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Powerdown : Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World - Richard Heinberg


Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World

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If the US continues with its current policies, the next decades will be marked by war, economic collapse, and environmental catastrophe. Resource depletion and population pressures are about to catch up with us, and no one is prepared. The political elites, especially in the US, are incapable of dealing with the situation and have in mind a punishing game of "Last One Standing."

The alternative is "Powerdown," a strategy that will require tremendous effort and economic sacrifice in order to reduce per-capita resource usage in wealthy countries, develop alternative energy sources, distribute resources more equitably, and reduce the human population humanely but systematically over time. While civil society organizations push for a mild version of this, the vast majority of the world's people are in the dark, not understanding the challenges ahead, nor the options realistically available.

"Powerdown" speaks frankly to these dilemmas. Avoiding cynicism and despair, it begins with an overview of the likely impacts of oil and natural gas depletion and then outlines four options for industrial societies during the next decades:

Last One Standing: the path of competition for remaining resources;
Powerdown: the path of cooperation, conservation and sharing;
Waiting for a Magic Elixir: wishful thinking, false hopes, and denial;
Building Lifeboats: the path of community solidarity and preservation.

Finally, the book explores how three important groups within global society--the power elites, the opposition to the elites (the antiwar and antiglobalization movements, et al: the "Other Superpower"), and ordinary people--are likely to respond to these four options. Timely, accessible and eloquent, "Powerdown" is crucial reading for our times.

Richard Heinberg is an award-winning author of five previous books, including "The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies." A member of the Core Faculty of New College of California, he lives in Santa Rosa, California.

Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
The End of Cheap Energyp. 17
Recent Confirmations of an Imminent Oil Peakp. 23
The Petroleum Plateau and Beyondp. 34
Surveying the Plateaup. 37
The Natural Gas Quandaryp. 45
A Perilous Prosperityp. 51
Last One Standing: The Way of War and Competitionp. 55
Can the Free Market Prevent Resource Wars?p. 58
The Case of Iraqp. 62
Just When We Needed Brilliant Leadershipp. 67
Types of Resource Warsp. 78
The Path of Least Resistancep. 81
Powerdown: The Path of Self-Limitation, Cooperation, and Sharingp. 87
Requirements for Powerdownp. 93
The Paradox of Scalep. 102
Useful Precedentsp. 104
Assessing the Prospectsp. 108
Waiting for the Magic Elixir: False Hopes, Wishful Thinking, and Denialp. 117
Unconventional Hydrocarbon Sourcesp. 119
High on Hydrogenp. 124
Why Even the Perfect Energy Source Will Not Sustain Growth Indefinitelyp. 129
Building Lifeboats: The Path of Community Solidarity and Preservationp. 139
How Civilizations Collapsep. 141
Who Will survive?p. 150
Saving What Is Bestp. 153
Our Choicep. 163
The Choice of the Elitesp. 167
The Choice of the Movementp. 172
The Choice of Us Folksp. 179
Looking Aheadp. 184
Notesp. 187
Indexp. 197
About the Authorp. 209
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780865715103
ISBN-10: 0865715106
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 1st September 2004
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.3  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.34