Cover image for The party's over : oil, war and the fate of industrial societies
The party's over : oil, war and the fate of industrial societies
Heinberg, Richard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Gabriola, BC : New Society Publishers, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 275 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD9560.6 .H45 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



February 1, 2003

The Party's Over (TPO) is an excellently and thoroughly researched treatment of precisely the oil depletion problem, almost entirely free of the usual hidden political agendas, irrelevant personal memoirs, and philosophical delusions.

I would recommend TPO to anybody on this list . . . as a convenient and politically neutral "Pack-'O-Facts" that can be offered to friends, family, colleagues, policy makers, and anybody else in your life or world that you may feel needs a sober sit-down and some rational talking-to about the energy future of industrial civilization.

The Endnotes section at the book's end, organized by chapter, is the best bibliography I've ever seen on all aspects of the topic. This book bears direct comparison to only three other more-or-less mass or general market books that I'm aware of:

Thom Hartmann, Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight ; Jeremy Rifkin, The Hydrogen Economy ; Kenneth Deffeyes, Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage.

With respect to these, I feel that TPO is:

less irrelevantly philosophical than Hartmann's book, more up- to-date, and more pointedly technical in sources used. very similar to the first half of Rifkin's work, where he delineates the problem, but again a more comprehensive and at the same time more focused presentation. The second half of Rifkin's work, where he cheerleads in rather political mode for a salvaging of the world's economy via distributed hydrogen/fuel-cell infrastructure is not directly relevant, except I suppose inasmuch as it would seem to contradict Heinberg's skepticism about propping up global industrial civilization through a 11th hour switch to alternatives. I'd personally go with Heinberg's conclusions. again, in topic/coverage very similar to Deffeye's quite interesting work, but frankly for those who want a quick and focused rollup presentation/package for opening the topic with others, Deffeye's work is overly encumbered with too much aranca about oil geology and personal author's memoirs.

Overall, The Party's Over will serve as the state-of-the-art topic-opener on Hubbert catastrophism, for people on this list, well into the foreseeable future.

Scott Meredith
AlasBabylon list owner

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Heinberg presents an in-depth analysis of the dramatic changes that are about to occur as a result of oil depletion and the imminent decline of cheap oil. He claims that within the next few years, as oil production peaks--and even after having switched to alternative energy sources--industrial societies will have less energy available to do all the things essential to their survival. Heinberg further shows how oil and war have been closely related and how competition to control oil supplies could lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South America. The opening discussion explains the characteristics and physical laws of energy in general. Chapter 2 traces the history of the industrial era, and chapter 3 assesses oil resources and reviews estimates of current reserves and extraction rates. It also examines why reserve estimates of independent geologists diverge from other agencies. Chapter 4 explores alternatives to oil such as coal, natural gas, solar power, wind, and hydrogen, and chapter 5 focuses on the meaning and implications of the approaching peak in fossil-fuel production. In the final chapter, Heinberg suggests how to face the social, economic, political, and individual lifestyle changes that will be necessary. This remarkable book is a timely wake-up call. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates and above. S. Ayubi Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 Energy, Nature and Societyp. 9
Energy and Earth: The Rules of the Gamep. 10
Energy in Ecosystems: Eating and Being Eatenp. 14
Social Leveraging Strategies: How to Gain an Energy Subsidyp. 20
Complexity and Collapse: Societies in Energy Deficitp. 33
Applied Socio-Ecohistory: Explaining the American Success Storyp. 38
Chapter 2 Party Time: The Historic Interval of Cheap, Abundant Energyp. 45
Energy in Medieval Europep. 47
The Coal Revolutionp. 52
The Petroleum Miracle, Part Ip. 57
Electrifying the Worldp. 60
The Petroleum Miracle, Part IIp. 64
Oil, Geopolitics, and the Global Economy: 1950-1980p. 73
1980-2001: Lost Opportunities and the Prelude to Catastrophep. 78
Chapter 3 Lights Out: Approaching the Historic Interval's Endp. 85
On to Mesopotamiap. 88
The Ground Giving Wayp. 92
M. King Hubbert: Energy Visionaryp. 95
Hubbert's Legacyp. 101
Zeroing In on the Date of Peakp. 111
Hubbert's Critics: The Cornucopian Argumentp. 118
Who Is Right? Why Does It Matter?p. 133
Chapter 4 Non-Petroleum Energy Sources: Can the Party Continue?p. 137
Natural Gasp. 139
Coalp. 143
Nuclear Powerp. 146
Windp. 152
Solar Powerp. 156
Hydrogenp. 161
Hydroelectricityp. 168
Geothermal Powerp. 169
Tides and Wavesp. 170
Biomass, Biodiesel, and Ethanolp. 171
Fusion, Cold Fusion, and Free-Energy Devicesp. 175
Conservation: Efficiency and Curtailmentp. 178
Chapter 5 A Banquet of Consequencesp. 185
The Economy - Physical and Financialp. 187
Transportationp. 190
Food and Agriculturep. 193
Heating and Coolingp. 198
The Environmentp. 199
Public Healthp. 201
Information Storage, Processing, and Transmissionp. 203
National Politics and Social Movementsp. 204
The Geopolitics of Energy-Resource Competitionp. 210
Taking It All Inp. 220
Chapter 6 Managing the Collapse: Strategies and Recommendationsp. 225
You, Your Home, and Your Familyp. 228
Your Communityp. 234
The Nationp. 242
The Worldp. 254
A Final Wordp. 259
Afterword to the Revised Editionp. 263
The Saudi Enigmap. 264
Shell Gamep. 265
Oil's Depressing Outlookp. 266
Significant New Reportsp. 266
The Iraq Quagmirep. 268
The Curse of Free Energyp. 270
Where the Real Hope Liesp. 274
Notesp. 275
Bibliographyp. 289
Indexp. 297