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.
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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 TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved