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The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New Worldby Paul Roberts
Synopses & Reviews
Petroleum is now so deeply entrenched in our economy, our politics, and our personal expectations that even modest efforts to phase it out are fought tooth and nail by the most powerful forces in the world: companies and governments that depend on oil revenues; the developing nations that see oil as the only means to industrial success; and a Western middle class that refuses to modify its energy-dependent lifestyle. But within thirty years, by even conservative estimates, we will have burned our way through most of the oil that is easily accessible. And well before then, the side effects of an oil-based society — economic volatility, geopolitical conflict, and the climate-changing impact of hydrocarbon pollution — will render fossil fuels an all but unacceptable solution. 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 are entirely reliant on cheap, readily available energy?
Brilliantly reported from around the globe, The End of Oil brings the world situation into fresh and dramatic focus for business and general readers alike. Roberts talks to both oil optimists and oil pessimists, delves deep into the economics and politics of oil, considers the promises and pitfalls of altenatives, and shows that, although the world energy system has begun its epoch-defining transition, disruption and violent dislocation are almost assured if we do not take a more proactive stance.
With the topicality and readability of Fast Food Nation and the scope and trenchant analysis of Guns, Germs, and Steel, this is a vitally important book for the new century.
"All economic activity is rooted in the energy economy, which means a substantial portion of the current world economy is linked to the production and distribution of oil. But what will happen, Roberts asks, when the well starts to run dry? Walking readers through the modern energy economy, he suggests that grim prospect may not be as far off as we'd like to think and points out how political unrest could disrupt the world's oil supply with disastrous results. But that could be the least of our worries; some of Roberts's most persuasive passages describe an almost inevitable future shaped by global warming, especially as rapidly industrializing countries like China begin to replicate the pollution history of the U.S. Some signs of hope are visible, he believes, especially in Europe, but the stumbling progress of potential alternatives such as hydrogen power or fuel cells is additional cause for concern. And though the current administration's energy policy gets plenty of criticism, Roberts (a regular contributor to Harper's) saves some of his harshest barbs for American consumers, described as 'the least energy-conscious people on the planet.' If the government won't create stricter fuel efficiency standards, he argues, blame must be placed equally on our eagerness to drive around in gas-guzzling SUVs and on corporate lobbying. Stressing the dire need to act now to create any meaningful long-term effect, this measured snapshot of our oil-dependent economy forces readers to confront unsettling truths without sinking into stridency. This book may very well become for fossil fuels what Fast Food Nation was to food or High and Mighty to SUVs. (May 15)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"So what is to be done? Well, plenty, all of it involving a great change of 'energy lifestyles' — and all of it certain to cause pain. A disturbing geopolitical survey of the world energy landscape." Kirkus Reviews
"[H]as strong appeal for those with a general interest in energy....
Book News Annotation:
A regular contributor to who writes about business and environmental issues, introduces general readers to the coming depletion of fossil fuels, the dependence of modern and modernizing society on them, the impact of their disappearance, and some measures that might be taken to ease the transition.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Roberts delves deep into the economics and politics of oil, considers the promises and pitfalls of alternatives, and shows that disruption and violent dislocation are almost assured if the public does not take a more proactive stance.
A frank and balanced investigation of the economics and politics of oil—and a forward-looking assessment of a world without it.
Within thirty years, even by conservative estimates, we will have burned our way through most of the oil that is readily available to us. Already, the costly side effects of dependence on fossil fuel are taking their toll. Even as oil-related conflict threatens entire nations, individual consumers are suffering from higher prices at the gas pump, rising health problems, and the grim prospect of long-term environmental damage. In The End of Oil, Paul Roberts offers a brisk and timely wake-up call and considers the promises and pitfalls of alternatives such as wind power, hybrid cars, and hydrogen, making this essential reading for anyone looking to understand and react to the energy crisis at hand.
About the Author
Paul Roberts has written for the New York Times Magazine and is a regular contributor to Harper's Magazine.
Table of Contents
Contents Prologue 1 Part I: The Free Ride 1 Lighting the Fire 21 2 The Last of the Easy Oil 44 3 The Futures So Bright 66 4 Energy Is Power 91 5 Too Hot 116 Part II: On the Road to Nowhere 6 Give the People What They Want 143 7 Big Oil Gets Anxious 165 8 And Now for Something Completely Different 188 9 Less Is More 213 Part III: Into the Blue 10 Energy Security 237 11 The Invisible Hand 259 12 Digging In Our Heels 281 13 How Do We Get There? 307 Notes 335 Bibliography 350 Acknowledgments 359 Index 361
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