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Brace! Brace! Brace!
on 16 August 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.
The book is highly accessible, well structured, and easy to read, and will make an invaluable reference book to those people interested, as it is divided beautifully into manageable and relevant sections. However whilst it does not specialise on any one area of the consequences of oil depletion, the benefit of this book is that it is rounded and complete, leaving you in a position to make judgements and look further. It is also the most complete book I have found on the subject of oil depletion.
In conclusion, the disturbing message from this book will have the same importance to you as (for example) the captain of your next holiday flight shouting, "Brace! Brace! Brace!". Of course, that is if there is enough fuel for your flight to take off.
(Hubbert's Peak by Kenneth S. Deffeyes should be read in conjunction with this book for a full explanation by an oil expert of the geological and technical reasons as to whywe will find oil supplies drying up soon).