Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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Energy Beyond Oil – Paul Mobbs (2005)

**Energy Beyond Oil – Paul Mobbs. Matador Press (2005)**


The world energy situation is changing rapidly, and not for the better. Oil prices are rising and rising, and as I write, the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita looks likely to be far worse than we are presently being led to believe. The impact of high petrol prices are starting to be felt in the economy here, and will continue to be indefinitely. At the same time, new books on the whole issue of Peak Oil and energy seem to emerge every week. Most of them are produced in the US, and I have noticed that among those of us in the UK who are interested in this whole issue there is a tendency to take the challenges put forward for the US as being literally the same as the UK and Ireland. Will Los Angeles really face the exact same issues at Hull? Will Clonakilty be affected in the same way as Denver? Many US Peak Oil books, such as James Howard Kunster’s ‘The Long Emergency’, are very US-centric, and have very little to say about how it will affect the rest of the world.

Paul Mobbs’ book is (as far as I know) the first UK Peak Oil book, and it is very highly recommended. The great thing about it is that he has really done his homework, and presents his arguments backed up with a wealth of figures and statistics. How much land would it take to grow enough biodiesel to run the average family car? 0.85 hectares, or 1 ha. with reduced fertiliser inputs. How long would it take to retrofit all the housing stock in the UK? Given that the building industry could insulate 350,000 buildings per year, to do the 25 million households in the UK would take 71.4 years. This is vital information, and Mobbs paints a meticulous picture of the scale of the problem facing us, in a clear and analytical way.

He starts by asking “what is it about oil?