In the process of writing my book I've extensively researched the topic of peak oil. A large part of this research has been reading as many books as I could on the subject of peak oil. These books run a wide gamut from well researched and well argued to chaotic and illogical. I will be maintaining this page in an effort to help others navigate this forest of peak oil books.
Peak Oil Books
Peak Oil Books
fantastic book - a "sustainability bootcamp" in a book
Peak Oil and the Second Great Depression (2010-2030): A Survival Guide for Investors and Savers After Peak Oil
Since peak oil is a contentious issue, I believe that the most important factor in judging these books is analyzing the ability of the authors to persuade their audience. Ethos, Pathos and Logos are the three primary modes of persuasion first introduced by Aristotle's work "On Rhetoric." I will be judging these books primarily on these three categories of persuasion.
Ethos refers to the author's qualification to speak from authority. Authors who are experts in their respective fields, such as respected professors and successful businessmen, have a stronger ethos than authors who have no formal experience, education or expertise. Ethos can become a form of logical fallacy (argumentum ad verecundiam) if authors argue from that authority, for example by saying "trust me, I'm an expert." If, however, authors rely on logic to make a sound argument, ethos can provide an important backing to their persuasion. Ethos is dependent on "social proof." Professors who write research papers that are heavily cited by other academics have high social proof. Authors who have large constituents of followers have high social proof. Being published by a "big four" publishing house can signal social proof and increase ethos. Self-publishing a book can implicitly signal a lack of this social proof.
Pathos is the appeal to an audience's emotions. Pathos is one of the hardest modes of persuasion to balance. A successful author leans on pathos enough to make the argument interesting and relevant. Authors that rely too much on pathos end up sounding like hysterical Cassandras, shouting about how the sky is falling. Authors who avoid pathos often write books that are dull, dry and hard to digest. Authors who have a political ax to grind often appeal to the emotions of one side of the political aisle while ignoring or deriding the other side; as a political moderate, I find such books difficult to take seriously.
Logos is the appeal to logic. Authors who properly employ logos persuade their audience by arguing from data and walking the audience through their inductive, abductive, or deductive reasoning. One of the most important aspects of exercising logos is avoiding logical fallacies. All too often authors resort to ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments or begging the question in order to make their point. The late Carl Sagen has a great treatment of these fallacies in his book "The Demon-Haunted World."
For my rating scale I used a 5-point scale. Empirical study has shown that a Likert scale with five options is better than a 10-point scale.
Obviously I'm extremely interested in the topic of peak oil and I want to have as complete a picture of the issue as I can get. If I'm missing a peak oil themed book on this list that you think I should read and include, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org