David's Reviews > The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World

The End of Oil by Paul       Roberts
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Sep 18, 08


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 OPEC reserves could be depleted as soon as 2025 or 2030, given that worldwide usage of oil is increasing rapidly. That is truly not that far away, and it remains to be seen what the next energy economy will consist of. The question I have for you energizers is how smooth (or ugly) will this transition be?

Roberts has no easy answers, but increased reliance on coal, natural gas, solar, wind, biofuels and perhaps even nuclear energy will be part of the picture. It was encouraging to read the chapter Roberts devotes to renewables like solar, hydropower, wind, biofuels. Still, considering the warming of our planet, it gets a little scary.

According to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if we have any hope of averting the worst of climate change, we need to keep our atmospheric concentrations of CO2 below the 550 ppm (parts per million). He speaks of natural gas as being a "bridge" energy source (power companies are investing big in natural gas) but if we are to keep atmospheric concentrations of CO2 below the 550 ppm, "fully one-seventh of all our energy must be coming from some kind of new, carbon-free technologies by no later than 2030. By 2050, that share must be nearly one-third, and by 2075 more than half." So this is the timeline we have to work with, if we want to avoid the worst of catastrophic climate change and have more energy security!

So it's encouraging that solar power use has been growing at thirty percent a year. Wind power is also growing rapidly, and though wind counts for just .4 percent of the world's electrical supply, the wind market is doubling every two and a half years. Roberts hypothesizes that by 2020, "wind could be supplying 12 percent of our global power needs--all while generating an estimated seventy-two billion dollars in revenue for the wind power industry."
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