- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: New Society Publishers; 1 edition (Feb. 23 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0865714827
- ISBN-13: 978-0865714823
- Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 408 g
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,806,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies Paperback – Feb 23 2003
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February 1, 2003
The Party's Over (TPO) is an excellently and thoroughly researched treatment of precisely the oil depletion problem, almost entirely free of the usual hidden political agendas, irrelevant personal memoirs, and philosophical delusions.
I would recommend TPO to anybody on this list . . . as a convenient and politically neutral "Pack-'O-Facts" that can be offered to friends, family, colleagues, policy makers, and anybody else in your life or world that you may feel needs a sober sit-down and some rational talking-to about the energy future of industrial civilization.
The Endnotes section at the book's end, organized by chapter, is the best bibliography I've ever seen on all aspects of the topic. This book bears direct comparison to only three other more-or-less mass or general market books that I'm aware of:
- Thom Hartmann, Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight;
- Jeremy Rifkin, The Hydrogen Economy;
- Kenneth Deffeyes, Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage.
With respect to these, I feel that TPO is:
- less irrelevantly philosophical than Hartmann's book, more up- to-date, and more pointedly technical in sources used.
- very similar to the first half of Rifkin's work, where he delineates the problem, but again a more comprehensive and at the same time more focused presentation. The second half of Rifkin's work, where he cheerleads in rather political mode for a salvaging of the world's economy via distributed hydrogen/fuel-cell infrastructure is not directly relevant, except I suppose inasmuch as it would seem to contradict Heinberg's skepticism about propping up global industrial civilization through a 11th hour switch to alternatives. I'd personally go with Heinberg's conclusions.
- again, in topic/coverage very similar to Deffeye's quite interesting work, but frankly for those who want a quick and focused rollup presentation/package for opening the topic with others, Deffeye's work is overly encumbered with too much aranca about oil geology and personal author's memoirs.
Overall, The Party's Over will serve as the state-of-the-art topic-opener on Hubbert catastrophism, for people on this list, well into the foreseeable future.
AlasBabylon list owner
The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times.
In The Party's Over, Richard Heinberg places this momentous transition in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the 20th century, and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the 21st century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South America. He describes the likely impacts of oil depletion, and all of the energy alternatives. Predicting chaos unless the U.S. -- the world's foremost oil consumer -- is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a "managed collapse" that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future.
More readable than other accounts of this issue, with fuller discussion of the context, social implications, and recommendations for personal, community, national, and global action, Heinberg's book is a riveting wake-up call for humankind as the oil era winds down, and a critical tool for understanding and influencing current U.S. foreign policy.
In producing the second edition of The Party's Over, the printers made an unfortunate mistake, duplicating page 110 on page 100 -- which was omitted entirely. We apologize for this error. Customers who have bought a copy with this error can find the correct page 100 here.
About the Author
Richard Heinberg is the author of nine books and is widely regarded as one of the world's most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. With a wry, unflinching approach based on facts and realism, he exposes the tenuousness of our current way of life and offers a vision for a truly sustainable future.
Senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute in California, Heinberg is best known as a leading educator on Peak Oil and its impacts. His expertise, publications and teachings also cover other critical issues including the current economic crisis, food and agriculture, community resilience, and global climate change.
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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.
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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