Vaitheeswaran, Vijay V. 1969-
Vaitheeswaran, Vijay V. 1969-
PERSONAL: Born 1969, in Madras, India. Education: Graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
AWARDS, HONORS: Seventh Annual Asian American Literary Award.
Power to the People: How the Coming Energy Revolution Will Transform an Industry, Change Our Lives, and Maybe Even Save the Planet, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Although he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran went on to pursue a career in journalism and has worked as a correspondent with the Economist for more than a decade, eventually reporting on the politics, economics, business, and technology related to energy issues. His book, Power to the People: How the Coming Energy Revolution Will Transform an Industry, Change Our Lives, and Maybe Even Save the Planet takes a look at the potential future of energy use. In an interview in the San Francisco Bay Guardian with Matthew Hirsch, Vaitheeswaran noted that the book is "about how we make choices about energy" and "how we have distorted the energy markets in very environmentally unfriendly ways because of the choices we've made about how to price energy, how to regulate the energy industry, whether we stifle or encourage innovation."
Unlike many others looking at the world's energy and pollution problems, Vaitheeswaran sees a potentially bright future. He bases his optimism on three trends: the global movement toward liberalization of energy markets, the emergence of a new market-friendly and powerful environmental activism, and the explosion of flexible technological innovations based largely on hydrogen energy and fuel cells. In the process of writing the book, Vaitheeswaran interviewed people from both ends of the spectrum, from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members to noted environmental activist Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute. With the help of his education in engineering, Vaitheeswaran describes many of the new technological wonders but also delves into their practicality and financial prospects. As noted by several reviewers, the author may support environmentalism but he also advocates efforts like pollution-credit trading agreements between companies to lower overall pollution efforts, an approach often attacked by environmentalists. Vaitheeswaran also discusses the importance of market-driven environmental programs, such as "green taxes" aimed at taxing carbon and other emissions and eco-labeling, which would allow consumers to ascertain a company's environmental friendliness as a factor in deciding on product purchases.
In a review for Grist.org online, Michelle Nijhuis commented, "His firsthand accounts are entertaining, his technical explanations are almost always clear, and his jazzy, amped-up writing style helps steer the reader through the often-wonky subject matter." She called Vaitheeswaran "an admirably independent thinker, listening closely to his sources and then offering his own educated opinions." American Scientist contributor Peter D. Blair noted that the author "strikes a more careful balance" than the authors of other recent energy books. Writing in Library Journal, Eva Lautemann commented that the author's "optimism may seem naive and unrealistic. "Nevertheless, Lautemann noted that "readers wanting a change from the gloom and doom of some environmental writing will appreciate this work." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "informative and insightful." Judith Crown noted in the Chicago Tribune, "One of the rewards of Power to the People is how [the] author … makes sense of the seemingly disparate currents of the energy world, from the collapse of Enron to global warming."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, May-June, 2004, Peter D. Blair, review of Power to the People: How the Coming Energy Revolution Will Transform an Industry, Change Our Lives, and Maybe Even Save the Planet, p. 270.
America's Intelligence Wire, August 17, 2003, Kyra Phillips, interview with Vaitheeswaran."
Booklist, November 1, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of Power to the People, p. 464.
Chicago Tribune, July 18, 2004, Judith Crown, review of Power to the People, p. 5.
Library Journal, October 15, 2003, Eva Lautemann, review of Power to the People, p. 94.
Nieman Reports, summer, 2004, "The Energy Beat," p. 4.
Publishers Weekly, October 6, 2003, review of Power to the People, p. 70.
San Francisco Bay Guardian, March 31, 2004, Matthew Hirsch, "The 'Lit' Interview: Vijay Vaitheeswaran."
Vijay Vaitheeswaran Home Page, http://www.vijaytothepeople.com (February 11, 2005).