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Old 01-17-2008, 12:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Book report: The Last Oil Shock by David Strahan



So, I read this one hoping to get a good bit of analysis and prediction as to what a post-oil economy will look like. I've been interested in the subject ever since watching the documentary "The End of Suburbia."

This book didn't meet my expectations for being a "survival guide" to peak oil, but it did provide several great insights into what peak oil might look like when it finally hits us where it counts. It was also an excellent in-depth summary of the scope of "the last oil shock" (peak oil)
It covers a lot of ground in the worldwide distribution of oil, OPECs reserve figures, why biofuels and hydrogen won't work, etc...

Depressingly, the book delves deeply into the Bush and Blair administrations concern with peak oil, showing us that they do indeed know what's going on, and they were (and are still) acting in accordance with PNAC's recommendations involving "energy security" (Iraq anyone?)
Makes me not so optimistic about Iran.

The author, David Strahan is a Brit, so there's a lot of talk about British politics and such, but thankfully, he points out a recent British oil crisis that I had not heard about until reading this book. This is particularly helpful since I believe that the only reliable way to predict the effects of peak oil is to look at past oil crises.

In the second week of September 2000, several groups of angry farmers shut down all British oil refineries by setting up picket lines and not letting any tankers pass for about 7 days.
In the space of 1 week without gasoline deliveries, Britain nearly completely shut down.

Ford and Jaguar had to lay off workers (no gas to fill the tanks of new cars)
Airlines grounded flights (no aviation fuel)
Emergency services were within 12 hours of running out of their reserve fuel
Fuel shortages at every gas station.
You get the picture...

Also, it turned up a nice (well, not so nice) phrase of which Wikipedia has a nice explanation.
Stagflation.

Anyway, the last chapter is all about "survival" and it's got a lovely rundown of things you can do to reduce your exposure to massive runups in energy prices. The problem is that none of these recommendations are anything new, they're actually things that I'm sure everyone here does already.

Unfortunately he doesn't offer up any way to reduce your exposure to the economic consequences of peak oil. (ie- recession, layoffs, economic depression) In this regard, I think it's valuable to watch "The end of Suburbia" or maybe it's "Crude Awakening" ?
It's been a while, but I know it's in one of those two documentaries that they have a nice discussion about re-localizing economies.

In particular a quote from James Howard Kunsler "You have to think about what you'll be doing when the peak hits, what kind of job will you have? You won't be able to work in the same way that you do today, so what kind of role will you have in the newly localized economy? I'm an author and writer, so I'll probably start a local newspaper." (this is paraphrasing of course, I couldn't find the actual quote, but it's close)

So in summation, it's a good read for any Brits, if your 'merican like me, then it's still a good read, just don't expect many survival tips. It'd make an excellent intro to peak oil for anyone you know who doesn't "get it" already.

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