Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Elephant in the Room or The End of Oil

The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party

Author: Ryan Sager

and/or stickers showing their discounted price. More about bargain books

New interesting textbook: Steal This Book or My Guantanamo Diary

The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World

Author: Paul Roberts

You live in this world. You use oil. You must read this book.

The situation is alarming and irrefutable: within thirty years, even by conservative estimates, we will have burned our way through most of the oil that is readily available to us. Already, the costly side effects of dependence on fossil fuel are taking their toll. Even as oil-related conflict threatens entire nations, individual consumers are suffering from higher prices at the gas pump, rising health problems, and the grim prospect of long-term environmental damage.

In this frank and balanced investigation, Paul Roberts offers a timely wake-up call. He talks to both oil optimists and oil pessimists, delves deep into the economics and politics of oil, and considers the promises and pitfalls of alternatives such as wind power, hybrid cars, and hydrogen. A new afterword brings the book up to the minute. Brisk, immediate, and accessible, this is essential reading for anyone who uses oil, which is to say every one of us.

The New Yorker

This dense compendium explores a troubling paradox: the more energy we use, the richer we become, but spiraling consumption also speeds us closer to the economic havoc that will result from the depletion of oil and gas reserves. For political, cultural, and economic reasons (our current energy infrastructure is worth ten trillion dollars), alternatives such as hydrogen, solar, and wind power resist widespread development. Roberts’s outspoken but even-handed account closes with four crystal-ball scenarios. In the rosiest, breakthroughs in renewable energy spur a decline in fossil-fuel use; in the direst, Arab resentment at the overthrow of Saddam Hussein leads to the downfall of the Saudi and Kuwaiti regimes, the price of oil rises to fifty dollars a barrel, and the unprepared American economy is left in tatters.

Publishers Weekly

All economic activity is rooted in the energy economy, which means a substantial portion of the current world economy is linked to the production and distribution of oil. But what will happen, Roberts asks, when the well starts to run dry? Walking readers through the modern energy economy, he suggests that grim prospect may not be as far off as we'd like to think and points out how political unrest could disrupt the world's oil supply with disastrous results. But that could be the least of our worries; some of Roberts's most persuasive passages describe an almost inevitable future shaped by global warming, especially as rapidly industrializing countries like China begin to replicate the pollution history of the U.S. Some signs of hope are visible, he believes, especially in Europe, but the stumbling progress of potential alternatives such as hydrogen power or fuel cells is additional cause for concern. And though the current administration's energy policy gets plenty of criticism, Roberts (a regular contributor to Harper's) saves some of his harshest barbs for American consumers, described as "the least energy-conscious people on the planet." If the government won't create stricter fuel efficiency standards, he argues, blame must be placed equally on our eagerness to drive around in gas-guzzling SUVs and on corporate lobbying. Stressing the dire need to act now to create any meaningful long-term effect, this measured snapshot of our oil-dependent economy forces readers to confront unsettling truths without sinking into stridency. This book may very well become for fossil fuels what Fast Food Nation was to food or High and Mighty to SUVs. (May 15) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal

How black gold has shaped us socially and politically and how we can end our dependence on it. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

Enjoy your SUVs while you can, gas-guzzlers: the glory days of hydrocarbons are over-and hard times are on the way. So warns freelance journalist Roberts, who's made the energy industry his beat for Harper's. "On the face of it," he writes, "our energy economy is humming along like a perpetual-motion machine." But, he adds, that's illusory: although the growing energy economy requires the constant discovery and exploitation of new stores of fossil fuels, with demand expected to grow by 50 percent in the US alone by 2020, the reality is that actual production is falling, so that the oil-dependent nations of the First World are ever more dependent on countries that feel little goodwill toward them. "By nearly any sane measure," Roberts remarks, "the quest for less problematic forms of energy and energy-efficient technologies should be a top priority for all players in the energy world." Yet that has not been the case: although, Roberts notes, the energy industry has historically shown itself to be capable of turning on a dime, the powers that be-not least of them the current US administration ("If American energy politics has always been dysfunctional, a new standard may have been set with the election of George W. Bush")-have resisted regulations requiring greater efficiencies. The road to a new energy regime is likely to be perilous, politically and economically; as Roberts notes, previous transformations have been profoundly dislocating. Yet more dislocating will be the worldwide economic shock when the news sinks in that depletion and scarcity are the order of the day: "World markets-and the political systems that depend on those markets-could deteriorate with surprising speed once itbecomes widely known that a peak has occurred," Roberts warns. So what is to be done? Well, plenty, all of it involving a great change of "energy lifestyles"-and all of it certain to cause pain. A disturbing geopolitical survey of the world energy landscape. Agent: Heather Schroder/ICM

Table of Contents:
Pt. IThe free ride
1Lighting the fire21
2The last of the easy oil44
3The future's so bright66
4Energy is power91
5Too hot116
Pt. IIOn the road to nowhere
6Give the people what they want143
7Big oil gets anxious165
8And now for something completely different188
9Less is more213
Pt. IIIInto the blue
10Energy security237
11The invisible hand259
12Digging in our heels281
13How do we get there?307

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