Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies

John Lanchester writes:

Never before have we, on a planetary scale, so needed to combine pessimism of the intellect with optimism of the will. The pessimism is relatively easy to come by; the optimism less so. That is largely because our civilisation is based on the use of fossil fuels; they have been indispensable to the growth of material prosperity, a point made with great force by Richard Heinberg in his book The Party’s Over. Fossil fuels underpin all of modern economic activity, science and technology, and at the moment there is no developed alternative for the future. Hundreds of millions of people in the developing world are starting to demand the very same First World lifestyle which has been bought by the use of those fuels.

(LRB 22 March 2007)