Ozzie Zehner

Author of Green Illusions

Category: Uncategorized

Ozzie at the City Club

AndrewWeeksPhotography©2009_001No, I’m afraid that’s not a statue of me. But if you are interested in a Green Illusions show-and-tell or would like to hear about the new project I’ve been working on, I will be giving a talk and taking questions at the City Club in San Francisco on June 18th at noon, lunch included. Tickets are $45 (If the cost causes any difficulties, let me know). Here’s the link.

JAMISON ROUNDTABLE LUNCHEON
Featuring: Ozzie Zehner, author of “GREEN ILLUSIONS
Wednesday, June 18
12 noon – 1:30 pm

The City Club of San Francisco
155 Sansome, 10th floor
9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

 

See more about the book:

Green Illusions

Green Illusions Nominated for Northern California Book Award

Green Illusions Ozzie Zehner censored section

 

I just received a letter of congratulations this morning.  Apparently that critique of green energy that I wrote is one of five nominees for the 32nd Annual Northern California Book Awards. Although, the other four authors are perhaps insurmountable competition. My money is actually on Seth Rosenfeld for Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power.

 

Read more in my recent environmental book:

Green Illusions

Why Biochar Isn’t Green

Ozzie Zehner Green Illusions Biochar UTNE Reader

UTNE Reader | Ozzie Zehner

While burning biochar, a rebranded term for charcoal, is less harmful than burning firewood, the fuel source would have a negative impact if produced on a large scale. “Green Illusions,” by Ozzie Zehner, is a practical, environmentally informed and lucid book that persuasively argues for a change of perspective on dealing with climate change. When contemplating alternative energy sources, such as biochar, one must understand its advantages as well as its limitations. The following excerpt comes from chapter 3, “Biofuels and the Politics of Big Corn.”

Even as legislators flood cellulosic ethanol and other biofuel initiatives with funding, some biofuel opportunities go over­looked, mostly because they are boring in comparison. For in­stance, wastewater treatment facilities release methane, the main component of natural gas, but more than 90 percent of Amer­ica’s six thousand wastewater treatment plants don’t capture it. As mentioned earlier, methane is a major greenhouse gas liability since its venom is more potent than that of carbon diox­ide. The sludge output of the average American yields enough power to light a standard compact florescent light bulb without end. So skimming the methane from an entire city’s wastewa­ter would not only prevent harmful emissions but also would produce enough power to run the entire wastewater operation, perhaps with energy to spare. Although not a large-scale solu­tion, captured biogas is a reminder of the modest opportunities to draw upon biofuels without advanced technology.

Another biofuel product that is now starting to gain more at­tention is a convenient replacement for firewood. Burning fire­wood directly is a relatively dirty practice, emitting dangerous particulates, hydrocarbons, and dioxins. In poor countries, the soot from firewood, waste, and dung kills about 1.6 million peo­ple per year. It’s also a local climate changer; soot darkens air and darker air absorbs more solar radiation. But there’s another way to extract energy from wood besides burning it—one that was widely employed before the Industrial Revolution but has since fallen by the wayside—charcoal (recently rebranded as biochar). When processors heat wood above 300 [degrees celcius] with limited oxygen, in a process called pyrolysis, it spontaneously breaks into three useful fuels: biochar, heavy oil, and flammable gas. In addition to its use as a fuel, farmers can till their soil with bio­char in order to reduce methane and nitrous oxide greenhouse-gas emissions. Archaeologists uncovered ancient South Amer­ican settlements in which buried charcoal has been sequestered for thousands of years, lending interest to the concept of using biochar as long-term storage for excess carbon.

In all, there may be many benefits to implementing biochar tech­niques in place of burning wood and waste for fuel directly. But this doesn’t make biochar a global solution. Cornell researcher Kelli Roberts points out that large-scale biochar production, as envisioned by some eager biofuel productivists, could yield unintended consequences. As with other biofuel methods, if producers clear virgin land to grow biochar inputs such as trees and switch grass, the process could ultimately do more harm than good. Alternately, if producers grow biochar crops on ex­isting farmland, farmers may be forced onto new land, yield­ing the same negative effects on virgin land plus the added risk of local food price instability. And then there is the hitch with any method for increasing available energy supply—it inevi­tability leads to growth, expansion, and increasing energy con­sumption—a reminder that smart upgrades in energy practices for local communities may not have the same positive effects if implemented on a larger scale.

 

Excerpted from Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism by Ozzie Zehner, with permission of the University of Nebraska Press. © 2012 by Ozzie Zehner. Available wherever books are sold or from the Univ. of Nebraska Press (800) 848-6224.

Read on: Utne.com

 

An environmental book John Perkins is endorsing:

Green Illusions

University Art Removed after Irking Energy Executives

The University of Wyoming removed a sculpture that links coal use to climate change and beetle infestations after it upset University donors, according to a New York Times article and Green Blog post.

The idea behind the sculpture that appeared on the University of Wyoming campus about 16 months ago was simple but provocative: a swirl of dead wood and lumps of coal, intended to show the link between global warming and the pine beetle infestation that has ravaged forests across the Rockies.

But in a place like Wyoming, where the oil, gas and mining industries are the soul of the economy, some view such symbolism as a declaration of war.

Read the full New York Times article.

See more about the environmental book John Perkins is endorsing:

Green Illusions

Huffington Post Reviews Green Illusions

The Huffington Post’s Tom Zeller discussed Green Illusions in a post today:

If his goal was to capture attention by tweaking the nose of clean-energy enthusiasts everywhere, Ozzie Zehner might well have succeeded. His new book, published last month and provocatively titled “Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism,” takes on what Zehner considers the sacred cows of the green movement: solar power, wind power and electric vehicles, among others.

Of course, the book is much more than just this, and Zehner, a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Science, Technology & Society Center, describes himself as being neither for nor against any particular energy source. Indeed, his core objection appears to be with technology fixes in general, or the conviction that any bit of technological derring-do — be it a high-efficiency photovoltaic cell or a low-emissions vehicle — will be sufficient to nudge the planet from unpleasant trajectories like global warming.

Such beliefs, Zehner argues, can blind policymakers and other stakeholders to the attending downsides of any new innovation (there always are downsides); to other, arguably less expensive solutions; and to other pressing global problems.

As the basis for thoughtful discussion, all of this is perfectly reasonable. But Zehner is also clearly playing the provocateur here, and it appears to have been a wise gambit, given the sonorous harrumphing the book has generated in green circles… read the full review of Green Illusions

Green Illusions

Challenges Envisioning a Nuclear-Free Germany

Challenges Envisioning a Nuclear-Free Germany
Ozzie Zehner

Can Germany go Nuc Free? That’s the plan for 2022. But due to a phenomenon economists call “leakage,” a nuclear-free Germany may remain an illusion.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that even though Germany plans to shut down its reactors, the country now pays $139 million monthly to import electricity, some of it from Czech nuclear plants:

With the remaining nine German reactors scheduled to go offline by 2022, no one seems more eager to step into the breach than the Czechs. They’re in talks with vendors to build two more reactors at Temelín, while planning new reactors at the aging Dukovany nuclear station and at least two other sites… “Nuclear is the answer,” says Roman Portužák, who is involved in drawing up the country’s energy strategy at the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry. “How fast, how many reactors we’ll build—that’s still under discussion, but we’re definitely moving in this direction.”

Germany also imports stored nuclear power via Austria. Indeed, building luxury cars is energy intensive.

Many Germans expect renewables such as solar and wind energy to take up the slack, but taxpayers are less keen about paying for them. Germany is in the process of slashing subsidies that have spurred renewable energy growth throughout the country.

Germany has also exported energy-intensive smelting and heavy industrial operations to China and other countries, which has gotten those energy inputs off Germany’s tally. But the resulting raw materials and components are then shipped back to Germany.

Germany’s awkward energy contortions point to the complex global challenges and fuzzy accounting that we face when developing energy policy in an interconnected world. Perhaps Germany can go low-energy only if others do not.

– Ozzie Zehner is the author of the renewable energy book, Green Illusions

See more about the environmental book John Perkins is endorsing:

Green Illusions Hits #2 in Kindle Energy

Thank you to everyone for supporting my new environmental book Green Illusions. The Kindle version popped up to the #2 slot in its category for a short time today. See the current ranking here: Top Energy Books.

You don’t have to buy Green Illusions to read it – just call your local library and ask them to purchase the book if they have not already done so. Input your zip code and at Library Search for the phone number.

See more about the book John Perkins is endorsing here.

Green Illusions

Prospects for Solar, Zero-energy Buildings and Air Conditioning

Rick Docksai, an editor at The Futurist magazine, recently invited me for an interview to discuss the future of global energy supply. We discussed the prospects for Germany’s solar initiative, the whole truth behind so-called zero-energy buildings, and the fate of air-conditioning. You may read the interview here.

See more about the book John Perkins is endorsing.

Green Illusions

10 lessons from the world’s great biking cities

Sightline and Grist published a piece by Christine Grant on ten lessons learned from the world’s great biking cities. I recommend checking out the full article and images. Here’s the lineup:

  1. It’s the infrastructure, stupid!
  2. Bike share!
  3. It’s safer than a sofa
  4. Say “thank you” to bikers
  5. Turn streets into backyards
  6. Let prices tell the truth
  7. You don’t need “bike clothes”
  8. Electrify it
  9. Admit it: It’s emotional
  10. It’s a virtuous cycle

I would add bicycle insurance to the list. Many forms of insurance, including transportation liability insurance, are not available to bicyclers in the United States unless they own a car.

See more about the book John Perkins is endorsing here.

Green Illusions

“Self-destruction is the Power Without Knowing What the Function Is”

The above quote from the rapper Immortal Technique found its way into the Occupy Wall Street protests this morning and into a piece on Democracy Now. The Democracy Now segment included the full rap as well as an interview with Justin Wedes, an organizer with Occupy Wall Street who said, “The reaction has been—and I think the whole world sees it now—that every time that you try to silence peaceful protests, you just get an explosion of new support. And I think that’s what’s happened. And it really bares sort of naked the truth about who the NYPD serve and protect. And if that’s not the people… then we have a problem.”

He goes on to talk about the NYPD’s Paid Detail Unit, which is a unit hired as private security for the New York Stock Exchange, and the bank JPMorgan Chase, which has given the largest single contribution to the New York Police Foundation they’ve ever received, reportedly $4.6 million.

“What we’ve seen happen in the past few weeks on Wall Street with the over-barricading, the over-policing, streetcart vendors have been pushed out of that street. They’re losing business like crazy, so we’ve started to partner with them to source our food and our supplies.” remarked Wedes. “It brings up the question of who is being protected now. ‘Who are we protecting, NYPD?’ We’re not protecting the streetcart vendors. We’re not protecting the local small businesses. You know, is it just the bankers? Is it just the hedge funders and the financial firms? Or does the NYPD have a responsibility, because they’re our—they’re our NYPD—to serve and protect the entire city?”

I’ve just posted images from my upcoming book at GreenIllusions.org

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