Sunday, June 7, 2015

Olja för blåbar - book review

Olja för blåbär - energi, makt och hållbarhet
Johan Landgren - Roberth Hansson
Hardcover, 303 pages
Text is Swedish.

This book deals with a fenomena that mysteriously goes all but unmentioned in todays media; peak oil.
Peak oil as defined by wikipedia; Peak oil, an event based on M. King Hubbert's theory, is the point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline.
Two small words, but with an immense impact on us, our world and our way of living! It simply means we are running out of oil and since basically every single damn thing we do these days is based or dependent on oil you might see some trouble ahead. No? Well then see us like this. We are hardcore crack addicts and the drugs are about to run out. Permanently. 
It means that while demand for oil keeps on increasing, the supply can not keep up. It in fact decreases rapidly after the maximum productionlevels have been reached and now you might start to see where this is going wrong; demand and supply do not match. Demand with too little supply means rising prices. More demand and even less supply.....

The language used in this book is clear, simple, devoid of any high-sounding professional jargon, meaning even I, as a non native swedishspeaker, could easily understand what was being said. That would mean any averagely educated Swede of about 16 and older can too. Which I think is a very great bonus, since that vastly increases the number of potential readers. Especially in those hard to reach, but ever so vital agegroups. The younger ones, since it is they that will bear the brunt of what is coming toward us; an abruptly and significantly... no, totally changing world within the next decade.
That's right; DECADE!
Some of the analysis the authors give, show that many of the current oil- and other fossilfuel producing countries have already reached their peak or will very shortly, whilst on the other hand growing giants like China and India demand an ever increasing share of that fuel pie. Sources all across the internet confirm that scenario. But I am running ahead of things now....

The book;
It is of course divided into several chapters; 11 to be exact and each of these are subdivided in subchapters.
It starts with the very basics about energy, oil and items related to that and from that moves on to the subjects of economics and how this is all tied each other. The second chapter looks more specifically at Sweden in that context.
The third chapter goes deeper into the history of oil and how it got its power, how it influenced recent history and how it is shaping our world today. Chapter four deals with the myths and facts about an indefinite growing economy, based on finite sources and chapter five looks at the North Sea and the oilcountries around that, like Great Britain and Norway. Chapter six is about fracking and other seemingly brilliant fuelfinds, whereas chapter seven takes an indepth look on the socalled "strategical ellipse" (fossilfuel producing countries around the kaspic Sea, like Iran, Russia and the many countries of the Middle East) and the awakening Chinese dragon.
Chapter 8 switches back to Sweden again and looks at its preparedness for Peak Oil or any other calamity....which is not something to be cheerful about, really.
From chapter nine the book starts moving towards possible solutions, based on today's technology, for upcoming practical problems. How to keep logistics going for instance. Chapter ten keeps on moving in the direction of local and sustainable, a logical step in the light of troubled logistics and chapter eleven gives us an image of what the world might look like for the children of today. It might very well be a world my grandparents would recognise from their childhood.
It feels a bit utopian and leaves out the often ugly scenes that might come with collapsing civilisations. But maybe that was intentional to give the reader a feeling that not everything is deep doom and gloom, but that there is hope for our future.
This is a general feeling I had throughout the book anyway. A feeling of hope and possibilities, despite that which we are about to face.

All in all a very highly recommendable book if you are swedish or know the language. I went as far as to contact one of the authors and ordered a copy of him directly. I do feel that this book should be in our bookcase for when our kids are old enough to understand or if they are interested in why things possibly are as they are in our world. They have a blog to by the way:
Despite the fact that the book is more or less tailored to swedish readers and society I do think that the general consensus is global, since it affects as all and it might be a good thing if the authors would translate and maybe slightly rework the book to make it fit for the international market.

Another very high plus on my scale is the fact that the book has a very extensive list of sources, each indexed in the appropriate piece of the text, so you the reader, can cross reference anything they claim, should you desire. That makes the book all the more credible to me.

My verdict; If you are in anyway interested in what makes our world tick today and why it might stop ticking in the quite near future; get it!
If you know, see or feel that there is something fishy going on these days and want to make changes or become less dependent on the ever more erratic cycles of our economy; get it!
If you, with or without children of your own, want to know or get an idea of where we are heading and do something about it; get it!
If you are someone, who refuses to stick his head in the sand and run after the next fashionable shiny gadget; get it!
This book is not a bible or the answer to everything, but it sure will help to make you understand...
I'd say that this book, together with Gunnar Rundgren's Trägården Jorden, gives a pretty good idea of where we are now, where we are going if we do not act and how we might/should act to prevent the worst kind of misery.

If you're Swedish, simply get both and read them!

1 comment:

  1. I'm not Swedish (of course) but I completely agree with the point of this book and I, for one, am trying my best to use alternatives where I can (hang my clothes on the line to dry, for example. Walk instead of driving. Stuff like that.

    I used to be married to a person who had thrown his hands up in what I would call despair but really I think it was laziness. He said "What can I do? I'm only one person. What I do has no effect." I'm not married to that person any more. He will be one of the people who is standing on the heads of the other drowning people to save himself and rationalizing it at the same time. But that's another story.

    I believe if we all try to do our part that is the best we can do and that we MUST do what we can. It may not turn out so good but if it comes to that at least some of us will have tried to do something. I could not live with myself unless I did. Once you know what you know you can't go back.

    The world is such a phenomenal place I just hope that my daughter will be able to enjoy it and not suffer. She is in psychology. Maybe she can figure out a way to make the human race make a psychological change. Another field to go into would be alternative energy.

    Thanks for your tireless attention to the issues, Ron.

    By the way, my drawing of you is going to be in the Annual Orland Art Center Group Show this coming August. 15 minute of fame!