Cambridge University Professor David MacKay Dies at Age 48

Sir David MacKay, a brilliant scientist, innovator, and Cambridge University professor, has died at age 48, from cancer, according to a report in Cambridge News this week:

An expert in sustainable energy, his book Sustainable Energy – without the hot air was praised for its straight-talking approach to ending human dependence on fossil fuels, and was praised by Bill Gates as “one of the best books on energy that has ever been written.”


A digital edition remains free to download at


As news of his death broke online tributes came pouring in.


Amber Rudd, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: “David was the model of a scientist in government; challenging, insightful and with the ability to explain the most complex subjects in a clear way.


“His legacy, including the 2050 calculator now emulated across the world and his brilliant book on sustainable energy, was deservedly recognised by a knighthood earlier this year.


“His ideas and arguments will continue to influence how we deal with climate change.”


Ed Miliband, former energy minister and Labour leader tweeted: “RIP David Mackay, former DECC Chief Scientific Adviser. He was passionate, original, brave. A truly good man. Deep condolences to his family.


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Sir MacKay was one of the earliest prominent supporters of this #flyingless petition and campaign. In the book Sustainable Energy — Without the Hot Air, MacKay concisely explained how to count aviation’s greenhouse gas contribution and skeptically summarized the potential for future technology improvements to improve this impact.