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Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller Hardcover – May 19 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada; First Edition edition (May 19 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307357511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307357519
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #155,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Quill & Quire

For more than 20 years, Jeff Rubin has been known as one of Canada’s top economists, and a major voice for the energy sector. In Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, Rubin uses that background to project what our world will look like in the near future, as oil reserves dwindle and global economies suffer. This book is not aimed at economists and money managers, though. It speaks directly to the average reader, and should serve as a dire warning of the severe consequences of oil dependency in our everyday lives. With its central argument that a combination of rapidly dwindling oil supply and ever-increasing oil dependence will cause a continuing cycle of worsening recessions and depressions, this book projects a bleak future. As transportation and environmental costs increase due to high oil prices and carbon regulation, Rubin argues, international trade will dry up and the age of globalization will end. The resulting fallout will force governments and businesses to create and support localized economies, and eschew international trade and transport. In the tradition of writers like George Monbiot and Sir Nicholas Stern, Rubin presents some difficult truths that readers may find intimidating. Dense with statistics pointing to the inevitable collapse of the world as we know it, this book may not be an encouraging read. Unlike Monbiot and Stern, who put forth a plan to slow the collapse, Rubin’s focus remains squarely on preparing readers for the kind of world that is coming, rather than trying to slow that inevitable outcome. In a world where consumption in developed countries shows little sign of slowing and oil usage is skyrocketing, we need someone with Rubin’s background to predict what the likely results will be. Rubin’s perspective clearly falls more into the realm of futurism than economics, but because he excels at taking complex economic data and applying them to the everyday lives of his readers, this book functions successfully as both explanation and warning. Rubin is sure to incite controversy with some of the central ideas in this book, but given that the world he envisions seems increasingly likely to materialize, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller could turn out to be the exactly the book that readers are looking for, or that they need.

Review

"The book is a great read, and one that should be required for anyone with a long-term interest in Canadian energy, transportation, manufacturing or agriculture."
— The Globe and Mail

"Jeff Rubin is not your typical eggheaded senior economist.... And the controversy that has dogged his work is about to hit the boiling point.... So get set. If Jeff Rubin says something is coming, you better listen. Love him or hate him."
— Canadian Business

"Should be mandatory reading for all corporate executives."
National Post

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

92 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Lotta Read Rocket Hood on May 22 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a student of international political economy and a retired journalist who knows how diligently those who benefit from consumption driven economic growth have tried to prevent "peak oil" from going mainstream, I cannot imagine a better introduction for the masses.

After a 20 year stint as chief economist for CIBC World Markets, Rubin is a figure in a position to know. The book is a searing indictment of the flat-earth stupidity that marks today's disciples of popular economic theory. He exposes a painfully obvious oversight: Conventional economic "wisdom", blinded by the dogmatic adherence to supply and demand thinking has overlooked one thing - MORE SUPPLY CAN'T COME ON LINE IN RESPONSE TO INCREASED DEMAND IF NATURE IS LIMITING THE SUPPLY.

Theory falls when facts kick you in the teeth. We have been listening to economists when we should have been listening to petroleum geologists.

With credit to Kunstler, Heinberg and other leaders who paved the way for him, Rubin is someone the suits will take seriously, if for no other reason than he was one of them. There is a lot of shame to go around among our academic, corporate and political leaders. Whether they are malicious, myopic or in denial, this book is going to make holding their noses high at cocktail parties a much sweatier and nerve-racking affair.

In a tight, conversational style with substantial cheek, Rubin embarrasses a civilization with this book and begs them to explore rationality and begin preparing for a harsh dose of reality. The cheap energy binge party is over - we'd better get set for the hangover.

Thanks Mr. Rubin
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Tobin Garrett TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 9 2009
Format: Hardcover
I had high expectations for this book, and was not disappointed. Not only is Jeff Rubin an entertaining writer who knows what he is talking about, but he's also not afraid to take risks and go against some mainstream thoughts surrounding peak oil, energy efficiency, free trade, pricing carbon, spending money on failing auto industries and road infrastructure, and biofuels.

It may not be the most uplifting book, but its importance is paramount. Rubin first examines the global oil scarcity issue, and the economics of scarce oil and ever increasingly difficult and energy intensive oil production, and then he goes into issue surrounding environmental effects of oil, global trade effects, and transportation effects (which is, of course, tied with trade).

It's a frightening read at parts, but thrilling as well. Rubin has some great ideas surrounding the implementation of a carbon tariff on imported items in order to level the playing field for home companies that are dealing with carbon taxes (in B.C.) and a soon to be carbon cap and trade policy. This would give the comparative advantage back to home companies as the carbon tariff on what was once cheap imported items would increase the price on those imports if they were made using cheap, but dirty energy. Couple that with high transportation costs, and home manufacturing will look a lot more likely. Not to mention better for the environment.

The "Going Local" chapter is Rubin's speculation about the effects peak oil will have on our lifestyles here in the developed nations, looking at our food, coffee, electronics and a host of other items which are assembled globally.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Regnal on May 11 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Absolutely brilliant!! I have found all what I was asking myself about last 30 years of world's economy, globalization, climat change and recent financial crisis. This book cannot be missed, cause it prepares you to what is going to happen in the near future due to shortage of oil. I have pretty clear picture about it now.. We will shift into another reality. Globalization caused huge damage, future generations will pay for it. It will be painful, but the end is near!
But Rubin does not spell the doom and gloom. He predicts that soon, due to rising cost of energy, oil and transportation, and due to carbon tax (to stop climate change), we will be able to buy pair of socks from the factory two streets away from where we dwell(instead from China)! So everything has its good and bad side.
This book, along the "The Upside of Down" by Thomas Homer-Dixon, is a treasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Chen on Oct. 12 2009
Format: Hardcover
All information in this book are readily available on the internet, but Jeff Rubin did a great job putting them together with explanation.

While reading his book, many arguments come to my mind casting a doubt on his theories, but I immediately find the answer to my arguments few pages later with facts and numbers backing his explanation.

As the chief economist of CIBC, Jeff definitively know what he is writing. I am surprised on how easily he explained some economics concepts/formulas using few simple examples.

This book definitively worth reading and re-reading. If you are an investor, the few money this book costs is nothing compared to potential gain from stocks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By sedgewick on May 25 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book's central theme is that oil is at the very foundation upon which the world economy prospers or falls. Take oil - that is cheap oil - out of the equation, and the world we know ceases to exist.

The author makes compelling arguments why the supply & demand curves do not apply where one is confronted with a diminishing resource and convincingly shows that oil really is a diminishing resource. As if that were not in itself disquieting enough, he goes on to discuss the added demand pressures from newly developing giants such as India and China as well as the `cannibalization' of significant supplies by OPEC countries through excessive internal subsidies. Jeff Rubin also demonstrates that the West, despite all its efforts in becoming more energy efficient, is actually using more oil than ever before through the rebound effect. Ethanol perhaps, or wind turbines to get us off the oil fix? The author's economic scalpel dissects and finally discards them both for good reasons.

The reader is always led back to oil, and by the time you get that far, it sounds compelling that oil is at the root of everything, from recessions to economic bubbles. Whether it is inflation or deflation, financial derivatives, Wall Street greed or lax bankers and regulators - all is attributable to oil according to Jeff Rubin. I am no economist, but that is where I think the book looses its way and the oil-theme begins to take precedence over every other economic complexity to drive home the point. Yet, almost as a footnote, the author also contradicts his theme on several occasions, not the least by conceding that inflation in the postwar years (Korean War) and later in the aftermath of the Vietnam War was primarily caused by racking up massive deficits from financing these conflicts.
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