Saturday, August 1, 2009

Review: "Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller"

I read Todd Hirsch’s review of this book on the train from Québec back in May and was floored by the excerpt that was included with it in the paper.


Because the author’s story is just as compelling as his subject matter.

Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization, by Jeff Rubin, isn’t meant to cause panic, but rather to present a concise vision of a future (emphasis mine) without access to cheap imported oil in North America. Far from being overly apocalyptic, however, Rubin’s forecast sounds like a relief. After the price of oil functions to restrict (or eliminate completely) the movement of cheap goods and produce from overseas, North Americans will be forced to rely on things like local farmers and public transportation for food and for their daily commute. The way that he connects these dots is impressive (and strangely hopeful) and the way that he explains the interplay between the scarcity of oil, corn, and water in his more-local version of the not-too-distant future is fascinating, as well. While there are some highly technical points made in the text (particularly about following economic trends and how oil is extracted from various points on the planet) the voice and style are very accessible and easy to follow across the industries and the concepts that have converged on the world at the end of the age of cheap energy.

The fact that Rubin wrote the manuscript for Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller in four months and then promptly walked from his post as Chief Economist for CIBC World Markets in Toronto made me run out and grab this title as soon as I got back to Albany.