It only takes a cursory glance at the headlines from a daily newspaper to find it: Oil. It is at the root of war, the primary fuel for the world economy, the cause of global warming. In this world, oil is synonymous with energy, and energy has wormed its way into every aspect of modern life.

In the very near future, our energy use will outstrip our energy production. Evan Solomon and Andrew Heintzman, co-founders of Shift Magazine, hope to solve that problem with a new book called Fueling the Future. Since moving on from progressive mag Shift, Solomon is the host of CBC Newsworld’s Hot Type, and Heintzman is the CEO of Investeco, a company that provides capital and expertise to environmental businesses. Fueling the Future is the first installment of the pair’s new book series, The Ingenuity Project.

The Ingenuity Project takes its name from (U of T Peace and Conflict Studies prof) Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book, The Ingenuity Gap, and runs with Homer-Dixon’s thesis that there exists a gap between those with the “ingenuity” to solve society’s problems and those who would implement that ingenuity. Each year, The Ingenuity Project will bring together the world’s leading experts to examine a question or address a problem of global concern.

This year’s installment, Fueling the Future, seeks to bring together “the world’s leading energy thinkers” to share ideas and solutions to the world’s energy problems and answer questions such as: What happens when we run out of oil? Can alternative energies like wind, solar, and tidal ever replace fossil fuels? How can we best reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy sources?

Notable contributors include Geoffrey Ballard, the inventor of the hydrogen fuel cell; Dr. Avi Friedman, a professor of architecture at McGill University; and Gordon Laird, a journalist who has covered stories on the environment, politics, and culture for magazines like Saturday Night, This Magazine, and (lefty U.S. mag) Mother Jones.

This book is a bit scatterbrained in its attempt to address the very broad subject of energy. Solomon and Heintzman have done a nice enough job pulling some of the more disparate topics together with a series of editors’ introductions before each chapter. But despite their efforts, the essays themselves can tend towards the polemic. Rather than proposing solutions to our problems, some of the chapters merely describe, for instance, the geopolitical situation of the world’s oil-producing states, or the innovative technologies that have been pioneered by partnerships between government and big business in Alberta.

Globe and Mail columnist Ken Wiwa’s chapter discusses the human cost of oil extraction in Nigeria and the possibility that new communication technologies will help Nigerians develop a knowledge-based economy rather than an oil-based one. Another chapter examines, in excruciating detail, the logistical infeasibility of solving a world energy shortage with nuclear power.

While Fueling the Future certainly falls short of providing all the answers to the world’s energy problems-or as Solomon and Heintzman might say, providing the necessary “ingenuity” to solve those problems-it does provide a crash course in the energy problems that face us. Much of the book is fairly dry reading, but in the end it is probably worthwhile as a first step to, as Solomon puts it, “saving the world.”