From Publishers Weekly
Though written by an energy industry investment analyst and intended primarily for investors, this book makes a convincing, layreader-friendly case that the end of oil is nigh and it's time to get serious about energy alternatives now that the world is at "the dawn of a new energy age" that will pit the U.S. against China in the struggle for oil. Tertzakian provides an excellent primer on oil's history, uses, supply chains and politics, including dozens of charts and graphs to illustrate the bleak outlook for oil's future. The future of energy, Tertzakian advises, is an amalgamation of increasing dependence on alternative fuels (biofuel, nuclear and green sources) and conservation. He admits conservation is a tough sell for big earners who will be able to afford the $4 per gallon gasoline will inevitably cost, but he notes in the same breath that low- and moderate-income earners and energy inefficient industries will suffer the most. His analyses of energy consumption cycles and their breakpoints and rebalancing periods (when a fossil fuel becomes too expensive or difficult to obtain and society must change sources to maintain its economy) lend factual heft to his outlook. Though the author neglects significant facts-such as the influence of the CIA in the fall of Mossadegh in Iran and the threat of global warming-the book should be required reading for policymakers.
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The coming "break point" Tertzakian describes--more a period than a moment, really--is the next 5 to 10 years, during which rising oil prices and market volatility will force structural changes in how we extract and expend energy. Both a chronicle of previous break points and their consequences--including the shifts from whale oil to kerosene lighting, coal- to oil-fueled navies, and steam to electric engines--and a carefully considered economic analysis of our present conundrum, this book offers no magic-bullet solution to the increasingly uncomfortable primacy of petroleum as the world's fuel of choice. Nor is it as alarmist as its title suggests, although Tertzakian harbors no illusions about the discomfort the next decades will bring. Rather, his cost-benefit analysis points toward pursuing a plurality of minor incremental solutions (mostly familiar, like smaller cars and biodiesel) as the next major fuel source (sorry, probably not hydrogen) emerges. Refreshingly measured and pragmatic, this account also is illuminating as a quick historical primer of the oil industry. Brendan DriscollCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved