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.
As widespread protests against police violence continue in Austin and around the country, local activist groups are pushing for what they've wanted for years but didn't feel they could successfully demand: defunding the Austin Police Department. And people seem to be paying attention.
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- The hacker group Anonymous briefly took down the city of Austin website this morning.
- The Texas Tribune looks at the history of racism and discrimination in Austin.
- The Austin Police Department has its own history with bias, the Statesman recounts.
- More protests are planned for this weekend.
- One of the things back on under the new phase of reopening: July 4 celebrations.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced today he is moving the state to Phase III of reopening the economy after the coronavirus shutdown.
From the release:
University of Texas at Austin will limit class size to 40% capacity this fall, offer 2,100 classes online
About 20% of classes at the University of Texas at Austin will be taught exclusively online this fall, The Texas Tribune reports, and in-person classes will be limited to 40% of classroom capacity.
A member of the security team who was temporarily assigned to guard the Texas State Capitol has tested positive for COVID-19, the Austin American-Statesman reports:
Travis County reports two suspected cases in children of inflammatory disease associated with COVID-19
There are two suspected cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children—a rare but serious condition believed to be associated with COVID-19—in Travis County, Austin Public Health Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette said during a virtual press conference earlier today.
- Despite the governor's statements about outside agitators, most people arrested in the protests here were from here, KUT reports.
- Protests continued peacefully in Austin last night.
- KXAN speaks to black police officers in Austin about what it's been like to patrol the protests.
- A GoFundMe campaign was set up to help black-owned businesses in Austin affected by COVID-19 and the recent protests.
- Masks, reservations, deep cleaning: Barton Springs has a reopening plan.