‘Carbon Ideologies’ – A Big Warning
'Carbon Ideologies' examines – exhaustively – non-renewable energy; These fat volumes are full of scientific exposition, data in charts, and dozen-page interviews, all to make the point that our understanding of the perils of nonrenewable energy may be too little, too late.
Steve Donoghue, July 16, 2018 (Christian Science Monitor)
“…Carbon Ideologies, from National Book Award-winning author William Vollmann, is] two 600-page volumes of fierce, relentless clarification (the Table of Contents has footnotes), studying at exhaustive length modern humanity's relationship with non-renewable energy sources like coal, natural gas, oil, and most of all nuclear power…[Volume 1, which Vollmann himself refers to as “particularly uninviting,” focuses on] the broader reality of climate change, and then moves to examine nuclear energy…[Volume 2 turns to the industries of coal and natural gas and oil, laying out the facts and including extensive interviews with everybody involved, from miners to merchants to energy tycoons…[The book is both the longest warning about humanity's energy habits ever written and also an uncanny, pre-emptive elegy of mammoth proportions. Vollmann spares plenty of time to fault the early 21st century's heedlessness – and his own, confessing that he, too, was often heedless of where his convenient electricity always came from…
…These fat volumes are full of scientific exposition, data in charts, and dozen-page interviews with bit players, and all of it has one purpose: to craft ‘the punishment of full understanding’ with the repeated, emphatic assumption that all such understanding is too little, too late. The book insists that humans have already sealed their fate – the narrative speaks to a ruined world arising directly out of rampant global warming and unchecked disasters like Fukushima…[W]eirdly, the brightness and intelligence of Vollmann's own prose, absorbingly readable as always, acts as a kind of ideological counterweight to the gloom of his tidings…Vollmann himself seems almost to hope along such lines despite himself…[He] interviews dozens and dozens of people who are caught up in furthering and profiting from non-renewable energy industries, but there are many people in the world – Vollmann talks to some of them – who are every bit as invested in finding solutions before it's too late…” click here for more