13 Energy Books You Need to Read

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The world's energy system is nearly as complex as it is important. The ways we make light, heat and power practically define the material possibilities of our lives. Yet for all the ubiquity of energy_bug_1.pngenergy, many of the processes that deliver us electricity, coal and petroleum are opaque. Some are difficult to understand; others are just so old that no one really remembers them.

Meanwhile, we're trying to reinvent our energy, largely with two goals in mind: one, to lower the energy inputs required for goods and services and two, to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we create as a byproduct of making power.

The books included on this list will help you understand how we built our energy system -- and what it will take to overhaul it.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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