My Bookshelf

For many years, I have kept the bookshelf closest to the door in my office reserved for popular press books on energy and the environment, and I often lend these books out to my students.  Happily, I even get most of them back.  I decided to bring that bookshelf here virtually, after seeing a similar page on Melissa Lott’s Global Energy Matters blog. So, here is my current top 10 list of books for energy and environment enthusiasts, with a strong Canadian bias. By no means does inclusion on this list imply that I agree with all (or anything) the author has to say…it simply implies that it’s a book you should consider reading.

1. A Thousand Barrels A Second by Dr. Peter Terzakian

2. Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil by Peter Maass

3. Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk

4. When Smoke Ran Like Water by Dr. Devra Davis

5. Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail – and Why We Believe Them Anyway, by Dan Gardner

6. The End of Energy Obesity, by Dr. Peter Tertzakian

7. Green Oil, by Satya Das

8. World’s Greenest Oil, by Dr. Peter Silverstone

9. Storms of my Grandchildren:the truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity, by Dr. James Hansen

10. Keeping our Cool: Canada in a Warming World, by Dr. Andrew Weaver

Please comment on the books you have read, on those you refuse to read, or on books that I should read and perhaps include on this list.

7 responses to “My Bookshelf”

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  3. Ernie King

    Not a fan of Monbiot’s Heat I take it?

  4. Evan

    Hi Andrew,

    Interesting booklist and many I haven’t read so thank you for that!

    I was wondering if you have read Jeff Rubin’s books “Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller”, or his latest one “The End of Growth”. I would be very interested to hear your opinions on one or both of them if you have had the chance to read them (“The End of Growth was released within the last week or so, so I think that one’s review may have to wait).

    Thank you for your time!

  5. Duncan Noble

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for posting your bookshelf. Many books I haven’t read, yet. I look forward to reading some of them.

    One book I highly recommend is Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail by William Ophul. I came across this book in Jeremy Grantham’s investment newsletter. It’s a very short (70 page), highly readable book summarizing why complex civilizations fail. And all civilizations are complex. The Table of Contents summarizes the 6 ways to fail. These include Biophysical Limits (Ecological Exhaustion, Exponential Growth, Expedited Entropy, Excessive Complexity) and Human Error (Moral Decay, Practical Failure). The chapters on Biophysical Limits will be familiar to many folks with an environment/sustainability leaning. But they don’t feel like a rehash, more like a good synthesis from someone with a deep understanding of the subject matter. It’s not an optimistic book, so you may want have your favorite strong beverage close at hand while you read it.

    BTW, I don’t think Rubin is arguing that oil prices won’t rise. Rather he is saying that economic growth is dependent on relatively “cheap” oil. So price rises will be constrained by the ability of the economy to pay for “expensive” oil. Higher prices will drive conservation, efficiency and substitution to the extent possible, but growing global population and affluence will drive demand up. It’s like he is saying there is a ceiling on oil prices that we won’t exceed, because if we do, it will depress growth, hence demand, etc. It’s surprisingly well written (after all, he was an investment bank economist) and easy to read.

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