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The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises Paperback – September 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"The Post Carbon Reader is an invaluable primer, resource and textbook. This is what you need to know, period." Lester R. Brown, Pres. Earth Policy Institute, author Plan B 4.0 --Earth Policy Institute/Lester Brown

The Post Carbon Reader popularizes realistic solutions to the world's biggest problems...we would be wise to heed their cry and study their solutions. --GreenBiz

"It's not only a good read, it's a brain-enhancing tool that can be utilized to replace fear and inertia with connectedness and purpose, and when the brain is connected with the heart, it can do anything." --Juliane Poirier - Metroactive

The Post Carbon Reader merits attention for many reasons. This book is a place for concerned citizens and professionals in many fields to begin exploring options for this next stage in humanity's evolution.   --Hazel Henderson, Ethical Market Media

The book's overall message is close to apocalyptic, but the quality of the thinking ratchets it up a notch.

The Reader is worth reading and pondering, especially if you can't keep up with all the books on these topics. --PLANNING Magazine

"A must-read for anyone who cares about how peak oil and climate change affect us all."--Transition Voice

"Unlike other books that may be easily filed under 'Gloom and Doom,' authors . . . made sure to explore positive paths laden with solution examples."--Green Flow

"This clearly understandable work is a good sustainable development resource, useful for environmental policy collections."--Choice

From the Inside Flap

"For a comprehensive, integrated overview of the relationship between the human species and its planetary home circa 2010, look no further. The Post Carbon Reader is an invaluable primer, resource, and textbook. This is what you need to know--period."--Lester R. Brown, President of Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

"The one thing certain about the 21st century is that it will be an era filled with colossal changes: shifting ecosystems, a billion more humans on the planet, at least 2 degrees of climate change, and the displacement of tens if not hundreds of millions of people during that period. The Post Carbon Reader offers an important overview of these changes and a plethora of ideas of how we can cope with them: from strengthening community colleges and planning resilient towns to relocalizing agriculture and creating your own personal preparation strategy (never a bad idea). With many leading sustainability thinkers peppering the pages of this tome and providing many valuable insights, The Post Carbon Reader is definitely worth the read."--Erik Assadourian, Senior Fellow, Worldwatch Institute and Project Director of State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism To Sustainability

"This is one of the best readers that I have seen in my 48 years as a university professor. The articles were well-written, up to date, and contained some extremely valuable information. I suggested to the students that they keep the book for future reference, instead of selling it back to the bookstore at the end of the semester. I plan to use it again next year when I teach Environmental Sociology."--Al Williams, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska

"I use various portions of The Post Carbon Reader in all my classes, and I reference it in my public presentations. I also note to all my undergrads doing senior projects, and graduate and doctoral students, that they need to read The Post Carbon Reader"-- Bob Scarfo, Associate Professor, Washington State University, Spokane

"I used quite a few chapters from The Post Carbon Reader. I very much appreciate its forward-thinking orientation as students in Environmental Studies classes too often get overwhelmed with all the facts about how we've messed up the environment. The Reader allows students to see that there are visionary thinkers trying not only to construct blueprints of what a post-carbon society might look like, but also the roadmaps for how to get there. I'll definitely use it again."-- Stephen Zavestoski, Associate Professor, Sociology and Environmental Studies, University of San Francisco

"A terrific collection of essays. Definitely on my 'highly recommended' book list."-- Karen Litfin, Department of Political Science, University of Washington, Seattle

"I've used the book with students, as it's simply the best single-volume reader that offers both background and cutting-edge thinking about issues that are crucial to the future of civilization."-- Eric Zencey, Visiting Associate Professor of Historical and Political Studies at SUNY Empire State College


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 523 pages
  • Publisher: Watershed Media; 1 edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0970950063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970950062
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel Lerch is Publications Director of Post Carbon Institute ( He is the author of Post Carbon Cities (2007), the first major municipal guidebook on peak oil and global warming, and the lead editor of The Post Carbon Reader (2010), a collection of original essays by some of the world's most provocative thinkers on the 21st century's interconnected sustainability crises. One of the few experts specializing in local government responses to global fossil fuel depletion, Daniel has delivered presentations and workshops to elected officials, planners, and other audiences across the United States and abroad.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By David K. Banner on November 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
The compendium goes a long way towards educating the reader to the unpleasant truth of our global situation; it really gets us out of denial. But it does something else which, in my view, is much more valuable. It gives us things WE can do to ameliorate our circumstance. While the situation is dire, and we cannot ignore what is coming, we CAN be proactive with this situation.

There are many excellent pieces in this work. Thought-provoking and penetrating in scope, the authors look at population growth, food, water, sustainability, ecological economics, peak oil and a variety of other related subjects. I highly recommend this work as THE definitive primer for those who really want to understand where we are and how we might do something positive about it.

David K. Banner, PhD
PhD Mentor in Leadership and Organizational Change
Walden University
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ben Brangwyn on November 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I particularly like this book because I can pick and choose the area that interests me at anytime and then delve into the erudite and very readable texts - which frequently come up with perspectives I've encountered before.

Climate change and fossil fuel depletion mean that just about all the critical systems we rely upon, particularly in industrialised nations, are going to change. It's imperative in order to control CO2 emissions and inevitable because of peak oil. This book does a really good job of looking at all the key areas and exploring what that future might look like and the paths we might take.

Although the authors are predominantly american, the book feels very applicable to the UK and Europe generally.

In a few years, this'll become one of the best-thumbed reference volumes I've got on my shelf.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andy Johnson on November 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The chapters in Post Carbon Reader represent the best thinking on our low-carbon future that is presently available. I've gotten a lot of books about peak oil and the unsustainability of industrial civilization, and this one is clearly the most well informed and the most thorough reference I've found. Hah - it's the best "resource" on our dwindling "resources". It's basically a manual on understanding the complex set of converging consequences of our modern times. Read the chapter list to get a sense of the wide-ranging places this book goes. And then read the book.

Thoughtful people need to read this book. And those who don't read it need to get the messages that are in the book now, because learning them through the school of hard knocks is going to be tough, to say the least. Lots of books show how our petroleum - soaked way of life is ending, but this book goes way beyond one or two aspects of the problem - it successfully characterizes the myriad interrelated components of the system that has brought us to our current precarious position. While we can't avoid the coming powerdown, we can at least try to mitigate it. What we do now and in the next few years can make a big difference to our grandchildren. This book helps one understand the problem and it clearly points out the directions in which we need to be headed.
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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Erik D. Curren on November 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Originally published in Transition Voice online ([...])

When I grew up in the Windy City in the seventies and eighties, the University of Chicago had the reputation as a school for grinds. After high school, I did not go there, but opted instead for a liberal arts college in a Southern state that offered what I felt was a superior book-to-beer balance.

I had a childhood friend who did go to the U of C though. She had always been a bit of a free spirit, with straight blond hair down to her waist and an obsession with animals of all sorts. I could never figure out how such a gentle soul wound up at such a high-pressure, bookish school. But there it was.

One year, I came home on break and paid her a visit. It was a midweek evening in her dorm room, with half a dozen of her friends. Conversation turned to the loads of homework each student had due that week. Each undergrad claimed to have to read three or four Great Books by morning. And we're not talking about one dialogue by Plato or a play by Moliere. No, each student had a pile of four- to eight-hundred page tomes due for discussion in class the next day: Ulysses, the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, The Critique of Pure Reason. Rather than quaking in sheer panic, I noticed that these Chicago grinds had all developed a kind of battlefront nonchalance. Maybe even a bit of a macho swagger. Sure, they'd skim the books. They'd be up all night doing it. But it was no big deal. They could catch up on sleep over the weekend.
The Chicago Book of Style

The Post Carbon Reader feels like a Chicago book. I know that it's really a West Coast production, with its eponymous institute located north of the San Francisco Bay area.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian T on August 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Post Carbon Reader is a must for people who are interested in the future their children and grandchildren will face. I am only half way through the book and have learn't a lot about the economic and environmental problems that America can expect to face within the next few decades. I expect the rest of the world will not be exempt from these problems either.

The book is split up into sections, each written by highly qualified members of the Post Carbon Institute. My only regret is that politicians will either be too busy or too set in their ways to take the books conclusion on board and act upon them.

All in all a well researched book and very frightening.

PS Richard Heinburg (one of the authors) will be visiting Australia next month to lecture on the topic of his book "The end of Growth"
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