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Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies [Paperback]

Richard Heinberg
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Oct 2005
Without oil, what would you do? How would you travel? How would you eat? What would everyday life be like? The world is about to change dramatically and permanently as a result of oil depletion. Within the next few years, the global production of oil will peak. Thereafter, even with a switch to alternative energy sources, industrial societies will have less energy available to do all the things essential to their survival. We are entering a new era as different from the industrial one as the latter was from mediaeval times. "The Party's Over" deals head-on with the imminent decline of cheap oil. It shows how oil and war have been closely related for the past century, and how competition to control oil supplies is likely to lead to new resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South America. Tracing the crucial role of fossil fuels in the rise of industrialism, Heinberg discusses the degree to which energy alternatives can compensate for oil, and recommends: a managed transition to a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future; a global programme of resource conservation and sharing implemented by the US - the world's foremost oil consumer and the most mightily armed nation in world history - in concert with other countries; and realistic ways for families, communities, nations, and the world to prepare for the coming crisis. A riveting wake-up call that does for oil depletion, what Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" did for the issue of chemical pollution - i.e. raising to consciousness a previously ignored global problem of immense proportions - "The Party's Over" is essential reading for all those concerned with the future of modern life as we know it.

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Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies + The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Clairview Books; 2nd New edition of Revised edition edition (31 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905570007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905570003
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


‘The Party’s Over is the book we need to reorient ourselves for a realistic future.’ -- Chellis Glendinning, Ph.D., author of When Technology Wounds

About the Author

RICHARD HEINBERG is a journalist, educator, lecturer, and musician. He has lectured widely, appearing on national radio and television in various countries, and is the author of four previous books, including Cloning the Buddha, The Moral Impact of Biotechnology and A New Covenant with Nature: Notes on the End of Civilisation and the Renewal of Culture. The latter was a recipient of the 'Books to Live By' award of Body/Mind/Spirit magazine. His monthly MuseLetter was nominated in 1994 by Utne Reader for an Alternative Press Award and has been included in Utne's annual list of Best Alternative Newsletters. Heinberg is a member of the Core Faculty of New College of California, where he teaches courses on 'Energy and Society' and 'Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Community'. He is also an accomplished violinist. He lives with his wife in a suburban home they have renovated for energy efficiency, where they grow much of their own food. Richard's website is:

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
We live in a universe pulsing with energy; however, only a limited amount of that energy is available for our use. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 6 July 2003
Great book. Heinberg boils down many complex issues into clear concise explanations. His analysis of the likely knock-on effects of oil depletion on general economic activity and agriculture is chilling.
Heinberg longs for action to adjust our energy needs to be taken now. It is not really clear how much hope he has for this. Surely, the reality is the political system will only react when the trend is clearly in place and causing significant economic pain. In the last section of the book 'Managing the Collapse', Heinberg seems to avoid the fact that history shows people will respond according to narrow self-interests. He could maybe have included more detail on the projected growth in energy needs of Indian & China (who have their eyes on a Western lifestyle with subsequent energy needs) and the likely tensions this is likely to cause with the West.
Of course, the track record of people making predictions with apocalyptic themes is poor. I recall reading how people in the 19th Century expected the World to go dark when whale oil ran out. For all our sakes, I just hope Heinberg (& associated energy forecasters) have missed something in their analysis. If not, we could have our Easter Island.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brace! Brace! Brace! 16 Aug 2004
Never mind the chances of an asteroid impact or sea levels rising in 200 years time, super volcanoes or books of cryptic religious texts. This really is the book you should read. Rooted in hard science and physical facts, we really are about to enter a man made catastrophe. Unless you live in a mud hut, gathering root vegetables and hunting wildebeest you will be affected by the up and coming energy crisis.
What is this impending energy catastrophe? It is the inability of the world to provide enough raw oil, (a finite resource) to sustain the year on year (exponential) growth of our economies and population, (an infinite goal). The crisis will affect what you eat, how you travel, the costs of all raw materials and products made from them, employment, the value of money, perhaps even the value of life itself. It will certainly change the way you live sooner rather than later.
With decent historical analysis of former civilisations which failed due to resource issues and why our civilisations have so far escaped such failures, Richard Heinberg paints a colourful yet familiar picture of our current reliance upon finite resources and oil. With some oil history, evaluation of likely supplies and demands upon it, and a debate on contrary views; a reasoned and balanced argument it formed. But few would find the Heinberg's conclusions difficult to reject, and most will find them hard to swallow.
A review of alternative energy technologies and how we might measure the benefit of any particular fuel might leave you wondering what we can do about the problem. And unlike many publications prophesising doom, it does give some potential answers and perhaps even a little hope.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 4 Oct 2005
A book that stops you in our tracks to think of the consequences of our actions. Very well reasoned and researched to give a rounded view of our future without oil. Quite mind blowing to me that the peak of production could come within a year from now!
I would hope that this could become a standard work for all schools and colleges in the vague hope that the young could get through to our bone headed leaders (political,industrial, community etc etc) who are heading us for an almighty crash. It is too late for the adult population (particularly in the USA)to let go of their gluttony for oil.
If political will cannot be changed popular will must for the sake of our children, grand-children and the whole future of our species.
How we will one day mourn the loss of basic and essential skills that could enable us to survive.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As the oil patch runs dry 9 April 2006
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is one of the best books on peak oil and the consequences to come that I have read. Heinberg goes into considerable detail not only delineating the rise of industrial societies based on fossil fuel riches (the "treasure found in the basement," is how he phrases it), but on what is going to happen when the oil is gone. A couple of other good books are Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak (2005) by Kenneth S. Deffeyes and The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (2005) by James Howard Kunstler. Kunstler in particular is in close agreement with Heinberg. For a different point of view--and an amazingly pollyannaish one in my opinion--see The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy (2005) by Peter W. Huber and Mark P. Mills.
When the party animals go out at night they think not of the morrow or of the headache to come. This is Heinberg's analogy except the consequences of the binge will be quite a bit worse than a headache. Note well the subtitle: "the Fate of Industrial Societies."
Heinberg hints at some possible political consequences as the oil patch begins to run dry. He notes that young people "will see evidence of the extravagant party their elders have thrown, while for themselves there will be only dregs left over." (p. 209) They may take a sharp turn to the left (as historically happens during times of stress or deprivation), and "in wealthier countries (such as the US) may be branded as traitors to the cause of maintaining their nation's unequal control of global resources." (p. 207) I believe there is already evidence of this as Bush tries to discredit his critics.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not read it yet
But did not see anything in the index relating to fracking, so if there are any doomsday figures in it they may need adjusting.
Published 6 months ago by Lingus
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for every conscientious human
This book is a clear, readable, informative and enlightening account of the ever-timely global energy challenges,such as the depletion of cheap fossil resources and the continuous... Read more
Published 11 months ago by V.Malamos
5.0 out of 5 stars Dismiss this book at humanities peril!!
Read this book if you are at all concerned about the fragile state of diminishing resources and humanities fate in the next 50 years due to energy resource depletion (in particular... Read more
Published on 6 July 2012 by stevegg
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptionally good read
This book is perfect for anyone looking to make themselves more informed about the issue of oil, its effects on fundamental aspects of human life, as well as the state of society... Read more
Published on 4 May 2012 by Erik Cummins
4.0 out of 5 stars The Partys Over: Oil, War and the fate of Industrial Societies
A good book which left me with plenty to think about. It also made me look at my own society (England) with different eyes. Read more
Published on 20 May 2011 by C. Yearwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Alife changing read!
My son is studying Transport design in University. A discussion with one of his tutors made him aware of Peak Oil. The rest is history as they say. Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by C. J. Dawber
1.0 out of 5 stars Also found this alarmist
Very much written in a 'panic' tone. This books makes out as if oil is just going to suddenly stop flowing completely and 'we are all going to die'. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2010 by Fosta
4.0 out of 5 stars Party's Over
Heinberg gives a very good background to energy transitions from wood right through to the latest alternatives. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2010 by Bermuda
2.0 out of 5 stars Alarmist.
There is mounting evidence of a decline in oil production. This obviously creates a need for new energy production, and production methods. Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2010 by Morten Pedersen
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the most intelligent and well thought out reviews of the...
Although this book was first published in 2003, with a second edition in 2005, it is still very relevant today in 2009. Read more
Published on 6 Jun 2009 by Brian BH
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