The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies

The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies The World Is About To Run Out Of Cheap Oil And Change Dramatically Within The Next Few Years, Global Production Will Peak Thereafter, Even If Industrial Societies Begin To Switch To Alternative Energy Sources, They Will Have Less Net Energy Each Year To Do All The Work Essential To The Survival Of Complex Societies We Are Entering A New Era, As Different From The Industrial Era As The Latter Was From Medieval TimesIn The Party S Over, Richard Heinberg Places This Momentous Transition In Historical Context, Showing How Industrialism Arose From The Harnessing Of Fossil Fuels, How Competition To Control Access To Oil Shaped The Geopolitics Of The Twentieth Century And How Contention For Dwindling Energy Resources In The Twenty First Century Will Lead To Resource Wars In The Middle East, Central Asia And South America He Describes The Likely Impacts Of Oil Depletion And All Of The Energy Alternatives Predicting Chaos Unless The United States The World S Foremost Oil Consumer Is Willing To Join With Other Countries To Implement A Global Program Of Resource Conservation And Sharing, He Also Recommends A Managed Collapse That Might Make Way For A Slower Paced, Low Energy, Sustainable Society In The FutureMore Readable Than Other Accounts Of This Issue, With Fuller Discussion Of The Context, Social Implications And Recommendations For Personal, Community, National And Global Action, Heinberg S Updated Book Is A Riveting Wake Up Call For Human Kind As The Oil Era Winds Down, And A Critical Tool For Understanding And Influencing Current US Foreign PolicyRichard Heinberg, From Santa Rosa, California, Has Been Writing About Energy Resources Issues And The Dynamics Of Cultural Change For Many Years A Member Of The Core Faculty At New College Of California, He Is An Award Winning Author Of Three Previous Books His Museletter Was Nominated For The Best Alternative Newsletter Award By Utne In

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  • Paperback
  • 288 pages
  • The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
  • Richard Heinberg
  • English
  • 11 June 2018
  • 9780865715295

10 thoughts on “The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies

  1. says:

    As a daily newspaper journalist I once attempted to research and write a Front Page story detailing the problems associated with Peak Oil It was part of my intellectual growth, I suppose, in that I was awakening to energy issues and beginning to incorporate them into my knowledge of urban planning and transportation issues.I remember working my ass off to get that story to localize and regionalize what amounted to a global issue and working with the photographer to illustrate it I remember getting up at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m just so we could ride a shuttle van with a person I found who decided to jettison her car because of high gas prices and who naturally breathed real life into my story Anyway, the photographer and I were both excited about the story, about getting at something big To this day, the photographer, Dean Koepfler, remembers it I actually spoke to him during a social occasion last year, and our attempt in 2005 to raise the public s consciousness of Peak Oil was one of the first things he mentioned to me as we shared war stories from the newsroom You were right, Dean said, almost wistfully Maybe I was The Front Page story never ran It got junked into a sidebar and tucked inside where it played second third fourth fiddle to a story about alternative fuels.The story behind why it got junked is long and not worth going into right now But after reading The Party s Over Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg, I can t stop thinking about my attempt at what Heinberg has comprehensively accomplished showing why we better get serious about rescaling our lives in light of the end of the cheap oil age.I can t stop thinking about the fact that if people honestly processed what Heinberg has accomplished with this book, they would have to think differently and act differently and understand just how energy particularly oil and natural gas undergird everything we do, and how that undergirding is breaking apart.I can t stop feeling sad about how my story never saw the light of day isn t that what journalists and newspapers are supposed to do Tell people something they don t know, preferably something important Heinberg even takes a swipe at mainstream newspapers for failing to tell people the broader story about oil and energy when they had one of the best opportunities to do so when gas prices were skyrocketing earlier this decade I feel like calling him up and telling him I tried.It is a strange feeling to read a really good book that marshals scads of evidence and fact and science to blow up people s misconceptions about how the world really works and then think to yourself How many people know about this book, how many people are going to read it, how many people are going to understand that Heinberg isn t out to depress them but to motivate them to act in the face of physics and reality and the laws of thermodynamics Heinberg s book is the most comprehensive and technically, albeit densely, precise rundown of our energy predicament I ve ever read, covering everything from geopolitics and photovoltaic cells to oil and natural gas depletion Everything you ever wanted to know about energy and how it supports our modern industrial life is right here And Heinberg lays out a number of things we can do to deal with the coming oil crash.The United States has something like 5 percent of the world s population and uses a quarter of its natural resources We consume the most oil We support client states that oppress their indigenous populations so that we can enjoy the spoils of their resources In our relationship with Saudi Arabia, we have one of the nastiest geopolitical foreign policy arrangements in the history of the planet And, as this telling excerpt shows, we ve been waging wars and implementing policies to secure the energy to maintain our wealth and hegemony for a long time The U.S policy of maintaining resource dominance is not new Shortly after World War II, a brutally frank State Department Policy Planning Study authored by George F Kennan, the American Ambassador to Moscow, noted We have 50 percent of the world s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population In this situation, our real job in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which permit us to maintain this position of disparity To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation Incredible, isn t it Are people paying attention to this I mean, enough people to actually bring about significant change Oh, I forgot They re busy watching Gossip Girl Well, as the title of Heinberg s book starkly puts it, the party s over OIl is a finite resource So is natural gas And we re on the downslope of both Coal is a poor substitute, and, when used, poisons the earth Nuclear, while arguably better for the planet, is scary and just too costly to make happen on the scale we d need to continue civilization as we know it Wind power will help, but can t be scaled to the present footprint of human civilization Solar will help But, as with wind power, scalability is extremely problematic From Heinberg s point of view and he backs it with plenty of evidence our modern industrial society is a 100 year anomaly of sorts that was enabled by cheap, abundant oil, and, by extracting it and not caring about the consequences, we overshot our population and had a lot of fun and manufactured a lot of plastic and fertilized the fuck out of our soils and caused ecological damage and now here we are, facing the cliff, the downside of Hubbert s Peak, and we re still willing to listen to any politician who ll tell us, hey folks, it s OK, you can keep the party going.So, what do we do Heinberg lays out a comprehensive set of actions, local, regional and global, toward sustainability He covers everything from farming and transportation to finance and foreign policy Make no mistake, though, he believes there isn t enough oil or natural gas to sustain the current population or physical makeup of civilization As a result, population will have to come down, communities will have to power down and make other living arrangements, and, to make this transition bearable, we need to get to work on it quickly Technology isn t going to save us Getting better at pumping oil out of the ground isn t going to save us And remember it takes energy to produce energy If we want to rescale and prepare for renewable sources of energy i.e., wind, solar , Heinberg argues, then we should start investing our current energy reserves into the project of building wind turbines and solar communities Instead, Heinberg worries, we ll probably just continue throwing it at the fossil fuel party whose biggest guests include our gas guzzling National Automobile Fleet and our Middle Eastern client states who d love to give us oil but would like a nice big shipment of guns with which to properly oppress their civilian population.What Heinberg envisions is people embracing egalitarian living arrangements, and local farming and economies What this will require is detoxification from consumerism and TV watching and the belief that you can get something for nothing Also, it would help if people would understand that money isn t money money is simply a medium of exchange to simplify the process of trading one thing for another, so that you don t have to carry around beaver pelts and trade them for large boulders Money is petrodollars Money is energy Without energy, money is meaningless.When I think about Heinberg s book, I still think about my ill fated attempt at researching and writing a big piece about Peak Oil My story never saw the light of day But, as Heinberg s updated and expanded book points out, the issue of Peak Oil increasingly is finding its way into the mainstream.That s good.Then again, the mainstream whether it s mainstream media, thought, culture, etc seems to have a way of dismissing people like Heinberg and their books I ve seen it before Hell, I ve experienced it before.I suppose the best way to think about Peak Oil and Peak Natural Gas, etc is in a local way That is, what can we do where we live In my journalism days, at least I tried At least I tried Now, with the fundamental problem of the end of the cheap oil age, I m thinking about what I should do to prepare for the future Thankfully, there is than one answer to that question.

  2. says:

    This book was 5 stars the whole way through Whether you believe the geologists and petroleum industry engineers and Heinberg, as well as many other authors that claim that we re pretty much hitting peak oil right now or not, the fact remains that we will reach it some day, and when that day comes we will have to deal with the consequences Heinberg s story here is that we ve been gorging on essentially free energy and have come to expect it will remain so The scariest example of this is the current economy in a finite world, we cannot reasonably expect unlimited growth It isn t physically possible He argues that this mentality is dangerous and deters society from taking steps towards sustainable lifestyles The book begins by analyzing energy in naturally occurring ecosystems, and explains how eventually humans were able to offset the balance to their extreme advantage and subsequent proliferation A brief tour through relatively modern history follows, with a focus on energy use from employing animals to assist in our labors, to burning coal, refining petroleum, generating electricity, etc He discusses Hubbert s Peak as well as other better informed attempts to pinpoint when exactly oil production will peak If I remember correctly, the most optimistic of these was 2020 He then considers all known energy sources and their potential to replace oil once it becomes too expensive To put it lightly, his view is not optimistic While it s true that from a strictly energy based standpoint, renewable sources have vast potential in the future, none of these technologies can cover all the applications that we currently use petroleum for Next, Heinberg goes on to discuss what he believes the consequences of this reduction in oil availability will be, from the economy and transportation, to food and health, to politics and war He also offers suggestions for how the average person can prepare for this future unstable world The suggestions ranged from fantastic to simply curious, but none were worthless in my opinion Though I haven t checked them out yet, he also includes lists of web based resources that look promising That was a very nice touch.Highly recommended It was even a quick read 300 well written pages I ll be checking out of Heinberg s work in the future.

  3. says:

    This book will ruin your life You will never feel confident or sanguine about the future again But you must read it Take the blue pill or is it the red In any case, best to wake up but it s a harsh awakening You can never go back.

  4. says:

    An excellent assessment of the science behind Peak Oil, which places our petro reliant society into its globopolitical context wherein we use our military industrial complex as a mechanism for maintaining oil hegemony and sounds a clear warning that we are running out of time if we haven t already to build the infrastructure we will need to transition smoothly out of a fossil fuel based economy when it becomes too expensive to maintain It s interesting and terrifying to consider just how brief the industrial period of the world could end up being our lifestyle is just a blip on the screen, and we ve managed to live so indulgently, so exploitatively, that future generations won t be able to access sufficient natural resources to energize the type of lifestyle that seems normal to modern Americans.

  5. says:

    The Party s Over is a cogent and enlightening wake up call to responsible action regarding dwindling energy resources and how we use those resources In a smooth flowing narrative, author Heinberg recounts events that were precursors to today s extravagant energy consumption The facts are laid out in a skillfully told journalistic style that is the who what when where how why of the current state of affairs and where we are inevitably headed Concise and easy to read, this book is an outstanding refresher of recent headlines and current events, as well as a rich synopsis of history It provides a dense jumping off point for further research and allows the reader to realize on his her own the very urgent need for change on a global scale.

  6. says:

    Wow The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that there is too much information to properly absorb It really does a good job of explaining all the reasons that our current oil based lifestyles are not sustainable And not in any vague way He lists all the relevant facts and processes geological, political, economic, etc that give the reader insight into what the problem really is and how the current proposed solutions aren t going to be the answer It s kind of scary but enlightening Everybody should have to read this Maybe then there would be hope This book is now a few years old, would love to read a follow up if there is one.

  7. says:

    This is the best general introduction to the subject of peak oil and one of the first to break this subject to a general audience Readers of TheOilDrum.com won t find anything in this they don t already know, but for newbies it s great.

  8. says:

    One of the most important revelations in the last century is that we have reached the peak of oil supply, and it is all downhill from here What does that mean, and what are the implications of this startling realization to civilization as we know it That is the focus of this phenomenal study Heinberg obviously tries to be level headed, and fair to all viewpoints I ve read books from both sides of the spectrum, from the doomsayers to the believers in techno miracles Heinberg is somewhere in between, admitting that life will have to change in dramatic ways, but holding out hope for saving some of the best of what we have You will find it depressing, but it is important to make changes now if we are to save anything Take the red pill, and take control of your future.

  9. says:

    With all of the concern about global warming and peak oil, it has been surprisingly difficult for me to find balanced reading material to sort it all out Richard Heinberg s manifesto here on peak oil and portents of societal collapse is certainly not attempting balance, but he nonetheless presents a decent review of the bear case for the fate of humanity in the next century As I am thinking about this review, I realize I have read so much on this topic that it will be easier to try to consolidate what I have learned from reading not only this book, but a host of other papers and essays on economic growth, population growth, and resource constraints.The extraordinarily high and sustained rate of productivity increases since the dawn of the industrial age has made it possible for the human population to rise at an unprecedented rate Prior to the neolithic revolution 8,000 years ago, the annual rate of human population increase might have been something like 0.01 0.05% At a rate of 0.05% annual population growth, the population would double every 1,500 years From the beginning of cereal cultivation to roughly 1800 the annual population growth increased to about 0.10% double the rate of increase in the hunter gatherer eras At a rate of 0.10% annual population increase, the population would double every 750 years, give or take.Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the annual rate of population increase has been 1.5 2% This has resulted in population doublings every 50 years over the past two centuries, and is an incredibly fast rate of population growth compared to anything in prior human history This pace of population growth is only possible because productivity has grown even faster, which is necessary to be able to feed all these new inhabitants But it s not just food that has been in demand by many of these new inhabitants We want houses and cars and gizmos, all energy and resource intensive to produce.Nobel economist Robert Solow pioneered a model of economic growth that included inputs of labor, resources, and capital, and he believed the latter was by far the most important for driving productivity growth One of his famous quotations If it is very easy to substitute other factors for natural resources, then there is, in principle, no problem The world can, in effect, get along without natural resources The idea behind this theory is that if natural resource prices increase because of high demand or insufficient supply, those high prices will encourage development of substitutions to soak up the money otherwise being paid to acquire the expensive resources.Unfortunately, there is little indication that there is anything close to a viable substitute for hydrocarbon fuels for running our modern economies Vaclav Smil s many papers on this topic have made it clear to me how long it took for the construction of the hydrocarbon energy infrastructure, and how deeply embedded that infrastructure is within our economies Moreover, as energy and materials prices have risen dramatically since the early 2000s, and concerns over global warming have mounted, development and implementation of substitutes have moved frustratingly slow And, at least over shorter time frames, fast increases in energy and materials prices can lead to a supply shock or demand destruction which, rather than encouraging substitutions, instead contribute to a slowdown of economic growth and withdrawal of investment capital from risky projects.There is good news and bad news The good news is that populations that have reached high levels of development and education have seen dramatically lower birthrates below replacement rates in Japan and parts of Europe This suggests that as the world continues to develop, advances in material wealth and education will likely see the end of exponential population growth, and potentially the beginning of a population decline in the second half of the century unless resource constraints force a collapse sooner The bad news is that economic development demands a very high level of resource use per capita, the increase in prices of resources over the past decade suggests that resources are becoming scarcer relative to their demand, and in a finite world there is no substitute for food or resources in general, even if it is possible to substitute one type of resource for another In addition to that, even if resources were unlimited, the pace of extraction is not unlimited This latter point is important to remember whenever we hear about supply of unconventional oil like tar sands, which may be available in abundance, but is both resource and time intensive to mine and refine at scale.Finally, there is the issue of substantial lags One lag is the time between the emission of carbon dioxide and its contribution to heating the earth Another lag is the time between economic growth, education, and decline in birth rates Thus, we will see human population and resource demand continuing to increase exponentially for at least the next 30 40 years, provided resource supply can keep up with demand, and that may be 30 40 years too late to prevent catastrophic global warming in the 50 years that follow.

  10. says:

    How can you not read this book Still applicable after the year of publication energy sources take a long time to find and use up And money means hanging onto the status quo way after it s useful to society.

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