Crossing the Energy Divide: Moving from Fossil Fuel Dependence to a Clean-Energy Future (paperback) : 9780134057767

Crossing the Energy Divide: Moving from Fossil Fuel Dependence to a Clean-Energy Future (paperback)

Ayres & Ayres
Published by
Pearson Higher Ed USA
Available on demand
Title type

The world is facing two immense and intimately linked challenges: we must move away from fossil fuels, and revive the global economy at the same time. If we continue our highly inefficient, dangerous energy usage, we’re headed straight for both economic and environmental catastrophe. However, the hard truth is that alternative fuels can’t fully replace fossil fuels for several decades. What’s more, new research indicates that energy inefficiencies are retarding economic growth even more than most experts ever realized. Crossing the Energy Divideis about solving all these problems at once. Robert Ayres, a leading expert in energy and environmental economics, shows how massive improvements in energy efficiency can bridge the global economy until the time that clean renewables can fully take over. The authors demonstrate how we can radically reform the way we manage our existing energy systems to double the amount of “energy service” we get from every drop of fossil fuel we use. These techniques don’t require scientific breakthroughs: thousands of companies and institutions are using them right now. What’s needed is a real energy management strategy: one that sweeps away ideological blind-spots, structural barriers, bad habits, and outmoded laws. The result will be lower carbon emissions, greater energy security, more jobs, and faster economic growth and this book offers a complete roadmap to get us there.

Table of contents

About the Authors     xi

Introduction     The Chasm to Be Crossed    1


Chapter 1        An American Awakening    9

Chapter 2        Recapturing Lost Energy    31

Chapter 3        Engineering an Economic Bridge    45

Chapter 4        The Invisible-Energy Revolution    59

Chapter 5        The Future of Electric Power    79

Chapter 6        Liquid Fuels: The Hard Reality    101

Chapter 7        Vehicles: The End of the Affair    113

Chapter 8        Preparing Cities for the Perfect Storm    125

Chapter 9        The Water-Energy Connection    145

Chapter 10      Policy Priorities    157

Chapter 11      Implications for Business Management    181

Chapter 12      How Much, How Fast?    191


Comments and References    203

Index    227



Features & benefits

The practical, environmentally and economically smart strategy for solving the global energy crisis — starting now


  • How improving the way we manage energy can dramatically reduce fossil fuel usage, supercharge economic growth, and get us to the era of safe, renewable energy.
  •  Solutions that are working today for thousands of companies and organizations.
  • Solving the energy crisis by clearing away ideological blind-spots, structural barriers, bad habits, and outmoded laws.


Author biography

Robert U. Ayres is a physicist and economist noted for his work on the role of thermodynamics in the economic process, and more recently for his investigation of the role of energy in economic growth. He is Emeritus Professor of Economics and Technology at the international business school INSEAD, in France, where he has continued his lifelong, pioneering studies of materials/energy flows in the global economy. He originated the concept of industrial metabolism, which has since become a field of study explored by the Journal of Industrial Ecology.


Ayres was trained as a physicist at the University of Chicago, University of Maryland, and Kings College London (Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics). He was Professor of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh from 1979 until 1992, when he was appointed Professor of Environment and Management at INSEAD. He is also an Institute Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria.


Ayres is author or coauthor of 18 books and more than 200 journal articles and book chapters. His books range from Alternatives to the Internal Combustion Engine, with Richard A. McKenna (Johns Hopkins Press, 1972), to Turning Point: The End of the Growth Paradigm (Earthscan, 1998) to The Economic Growth Engine: How Energy and Work Drive Material Prosperity, with Benjamin Warr (Edward Elgar, 2009). He and his wife reside in Paris.


Edward (Ed) H. Ayres was Editorial Director at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C. (publisher of the annual State of the World and bi-annual Vital Signs) from 1994 through 2005. He also served as editor of the bimonthly World Watch magazine during this period. World Watch articles and essays by Ayres were distributed to the global media by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. His writing has also appeared in Time magazine in its series “Beyond 2000: Your Health, Our Planet”; Utne Reader; The Ecologist; and other publications.


Ayres has pursued a lifelong interest in the relationships between individual human health and endurance and the sustainability of human societies. He was the third-place finisher in the first New York Marathon in 1970, and today continues to write and run long distances in the mountains of California, where he and his wife have built an eco-friendly house.