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Book review of Heinberg’s “Afterburn: society beyond fossil fuels”

Book review of Heinberg’s “Afterburn: society beyond fossil fuels”

Preface. This book has 15 essays Heinberg wrote from 2011 to 2014, many of them available for free online.  These are some of my Kindle notes of parts that interested me, so to you it will be disjointed and perhaps not what you would have chosen as important — but it gives you an idea of what a great writer Heinberg is and hopefully inspires you to buy his book.

***

Heinberg, R. 2015. Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels. New Society Publishers.

The most obvious criticism that could be leveled at the book “The Party’s Over”, which came out in 2005, is the simple observation that, as of 2014, world oil production is increasing, not declining. However, the following passage points to just how accurate the leading peakists were in forecasting trends: “Colin Campbell estimates that extraction of conventional oil will peak before 2010; however, because more unconventional oil—including oil sands, heavy oil, and oil shale—will be produced during the coming decade, the total production of fossil-fuel liquids (conventional plus unconventional) will peak several years later. According to Jean Laherrère, that may happen as late as 2015.”

In the “Party’s Over”, I also summarized Colin Campbell’s view that “the next decade will be a ‘plateau’ period, in which recurring economic recessions will result in lowered energy demand, which will in turn temporarily mask the underlying depletion trend.

Economics 101 tells us that supply of and demand for a commodity like oil (which happens to be our primary energy source) must converge at the current market price, but no economist can guarantee that the price will be affordable to society. High oil prices are sand in the gears of the economy. As the oil industry is forced to spend ever more money to access ever-lower-quality resources, the result is a general trend toward economic stagnation. None of the peak oil deniers warned us about this.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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