Book Review – The Party’s Over

Joanna Schroeder

partys-over-cover-vsmI went back in time this week (if you can call five years ago back in time) and read Richard Heinberg’s,The Party’s Over“.  I was curious to see how the thinking about our addiction to fossil fuels and the need to adopt renewable energy has changed. Well, it really hasn’t.

Like many other authors who wrote books about oil during this time frame, Heinberg talked a lot about America’s (and the world’s) love affair with oil and discussed, at length, when America and the world would succumb to peak oil. Since most people have come to terms with the theory that we’ve already seen peak oil, most authors don’t focus on this issue any longer. From there he focused on the current and future technologies of renewable energy sources.

It’s interesting to note that Heinberg is a follower of population reduction, a concept that is mentioned in several occasions in the book I reviewed last week, “Green Hell”. Heinberg argues that the ideal population level is around two billion people. This would be a reduction of nearly four billion people. Based on the fact that the world has limited resources (he disagrees with the fact that we can keep saving ourselves with technology) he lists five things our leaders should logically and morally be compelled to do.

  1. Adopt the ethic of sustainability in all aspects of thinking.
  2. Institute systematic efforts to improve efficiency in the use of efforts.
  3. Encourage the rapid development and deployment of all varieties of renewable energy.
  4. Systematically discourage (through taxes) the consumption of nonrenewable resources.
  5. Find humane ways to encourage a reduction in human fertility in all countries, so as to reduce the population over time.

The first four in the list are a common theme among authors but where he differs is calling for leaders to reduce the popluation in a humane way. I’m not convinced forced population reduction is humane, period.

Heinberg may have been a little ahead of the energy debate so he published follow-up to this book – “Power Down“. Heinberg powerdown-cover-vsmhas been writing and teaching in sustainability and energy for many years to agree or disagree with him, he is one to watch.

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