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Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage [Paperback]

Kenneth S. Deffeyes
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Aug 2003

Geophysicist M. King Hubbert predicted in 1956 that U.S. oil production would reach its highest level in the early 1970s. Though roundly criticized by oil experts and economists, Hubbert's prediction came true in 1970.

In this revised and updated edition reflecting the latest information on the world supply of oil, Kenneth Deffeyes uses Hubbert's methods to find that world oil production will peak in this decade--and there isn't anything we can do to stop it. While long-term solutions exist in the form of conservation and alternative energy sources, they probably cannot--and almost certainly will not--be enacted in time to evade a short-term catastrophe.


Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Revised and Updated edition (31 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691116253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691116259
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 807,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2002

Honorable Mention for the 2001 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Geography and Earth Science, Association of American Publishers

"Deffeyes has reached a conclusion with far-reaching consequences for the entire industrialized world. . . . The conclusion is this: in somewhere between two and six years from now, worldwide oil production will peak. After that, chronic shortages will become a way of life. The 100-year reign of King Oil will be over."--Fred Guterl, Newsweek

"A most readable handbook. . . . If [Deffeyes] is right we have, at most, two or three years in which to prepare for yet another price shock, and to accelerate our move away from oil as fuel. The strength of the book lies in its solid background and well-explained basis for that single prediction."--Stuart Young, Nature

"Deffeyes makes a persuasive case. . . . This is an oilman and geologist's assessment of the future, grounded in cold mathematics. And it's frightening."--Paul Raeburn, Scientific American

"An important new book."--Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe

"The story behind Hubbert's analysis--is told with engaging wit, humor, and great insight. . . . Deffeyes writes with the taut reasoning of a scientist and the passion of someone raised in the industry. . . . His background is ideal for the subject, and the book is a gem. . . . Read Hubbert's Peak."--Brian J. Skinner, American Scientist

"[Some] experts . . . worry that the global peak in production will come in the next decade. . . . A heavyweight has now joined this gloomy chorus. Kenneth Deffeyes argues in a lively new book that global oil production could peak as soon as 2004."--The Economist

"A persuasive prophecy. Hubbert's story is important and needs to be told. I suspect that historians in years to come will recognise Hubbert's Peak as a historical turning point."--Tim Burnhill, New Scientist

"Deffeyes, using Hubbert's methodology, shows that the trajectory of world reserves is closely following the pattern of U.S. discovery and depletion, with just a few decades' lag. Drilling deeper, in more remote locations, and with more elaborate technologies won't tap reserves that don't exist. . . . America's energy policy needs to tilt away from oil and in favor of conservation, new technology, and domestic renewables. The time to act is now, before the next wave of gas lines and rationing is upon us."--Robert Kuttner, Business Week

"In the politics of oil, the left is passionately, sentimentally, tree-huggingly pro-environment, while the right shrugs as it climbs into its official mascot, the biggest sport utility vehicle available. . . . In the slide down Hubbert's Peak, political differences will matter less. If those who planned the Sept. 11 attacks know as much about economics as they do about aeronautics, their next target may be the Saudi Arabian oil fields, on which America, Asia, and Europe are overly dependent."--Martin Nolan, The Boston Globe

"Kenneth Deffeyes has written a most readable handbook which is well illustrated and has copious notes. But his book is more than that. . . . The strength of this book lies in its solid background."--Stuart Young, Nature

"There are few things as important nowadays as the energy system, and few books on the subject as thought provoking as this one."--J.R. McNeill, Wilson Quarterly

"We have long been told that fossil fuels wouldn't last forever, but Deffeyes hypothesis is still startling: Sometime during the next decade, the supply of oil won't keep up with the demand. Because of its broad impact Hubbert's Peak is a must-read for almost everyone--scientists, policy-makers, environmentalists, people who buy cars."--Ann Wagner, NationalJournal.com

"An ideal freshman reading assignment in any geology course concerned with energy, geological resources, public policy, general science applications in our modern world, or similar topics. All teachers, from high school through graduate level, in all natural sciences, political science, government, business, and engineering courses should read this book and encourage their students to consider its ramifications in their fields."--C. John Mann, Journal of Geoscience

"[A] small and delightfully readable book."--Choice

"Deffeyes's unsettling message is that, although society has been slow to respond to the Hubbert's Peak forecast of world oil decline, a permanent drop in oil production will nevertheless begin within the next decade. Humanity has a brief period in which to wean itself from crude oil, increase energy conservation, and design alternative energy sources."--Dan Johnson, The Futurist

"I commend this book . . . to anyone concerned about the future development of planet Earth."--John Parker, Geoscientist

"This book sends a message loud and clear: World petroleum production is going to peak within this decade, maybe as early as 2005, but no later than 2009 and there is hardly any way of escaping from this truth. . . . The book is accessible, easy to read and informative."--Subhes C. Bhattacharyya, Natural Resources Forum

"An intelligent, briskly written and refreshingly nontechnical book."--John R. Alden, Baltimore Sun

"This book . . . should be read . . . by all politicians, by all students, no matter what their discipline, and indeed by anyone concerned about their grandchildren's welfare. Reading Hubbert's Peak is the intellectual equivalent of bungee jumping, being simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying."--R. C. Selley, Geological Magazine

From the Inside Flap

"This book is important in that it is addressed to the general public, which is overwhelmingly ignorant of the fundamentals of earth's resources and basic economics. It will be very useful to teachers, news media personnel, and public policy makers."--Craig W. Van Kirk, Colorado School of Mines

"The timing of this book is excellent. Energy issues will be heard with increasing frequency during the next five years, and the general public will be looking for information with which they can make sense of changes in energy supply and prices."--Robert K. Kaufmann, Boston University

"I read this book with pleasure and profit, learning a great deal painlessly."--Robert M. Solow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Global oil production will probably reach a peak sometime during this decade. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good..not great. 15 Dec 2003
Format:Hardcover
The author is a retired professor of petroleum geology, and it shows! He loves to teach geology and he loves to tell corny jokes..
Apart from the opening chapters that lay out the thesis that global oil production is about to peak in just a few short years, most of the book deals with basic oil geology. It gets quite technical, and I could not help but feel that several of the chapters were "filler" material, not directly related to the book's title. Still, it is a pretty good primer on oil exploration science, history and techniques.
Another chapter deals with the mathematics of Mr. Deffeyes's predictions (simple curve fitting, unfortunately) and another (very short one) with alternative energy sources.
The book is short and readable but it provides no new insight. We know that oil is a non-renewable resource and that production will peak in the future. A more useful analysis would have been to take into account the impact of alternatives (hydrogen, solar, wind, etc.)and environmental constraints on supply/demand projections. That would have provided a more thorough (and probably more accurate) view of our energy future.
All in all, a useful book to have if you are interested in energy matters, but not a great one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't argue with geology 19 Dec 2004
Format:Paperback
This was the first Peak Oil book I read. I am a trained scientist and work in electrical engineering. Facts and logical arguments are vital for me to accept a theory. Whilst I have been aware ever since I can remember that oil is a finite resource and likely to become less plentiful in the future I was not aware of just how serious the situation was.
Deffeyes presents the idea of Peak Oil from first principles. He explains what oil is, what an oil field is, how it came to be there and importantly, how we found the field and extract the oil from it. The language used is excellent with enough humour and stories to keep what could be a very dry subject lively.
Once the above is covered it becomes clear how the rate of extraction form a single oil field must follow the famous bell curve with the area under the curve representing the field's endowment. Summation of the bell curves for all fields in the world goes on the produce a single large bell curve, the area under it now representing the planets total oil endowment. Peak oil extraction occurs once approximately half the original endowment is used - around about now then!
It also becomes clear that new discoveries and technology improvements are unlikely to be significant.
Deffeyes writes with great authority. He has been working as a geologist both for the oil industry and latter in academia his entire life.
The book is focused on oil and oil extraction and nothing else. It does not address any economic, sociological or political implications of Peak Oil.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who desires a logical, technical explanation of why less oil will be available in the near future than now. That single point is covered extremely well, making this book a fantastic introduction to Peak Oil.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The end of oil is written in rock 16 Aug 2004
Format:Paperback
Oil is not running out, we have plenty of oil. However, we need increasing supplies of oil to fuel the exponential growth of our economies, and therein lies a problem. Why? Because we simply can't get oil out of the ground fast enough if we are to meet world demand, and the faster we use it the sooner there is going to be a supply issue. The moment the oil industry reaches it's maximum productivity, it is all downhill for oil, and probably for us too. Drilling more holes will not help, drilling deeper will not help, finding more is not possible, and this book explains why.
Why only certain conditions can create oil, why only certain rocks can bear oil, and why only certain oil bearing rocks can be productive. The book discusses the chemistry of oil and how mankind has already used ingenious technology to find the most accessable oil and boost production, and why we are unlikely to have any further technological gains as far as oil discovery and production are concerned.
And the purpose of this explanation? To back up the (rather dry) theories of Professor M King Hubbert, who prophesised that world oil production would peak around the year 2000 just as he predicted (correctly) that US oil production would peak around 1970. Since 1970, the US has relied upon the Middle East for it's oil, but what happens when world production peaks, and how can we tell that it has?
This book provides some excellent insight into the reasons why we should be concerned with oil depletion and why it is a matter of imminent concern for ourselves and not of our grandchildren.
Why buy this book? Because it is written by Kenneth Deffeyes a geologist, a professor, and a man who has worked intimately with the oil industry since he started working with his father as an adolescent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Are you concerned about the current oil and gasoline prices? Do you want to understand what will happen in the future with energy and our standard of living? Then you must read this book. And you will learn that in 1956 a geologist working for Shell Oil, M. King Hubbert, made a prediction (in a paper titled "Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels"). Hubbert then predicted that all U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s. At the beginning, all the experts and gurus discarded this men's prediction. But he was right, because U.S. oil production peaked out in 1970. Afterwards, mainly in the 1990s, geologists, oil engineers and analysts began referring to Hubbert's Peak, and using his methods to estimate the peak year for word oil. That is to say, at what point humanity will have consumed half of all world oil endowment, which took hundred of million of years to accumulate. A point that only takes 100 years to reach since oil production started ..... If the actual predictions are correct ( Hubbert's curve is not longer debatable; pending issue is the correct peak year, now estimated to be between 2007 and 2012) the implications for world economy, oil prices, the premises of occidental civilization, will be devastating. So, even if you are not into oil, gas or energy, I consider this book to be of mandatory reading to better understand the workings of the energy world, and dismiss certain current myths, like the possibility of expanding oil production radically through new methods; drilling deeper or in new places. The author of this book, Professor Kenneth Deffeyes, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, is highly qualified to take you on a fascinating ride, which will qualify non experts to better understand all the factors involved in oil production and future possibilities. Read more ›
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