The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
May 29, 2004
Petroleum is now so deeply entrenched in our economy, our politics, and our personal expectations that even modest efforts to phase it out are fought tooth and nail by the most powerful forces in the world: companies and governments that depend on oil revenues; the developing nations that see oil as the only means to industrial success; and a Western middle class that refuses to modify its energy-dependent lifestyle. But within thirty years, by even conservative estimates, we will have burned our way through most of the oil that is easily accessible. And well before then, the side effects of an oil-based society -- economic volatility, geopolitical conflict, and the climate-changing impact of hydrocarbon pollution -- will render fossil fuels an all but unacceptable solution. How will we break our addiction to oil? And what will we use in its place to maintain a global economy and political system that are entirely reliant on cheap, readily available energy? Brilliantly reported from around the globe, The End of Oil brings the world situation into fresh and dramatic focus for business and general readers alike. Roberts talks to both oil optimists and oil pessimists, delves deep into the economics and politics of oil, considers the promises and pitfalls of alternatives, and shows that, although the world energy system has begun its epoch-defining transition, disruption and violent dislocation are almost assured if we do not take a more proactive stance. With the topicality and readability of Fast Food Nation and the scope and trenchant analysis of Guns, Germs, and Steel, this is a vitally important book for the new century.
Paul Roberts is a regular contributor to Harper's Magazine, for which he has written about the timber industry, the auto industry, and the destruction of the Florida Everglades. A longtime observer of both business and environmental issues, Roberts is an expert on the complex interplay of economics, technology, and the environment. He lives in Leavenworth, Washington.
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