Read Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg Online


The twentieth century saw unprecedented growth in population, energy consumption, and food production. As the population shifted from rural to urban, the impact of humans on the environment increased dramatically.The twenty-first century ushered in an era of declines, in a number of crucial parameters:Global oil, natural gas, and coal extraction Yearly grain harvests ClimaThe twentieth century saw unprecedented growth in population, energy consumption, and food production. As the population shifted from rural to urban, the impact of humans on the environment increased dramatically.The twenty-first century ushered in an era of declines, in a number of crucial parameters:Global oil, natural gas, and coal extraction Yearly grain harvests Climate stability Population Economic growth Fresh water Minerals and ores, such as copper and platinum To adapt to this profoundly different world, we must begin now to make radical changes to our attitudes, behaviors, and expectations.Peak Everything addresses many of the cultural, psychological, and practical changes we will have to make as nature rapidly dictates our new limits. This latest book from Richard Heinberg, author of three of the most important books on Peak Oil, touches on the most important aspects of the human condition at this unique moment in time.A combination of wry commentary and sober forecasting on subjects as diverse as farming and industrial design, this book tells how we might make the transition from the Age of Excess to the Era of Modesty with grace and satisfaction, while preserving the best of our collective achievements. A must-read for individuals, business leaders, and policymakers who are serious about effecting real change.Richard Heinberg is a journalist, lecturer, and the author of seven books, including The Party’s Over, Powerdown, and The Oil Depletion Protocol. He is one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators....

Title : Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines
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ISBN : 9780865715981
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines Reviews

  • Patrick
    2019-06-05 11:05

    Another grumpy pastoralist who wants us all to "return to the farm" where we'll find satisfaction in folk guitar music and lentil-based entrees. Heinberg rings all the proper alarm bells (oil depletion + climate change + garbage + population = major bummer for life on Earth) but swerves into tedious maunderings about how much he despises Modernist art (the cruel and lifeless streamlining of the Machine Age!) and how his generation -- the Baby Boomers, *of course* -- will be remembered as the generation whose greedy consumption toppled humanity into a New Post-Carbon Dark Age. (More likely they'll be remembered for their generational vanity.)Even so, if you want to skim past the "musings' and just read the Grim Facts, this book offers many useful jolts of terror. Modern agriculture requires petroleum: when that's gone, Heinberg says, the human population will starve back from 8 billion to less than one billion in the coming century, with all the chaos and bloodshed that you'd expect from such a massive "dieback." Heinberg's most cogent point concerns the "free market correction" theory of energy transition, which states that as oil grows scarcer and more expensive, alternate forms of energy will become increasingly more viable. Heinberg points out that (a) a new energy infrastructure will require decades to ramp up, and (b) by the time oil scarcity is signaled through dramatic price rises, we won't have decades, only a matter of years. He wrote this in 2007; events in the financial markets since then should shake any sane person's confidence in the foresight and wisdom of corporations to avert a global catastrophe. Heinberg's thesis boils down to: "Science got us into this mess, therefore we can't expect science to get us out of this mess." Maybe so, but I suspect most of us would rather give solar grids and thorium reactors a chance before we voluntarily unplug the Internet and beg the Amish to be our life coaches.(Recommended alternate reading: J.G. Ballard's novella "The Ultimate City.")

  • Charlie George
    2019-06-13 07:55

    Richard Heinberg ushered me into my awareness of Peak Oil several years ago with Party's Over (see my favorites shelf), which is a traumatic experience for many thoughtful people. Since my interest has been waning for some months, I thought it was do-or-die time for another Heinberg book, Peak Everything. Either it was all a buncha BS and I should I see through it and cast it aside, or it's true and there's nothing more important for the survival of our species than popularizing this cause.Of course, real life is never so simple a dichotomy. The truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes, and the future is famously hard to predict. He makes critical points about population pressures and trends, and he bridges the tragic chasm between Peak Oil depletionists and the global warming environmental "movement" (such as it is). Heinberg also makes needed recommendations how the two camps can work together and get along better. His central thesis is that both groups ultimately want to phase out fossil fuel use. This can only be accomplished through efficiency, transition to other energy sources, and dreaded, politically toxic curtailment, a.k.a. reduction of the economy, population, or both... The curtailment will happen one way or another, it is only a question of whether we curb our unchecked growth in a controlled, sane way, or wait for catastrophe to sort us out with extreme prejudice. This is not a possibility, but rather a certainty; the geology will see to that.There are limits to growth and resources are not infinite. That's the part economists don't get, and they've led us astray with the suburban project that James Kunstler calls "the greatest mis-allocation of resources in history", which is saying a lot when you consider the opulence of emperors past. However when you look at the raw power we squander in our happy motoring, we put those emperors to shame. Their waste is merely small-time, as illustrated in Heinberg's example: consider the effort involved in pushing a car that has run out of gas a few feet. Now consider pushing it 25 miles. That's the power supplied by 1 gallon of gas. In our average energy consumption we each have the energy equivalent of something like 1000 slaves toiling away to meet our every need. That's the amount of work it takes to keep our supermarket stocked, our buildings climate controlled, fresh water in the taps and the lights on, etc. If it doesn't feel like you have 1000 slaves working to make your life paradise, that's because we're squandering all that energy on inefficient, far-flung living arrangements and consumerist waste, and we're used to it. Picture life in a blackout with no generators and you start to get an idea what those 1000 slaves worth of energy do for us.Such is the system we live in and it is simple enough to prove once you start looking into Peak Oil literature. The hard part is what to do about it. I sold my car last year but I'm not fooling myself into believing even that makes much of a difference in my heavy, big-city-dwelling "footprint".

  • John Clark
    2019-06-24 08:18

    In a series of essays, Heinberg calls us to action on various aspects of the problem that our energy addiction is causing and will cause in the near future. Solving this problem is, of course, critical, and Heinberg has a good voice for shedding light on the nature of the problem. I was greatly agitated by the introduction (which is, of course, the point), but the rest of the book seemed less cohesive, although still compelling. The introduction (which I recommend to everyone) is a short and sharp summary of the problem of energy addiction (which generally manifests itself in our discourse as Peak Energy and Climate Change); Heinberg states directly that the book is not meant to go into detail about the problem, for he leaves that task to other books. The rest of the book is interesting and certainly frightening, but it explodes in a dozen different directions. It seems like the book is not meant to stand alone, but is instead a sort of continuation of Heinberg's other books. In addition, the book seems resigned about the problem, and I left it uncertain how to proceed, myself. I may start, however, by trying to complete the picture with his other books, as well as other sources.

  • Greg Gustafson
    2019-05-30 14:09

    A sobering preview of the hard road ahead and the over-consumption that will have led us to that fate. The "letter from 2107" is fascinating.It could well be too late to change our lifestyles, or prepare ourselves for the century of declines and the hardships this will bring. However, this book is a necessary one.

  • Steve H
    2019-06-14 14:10

    It’s interesting to read a predictive book several years after the predictions have been made. One could be quick to find fault with predictions that haven’t come true in Heinberg’s timeline, but I have read enough other environmental books that note that predictions of dire environmental happenings are sometimes premature but rarely incorrect. This book from 2007 may have been premature in predicting some peaks, and it missed predicting the financial collapse of 2008, but the basic themes of the book are generally sound. There is a limited amount of x, and even if there are technological fixes to get more of x, the growing population will demand more of x, and eventually we will run out of it. The book is a series of chapter-length essays that look at the development of human societies over the long term, from simple tool making, to the harnessing of stored energy to make things happen, to speculation about what the future holds when a world of people accustomed to or aspiring to using stored energy to create and move things no longer has that source of energy or has used so much of it that they’ve ruined the environment, creating other problems.One of the most compelling sections is the “letter from the future” from a writer who is pleading with us in 2007 from his vantage point in 2107 to change our ways and recalling our profligate use of resources to satisfy our short term desires. He has us imagine people 50 or 100 years from now mining our landfills looking for useful materials and chastises us for wasting so much energy and so many resources creating disposable items. Think of that person the next time you are removing packaging material, throwing something out after only a single use, leaving the lights on, or taking a longer than necessary shower.The book is hurt by some over-simplifying of complex ideas and by some rather politically biased and inflammatory phrases, but overall the essays knit together into a useful look at where we’ve been, how we got where we are, and what we might expect in the future. (A note on narration: the pronunciation of some words and phrases is, let’s say, occasionally jarringly “non-standard.”)

  • Jason
    2019-06-08 07:04

    Rating: 2.5 starsInessential collection of essays on wide-ranging topics: the myth of value-neutral technology, a meaningful definition of "sustainability," the painful implications of exponential growth for progressive values (drawing on Al Bartlett's indispensable talk "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy"), a peak oil-themed review of the documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, thoughts on bridging the divide between those concerned with Peak Oil and those worried about Climate Change, and a fictional communique from the future addressing the failings of the early 21st century. I describe this volume as inessential because either Heinberg himself or another author (like James Kunstler or John Greer) has addressed these issues elsewhere and at greater length. This collection seemed like something the publisher put together simply to make more money off the Peak Oil/Climate Change crowd, and there is something about that that seems profoundly self-contradictory.

  • The Capital Institute
    2019-05-26 09:09

    Heinberg emphasizes the grim future of the global environmental crisis by examining peaks in population, food production, climate stability and fresh water availability. Building off his earlier works, Heinberg suggests any transition to a “post-carbon” future, will be “as reliant on hydrocarbons as it is on water, sunlight and soil.” (Publishers Weekly) Heinberg proposes that our transition to fossil fuel-free production focus on “handcrafted” buildings and objects, more durable design and conservation of resources.Heinberg’s “wry” commentary and grim predictions create a path for the move from the “Age of Excess” to the “Era of Modesty,” while promoting collective goals and achievements. The book provides a good framework for individuals, business leaders and policymakers who want to push forward change.

  • Henri Moreaux
    2019-06-04 08:54

    Whilst it would be easy to dismiss Richard Heinberg as a grumpy pastoralist who wishes us all to return to the land, he does raise many valid points about modern society's reliance on cheap energy and the token dismissal of future energy problems being solved by the vague cloud of "technology".I do however feel his love of primitive peoples undermines some of his arguments. Whilst the series of essays has some good material in terms of Peak Oil, evolution of modern society and America's post ww2 boom, there's some curveballs in there. One such example is as a "letter from the future" which takes an otherwise non fiction book straight into the realm of speculative fiction and just feels out of place; it almost reads as a blurb of a teen dystopian novel.Overall, it's not a bad book on the topic of society's decline but I wouldn't be rushing out for a copy.

  • Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
    2019-06-18 13:20

    "Bridging Peak Oil and Climate Change" and "A Letter From the Future" were by far my favorite essays in this all around very good book. There were certainly weak points, but overall I really enjoyed it. It's a book for those who are already familiar with peak oil and climate change science, and who are maybe tired of reading the same/ progressively worsening facts and figures over and over again, but are still interested in the subject and want more. A lot of this is written with the perspective of: "Ok, we have this information, so now what?" which is great. It is a realistic, practical, level headed approach to a terrifying set of facts was exactly what I was looking for in a book.

  • Andrew Harvey
    2019-06-18 12:08

    A truly eye-opening book, by a writer not interested merely in shifting units by making the most shocking claims possible. It is probably better to read his more recent book The End of Growth in order to hear the latest statistics on these ideas, considering how fast the latent effects of Peak Oil are unfolding. In the new book, it is clear that Heinberg has done his homework on contemporary economics and geopolitics, and ties all this together in a very interesting way.I particularly liked the chapter on the post-war Boomer generation, which certainly enabled me to look at that rose-tinted period of history in a different light. If you only read a part of this book, I would recommend that one.

  • Laurel Valenti
    2019-06-19 13:00

    A series of essays which summarizes the concerns of climate change and peak energy theorists. Includes effects on population and agriculture, leading to the conclusion that Malthus was ultimately right. Five axioms of sustainability are presented: we must move to a sustainable way of life or civilization will collapse; population growth and current growth in resource use is unsustainable; use of sustainable resources needs to occur at less than renewal rate; use of unsustainable resources needs to occur at decreasing rate, less than depletion rate; use of all resources must occur in a manner that does not destroy the environment. Resources reviewed are hydrocarbon, water, land in agriculture, other minerals. Includes historical perspectives.

  • Sharon
    2019-06-08 11:56

    Heinsberg's Axioms of Sustainability: 1. Any society that continues to use resources unsustainably will collapse. 2. Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption cannot be sustained indefinitely. 3. Even renewable resources must be used at less than the rate of replenishment or their use is not sustainable. 4. To be sustainable, the use of non-renewabile resources must proceed at a rate that is declining and the rate of decline must be equal to or less than the rate of depletion. 5.Sustainability requires that substances introduced into the biosphere from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless.

  • Bethk
    2019-06-12 15:17

    It's been awhile since I read the book. The date is approximate.It does wake the reader up to that the problem is not just peak oil, peak coal, peak water, peak phosphorous, peak arable land - but peak EVERYTHING. Along with peak energy, all of these peaks will make a huge difference in how we live.His last chapter was remarkable. There are a few things which are nowhere near their peak: Peak neighborliness, peak cooperation, peak community... We can get through this by working together especially at the local level.

  • Richard Davies
    2019-06-14 10:54

    This is a marvelous book that short-circuits the tendency of technophiles to believe that a miracle technology will come along and allow us to keep running things at this ultra-high energy consumption rate we've come to take as normal. By applying the same techniques used for oil to all other resources, Heinberg reminds us that we live on a sphere and that all resources are necessarily finite, thus limiting technological "civilization."This is a must have book to become informed about the basic issues regarding the ongoing destruction of the planet.

  • Elisa
    2019-06-26 14:09

    I want everyone I care about to read this book. It's is about how to deal with the issue of peak oil, the effects it will have on our lives and what we can start doing to prepare ourselves. This is the issue that I think should be at the forefront of our collective conscious RIGHT NOW. I'm sad to see how little attention the issue gets in our media. Heinberg is an excellent author. There are maybe 2 chapters I don't feel fit with the premise of the book but overall its a must read.

  • Janna
    2019-06-14 13:23

    What did I learn from this book? That I wanted to climb in bed, pull the covers over my head and hide! One of the most depressing things I've read - it put me in a funk for days! It was so depressing that I couldn't even bear the thought of looking up some of the research from which his stats came...

  • Bryan457
    2019-06-24 08:54

    More a collection of essays than a comprehensive look at the subject. Some parts were exceptional. I loved the letter from the future. Some parts were less than exceptional. I didn't really enjoy the section on art.

  • Cara
    2019-06-26 09:54

    This book is amazingly terrible. Aside from the subject matter, which is highly questionable, the writing is in serious need of a good editor. I felt like I was reading a middle school essay. E.g. "My thesis is...", "This chapter is about..." Really terrible stuff.

  • Intersection
    2019-06-10 15:11

    Heard an interesting interview on SLC's KRCL radio show RadioActive with the author. Here's a link to the show, but I don't think they have that one archived... - I anyone finds it let me know.

  • Briankiwi
    2019-06-23 08:56

    Important read on a fairly bleak topic, leavened with some optimistic notes.

  • Florin Pitea
    2019-06-06 10:57

    A collection of essays on a set of interconnected crises - peak oil, overpopulation, climate change, food shortage, fresh water crisis. Recommended.

  • Shawn
    2019-06-01 12:00

    this book is scary not alot of new info but it was a scary read for me I think we are in big trouble.

  • Gregor Erbach
    2019-06-25 06:59

    not technical enough for my tastes

  • Christopher
    2019-06-10 12:54

    So-so. Too preachy.

  • Patrick
    2019-06-21 09:23

    Bit of a disappointment. Less of a discussion of the Peak Oil theory (which is what I was looking for) than a series of broadly written essays on sustainability.

  • John
    2019-05-30 12:54

    Every person should be required to read at least one Richard Heinberg book.

  • Ian
    2019-06-07 14:05

    One of the esasys was skippable -- the others were all worthwhile.

  • Shauna
    2019-05-28 11:03

    Conny suggested that I read the chapters, "Axioms of Sustainability" and "Bridging Peak Oil and Climate Change Activism". Otherwise she told me that the book is largely technocratic.