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Not at all what I expected
on 27 December 2007
With the title, "Peak Everything", I had imagined this book would provide some detail along the lines of the "Earth's Natural Wealth - An Audit" article in New Scientist issue #2605 ("World Stripped Bare") along with some analysis on the consequential impacts on efforts to mitigate the combined effects of fossil fuel depletion and Climate Change. I really looked forward to its release. Surely it is reasonable to expect such content according to the given title? Alas, no such luck.
Instead, what's provided is a series of musings that Heinberg has written during his Peak Oil Campaign touring. As always, his writing is lucid and most of the metaphors presented are simultaneously interesting yet useless for depletionists (e.g. the commonalities between human and parrot societies). I couldn't help but feel as though Heinberg has decided that, due to (unspecified) limits of availability of precious metals, that the only realistic future is a return to old-school agriculture and that all modern technology and knowledge will disappear. Unlike "The Party's Over", which I couldn't put down, I really had to persist with this book. The introduction, as well as some of the content towards the end of the book is of some use, but I still can't help feeling disappointed with it.
Much as I would like to, I really can't think of anyone whom I'd recommend this book. I would still direct novice depletionists towards "The Party's Over", experienced depletionists will already be familiar with most of the blog discussions from which a fair degree of this book has been stimulated ("The Oil Drum" / "Transition Culture" etc).
I would really like to see Richard Heinberg get away from the bloggers and once again delve into some new information and statistics that will be useful to depletionists. Perhaps release a 3rd edition of "The Party's Over", including a section on real, quantitative limits of various materials. He is in danger of disappearing up his own backside with his persistent over-analysis of old material. Heinberg is ruminating into diminishing-returns.