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Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change Paperback – June 1, 2008
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Concerns over climate change and energy depletion are increasing exponentially.
Mainstream solutions still assume a panacea that will cure our climate ills without requiring any serious modification to our way of life.
Plan C explores the risks inherent in trying to continue our energy-intensive lifestyle. Using dirtier fossil fuels (Plan A) or switching to renewable energy sources (Plan B) allows people to remain complacent in the face of potential global catastrophe. Dramatic lifestyle change is the only way to begin to create a sustainable, equitable world. The converging crises of Peak Oil, Climate Change and increasing inequity are presented in a clear, concise manner, as are the twin solutions of community (where cooperation replaces competition) and curtailment (deliberately reducing consumption of consumer goods). Plan C shows how each person's individual choices can dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. It offers specific strategies in the areas of food, transportation and housing. One chapter analyzes the decimation of the Cuban economy when the USSR stopped oil exports in 1990 and provides an inspiring vision for a low energy way of living.
Plan C is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in living a lower-energy, saner, and sustainable lifestyle.(2007-11-27)
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the best book of the last century on this subject was, hands down, william r. catton's 1982 masterpiece, "overshoot: the ecological basis of revolutionary change" which, with joseph tainter's 1990 "the collapse of complex societies", gave the reader a taste of where the united states is heading. fossil fuels allowed the world's population to surpass one billion and now that we have used up one half of the world's supply of oil (around 2005) the rest will be harder and more expensive to get -so either everyone starts having one child families or nature will force a die-off this century (as the rest of us compete or cooperate for the remaining fossil fuels).
plan c is about cooperating instead of competing for the remaining supply of fossil fuels and each of us curtailing our energy usage (he shows you why a whopping 90% reduction is needed) on behalf of our children and future grandchildren. in 20 years, most of implied threat of peak oil will be obvious to the average american citizen because our leaders cannot keep it a secret for much longer, present high gas prices are just the tip of the iceberg; it's the end of our "non-negotiable way of life", the end of the growth economy, and the return of the community and localization (supporting the local economy, staying near home, work and our food source). i don't mean to be alarmist here and neither does pat murphy. politicians and corporations want you to stay in your seat believing that business will solve everything but that is the most dangerous thing you can do and think.
hey, i'd love to read fiction (i loved tolkien too) but while we are enjoying even informed escapism our consumer culture is destroying our planet for our kids and in 20 years few of us will be unaffected, let alone flying in airplanes. so let's take a look at pat murphy's book and what sets it apart from others like it:
chapter one: fossil fuel depletion & climate change
chapter two: peak oil-peak economy
chapter three: peak-oil peak empire
chapter four: peak america-is our time up?
chapter five: peak technology and the private car
chapter six: peak technology and electric power
chapter seven: corporations, media and disinformation
chapter eight: plan c: curtailment & community
chapter nine: post-peak: change starts with us
chapter ten: the energy impact of buidings
chapter eleven: the smart jitney - rapid realistic transport
chapter twelve: food, fuel and CO2
chapter thirteen: food, health & survival
chapter fourteen: changing practices
chapter fifteen: kicking the media habit
chapter sixteen: localization
chapter seventeen: reviving & renewing community
on the back are glowing reviews from peak oil's and climate change's leaders, david orr, richard heinberg, bill mckibben, albert bates, and david korten. they have all written great books of the subject yet they all recognize that pat murphy has done a brilliant job of putting everything together artfully in a single book for the first time. pat shows you why efficiency is not enough (jevon's paradox), why technology will not save us (it doesn't exist without fossil fuels - a one time non-renewable gift from nature) why buildings use 50% of u.s. electricity (and how we personally can help), how each american uses 57.8 barrels of oil (the equivalent) per year, the perils of innumeracy, the amount of waste each american creates, embodied energy costs, 10 calories of oil creates each calorie of food (what we eat is swimming in petroleum), false solutions to the energy crisis, the relationship between empire & financial inequity and the current problem before us, what to do, how to re-create community and why re-localize to save the remaining energy for future generations.
hey, i know i'm over-simplifying "Plan C" but that's the drawback of writing a review of any book that is great. there is simply no replacement for reading this amazing book. i know the subject is depressing but pat's solution is hopeful, so rush to buy this for yourself and a copy for everyone you know. there is power in knowing where the exit signs are in a theatre when people start shouting fire; and in this case people have already begun shouting so don't be the last one to look up. this book will dramatically minimize your shock later on and tells you very clearly what to do now for the inevitable tightening of everyone's energy belts.
every year there will be 2.7% more demand for energy (due to incresed consumerism) and 2.7% less energy than the year before (due to hitting peak oil in 2005). even someone mathematically challenged (innumerate) when faced with the simple facts of supply and demand can, upon reading Plan C, realize that waiting for our leaders to respond to the approaching crisis (without any leadership it will be bigger and longer than the Great Depression) will be the biggest mistake of their life. read, roll up your sleeves and get to work changing your own life, then educating others. as eleanor roosevelt said, "you must do things you think you cannot." with pat's advice you will be able to follow the old kenyan proverb "a dog that sees the shore, does not drown". please don't drown; empower yourself, your children and those you love now by reading this timely important book.
In addition, it is clear that current efforts to "green" our economy won't make much of a difference, although they may make us feel better in the mean time. Green comsumption is only incrementally better than traditional consumption, and what we need is FAR LESS consumption. Of course, this doesn't fit into our generally accepted thinking of "growth is good" and anything else is socialism or worse. The neo-liberal economic model is at the heart of our problem, and painting the toenails of the beast and changing it's tee shirt won't make much of a difference in the end.
Our problem is much like that of the alcoholic - total denial that anything's wrong. Change happens one of two ways by either intervention or hitting rock bottom. We may cause irreparable harm if we pull the rip cord 10 feet before hitting ground but we may still have time but we're approaching ground quickly!
Nothing short of a complete transformation of our economic system, our mindset, our consumption patterns and overall population will make a significant impact. It's a pretty simple formula...multiply the number of people (growing every day) times the amount they consume (also growing) to arrive at total ecological impact (growing exponentially). The numbers don't lie, and anything short of a massive cultural shift will likely lead to an unhappy ending involving war, starvation and death as population overshoots our ability of a waning resource base to support it. Sounds fun, huh? Hey, grandkids. We love you, but are sorry to report that we mortgaged your future and left you a debt of pollution and despair. Sorry about that. Oh, hold on a second...my iPhone is ringing.
The author does a good job clarifying how energy is categorized and differentiates between embedded energy and operating energy. Good examples include our cars and homes which are where we use most of our energy. Cars and homes take about 10% of their lifetime energy to be built (embedded) but 90% to heat/cool and fuel (operating). Even if we implement green building techniques and hybrids we are only having an impact on a small percentage of a huge (and growing) problem.
Anyone who cares one iota for the health of our planet and the future of our children should read this book. Buy copies for friends, family and send copies to your elected officials. The time to act is now!