Books and Courses on Our Peak Oil Future - What Do You Recommend?

There are now a number of books and courses available relating to how we might deal with the challenges of peak oil in the future. I'll mention a few I have run across, and ask that you mention ones that you want to recommend. If you could give a little information on the approach the person takes, that might be helpful, because different folks have different approaches, and some of us like one approach better than another.

In the books department, one that comes to mind is Dmitry Orlov's book Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects. Dmitry Orlav experienced the Russian collapse, so comes with his own perspective on how things will work out, and what will be important. It seems to me he would stress flexibility above all--perhaps moving often, fitting in with the new system. He also does presentations--this is a link to a recent one.

A recent book I ran across is Oil Dusk: A Peak Oil Story by John Cape and Laura Buckner. This is the fictional story about the challenges a family faces when a drop in the value of the dollar leads to a steep rise in the price of oil. The book is well done, and not overly scary, because while the high price of oil has some moderately bad consequences, somehow, the family seems to fare pretty well--in part because of preparations made by the grandfather, who has since passed on. The back of the book mentions a number of peak oil resources, including The Oil Drum. This is a link to the book's web site.

Many of you know that Andre Angelantoni (known as aangel on The Oil Drum) has a website called PostPeakLiving that features sustainability courses. I recently attended his uncrash course. Jason Bradford of our staff presents the foods portion of the class. Andre and Jason do a good job. I would describe the focus as somewhat on peak oil education and somewhat on preparation for a downslope--buying electric bicycles; making copies of records governments may not have the staff to provide later; and having a buffer of some food in storage, for example.

Besides his regular courses, Andre has a new course taught by Carolyn Baker that will be starting April 24 that has to do with dealing with the psychological aspects of peak oil. The course is called Navigating the Coming Chaos of Unprecedented Transitions. Dr. Baker is a former psychotherapist. Some of the topics her course will cover include "Healing through the dark emotions," "Mirth-making amid crumbling and chaos," and "Bringing back the world".

I don't there is any "One Size Fits All" when it comes to post peak books and courses. Each of us will have different needs at different times. Since we don't really know for certain what the future will hold, we can't say for sure that one course or book is more correct in its view than another.

What books or courses would you like to mention? It might be helpful if you can tell a little about them, to help us distinguish one from another. We don't run ads, and I am not aware of peak oil websites that do, so it makes it somewhat difficult for people to get the "word out" about what they are doing.

In the books department, one that comes to mind is Dmitry Orlov's book Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects.

Orlov is as moronically paranoid as James Howard Kunstler, Michael Rupert, Matt Savinar and other survivalist types. No way I would recommend his views to anyone. These guys almost tip the scales of dementia.

I'd begin with books by Richard Heinberg, such as The Party's Over, Powerdown, Oil Depletion Protocol and Searching for a Miracle. Heinberg is level-headed, impartial and treats the matter with due diligence and a genuinely good look at the various paths we could take, taking into account all the practical limits as well as the possibilities for innovation.

I happen to have a different assessment of Orlov. He's got valuable experience that he brings to the conversation. Dismissing it like you do isn't, in my view, a wise idea.

Besides, points of view should be listened to and then assessed by the listener.

So I back up Gail's recommendation for Orlov's book: it's worth reading his insights and experiences. I would add Greer's The Long Descent and The Ecotechnic Future to the list. They are handbooks of understanding with a dash of practicality in the second one. Highly recommended.

Orlov's latest piece said community building projects like transition towns wont work because it doesnt take into consideration minority groups like squatters. Squatters were instrumental in setting up our local TT initiative.

He's probably correct, if things were to fall apart many people would show up in your area if they heard it was still functioning.

Yes, and they would be put to work gardening, composting, reusing...

Looking at all people as always threats in every situation is not a prescription for a peaceful future--in fact, it is a self-fulfilling philosophy.

It's more likely there'd be too many and the community would not be able to scale.

You havnt been taking your optimism pills have you?

Can you go from 60 people, all who want to be there to say perhaps 100 overnight who are upset they must now revert to farming? It is not like you can instantly begin growing more food.

To me, Orlov adds a fresh dimension to the discussion. For example, in Orlov's latest presentation, he says

Transportation needs are much reduced if the entire town relocates into the shopping mall and the office park

But you are right, we need other writers too, with different views of what is ahead, and what level of co-operation we can expect among groups.

I read Orlov's book and found it to be a pretty accurate description of what was going on in Russia in the early 90's when the Soviet Union was collapsing. I happened to be there for a few days and some of his stories brought back some not so fond memories of this trip.

Recommendations for books about peoples' experiences in the FSU in the 90s would be welcome.

The New Russians by Hedrick Smith is a good read on this subject.

"But you are right, we need other writers too, with different views of what is ahead, and what level of co-operation we can expect among groups."

Good point. I try to judge the audience before recommending, gifting or requiring (as a teacher to students) books. Business types I direct to Simmons; right-to-center types, Kunstler; liberals, Heinberg...

We need a variety of voices from a variety of perspectives. It has turned out to be a detriment for the AGW aware that there is only one well-known voice associated with their perspective, since anyone not aligned with Gore's other political stances is likely to dismiss his position on GW as well.

PO would do well to avoid having a single spokesman, however articulate he may be.

You're certainly right about Heinberg, but wrong (IMO) about Orlov and Kunstler and even Ruppert. Each brings something to the party (the one that's over). Ruppert may be a little (or more) paranoid, but he has good reason. He was early to expose the connection between 9-11 and oil. (His views on 9-11 and oil are shared by Heinberg and Campbell, btw). Orlov has no trace of paranoia and simply lays out (in a very entertaining way) his insights derived from having watched the collapse of another empire and noting the points of comparison with our own. Kunstler is many things, arrogant maybe, but not paranoid in any way I can see, and also very entertaining and insightful about the weak points in our way of life in light of the impending decline in oil.

Although he has little to say about adapting, Campbell's Oil Crisis remains a fascinating book even though it's quite a few years old now.

The Energy Bulletin is a good place to look for writers on adapting to the winding down of the oil age, and complements and overlaps TOD very nicely.

Colin Campbell's 2002 essay noting the 9/11 - Peak Oil motive is excerpted at

There are a lot of insulting disinformation claims that turn most people off to the issues of 9/11 complicity. But the science fiction stories about blowing up the towers aren't needed to document that Cheney's motivation for invading Iraq was Peak Oil, and without the "shock and awe" of 9/11 that invasion could not have happened.

From your link:

Peak Oil was the primary motive of the Bush regime for allowing and assisting the attacks. Without 9/11, it would have been impossible for the US to invade Iraq and take over their oil fields, which gives the US a dominant military position in the middle of the world's main oil production region as we pass the point of Peak Oil.

Had you not wanted people to read that crap you would not have posted it.

Why, dear God why, does peak oil web sites also attract so damn many nut cases.

Ron P.

I agree with you on this one. There are many angles to 9/11 and the subsequent wars beyond just the offical story. One doesn't need to be a dedicated truther to understand this.

Orlov does push to the far end of "what you should do" in a peak world. However there is unfortunately nothing stopping society getting to the point where his recommendations don't become somewhat sensible for basic city survival.

There are certainly places in the world right now that fit very well with what he recommends.

Orlov is as moronically paranoid as James Howard Kunstler, Michael Rupert

Interesting claim.

Are you able to disprove all of the claims of Micheal Rupert?

Over the years he's made some rather grand claims. If you are correct, you should be able to disprove every one of 'em.

No, the burden of proof is on Ruppert. HE is making the claims. HE has to prove them.

And since he makes some rather extraordinary claims, he has to provide some rather extraordinary evidence.

At which he has failed.

So you believe he has failed to prove a case when he charges government corruption?

How about with charges tying (some) government officials with the drug business?

Orlov is one of the best voices out there right now. Many of the good prognosticators are those who have considered peak oil for many years.

you won't understand any of this stuff until you read anything by H. T. Odum. All the rest is commentary.

Naw, you can "understand" but you won't have a mathamatical model 'till you look into eMergy.
Environmental accounting: EMERGY and environmental decision making
By Howard T. Odum

Another eMergy resource:

Odum's "Environment, Power and Society" completely changed the way I viewed the world when I read it back in the early 70s.

Georgescu-Roegen's "The Entropy Law and the Economic Process" and "Energy and Economic Myths" similarly influenced my world-view.

The Death of Grass

A reaction to Wyndham's 'home counties' view of apocalypse, and probably closer to how morality can unravel.

yup, but "Leaves of Grass", by Whitman is much more reflective. If "The Death of Grass" had been written in poetry rather than prose, it would have been more informative. .

Courses: Check your local technical/trade college for continuing education courses - I'm finally signed up for a carpentry course, there's electrical, appliance servicing, PC repair, welding, machining, plumbing... also going to get some motorcycle training.

Book: Rob Hopkins' Transition Handbook seems to be the manual for the Transition movement:

According to the Table of Contents on Amazon, Rob Hopkins' Transition Handbook is divided into three sections:

The Head - Four chapters on peak oil and climate change, and why small is inevitable

The Heart - Five chapters on why having a positive vision is crucial

The Hands - Four chapters exploring the transition model for inspiring local resilience building. The four chapters are
Chapter 10 - The Transition Concept
Chapter 11 - How to Start a Transition Initiative
Chapter 12 - The First Year of Transition Town Totnes
Chapter 13 - The Viral Spread of the Transition Movement

It sounds from the chapter headings like a good background book, but I don't see much examination of what we are transitioning "to" (other than small) and what steps it is going to take to actually get to what we are transitioning to. I guess I would like a Volume 2 with more topics (but again, we need different books for those of us coming from different perspectives--also, I haven't read the book, and it may have more in it than the chapter headings suggest).

The book is geared for communities primarily and anticipates that the community will uncover the resources within itself to support the transition of individuals and families.

I think it's a valuable addition to the oeuvre but a person should look elsewhere for specific information on storing food, establishing secondary energy sources, skills that may be valuable in the new economy and so on. About 1/3 of the people in my courses are in formal Transition Initiatives and I think many might say that the transition process might be a little too slow for their taste. (Creating broad community support is never a quick task.)

I understand that there may be version 2 under development. I don't know anything about it, though.

Fair comment Gail, it's absolutely not a prep book in the sense that many here would expect; how to leach the tannins from acorns, remove your own spleen, etc.

The first part is a nice beginner intro to the carbon problems (climate and PO), the rest is really documentation the authors experience and recommendations related to a cooperative/local/community response.

I think the author would not dare lay out the specifics, but expect that each group would focus on the problems they face in their particular area and figure it out. Uncharted waters, but a positive attitude (vs. bunkers and despair).

I was going to list the Transition Handbook myself so I'll just add my bit here.

The cheerful disclaimer of Transition is that we don't know if it will work, but we do know that waiting for government to act will be too little too late, acting as individuals will be too little but if we act together in communities, it may be just enough, just in time.

I kind of like that. A idea that is not afraid to humble itself in the face of great challenges and face them as they come. Since becoming uimmersed inm my own local Transition Town, I ahve found some of the people i will need to rely on in the future. I rather enjoy some of the personalities and stoushes on TOD but at the end of the day, it is a virtual intellectual community only and could evaporate as fast as the failing grid. My town will still be here, and I will have to live in it and function as best as I can with my very real neighbours who may be more upset and more able to do me harm than the virtual someones on TOD. building community resilience now is the best insurance policy. The individual approach might buy you soem short term survival, but it's not going to be any way to live a life.

The cheerful disclaimer of Transition Town that they don't know what will work, is IMHO their Achilles' heel. The transition town folk I have visited with gravitate toward populists for insight rather than science. Populists are popular because they leave out some truth to make their message palatable. By disregarding key elements of the human condition, TT is failing to read the tea leaves.

AT least they arn't selling a message of 30% effectiveness/70% lining the pockets of bankers like the carbon traders are.

As others have pointed out, I think he is relying on localities to figure out their own way given their individual, unique situations. Having said that, I have found myself disappointed in PO books that they don't have clearer, detailed strategies for collective action going forward (though I would be happy to be proven wrong). Heinberg's "Powerdown," for example, has only a few pages on actual plans and strategies for implementing a powerdown; the rest is background info and reflections.

It would be nice to see a really thorough plan that includes as many crucial areas as possible (liquid and other energy, food, water, shelter, organization...). Perhaps that is just too big of a project for any one person. Or maybe it's been done and I don't know about it--if so, please advise.

Even a plan that is currently politically completely impossible would be useful to see. The politically possible can change quickly in crises, as Klein has pointed out in "Shock Doctrine," and those ready with a plan can sometimes move quickly to implementing it, even if it was considered fringe before the crash.

Have you seen Jay Hanson's America 2.0?

No, but I'll look for it. Is it a book, or something on line?

Good idea, the conmmunity college-since I've spent about half of a wellwasted life working in various jobs for short periods to learn the basics of variuos trades and crafts, there's not a lot left for me at the beginner level in the ordinary trades.what I don't know I believe I can easily barter for -a little basic mechanical work for a little bit of electronics repair, etc.

But there are some professions that you simply cannot master on your own, even though you may learn a great deal that is useful.The health field falls into this category.

There may be a very great unmet need for basic medical care in many places, and especiallly in such places as I live-we have a very hard time keeping a couple of doctors within reach as it is.

If tshtf hard in the next decade or so, I may be looking after a few family members and friends in the abscence of anyone better qualified.

It's off to nursing school for me; more than likely i will be able to save at least a couple of people's lives over the next decade-people who are important to me.

I have already probably saved one or possibly two people as a result of simply reading what I can. One was displaying the classic early signs of a stroke, and I talked him into a fast ride to the hospital. The other had had a heart attack and even though I also managed to convince his family that he was seriuosly in trouble and they took him to the hospital,he has not done well at all; but if he hadn't gone, he would be dead.

If I had been on the spot and able to get them started immediately, he might be in a lot better shape today.

Of course any paramedic or foireman could have done as much or more, if he had access to his equipment.

useful info-Bottled oxygen is cleaner than any ambient air- it has to be in order to run the air reduction plant safely.In a pinch, a bottle of industrial oxygen can save your life.

forgot to mention the books.Anatomy and physiology , control of infectiuos diseases, emergency first aid,fundamentals of human nutrition,....any author and any recent edition of any nursing text is likely to be more useful than any number of other books.Nursing is all about what you can actually do to and for a patient, up to but not including surgery, without prescribing the controlled drugs.

And if tshtf,drugs are going to be scarce.In an emergency situation, a nurse can sew up a cut or deliver a baby-of course under current circumstances this is practicing medicine w/o a liscense and would result in real problems real fast for the nurse if he or she made a habit of such activities.

If things go to hell in a basket.....One thing that should not be overlooked about these books is that you can be reasonably certain that the info in them is sound and based on the results of long experience and lots of research.

Interesting Firefox closed by itself as I was posting...woowoo. Anyway, I started by saying I wasn't a mellow person and here are two "unmellow" books:

How To Survive the End of the World as We Know it: Tactics, Techniques and Technologies For Uncertain Times by James Wesley Rawles, ISBN 978-0-452-29583-4 His web site is


Surviving the Economic Collapse: The Modern Survival Manual (Based on first hand experience of the 2001 collapse of Argentina) by Fernando "Ferfal" Aguirre, Self-published so no ISBN. His site if

Let me be clear, these are not mellow, kumbyah books but they do have excellent information. Ferfal's book is certainly not suitable for immature kids since it has sections on dealing with aggressors (if you know what mean).

For those who like fiction, I'd suggest Patroits: Surviving the Coming Collapse by James Rawles and for opinion, Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation by Charles Hugh Smith. A long abridged version (130+ pages) is available at


Agreed: +10

Does anyone here think this is going to be a nice and co-operative transition to pastorial living? Hope for the best ... plan for the worst.

When permaculture co-originator David Holmgren speaks, I listen. Of the peak oil writers, I follow Richard Heinberg and Rob Hopkins most closely.

H.T. Odum is a must-read for people who want to get to the bottom of things. (HT to "rube" for mentioning this less well known genius.)

I also feel it's important to get outside our modern mental framework -- we tend to become hysterical and paranoid when it looks as if we may have to get by on less.

Therefore I read works that show how people felt and lived in other historical periods: Europe during World War II, or the lot of a peasant at any time. Closer to home, I like learning about the Depression Era, and especially how many people had happy and meaningful lives even then.

Bart / EB

HT to you Bart, Here for those who don't know of this genius is a brief summary of his stuff. Check out the date.

Can either of you recommend a specific book by Odum?

Environment, Power and Society for the Twenty-First Century - The Hierarchy of Energy is a must read from H.T. Odum. It is available on Google Books for a limited preview.

From the book:

Climax and Descent (Chapter 13)

The growth of civilisation on the nonrenewable reserves of the earth is surging to a climax of information miracles, stormy economics, turbulent populations, concentrated wealth, and bewildering complexity. Although the future is always masked by the oscillations of smaller scale, the empower of society may be at climax in transition to times of receding energy. This last chapter uses principles of energy hierarchy and pulsing to anticipate the future, suggest adaptive policies, and seek a prosperous way down.


By developing explanations and plans now for making descent prosperous, we can be ready when the shocks of change galvanize the attention of society. Some can have faith in the future from understanding energy principles. Other will find faith in religions that adapt the necessary commandments for once again fitting culture to the earth. The people of Easter Island disappeared, leaving only their monuments as an example to the world of what happens when culture cannot downsize to fit its environmental production.

Closer to home, I like learning about the Depression Era, and especially how many people had happy and meaningful lives even then.

A book I believe both Bart and I recommend is "We had everything but money," a collection of first person accounts of the Thirties in the US. Here is a link to a summary that I wrote:

The book is back in print at The Country Store:

Thank you for turning me onto that book, Jeffrey (We had everything but money). It reminded me of stories I'd heard from my parents and grandparents.

I'd also recommend talking with my grandmother who raised five children in the midst of a Depression on the salary of a dreamy professor. No self pity there, and you'd better pull your weight! Still, it sounded like fun.

I would second a recommendation of John Michael Greer's "The Long Descent". Greer's writing style is both eloquent and entertaining, and he not only covers the greater implications of peak oil, but does a fantasitic job of teasing out the cultural assumptions and traps that drove us to our current predicament and those that keep us from seeing the different possible futures in front of us.

I also thought that Thomas Homer-Dixon's book "The Upside of Down" was an important contribution to understanding what Peak Oil means. What I liked about his book was that it considered multiple strains on our systems: Economic Inequality, Finanical Collapse, Climate Change, Terrorism, AND Fossil Fuel depletion. We likely face great risks from all these and a few others such as water depletion, strategic industrial mineral depletion, pandemics, and ecosystem collapse. I feel like too many peak oil books treat the issue in isolation, rather that addressing it's connections to other unsustainability crises. Homer-Dixon looked at systems in general and what keeps them stable and what leads to collapse...

I'd like to recommend:
"Plan C"
by Pat Murphy
Dr. Colin J. Campbell thinks this book is worth reading.

Pat Murphy's movie about Cuba's experience: "The Power of Community." What would a reasonable government do? Organic gardening plots for those who can garden. Cuba went through a lot to rebuild the soil and find non-petroleum solutions to growing food.

When Technology Fails:

Self-conscious Guide to Self-sufficiency

Pat Murphy's movie about Cuba's experience: "The Power of Community." What would a reasonable government do? Organic gardening plots for those who can garden. Cuba went through a lot to rebuild the soil and find non-petroleum solutions to growing food.

When Technology Fails:

Self-conscious Guide to Self-sufficiency

I'll second that emotion.

I have to disagree strongly on "Plan C". Of all the books on this subject, i found it preachy, dull, repetitious, and lacking new information. The only ideas somewhat fresh are the section on the 'smart jitney' and a little bit of the dissection of 'community' at the end. Just based on the tone of the book (dry, absolutist, heavily judgmental), i would NOT recommend it to a person unacquainted with peak oil, as it could turn them off from the whole mindset.

(It also has a strong leftist slant in places. While i'm no great fan of capitalism either, i felt like i was being lectured by a dogmatic college professor.)

It absolutely depends on what you want to hear. You can find a viewpoint that supports just about whatever position you are predisposed to settle with, or that your potential for future earnings is dependent on.

I would NOT recommend reading any of the stuff that purports a reasonable decline then reasonable restructure.

Its different this time.

Much as I hate to say it...because I was one of those most adamantly opposed to his view points in the beginning, but...everyone should read all of Jay Hansons early stuff on If only to understand what is possible so that we can be motivated to make CERTAIN that it doesn't go that way.

JMG has some interesting perspectives on historical stuff, i.e. dealing with the past, but goes off into fantasy sci-fi with his predictions for the future. I don't understand why he makes all of these proclamations and the latest book is so far out there that it can't even be taken seriously. But many find comfort there so whatever.

Orlov makes me laugh.
This releases endorphins which make me feel better.
Humor is an appropriate response to tragedy.

Gail wrote:

[The Transition Handbook] sounds from the chapter headings like a good background book, but I don't see much examination of what we are transitioning "to" (other than small) and what steps it is going to take to actually get to what we are transitioning to.

As aangel says, people should look elsewhere for detailed information. (BTW, here's an outline of the Transition Handbook which gives the gist of the book.)

As a tool for building community, I think Transition is unsurpassed. The emphasis on group process is a plus.

Detailed discussions, such as many of us enjoy, tend to drive most people away. We have to keep in mind, that the TODers are statistical outliers, and what appeals to us does not appeal to the large majority.

OTOH, the large majority have other strengths. Even though they may not be able to create spreadsheets on EROEI, they will develop energy-efficient solutions when the motivation is there.

I like to think of peak oil awareness as similar to computer skills. In the 60s, you had to be a genius and wear a white coat to create an address-sorting program. Real programmers wrote in assembly language, and understood the architecture of the computers they were programming for.

Now, because we have an infrastructure of knowledge and invention, high school kids can perform computer operations that could not even be conceived of by the high priests of the 60s.

In the same way, a 15-year-old in 2030 will make her way through an energy-poor world with grace and aplomb, while we oldsters are still at square one.

Bart / EB

"TODers are statistical outliers"

Good point, bart, but I prefer the term "desperadoes"

I prefer books, after reading which I feel I've learnt something new than a book that tries to portray a picture of how things will be.

  • I liked and hated Kunstler's The Long Emergency for the same reason - his writing style is funny and I learnt quite a lot about the predicament of affairs of America's suburbia.
  • Deffeyes excellent book Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage taught me how pollen grains are used to measure the age of rock... and many more on why peak oil _is_ the only natural outcome. The logic is clear and humorous.
  • Lester Brown's Plan B series of books - ONLY for the data and not for conclusions.
  • Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies is another interesting read. Purely argumentative and leaves most to the reader to think about.
  • Last, but never the least, Limits to Growth - excellent way of putting things in lay man terms, plus plethora of data, graphs, etc.,. When I take up the job of an Environmental sciences teacher, this sure will be my recommendation to all 10+ year olds.

All said, I believe, if I hadn't read The Selfish Gene (and the 5 different evolution related books that followed it), I'm sure I'd have happily continued to pray to God to request a solution for all the problems - personal and worldly ;) I'd probably have never even picked up these books with the, err... cognitive disorder called, religious beliefs.

Anyway, besides books, I enjoyed the following documentaries:

There is now a Story of Stuff book out as well, by the same folks who did the movie.

I look at the Bible and see (among other things) an interesting collection of stories about how people long ago lived without fossil fuels (except in tiny amounts.) Most of us have a fairly limited knowledge of history, but the Bible gives us at least some insight as to what day to day living without fossil fuels was like, many years ago. The future no doubt will be different, but this comes close to "first person" reporting of a time long past.

Good insight about the Bible, Gail. What made it come alive for me was learning archaeological and historical background. For example, the scholarship around the Historical Jesus. I especially like John Dominic Crossan . Knowing the background made the stories of the Bible much more poignant.

One thing that struck me was how meagre life was for the average peasant around the Mediterranean.

On the other hand, one gets a feeling of how emotionally rich life can be. Earlier peoples did not lack for zest and enthusiasm.

I have a sister, Lois Tverberg, who does research on the historical context of the Bible. She has written several books. Her latest is Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. She is an Oil Drum reader, by the way.

Very interesting! Lois seems to take a methodical and well balanced approach, similar to yours, Gail.

Maybe there is a place for a book putting Peak Oil, etc. into a Christian context?

An Anglican minister, Sam Norton, has been working on peak oil and Transition:

And I'm sure there are others.

I personally came to care about PO and climate change as I awoke from mainstream consumer evangelical Christianity to seeing much more of what Jesus's teaching (and even old testament law) was really about. It's much about living in tune with your neighbors and surroundings and learning that it takes very little to truly have "enough". Not sure that my faith has survived the ordeal, but it was definitely critical in getting in getting my out of my mainstream rut.

Not married...
What does she think of the Gnostic gospels found at Nag Hamadi?
My favourite is the the Gospel according to Thomas.(doubting Thomas)Who should be patron saint of Scientists and sceptics.

Good insight about the Bible, Gail. What made it come alive for me was learning archaeological and historical background.

Normally George cites his stuff but today:

found a very interesting Jewish studies group which has been going back to the roots of ancient Hebrew and know what they have found? First finding: All Hebrew is made up of only 22 symbols and anything else is distortion because there's a sophisticated error-correction system built-in.

Second finding is that most of what we learned as 'religion" is based on misinterpretations of original (error-correcting) Hebrew...they've got a corrected version of Genesis (which turns out to be multiple books, BTW) and then things get strange from there.

Working on trying to distill this down into something of edible size, but the work is quite remarkable and - also interesting - no publishers want to touch it because the material is too hot and shakes too many of the foundations of...well...everything in that whole segment.

I have no idea if that is an April 1 or a real report, but would make for some interesting changes in the bible studies area.

I found "story of stuff" to be interesting but a bit too excitable and simplistic in places.

Its a good starting point. I "converted" about a dozen people using it ;) But they're all (still) in "Bargain mode" with respect to Peak Oil.

Maybe not strictly just a "Peak Oil" book, Morgan Downey's Oil 101 ( ) is stuffed full of facts about the oil industry (now up to 32 5-start ratings on Amazon). From a PO perspective it has an excellent chapter on Reserves.

I know the title for this 'Campfire' is "Books and Courses ..", but I've got to mention the best Peak Oil documentary by far I have watched. As it was made by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission), it's maybe not as well known as some of the US docos. It's well presented, the format is logical, and the discussion is not the usual one-dimensional polemic that seems common to many PO docos.

"Crude - The Incredible Journey of Oil" (2007)
( )

Also in the not-exactly-po category is "Crude World" by Peter Maas, who also had an excellent article on PO in the NYT Sunday Mag a few years back.

Read authors who are more intelligent than yourself.
Seek fresh angles.
Respect no authority, question everything.

It is a chaotic existence.
The outcome will be subset of natural laws, constrained by the probable.

But Quantum physics mocks my efforts.
We don't understand reality yet.
More power to CERN

William Catton's 1980 book Overshoot: "The Ecological Basis For Revolutionary Change" is an old one that is every bit as applicable today as when it was written. Dealing with population pressures and general resource depletion including peak oil. "The Fourth Turning" by Strauss and Howe is another older one (1990's) that gives a striking view of the cycles of history, though not at all about peak oil itself, it places our own present age in a wider historical context (though peak oil is virtually in a class all its own, for crisis triggering events). "The Long Emergency" and "The Long Descent" were both good reads. I think a certain amount of author pessimism is warranted for a topic of this nature, but both handled it well. Tainter's "Collapse of Complex Societies" is quite good as far as scholastic texts go. For those interested in protecting themselves financially, Howard Ruff and Peter Schiff's writings are good, as well as "Gold-The Once and Future Money". That one has a great history of the use of hard currency vs fiat play money. Also any literature regarding Jevon's Paradox in general will certainly clue one in to the virtually assured descent of our culture, which for perhaps the first time will truly be on a global scale.

I found Catton's other book 'Bottleneck' to be long winded and not well written. Unless someone can convince me that 'Overshoot' is a far better book then I wont be buying it.

I haven't got hold of Bottleneck yet, but I think Overshoot is one of the most insightful books ever. The basic argument is quite simple, yet compelling. AFAIK nobody's really been able to argue against Catton successfully without invoking something highly implausible ("technology will save us anyway" etc.)

One PO book I also like is David Strahan's The Last Oil Shock. It's a thorough introduction by a Brit who used to work as a financial journalist.

I have read Overshoot a couple of times and am now in the process of reading Bottleneck. They are quite different books and I think Overshoot is by far the easier to read and the one to read if you have to choose. It is one of the most important books I have ever read.
Bottleneck is harder going, more philosophical and wandering (at least as far as I have got -- about 25% through) but I think he is building up his argument and wants to take his time. I am certainly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.


I second the recommendation for "The Fourth Turning."

This book is more optimistic than most, because it provides an antidote to the message that "society will never change, politicians will never change." The authors show that while this is true most of the time, there are short "crisis" periods of history when everything changes much more rapidly than anyone was thinking possible.

Although most of books mentioned line my shelves, they tend towards the "how to" and I like to find the resources that ask why. I find Greer is really good at this aspect.

There is a book that I highly recommend because you can give it friends and relatives without proselytizing or scaring the bee-jezus out of them. And, there are parts you can take and use and others have no appeal. Although the subject matter is climate change, we all know the same measures apply to PO. This was heartily agreed upon by the author when I met him at an energy conference and at the book launch.

The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming, Guy Dauncey.

Guy intended the book to be highly utilitarian and immediately practical. I give him a plug whenever I can.

Well there are alot of very good Peak Oil / Permaculture / Relocalization related titles mentioned here by others (or soon will be) so I won't add too many more, though I'd agree with the Orlov & Kunstler recommendations. JHK's earlier non-PO related works are also worth a read for their valuable summaries of how our built environment (in the US) ended up the way it did. If, like me, you are interested in that sort of thing, I'd also recommend Kenneth Jackson's excellent "Crabgrass Frontier".

And DPZ's "Suburban Nation" explains why things get built the way they do.

To throw out a few oddballs, I read “The Year 1000” a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Also the relatively unknown George R. Stewart’s “Earth Abides” is a terrific “post-apocalyptic” novel that still holds up.

Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” is pretty fascinating too, since we’re on the subject. Not taking anything away from Tainter, BTW. Not all of these writers and/or books are PO aware, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. The Dude Abides.



I still haven't read Orlov but will move it back up my list. The perspective from a recent economic and politically driven collapse should not be discounted out of hand, though the cultural and structural differences (on the surface, at least) may be rather vast.

I do my best to discipline myself to challenge and test my own confirmation bias, and read as widely as I can stand. I also follow the "doomer vs cornucopian/collectivist" debate with some amusement, finding enormous gender bias lurking in the debate. With the vast majority of oil drum regulars apparently male per survey data, I must recommend Dr. Louann Brizendine's "The Female Brain" and "The Male Brain". An excellent Salt Lake City-based NPR program, Radiowest on, profiled the latter this week. I also recommend Rebecca Solnit's A Paradise Built in Hell, also recently profiled on Radiowest., Her thesis is tends to support the collectivist, competent model of disaster response . . . though Peak Oil may be more likely to play out as the Long Emergency, not the Instant Disaster model, so its hard to say how much this will translate to Our Current Energy Condition. On a darker note, anything by Derrick Jensen, including his polemic and searing "Endgame I" and Endgame II" are highly recommended, if hard going now and then. For a fiction variation on the theme, and a dystopian future vision, I recommend Leslie Marmon Silko's "Almanac of the Dead" ("Ceremony" is great, too).

For rather lighter and more positive reading about the benefits of living lower on the carbon intensivity scale, I highly recommend the book "Better Off" by Eric Brende, I also found myself really liking "No Impact Man", by Colin Bevins, despite my first instincts. .

And, as they say, there has to be some poetry: I turn to Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry (especially his Mad Farmer poems) on a regular basis. If you haven't read it, go look up Berry's "Manifesto: the Mad Farmer Liberation Front" for starters. (teaser: "Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die". . . . )

And and taste of Oliver:
In Blackwater Woods (excerpt):

From New and Collected Poems, 1992

. . .

Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know,
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Art and music recommendations next? Only one or two generations removed from my non-cash-based subsistence farm roots, on better days I look forward to a front-porch, do-it-yourself future.

Thanks for reminding us of Berry's and Oliver's poetry.

There is a whole website devoted to literary responses to our predicament: The Dark Mountain Project--file:///Users/harkness/Desktop/The%20Dark%20Mountain%20Project.html

I find documentaries on the history of farming useful for reseting expectations and for identifying skills that will be required. Here are a few that I recommend:

Tales from the Green Valley (1600's)
A Tudor Feast at Christmas (1600's)
Victorian Farm (1800's)
Victorian Farm Christmas
The Victorian Kitchen Garden
Mud, Sweat and Tractors: The Story of Agriculture (early 1900's)
The Wartime Kitchen and Garden (1940)
Satoyama I: Japan's Secret Watergarden (Japan rice farming)

'Thinking in Systems' by Donella Meadows is the best book I've read in the last ten years. Its relevant on all levels from human population growth and the world economy down to how gardens or your own body works. It would be especialy handy for those people who were commenting on David Korowicz' recent paper, and didnt know what they were talking about.

As I've learned the hard way: a) stick with the scientists and academics! and b) avoid prognosticators of future lifestyles!

Under a) Professor Deffeyes, Colin Campbell, William Catton, and Professor Bartlett are my heroes. I also make an exception for Matthew Simmons, who is neither a scientist nor an academician but has complete devotion to data.

These writers, you'll notice, waste little of their precious talent trying to spin out scenarios of what the future will bring. They stay focused on a specific, quantitative prediction--what will happen to oil--and offer general hypotheses, such as Campbell's startling analysis of credit collapse in a post-peak world. (Catton is not exactly in that camp, but his 1980 book encompassed peak oil in a prescient way.)

Under b), AVOID THE ISAIAHS, and that means just about all of them. I'm a long-time homesteader and farmer, but I got involved in it not out of an apocalyptic anxiety but because I like it. The group I call The Peak Oil Gardening Club has nothing to offer. For them the future is just a mirror: they look into it and see their own fat asses staring back at them. (I'm just as culpable: three years ago I called myself an "organic" gardener and saw it as The Way after peak oil. I "believed" fervently in a future of Sustainability. I readily admit now that I was full of shit.)

Also, those who claim to know something about how the future is going to pan out--fast collapse, slow collapse, catatonic collapse, whatever--are laughable, and only when laughter is your goal should you read such writers.

Which is why I make exceptions for Kunstler and Orlov.

Edited to remove reference to topic we are not discussing here. - Gail

"I readily admit now that I was full of shit."

Would love to read about the lessons you've learned about sustainable farming. Have you already written anything?

Not anything systematic.

I have not changed my methods, only my beliefs.

I still make compost and use mulch. I don't use soil amendments (well, actually, I do use lime or wood ash sometimes). I hand-dig many of my beds. But I am no longer averse to using "chemicals" (pesticides) when needed.

I no longer believe my produce is "safer, better-tasting, and more nutritious" than the small family conventional operation down the road. Freshness is all.

I see that the "organic" movement is dividing farmer from farmer by casting anyone not in the "organic" camp as "unsustainable," or worse.

In short: there is no such thing as "sustainable" farming. Farming by definition requires takeover and drawdown methods. All farmers really do is grow people. They worsen the problem.

The "organic" farmer may reduce the drawdown (fossil inputs) but in order to do so must increase the takeover (of land and organic matter).

The conventional farmer may reduce the takeover (land use) but in order to do so must maximize drawdown (fossil fuel use).

All farmers use some combination of takeover and drawdown. There is no way out of that dilemma.

Being in charge of a compost operation at an organic farm for the last three years has really opened my eyes.

But I'm off the topic of this thread....

Not off topic Mike, I agree with your analysis.
Along these same lines, this is a great read:

There's a guy, I think his name is Jeff Gilman, from the University of Minnesota, who has a good set of books on organic versus conventional, and a book on pesticides. Too lazy to look him up now--in the midst of spring cleaning--but I highly recommend him. He's not doctrinaire at all.

A good place to start for skeptical views on farming:

From the link:

I want to stress that I am not opposed to organic food. It is generally a perfectly fine product. I do have objections to the way it's marketed: It's an identical product

No, not true. As shown in a court case in Europe using Monsanto's own data the non-organic GMOed corn causes liver damage.

So not identical.

The fact that you have to cite an extreme case only proves his point.

Yours is a sad attempt to break the world into dogmatic, either/or categories.

Things should be judged on their individual merits, not according to ideologies.

OK, but he seems to think that both methods have an equally viable future. What if you think that energy and organic chemical inputs are likely to get drastically more expensive in the near future?

From my perspective, I can either learn to produce using the products that are cheap now but I expect to become prohibitively expensive in the near future, at which point it isn't clear I'll have time and money to switch to the other method; or I can start using the other method with lower yields and a steeper learning curve now and learn how to do it right with a high probability of being ready when I need to know how. There's no doubt that food can be raised organically, even if WW3 breaks out and all oil from the middle east is immediately cut off. People produced food organically long before there were internal combustion engines. It isn't nearly as clear that a disruption in oil supply will allow conventional farming to continue smoothly.

If I were planning to farm conventionally, I would want to stock 2-5 years of organic chemical inputs, to ensure I could continue producing in case of disruptions and price increases. If I'm farming organically, I mostly have to worry about fuel itself, and there are ways around that as well. It just seems like organic farming is more resilient to energy disruptions. Why wouldn't I want the method that's more resilient?

You might wish to look into folar feeding of 'conventional' stocks of fertilizer along with the unconventional rock dust + sugar.

Feed the bacteria - feed the plant.

Thanks for responding. Very wise words. I am making transition from high tech exec to farmer. Doing volunteer work on small farm and enrolled in hands on small scale farming course. Lots to learn!

Good luck! Just remember: it doesn't matter if your farm is organic or conventional. Enjoy working there and learn all you can. Take in what people say as well as what they do, and read a lot.

I love the organic farm I work at part-time, although I no longer subscribe to the ideology. The methods they use--composting, mulching, hand-labor over machine--were in use long before they were co-opted by the organic movement.

And if you think you do not have time to read a book or take a course then there is a great essay available on the web that covers the subject. It takes about 20 minutes to read, or less, depending on how fast you read:

Energy and Human Evolution by David Price

Even if world population could be held constant, in balance with "renewable" resources, the creative impulse that has been responsible for human achievements during the period of growth would come to an end. And the spiraling collapse that is far more likely will leave, at best, a handfull of survivors. These people might get by, for a while, by picking through the wreckage of civilization, but soon they would have to lead simpler lives, like the hunters and subsistence farmers of the past. They would not have the resources to build great public works or carry forward scientific inquiry. They could not let individuals remain unproductive as they wrote novels or composed symphonies. After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods.

Ron P.

Thanks for mentioning this. It is a great essay.

And I know we both agree about Reg Morrison's book, too, "The Spirit in the Gene."

[edit: I just now noticed your Amazon review! Nice going.]

Excellent article. As Dawkins nicely puts it in Climbing Mount Improbable:

You will understand that I am using ‘elephant’ to stand for all large, autonomous creatures, for flowers or bees, for humans or cactuses, for bacteria even. The virus instructions, as we have seen, are saying ‘Duplicate me’. What are the elephant instructions saying? This is the main insight that I wish to leave you with at the end of the chapter. Elephant instructions are also saying ‘Duplicate me’, but they are saying it in a much more roundabout way. The DNA of an elephant constitutes a gigantic program, analogous to a computer program. Like the virus DNA it is fundamentally a Duplicate Me program but it contains an almost fantastically large digression as an {272} essential part of the efficient execution of its fundamental message. That digression is an elephant. The program says: ‘Duplicate me by the roundabout route of building an elephant first.’ The elephant feeds so as to grow; it grows so as to become adult; it becomes adult so as to mate and reproduce new elephants; it reproduces new elephants to propagate new copies of the original program instructions.

One resource I recommend to people is Chris Martenson's "Crash Course" - In my opinion, he gives a great overview of our current situation and it's very understandable. It doesn't focus exclusively on peak oil, but there is a good discussion of it as part of his series of videos.

Dear All,

1)The following you know well
Overshoot by Catton
Collapse of Complex Societies by Tainter
Re-inventing Collapse by Orlov

This has some useful ideas, on complexity, economics, and energy-though no discussion of PO etc
The Origin of Wealth by Bienhocker

Why a tribal animal, mistrustful of strangers trades over the globe
The Comfort of Strangers: A natural history of economic life by Seabright

A good layman's introduction to non-equilibrium thermodynamics
Into the Cool: Energy flow, thermodynamics and life by Schneider & Sagan

All things Energetic
Energy in Nature and Society: The energetics of complex systems by Smil

...and Human
Moral Minds by Hauser

Now, I usually cringe when I pass the 'spiritual' book aisle. However, the things we are discussing must be lived through, and personal meaning located in some way. So I would recommend (even with cringing)
Sacred Demise: Walking the spiritual path of industrial civilization's collapse by Baker

2)What we need
Some very simple and clear books for people who by and large do not read books. Lots of diagrams, assumes little, not condescending, strong narrative, 150 page max, links energy with financial/ economic system etc -Any takers?

We need Transition type handbooks for top-down and interim level resilience/ emergency planning

3)What would be useful
I expect the local (and national) characters of 'collapse' will be quite distinctive, and there will probably therefore be the need for 'localised' content.
An indexed online free-use repository of explanatory diagrams, images, cartoons, and mini-movie files would be very useful to those of us who are trying to communicate complex issues but are rubbish at visualising and making images. They could be drawn upon as a single image, or whole narrative as the local communicator saw fit.

5) Finally, some people I know made The Powerdown Show which is an accessible collection of 15min shows on different aspects of PO, Food etc.

"The Crash Course" is excellent, I pass out the downloaded DVD whenever I get the chance.

However, Martenson does not really address the question of what to do, but rather just what the problem is. And to the extent that he does address the "what to do" problem, it is pretty conventional -- basic preparedness, Transition-like ideas, that sort of thing.

it is pretty conventional -- basic preparedness, Transition-like ideas, that sort of thing.

What are your alternatives? How do you provide cover for every possible problem? basic preparedness seems to put you ahead of a large part of the pack.

I mean "conventional" by TOD standards. Preparedness isn't a bad idea. They show what to do to be prepared as an individual. But what can society do to be prepared?

There's not a lot of writing on "what to do" in terms of society, political action, that kind of thing. I think most people are writing as if there will be a collapse and we have to prepare as individuals and there's no point in discussing what the social structure or politics of the subsequent reality will be. What about preparing as a society? What about political ideas?

One of the few who does is Joel Kovel's "The Enemy of Nature." This is a Marxist eco-socialist book. I find it a bit heavy on the Marxist style, but he does at least address the general problem, which most of the books here do not.

Another is "Ecological Economics" (textbook) by Daly and Farley and another book I'll bet no one has read, "Privileged Goods" by Jack Manno. The whole "steady-state economy" idea deserves more attention than it generally gets.

But what can society do to be prepared?

For society to become prepared a few assumptions would have to be addressed.

Like - 24X7 electrical power. If one gives up that vision, solar panels with minimal storage becomes "an answer". You'd still have all the benefits of electric power - just not on the "I want it now!" world.
Seasonal eating. Right now, outside of tomato season (or even fig season) I can get both at the local store for, what, a factor of 2x the seasonal cost? And the store charges enough to cover the waste or rotting/damage.
Having X item "in stock" that gets used every Y time periods. JIT and specialization can lead to no slack in the system.
A consumption based economy and debt based money system looks to be a no-go.

All of these require people to re-think their lives in ways most won't.

The whole "steady-state economy" idea deserves more attention than it generally gets.

I posted a link to the complementary currency site - plenty of reading material on that site about the topic.


I agree on the need for thought about what society needs to do for transition. I think capital needs are a big issue--we need factories that can make essential goods (cloth, paper, pencils, farm equipment) with local materials and using power that can continue long term--perhaps similar to the wind powered factories that Kris DeDecker of Lo Tech Magazines has written about. But there are a lot of other issues as well--land ownership and any necessary change from the current system, all of the issues associated with the debt unwind, political issues, and what will the financial system look like?

I have a problem with the idea of a "steady-state economy", because it sounds like wishful thinking to me. How about "Living with decline" --That at least sounds more like where we are at, for the next 50 years or so (unless we have a very fast collapse).


Thank you for your thoughts. You've understood the problem exactly. I don't really have a favorite view of what politics would be like that I'm pushing, just some general ideas, and I'd like to see more discussion and don't see much. The "steady-state" people and Joel Kovel do that.

The Center for the Steady-State Economy has a web site which you are probably already aware of. "Steady-state economy" is a slogan. You could take the same principles of ecological economics and meld it into "living with less" or "living with decline." As I interpret it, ecological economics suggests social control of the scale and distribution side of the economy, letting the market do the allocation. Right now there is no social control of the scale and only minimal of the distribution.

This is pure speculation, but I think it will take two additional shocks like the one in the fall of 2008 before we will get serious discussion of any of this. At that point we'll probably have massive systemic failure, but it won't be an instantaneous transition to a "Kunstleresque" world. I think that people are wrong to imagine that national politics will just cease to exist if the currency becomes worthless. That might happen, but I would say that it is more likely that people will try to put something together. It's entirely possible that if there are enough smart people around, that the national leaders could sit down and say, "O. K., how do we feed everyone in the country?" There would probably be a national-service draft, a guaranteed annual income, a new currency, government seizure of electrical utilities and the energy industry, that sort of thing. (I'm not sure this is right -- just throwing it out.) We would have energy independence in a real big hurry.

I have elsewhere argued that progressive Christianity could consistently take up the "living with less" idea, so before any of this becomes politically feasible, it might become a viable religious idea and create the climate for needed changes further down the line. There's nothing special about Christianity -- go forth and preach your own religion, or non-religion, and integrate this message into it.

If we have a basic idea of what needs to be done, that doesn't mean that success is assured, but it means that we have a chance.


we need factories that can make essential goods with local materials and using power that can continue long term--perhaps similar to the wind powered factories

The problem is many factory 'things' have material stress issues with the EQ.

Papermills have big rollers that if the stop they go out of round enough that you have to re-work the solid steel roller. Foundries have heat stress - so its cheaper to keep some things hot even if they aren't being used as the expense of replacing the thermal cycled stuff is cheaper than the wasted energy. I'm sure there are other examples.

So your limited to hydro, magic baby tear zero point/high watt-low cost capacitors/fusion, or some form of fission power for some makers of 'stuff'. While mass produced 100kW output small reactors would be a local plant owners dream, the security issues of fission plants and the history of failure would also make for local disasters.

Joel Kovel's End of Nature is an excellent read, with a possible game plan.
However, it is only for the politically literate, and those able to tread outside of a capitalist paradigm.

For societal preparedness, I would recommend Changing Maps: Governing in a World of Rapid Change (by Steven Rosell). The best book I've come across on deliberative democracy and communitarianism.

I'm not sure there is a good answer to the "what to do" problem. In my opinion, what to do depends on the individual - how much of a threat you feel this is, how much money you have to prepare now, what type of community you currently live in, and dozens of other factors. I just don't think there is a one size fits all solution to this question.

As an example, a few things that I believe are that if the phrase "the government will take care of me/us" comes into your thinking related to peak oil, then you need to rethink your planning. I also think having guns/ammo around can be useful(both for security and hunting). However, I know that a lot of people here will disagree with me on these points and that's fine. The point I'm trying to get at is that what I believe my family needs to do to prepare for an uncertain future will be different than others and a "what to do" checklist of 10 or 20 items really isn't possible.

See my comments above about the books "Ecological Economics," "Privileged Goods," and "The Enemy of Nature."

I don't think "the government will take care of us." However, whether we succeed, and possibly whether we live or die, depends on whether our community succeeds. The biggest investment an individual (or a movement) can make is in the future of its community, whatever that turns out to be. If the community fails, even the best prepared people are in trouble. If it succeeds, even the totally unprepared people have a chance.

As far as the theory of PO, when I first started looking around for info 10 years or whatever ago I found - everything else is detail.

Personally, I think the best place to learn about PO is in the headlines, ie: "Left-Wing, Socialist President Opens Coasts to Drill-Baby-Drill", etc. In fact, reading about the collapse of complex societies (or down this far in TOD comments) while your personal economy is skating the edge of collapse seems a bit strange if you aren't also reading about implementing a specific part of your personal plan. Sort of like the student who can't find a job capable of servicing their loan deciding to get a larger loan for a more advanced degree?

While you are studying the Romans your little life just might burn.

Anyway, my recommendation, for whatever it's worth, is to take all gurus with a grain of salt. I've heard more people become discouraged and basically give up on any change because their seedball didn't work as advertised or whatever "holistic system" they tried to adopt wouldn't shoehorn into their situation.

But just so I'm on topic, Carla Emery, Encyclopedia of Country Living...

Interesting literature indeed. However, I have a question regarding the "Limits to Growth - The 30-Year Update" book. Does anyone of you know if there is any implementation in Matlab or R or other software of the World3 model? Moreover, finding on the web a clear description of the stochastic equation system underlying this model seems rather difficult. For example, I am very interestd in implementing the recent World3/2000 model distributed by the Institute for Policy and Social Science Research, but I was unable to find any mathematical presentation of it (finding only very generic description). Does anyone of you know if there are any academic papers or other scientific works describing this model in full mathematical?

Thanks a lot for your help!

The model is available from Chelsea Green Publishers in cd format. The language is STELLA.

Also from Chelsea Green, and well worth a look if you've any inclination to reduce your home's reliance on FF's, is The Carbon Free Home. It lays out 36 different projects (some of which even renters could do) to reduce your energy needs. Clear and easy to follow.

The one version I know of is here -

Try Vensim PLE. It's not Matlab or R, but it's free to download. There was a great discussion a year ago here on TOD: A New World Model Including Energy and Climate Change Data, and the model is available here. For other models and reading material, I've been collecting links at oill.

I would like to highly recommend John Michael Greer's - The Ecotechnic Future . I just finished listening to it and I have to say it was excellent. His treatment of Peak Oil from an ecological and historical perspective was enlightening. I found the book to be hopeful yet sobering at the same time.

A book that changed my thinking on how to adapt to "peak everything" is "How Much is Enough?" by Alan Durning. He suggests that the highest income fifth of the planet set up a life that involves "non-material sources of fulfillment," turning from airplanes and cars to trains, buses, bicycles, and feet; small scale commerce; locally grown produce; "human-scale settlements"; and a "materials culture that takes care of things".

Some of the material is dated, but still an interesting and useful read.

Kunstler is a creative guy and his stories are insightful for those wanting to explore "outside the box". But my complaint with Kunstler is that he's a professional doomsayer. He predicted that Y2K was going to be the end. This is worth keeping in mind when reading anything he says. I'm pretty pessimistic about our overall chances. But I try to maintain some semblance of balance. Personally, I avoid writers like Kunstler. I am more impressed with Heinberg. I would recommend, "The Party's Over", despite its depressing conclusions.

On the other hand, watch End of Suburbia (basically built around a long interview with JHK) again, and reflect on how events have unfolded since the video came out in 2004.

I 100% agree, westexas. I watched End of Suburbia for a course I'm taking this semester, and was struck in particular by the 'predictions' made by, i believe, Deffeys. He said (in reference to the first recession caused by PO) something along the lines of; "$2 trillion gone from the stock market, 6 million jobs lost, state and local budget surpluses gone." At the end of the day, these numbers don't completely match the losses from the current recession, they come very close. And the current recession 'coincided' with high oil prices/supply side constraints. Hmmm...

As far as readings go, I think a combination of the Long Emergency, Plan B, and Collapse (with some more technical info thrown in for day to day issues) provides a pretty clear picture of what to expect and how to handle it. Of course, I'm on this site almost daily, so as long as the power stays on, there's another source as well...

And follow up with "Escape from Suburbia", slightly more up to date and with more pointers of what individuals and communities are actually doing.

As for Transition Initiatives, the Handbook is fine as one part of their vast menu of resources. Don't get stuck on the book alone. The usefulness of Transition is in the rapidly growing worldwide network: On the website, you will find an impressive array of experience based how-to resources, videos, webinars. Their 2-day live training is excellent. The Transition Movement is also one of the best antidotes against the feeling of being alone in this.

OK, Todd has called it "BAU Lite". I can see that point. OTOH, the more people in your community you can engage in the PO/CC preparedness conversation at whatever level the better. We simply have no idea what the "perfect" response might be. Something has to better than nothing. Just kick the door open and start people thinking somewhere. Transition seems to do that better than our favorite TOD doomer fare. I confess to being a doomer - of the "trust in Allah and tie your camel" variety.

Those who miss specific "to do lists", to a degree, this is intentional, based on the recognition that a cookie cutter model is not practical. Local conditions vary widely. OTOH, The stated intention of the Transition Movement is "to stimulate the collective genius of the community" to create appropriate responses based on locale specific resources. The history of Transition is very instructive. Starting with a Permaculture class project, creating an energy descent plan that ended up being adopted by the local City Council of Kinsale, Irelend.

There was some criticism of Crash Course. He doesn't necessarily tell you what to do. But if you go all the way to chapter 20, he leads you to a very helpful set of self-assessment questions to ask yourself. These should give you plenty of ideas of what needs doing in your life. Be prepared for some "oh shit, I hadn't thought of that" moments.

Finally, I'll repeat something I have said before on the issue of individual vs. community preparation. Make sure your neighbors are as prepared as you are. I understand no-one likes to have their village compared to Post WWII Germany, because of the nasty history that led up to that situation. I still think from a purely survival psychology point of view, there are lessons that can be learned from that. One lesson is, make sure your neighbors are well-fed to reduce their temptation to go after your garden/stash. In a more general sense, this makes a strong case for community preparedness.

In trying to track down the book Short Circuit

I came across this list of books/resources:

I'd also suggest

And there is always something at

As for the economic system:

Endgame by Derrick Jensen is a good read, but only for those with ecological literacy, and a politically open mind and experience.
I agree, The Selfish Gene is an excellent suggestion, as aside from lack of understanding of Thermodynamics, Evolutionary Biology is absent from most peoples reality, as superstition and religion hampers even small steps to solutions.
I would also recommend Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Dennett.

Dennett came to Maine years ago to speak. I have a signed copy of his book. He's a wonderful man, kind of a cross between John Cleese and Santa Claus.

No one brings more compassion and intelligence to the discussion of religion.

Surprised I don't see "Deep Economy" by Bill McKibben mentioned here. Excellent book in the style of Heinberg.

Steve Solomon wrote two excellent vegetable growing books. In his words, "I understand plants and so I write how-to-vegie-garden books. My best two are in print at this time: 'Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades' published by Sasquatch Press, Seattle, and 'Gardening When It Counts', published by New Society Publishing, Gabriola Is., B.C."

He specifically wrote "Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times" as a resource for growing food when cheap oil is depleted.

Powell's Books

Brilliant book series, paints a vivid picture of life with out ff.Shows all the varied skills nesscary to be "sustainable" and what a radical concept it really is.Sheer the sheep, whittle a loom, make thread then sew your own clothes.yes we're screwed. heres a site to dl free the first 3 books. Read hillard green interveiw in back of book 1 .

There haven't been many references to books directed toward new "prepers." Here is a free one that can be downloaded. LDS Preparedness Manual

Don't let the "LDS" scare you off. This is 300 pages of solid information on everything from food to emergency generators with a little (very little) religion on the side. I highly recommend this to anyone who is just starting to get ready whether it's for a bad storm or the worst. And, FWIW, I'm not an LDS member pushing the church.


Edit to's 222 pages not 300.

What, nobody's mentioned Oil-Drummer jewishfarmer (aka Sharon Astyk) yet?

Her "Depletion and Abundance" is definitely worth a read.

What, nobody's mentioned Oil-Drummer jewishfarmer (aka Sharon Astyk) yet?

Maybe there's a reason for that. Oh, wait a minute. You mentioned it, so never mind.

Ahh... like a breath of fresh air! Just about the time everyting looks like MOTS, we have a campfire like this!

It will take me a month to digest half of it!

Thank you TOD!!!!!!!