- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: University of Illinois Press; New edition edition (June 1 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0252009886
- ISBN-13: 978-0252009884
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 499 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change Paperback – Jun 1 1982
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@CATTON\Overshoot@"Perhaps at no time in human history has there been a more compelling need to re-examine public assumptions and to change national expectations. Overshoot is a book that contributes to this vital task." -- Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior
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I cannot possibly say it better than the 12 other current reviewers of Catton's book, but I can say that Overshoot....is THE best ecological/environmental book I've ever seen, no qualifications possible.
Why more people don't know about this book, is hard to say, but the fact is that anyone who is interested in where the world is today in terms of energy and other environmental resources, how we got here and WHY we got here, needs to read this absolutely beautifully written book.
No other overview of the world's current predicaments, comes close to this gem of a document..it is almost as though all the powers of the Universe suddenly descended on Earth and provided the reasons for (and also some of the answers to) our situation, in this one superb book!
Now the bad part. This book is not carefully reasoned. There are obvious logical flaws, throughout the book. Much of the content would not survive critical scrutiny.
For example, Catton claims that society was imminently collapsing (this book was actually written in1973) as fossil fuel stores were drawing down. Which raises the question: why wouldn't industrial civilizations gradually switch to nuclear power and electrified transport, in order to avert the collapse? His answer: nuclear reactors have safety problems. He leaves it at that, and moves on. The question I find myself asking is: wouldn't industrial civilizations use nuclear reactors anyway, despite the safety problems, rather than watch the die-off of most of their populations and the collapse of their economies? Wouldn't they tolerate the occasional Fukushima? If so, then Catton's thesis is entirely wrong. This point (and dozens of other points) are fatal to Catton's thesis, yet he just brushes them off. His treatment of solar power is even worse. He cannot find anything wrong with it, so he suggests that there MIGHT be something wrong with it that nobody has identified. Then he just moves on, once again, and goes right back to saying that collapse is CERTAIN, imminent, and unavoidable, because of energy decline.
And there are many, many other problems. Almost everything in the book would raise objections in the critical reader, but he doesn't anticipate or answer any of those objections. Instead, he repeatedly engages in a kind of pre-emptive pop psychoanalysis of anyone who would disagree with him. He relies heavily on name-calling and ad hominem argumentation. He announces that his claims are indisputable scientific fact, at the very outset, and then, instead of supporting any of these points, he identifies psychological flaws in anyone who would disagree with him.
Even though this book is loosely reasoned, it's still interesting and important because it's so inspiring to so many people. This book has an outsized influence, especially considering that it has never sold well. This book has been the driving force behind doomsday prepper groups for 3+ decades now. Claims taken from this book have been repeated literally MILLIONS of times within certain doomsday prepper groups. Most of the material from the "peak oil collapse" movement (circa 2006) was taken from this book, directly or indirectly. Because of this book, tens of thousands of people over decades have moved out into the wilderness in preparation of imminent collapse of civilization. If anything, this book has a profound influence on some people who read it.
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