Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Fuel for Thought

Every so often, I read a review of a book that leaves me (temporarily, at least) at a loss for words. This is how I felt when I came across Timothy Gardner’s review of $20 per Gallon by Christopher Steiner, an engineer-turned-journalist. I have to compliment Steiner for having a better balance of optimism and pessimism than most writers who cover the energy crisis . On the one hand he acknowledges that the inevitable depletion of the Earth’s fossil fuel supply will allow only the elite to enjoy the luxury of certain types of travel. He also offers the view that electric or alternative fuel powered cars will not be able to provide the punch needed to get one safely from coast to coast, despite being adequate for city driving.

But as Gardner points out, Steiner’s book is largely positive in its vision of a future without cheap petroleum. The book seems to take on a modern, eco-inclined adaptation of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Steiner pictures an America where people walk and bike everywhere, creating a healthier crop of Americans. He believes people will grow their own produce again and the government will reinvest in urban renewal and develop superior mass transit systems. Cleaner air? Fresh, chemical-free food? A nation that’s gone from fat to fit again?

With all due deference to the late former Beatle, you may say Steiner’s a dreamer but something tells me he’s not the only one. The fact that it may take gas prices reaching $20 for these changes to be set in motion is not easy to digest, but it is definitely a real possibility.


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