Everyone agrees we will run out of fossil fuels someday-Goodstein, a Caltech professor, argues it will be sooner rather than later based on the petrochemical data available. In this alarming little book, portions of which were originally published in a bioethics journal, Goodstein explains with limited jargon that we will completely exhaust oil supplies within 10 years. He warns that we have reached, or even surpassed Hubbert's Peak, the moment when we have consumed half of all oil known to exist and will likely use the rest up even faster, due to ever-increasing demand and decreasing discoveries. What will we do when all the oil is gone? Goodstein outlines two scenarios, both chilling. In the worst case, we might run out of oil so fast that the only affordable alternative is coal. In this throwback future, Goodstein writes, "the greenhouse effect that results eventually tips Earth's climate into a new state hostile to life." The best case scenario involves a methane-based fuel economy that would bridge the gap until we could build up nuclear and solar power sources to meet our long-term needs. Goodstein admits that some geologists disagree that we will deplete all oil sources within this decade, but even conservative calculations predict the price of oil will increase beyond the reach of most people within the foreseeable future. "No matter what else happens," Goodstein states, "this is the century in which we must learn to live without fossil fuels." He maintains a cautious optimism about alternative energy sources, but readers may find little comfort imagining nuclear fission energy as the next best thing.
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In this pithy primer on what might replace oil as civilization's fuel, a Caltech professor explains the fundamentals of energy, engines, and entropy for a mass audience. Goodstein opens with a quote from a geologist who predicted in the 1950s, to derision, that U.S. oil reserves would inevitably be depleted. Applying this reasoning to global reserves, Goodstein warns not only that the last drop will be pumped by 2100 at the latest, but also that peak production, estimated to occur in the current decade, marks the beginning of a global shortage. So, start planning postpetroleum technology now, exhorts the author. With exceptional conciseness, he presents the constraints nature will impose on any fuel-technology combination, beginning with explanations of exploitable sources of energy, continuing with how chemical and nuclear bonds hold and release energy, and arriving at how any engine, in principle, converts energy to work. Looking at fuels such as methane or hydrogen, Goodstein sees not panaceas but, rather, life support until a future arrives that lives on sunlight and nuclear fusion. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Distinguished physicist David Goodstein ventures outside his area of expertise and gets it devastatingly, embarassingly WRONG. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Thomas H.
Great book, thanks!! Love the topic and the facts --very powerful topic! The US better get dependence on something other than oil!Published 21 months ago by Robert S. Widner
Still true, even after fracking and tar sands. The hydrocarbons may still be there; but the climate damage is too great if we chose to burn them.Published 21 months ago by Solar Reigns
Gives a good picture of the depletion of oil with a simplistic background on thermodynamics. I had a few quibbles with some of the information on different energy sources (this... Read morePublished 23 months ago by PrimeP
First, the bad news. Most of this book is off-topic. Only a small fraction of the book deals with peak oil or running out of gas. Read morePublished on April 10, 2010 by floobedy
"Out of Gas" is a book that anyone concerned with survival should read. One must not expect technology to fix the shortage of fossil fuels. Read morePublished on November 12, 2009 by David A. Cornell
Great overview of energy and fuel in current society. It explained some that I already knew, but never went too wonky or too simplistic. Read morePublished on April 13, 2009 by S. Hill
A simple easily read and understood description of the mess we are in written by one of the great teachers of the modern era. Read morePublished on August 7, 2008 by Dr. A. James
I enjoyed this book very much. It's short and sweet and to the point. Mr David Goodstein is a physics and looks at the world in a test and measurement type of way. Read morePublished on July 6, 2008 by keith renick