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Society Beyond Fossil Fuels
Climate change, along with the depletion of oil, coal, and gas dictate that we will inevitably move away from our profound societal reliance on fossil fuels; but just how big a transformation will this be? While many policy-makers assume that renewable energy sources will provide an easy "plug-and-play" solution, author Richard Heinberg suggests instead that we are in for a wild ride; a "civilization reboot" on a scale similar to the agricultural and industrial revolutions.
Afterburn consists of 15 essays exploring various aspects of the 21st century migration away from fossil fuels including:
- Short-term political and economic factors that impede broad-scale, organized efforts to adapt
- The origin of longer-term trends (such as consumerism), that have created a way of life that seems "normal" to most Americans, but is actually unprecedented, highly fragile, and unsustainable
- Potential opportunities and sources of conflict that are likely to emerge.
From the inevitability and desirability of more locally organized economies, to the urgent need to preserve our recent cultural achievements and the futility of pursuing economic growth above all, Afterburn offers cutting-edge perspectives and insights that challenge conventional thinking about our present, our future, and the choices in our hands.
Richard Heinberg is the author of eleven previous books including The Party's Over, Powerdown, Peak Everything, and The End of Growth. He is a Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world's most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. Heinberg has given hundreds of lectures on our energy future to audiences around the world. He has been published in Nature and other journals, and has been featured in many television and theatrical documentaries.
"With rare insight, clarity, and compassion, Richard Heinberg helps us face the music. Over the years, since The Party's Over, his books have earned our trust with their accuracy in delineating the limits of the possible. Now in this bold collection of essays, he helps us see the landscape being bequeathed us by the Great Burning — an understanding that is necessary to the Great Turning — and will save us considerable time and confusion. With ever more gratitude I bow to those who shake us awake."
Joanna Macy, author, Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects.
"Afterburn gives us a sense of a survivable future – hope fed by Heinberg's realistic deeper analysis, a sense of the trends ahead, and a bold (largely local) plan. Few are as good at the craft of synthesizing this powerful package then Richard Heinberg. This book will help fuel the future."
Randy Hayes, Rainforest Action Network Founder & Director of Foundation Earth
"In my business we have a saying: hope is a terrible investment strategy. Let's go further and say hope alone is a terrible strategy, period. Yet most of society continues to simply ignore the freely available and terribly important information about where we are headed on this planet, and simply hope that things will work themselves out somehow. They won't, and we all know that now on some level. Afterburn bravely and thoughtfully examines the predicament we face, one idea and one fact at a time. Those who can stir in a few facts along with their hope will be able to both understand and foresee what the future holds. Pick up this book. Read it. Discuss it. Let it sink into your bones, and then understand that this book is not asking you to abandon hope, it is inviting us all to greatness."
Chris Martenson, PhD, Co-founder of Peak Prosperity
"Afterburn is like a "Richard Heinberg's Greatest Hits" compilation, drawing together a selection of his prolific output from the last few years. To choose what went in must have been to pore over an embarrassment of riches, given his seemingly untiring creativity and brilliance. He writes with incision, with passion, with rage, with compassion, and Afterburn captures in one single publication why he's such a shining light of insight in times of much darkness. The Party's Over changed my life. Perhaps Afterburn will change yours."
Rob Hopkins, founder, Transition Town movement and author, The Power of Just Doing Stuff
Waking Up to the Century of Declines
Unpacking Sexism and White Privilege in Pursuit of Racial Justice
An Ecologist's Journey to Make Peace with the Anthropocene
Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
Reason and Religion at the End of the Industrial Age