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Peak Oil Reading

The book section is broken down according to the following categories.

Peak Oil
Community Building
Additional Reading

The Long Emergency
James Howard Kuntsler

If you can read only one book about peak oil and its potential to disrupt human life on earth, this should be it.

Mr. Kunstler is not saying anything new here. While you can debate his future scenarios (and I'm sure he'd welcome, even encourage, it), the facts he lays down are not in contention. Unless you live in a hide tent stitched with sinew, everything that you see around you at this moment has been unselectively brought to you by cheap oil. The platform for modern civilization is a limitless oil supply. And if you think 40 years is plenty of time to retool a way of life a few hundred million people now blindly take for granted, then you have obviously never attended a school board meeting.

Imagine that you couldn't get to a school board meeting even if you wanted to go. Imagine, in fact, that the meeting is about closing the school because students and teachers can't get there by foot and there is no way to heat the building this winter. The priority on the remaining oil supply, you see, is for the manufacture of plastic solar panels and steel steam engines. Oh, wait, where are those manufacturing plants?

Mr. Kunstler's book is pointing out that there may not be enough time left to make an orderly transition out of our oil-based economy; the political, social, economic and environmental conditions are not good and history is not on our side. Unless someone raises the alarm and enough people start responding appropriately and almost immediately, things look grim. This is the alarm. You can still respond appropriately. Or not.
                                                           Amazon review by K. Wells

The Party's Over
Richard Heinberg

The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times.

In The Party's Over, Richard Heinberg places this momentous transition in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the twentieth century and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the twenty-first century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and South America. He describes the likely impacts of oil depletion and all of the energy alternatives. Predicting chaos unless the United States-the world's foremost oil consumer-is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a "managed collapse" that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future.

More readable than other accounts of this issue, with fuller discussion of the context, social implications and recommendations for personal, community, national and global action, Heinberg's updated book is a riveting wake-up call for human-kind as the oil era winds down, and a critical tool for understanding and influencing current US foreign policy.

Read The Party's Over before reading Powerdown.

Richard Heinberg

This is a followup to the earlier book, 'The Partys Over'. The basic thrust of this book is simple 'We are going to run out of power soon, very soon so what are we going to do?'

The basic facts of overpopulation, energy and resource depletion basic planet abuse and mismanagement are laid out in some detail tho there are many references back to 'The Partys Over'. Although there can be arguments made about exactly when the lights are going to go out, there can be very little doubt that the lights are going to go out. Alternate fuels like methane or tar sands - even hydrogen are shown to be simply not practical or plentiful enough.

The possible scenarios for afterwards that are spelt out are not very attractive. From 'Ignorance is bliss' to 'The Power grab', there is going to be widespread misery for most as the world civilization teeters and then collapses.

But there is an air of inevitability that permeates this book. The author tries to be upbeat "Yes we can change the world" but all evidence seems to point to the contrary - that the world is blind and deaf and oblivious- that those leaders who should be preparing us for the coming disaster are both uncaring and greedy.

Toynbee's theory about the rise and fall of past civilizations was challenge and response. Civilizations reach a point where due to varying factors the threat from outside is simply greater then the inner ability to respond - so the civilization collapses. From the Romans to the Mayas to the present day, the theory holds true.

Bush's "Pax Americana" - the power grab for control of the oil of the mideast is just a salvo in the the opening scene of our final act. Dwindling resources - energy food water fought over by an unmanageable population paint a bleak future. Our end is already whimpering the bang is in the foreseeable future.
                                                         Amazon review by S Troutt

The above are this site's Top 3 recommendations.

Twilight in the Desert
Matthew R Simmons

The basis of this book is fear, not unwanted fear spread by the author, but it is the emotion you start to feel as you move through the book page by page. For good or bad the U.S. and the world have become reliant on one natural resource that is controlled by a very few countries and people. This fact alone should have most of us concerned, 60% of the oil we use each day is controlled by a bunch of countries that are primarily dictatorships surrounded by people that would sooner burn the oil in mass dumping grounds instead of selling it to us regardless of the price. We have become backed into a corner and it appears that our only response so far as been to flex our power.

What will happen if the oil fields in Saudi can not keep up with demand? What if the production facilities are almost overmatched at this point and further facilities are difficult to put in place? All of these and more questions are covered in this book. The author also talks about the populations and political situation in Saudi and the picture he presents is another difficult and concerning one at that. One can only hope that the production in Iraq gets up and running or that better technology is hurried into production.

The footnotes and documented sources detailed in the book give it the appearance of a very well documented and accurate study. The details on the production process in Saudi is worth the price of the book alone. It is a rather back handed slight at our news media that the very real issues presented in this book have not yet made it to the talking heads at 6 pm. Overall I enjoyed the book a great detail. It is well written and put together. The reader is never lost in the detail no matter how little previous knowledge the reader has about the oil business. What I found was that the good was a very fast read given that it is difficult to put it down. It is a book that we all need to read.
                                                            Amazon reviewer J Hillard

Additional books on Peak Oil can be found here.

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