“Hallett and Wright deliver a brilliant overview of the dilemma posed by our society’s profound dependence on a depleting, nonrenewable resource that is becoming more scarce and unaffordable almost by the month. Readers new to the ‘peak oil’ discussion will find this an excellent entry point.”
—RICHARD HEINBERG, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute
"This is a book of fundamental importance, especially as it is written in a very readable style. …The book stresses the scale of the challenge but comes forward with useful suggestions for how people, and eventually their governments, can begin to adapt and successfully react to what unfolds. It is essential reading for everyone."
—C.J. CAMPBELL, founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (“ASPO”)
We have spent the last two centuries building a civilization on coal and the last century building it bigger still on oil. Fossil fuels have been the wellspring of our complex, glorious modern world, but they are about to run out. By the end of the 21st century, our oil and natural gas supplies will be virtually nonexistent, and limited coal supplies will be restricted to only a handful of countries.
In Life without Oil, environmental scientist Steve Hallett and veteran journalist John Wright make abundantly clear that we are at the crest of a remarkable two-hundred-year glitch in the history of civilization and are about to embark on the decline. Experts may argue about whether peak oil production has already arrived or will come in a decade or two, but in any case, as Hallett and Wright show, we must plan for a future without reliance on oil.
But successful planning depends on a realistic assessment of the facts about our current situation. To that end, Hallett and Wright describe how the petroleum interval of the last century, on which our civilization is based, fits in to the larger history of civilization. They describe the fate of civilizations and empires of the past that have come and gone based on their vital connection with the environment.
Turning to an even longer timeframe, the authors make a compelling case that the key determinant of our global economy is not so much the invisible hand of the marketplace but the inexorable laws of ecology. When it comes to the long term, nature will impose limits beyond which our economy cannot go. Despite increased emphasis on renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources, our current obsession with growth is ultimately unsustainable. The authors foresee the coming decades as a time of much disruption and change of lifestyle, but in the end we may learn a wiser, more sustainable stewardship of our natural resources.
This timely, sobering, yet constructive discussion of energy and ecology offers a realistic vision of the near future and many important lessons about the limits of our resources.
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Steve Hallett is an associate professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University. His previous appointments include McGill University, Canada, and the University of Queensland, Australia.
John Wright is a journalist specializing in energy and environmental issues with over twenty-five years of experience. He is currently the Latin America news editor for Energy News Today, but has also worked for Knight-Ridder, Dow Jones, and the Associated Press. He is the author of The Obama Haters.