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Peak Oil Reading

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

Peak Oil
Community Building
Additional Reading

Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert's Peak
Kenneth S Deffeyes

This succinct book is an engaging view of Peak Oil by a gruff, no-nonsense petroleum geologist. It is not just a concise overview of the origins of oil and the significance of the Peak. Think of the Peak as that era when the price of oil soars because supply can no longer meet demand, no matter how hard the effort to increase production. For the mathematically literate, Deffeyes gives the best popular explanation yet of the Hubbert method of calculating Peak Oil. Deffeyes curve-fit puts the peak at 2006 - hence his sense of urgency.

Yet the major emphasis of the book is on the energy alternatives. Coming from an academic geologist deeply rooted in the culture of the energy industries, the chapters on natural gas, coal, nuclear, tar sands, and oil shale are most welcome. Most of the books on Peak Oil are not by geologists, so their assessments on these subjects are second hand. Deffeyes 2001 book, Hubbert's Peak - The Impending World Oil Shortage, focused mostly on conventional oil.

There are two extremes to the views on Peak Oil. Some people, often termed "cornucopians", say not to worry - technology will come to the rescue, energy alternatives will take over as soon as the price is right. Others, the "prophets of doom", predict the collapse of industrial civilization and human population via environmental degradation, warfare, disease, and famine. Or at best they predict a return to a primitive 19th century style of existence with far fewer people on the planet. Deffeyes predicts tough going, but he also outlines a way for us to scrape through a few more decades until more sustainable technology can be developed and scaled up. The kind of civilization that can be sustained over the long haul is still an open question.
                                                        Amazon review by R Burkhart

Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil
David Goodstein

Oil will soon begin to run out, and the magical "market" will not save us. Caltech physicist David Goodstein adds his voice to the growing chorus warning that official complacency is steering us like the Titanic straight for a massive iceberg. Global oil reserves are projected to hit the Hubbert Peak sometime between now (according to some oil geologists) and 2020 (the most optimistic estimates of the U.S. government and industry). After the peak, we will be on the downslope, and prices will rise as supplies diminish. Even a surprising discovery of a new 90 billion barrel/year field, the biggest ever found, would only postpone the peak by one year. Goodstein illustrates the consequences -- if there is a 5% gap annually after the peak between growing demand and diminishing supply, then in 10 years the gap will grow to 50%. In only 10 years after some point in the very near future, in other words, the world will see the available oil reduced by 1/2. Goodstein points out that the U.S., with 5% of the world's people, consumes 25% of global oil production. "Cheap gasoline is not the solution; it's a big part of the problem," he adds. This physicist is no polemicist, but it is clear he does not consider economics to be any sort of reliable science. If the market is supposed to magically set the right prices via supply and demand, then how can oil and gas possibly be so cheap when it is so crucially valuable and running out? Goodstein notes that oil companies do not produce oil. There are unspoken volumes behind some of his brief comments. Those volumes can be found in the work of Herman Daly, the ecological economist, who has been pointing out for years that mainstream economics sets itself against the basic laws of physics when it comes to natural resources and the environment, especially the second law of thermodynamics -- entropy.

                                                      Amazon reviewer R Hutchinson

The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
Paul Roberts

While the professional reviewers have given Robert's book only the highest of praise, (The New York Review of Books calls it "the best single book ever produced about our energy economy and its environmental implications") several reader-reviewers have faulted Roberts for not being an economist. As someone who had to endure a good deal of economics while earning my MBA, I can assure you, these unnamed, un-credentialed "reviewers" aren't economists either.

They all seem to have the same complaint: that Roberts doesn't understand economics because he doesn't believe the law of supply and demand will deliver us smoothly from our energy dilemma. Well, no one else who's taken more than freshman Economics 101 thinks supply/demand functions in that simplistic way either. Sure, the supply/demand dynamic is at work, but markets left to their own devices are quite capable of dragging us through shortages, depressions, environmental disasters, and even wars on their way to new equilibrium. Roberts doesn't fail to understand supply and demand. On the contrary, he sees it quite clearly, with all its real world complexity and danger, and helps the lay reader to see it as well. I have to wonder if these "reviewers" even finished the book.

The End Of Oil is written not by an economist (thank heavens!) but by a respected journalist who spent years interviewing economists and a myriad other energy experts and players. Roberts has done what few economists could have; written an accessible, readable, but comprehensive book that could get the American public thinking constructively about our energy strategy (or lack thereof).

In this country, we like to think the real power lies with the people, and I believe it does, but only when we can be bothered to exercise it. We must first recognize and understand an issue before we've any chance of voting wisely, whether with ballots or our wallets. Reading this book is an enjoyable, interesting first step.
                                                               By Amazon reviewer kd49

The Empty Tank
Matthew Jeremy Leggett

Of the 8 or so books I have read on peak oil, this one is the most
compelling, reasonable and well-informed. If you are to read only one book on peak oil, this is the one to choose.

Leggett has the credibility of being a former professor of geology, a former oil industry insider (who then converted to a global warming and oil depletion activist), and who now runs his own renewable energy company. He knows the insiders of both the
oil business and oil-related government energy institutions. He knows what makes them tick.

He correctly notes that we can't rely on the energy companies or government to give us warning or leadership regarding oil depletion. Instead, the demand for renewable energy must come from a groundswell of public concern and support, until it becomes the tipping point that affects our institutions. This is a change that will come from the ground up, not from the top down.

Although he sees a virtually unavoidable peak oil economic depression in the near future, he does offer a ray of hope that we can cure our self-destructive oilcoholism with renewable energy -- and do so at the grassroots individual and community level.
                                                              Amazon Reviewer M Mills

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