The book is clearly written, but can be sentimental. Sometimes, indeed, the author appears to think the whole industrial age has been a mistake. (After the invention of the steam engine, he claims, “humanity lost control of its technology”.) More annoyingly, he has invented a fictional “we” that simply doesn’t exist. From the subtitle (“We Could Have Stopped” it) onwards, he bangs the rhetorical drum that there has been a collective failure of humanity. “We did not… seriously consider the prospect of failure,” he writes. Well, many of us were children at the time, or not yet alive. “Nobody who lives on the electrical grid can be let entirely off the hook,” he insists, though of course if people disconnected en masse from the electricity grid, there would soon be widespread pestilence and death, which is obviously not a preferable outcome. Powering the grid, instead, with more and more renewable sources of energy seems too pedestrian an idea for Rich even to mention.