Beyond Oil: The View From Hubbert's Peak
Kenneth S. Deffeyes
Professor Emeritus, Princeton University and Author
May 21, 2005
With world oil production about to peak and inexorably head toward steep decline, what fuels are available to meet rising global energy demands? That question, once thought to address a fairly remote contingency, has become ever more urgent, as a spate of books has drawn increased public attention to the imminent exhaustion of the economically vital world oil reserves. Deffeyes, a geologist who was among the first to warn of the coming oil crisis, now takes the next logical step and turns his attention to the earth's supply of potential replacement fuels. In Beyond Oil, he traces out their likely production futures, with special reference to that of oil, utilizing the same analytic tools developed by his former colleague, the pioneering petroleum-supply authority M. King Hubbert.
The book includes chapters on natural gas, coal, tar sands and heavy oils, oil shale, uranium, and (although not strictly and energy resource itself) hydrogen. A concluding chapter on the overall energy picture covers the likely mix of energy source the world can rely on for the near-term future, and the special roles that will need to be played by conservation, high-mileage diesel automobiles, nuclear power plants, and wind-generated electricity.
An acknowledged expert in the field, Deffeyes brings a deeply informed, yet optimistic approach to bear on the growing debate. His main concern is not our long-term adaptation to a world beyond oil but our immediate future: "Through our inattention, we have wasted the years that we might have used to prepare for lessened oil supplies. The next ten years are critical."