Chelsea Green Publishing

Snake Oil

Pages:162 pages
Book Art:Black and white illustrations
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Post Carbon Institute
Paperback: 9780976751090
Pub. Date June 13, 2014

Snake Oil

How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
June 13, 2014


The rapid spread of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has temporarily boosted US natural gas and oil production . . . and sparked a massive environmental backlash in communities across the country. The fossil-fuel industry is trying to sell fracking as the biggest energy development of the century, with slick promises of American energy independence and benefits to local economies. Snake Oil casts a critical eye on the oil-industry hype that has hijacked America's energy conversation. This is the first book to look at fracking from both economic and environmental perspectives, informed by the most thorough analysis of shale gas and oil drilling data ever undertaken. Is fracking the miracle cure-all to our energy ills, or a costly distraction from the necessary work of reducing our fossil-fuel dependence?


"Those who think fracked gas is a panacea for our energy future would do well to read this cautionary account—it has an undeniable whiff of reality about it."--Bill McKibben, founder of and author of Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist

"Many long-time observers of the world energy scene have been wondering whether claims being made for US shale gas and tight oil are "too good to be true." Here is hard evidence that they are indeed. America will achieve real, long-term energy independence and security only by doing two things: reducing energy demand and developing distributed renewable energy sources."--Michael Klare, Director of Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, author of The Race for What's Left

"Snake Oil exposes the unsustainable economics behind the so-called fracking boom, giving the lie to industry claims that natural gas will bring great economic benefits and long-term energy security to the United States. In clear, hard-hitting language, Heinberg reveals that communities where fracking has taken place are actually being hurt economically. For those who want to know the truth about why natural gas is a gangplank, not a bridge, Snake Oil is a must-read."--Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club and author of Coming Clean

"Unconventional production from shales has been hyped mercilessly by the oil and gas industry. Richard Heinberg does an outstanding job of purging the myths and bringing sensibility to a dialogue which, unfortunately, has been driven by a brand of thinking on the part of energy producers that closely mimics the mentality of Wall Street."--Deborah Rogers, founder of Energy Policy Forum, former Wall Street financial analyst

"We are already living with the false promise that fracking would not harm the environment. Now read the facts about the false promise that it will provide an energy-secure future and lots of jobs. Snake Oil debunks all the myths. It is a must-read for our elected leaders."--Maude Barlow, Board Chair of Food & Water Watch and author of Blue Covenant

"It always sounded too good to be true . . . Richard Heinberg authoritatively explains the fine print beneath the hype—sure enough, fracking is the 21st-century version of snake oil. The real deal is energy efficiency along with solar and wind power. It's time for a sober and honest debate about our energy future. That's why Snake Oil is essential reading."--David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, author of Down to the Wire

"In Snake Oil, Richard Heinberg reveals two key themes everyone should understand: The promise of shale oil and gas abundance is exaggerated and misleading, and the cost of producing the shale oil supply has reached a level that is inconsistent with economic growth."--Arthur Berman, consulting geologist and Director of Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

"The shale "revolution" might be over sooner than you think. Snake Oil does what the mainstream media have failed to do: ask the tough questions—particularly about the economics—and closely examine the real potential of fracking for oil and gas. This book is an important counterpoint to what has been little more than regurgitated industry press releases thus far and is an essential read for investors and policy makers."--Chris Nelder, energy analyst and author of Profit from the Peak

"When some things are too hard or painful to understand, it takes a heroic effort to even try to get a message across. Richard Heinberg is a beacon of light cutting through the fog of wishful thinking to illuminate the critical issues by which the human project may stand or fall: energy and economy."--James Howard Kunstler, author of Too Much Magic and The Long Emergency


Richard Heinberg

Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. He is the author of several influential books on resource depletion including Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century Of Declines.


Angels by the River

Angels by the River

By James Gustave Speth

Angels by the River follows James Gustave Speth’s unlikely path—from a Southern boyhood to his career as an influential mainstream environmentalist to his current system-changing activism.

In this compelling memoir, Speth explores the issues, and realities, that have shaped the nation since the 1950s, and that turned an “ultimate insider” into someone willing to be arrested in front of the White House.

Born and raised in a town where both the best and worst of the South shone through—a town that eventually became the scene of South Carolina’s horrific Orangeburg Massacre—Speth explores how the civil rights movement and the South’s agrarian roots influenced his academic career at Yale and later work in the heyday of the environmental movement, when he helped launch two landmark and influential environmental groups—the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute—advise the White House on climate and other emerging issues, and lead the UN’s development efforts around the globe.

Speth fought to create and uphold the nation’s toughest environmental laws, but now believes a new environmentalism is needed to confront today’s challenges. The advancing climate crisis cannot be addressed, he warns, as long as we remain fixated on endless growth and consumption, corporate profits, increasing the incomes of the well-to-do, neglecting those just getting by, and helping abroad only modestly.

An American tale, in all its complexity, Speth’s memoir is an inspiration—especially for readers contemplating how to make a difference in an increasingly complex world.

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback

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Angels by the River

James Gustave Speth

Hardcover $25.00

Welcome to the Machine

Welcome to the Machine

By Derrick Jensen and George Draffan

You could call them the Monkeywrench Gang of the nanotech age. Derrick Jensen and George Draffan are taking down the data mining industry, one converted mind at a time. In the face of RFID chips, consumer tracking strategies, and illegal government wiretapping, Jensen and Draffan are determined to show consumers how to fight back against government and industry to regain their rights, their privacy, and their humanity. In their new book, Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control, Jensen and Draffan take a hart-hitting look at the way technology is used as a machine, to control us and our environment. Their results are startling.

If the prospect of perpetual surveillance and psychological warfare alarms you, you are not alone. Most people would be disturbed if you told them that everything from their store purchases to their public transit rides are recorded and filed for government or corporate access. But more often than not, the smooth, silent cleanliness of its operation allows the Machine of Western Civilization to go unnoticed. In Welcome to the Machine, Jensen and Draffan draw our attention back to its eerie, persistent white noise and take a cold, hard, human look at the cultural conditions that have led us to all but surrender to its hum.

Jensen and Draffan, who teamed up in 2003 to expose industrial corruption and destruction in Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests, are back to reveal both the terrifying extent of surveillance today and our chilling complacency at the loss of everything from consumer privacy to civil liberties. In this timely and important new collaboration, Jensen and Draffan take on all aspects of Control Culture: everything from the government's policy of total information awareness to a disturbing new technology where soldiers can be given medication to prevent them from feeling fear. They write about pharmaceutical packaging that reports consumer information, which is then used to send targeted drug advertisements directly to your TV.

Available in: Paperback

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Welcome to the Machine

Derrick Jensen, George Draffan

Paperback $24.95

Devil in the Milk

Devil in the Milk

By Keith Woodford

This groundbreaking work is the first internationally published book to examine the link between a protein in the milk we drink and a range of serious illnesses, including heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.

These health problems are linked to a tiny protein fragment that is formed when we digest A1 beta-casein, a milk protein produced by many cows in the United States and northern European countries. Milk that contains A1 beta-casein is commonly known as A1 milk; milk that does not is called A2. All milk was once A2, until a genetic mutation occurred some thousands of years ago in some European cattle. A2 milk remains high in herds in much of Asia, Africa, and parts of Southern Europe. A1 milk is common in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe.

In Devil in the Milk, Keith Woodford brings together the evidence published in more than 100 scientific papers. He examines the population studies that look at the link between consumption of A1 milk and the incidence of heart disease and Type 1 diabetes; he explains the science that underpins the A1/A2 hypothesis; and he examines the research undertaken with animals and humans. The evidence is compelling: We should be switching to A2 milk.

A2 milk from selected cows is now marketed in parts of the U.S., and it is possible to convert a herd of cows producing A1 milk to cows producing A2 milk.

This is an amazing story, one that is not just about the health issues surrounding A1 milk, but also about how scientific evidence can be molded and withheld by vested interests, and how consumer choices are influenced by the interests of corporate business.

Available in: Paperback

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Devil in the Milk

Keith Woodford, Tom Cowan

Paperback $24.95

Carbon Shock

Carbon Shock

By Mark Schapiro

In Carbon Shock, veteran journalist Mark Schapiro takes readers on a journey into a world where the same chaotic forces reshaping our natural world are also transforming the economy, playing havoc with corporate calculations, shifting economic and political power, and upending our understanding of the real risks, costs, and possibilities of what lies ahead.

In this ever-changing world, carbon—the stand-in for all greenhouse gases—rules, and disrupts, and calls upon us to seek new ways to reduce it while factoring it into nearly every long-term financial plan we have. But how?

From the jungles of the Amazon to the farms in California’s Central Valley, from ‘greening’ cities like Pittsburgh to rising powerhouses like China, from the oil-splattered beaches of Spain to carbon-trading desks in London, Schapiro deftly explores the key axis points of change.

For almost two decades, global climate talks have focused on how to make polluters pay for the carbon they emit. It remains an unfolding financial mystery: What are the costs? Who will pay for them? Who do you pay? How do you pay? And what are the potential impacts? The answers to these questions, and more, are crucial to understanding, if not shaping, the coming decade.

Carbon Shock evokes a world in which the parameters of our understanding are shifting—on a scale even more monumental than how the digital revolution transformed financial decision-making—toward a slow but steady acknowledgement of the costs and consequences of climate change. It also offers a critical new perspective as global leaders gear up for the next round of climate talks in 2015.

Available in: Hardcover

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Carbon Shock

Mark Schapiro

Hardcover $26.00