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Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak Hardcover – February 24, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; First Edition edition (February 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809029561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809029563
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Deffeyes' survey of oil production shares the central thesis of Out of Gas, by David Goodstein (2004). Both cite Hubbert's Peak, a prediction of when petroleum output will reach an apex and decline irreversibly. That'll happen on November 24, 2005, Deffeyes lightheartedly announces, and after detailing the mathematical formula by which Hubbert's Peak is calculated, he examines options for postponing the inevitable. That is, how could geologists and engineers get more oil out of the ground? Could they discover more? Extract it more efficiently? Mine oil shale? Increase coal or natural-gas production? For each of these topics, Deffeyes delves into the geophysical characteristics of the fuel's source rocks and how those affect the economics of retrieving it; he then returns the discussion to its beginning: that the world is near or on Hubbert's Peak. Deffeyes' background as an oil-company geologist and university professor lends a realistic pragmatism to his presentation, which is replete with personal anecdotes and funny remarks that enliven his text. A practical yet genial treatment. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Deffeyes writes here in a very conversationist style, with dry humor permeating.
Kevin Spoering
I have started to read this book, and it is interesting and informative, about the production and use of oil, and I shall enjoy reading my way through the book.
Engstrand
Deffeyes also bolsters Hubbert's credibility by pointing out that his 1956 prediction that U.S. production would peak in the early 70's proved accurate.
Loyd E. Eskildson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

197 of 199 people found the following review helpful By Richard H. Burkhart on March 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This succinct book is an engaging view of Peak Oil by a gruff, no-nonsense petroleum geologist. It is not just a concise overview of the origins of oil and the significance of the Peak. Think of the Peak as that era when the price of oil soars because supply can no longer meet demand, no matter how hard the effort to increase production. For the mathematically literate, Deffeyes gives the best popular explanation yet of the Hubbert method of calculating Peak Oil. Deffeyes curve-fit puts the peak at 2006 - hence his sense of urgency.

Yet the major emphasis of the book is on the energy alternatives. Coming from an academic geologist deeply rooted in the culture of the energy industries, the chapters on natural gas, coal, nuclear, tar sands, and oil shale are most welcome. Most of the books on Peak Oil are not by geologists, so their assessments on these subjects are second hand. Deffeyes 2001 book, Hubbert's Peak - The Impending World Oil Shortage, focused mostly on conventional oil.

There are two extremes to the views on Peak Oil. Some people, often termed "cornucopians", say not to worry - technology will come to the rescue, energy alternatives will take over as soon as the price is right. Others, the "prophets of doom", predict the collapse of industrial civilization and human population via environmental degradation, warfare, disease, and famine. Or at best they predict a return to a primitive 19th century style of existence with far fewer people on the planet. Deffeyes predicts tough going, but he also outlines a way for us to scrape through a few more decades until more sustainable technology can be developed and scaled up. The kind of civilization that can be sustained over the long haul is still an open question.

His short term fixes (p.
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86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Doctor Quartz on March 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In this follow up to his previous book on Hubbert's Peak/Peak Oil, Deffeyes gives us some engrossing info on such subjects as the Alberta tar sands, the Green River oil shale and nuclear power. Out of all the peak oil books I've read so far, this one is the only one that gives a very concise and knowledgable summary on these and other "alternatives" to cheap oil. Most other peak oil writers aren't old school geologists with hydrocarbon strings pumping in their veins instead of blood, so you don't get the feeling they really know what they are talking about. Several books I've read casually dismiss the Alberta tar sands and the Green River oil shale and shouldn't. Deffeyes doesn't. I'm actually a bit more hopeful and optimistic about the world's energy future after reading this book. (Not by much, though.)
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful By David Delaney on July 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have just finished reading Kenneth Deffeyes's new book "Beyond oil: The view from Hubbert's Peak" (2005) .
I almost didn't buy this book. I assumed it would not add much to what I had learned from Deffeyes's earlier book on the same subject, "Hubbert's Peak: The impending world oil shortage". What a mistake that would have been!
"Hubbert's Peak" remains an extremely valuable book for those who want to understand *why* Hubbert's hypothesis may be correct, but "Beyond Oil" is much better at explaining the hypothesis and showing us that the data supports it overwhelmingly. The great new value in "Beyond Oil" is to be found in Chapter 3, The Hubbert Method.
In "Hubbert's Peak", Deffeyes presented only qualitative and graphical descriptions of Hubbert's theory in the main text. He describes what the theory means and why it was important. Reader's may believe him because the rest of the book makes his credentials unmistakable: Professor Emeritus of Geology at Princeton, obvious encyclopedic knowledge of petroleum geology, 50 years in the oil business or consulting to it, friendship and collegial association with Hubbert himself. But his editor did not let him put any equations in the main text. When he does get to the equations in the notes at the back, their presentation is too concise, they require too much math knowledge for most readers, and lack the associated explanation that would make their relationship to the theory easy to understand, even for many readers who have the necessary math knowledge. It's all there, but you have to be committed and sophisticated to dig it out.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Ian H. Lavering on May 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beyond Oil, The View from Hubbert's Peak, by Kenneth Deffeyes. Hill and Wang. 2005, 202 p, ISBN 13:978-0-8090-2956-3. Available from Amazon.com.

The follow-up volume to Kenneth Deffeyes very successful Hubbert's Peak, the impending world oil shortage (2001), this book (written in 2004) seeks to take up the discussion where his previous volume left off; namely, what alternatives are available if the world is about to experience the ongoing decline in the productivity and quality of major crude oil reserves. While this intriguing issue is a critical one for the current state of world affairs, and the future of the world economy, the early part of the book goes over some of the ground already discussed by the earlier book. One would have hoped that this was not necessary and that the space would otherwise be devoted to covering the new ground with greater depth of argument on new issues.

What is new in this volume is that Deffeyes examines the alternative energy sources and the issues associated with their use. His key point is that even if Hubbert is wrong, to do nothing, is the worst of possible alternatives. He sees great urgency in the next few years which previous generations have never had to face. Alternative energy strategies are required immediately or a major decline will put much of our fate in the hands of others. Indeed he suggests that the world of tomorrow will be a very unfamiliar place to those of us who have grown up with a relatively abundant oil supply. But to face this situation we are likely to have nothing more than the technologies we have already developed, not an attractive prospect.

Deffeyes oil peak is postulated as 24 November 2005 (`Thanksgiving' Day), after this date world oil will go into decline, slowly at first then more rapidly.
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