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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Read All About It

Sunday October 26, 2008

Read all about it


A FEW authors have taken the mantle to educate and warn the world about the impact of dwindling oil supplies on human civilisation. Here are some of the best books out there:

The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
Author: Paul Roberts
Publisher: Mariner Books, 399 pages
(ISBN: 978-0618562114)
This is perhaps the most comprehensive and carefully researched book on peak oil there is. Roberts, a “longtime observer of both business and environmental issues”, is particularly excellent at explaining how nations are jostling for control of precious petroleum, and how powerful corporations are standing in the way of alternative fuels. Comprehensive and well-researched, End of Oil is a great book to understand oil’s effect on our lives.

Addicted to Oil: America’s Relentless Drive for Energy Security
Author: by Ian Rutledge
Publisher: I. B. Tauris & Company; 288 pages
(ISBN: 978-1845113193)
In the first few chapters, this book details how the United States became more and more addicted to oil. The blame, it seems, lies on the American love for automobiles: the bigger, the better.
Only 4% of Americans use public transport to work, says author Ian Rutledge. The car, he says, is the “lynch pin of an oil economy”.
However, the American’s (and the rest of the world who try to emulate their car-driven lifestyles) reliance on cars are not just fuelling the oil giants, but the wars that are being fought to preserve their lifestyles.

Oil on the Brain: Petroleum’s Long, Strange Trip To Your Tank
Author: Lisa Margonelli
Publisher: Bantam Books; 330 pages
(ISBN: 978-0767916974)
While most books on peak oil focuses on the macro effect of oil on the world, Margonelli zooms down to the people on the ground instead. She interviews owners of gas stations, workers at a drilling rig, truckers who haul the precious oil across states and the brokers that have to deal with oil’s fluctuating prices. She also visits nations such as oil-producing Venezuela and hungry oil consumer China.
The result is a fascinating micro view of the impact oil has on ordinary people and societies, and how intricately it weaves through and sustains our modern lifestyles.

Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change
Author: Pat Murphy
Publisher: New Society Publishers; 304 pages
(ISBN: 978-0865716070)
For Murphy, the time to seek technological solutions to the problem of dwindling oil sources is over.
Although Murphy calls his book a “numbers book” (and it is full of charts and graphs), he approaches the issue in a holistic, almost spiritual way, saying that humanity has to sit back and repent for their sins, namely the sin of greed and over-consumption.
The book is full of solutions and ideas on how to transform community and culture for a post-oil era, even if it sometimes gets bogged down by rhetoric about human morality (or lack thereof).

Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy
Author: Matthew R. Simmons
Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, 464 pages
(ISBN: 978-0471790181)
Matthew R. Simmons is called the “high priest of peak oil” for a good reason. After studying technical studies which describes the state of Saudi Arabia’s oil fields, Simmons came to the conclusion that Saudi Arabia’s biggest fields were already past their peaks.
He then wrote Twilight, which reveals Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, which are plagued by political and societal instability. It’s far from the rosy picture that Saudi Arabia has trumpeted, and Saudi authorities dismissed his book.
However, many readers believe the facts, figures and theories which he laid out in meticulous detail in Twilight, and think of it as convincing proof that the world’s oil production will soon peak and decline. An engrossing and disturbing read.

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power
Author: Daniel Yergin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 928 pages
(ISBN: 978-0671799328)
This 1992 Pulitzer prize-winning book talks about a century and a half of discoveries and developments in the oil industry.
Yergin, who spent nearly a decade researching for the book, succeeds in elaborating what happened, is happening and will happen €“ economically and politically €“ to the world because of the oil industry.
Interestingly, Yergin, who is the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (an organisation that often criticises peak oil theory), does not believe in peak oil.

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