17 October 2010

Obstacles to Communication

I have just been engaging in a dialogue with a reviewer of The Climate Fix at Amazon.com who is telling people that the book's main policy recommendation is advocacy of carbon capture and sequestration (!), which is pretty far from the mark, to be polite.

I have responded to the reviewer as follows, but somehow I think that a fair representation of the book may not be this reviewer's priority -- an occupational hazard I suppose;-)
Sorry, but you are dramatically misrepresenting my book.

In it I call for a carbon tax and investment in a wide range of activities related to technological innovation and expanding energy access especially in the parts of the world presently without. My focus on innovation includes a focus on nuclear, as I explicitly recommend a stance of "technological agnosticism" in pursuing energy innovation (and as I say in the book, expressing the magnitude of the decarbonization challenge in terms of equivalent nuclear power plants is not a statement about nuclear power plants -- you can substitute coal plants with 100% CCS if you'd prefer, or wind turbines or solar thermal plants -- it does not alter the conclusions). Chapter 9 outlines a wide range of such policies, none of which include advocating CCS. Virtually all of the reviews and discussion of the book emphasize it's emphasis on a technology-led policy funded by a low-but-rising price on carbon. My discussion of CCS is very limited (as it should be given that it is not a focus on the book or its recommendations), but you can find a brief discussion of the significant technological obstacles on p.133.


  1. Roger,
    I'm working my way through your book, and I have to say that your Chapter 5 does leave the impression you say is a misrepresentation of your views. Perhaps, as I complete the subsequent chapters, that impression will be dispelled. I certainly hope so.
    Gerald Quindry

  2. -1-Gerald

    Thanks for your comment. Perhaps the Amazon reader confused CCS with air capture, but since s/he didn't mention Chapter 5 I kind of doubt it.

    Here is what I say to sum up the potential of air capture technologies on p. 140:

    "Without a doubt, technologies of carbon remediation are today largely speculative and certainly expensive. At the same time, the technologies appear to have some promise, and a simple analysis suggests that cost estimates for some of these technologies are in the same ballpark as the costs of conventional mitigation that have been estimated by leading climate assessments. Carbon remediation certainly does not offer anything like a silver bullet to accumulating carbon dioxide emissions. Nevertheless, it meets the Sarewitz and Nelson criteria for a successful technological fix and shows enough promise that is should be considered an option worth pursuing as some part of a comprehensive response."

  3. Roger, on the bright side you will be happy to know that Amazon.com is doing a great job promoting your book. I have received about 3 “reminders” that I may want to buy The Climate Fix despite having pre-ordered it a long time ago :o) I still haven’t actually received it though….

  4. Btw, well done for just ignoring Bob Ward. I read his letter to you and then later on James Delingpole’s piece in the Telegraph on Bob Ward. They both came across as gentlemen…..as in the Oscar Wilde definition of one which is of course “A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude” ;o)

  5. I have read about half the book and I would have misrepresented it - honestly - the same way as the reviewer. Glad to know that chapter 9 brings in the wide perspective.