The Party's Over

From: John W Burgeson <>
Date: Mon Apr 12 2004 - 10:07:05 EDT

THE PARTY'S OVER is the title of a new book c 2003 by Richard Heinberg.

Subtitle "Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies."

I think it has been mentioned here a few weeks ago.

Has anyone read it? Are there weaknesses in the author's analyses?

The author (I think it is he) will be speaking here in Durango on April

His key message is this: (page 5): "We are about to enter a new era in
which each year, less net energy will be available to humankind,
regardless of our efforts or choices."

It will not be whether, but how we reduce energy use and transition to
renewable solutions.

"Industrial societies have been flourishing for roughly 150 years ... it
as if part of the human race has been given a sudden windfall of wealth
and decided to spend that wealth by throwing an extravagant party ....
but soon the party ... will be a fading memory ... because the wine and
food are gone and the harsh light of morning has come."

The author (apparently, I have not read much of the book yet) thinks we
can come to a moderated "landing," but unless we do a number of things
rather quickly, we will be in for a crash landing.

One reviewer equates this book to Carson's "Silent Spring."

Heinberg says there are four voices in the debate:

1. Free market economists. The optimists. I confess to being one of
these, but I think I may just be a Pollyanna.

2. Environmental activists. Conservation is the key.

3. Retired/independent petroleum geologists. Hi, Glenn.

4. Politicians.

Group 3 is a quiet one; no powerful institutions helping them. This book
takes their side.

Group 2 has (usually) good ideas, but incomplete ones.

Group 4 has the power, and whether from the left or the right, seems more
interested in assigning blame than in fixing the problem. Group 4 is the
one that ultimately matters

Group 1 has at least one Nobel laureate (Robert Solow) on its side, and
Group 4 likes to adopt its arguments.


Ubi Caritas

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Received on Mon Apr 12 10:07:42 2004

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