In The Empty Tank, Jeremy Leggett, an internationally renowned geologist and energy entrepreneur who spent the 1980s working for Big Oil, sounds the alarm about an unprecedented crisis. The oil topping point–the day half of all the world’s oil is used up–will be reached, by many calculations, sometime soon. In fact, it may already be upon us. When the financial markets realize what’s happening, an economic crash and soaring energy prices will result. The entire global marketplace we all inhabit will crack and crumble. Oil companies and governments don’t want you to know this. They have been covering up depletion, while stoking addiction and holding back alternatives. Leggett shows how major energy producers have been exposed providing false information about climate change and underground reserves. He describes how governments collude with private enterprise and one another to keep the global economy hooked on oil. And he explains the science behind oil extraction, demonstrating with unimpeachable expertise why the well is indeed running dry a lot faster than we think. Written with verve and eloquence, The Empty Tank explains how we became addicted to oil and why that addiction is leading us toward disaster. Yet Leggett also points the way forward. All the technology we need to get off the road to disaster is already at hand. A new Manhattan Project for energy can save us if we can wake up and confront the problem directly, as this important book urges us to do. "Among the shelf full of books on the oil situation that have been published in the last year or so, (this) is far and away the best." -Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute What’s it all about? ... tough titles made simple by David Shukman THE EMPTY TANK by Jeremy Leggett WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? OIL, gas, hot air and the global energy crisis, according to the explanation on the front cover. Delving into the nightmare scenario of mankind sleepwalking to global disaster, this book focuses on two related dangers: how we’ll run out of oil far sooner than we think and how burning what’s left of it will warm our planet to a catastrophic level. The central contention is that the oil industry is in a state of denial about the size of its reserves. The scandal over Shell’s distortion of its real figures is said to be the tip of the iceberg. And the conclusion is stark: that we’re all using the black stuff at a far faster rate than geologists are finding new deposits, and that as soon as the truth gets out there’ll be panic in the markets, soaring prices and a mega-crash. It’s scary. SO IS IT READABLE? YES, though towards the end some sections lapse into lists of points. But the writing is always clear and conveys complicated but important technicalities in very accessible terms.
DAVID SHUKMAN is environment & science correspondent for BBC News Daily Mail, 18 November 2005