Author Topic: Books on Peak Oil  (Read 1878 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Books on Peak Oil
« on: December 01, 2017, 10:04:45 AM »
What are some books you recommend on the subject of Peak Oil. I am interested in learning more about this. Thanks!


  • Bristles
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Re: Books on Peak Oil
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2017, 06:53:21 PM »


  • Stubble
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Re: Books on Peak Oil
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2017, 09:50:14 PM »
The Long Emergency

This one is a good primer. The author is a bit too alarmist and misanthropic for my taste, and many of his dire predictions have yet to come true, as he did not foresee the impact that new technology -- in this case hydraulic fracturing -- can have on peak oil.

$20 per Gallon

This one is a bit more upbeat, and the author considers peak oil to be more of an opportunity to improve the world, as apposed to an impending disaster.

Perhaps the truth lies someone in between these two views, which is why I recommend reading both books.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Books on Peak Oil
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2017, 09:37:53 AM »
I watched the films and read stuff about peak oil... hmm, a decade ago? Maybe a bit longer.

The general point is that any extraction follows a bell shaped curve. Once you're over the peak, because you've found all the 'easy' oilfields (the massive one in Saudi Arabia, for example), there is basically a lag (because finding -> extracting takes time) and then prices go up and availability goes down (these two go hand in hand).

And at a certain point, EROEI (energy return on energy invested) gets to one (ie, it takes as much energy to get the energy out of the ground).

Thing is, a lot has happened since then. Climate change is by far the more immediate problem (ie, with new tech we can pull PLENTY of oil out of the ground, but we'll be setting in motion - if we haven't already - catastrophic sea level rises). Fracking is cheap enough. Solar is coming down, fast, and electric cars are available (and lots of places are mandating less diesel and internal combustion generally). So my feeling is.. peak oil "happened" when it was at $140. It may not be the actual peak in terms of extraction but replacements are coming fast enough that in, say, 20 years, the electric charging infrastructure will be there so that it won't matter.

That's not to say we won't continue to use oil, but for your average person it (peak oil/rising prices) becomes less scary. You won't be paying $50 a litre for petrol to go in a car that burns 10 litres per 100 km, say. Just won't happen. Oil's used in a lot of other things too, no doubt about it.

That's my opinion at least. I'm not saying don't worry about it/read up about it. I'm saying that it is sort've irrelevant vs climate change.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Books on Peak Oil
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2017, 07:19:43 PM »
here is a book that I hope you will find useful.
The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future Of Our Economy, Energy, and Environment by Chris Martenson
Lethal Trajectories by R. Michael Conley
The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times by Rob Hopkins
The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler…The Tragic Comedy of Suburban Sprawl by Duncan Crary


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Books on Peak Oil
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2017, 08:52:07 PM »

Thing is, a lot has happened since then. Climate change is by far the more immediate problem (ie, with new tech we can pull PLENTY of oil out of the ground, but we'll be setting in motion - if we haven't already - catastrophic sea level rises).

Right. My impression is that we now know that if we want to maintain any semblance of our current, relatively comfortable and livable climate, we don't even have the luxury of burning through enough of the worlds known reserves to hit the real crunch.

Not saying that we won't still arrive at a Mad Max dystopia (I'm a bit of a pessimist), but here's hoping we don't.

EDIT - Sorry, no book recommendations here.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2017, 08:54:25 PM by cl_noll »


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Books on Peak Oil
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 02:01:46 PM »
Thanks for all the suggestions and opinions.

I did read The Crash Course by Martenson, which then got me to reading Currency Wars by James Rickards.

I guess I just want to be more informed and up to date on some of the word's biggest threats in the future and how to be prepared/not taken by surprise.

With climate change, peak oil, overpopulation, currency valuation fluctuations, just to name a few, it's better to be ahead of the curve on how the world might change, hopefully for the better, possibly for the worse.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Books on Peak Oil
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2018, 08:38:41 PM »
I worked as a petroleum engineer for a number of years and have a lot of interest in this stuff. Peak oil isn’t really a thing, at least not on our time horizons. Technology to get new reserves has always kept up because frankly the amount of oil under the ground is enormous, so a little price signal goes a long way. America has for around 100 years had only a few percent of world proven reserves yet we have always been a top 3 producer. As people in the industry say “the cure for high prices is high prices”, not only high prices change supply but it doesn’t take much to hurt demand, either.

We will see peak oil demand before we get anything close to peak supply. Electric drive is always superior, you just have to solve the energy density situation with electricity. In the oilfield, you have to pay the guys that check the wells everyday more for pump jacks that are powered by internal combustion engines than ones with electric motors. And the fanciest, best drilling rigs are AC electric powered. It’s only a matter of time with batteries getting better.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Books on Peak Oil
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2018, 09:01:23 PM »
John Michael Greer's books are probably among the best on all of this, and they do a good job of outlining the interactions between peak oil and the economics that OkieM describes above.  It's a little more complicated, but Greer (and others too--Gail at is an actuary who does the math on this in great detail) argue that the issue isn't "can we pull out enough oil to really hit the downward slope of the bell curve" but exactly the economic picture that we're seeing now: energy gets really expensive (we were *almost* back up to $100/barrel a couple of years ago), the world economy can't take it and starts to contract, which makes energy prices tank (ie a couple of years ago), which eventually is supposed to spur the economic recovery.

You may have noticed, but we're in the "undulating plateau" phase at the top of the curve, where even though energy got cheap, the recovery (globally) hasn't really happened.  Canada and the US are now booming, mostly thanks to the influx of invented cash from the Feds in both cases.  But in places where they didn't do that (Europe, etc), or in countries who have based their whole economies on energy, political instability from governments who can no longer pay for services their populations came to expect has been the name of the game (Venezuela anyone?).  The economy is starting to push energy prices sssllloooolllyy back up, but my bet is we don't get back to $90 before they tank again because the global economy just cannot handle $100/barrel oil.

Fracking is interesting; lots of data to show that it was *just* keeping the wolves at the door in terms of meeting global demand before prices tanked, and now prices are so low for NG that here, at least (though I hear Australia and other places too), new projects won't get off the ground.  When carbon taxes (globally, not necessarily in the US, obviously) start to take the huge methane leaks into account, we'll see if fracking really ever becomes profitable again...if it ever was.

There are big wildcards for sure in climate change policy and the push towards electric everything, but it's going to be a bumpy ride, IMO.

Re: other books, the Rob Hopkins stuff is good, basic, practical info, and Richard Heinberg at the Postcarbon Institute has done a ton of detailed research and writing over the years.

Economist Jeff Rubin did a book on oil issues a couple of years ago called The End of Growth, and Canada's own Andrew Nikoforuk did excellent work with The Energy of Slaves.  As an Alberta-based investigative journalist, he has skin in the game. :)

Enjoy the journey!