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"This book explains both why the decline of our most precious fuel is inevitable and how challenging it will be to cope with what comes next."—Richard E. Smalley, University Professor, Rice University, and 1996 Nobel laureate
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. Kenneth S. 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 bad news in this book is made bearable by the author's witty, conversational writing style. If my college econ textbooks had been written this way, I might have learned economics." —Rupert Cutler, The Roanoke Times
For those who wonder why certain countries insist on developing nuclear power, geologist Deffeyes has a possible answer: "World oil production has ceased growing." In this sobering, instructive and somewhat apocalyptic book, Deffeyes (Hubbert's Peak) paints a bleak picture of the future of fossil fuels and of what will happen to the world without them. Deffeyes bases his book on the work of M. King Hubbert, who mathematically determined that the world's oil supply would peak in 2000 and then drop steadily thereafter. Deffeyes tackles the mathematics of Hubbert's method and offers his own prediction (that the peak will occur at the end of 2005), but there is plenty here for those who aren't enamored with numbers, including a crash course in the slow evolution of oil. Oil and its related petroleum byproducts, Deffeyes points out, have changed the world economically, technologically and socially, and its absence could have a similarly massive, though negative, effect. Deffeyes predicts that famine, war and death will result from the shortages, but he does more than just sound the alarm: a large portion of the book is devoted to surveying the pros and cons of alternative resources like coal and hydrogen. Though Deffeyes offers only a few practical suggestions for the reader, most of which are obvious (i.e., get on a waitlist for a hybrid car), this is an earnestly written cautionary tale and a great resource for anyone looking to become energy literate. B&W illustrations and diagrams.