Blackout, by Richard Heinberg

I think I’m still traumatized by the last book I read. I had to stuff a National Geographic and a copy of Wired in there just to soak up the bile. Anyway, I’m good now and happy to report that Mr. Heinberg’s book made my day. I’m not holding it against him that five out of the eight chapters comprise a survey of planetary coal resources and production. I can stand a bucket-load of stats and facts, as long as there is a big payoff at the end. And the author delivers.

The man is ridiculously clear, concise, he doesn’t mince words and he isn’t prone to hyperbole. He offers three scenarios for the next four decades, two of them pretty grim and one of them grim now and pretty later. Meaning, if we drastically cut back on fossil fuels now and start rapidly building the new world infrastructure, the sustainable one, it won’t feel like John’s four horsemen are back-kicking us in the teeth come 2050.

So when’s the date that coal reaches Hubbert’s peak? Probably around 2025. Are things going to suck when coal gets scarce? Yeah, pretty much. But give the book a read. It came out in 2009, so it’s a bit behind on the natural gas fracking issue, but other than that, it’s right on the money.

His Website