Carbon Shift

Carbon Shift

How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change Will Define the Future

Book - 2009
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" We are now so abusing the Earth that it may rise and move back to the hot state it was in fifty-five million years ago, and if it does, most of us, and our descendants, will die. "
-James Lovelock, leading climate expert and author of The Revenge of Gaia

" I don't see why people are so worried about global warming destroying the planet - peak oil will take care of that. "
-Matthew Simmons, energy investment banker and author of Twilight in the Desert : The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy

The twin crises of climate change and peaking oil production are converging on us. If they are not to cook the planet and topple our civilization, we will need informed and decisive policies, clear-sighted innovation, and a lucid understanding of what is at stake. We will need to know where we stand, and which direction we should start out in. These are the questions Carbon Shift addresses.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Ingenuity Gap and The Upside of Down , argues that the two problems are really one: a carbon problem. We depend on carbon energy to fuel our complex economies and societies, and at the same time this very carbon is fatally contaminating our atmosphere. To solve one of these problems will require solving the other at the same time. In other words, we still have a chance to tackle two monumental challenges with one innovative solution: clean, low-carbon energy.

Carbon Shift brings together six of Canada's world-class experts to explore the question of where we stand now, and where we might be headed. It explores the economics, the geology, the politics, and the science of the predicament we find ourselves in. And it gives each expert the chance to address what they think are the most important facets of the complex problem before us.

There are no experts in Canada better positioned to explain the world that awaits us just beyond the horizon, and no better guide to that future than this collection of their thoughts. Densely packed with information, but accessibly written and powerfully timely, Carbon Shift will be an indispensable handbook to the difficult choices that lie ahead.

David Hughes is a former senior geoscientist with the Geological Survey of Canada

David Keith is Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment, University of Calgary

Jeff Rubin is Chief Economist, Chief Strategist and Managing Director, CIBC World Markets

Mark Jaccard is professor of environmental economics in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

William Marsden is an investigative reporter and author of Stupid to the Last Drop : How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn't Seem to Care)

Jeffrey Simpson is a Globe and Mail national columnist and author, with Mark Jaccard, of Hot Air : Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge

With a foreword by Ronald Wright , author of A Short History of Progress and What is America?
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2009.
ISBN: 9780307357182
Characteristics: ix, 230 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Homer-Dixon, Thomas F.


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Sep 24, 2015

Several authors of differing backgrounds contribute chapters to the book, offering perspectives on energy use and climate change. This balanced approach lends credence to the necessity for societal change in order to ensure quality of life for present and future generations.

Mar 11, 2013

This book is a collection of essays by 6 Canadian authors, plus an introduction and conclusion by Thomas Homer-Dixon. Each of the essays offers a different perspective on the twin threats of climate change and energy shortage facing our civilization. All the authors agree that climate change is a threat that must be dealt with. Some think that if we address the impending problem of peak oil, we will simultaneously solve much of the climate change problem. Others think that peak oil is not an issue, that we are running out of conventional oil but not out of hydrocarbon energy, that market forces and technology will provide energy for decades into the future, largely by exploiting unconventional oil and liquefying coal. How to achieve that without increasing greenhouse gas emissions has not been convincingly addressed. David Keith, David Hughes and Mark Jaccard all focus on the issue of fossil fuel supply, the feasibility of exploiting unconventional oil (tar sands, shale oil) and the effects of market mechanisms on supply, demand and development of alternative energy sources. Jeff Rubin analyses the regional distribution of consumption and problems with distribution infrastructure. William Marsden addresses the effect of exploiting the Alberta Tar Sands on greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and other ecological damage, and looks at how Alberta has dribbled away its Heritage Fund. Jeffrey Simpson addresses the political ramifications, nationally and internationally, of attempting, or not attempting, to limit greenhouse gas emissions and looks at the role the voting public plays in creating political will.

This book makes interesting, informative and thought-provoking reading. The essays are all quite well written and easily readable. However, they were all written in 2009. They addressed the effects of the 2008 economic crisis but this is a fast-moving field so some of the information is already out of date. In spite of this, it is well worth reading the book to acquire a broad overview of the issues.

Mar 31, 2010

Another excellent contribution from Thomas Homer-Dixon. Here he is the co-editor of a slim volume of articles on the twin crises of Oil Depletion & Climate Change. His conclusion is stark.
"A carbon shift is coming We can see it in front of us. If we continue to deny, delay and dissemble-and simply hand the energy-climate problem, unsolved and likely vastly worse, to our children-they will no one but us to blame."

May 25, 2009

The David Keith chapter alone makes this book worth reading. Difficult to see an easy solution to the conflict between energy needs and environmental consequences, good compilation of views

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