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Book: Powerdown: Options and actions for a post-carbon world, Richard Heinberg, 2004
Published by New Society (original article)

If the US continues with its current policies, the next decades will be marked by war, economic collapse, and environmental catastrophe. The alternative is "Powerdown," a strategy that will require tremendous effort and economic sacrifice in order to reduce per-capita resource usage in wealthy countries, develop alternative energy sources, distribute resources more equitably, and reduce the human population humanely but systematically over time. The book gives an overview of the likely impacts of oil and natural gas depletion and outlines four options for industrial societies during the next decades. It then explores how three important groups within global society-the power elites, the opposition to the elites (the antiwar and anti-globalization movements, et al: the "Other Superpower"), and ordinary people-are likely to respond to these four options.

Published by New Society,

Table of Contents and Introduction are available at

Endorsements (from

"Richard Heinberg's Powerdown is a balanced hard-headed analysis of the politically unthinkable, the coming implosion of contemporary techno-industrial society. Heinberg's premise is simple: no factor has played a greater role in the explosive development of global civilization since the 19th Century than abundant cheap fossil energy but, while the human enterprise is committed to maintaining to its steep upward trajectory, the rocket is running out of fuel. Powerdown provides a visionary response to the coming energy famine, a clarion call to cooperative solutions based on the conviction that realism must trump self-delusion in matters of cultural survival."
- William E. Rees, PhD, author of Our Ecological Footprint

"Powerdown is a fearless, no-holds-barred view of our prospects in the post fossil fuel world. Courageous, clear . . . essential reading."
- David Orr, author of Earth in Mind, The Nature of Design, and The Last Refuge

"Here's a firm, humane, extraordinarily well-written assessment of the likely realities of life after fossil fuels, soon to begin on the planet nearest you. Powerdown is an essential read if you care to understand the deep structure of the coming Dark Age and to choose actions that will become us as a species."
- Stephanie Mills, author of Epicurian Simplicity

"Richard Heinberg is that rare combination of scholar and visionary who is intellectually and emotionally unencumbered enough to ask the toughest questions; and to reconcile a truth which no one wants to believe with an emerging world reality only a few are brave enough to see. His compassion for mankind is obvious. Whenever I need a reality check and to calibrate my own compass on what Peak Oil means, I check first with Richard Heinberg."
- Mike Ruppert, publisher and editor,

"Powerdown is the only sane response to the world's increasingly grave problems of energy depletion, environmental degradation, and over-population. Richard Heinberg truly understands the nature, scale, and urgency of our global situation. As we briefly rest on the plateau of world oil production peak, Heinberg first outlines the possible unpleasant paths our society may take through energy decline. He then makes it devastatingly clear that a humane post-carbon future depends on urging our governments to powerdown, while we start to relocalise our economies and build community lifeboats."
- Julian Darley, Post Carbon Institute

Richard Heinberg is widely acknowledged as one of the world's foremost Peak Oil educators. A journalist, educator, editor, lecturer, and a Core Faculty member of New College of California where he teaches a program on "Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community, he is the author of six previous books including The Party's Over.

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© 2009 Post Carbon Institute

Post Carbon Cities: Helping local governments understand and respond to the challenges of peak oil and global warming.
Post Carbon Cities is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in the United States.