I read this book over a month ago when it was first released through the Post Carbon Institute website. Then I ordered 2 more from Amazon, one for my town's library and one to loan out. I write this review now as the morning news on NPR reports that the democrats and republicans have come to some agreement on ending the debt ceiling crisis. If only that were good news, but apparently they have not read this book and unfortunately most likely never will. This book is the most important book you can read. It is written in a style that makes for easy understanding and were it not for its premise it could even be considered a pleasant read. But unfortunately it will not be read by enough people, not even enough people who you would like to think should read it. It is not fun entertainment, not even infotainment, and for some it is exactly what they don't want to read, a non-fiction book with dire news.
If you have read John Perkins and understand the difference between dream and fantasy as taught by the shamans of the Amazon, and have read Jared Diamonds "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed", and you then read this book, you will see how the "American Dream" is really an American "Fantasy" in which we through ignorance, avarice or, worse than either, denial, continue to build our own versions of Moai on a shrinking planet that increasingly resembles Easter Island except that our ocean is the vastly greater and even more inhospitable universe.
If you can read this book without being either an optimist or pessimist, but a rational thinking person, then your biggest battle may just be overcoming denial. Denial will tempt you to see technology and substitutions for energy and other dwindling non-renewable resources saving mankind, or it may allow you to seek the comfort of flimsy arguments claiming why this is just so much alarmist doom and gloom, or it may simply come in the form of going on with your life as you always have done because it is so much easier to simply ignore and deny it. Although Heinberg does offer some actions to be taken, they are not simple in the context of your typical community mentality. So between fighting off the continual temptations of denial, the denial or ignorance of others, or the unpleasant task of doing something other than something entertaining, our lives will never be as easy again.
If you have some knowledge of the difference between the economic philosophies of Keynes and Friedman and you have a tendency to lean toward one more than the other like I had before reading this book, then you should know that we have had a serious problem of not seeing the forest for the trees. Heinberg snapped me out of that blind trance with some simple undeniable facts. The problem now is that I have to wonder sometimes which state I rather be in, denial, in the dark, or aware of the truth.
In Diamond's book "Collapse..." regarding Easter Island he refers to the question "What was the man thinking who cut down the last tree?" Each one of us knows the answer. It is what we are thinking today as we go on with our own lives on a planet with finite resources.
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