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Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front
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Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  262 ratings  ·  56 reviews

Climate change, peak oil, and economic instability aren't just future social problems-they jeopardize our homes and families right now. Our once-abundant food supply is being threatened by toxic chemical agriculture, rising food prices, and crop shortages brought on by climate change. Funding for education and health care is strained to the limit, and safe and affordable h

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Published (first published September 1st 2008)
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Tina Cipolla
All I can say is WOW! This book was great. So far the single best book on sustainable living in a peak oil, peak recession (depression) world. Lots of excellent advice on how to survive a crisis such as a natural disaster, economic collapse and very highly practical advice on how to survive in a "no energy available" situation. It is easy to think that in our modern, 1st world civilization this cannot happen, but in many parts of the world the electricity is only on for a couple hours per day or ...more
Susan Albert
The subtitle of this book—One Woman's Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change and Hard Times—pretty much tells the story.

This is not just another of those doom-and-gloom, batten-down-the-hatches-and-man-the-lifeboat handbooks we have seen so many of in the past few years. I've read most of those other books, and while they are helpful in understanding why we are where we are (in terms of energy depletion, climate change, and overwhelmin
Jennifer Miera
I really enjoyed this book, though I came away desperately wanting to know more specifics on how to prepare for the coming crises. For god's sake, woman, tell me how much food? What kind of pans I should have, how I can heat my house if wood is not an option? Where the heck would I get water in an urban setting? I loved that she is a breast feeding momma who grows and puts up her own food. It's rare to get the family perspective. Survival is a lot different when it's just you or you and a partne ...more
Very girly.

Oh dear, that's sexist, but dang it, this book is. It's like the Junior League (is there still a Junior League?) version of how to survive the coming end times, post peak oil.

The first half was rehashed ideas of other writers (and since we're a few years past the housing crisis/market crash, it sounds a bit over-urgent). I thought the survival/traditional skills section should have been more about you, the reader, than me, the author. It was very me-me-me, and frankly I don't care wh
Wow - this book was a real eye opener for me. Not so much the part about needing to be ready in case of a crisis, but more the ways that we can do that. I loved the ease that Sharon used to discussed Peak Oil and Climate without sounding like a text book. Although I don't see my family turning off our electricity any time soon, we have certainly found ways to conserve more. And we are trying to be less wasteful. We are definitely readopting my mother's and grandmother's way of living, "Use it Up ...more
I find myself incredibly conflicted with this book.

On one hand, I believe that the author is suffering from an extreme case of "The Sky is Falling" syndrome. Sharon Astyk paints a grisly picture of the world economically, environmentally, and politically. Entire continents without power, skyrocketing poverty, and rampant disease are only a few of the coming scenarios that she believes are on the way.
I also must admit that her extreme "environmentalism" seems to me a bit over the top. Phrases
If the dollar crashes, Americans could find themselves living the way that Grandma or Great-Grandma lived in the days of the dust bowl depression. Would it be B-A-D? Sharon Astyk shows us that in many ways, life might actually be enhanced. Less waste, slower pace, more satisfying work, a greater reliance on community, increased physical activity, local food networks--there could be a silver lining to the dark cloud of economic crisis. I do not share the world view of this author, yet find her co ...more
I mean...I imagine most of this is true, and perhaps some of my uneasiness is due to a lack of willingness to change...but I refuse to believe that we must take the sky-is-falling attitude and get rid of all of our creature comforts. And as someone trying to go zero waste who drives her car once every two weeks, I don't think that we need to live in a 40 degree house. I think if everybody made more sustainable choices, we'd be far better off. I also don't think her view that almost everybody's j ...more
I wanted to enjoy this book. It had such potential but I was just not in the mood for lecture about the end of .....everything. Maybe another day.
A must read for anyone who's concerned about Peak Oil and Climate Change. When I watched An Inconvenient Truth and A Crude Awakening a few years ago, I began to see the writing on the wall. The problem I had was, not many of the talking heads in these documentaries were offering concrete suggestions as to what ordinary people like me can or should be doing in light of the coming crises. There was a lot of talk about corporate and government policy change, and technological innovation, but as you ...more
Forecasting a future of reduced oil/energy and increased conflict, Sharon Astyk manages to remind us that what is valuable are our relationships with our family and friends and the communities we build.

At times, I found her alarm and her survivalist advice hard to take - envisioning McMansions as the new slums, counseling the reader to check with friends and family for where you can go with your livestock, advising I should have 6 months of food stored....

She is at her most evocative sharing her
If I could just recommend one book for everyone I love to read, it would be this one. Sharon Astyk writes the incredible blog, Casaubon's Book, which I only discovered after I had read Depletion and Abundance. If you already know about peak oil (peak everything), economic instability and climate chaos, skip to the middle and begin reading her simple and doable suggestions for a meaningful life through simplicity, family, community, gardening, cooking, etc. I don't find her a bit "preachy," which ...more
Excellent. This is the book to read after you've read all the horrifying books about peak oil, climate change, and economic collapse, and have started to panic. Instead of promoting a survivalist lifestyle, with a bunker full of 20 years worth of MREs, Astyk offers suggestions on how to gently navigate the transition to a world that can no longer depend on fossil fuels, from the perspective of someone who is - mostly - already living a low energy life. This book brings together many ideas from t ...more
I have read so much about peak oil and the approaching collapse of civilization as we know it that this book was more "preaching to the choir" for me. Found myself paging past all of the doom and gloom. I know! I get it!

However, it did challenge me to reconsider how much energy I am using and how to get along with far less. This chick managed to reduce her energy consumption by 90%. Wow.

I figure if I can reduce 10% each year, I can keep ahead of the electric company who wants to raise my rates
Sep 29, 2008 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
OK, the current news is depressing, and maybe you're thinking that it's time to pack it all in and live in a shack back in the woods. And I'm kind of with you on that. But Sharon? She's already got her place in the country, and she is doing some AMAZING things with it -- even though she's working her tail off with four kids and a husband and a lot (I mean, A LOT) of farming and food preservation and living more simply -- and she's enjoying life. THAT is what we have to remember: hard times may c ...more
Patrick Cauldwell
While I may not totally agree with Ms. Astyk's timeline, I certainly agree with the majority of her points about where we are headed and what needs to be done to get out of it or deal with it ourselves. This book is definitely more pessimistic than her book "Independence Days", which I enjoyed a bit more. Depletion and Abundance is, if I could some up, more about the importance of community building than strictly about preparedness in the more survivalist sort of sense.

Well worth reading, altho
almost gave it a 5, would do 4 1/2 if possible...this book is much more user friendly for regular people than other things I've read on the topic. And though some of it is scary, it's real, and I am at the same time encouraged to see I've been taking some steps in the right direction.

Our current lifestyle in the US and most of the "First World" is unsustainable. I am already seeing the signs of the increased difficulty of life that the author foresaw. If you are not filthy rich and want to learn
Julia Flath
Sharon has written a few useful books that provide advice, more philosophical than practical details, on how to build roots in a place and adapt our homes and talents to survive in an uncertain future.
Leigh  Kramer
This was not what I expected at all. More conspiracy theory with a whole lot of crunchy living tips thrown in than practical advice and insights. Also, her suggestions are entirely geared towards families.
Wonderful book explaining what peak oil and climate change are and how we can rework our lives to cope and ultimately thrive. There are many concrete suggestions that urban apartment renters can follow to make our lives greener and more sustainable. The author meets us where we are, and makes the ultimate goal of living a family-centered life on the land (even if the land is a suburban yard w/garden) seem reasonably attainable. I love this book!
Oct 23, 2008 Diana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Most everyone
Recommended to Diana by:
I learned a great deal from this one. The book is auto-biographically written by Astyk to relate her low-input lifestyle and encourage/educate others to do the same. She's clearly well educated on the topics of energy, agriculture, and education, so her arguments come less from an extremist, doomsdayer and more from a realistic, academic perspective.

I appreciated the information and I hope to move towards her way of living.
I will have to interlibrary loan this book again. Although I love her blog, the 1st chapter of this book was heavy going.

Ok, finally made it through this book. Very interesting and kind of scary, but in that I have got to get off my ass and do something with my life to make it more sustainable. Oil will not last forever, and what do we do to survive peak oil and the changes that are coming.
The author is pretty extreme. I wouldn't say that I agree with her on everything - I was a little freaked out with her ideas about population control - but she also had a lot of very practical, very useful solutions to living a simpler, less energy intensive life. I did find that to be helpful and informative. Overall, I think it's a worth-while read. However, I would read it with a grain (or 2) of salt.
I read this on the tail of Orlov's Reinventing Collapse, and while the two share a similar forecast for future events and the breakdown of our society, this one offers more of a pragmatic roadmap for how to weather the storm. It's a bit more positive, but I'm still very indebted to Orlov for setting the stage as a preparation for this book. Lindsay is reading this and loves it too. Hopeful.
I feel that "like" is the wrong word for this book. It's actually a pretty terrifying read, breaking down peak oil and climate change into understandable terms and telling us what could happen. The good news is that she also tells you how you can help, and how you can start preparing. I'd like to read it again, but that will have to wait, as someone else has requested the library copy I've got.
I am mostly skimming through this book as it seems to go on a bit about the same thing. I enjoy the offset thoughts.

Around Part 3 I really got into reading instead of skimming. I found many of her ideas very interesting and I liked hearing how she lives out the ideals she proposes. Overall I just did not get behind the world is going to fall apart soon so be PREPARED.
The book is very thought-provoking, but I felt like it would have done more good if she had put in a bit less philosphizing and a bit more hands-on data. For example, I was dying to read about how she managed to cut her family's energy use back to 10% of the national average. Maybe that's in another one of her books?
this is probably the best, most helpful book about how t9o prepare for a devastating future that i have read. EAch chapter has some very important well researched and personal info. a must read of eco - survialists who still have a brain.
our sustainablity reading group has been reading it for 5 months.a lot to digest.
This is an important work.

A Peak Oil book with no charts or graphs, wow!

Instead, Sharon Astyk focuses on the practical and ethical issues around living in an world facing the double whammy of energy depletion and climate change.

Go check her excellent blog for more of the same:

The author and her family moved to their farm in New England to reduce their carbon imprint and to learn more self-reliance. I'm not particulary worried about climate change or oil reserves, but I'm all for anything that simplifies life and encourages independence. This book has some great ideas. I loved reading it.
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Sharon Astyk is a writer, teacher, blogger, and farmer who raises vegetables, poultry and dairy goats with her family in upstate New York. She and her family use 80% less energy and resources than the average American household. Sharon is a member of the Board of Directors of ASPO-USA and the award-winning author of three previous books including Depletion and Abundance and Independence Days.

More about Sharon Astyk...
Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place Green Sex: Love, Friendship, Marriage, Family, Gender and Reproduction in an Ecologically Constrained World Book of My Nights

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“Climate Change is caused by human emissions; it moves faster or slower partly in response to our rate of emissions, but also because of natural "tipping points" that make the planet take things in its own hands. So, for example, during one of the last great climactic shifts, the planet may have gone from being fairly warm to an ice age in less than ten years; and then the ice age may have ended in a single season! These things are very hard to model, but projections for the future that imagine Climate Change will occur in a gradual and orderly fashion are probably wrong.” 1 likes
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