Quill and Quire

REVIEWS

« Back to
Book Reviews

Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller

by Jeff Rubin

For more than 20 years, Jeff Rubin has been known as one of Canada’s top economists, and a major voice for the energy sector. In Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, Rubin uses that background to project what our world will look like in the near future, as oil reserves dwindle and global economies suffer. This book is not aimed at economists and money managers, though. It speaks directly to the average reader, and should serve as a dire warning of the severe consequences of oil dependency in our everyday lives.

With its central argument that a combination of rapidly dwindling oil supply and ever-increasing oil dependence will cause a continuing cycle of worsening recessions and depressions, this book projects a bleak future. As transportation and environmental costs increase due to high oil prices and carbon regulation, Rubin argues, international trade will dry up and the age of globalization will end. The resulting fallout will force governments and businesses to create and support localized economies, and eschew international trade and transport.

In the tradition of writers like George Monbiot and Sir Nicholas Stern, Rubin presents some difficult truths that readers may find intimidating. Dense with statistics pointing to the inevitable collapse of the world as we know it, this book may not be an encouraging read. Unlike Monbiot and Stern, who put forth a plan to slow the collapse, Rubin’s focus remains squarely on preparing readers for the kind of world that is coming, rather than trying to slow that inevitable outcome.

In a world where consumption in developed countries shows little sign of slowing and oil usage is skyrocketing, we need someone with Rubin’s background to predict what the likely results will be. Rubin’s perspective clearly falls more into the realm of futurism than economics, but because he excels at taking complex economic data and applying them to the everyday lives of his readers, this book functions successfully as both explanation and warning.

Rubin is sure to incite controversy with some of the central ideas in this book, but given that the world he envisions seems increasingly likely to materialize, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller could turn out to be the exactly the book that readers are looking for, or that they need.