When Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, set out to write Clean Energy Common Sense, her goal was simple: To bring more people into the climate change conversation now. Now? Conversations on climate change are happening in real time across the internet, on talk radio, in nightly news casts, and beside the water cooler. With only weeks until the UN"s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, a book seems like the wrong medium to insert yourself into the conversation.
It was not even two years ago when then New York Times Book Review editor Rachel Donadio asked the question, "Why Does It Still Take So Long to Publish a Book?" What has changed? As I found out, even though Rachel was able to come to her own conclusions, her question was so 2008.
(Enter immediacy). Hello immediacy. Not exactly a friend of the publishing industry. Clean Energy Common Sense is an anomaly in a usually slow-moving industry. Beinecke went from book contract to #4 on the Amazon Non-Fiction Bestsellers list in a little over 60 days. That is lighting fast even for an e-book. How did it go down? Pay attention folks at Guinness. If you don't have a category for this yet, you should.
After a summer of watching big dirty energy companies spending loads of money on a direct attempt to confuse the American people on the issue, enough was enough. A definitive book was needed to call people to action and put any confusion caused by "dirty energy" money to rest. That conviction set into motion what would be a whirlwind couple of months. The contract was signed with her publisher on September 9th, and immediately Beinecke put pen to paper (or I assume fingers to keyboard). The manuscript was researched, written, and edited by October 5th. Keep up, this moves quickly. The book was released on November 9th, exactly two months after signing on to write it. The book became an instant hit, climbing to #19 overall on Amazon that night. By the end of the week it was #4 on Amazon's non-fiction bestsellers list.
This sense of immediacy by both the author and publisher creates some real surprises in the tightly-packed 112-page volume. One of the biggest being data from October 2009 was included in the analysis - last month. Most of the time we are dealing with statistics that were relevant years back. This book demands to be read in the lead up to Copenhagen and like its inspiration, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, it looks to direct people to action - a clean energy revolution even. The author kept the book small enough to fit in your pocket and synthesized the arguments enough to read over lunch in a few days before passing it on to a co-worker. Painesan even in its physical design.
As Beinecke writes in her introduction, "This book is a call to action, one citizen's honest appeal." There is no issue that requires more of an immediate call to action than climate change. The CIA understood the immediacy when it formed a new research center in September to assess the national security risks presented by climate change. The tens of millions of people worldwide that will be forced to run from their homes due to the effects of climate change understand the immediacy. Those monitoring the shrinking Arctic ice cap understand the immediacy of an area that has lost a third of its size in the past thirty years. These are all facts from the book that are substantiated by not just credible sources, but definitive ones.
I encourage you all to get your hands on this book now. Not only is it timely, but is filled with all the authoritative facts and expert insights you need on to understand the immediacy of the climate change issue.