Mobbs has written a concise, easy to read book on Peak Oil which I found covered all topics. Prior to reading the book I found I was bombarded with conflicting opinions depending on the website I was reading. Energy Beyond Oil does not paint over the issue of Peak Oil, we can't get away from that, what it does do it present all the facts you need to decide how you want to adapt/prepare for life beyond the peak. Some friends and many colleagues think I am a little strange worrying about oil and how society and the economy will face up to life without oil. When you confront them will cold facts the smile seems to vanish and they begin relate what you are saying with things happening in the real world. I feel happier facing Peak Oil with the information Mobbs delivers.
This book is still the bees knees. Though it was published in 2005, and there have been literally dozens of other books purporting to cover similar territory published since, this remains the text of choice for anyone serious about the resilience of humanity. Without resort to manipulative cults, or spurious middle-class group-think, this book explains the simple physics and its relationship to culture and economics. Once you have grasped the First Law of Thermodynamics ("in any closed system the total amount of energy of all kinds is a constant") the rest follows by disciplined common sense. Mobbs explains how the reliance of global capitalism on artificially cheap energy (courtesy of imperial history), within a paradigm of exponential growth, has set in motion the destructive spiral that has wasted our natural resources and put our planet on an almost irreversible trajectory for catastrophe.
Straightforward explanations with flow diagrams and graphs explain the reliance on oil, WHERE the energy is used/wasted, WHY and WHEN oil extraction has peaked, and HOW this relates to climate change. He proceeds to examine energy policy and energy use before going on to discuss the mooted alternatives such as nuclear ( a dangerous chimera ) so-called "low carbon sources" ( which need to be considered in relationship to the key variable of time as well as the social and economic context) and renewables. In each case he explains the technology (heat pumps, wind , wave and CHP etc) does all the sums and presents the information in a way that anyone who can be bothered to concentrate can understand, constantly reminding us of that intransigent First Law and concluding correctly that there are no technical fixes that can cheat it. In his inspiring final chapter he points out that the solutions are the resilience that comes from living more consciously both rejecting profligacy and waste in our personal lives and, more effectively, rejecting the capitalist machine that is driving us towards mass suicide.
Approachable and easy to read. Can be read by someone with very little technical knowledge. Must be commended for writing a book for the general population rather than the experts.
Mobbs starts at the beginning and explains most of the Peak Oil situation in layman terms. He explains why there will be a Peak Oil, the difficulties in trusting the facts and in pinning down the date, what it means, and what might come after it. There's a whole section exploring alternatives to oil, and an interesting one on climate change and the oceanic currents.
Mobbs assesses the situation from a UK point of view, whereas most similar books are from the USA point of view. Instead of putting forward nuclear or renewables or something he's getting paid to push, he advocates using less energy to start with.
This book doesn't get 5 stars because, after warning the reader about the unreliability of statistics, Mobbs makes a few wild assumptions of his own. His middle-class-ness shows through, and he makes assumptions about social trends and people's everyday choices, based on nothing more than his own privileged lifestyle. In an example of loose numerical analysis, Mobbs rounds numbers to the nearest million, assumes a seemingly random, unchanging capacity for the building industry (based on nothing, with no stated assumptions, making his thinking untraceable), and expects to be able to predict dates to the nearest month using his "model". In just a few instances like this, his use of precision is not only misleading, but is inappropriate in a book meant for the non-technical. Those without a maths or statistical background may take these values at face-value.
Generally a good book, and one of the few that writes for the masses. Mobbs almost lives up to his own expectations.