Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future

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Long dismissed as a relic of a bygone era, coal is back -- with a vengeance. Coal is one of the nation's biggest and most influential industries -- Big Coal provides more than half the electricity consumed by Americans today -- and its dominance is growing, driven by rising oil prices and calls for energy independence. Is coal the solution to America's energy problems?

On close examination, the glowing promise of coal quickly turns to ash. Coal mining remains a deadly and environmentally destructive industry. Nearly forty percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year comes from coal-fired power plants. In the last two decades, air pollution from coal plants has killed more than half a million Americans. In this eye-opening call to action, Goodell explains the costs and consequences of America's addiction to coal and discusses how we can kick the habit.
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About the author

JEFF GOODELL is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Our Story: 77 Hours That Tested Our Friendship and Our Faith. Goodell’s memoir, Sunnyvale: The Rise and Fall of a Silicon Valley Family, was a New York Times Notable Book.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Published on
Apr 3, 2007
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780547526621
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Earth Sciences / Geology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“Thoughtful, informative, and darkly entertaining. It’s the best treatment of this important (and scary) topic you can find.” —Elizabeth Kolbert

Right now, a group of scientists is working on ways to minimize the catastrophic impact of global warming. But they’re not designing hybrids or fuel cells or wind turbines. They’re trying to lower the temperature of the entire planet. And they’re doing it with huge contraptions that suck CO2 from the air, machines that brighten clouds and deflect sunlight away from the earth, even artificial volcanoes that spray heat-reflecting particles into the atmosphere.
 
This is the radical and controversial world of geoengineering, which only five years ago was considered to be “fringe.” But as Jeff Goodell points out, the economic crisis, combined with global political realities, is making these ideas look sane, even inspired.
 
Goodell himself started out as a skeptic, concerned about tinkering with the planet’s thermostat. We can’t even predict next week’s weather, so how are we going to change the temperature of whole regions? What if a wealthy entrepreneur shoots particles into the stratosphere on his own? Who gets blamed if something goes terribly wrong? And perhaps most disturbing, what about wars waged with climate control as the primary weapon? There are certainly risks, but Goodell believes the alternatives could be worse. In the end, he persuades us that geoengineering may just be our last best hope—a Plan B for the environment. His compelling tale of scientific hubris and technical daring is sure to jump-start the next big debate about the future of life on earth.

“Goodell explores with infectious curiosity and thoughtful narration this strange, promising, and untested suite of climate fixes.” —BusinessWeek
 
“A quick, enjoyable read through a complex, timely topic. And after you read it, you’ll never look at the sky or the ocean—or Earth, really—in quite the same way again.” —The Christian Science Monitor
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she is downsized, furloughed, and escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, all for a slim chance of getting rehired.
 
In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Samantha’s new job takes her into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack. But some of the locals aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town, and within weeks Samantha is engulfed in litigation that turns deadly. Because like most small towns, Brady harbors big secrets that some will kill to conceal.
 
Praise for Gray Mountain
 
“[An] important new novel . . . superior entertainment.”—The Washington Post
 
“Powerful . . . a satisfying, old-fashioned, good guy/bad guy legal thriller.”—The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Yes, Gray Mountain is fiction. But after reading the book, you’ll believe heroic action must be taken.”—USA Today
 
“Grisham has written one of his best legal dramas.”—Associated Press
"An immersive, mildly gonzo and depressingly well-timed book about the drenching effects of global warming, and a powerful reminder that we can bury our heads in the sand about climate change for only so long before the sand itself disappears." (Jennifer Senior, New York Times)
A New York Times Critics' Top Book of 2017One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction in 2017One of Booklist's Top 10 Science Books of 2017
What if Atlantis wasn't a myth, but an early precursor to a new age of great flooding? Across the globe, scientists and civilians alike are noticing rapidly rising sea levels, and higher and higher tides pushing more water directly into the places we live, from our most vibrant, historic cities to our last remaining traditional coastal villages. With each crack in the great ice sheets of the Arctic and Antarctica, and each tick upwards of Earth's thermometer, we are moving closer to the brink of broad disaster.

By century's end, hundreds of millions of people will be retreating from the world's shores as our coasts become inundated and our landscapes transformed. From island nations to the world's major cities, coastal regions will disappear. Engineering projects to hold back the water are bold and may buy some time. Yet despite international efforts and tireless research, there is no permanent solution-no barriers to erect or walls to build-that will protect us in the end from the drowning of the world as we know it.

The Water Will Come is the definitive account of the coming water, why and how this will happen, and what it will all mean. As he travels across twelve countries and reports from the front lines, acclaimed journalist Jeff Goodell employs fact, science, and first-person, on-the-ground journalism to show vivid scenes from what already is becoming a water world.
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