Saturday, December 13, 2008

Out of Gaz: Learning to live without oil

A good friend gave me the book 'Out of Gaz' by David Goodstein and that was a pretty interesting read. It's short, only 131 pages, and rather to the point. Critics say it's disjointed and there are better books about the worldwide depletion of oil, maybe, but that's the one I read and found it excellent.

So what it's all about? It's mainly about worldwide energy consumption. About how we are largely dependant on oil as a source of energy for everything and how that very source will be depleted in this century. It's doesn't matter much if it happens in 10, 20 or 50 years now, it will happen for sure and from an historical timeline perspective, it will happen very soon. The book also largely documents and details the peak oil and Hubbert Peak theory, which tells us the next energy crisis will not begin when the last drop of oil has been pumped, but rather when supply and demand can't play nice together anymore.

Large sections of the book are dedicated to the history of energy and the physics of energy. As an engineer myself, I was happy to read those parts. Entropy is also covered. Energy myths as well.

But what the book is also about, and probably that's the most dramatic part of it, is alternative sources of energy. The book seems to do a good job at enumerating and evaluating all the alternative energy sources and convince us that most, if not all of them, simply physically can't provide all the energy we need to sustain our actual rhythm of consumption! And worldwide demand for energy is exponentially increasing! It's not a matter of money: there is no simple technological fix.

It's a very cheap book, only a few dollars on Amazon (used, see first link above) and definitely worth the read.

Let's hope we wake up soon enough and that the inevitable bumps on the road ahead won't hurt too much.
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