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Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World
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Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  232 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
If the US continues with its current policies, the next decades will be marked by war, economic collapse, and environmental catastrophe. Resource depletion and population pressures are about to catch up with us, and no one is prepared. The political elites, especially in the US, are incapable of dealing with the situation and have in mind a punishing game of “Last One Stan ...more
Paperback, 209 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by New Society Publishers
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May 08, 2010 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Heinberg's prognostications about the likely trajectory of industrial society are probably reasonably accurate. His analysis of the problems (over-population and resource depletion) is also accurate. But for a book that claims to propose "options and actions for a post-carbon world," there is actually very little content toward that end.

Mostly, Heinberg just suggests that we fess up to our true challenges (again, over-population & resource depletion), stop looking for technology to save us,
Jun 08, 2010 Aron rated it liked it
Powerdown was good, but it had a lot to live up to after The Party's Over. After finishing this book I felt slightly more informed, but really very little different than before I'd read it. I did come away with a solid list of references and books to add to my to-read list, but that's not a great argument for recommending this particular book. On a side note, Heinberg's super-liberal political viewpoint is much more apparent in this work, and while I tend to agree with him, I think that that asp ...more
Jun 23, 2008 Kip rated it really liked it
Very thought-provoking and almost scary book. Premise, as suggested by the title, is that life in 100 years will be very, very different. Extremely limited or no availability for heating fuel, transportation fuel, electricity, or really any of the products and services we take for granted today.

He goes further though, with an underlying premise that there are simply too many people on the planet consuming finite and irreplaceable resources. Not just carbon, but water, food and other basics. So
Jul 10, 2008 Charles rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Derrick Jensen's work
Heinberg's follow-up to The Party's Over includes a brief summary of his previous book as well as in-depth analysis, commentary, and opinion about the prospects for globalized society over the next century and more, given the imminent demise of cheap oil and other sources of energy. Where The Party's Over was measured and restrained, in Power Down, Heinberg takes a stauncher, harder, more morally-charged stance as he stares down the abyss of waning industrialism and its legacy of destruction and ...more
Matthew Petti
Sep 28, 2012 Matthew Petti rated it really liked it
Richard Heinberg's 2004 book centers on the subject of "Peak Oil", when demand, fueled by population growth, rising development in third-world countries and resource depletion collide to bring about war, economic collapse and environmental ruin or, if we are wise enough, a global conviction and determination to reduce and contract to save ourselves from our won demise.

He points out 4 distinct options that will confront us soon and only by proper level-headed choices will we survive. His approac
Oct 14, 2009 Peter rated it liked it
Shelves: current-affairs
From the cover:
Power-down n 1: the energy famine that engulfed industrial nations in the early 21st century; 2: the deliberate process of contraction and conversion that enabled survival ...
Yet another forecast of doom! As we encounter peak oil and its aftermath. But Heinberg at least indicates some options for individual, community and even humanity's survival.
He elaborates of what he sees as four options:
1) Last One Standing - competition (war) for remaining resources
2) Power-down - deliberate
Apr 16, 2012 Alison rated it liked it
Sensationalistic and antagonistic, with a lot of blame-placing and less solution-proposing. Also, the sources listed in the notes are hard to find and far from the mainstream. I don't necessarily disagree with the author on the bulk of his ideas, but I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, especially if I were trying to actively convince them that peak oil is something to be worried about. At the moment, I would offer them James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency instead; it doesn't offer th ...more
John Kaufmann
May 22, 2015 John Kaufmann rated it really liked it
Shelves: energy
The sequel to "The Party's Over." But just as good. Heinberg has a knack for explaining thing simply.
Aug 23, 2009 Julia rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, american
A somewhat depressing description of what could happen to the world if we don't find an alternative to oil pdq. In fact, the author thinks there is no alternative energy source to take oil's place. (I'm still holding out hope.) And that we will run out of oil sooner than we are willing to admit.

The post-oil scenarios he describes range from grim to apocalyptic. This book is not light reading, but it provides some thoughtful analysis as to where we could be heading, and how to make the best of a
Sep 20, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it
An excellent overview of what resource depletion and population pressure mean for industrial civilization, without any rose-colored glasses. Richard Heinberg gives a balanced analysis of how political power and environmental/social justice movements work, which is a very useful framework for understanding why things are the way they are and how these groups will react in the future. The book is accessible and compelling, and at under 200 pages (with the endnotes and bibliography), it manages to ...more
This books wasn't too bad. A lot of the things it talks about are outdated by about ten years.
Alexandra Deboer
Apr 17, 2014 Alexandra Deboer rated it liked it
Well researched explanation of why we are having a planetary energy crisis. I had hoped for more inspiration for individual actions to mitigate the pain of collapse.
Aug 27, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it
This book provides three potential responses our nation can take to address the economic hardships resulting from Peak Oil. It demonstrates that two of those responses will fail miserably, and the only viable option is to act NOW. Heinberg explains how we will need to restructure our economy in a post-carbon world, which will ultimately cause globalization to fail.
Oct 06, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
Heinberg understands "peak oil." Four chapters give four different plausible scenarios for dealing with the decline in cheap energy.

This is a great book for people to read and discuss in groups. Whether or not any of the scenarios are likely, they are plausible enough to generate a lot of good conversation on what kind of future we really want.
Oct 11, 2012 Mecala rated it it was amazing
Must read!

Powerdown is about how oil is going drastically down and all our other resources are as well. How we as Americans are living and what kind of society we are brewing. Very hard hitting and yet scary because we could face famine and chaos and soon death by nuclear weapons. War is always about resources and it is an eye-opener for sure.
Martin Streetman
Oct 29, 2008 Martin Streetman rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Scott -
Another book I read because of that Kyle Mills book Darkness Falls. This is not a book you should read if you believe everything you read. I thougt it was well written but it is real end of life as we know it type stuff. Very scarry if you let it be. I think the changes are comming just hope they are not as dark as Heinberg visions.
Jun 10, 2007 Alex rated it really liked it
Shelves: oil
heinberg's follow-up to the party's over. he outlined four basic "strategies" for dealing with peak oil. not exactly the way economy/society/culture change and move, showing heinberg's weaknesses in terms of politics. however, he shows a growing mastery of the peak oil subject and its implications. read the party's over first.
Feb 05, 2012 Kevin rated it really liked it
Not sure if I totally agree with the author, but the author brings up a lot of good points. Our supply of oil is going down, not up. We need alternatives. Our entire culture is based on movement... flight, driving, shipping... what happens as our fuel source becomes more harder to find?
May 07, 2008 Mel rated it liked it
Recommended to Mel by: University Professor
Though this was written a few years ago already, it is thought-provoking. It addresses the issues of oil depletion and rising population growth and what could possibly happen as a result. Everyone needs to be aware of their environment, and Heinberg offers some viable strategies to this dilemma.
Jennifer Miera
Nothing I haven't read before in more current books. The author tries to take a positive slant on the impending disasters, like "building lifeboats," but it fell a bit flat for me. I'm not convinced that he believes humanity will survive peak oil and global warming.
Scott Marlow
May 21, 2008 Scott Marlow rated it really liked it
A more digestible version of James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency. If you are concerned about the looming energy crisis and want to learn how to cope post-Peak Oil, this is a good read.
May 27, 2008 Jeff rated it it was ok
This book isn't horrible. I recommend reading The Party is Over instead, which has most of the pertinent information in this book and much more.
Jun 30, 2010 Antonio rated it it was amazing
Where will you be when the oil runs out? Too much people consuming ALL the available resources will lead us inevitably to catastrophe.
Jan 10, 2012 Stephan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Chapter 6 of the book can be read here.
Shelly O'grady
Oct 28, 2009 Shelly O'grady rated it it was amazing
This is were it all began for me! The most important/alarming book I have read.
Feb 02, 2008 Tommy rated it liked it
Shelves: ecointelligence
Heinberg is better in his earlier works.
Mar 21, 2008 Commonground rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all who are interested in reality
Get ready, friends.
Apr 10, 2008 Cws added it
Deirdre Hanners
Deirdre Hanners rated it really liked it
Jan 18, 2016
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