Crude World

Michael Hirsh review of Peter Maass’s new book, 'Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil.'

Published: 27-Sep-2009

Oil is the curse of the modern world; it is “the devil’s excrement,” in the words of the former Venezuelan oil minister Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, who is considered to be the father of OPEC and should know. Our insatiable need for oil has brought us global warming, Islamic fundamentalism and environmental depredation. It has turned the United States and China, the world’s biggest consumers of petroleum, into greedy, irresponsible addicts that can’t see beyond their next fix. With a few exceptions, like Norway and the United Arab Emirates, oil doesn’t even benefit the nations from which it is extracted. On the contrary: Most oil-rich states have been doomed to a seemingly permanent condition of kleptocracy by a few, poverty for the rest, chronic backwardness and, worst of all, the loss of a national soul.

We can’t be rid of the stuff soon enough.

Such is the message of Peter Maass’s slender but powerfully written new book, “Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil.” Unquestionably, by fueling better and faster transportation and powering cities and factories, oil has been critical to modern economies. But oil has also made possible the most destructive wars in history, and it has left human society in a historical cul-de-sac. Despite much hue and cry today, Maass argues, we seem unable to move beyond an oil-based global economy, and we are going to hit a wall soon.

<< PREVIOUSNEXT >>
RELATED NEWS ITEMS

CSIR Solar-Electric Rickshaw is powered by 36-volt hub motor

Innovative business model is being evolved with NGOs, banks, environment-loving corporates and manufacturing organizations to make the rickshaw available to the drivers at the cost of an ordinary rickshaw.

Toyota Prius converted to plug-in will have range of 20 or so miles in electric-only mode

The biggest technology hurdle utilities and carmakers face right now is the ability to exchange information seamlessly, because there is no common language.

George W. Bush with Secretary of State Rice in White House Oval Office.

Three experts suggest technology policies on energy, research and medicine for the new president.

READER COMMENTS

blog comments powered by Disqus