Why your World Is About to Get A Whole Lot Smaller

Why your World Is About to Get A Whole Lot Smaller

Book - 2009
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What do subprime mortgages, Atlantic salmon dinners, SUVs and globalization have in common?

They all depend on cheap oil. And in a world of dwindling oil supplies and steadily mounting demand around the world, there is no such thing as cheap oil. Oil might be less expensive in the middle of a recession, but it will never be cheap again.

Take away cheap oil, and the global economy is getting the shock of its life.

From the ageing oilfields of Saudi Arabia and the United States to the Canadian tar sands, from the shopping malls of Dubai to the shuttered auto plants of North America and Europe, from the made-in-China products on the shelves of the Wal-Mart down the road to the collapse of Wall Street giants, everything is connected to the price of oil

Interest rates, carbon trading, inflation, farmers' markets and the wave of trade protectionism washing up all over the world in the wake of various economic stimulus and bailout packages -- they all hinge on the new realities of a world where demand for oil eventually outstrips supply.

According to maverick economist Jeff Rubin, there will be no energy bailout. The global economy has suffered oil crises in the past, but this time around the rules have changed. And that means the future is not going to be a continuation of the past. For generations we have built wealth by burning more and more oil. Our cars, our homes, our whole world has been getting bigger in the cheap-oil era. Now it is about to get smaller.

There will be winners as well as losers as the age of globalization comes to an end. The auto industry will never recover from this oil-induced recession, but other manufacturers will be opening up mothballed factories. Distance will soon cost money, and so will burning carbon -- both will bring long-lost jobs back home. We may not see the kind of economic growth that globalization has brought, but local economies will be revitalized, as will our cities and neighborhoods.

Whether we like it or not, our world is about to get a whole lot smaller.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, 2009
ISBN: 9780307357519
0307357511
Branch Call Number: 330.905 Rub 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 286 p

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l
Liber_vermis
Apr 10, 2014

A very readable book about "peak everything" and the need to transform to a sustainable economy. Rubin's humour may be a bit tiring but his argument is straight-forwardly stated without graphs or charts. Every national politician should read this book. The book has adequate endnotes and an index but lacks a bibliography.

c
cshahriari
Jun 18, 2012

To some readers, Jeff Rubin may sound like an Alarmist concerning the world's rising energy costs, especially the price of oil. In this book, he makes the case that "oil prices, not delinquent subprime mortgages, are what brought down the global economy," Page 185. In fact, one can notice a spike in Brent barrel petroleum spot prices in the summer of 2008 several months before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on September 15 of that year. Independent sources such as Wikipedia confirm this point: goo.gl/U8Qab

The author explains in the book that the rising energy costs are not the end of the world and it brings many silver linings with it. For example, less congested streets, fresh air, more local growth to name but a few examples. His future vision of the world may sound utopic but it brings a certain thought of relief and hope that we move faster towards this objective. I am looking forward to reading his most recent work: The End of Growth

y
yanikc
Sep 08, 2011

If half of what he says is true, life after 2050 will be very different than what we see today. Whether it will be better or worse remains to be seen...

b
bellows
May 27, 2011

Paul 1 of Sept 2010, could you tell me when the oil price is going down to $35.00 again so I can book my driving vacation? Heck, let me know when it is hitting $75.00 and I will book a weekend out of town!

l
lilwordworm
Mar 11, 2011

Bridging distance should cost money. A lot of money, but it doesn’t. So we do absurdly wasteful things like shipping things around the world and back. The arguments are solid but the most notable thing I learn from this book is that Jeff Rubin is really into himself.

p
paul1
Sep 30, 2010

Well this book deserves to be put along with Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb as an overhyped tome on a non-existant non-upcoming crisis. It seems like lots of people are looking for some sort of doomsday, scriptural or environmental. Recent oil price history puts the lie to Rubin's theory about oil starvation (after peaking at $140 it went down to about $35, as of sept. 2010 it is around $75). After if oil is truly running out should not the price trend continue inexorably upward, not bounce up and down? Readers looking for more nuanced arguements on long term resource prices would do well to explore the writings of Julian Simon or Matt Ridley. I use the data from www.nyse.tv/crude-oil-price-history.htm (showing a price of $36.51 bbl on 16 Jan.2009 and showing a decline from $113.91 on 29 April 2011 down to $91.16 on 24 June 2011 and as of Dec.2015 the price of oil is still under $40 per barrel).

iLibrarian Sep 16, 2010

Spikes in oil prices caused four of the last five global recessions. Globalization is over because it depends on cheap oil. We're going to have to learn to live with less energy and less choice. Statements like these tend to spark wild fires of controversy. But how do they affect your small business?

I'm no expert on global economies, the energy sector, or the peak oil phenomenon, so I won't critique Jeff Rubin's research or his arguments. Instead, I think it's worth stepping back to highlight the trends and themes that Rubin shares.

Whether or not you agree with Rubin's opinions and research data, you'll find some insight of potential future trends and perhaps a new awareness of energy issues. Both of which may affect your business or your career.

There are other books out there on a similar topic. Thomas Friedman’s, The World is Flat, comes to mind. Whereas Friedman envisions an increasingly globalized world in which developing nations complete on an equal playing field, Rubin predicts that the scarcity of oil will force the world into smaller geographic regions.

These types of books can leave you with a doomsday feeling. Rubin manages to stay on a hopeful and positive note, but you'll have to get beyond the halfway point before you realize this. He’s got plenty of examples and data about the automotive industry and some discussion on how the traditional economic view of supply and demand no longer applies due to depletion of easy to get oil.

Rubin argues that living more local and finding new efficiencies in local communities will ultimately enrich us. Distance will still be expensive; hence, our world becomes smaller as a result. Many businesses will have to focus more on local economies and wise energy use, if cheap oil is indeed a thing of the past. Initiatives like Shop Local and Practically Green Solutions are early examples that fit nicely into Rubin’s vision of Halton Hills’ future.

The consumption and demand for oil is unprecedented and it's obvious that the stored fossil fuels on the planet are finite. We know that the largest, highest quality resources have already been used. If we agree on that, then, at the very least, we should pay attention and make informed decisions even if we intend to avoid the wild fire controversies and doomsday debates. Rubin's book is good place to start.

2
21221012271000
Feb 02, 2010

Well-reasoned, well-written economics book for everyday guy or gal.

2
21288004246712
Jan 28, 2010

easy read, lots of detail on why oil prices will go higher, and why we need a new cheap energy source to avoid big changes ahead

neko Jan 04, 2010

proposed alternate title for July 2010

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c
cshahriari
Jun 18, 2012

"If we can no longer grow oil supply, we will no longer be able to grow the economy - unless, of course, we can change the basic equation that ties the size of our economy to how much oil we burn." Page 207.

c
cshahriari
Jun 18, 2012

"There is only one way to avoid a future of much slower economic growth in a world of depleting oil supply. And that's to lessen the economy's dependence on oil." Page 206

c
cshahriari
Jun 18, 2012

"Oil prices, not delinquent sub prime mortgages, are what brought down the global economy" Page 185

Summary

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c
cshahriari
Jun 18, 2012

To some readers, Jeff Rubin may sound like an Alarmist concerning the world's rising energy costs, especially the price of oil. In this book, he makes the case that "oil prices, not delinquent subprime mortgages, are what brought down the global economy," Page 185. In fact, one can notice a spike in Brent barrel petroleum spot prices in the summer of 2008 several months before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on September 15 of that year. Independent sources such as Wikipedia confirm this point: goo.gl/U8Qab

The author explains in the book that the rising energy costs are not the end of the world and it brings many silver linings with it. For example, less congested streets, fresh air, more local growth to name but a few examples. His future vision of the world may sound utopic but it brings a certain thought of relief and hope that we move faster towards this objective. I am looking forward to reading his most recent work: The End of Growth

d
davidbarnum
Jan 11, 2010

read in the spring of '09.

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c
cshahriari
Jun 18, 2012

cshahriari thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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