate nuclear solutions with a full array of renewable technologies. He s ...more
Einar Arnarson
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is mainly a broad overview of the issues with not including nuclear power if we are serious about mitigating catastrophic climate change. It is written for lay audience and is a fairly general overview of why the authors think that nuclear fits in the solution, not a definitive book on the subject.

According to the authors what we need is ‘not less energy, but cleaner energy’. Their vision is for non greenhouse gas emitting energy cheap enough so that the poorer people of the world can
Steve Stanton
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This vital new book exposes the shocking truth about climate change and the lies that have been perpetrated in America. Using data graphs and analysis, authors Goldstein and Qvist examine all the options available for a planet full of humans with rapidly emerging energy needs. They explain the fallacy of “renewable energy” and point to nuclear power as the only way to avoid a mass extinction event. Most of the climate damage has already been started, and merely curbing the growth of coal-fired p ...more
Selim Tlili
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Qvist and Goldstein do an excellent job of framing the scale of the climate change problem and the sheer amount of carbon emitted in the world.
They make an extremely convincing case, backed by credible data, explaining why nuclear power is the only option that we have that will solve this problem.

End of the day the world will not accept a climate change solution that doesn’t provide reliable and inexpensive power. Nuclear power is the only option that can provide those requirements at scale.

Juan Farfán
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I’ve read about solving climate change. It shows the facts about how Sweden and France hace decarbonized their economies without putting aside economic grow. The world needs more energy, carbon free energy that contributes to solve poverty and climate change. A must read if you want to have a realistic picture to tackle climate change and environmental issues
Taz Lake
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-recommended
If you care about a secure energy future, this is a well researched, broad reaching, relatively easy read on how the world is putting nuclear energy to work for the future and what could be done better.
Steve Peterson
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Interesting historical study of the landmark please decision. Traces the individual stories of the key players. Helps you understand the human factors behind Supreme Court decisions. Very relevant today’s issues re the court.
Sharon Chase
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this for my book group. It caused me to rethink my bias against nuclear power. It was not perfect, but should be read. Some risk needs to be acceptable if necessary to solve global warming.
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Climate change is undeniably the single most urgent, compelling and critical issue that has both captured the imagination and contorted the thinking perspective across continents today. However, the debate surrounding this seminal subject has assumed ideological hues and entrenched colours, thereby threatening to obfuscate the big picture. While the left hurls ridicule on an irresponsible and greed fueled consumerist right, the right in its defense holds the left totally culpable for what it all ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you’re interested in a book that gives you a mostly realistic view of how to implement nuclear power in order to tackle climate change, then A Bright Future does a pretty good job. While I disagree with a few pages/lines that seem to be “apocalyptic” about the effects of climate change and how fast we need to act, it didn’t go as overboard as I expected it to. This book provides a very quick overview of climate change and its problems, which is really all you need in order for this book to be ...more
Shayan Golafshani
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environmental
Goldstein presents a really interesting take on a solution we can use to react to the climate crisis in a timely manner. That solution is karnkraft. He leads the reader into the book talking about the boons of karnkraft and pretty early on one realizes that karnkraft is nuclear power. Throughout the book, he points to proper historical uses of nuclear power, public hysteria against karnkraft, and that other countries like Sweden and France have developed well-integrated nuclear power systems tha ...more
Morten Greve
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had rather low expectations. I mean, a foreword by the insufferable Steven Pinker and a gloriously hyperbolic title... I expected unconvincing one-sided nuclear industry propaganda.

And it IS rather one-sided. But it also contains enough well-substantiated insights to make me reconsider my views on the role nuclear should play in the desperately urgent energy transition of the coming decades. In particular, they argue very convincingly that the decision to close existing reactors ahead of time
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: climate
"No single event can be directly tied to global warming, but the overall pattern fits what a warming planet produces."

"Each step in the right direction toward global stabilization gets us to the goal."

"Sweden cut its total carbon emissions by half while expanding its economy by 50 percent."

"The idea that personal behavioral changes would add up to solve global environmental problems has been popular among environmentalists for decades, but this approach has virtually no impact on the world's car
Angie Reisetter
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is brief, pointed, and well-argued. I'm a bit dismayed to see that the publisher's blurb very carefully avoided mentioning nuclear power, when that's the main topic of the book. But they evidently thought that it's too loaded a word and chose to try to get readers hooked first. As I tell my students, if I thought it was possible to decarbonize our world without nuclear, I'd be all for it, but analysis after analysis shows that it's not possible. We really need clean, safe nuclear power to f ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
This book doesn't spend a lot of time on climate change or its impacts, although what's there is very good. It jumps into how Sweden, France, and Ontario have radically reduced their carbon emissions while maintaining strong to booming economies. In a word, the solution is nuclear. Goldstein and Qvist argue that renewables alone can't replace fossil fuels currently, and that they probably won't be able to for at least 3 decades. So although we may eventually build a battery, or a hydrogen econom ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
Note to myself:
The idea of using atomic energy to reduce carbon is great but, I get the impression that the climate change group may not want this huge helping use of present, successful technology because it would be a viable partial solution and that doesn't play well with "the world is in imminent danger" rhetoric.
Was very hopeful and ordered the book but I couldn't get past the preamble full of the same tired "the world is in imminent danger of being destroyed" while they live very comfortab
Jim Witkins
May 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: skimmed
3.5 - persuasive case for following Swedish model, to reduce fossil fuel consumption, yet boost electricity output for growing Worldwide demand. We need more 3rd and 4th gen nuclear power plants, and must keep the currently functioning plants running as we ramp up other green renewables (solar, wind, maybe hydro, etc) and continue research to improve batteries, energy efficiency, smart grid tech and next gen solutions. The next 1-2 decades are critical and we MUST reduce carbon emissions. The ma ...more
William T
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book.

Some complain that it isn't detailed enough, or documented sufficiently, and certainly that is true for the sophisticated reader. It also doesn't cover new ground. But there is a real need for an accessible book on nuclear power that is convincing and well articulated. Some have also complained that the authors are advancing their own self interests. So be it. If a consultant benefits his/her career in the process of advancing viable solutions, who are we to complain?

Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Clear-eyed, concise, persuasive. Describes the key components of current low-carbon economies (carbon pricing, a mix of nuclear and renewable energy) along with some of the ways that countries like the United States could follow the same path.

As a policy wonk, I would've preferred a slightly deeper dive on some of the nuances of the HOW for each of the example economies (South Korea, Sweden, Ontario), as well as considerations of what transitioning to systems closer to those might look like for
Aleksander Dominiczak
May 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
The book doesn’t live up to its name. It seems like the table of contents was written by anti nuclear activists. There are significant parts of the book that clearly show that authors are beyond their expertise and it’s bad. Exceptions are chapter on proliferation and the final chapters, the good ones are significantly more pleasant to read as well. The initial examples are over exploited. Having said that the book is a step towards demythologization of nuclear power as a technology with a bit o ...more
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Though many of us are waking up to the climate challenge, we have scant appreciation of the greatest machine ever invented by map: the complex system of electricity generation and delivery. Let alone what it takes to overcome the externalities of fossil fuel combustion.

Goldstein is neither energy engineer nor nuclear scientist, but a policy analyst and educator. Qvist trained as a nuclear engineer but works on renewable energy development projects. While their research is squarely based on evid
Peter S
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I started this book a few hours ago and couldn't put it down. Though the authors sometimes illogically dismiss points that run counter to their general argument (which is why I could not in good faith give it a 5), the book is really convincing. Nuclear energy clearly has to be part of the solution: the globe's energy needs aren't going anywhere and temperatures continue to rise because of those needs. For our survival one of those trends has to stop.

The style of this book makes it ex
Isaac Thiele-Swift
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Climate change is a reality of life which must urgently be addressed. Sadly, the debate around solving climate change often degenerates in an ideological debate with positions ranging from outright denial to calls for a revolutionary Green New Deal. In "A Bright Future", Goldstein and Qvist lay out a path forward that does not rely on dogma. Instead, they examine the data, consider what has worked to address climate change and what hasn't. A powerful argument for a clean-energy future built with ...more
Adam Roll
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the most important book on climate change out there, and the most impressive one about the necessity of nuclear power as the solution to the problem. I am aghast that organizations like Greenpeace and the Republican party would try and make a political issue about something as simple in scientific terms as this. Climate change is not hard to understand, see, or fix, but we need to do something about it right away with our political choices. Vote blue, vote nuclear!
Nouvel Diamant
Aug 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
I found the book quite annoying and useless:

a) Combating climate change with the further development of nuclear power plants would be stupid and would at most create further problems

b) The book completely ignores the fact that in the recent past in the western world CO2 emissions have increased dramatically due to behavioral changes (e.g. flying) and this simply has to be reversed "by ourselves"
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pragmatic exploration of energy trends and environmental policies.

This is a reader friendly derp-dive into energy use and the varied groups that influence or spin policies - whether publicly or privately.

Each chapter has several footnotes (a few of which I was already familiar with) which can lead the reader to additional resources.

In short- this is an accurate summarization of the early 21st century and the options available to implement.
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Joshua S. Goldstein is an International Relations professor who writes about the big issues facing humanity. He is the author of six books about war, peace, diplomacy, and economic history, and a bestselling college textbook, International Relations. Among other awards, his book War and Gender (2001) won the International Studies Association's "Book of the Decade Award" in 2010. Goldstein has a B. ...more

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