Published: 2005 with an updated afterword in 2009
Genre: nonfiction science
Length: 339 pages
Interest: I’m using this as one of the books in the Environmental Science class I’m teaching this semester. I’ve used it in the past, but can’t remember all the details of the book since it’s been so long since I read it originally. So, time to reread the book.
Summary: see my original review
Final thoughts: Once again, I am struck by the author’s pessimism on where the world is heading. He is convinced the world is entering the downward slide of peak oil (in other words, we will no longer be able to get more oil out of the ground than we have in the past, even if demand goes up). We’ve had some technology changes since the book was written – natural gas extraction has increased because of fracking, and oil extraction has increased because of shale oil extraction methods. The newer technology is much more energy intensive, though, so the energy return over energy invested (a concept Kunstler favors) is getting closer and closer to one.
It’s a great book for the class because he addresses so many of environmental issues associated with fossil fuels, which so many issues go back to. It gives the students a chance to read about the issues without having to use a boring textbook. I don’t use all the chapters. A couple go into politics and economics, which I don’t really have time to cover in my class. This time reading the book, I put a one-sentence summary of each page at the bottom of the page. My goal is that the next time I use the book in class, I don’t have to reread the whole thing, just my summaries.
Reading challenges fulfilled: #69 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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