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The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
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The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  750 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Petroleum is now so deeply entrenched in our economy, our politics, and our personal expectations that even modest efforts to phase it out are fought tooth and nail by the most powerful forces in the world: companies and governments that depend on oil revenues; the developing nations that see oil as the only means to industrial success; and a Western middle class that refu ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 15th 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2004)
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When it comes to surveying and assessing the global state of oil and energy, eight years might suffice to render a book dated—and I actually read this back when the paperback was first released. However, seeing as my reading speed lately could best be described as leisurely while I find myself afflicted with the urge to write reviews, I'm forced to dig into the past and see if I can pad a few core nuggets of remembrance with enough pseudo-info to produce a paragraph or three.

Right. On to the boo
Paul Roberts takes a long, deep look at how our energy economy works -- where it came from, where we're at now (running out of "easy oil" and looking down the barrel of climate change), and where we're going. Roberts is a bit conservative on climate change and easy on the energy industries -- but the book is fair, his arguments well-structured (it's a perfect text for teaching argument and research), and well-supported. An extremely important book. On a side note, when I needed a text file of th ...more
Paul Messersmith-Glavin
While apparently promising, this book turned out to be a total disappointment. The author accurately describes the problem of dependance on oil and the need for a new energy economy, but then consistently capitulates to the capitalist economy which is the root of the climate change problem. Rather than honestly discussing what it's going to take to stop global warming, he goes way out of his way to make sure capitalists don't lose any money by changing things too fast. Basically what he calls fo ...more
This is an excellent read, written for both oil optimists and oil pessimists. Whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about the future of oil, Roberts argues compellingly that our short-term energy security relies upon countries that are increasingly hostile to the U.S. and the West, that is the dreaded cartel known as OPEC! Non-OPEC Oil (and gas) fields could peak by as early as 2015, and then we will be even more dependent on oil-exporting nations like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Even vast O ...more
Paul Roberts gives a pretty comprehensive tour of the the past energy (transitioning from wood --> coal --> oil --> peaking of US oil production), current energy (oil geopolitics, the status of alternative energy forms), and future directions in energy.

Some new insights that I got from this book:
- I always sensed it, but the book articulates well how our interventions in the Middle East (Persian Gulf War --> Iraq Invasion) really centered around oil.
- All the easy oil in the world h
Has this book ever come true. It's interesting to read this book again after a few years and see the predictions that have to come to pass.
Mickey Somsanith
Feb 12, 2008 Mickey Somsanith rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites
This is a great book to read. It documents how much oil is left in reserves and where they are. It also shows what types of technologies that will be employed to get that oil. Also, just imagine what type of society we will be living in, once the oil runs out. This book predicts we have hit peak oil or we will hit in a next few years. But as things are going now, oil prices hitting new highs... this may be a book to explain and help you deal with tomorrow's oil problems. Just imagine the resourc ...more
R Arnaud
I thought the subject extremely interesting and I was excited to learn more about it. But I closed the book after 10 chapters very bitter. There are three main reasons: there is a lack of convincing facts and a surplus of anecdotes, much of what is said I knew and considered common knowledge, and the book is old enough for the situation to have changed considerably. Nonetheless, there is a some valuable information on the geopolitics of the oil industry and its history.

The book starts with a con
Michael Gerald Dealino
I first thought this book can be an authoritative look at the state of one of the world's sources of energy, but it fell a little short. The author is not an expert on energy; he's a journalist. The strength of the book is while it elucidates quite clearly that the peak of oil production had come and passed and that there is a need to develop renewable sources of energy more agressively, it still maintains the centrality of oil in the world's economy.
very good introduction to the composure of our current energy system and the possibilities of a more independent energy system taking place in the future. a book that's not for tree-huggers or oil barons, but for people who like to stay realistic and not jump onto pedestals.
Paul Charette
A very nice overview of our carbon-based economy, and how it might not transition well to something else -- we've gone from to wood, to coal, to oil, all while living standards have risen. But will whatever-is-next be ready before there is no more (cheap) oil??
Lara Bross
This book delves into our hydrocarbon-based energy economy and the problems with it and how to move to our next energy economy. It may be a rough ride and we are already experiencing much of what he discusses in the book - written in 2004.
Caleb Clark
the best book at explaining our current situation with Oil around the world.
Yep, I finally finished it after about 4 months which is probably the longest it took me to read a mid-sized book. But then it's not fiction.
Anyway, I *did* like this book. A lot actually. Some of the stats and facts are very alarming but interesting. They certainly made me think about my impact on the environment. Feeling quite smug about not owning a car, using public transport, trying to not waste energy, recycling, etc.
But, I think it could be a lot better. It's just too long. Roberts repeat
Thom Foolery
Roberts, while attempting to be comprehensive in his treatment of the coming end of the oil age, omits several crucial points in his attempts at "balanced" reporting.

The author discusses the centrality of the politically volatile (and at times uncooperative) OPEC nations to the oil economy, and notes that the lion's share of geopolitical strategy and military adventurism is over energy supplies. The impending peak in oil production is as much a danger to our energy economy as are geopolitical ma
Michael Greenwell
Roberts' tome on the state of energy has a dismal density that made it difficult for me to wade through, I sometimes found myself bogged down by its meandering detail. However, I was also ensnared by this style, drawn in and made to see how these issues, perhaps more than any others, will be shaping my future and determining the kind of world I will be living in tomorrow. In that sense this book more than passes muster, I am a more informed person for having read it, the curtain having been pull ...more
Juliet Wilson
This book outlines the history of our relationship with energy and the crisis we have reached as we come to the peak in easily available oil. We are taken through the development of the oil economy and shown how oil engineers international relationships, with some interesting insights into the relationship between the USA and Saudi Arabia.

My biggest disappointment was that the book was very conservative when looking at energy futures. There is a chapter on conservation and efficiency, but after
Bennett Coles
As environmentalism gains momentum in our society, and Big Oil is cast ever darker as the villain of the piece, Paul Roberts takes a critical look at the realities of energy economics and the possibilities we face. Never questioning that the world cannot continue with its growing addiction to oil – for economic, social or environmental reasons: take your pick – Roberts explains how the alternatives that currently exist are far from the perfect solutions they are often touted to be. He examines i ...more
An interesting book on addressing how the world is going to have to come to terms with an energy economy that is going to have to change from one based mostly on hydrocarbons to other forms that are more sustainable and less damaging to the Blue Marble we call home. It is a methodical and somewhat slow read at times but Roberts does a good job dissecting various points of view and arguments.

I only have two real issues with the book: 1) Roberts continually referes to China and India even Russia a
Is that a light at the end of the current gloom and doom? No - it's another book on the energy/oil catastrophe heading toward us!

Paul Roberts details the essential nature of energy in our modern world. And oil is at the centre. It is at the centre of our lives (the 3,000 mile salad, suburbia, air travel, plastics etc) and of our politics. What is the real cost of importing oil to the U.S. - don't forget to include the trillions spent on the military bases around the world and current "wars". Wha
Very nice complement to Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air. Whereas the latter shows you the numbers and how they all fit together, this books gives you context. Quick brush through history (Europe went through peak firewood, then switched to coal). Gives me a slightly better understanding of my world, what the stakes are, who the players are.

Seems to have a sort of realistic/pragmatic stance that I tend to admire as a soppy idealist:

* Refusal to create a world of virtuous and villainous

* Re
Reading this book is like watching a news documentary. Description on interaction between economy, technology and politics equips me a base to think about the future of economy and to interpret today’s world news.
The book does not worth 330 pages. During the second half of the book, I see the same concept / point being re-circulated numerous times.
Each chapter has a clear focus on one part of a complicated problem. Combing all chapters give an overview. The book is almost giving what I am lo
Aug 28, 2007 Manderson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to get a handle on the upcoming energy crisis
Shelves: non-fiction
This book does a great job of explicating how deeply embedded in hydrocarbons our world is, and of how deeply complicated will be the problems of dealing with a world where oil is no longer cheap nor easy to obtain, and in which climate change due to carbon emissions can no longer be ignored. The book is decidedly pessimistic overall in tone, mostly because the author is attempting to understand the oil economy on its own terms, without resorting to idealism or groundless optimism. I would recom ...more
I read as much as I can find on Peak Oil and energy issues, so this was an engaging read for me. It covers the whole gamut, from the history of the oil industry to current world supply and demand. Since it came out in 2005, I think the author needs to do a revised edition discussing the supplies coming online in the Dakotas and from the Tar Sands in Canada along with their attendant environmental impacts. Perhaps a chapter on natural gas supplies being made available through fracking and how gas ...more
This read puts into perspective as to how close we realistically are to the end of petroleum use. Makes one aware of the way we burn through gas as if it were nothing. Makes you want to drop your day job and begin researching new energy sources, yourself.
This is a really well-balanced look at the issues revolving around the limited supply of oil. I really like the attempts to understand a variety of perspectives, and look carefully at a large number of options. It could probably use an update soon, as fracking has altered the quantitative expectations of how much oil will be available at what prices over the near to medium terms. Whether the long-term forecast changes depends on, e.g., whether ocean-floor methyl hydrates can be cost-effective so ...more
Has a bold prediction down to the day when the world's oil will run out! (that's actually false, it doesn't have that).

But it does offer a thoughtful review of the impact of oil: its historical use, issues with alternative energy sources, its political and military impact, current supply and production issues, environmental impact, use by emerging markets, etc.

The only problem is that even though this book was published recently in 2004, its already a bit dated in its analysis (i.e. speculating
Steven  Passmore
I hate cars more than anyone but the book becomes repetitive. The chapter detailing the deals struck between Saudi Arabia and the United States is interesting, other than that the book is I hate to say ... boring, and dated too.
Alec Binyon
This seemed like a pretty good education in the geopolitics of oil. It's all very complicated, the morality of what we should do is very complicated too. There isn't much of a bright spot in the thing. We'll use all the oil and the natural gas at some point, and that will lead to some degree of societal collapse. That seems pretty likely based on the evidence brought by Paul Roberts. This book is thorough, very thorough. I lost my interest near the end. I was left feeling very thankful that I'm ...more
Good over veiw of the energy situation in America
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I'm a journalist and author of three books, most recently, The Impulse Society: America in an Age of Instant Gratification. My work focuses on the evolving relationship between the marketplace and the Self and touches on issues ranging from technology obsessions to the politics of narcissism. Earlier works have explored the energy economy and the food industry. I live with my family in Washington ...more
More about Paul Roberts...
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