Fuel

Edited by John Knechtel.Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008.

Fuel contemplates intently the future of energy, and provides insight into how the planet will function after the impending depletion of coal and oil. Compiled within the Alphabet City series, this volume and others encompass many perspectives on issues of global concern. John Knechtel’s book appropriately illustrates what the future might entail by examining the looming energy crisis and sketching out ways in which we can overcome these challenges.

While creating access to sustainable energy by dismantling the fossil-fuel economy is an arduous task, Knechtel’s introduction rationally discusses the steps that must be taken, including building multitudes of nuclear plants, wind turbines and solar panels on an annual basis in order to accomplish this goal by 2050.

Distinctive architectural designs are also introduced. Configuring the landscape of Northern Alberta’s tar sands and turning them into cranberry-farming locales to developing strategies for post-oil reactivation of the Caspian Sea are all visionary ideas. Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of oil fields stretch along for pages, while George Osodi’s composition of captioned images exemplify the damage already done in Nigeria by the oil industry.

Essentially, Fuel is a miniature handbook containing a miscellaneous collection of piquantly entertaining essays along with images documenting an energy crisis that seems inevitable. Addressing questions about the post-oil and post-coal future, this volume not only informs, but also persuades readers to acknowledge the possibilities that may arise by rethinking fuel. Reviewed by Christine Jeyarajah

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