Confronting Collapse

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Confronting Collapse
I'm kind of a connoisseur of books on collapse. I've been reading them since the 1960s (when they were mostly about overpopulation) and read a lot in the early 1980s (when they were mostly about financial collapse due to government debt and inflation). The most important thing I've learned is that many systems biological, environmental, social, political, economic are more resilient than people have any right to expect. Ruppert's new book largely focuses on the threat of peak oil. It effectively makes the point that energy drives everything in the economy: When energy gets expensive, so does everything else (in particular, food and water). It does a workmanlike job of dismissing the fantasy sources of additional energy (tar sands, clean coal, fusion). More important, it gets it just about right on the non-fantasy sources (wind, solar): They're real and important, but they're no substitute for cheap oil. The book is structured in the form of a program statement such as might be prepared for a U.S. president by his policy wonks. After laying out its case for collapse, it presents a 25-point program for mitigating collapse. Those are largely exactly right: re-localize the economy (especially food and energy production), remove subsidies from energy boondoggles, shift infrastructure money from road and air projects to rail (oddly, he doesn't mention canals), support community-level efforts at the national level. The downside of the structure is that, although there is guidance for ordinary people, you have to read between the lines to find it. Re-localizing is something that's going to be done person-by-person and community-by-community anyway. Home-scale solar and wind energy production is possible and quite reasonable, even if it isn't economic without the feed-in tariffs he proposes. A lot of the infrastructure decisions (on roads and the power grid) are going to be made at the local level, where two or three active concerned voters can have as much influence as the President of the United States. - Philip Brewer
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