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Hell and High Water: Joe Romm's new book
Dec 31, 2006 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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Here's a suggestion for your first read of 2007 -- or your first gift book. Readers of this list will know the name Joe Romm: former US Energy Department official, founder of the Center for Energy & Climate Solutions <>. He introduced many key influencers to plug-in hybrids and was deeply involved in the National Commission on Energy Policy, which provided important validation for PHEVs. He is author of "The Hype About Hydrogen", co-authored with Andy Frank Scientific American's major article on PHEVs­downloads.html and writes a blog at In his new book on the climate crisis. Joe is promoting use of the phrase "Hell and High Water" instead of global warming or climate change, as a more visceral way to think about what will happen if we continue on a business-as-usual path.

Following is the press release for the book, which is on sale now. We hope in the future to be able to send out excerpts from sections on PHEVs.

"Joe Romm knows what he is talking about. His message is urgent, reasoned and informative--he delivers it with surprising clarity. America had better listen up--this may be our last chance to stop global warming."
- James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

"Joe Romm has worked with the climate scientists, fought with the politicians and objectively analyzed the technologies that may save us. No one is as well qualified to tell us about climate change, the technological options before us, and the political battle about to be joined."
- Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers

"If you buy only one book about global warming, make it HELL AND HIGH WATER. Joe Romm has put together a highly readable explanation of our climate predicament and the solution. We need to follow his advice now -- starting with energy efficiency."
- Arthur Rosenfeld, California Energy Commissioner

"Joe Romm brings a unique combination of expertises in climate science and energy technologies and policies to address the challenges of enabling a clean energy future and reducing our addition to oil. HELL AND HIGH WATER is an important and timely contribution that deserves careful consideration in the dialogue and debate on U.S. energy and climate policy."
- Judith Curry, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology

About the Author Joseph Romm, Ph.D. is executive director and founder of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, the premier progressive think tank. During the Clinton administration, Romm was Assistant Secretary at the Department of Energy, where he headed the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. He is the author of "The Hype about Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate" and stars in the documentary film "Who Killed the Electric Car." Dr. Romm holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT.

Global Warming-the Solution and the Politics-and What We Should Do
By Joseph Romm
William Morrow / An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
January 2, 2007; $24.95; Hardcover

Global warming has been thrust into the national spotlight as never before. From devastating hurricanes to near daily headlines of dramatic changes to the climate, the threat of super hurricanes, mega-droughts, and sea levels rising 20 to 80 feet is looming larger than ever.

But as renowned physicist and energy technology expert Joseph Romm argues, many people still don't get it. Fed a steady diet of misinformation by pundits, ideologues, and conservative politicians, most Americans don't believe-or don't realize-that climate change is, perhaps, the most serious issues of our time. Yet, as Romm attests, we have, at most, a decade to reverse course. If we fail to act, global warming will profoundly and irreversibly remake every aspect of our lives.

The question now is do we humans have the political will to take the steps necessary to save the planet?

In HELL AND HIGH WATER: Global Warming-the Solution and the Politics-and What We Should Do , Romm presents a searing indictment of the policies and politics that are hastening the planet's destruction and issues a clarion call for Americans to wake up and demand action from our government before it's too late. Combining scientific fact with well-reasoned political analysis, Romm cuts through the rhetoric and debunks the myths to present a clear and frighteningly candid assessment of our endangered climate. HELL AND HIGH WATER bridges the gap between climate science and energy policy and is an essential guide to preserving our world and our way of life.

In HELL AND HIGH WATER, Romm explains why the U.S. has inexplicably failed to act on global warming. As he argues, the problem stems from multiples sources, including weaknesses within the scientific community, from environmentalists and progressives who've made strategic mistakes, and the media's flawed coverage of science. The successful exploitation of those weaknesses by conservative political leaders and think tanks that are funded by oil companies has created a virtual standstill in developing cost-saving, alternative energy policies. "Global warming has also proved intractable because this country has refused to adopt a sensible energy strategy," Romm writes. "Our political leaders won't even require Detroit to build fuel-efficient vehicles-which would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also save consumers money and cut oil imports during a time of war in the Persian Gulf."

Romm discusses the country's future if wide scale environmental changes are not enacted immediately. He explains why global warming is so challenging because it is a vast and complex systems problem-the environment is subject to vicious cycles whereby an initial warming change leads to further warming. Romm reveals how the oceans, soils, Arctic permafrost, and rainforests may eventually become sources of greenhouse emissions and he discusses how sea levels are on course to rise high enough to swallow up numerous coastal communities and inland areas on both U.S. coasts by 2100.

HELL AND HIGH WATER also examines the politics behind global warming and the solutions required to reverse its catastrophic effects. He exposes the tactics of conservative politicians who deny the science and delay genuine action on alternative energy initiatives. He cites the media's sloppy reporting and unwillingness to probe behind the rhetoric. Romm also delivers harsh criticism of the Clinton and Bush administrations for failing to strengthen and support the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and for the current administration's attempts to thwart international efforts to further limit greenhouse gas emissions. "The Bush Administration has not been content merely blocking domestic efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions but has been actively trying to block international negotiations aimed at developing mandatory regulations beyond what Kyoto would require," Romm writes. "But as in our country, China's leaders operate under the misguided belief that they can pollute all they want during this time of rapid growth, and then use their future wealth to solve their environmental problems."

HELL AND HIGH WATER lays out a number of key solutions to avoiding climate catastrophe including capturing carbon dioxide from coal plants and storing it underground; building 1 million large wind turbines and 700 new nuclear plants worldwide; launching massive energy-efficiency programs for homes, office buildings, and heavy industry; increasing the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks to 60 miles per gallon while also equipping them with advanced hybrid technology; and ceasing all tropical deforestation while doubling the rate of new tree planting. Though these strategies may seem implausible, Romm attests, they are technically possible and can significantly slow global warming while also buying more time for the world to develop new technologies and a consensus for even stronger action.

Authoritative and persuasive, HELL AND HIGH WATER reveals just how dire our climate predicament is while also offering the hope that we can avert a global disaster by using the technology and resources we have-now. "We have cost-effective technologies today that can sharply reduce global-warming pollution," Romm writes. "We are on the brink of taking the biggest gamble in human history, one that, if we lose, will transform the lives of the next fifty generations."

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