5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most depressing book I have ever read.
I'm sure that the economists would debate just about every point made by Mr. Heinberg in this (end of the world as we know it) book but the author offers justification and factual evidence for almost every claim made.
Since I was born, the population of the world has grown from two billion to almost seven billion and this population explosion corresponds exactly with...
Published on May 3 2004 by Donald N. Hilton
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wake up to Renewables and Synfuel
There's no question that within a decade at the most, and probably within two years, we'll be forced to begin utilizing alternative fuels to a much greater extent than today, as we will begin seeing the demand for oil exceed global petroleum production capabilities. But the doomsayers are simply poorly informed about the progress that has been made in renewables and...
Published on July 3 2004 by F David Doty PhD
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most depressing book I have ever read.,
Since I was born, the population of the world has grown from two billion to almost seven billion and this population explosion corresponds exactly with our industrialized society's almost total dependence on oil and coal for food production, transportation, heating and cooling our homes, manufacturing products and transporting them to market and just about everything else the US and other advanced nations do.
All of this growth has been happening because we have been discovering more oil than we are currently using. This will end within 5 or 10 years and all the readily available oil on earth will be gone within 30 years. Oil shale (organic marlstone) is not the answer because it takes more energy to get the oil from the stone than the end product plus you wind up with more waste that the raw materials you started with.
If we had started planning for this when OPEC shut down our supply in 1973 and part of 1974 in retaliation for our support of Israel during the Arab-Israei war, much of the coming crisis could have been avoided but we all remember what happened to President Carter when he started talking about conservation. Reagan was elected and no politician since has followed Carter's path. Now it is time to pay.
The author gives us two ways to cope with the upcoming crisis: We can join the international community and try and make the transition from fossil fuels to other sources as smoothly as possible or we can continue to try and maintain our priviledged status even as our civilization falls. The United States currently has 5% of the world's population and the majority of the weapons of war.
Since we are at war right now in Iraq and Iraq is supposed to have the second highest oil resources in the middle east, I believe the choice has already been made.
If my father was a member of "The Greatest Generation", I am ashamed to admit I am a member of the worst generation. I pray that Mr. Heinberg is wrong but I am afraid that my children and grandchildren will hate each and every one of us "baby boomers" who wasted all these resources and left them nothing.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most Provocative Book Ever,
This review is from: The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies (Paperback)I ordered this book after viewing the documentary, "The End of Suburbia". This was a page turner. I had an understanding about the problems with energy and how we need to change society or our inactions will change it for us. I was moved, cornered, and energized. This is the best book for a lay person who wants to know how the West was brought about and how we're sharing our glamorous view of life with the rest of the world. I hope everyone who reads this will know what to invest in. And I hope if you read this book, you have intelligent people around you who will be able to critically think and ponder the reality of this. This book really excited me, not because I'm a Luddite at heart, but as a person who deep down knows there is so much more to life than what is being packaged and delivered to the masses. This will reinforce to those who already walk lightly on the earth and to those who have no idea how life as we know is sustained and how we got here. This is the ultimate history lesson because life comes down to accessing free energy and molding it to suit us and to thrive. Only now, we have learned the hows and whys. Are we smart enough to move or are we so tied up with politics and capitalism that only a small group of the human population will know what to do. And we're locked up and muted. This book is empowering and at moments, I cried.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wake up to Renewables and Synfuel,
Perhaps the most significant recent advance has been the order-of-magnitude drop in the cost of the enzyme needed to make cellulosic ethanol from waste and switchgrass. Equally important, wind energy in favorable locations is now competitive with natural gas. Also, the cost of photovoltaic has dropped by a factor of three in the past decade, and another factor of two drop in price can be expected in the coming decade, at which point it will begin to compete in select applications. Electric vehicles, using lithium ion batteries, with driving range over 350 miles, will be available within a year, and they will be competitive in major respects with gasoline hybrids. Within a few years, advanced, clean-coal power plants with CO2 sequestration will be more efficient than most coal-fired power plants currently in use today.
About two-thirds of our current hydrogen production (from natural gas, which is a very limited resource in North America) is used to make ammonia and nitrates for fertilizers. We can use wind farms in the Dakotas to produce all the renewable fertilizer our nation needs (this would take about 250 GW of peak wind power). Of course, various raw materials would need to be transported to the wind farms, and the fertilizers would need to be transported out, but fertilizers are much more easily stored and transported (by rail) than hydrogen. We can easily eliminate the use of fossil fuels for fertilizers. The potential benefit is huge, both in terms of massive industrial jobs creation (over a 10 to 15-year period) and in terms of CO2 emissions reductions. Moreover, such a project would also eliminate our dependence on imported LNG and allow natural gas prices to decrease.
Several excellent articles that have appeared recently on advanced biofuels include the following:
Yes, things will change, and we can expect oil to stabilize at around $60/bbl (current dollars) within a few years, but the world will deal with it. That price, along with fossil carbon taxes, will be high enough to make renewables and synfuel largely replace petroleum over the next four decades. As a result, we'll still be pumping some petroleum a hundred years from now - albeit at a greatly reduced rate. And by the way, Heinberg is absolutely right about one thing: the energy solution will not involve hydrogen. (...)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it then Judge,
By A Customer
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reach exceeds grasp.,
In spite of that major shortcoming, the author succeeds where it
Chapter 4 attempts to explain why alternative energy sources will
Most unfortunately, however, the author engaged in some political
The rest of this book is OK, but not very imformative. Again, many statements are left without support.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gluttonest Generation,
By A Customer
Why I find this disturbing is I don't believe Americans have the will to seriously confront the issue of oil depletion.
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs more research,
By A Customer
But not all is bad news. There are several alternate sources of energy, such as Solar, Wind and Nuclear. Moreover, there is a new technology called "Thermal Depolymerization" or TDP which can convert any organic material into oil with an output-to-input oil ratio of 5.7 (One gallon of oil plus organic waste can make 5.7 gallons of oil). There was an article in May 2003 in the DISCOVER magazine about TDP titled "Anything into oil". TDP is slowly coming into mainstream commercial production with the help of billionaire investors such as Howard Buffett (Warren's son), so there is hope after all.
Unfortunately, the author wants everyone to "BELIEVE that all hell is going to break loose after oil production peaks" -- and panic, rather than give several scenarios (such as implementation of Solar, wind, TDP) that can pan out in the future. I can believe in the author being an expert on oil production, but his claim to understand the details of the alternate sources of energy without answering the proponents of those fields -- such as the economic viability of TDP, which is making waves -- is not believable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done & Provocative -- even if you dont agree,
By A Customer
Heinberg does an expert job of summarizing the complex and broad information that must be pulled-together in order to allow for a central analysis and conclusion. He offers both sides of the arguement objectively (perhaps not without some bias, but journalistically fair). And, he provides amble references so anyone interested can retrace his analysis and draw their own conclusions.
This is a Must-Read for anyone interested in current world events (ie. Iraq). World events look very different when viewed through the prism of shrinking Oil resources.
5.0 out of 5 stars Apocalypse Now?,
It would be easy to dismiss this apocalyptic vision as alarmist nonsense if only the "Peak Oil" proponents weren't so bloody convincing. By and large, they are a sensible, reasonable-sounding group of Cassandras, who dispense their grim forecasts as soberly as the subject allows. Virtually all of them rely upon the pioneering work M. King Hubbert, a research geophysicist who, in the mid-1950s, created a model to estimate the productive life of energy reserves. In 1956 Hubbert used his model to predict that oil production in the continental United States would peak sometime between 1966 and 1972. U.S. oil production did , in fact, peak in 1970 (and has declined by 50 percent since), and Hubbert and his forecasting model, dubbed "Hubbert's Peak," passed into the arcane lore of petroleum geologists. Other petroleum scientists have refined Hubbert's model and have applied it to global petroleum reserves. Although results differ depending upon the variables used by different researchers, the consensus is that the "Hubbert Peak" of worldwide oil reserves will occur sometime between 2004 and 2007. In other words, as I sit at my keyboard writing this review the high noon of petroleum-based industrial civilization may have come and gone, and the whole human enterprise may be inexorably descending into twilight and darkness. Sic transit gloria mundi - with a bullet.
If the Cassandras are right, and the end of the world is imminent, it has received remarkably little coverage in the conventional media, although the internet hosts many excellent websites that the curious or concerned citizen may consult to learn as much as he or she would like about the post-petroleum world to come. Recently this state of affairs has started to change, and several good books have been published on "Peak Oil" and its consequences. First among these, is Richard Heinberg's "The Party's Over," a sober, detailed contribution to the literature, which clearly and fluently describes the fossil fuel bender the industrial world has been on for the past 100 years, and what we can expect to follow from it. Although Heinberg does his best not to induce white-knuckled panic in his reader, the picture that emerges from his book is absolutely frightening, particularly the notion that, at this late date, we can do nothing to prevent the catastrophe from occurring. At best - that is, if the entire human race sets aside all its disputes and immediately mobilizes its combined efforts to solve this one problem - the scale of the catastrophe might be reduced. At worst, in 50 to 100 years time, the greatest disaster in human history will have taken place, and the relatively few survivors of this disaster will dwell in a stateless, Hobbesian world that will make present-day Liberia look like Shangri-La.
Or so the argument runs. Perhaps Heinberg and the other "Peak Oil" prophets are wrong. Perhaps Hubbert's model is defective and world oil production will not peak tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Perhaps the USGS's estimate of world oil reserves is correct and the peak of production will not occur until 2020. Perhaps a previously overlooked, gigantic new field, the equivalent of three or four Saudi Arabias, will be discovered and delay the peak until the early years of the 22nd century. Perhaps. But the point is, Heinberg et al. will inevitably be right someday. Someday, worldwide production of cheap, high-grade crude oil will peak, and the longer that peak is delayed, the more horrific the following decline will be, unless the nations of the world take immediate action to prevent the disaster. This preventive action will entail much more than just developing an adequate replacement for cheap petroleum; although, as Heinberg makes clear, no alternative currently on the drawing board appears to be sufficient. Rather, if we are to avoid the catastrophic consequences of "Peak Oil" we will have to drastically rearrange our affairs - politically, economically, socially. Or, to be blunt, capitalism, certainly as it is currently practiced, will simply have to go. Unfortunately, it is difficult to conceive of a socio-economic system less capable of dealing with the coming crisis than neo-liberal capitalism. But there it is.
Of course, if Heinberg and the other proponents of Peak Oil are right, time has already run out for Petroleum Man, and there is little that can be done to avert doomsday. We shall see. This morning (March 5, 2004) the front page of USA Today warns that record gasoline prices will continue to rise, and there is a likelihood of gas shortages this summer. The "Nation's Newspaper" also reports that the loss of 2.1 million jobs in the USA during the last three years appears to be permanent. Both of these developments fit neatly into the predictions of "Peak Oil." One thing is certain: we live in interesting times. Anyone who wants to learn just how interesting these times are is well advised to read and ponder "The Party's Over." We've been warned. Will we act?
5.0 out of 5 stars urgent memo to lemmings,
The guts of Heinberg's presentation is a summary of the projections of the oil geologists. Following Hubbert, they use the best information on reserves to estimate the global peak for oil some time in the next few years, probably by 2010. Some see this as alarmist (see my review of Vaitheeswaran's "Power to the People"), but the mainstream estimate is only a decade further off, at 2020. The world is going to become an uglier place than it already is after Hubbert's Peak -- prices will go up, and wars for control of oil and gas (ie, Afghanistan, Iraq) will certainly intensify as the demand is still increasing exponentially both in the rich countries and the industrializing countries such as China and India.
So what do we do? Heinberg does not flinch from a hard-headed examination of the limited options. He applies a physics analysis of EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) to such possibilities as solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen, nuclear and others. His conclusion is that there is currently nothing that is likely to make energy available at nearly the same EROEI as oil and gas once they run out. A tragic "what might have been" is his observation that if we had taken concerted action beginning in the 1970s, we might have had time to use the remaining fossul fuels to fuel the building of a renewable solar/hydrogen infrastructure that would have made possible in principle a long, prosperous, ecologically sustainable, civilized planet. It may well be too late.
This is no reason not to try, though. In the best-case scenario, there's no collapse and we minimize global warming by shifting to renewable energy. And better than the worst-case crash scenario is to urgently develop renewable energy, thus providing some cushioning for the crash that will come as we run out of oil. Reducing the size of a huge neomalthusian catastrophe (measured in millions or hundreds of millions of people dead, and ecostems and species lost) may not seem like much of a choice, but it may be all we've got. Carpe diem!
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Party's Over The by Richard Heinberg (Paperback - July 10 2009)
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