Peak Oil Suggested Reading: The Party's Over
The book's goal is to show:
1. The complete and utter dependency of modern industrial societies on fossil fuel energy resources as well as the inability of alternatives to fully substitute for the concentrated, convenient energy source that fossil fuels provide
2. The vulnerability of industrial societies to economic and political disruption as a result of even minor reductions in energy resource availability.
3. The inevitability of fossil fuel depletion
4. The immedicacy of a peak in fossil fuel depletion, regardles of how many wild lands are explored or how many wells are drilled.
5. The role of oil in US foreign policy, Islamic terrorism, and the geopolitics of the 21st century; and
6. The necessity of responding to the coming oil productio peak cooperatively, with compassion and intelligence, in a way that minimizes human suffering and enables future geenerations to develop sustainable, materially modest societies that affirm the best qualities of human nature.
Mr. Heinberg gives an overview on how he came to this particular worldview by acknowledging four sets of voices, each with contradicting opinions:
Voice # 1: Conventional free-market economists who view energy as a merely one priced commodity among many. They have a cornucopian view of our energy future and if an energy crisis appears, it will be a temporary one caused by "market imperfections" resulting from government regulation. Solutions will come from the market's natural response to price signals if those signals do not get obscured by price caps and other forms of regulatory interference.
Voice # 2: Environmental activists who are worried about the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and about hydrocarbon based pollution. For the most part their unconcerned with high energy prices and petroleum resource depletion, which they assume will occur to late to prevent serious environmental damage. Their message is to conserve and switch to renewables for the sake of the environment and our children's/grandchildren's welfare.
Voice #3: An informal group of retired and independent pretroleum geologists who have nothing but contempt for economists who by reducing all resources to dollar prices effectively obscure real and important phsycial distinctions. Their messsage is that society musc engage in a crash program of truly radical conservation if we are to avoid economic and humanitarian catastrophe as industrialism comes to its inevitable end.
Voice #4: Politicians who set energy policy, who tend to believe the economists' message, as no politician wants to be the bearer of bad news that our energy guzzling way of life is waning. When office holders are forced to acknowledge the reality of an impending energy crisis, they naturally tend to propose solutions appropriate to their constituencies and they predicatbly tend to blame on their political opponents whatever symptoms of the crisis cannot be ignored.
Heinberg tends to believe Voice #3, as they are probably dispensing the most useful, factual information and their view is long-range and based on physical reality.
Happy reading, I'll offer additional thoughts on this book later.