This book has a foreword by President Bill Clinton, who calls Apollo's Fire "science as stewardship." Its authors are a U.S. Congressman and primary sponsor of the New Apollo Energy Act (Inslee) and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (Hendricks).
Apollo's Fire would be a suitable companion piece to another treatise on energy I recently reviewed for Curled Up with a Good Book -
The Transition Handbook. Both works agree in substance on a very important premise: oil addiction is a more crucial matter than the amorphous specter of global warming. Though the two are related, it is easier to galvanize activists behind the notion of oil dependence and breaking the addictive cycle.
Apollo's Fire is a far-reaching work, surveying everything from biofuels and clean coal to small-scale initiatives such as individual home conversions to solar or other energy savings. Nothing is discouraged that can make a difference in our overall energy independence. The authors state that, just as a new world was born with Microsoft in 1986, so we must look at the struggle to break free of petroleum addiction as a chance to join a new high stakes game: "we are about to experience...a sea change as we democratize and decarbonize energy through wind, sun, and biofuels. The day is coming when we will be able to get our fuel from Midwestern farmers rather than Middle Eastern sheiks."
The book introduces (to me, at least) a new word/concept: greencollar jobs. These are the jobs that are created when a large segment of a community or a large concern goes green. The fitting out of new technologies and the servicing of new systems will require new technical expertise. This is just one beneficial spin-off from such initiatives.
But the book is not merely a sermon with exhortations to change. It is a litany of success stories, like the development of the Max light rail system in Portland, which has not only provided transportation and gotten prosperous people out of their cars, but has opened up new land-use strategies highlighted by preference for population density clustered around the Max. Another success was the response of the people of a small Minnesota community to a bill that created incentives to establish individual ethanol plants – farmers responded by forging a co-op which now boasts over 100 members, an effort that the authors call "a powerful alchemical combination of desperation and determination." And in a remarkable turnaround (of windmill blades!) a Duluth community trying to develop wind power energy convinced the Indian company where its windmills blades were being manufactured to come to America for economic advantage, thus giving the greencollar work back to Americans.
As co-sponsors of the Apollo project, an alliance of labor, industry and green-concerns activism, Hendricks and Inslee believe that this new vision "of a renewed environment; millions of good jobs; and stronger, more secure communities can be the spark that unites a truly common movement." They take their encouragement from the pioneering civil rights leader Martin Luther King, who grappled with an ancient, troubling, apparently unsolvable problem and made all Americans part of the potential solution. For the elements described so clearly in Apollo's Fire to take hold, everyone must get involved.