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ISBN: 9780865719675

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Limits and Prospects for Human Survival


Weaving together findings from a wide range of disciplines, Power traces how four key elements developed to give humans extraordinary power: tool making ability, language, social complexity, and the ability to harness energy sources — most significantly, fossil fuels. It asks whether we have, at this point, overpowered natural and social systems, and if we have, what we can do about it. Most crucially, the book explores how self-limitation of power is rooted in evolution and human history, though our memory of it has been buried under a century of fossil-fuel driven economic growth. Now, at this vital moment, we must rapidly relearn the lessons of power if humanity is to have a thriving future.


Richard Heinberg

Richard Heinberg is the author of thirteen previous books, including The Party's Over, Powerdown, Peak Everything, and The End of Growth. He is Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world's most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. He lives in Santa Rosa, CA.
Chapter Title Abstract Contributors Pages Year Price


In the introduction, Heinberg suggests that while there is not a single solution to the converging crises of the 21st century, there is a single causative agent. That causative agent is … 13 $1.30


In this chapter, the author takes a look at some of the powers that arose in living things long before humans emerged. 46 $4.60


This chapter describes prehistoric forms of human power, including stone tools, fire, animal skins, and language. 43 $4.30


In this chapter, Heinberg explores physical as well as social power, as well as the ways in which humans have obtained power over each other, including warfare, predation, the wealth pump, state … 67 $6.70


This chapter details forms of fossil fuel power such as coal, oil, and gas. Heinberg suggests that through the development and exercise of these fossil fuel powers, we have changed not only the … 46 $4.60


In this chapter the author focuses primarily on power dilemmas that are less frequently discussed, but that may be even more important for us to understand, especially in the 21st century. These … 60 $6.00


This chapter makes the case that we humans are capable of controlling our thirst for power, and we have a long history of doing so. Moreover, that capacity is rooted in similar behavior expressed … 51 $5.10


In the concluding chapter, Heinberg explores the territory between human self-annihilation and sufficient self-restraint. 63 $6.30