Out Of Gas Hardcover – Jan 27 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Everyone agrees we will run out of fossil fuels someday-Goodstein, a Caltech professor, argues it will be sooner rather than later based on the petrochemical data available. In this alarming little book, portions of which were originally published in a bioethics journal, Goodstein explains with limited jargon that we will completely exhaust oil supplies within 10 years. He warns that we have reached, or even surpassed Hubbert's Peak, the moment when we have consumed half of all oil known to exist and will likely use the rest up even faster, due to ever-increasing demand and decreasing discoveries. What will we do when all the oil is gone? Goodstein outlines two scenarios, both chilling. In the worst case, we might run out of oil so fast that the only affordable alternative is coal. In this throwback future, Goodstein writes, "the greenhouse effect that results eventually tips Earth's climate into a new state hostile to life." The best case scenario involves a methane-based fuel economy that would bridge the gap until we could build up nuclear and solar power sources to meet our long-term needs. Goodstein admits that some geologists disagree that we will deplete all oil sources within this decade, but even conservative calculations predict the price of oil will increase beyond the reach of most people within the foreseeable future. "No matter what else happens," Goodstein states, "this is the century in which we must learn to live without fossil fuels." He maintains a cautious optimism about alternative energy sources, but readers may find little comfort imagining nuclear fission energy as the next best thing.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In this pithy primer on what might replace oil as civilization's fuel, a Caltech professor explains the fundamentals of energy, engines, and entropy for a mass audience. Goodstein opens with a quote from a geologist who predicted in the 1950s, to derision, that U.S. oil reserves would inevitably be depleted. Applying this reasoning to global reserves, Goodstein warns not only that the last drop will be pumped by 2100 at the latest, but also that peak production, estimated to occur in the current decade, marks the beginning of a global shortage. So, start planning postpetroleum technology now, exhorts the author. With exceptional conciseness, he presents the constraints nature will impose on any fuel-technology combination, beginning with explanations of exploitable sources of energy, continuing with how chemical and nuclear bonds hold and release energy, and arriving at how any engine, in principle, converts energy to work. Looking at fuels such as methane or hydrogen, Goodstein sees not panaceas but, rather, life support until a future arrives that lives on sunlight and nuclear fusion. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
While the general physics presented is at least 99% correct and the energy-related data and projections are also generally sound, the book is not without technical problems. First of all, Goodstein completely dismisses, without justification, all biofuels as having negative value. He is clearly unaware that the most recent USDA studies show grain ethanol to permit energy balance up to 1.77, cellulosic ethanol well above 2.2, and other advanced biofuel options ultimately above 3. Surprisingly, his view of wind energy is only slightly less pessimistic than his view of biofuels.
The other major problems center around the nuclear issue. He seems to believe the global uranium reserves are sufficient to supply all the world's energy for up to 25 years. Quite to the contrary, the IAEA indicates the total global uranium reserves (5 million tones) of usable quality are sufficient to sustain only existing nuclear power plants (which furnish less than 20% of the world's electricity), with a 2% annual growth rate, only through 2040. Others believe the usable uranium resources are 30% smaller, and processing the low-grade reserves (hard ores with U content below 0.02%) would be too expensive and result in too much CO2 release.Read more ›
Out of Gas left me disappointed and unfulfilled from the viewpoint of supporting data. Clearly, the author possesses a mastery of thermodynamics and mechanics that one expects from a person in his position. However, this book expended an inordinate amount of energy (entropy, using the author's parlance) discussing the merits of nuclear fission, heat engines and the like but left me wanting for better insight into alternative solutions for the impending shortagee of petrochemical feedstock (crude oil), the most important use of the raw material. While I appreciated a review of my college physics, I found it difficult to remain focused on his topic and instead my mind wandered, wondering where the discussion was leading.
Lest readers believe I missed the point, Goodstein makes it abundantly clear that we are inexorably headed down the road to shortages of a critical global raw material (crude oil). Sooner than we believe.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I've really become interested in the "peak oil" topic, and "Out of Gas" was in fact one of the first books I read on this, but to truly enjoy "Out of... Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2006 by Tommy Tom Tom
Yet another natural scientist with expertise in his own field while failing to understand basic economics to sort through the ramifications of scientific findings. Read morePublished on June 16 2004
The end of the age of oil has come: physics professor David Goodstein explains the underlying science in the inevitable fossil fuel crisis we face, explains how it relates to the... Read morePublished on May 3 2004 by Midwest Book Review
Professor David Goodstein felt compelled to top Professor Paul Ehrlich's "The Population Bomb". Read morePublished on April 18 2004
In this book, David Goodstein, professor of physics at Caltech, explains the underlying scientific principles of the inevitable fossil fuel crisis we face, and the closely related... Read morePublished on April 15 2004 by B. Viberg
The title of the book and the cover design are very tempting. The first chapter starts off well. The forecast (in 1950's) of Shell Oil Company geophysicist M. Read morePublished on April 13 2004 by B.Sudhakar Shenoy
Goodstein's small volume discusses the consequences of having passed the peak of oil discovery and soon reaching the peak of oil production. Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by Bruce W Ristow
David Goodstein's book tells us nothing new. We've known about oil discovery, consumption, and pricing economics for years. The Hubbert curve is nothing new either. Read morePublished on March 30 2004 by Marissa Carter
David Goodstein, author of "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil", needs no lessons in alarmism. His entire book can be summed up by its first paragraph, whose last sentence reads... Read morePublished on March 27 2004 by Jesse Steven Hargrave
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