Nature and Environmental Book Reviews

Short List of Best Nature and Environmental Books



Renewable Energy:
Fossil Fuels - End of an Era

We are in the late afternoon of the long, smoggy day of fossil fuels . . . learn more about Fossil Fuels - End of an Era»

The selected books in this section offer history and analysis of our current energy dilemmas and make the case that concerted action is necessary - now.

Recommended Books on Renewable Energy: Fossil Fuels

Beyond OilBeyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak
Kenneth S. Deffeyes

Hubbert's Peak is the point at which the world's oil supply peaks - and drops steadily thereafter. According to Deffeyes, that happened in November, 2005. He predicts that famine, war and death could ultimately result from oil shortages, unless alternative sources of energy can be found and utilized. The book surveys the pros and cons of alternative resources like coal and hydrogen. A sobering look at reality. 2006, Hill and Wang

Big CoalBig Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future
Jeff Goodell

The U.S. burns more than a billion tons of coal per year - the unspoken foundation of our "information" economy. Goodell describes the results: the mining-related deaths, the widespread health consequences of burning coal and the impact on our planet's increasingly fragile ecosystem. The book shows how mines, corporate boardrooms, commodity markets and legislative chambers interrelate to induce a national inertia. A wakeup call. 2007, Mariner Books

The End of Oil
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The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World
Paul Roberts

The End of Oil is a "geologic cautionary tale for a complacent world accustomed to reliable infusions of cheap energy." The global supply of oil is being depleted at an alarming rate. While half the world's population lives without the benefits of fossil fuels, the other half guzzles oil as if there is an unlimited supply. The transition from this system of energy production to the next - whatever that is - likely will cause untold disruption worldwide: Roberts calls this "arguably the most serious crisis ever to face industrial society." He is hopeful that the race to develop reliable alternative energy sources will avert a full-blown energy crisis. 2005, Mariner Books

Energy at the CrossroadsEnergy at the Crossroads: Global Perspectives and Uncertainties
Vaclav Smil

After a century of unprecedented production growth, technical innovation, and expanded consumption, the world faces a number of critical energy challenges arising from unequal resource distribution, changing demand patterns, and environmental limitations. The fundamental message of Energy at the Crossroads is that our dependence on fossil fuels must be reduced not because of any imminent resource shortages but because the widespread burning of oil, coal, and natural gas damages the biosphere and presents increasing economic and security problems as the world relies on more expensive supplies and Middle Eastern crude oil. 2005, The MIT Press

High Noon for Natural GasHigh Noon for Natural Gas: The New Energy Crisis
Julian Darley

In this timely expose, author Julian Darley takes a hard-hitting look at natural gas as an energy source that rapidly went from nuisance to crutch. Pointing out that NG is used to supply 20% of all electricity and 60% of home heating in the U.S., and that the NG supply is at critically low levels, Darley outlines the implications of our increased dependence on NG and why it has the potential to cause serious environmental, political, and economic consequences. 2004, Chelsea Green

Hubbert's Peak
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Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage
Kenneth S. Deffeyes

Deffeyes delivers a sobering message: the 100-year petroleum era is nearly over. Global oil production will peak sometime between 2004 and 2008, and the world's production of crude oil "will fall, never to rise again." And there is no quick fix, no new discovery of another oil field or new extraction technology that can prevent this ultimate reality. The only answer, Deffeyes says, is to move as quickly as possible to alternative fuels, including natural gas and nuclear power, as well as solar, wind and geothermal energy. 2008, Princeton University Press


The Long EmergencyThe Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century
James Howard Kunstler

Kunstler sees declining oil production leading to massive economic and social dislocations, the progressive dilapidation of suburbs, the depopulation of the American Southwest, wars and conflicts over rapidly diminishing resources. "A dazed and crippled America," he says, will regroup around walkable, human-scale towns; organic local economies of small farmers and tradesmen will replace an alienating corporate globalism; strong bonds of social solidarity will be reforged; and our heedless culture of consumerism will be forced to grow up. Strong stuff. 2006, Grove Press

The Party's OverThe Party's Over: Oil, War And The Fate Of Industrial Societies
Richard Heinberg

The world is about to run out of cheap oil and will change dramatically, Heinberg asserts. Even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times. He predicts chaos unless the U.S. - the world's foremost oil consumer - is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing. 2005, New Society Publishers

Twilight in the DesertTwilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy
Matthew R. Simmons

Investment banker Simmons offers a detailed description of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. and our long-standing dependence upon Saudi oil. He highlights many discrepancies between Saudi Arabia's actual production potential and its seemingly extravagant resource claims. Twilight suggests that when Saudi Arabia and other Middle East producers can no longer meet the world's enormous demand, world leaders and energy specialists must be prepared for the consequences of increased scarcity and higher costs of oil. A thought-provoking book. 2005, Wiley

Winning the Oil EndgameWinning the Oil Endgame
Amory B. Lovins,

This book charts a roadmap for getting the U.S. completely off its dependence on oil. It proposes four technological ways to displace oil: using it twice as efficiently, then substituting biofuels, saved natural gas, and, optionally, hydrogen. The authors propose market-oriented public policies to accelerate the transition without taxes. A $180 billion investment over the next decade will yield $130 billion annual savings by 2025; revitalize the automotive, truck, aviation, and hydrocarbon industries; create a million jobs in industrial and rural areas; rebalance trade; and make the United States more secure, prosperous and environmentally healthy. 2004, Rocky Mountain Institute

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