Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller

Posted on March 28, 2010

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Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of GlobalisationYou would expect Jeff Rubin’s “Why Your World is About to get a Whole Lot Smaller” to go into a great deal of depth on the issue of peak oil but his exploration of peak corn, food and natural gas are well written and interesting escapades.  His writing style makes a whole heap of stats and commodity prices accessible and his constant explanations are never patronising nor tedious.

Indeed, the book is full of revelations, from the fact that electric cars were already capable of travelling at 100kph and able to go more than 200 miles on a single battery charge back in 1899, to the insights into just how many barrels of oil Saudi needs in order to produce enough water for its population – not to mention its agriculture which may well be outsourced to the Sudan.

It would be easy for Rubin, a Canadian, to knock the Americans or the Chinese more than he does.  And it would also be somewhat lazy simply to focus on the notion that everyone needs to cut down on oil usage over the coming years.  But more detailed discussions of oil trends versus oil cycles, of the stark choices between using natural gas to excavate Canada’s tar sands and burning the gas itself for heating and electricity, and anecdotes ranging from GM’s alleged destruction of America’s light rail industry to impact on consumption of The Rebound Effect make this book insightful and enjoyable.

An interesting subplot focuses on how a smaller, more local world may be a happier one to live in, though it may equally become a much more intolerant one as it becomes more differentiated.  Read it now, before oil prices put the postage and packing out of your reach…

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Posted in: Books, Environment