Summary of Out of Gas

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Out of Gas book summary


9 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


Author David Goodstein says the world’s citizens must face the facts: the end of the age of oil is at hand. Those who argue that the world’s oil supply is sufficient for another 30 or 40 years are missing the point, he says, because the economic effects of the oil shortage will begin long before the last drop is pumped from the ground. Goodstein crafted his book for the educated nonscientist, and he does a masterful job of explaining the complex science behind energy supply and production. Goodstein’s prose is neat, clean and straightforward. His explication has a narrative quality that makes it easily readable, and he adroitly avoids oversimplification. Ultimately, the book is limited by science itself: Goodstein admits that science does not yet know the tipping point for the greenhouse effect, and has not yet determined the optimum mix of alternative power technologies. However, he makes it clear that alternative energy development is a matter of pay for it now or pay for it later. strongly recommends this book, especially for realists who sense a lot of long gas lines waiting just around the corner.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What the history of oil production and energy generation reveals;
  • What science says about global warming, greenhouse gases and the global energy shortage; and
  • Which alternatives might provide ways out of the energy dilemma.

About the Author

David Goodstein has written five previous books. He is vice provost and a professor in the California Institute of Technology’s physics department.



Black Gold
When the Persians set siege to Athens in 480 B.C., they shot blazing arrows that had been soaked in oil. For the most part, however, people simply had no use for oil until the past 200 years or so. It sat in the ground, waiting.

In August 1859, a former railroad...

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