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Over a Barrel: A Simple Guide to the Oil Shortage Hardcover – March 1, 2005
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1) That we have optimistically only a decade and half of oil reserves to adequately meet our energy needs (after that our oil supply will be lower than our current demand).
2) That we do not have a viable energy alternative and is unlikely that we will have one when oil does run out, given our current rate of technological development.
While it is true that oil is not a renewable resource, Mast does not mention the advancements in oil recovery techniques that allow us to revisit abandoned wells for recoverable oil. He also does not adequately acknowledge our efforts to manufacture more energy efficient consumer and industrial products. Mast dismisses all forms of hydrocarbon-based fuels as being environmentally unfriendly--hence unacceptable. He correctly points out that using electricity or hydrogen requires a primary energy source.
His treatment of nuclear, wind and solar energies is not thorough, and he ignores other, more esoteric, energy alternatives (e.g., thermal gradients).
Mast's cursory treatment of alternative sources of energy does not equip the reader to evaluate viable energy alternatives. Our market-based economy endures because it focuses our resources on goods and services that matter most to us. Funding for alternative energy sources will come when private enterprise sees possibilities for profits. In this regard, Mast efforts contribute to starting a dialogue on alternative energy sources.
Why do we pay a premium for SUVs that we know they are gas-guzzlers? Can we satisfy our needs (real or perceived) with alternatives that are more energy efficient?
Mast does not acknowledge our psychological needs that influence our buying behavior. The discussion is simplistic and sometimes condescending. Hence, the proposed solutions are general guidelines that ignore the socio-cultural aspects of our lifestyles.
Several assertions are peppered throughout the book in both the discussion and figures (e.g., fig 14, pg 63) with which one could take issue. While these assertions eliminate the need to present careful and perhaps complex analysis, they alienate the reader from internalizing the subsequent conclusions and calls for action.
Armchair Interviews says: In general, Over a Barrel reads more like a rhetoric on our overdependence on oil rather than a cogent analysis of our energy usage.
Mast does an outstanding job of reviewing the history, demands and economics of oil and energy and does from a unbiased standpoint. This is a must read for anyone who considers themselves an informed citizen. It would also be an excellent primer for use in K-12 schools and universities that are exploring energy, the economy and/or politics.
Nice attempt to distill a highly complicated topic for the general public, but it needs to be updated.
The future of civilization is in great jeopardy. Read all about this most serious subject in OVER A BARREL: A Simple Guide to Oil Shortage.