David MacKay's reality check on renewables



Recently, the world lost a ground-breaking mathematician renowned for his rational approach to the energy and climate discussion. On April 14, 2016, Sir David MacKay, 48, lost his battle with cancer.

In 2008, he self-published the book Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air and offered it as a free download on his website: http://www.withouthotair.com/. Bill Gates called this work “one of the best books on energy that has been written.”

MacKay described his motivations for writing his book in the preface.

“I didn’t write this book to make money. I wrote it because sustainable energy is important," he remarked. "Everyone says getting off fossil fuels is important, and we’re all encouraged to ‘make a difference,’ but many of the things that allegedly make a difference don’t add up . . . because people get emotional . . . and no one talks about numbers.”

MacKay’s TEDxWarwick talk, delivered to an audience in 2012, explores how much land would be required to power the United Kingdom if a 100 percent renewables plan was pursued—and why we should pursue these sustainable energy options nonetheless.  



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