Picture of author.

Kenneth S. Deffeyes

Author of Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak

5+ Works 452 Members 10 Reviews

About the Author

Kenneth S. Deffeyes is Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.

Works by Kenneth S. Deffeyes

Associated Works

Physical Geology (1976) — Author, some editions — 100 copies


Common Knowledge




Peak Oil book. Contains a chapter on each fuel, describing its history and prospects. The author is clearly not terribly concerned about global warming, and barely mentions the potential fallout of declining oil stock, but the fuel-by-fuel analysis is welcome. The chapter on uranium is particularly interesting, though it failed to mention that quality uranium is also a severely limited resource. Well written overall, with occasional first-person asides. The author seems to believe in a sort of "business as usual", but with different fuels, rather than advocating lifestyle changes.

(Review found in papers from circa 2007.)
… (more)
juliebarkley | 4 other reviews | Apr 28, 2022 |
Isn't there a type of sedimentary rock, a conglomerate, where good sized chunks of all sorts of minerals get smashed together in a rather fragile matrix? That's what this book is. Lots of insights pulled out of the author's long experience in geology and mineral extraction. But there is not much cohesiveness to the whole.

The general thrust is: given that petroleum production peaked in 2005, what now? The book was published in 2010. I'm not sure the 2005 peak has held, not that we have surpassed it by much or that there is much prospect of doing so in the future.

Deffeyes takes a grand engineering perspective here. How do we manage the system? There are big problems with this. Planet scale engineering does not permit failure-prone tinkering. Of course, failure-prone tinkering is exactly what we are facing. But Deffeyes doesn't really look at that angle. For him it seems to be like when your car breaks down on the side of the road. Just patch some solution together to get to the next proper garage. Yeah at the very end he mentions that the human population is probably already above the sustainable carrying capacity of the planet. That's a detail! But he just tosses it in at the end.

Well, he's an old guy with lots of bits and pieces. It's a bit like a craftsman retiring and passing along their shop to a new owner. Lots of wisdom and experience packed into all the tools and materials lying about. But the working craftsman created a context where all those pieces made any kind of sense. For the new owner, it's really just that conglomerate rock that crumbles as you pick it up. The pieces are nice bits of mineral, but now it's up to us to fit them together in a way that serves our purposes.

Deffeyes takes some credit for the fracking boom in e.g. Pennsylvania. I don't think he mentioned North Dakota. How quickly these things boom and bust! But he doesn't address the risks and costs of fracking. He is also rather dismissive of the risk of climate change. OK, the geological record is filled with changing climate. It's funny because he proposes geo-engineering - some massive salination-balancing canals across Panama - so we see than humans can intentionally have a significant effect on the climate - doesn't that imply that CO2 emissions could have a significant effect, even if unintentional?

There is a kind of inconsistency here... he never quite says "So what if humans go extinct, species go extinct all the time!" but actually his geological perspective is vaster yet than that. On the other hand, he's got these dramatic proposals for avoiding any real adjustment to our way of life, contra those crazy climate change folks.

It's a fun conglomerate to wander through but I didn't find any coherent message. I don't think that was the intent. Thanks, Professor Deffeyes, for passing along your fine craftsman shop full of mineral delights, for we of the next generation to put to good use! Enjoy your retirement!
… (more)
kukulaj | Dec 15, 2015 |
Looking through the beautiful illustrations of crystal structures reveals the hidden beauty of our world. This book has been prepared by two brothers, one who writes as an emeritus professor of geoloy and the other is an illustrator. Each short chapter has a text with a facing set of illustrations in color. Some are dynamic, such as those of chemical bonds, erionite, and fuel cells. The books adds to our understanding of our complex world, revealing its seldom seen structure. Materialism at its best.… (more)
vpfluke | 1 other review | Jun 28, 2013 |
Quick and easy read. The main feature of this book is the large collection of the 3D renderings of various nanoscale molecules, with helpful descriptions of each.
HadriantheBlind | 1 other review | Mar 29, 2013 |


You May Also Like


Also by
½ 3.7

Charts & Graphs