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The End of Oil [Hardcover]

Paul C. Roberts
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 May 2004
In a single century, we have evolved into a species for whom oil is as essential as air or water, and one that will go to inordinate lengths to protect it. In fact, petroleum is now so deeply entrenched in our economy, our politics, and our expectations of living standards and personal power that even modest efforts to replace it or phase it out are fought tooth and nail by the most powerful forces in the world: the oil companies and governments who depend on oil revenues; the developing nations who see oil as the only means to industrial success; and the Western middle class which refuses to modify its energy-lavish life-style. But within thirty years, by even conservative estimates, we will have burned our way through half the oil that is easily available. How will we break our addiction to oil? And what will we use in its place to maintain a global economy and political system that is currently entirely dependent on cheap, readily available energy? In this scrupulously researched and gripping book, Paul Roberts shows what is likely to happen, why the transition will probably be traumatic and dangerous, and suggests how and where the coming battle will be fought and what victory will mean for ordinary people.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 1st Edition edition (17 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747570752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747570752
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,439,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘This book may very well become for fossil fuels what Fast Food Nation was to food’ -- Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Paul Roberts is a regular contributor to HARPER'S MAGAZINE. He lives in Washington State, US.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but could go further. 23 July 2008
Easily readable book covering the problems of further oil exploration, discovery and extraction, and then talks briefly about the problems of global warming. He then goes on to talk about alternatives to oil. Here he gets a little confused between two separate things, one, the source of energy, and two, the delivery of that energy to where it's needed. Oil does both of these. Roberts talks about a possible future "hydrogen economy" as the most viable alternative, while dismissing nuclear and renewables and other sources of energy, but hydrogen is not an energy source: it is an energy delivery method. Some energy source has to make the hydrogen in the first place. Therefore his dismissal of solar and nuclear is not as easy as he makes out. Also, he dismisses geothermal energy in less than a sentence, which is far less than it deserves. In doing this, he confuses the physically possible with the economically viable. Solar, nuclear and geothermal are at least physically viable as alternatives, as they can probably produce the required energy: the only question is their economics. His discussion of their economics is perhaps valid, but economics is all relative. The question is at what point other energy sources become economic and what the consequences of using them are.

All that is less of a review, and more of a critique. While the book is highly topical, and very readable without dumbing down, it confuses a number of points that need to be distinguished.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peak Oil - and what happens next 24 April 2007
By Mr. Tristan Martin VINE VOICE
Paul Roberts' The End of Oil, is a thorough and comprehensive study of the petroleum economy, a book that examines the three-pronged threats to the existing energy order: oil depletion, environmental [...] and geopolitical instability.

Roberts' analysis on depletion asks the question, `what should we do before the oil runs dry?' For run dry it will. Peak Oil, as the subject has come to be known, is based on variables, some known and some unknown. Disregarding the most wildly optimistic forecasts proposed by mouthpieces within the Saudi Arabian and United States' oil businesses (as well as those with the current occupiers of the pro-oil Whitehouse), production of oil is reasonably estimated to peak around the year 2025. After that, oil reserves will be in terminal decline (some analysts say that production has already peaked). If the developed countries of this planet are to maintain their standards of life and if less developed countries want to give their citizens the same access to energy (and everything that goes with it: education, health care, material goods and so forth), how is this to be achieved? What is the solution to demand that is rapidly escalating and oil supplies that are dwindling?

After articulating in some depth the scale of the problem, without reverting to "the end is nigh" doom-mongering, Roberts examines potential solutions: from coal (massive reserves but an environmental catastrophe) and nuclear (`clean' if you don't mind burying the waste in your back garden), to so-called `alternatives' such as solar and wind, to liquefied natural gas and hydrogen fuel cell micro grids (but no mention, alas, of the ellusive zero-point technologies).

These solutions also bring in the second facet of the book, environmental [...].
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book. 16 Nov 2005
By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Congratualtions to the author for writing such a fascinating and even-handed account of our relationship with oil. Although he makes no attempt to hide his agenda (which is that we should put all of our efforts into developing alternative sources of energy that don't pollute the planet) he is honest about their current shortcomings.
In short, this book concludes that there are no magic answers, but action is better than denial. If we carry on deluding ourselves that we can continue to find new sources of oil, we will have a rude awakening in the not-too-distant future.
For the Jeremy Clarksons of this world, this isn't tree-hugging, it's hard science. I just hope that Mr G W Bush reads it.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener 19 Aug 2004
By A Customer
In the league of Fast Food Nation!
It is an amazing, eye-opener book, successfully treating interconnected subjects like the oil economy, the power struggles (both economical and military) for secure access to the energy we need, our unsustainable dependance on finite amounts of oil, gas and coal, the tremendous effects on the global climate, the impact of developping nations consumming and producing more and more of this carbon-based source of energy, and what could be done to correct all this mess and shift to a cleaner, more reliable source of energy.
Far from being partisan, this book give you a logical, fact based approach.
You will see the world in a total new way after reading it. You will be shown everyday things in a way you never thought of, and their (political, economical and military) far reaching consequences.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Synopsis of the End of Oil 13 Jan 2006
I read the book for 2 reasons: to understand where oil prices will go and to see in what alternative technologies I should be investing.
The book is extremely well researched and thus provided me with a framework for asking the right questions. It ties together elegantly a mix of real politik, scientific as well as economic analysis. Difficult to put down if you want to understand the many factors that determine the geopolitics of energy
Part 1 sets the scene: we’re all happily consuming based on the belief that oil will continue to flow. Instead Roberts points out that we may have already reached a peak in oil production (if it is true it is a well kept secret!). This decrease in available supply mixed with an increase in demand coming from countries such as China and India is the recipe for an explosive cocktail in terms of the future of the oil price. As oil runs out the transition to a new and ever more demanding energy economy will not necessarily be smooth – blackouts and the war in Iraq are two examples. Hydrogen is a potential solution although its stop and go development is one of the challenges that lie ahead before it can be commercialized.
Part 2 describes the evolution of the forces of supply and demand for energy. It tackles the effects of the growth in China and the new tensions that it will create. The average person in the US today burns 7500 gallons of oil p.a. compared to 800 in China. While one could take comfort from the fact that energy efficiency is increasing, the reality is that we end up consuming more energy – another explosive cocktail? Will the new technologies come to the rescue? Evidence shows that there is still a long way to go.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Notably fair-minded.
Roberts is a clear and extremely readable writer; he also tackles big subjects in a distinctly fair way. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr. G. Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
A must read for where we are going. No detail is spared. While it paints a bleak image, its not too far off from where we are head unless we change. Read more
Published on 25 July 2011 by Brace, Brace, Brace
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
The book is written by a journalist, that's why I suppose the narrative of the oil industry is not so tedious or technical. Read more
Published on 29 Mar 2010 by DMJ MIAH
5.0 out of 5 stars if you wan to get a grip on peak oil read on
I have read many books on peakoil and found this one of the best. I agree it goes on a little at times but all in all a great read on the subject.
Published on 18 Oct 2006 by Mr. Paul Keely
4.0 out of 5 stars A little extensive
This book is a nice read about the subject.

The most relevant negative aspect is the fact that is too extensive. Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2006 by Gonçalo Graça Gonçalves Melo
5.0 out of 5 stars No worries! USA to the rescue!
Although the number of "alarmist" publications about energy and climate fill the shelves, this book doesn't fit that category. Read more
Published on 2 May 2006 by Stephen A. Haines
5.0 out of 5 stars No worries! USA to the rescue!
Although the number of "alarmist" publications about energy and climate fill the shelves, this book doesn't fit that category. Read more
Published on 27 April 2006 by Stephen A. Haines
5.0 out of 5 stars the end is nigh.
After hearing George Bush's state of the union address, i couldn't help but wonder if he had recently read this book too ! Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2006 by D. S. Brelsford
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb analysis of this most pressing issue
I was given this book for Christmas and have not stopped singing its praises to anyone who will listen! Read more
Published on 17 Feb 2006 by Nicky
5.0 out of 5 stars Just buy it
You don't need to be a tree-hugger to buy this book - an accessible and superb summary of the current state of the worlds energy based economies. Read more
Published on 11 Jan 2006
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