Courtesy Robert Bryce

Robert Bryce's "A Question of Power" was published in March. (Courtesy Robert Bryce)

Austin author Robert Bryce has just come out with a new book, and it received a strong review from Wall Street Journal "Bookshelf" editor Gregg Easterbrook. The editor called "A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations" a "smart, important book."

I asked Bryce, who is a former writer for the Austin Chronicle, to answer three questions:


Q: You claim in "A Question of Power" that the generation of electricity worldwide must be increased substantially if we want to raise global living standards. You see that as a moral imperative. In Austin, many see moving from petroleum-based energy production to renewables as a moral imperative. Can those two goals coexist?

A: The all-renewable delusion pervades leftist ideology, and it is being promoted by numerous prominent Democrats, including Bernie Sanders. But it's just that: a delusion. There is no way that wind and solar can meet the vast amounts of energy needed by modern society at prices consumers can afford. That's not an opinion. It's simple math and basic physics. As I explain in the book, the biggest problem is land use. Communities from New York to Hawaii are resisting the encroachment of Big Wind. That doesn't get reported in the Times, but the facts are there for any reporter who wants to look at them.

Q: You wrote your book prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Yet, are there any lessons in your book where energy equity and fighting disease intersect?

A: Our medical systems are wholly dependent on cheap, abundant, reliable electricity. If you were a virus-stricken patient on a ventilator, what would you want powering that machine? Some solar panels and wind turbines or a 2,000-megawatt nuclear plant?

Q: How do you sell a book in a time of shelter-in-place and a shut-down economy? Book stores are closed, speeches and appearances aren't happening, and book clubs aren't meeting.

A: I have to say it's been disappointing. After working on this book for three years, I was looking forward to doing several dozen events. Nearly all of them have been canceled. I did a Crowdcast event for Politics & Prose, and I've done some podcasts, but it's not the same. So I'm doing what I can: writing more op-eds, hoping for more reviews, and doing whatever I can online and on Twitter, Facebook, etc., to promote the book.

A Question of Power (PublicAffairs, 322 pages, $28) is available on Amazon.com.

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