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We are pleased to make most every chapter of The Post Carbon Reader available for free! If you find the material useful, please support this work by purchasing the full book or contributing to Post Carbon Institute.

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Passivhaus construction The Next Step in Sustainable Building: the Passive House
By Pat Murphy • October 5, 2011
A PCI READER BONUS WEB ARTICLE: Every use of energy is now under review, and we are finding that the greatest generators of CO2 are not automobiles and airplanes but buildings. As a result, developers, architects, and planners are looking for ways to build structures that use significantly less energy than even the top-rated "green" buildings of today. Read more
resilience  icon Bicycle Transportation: A Win-Win Strategy in the Post-Carbon Era
By Mia Birk • November 11, 2010
A PCI READER BONUS WEB ARTICLE: In less than a generation and for less than one percent of our transportation budget, we have created a city --Portland, Oregon--where thousands of people can and do choose something other than a car as their normal, everyday means of transportation: the bicycle. Read more


resilience  icon FOUNDATION CONCEPTS: What Is Sustainability?
By Richard Heinberg • March 15, 2012
To be sustainable, the use of renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment. Read more
resilience  icon ECONOMY: Ecological Economics
By Joshua Farley • December 8, 2011
The ecological and resource crises we currently face are orders of magnitude more serious than the Great Depression, as they threaten not only the economic system but also human survival. We must develop a new type of economics that addresses these shortcomings. Read more
resilience  icon ECONOMY: Money and Energy
By Richard Douthwaite • November 15, 2011
Until recently, if the banks gave out more loans and the amount of money in circulation increased, more energy could be produced from fossil fuel sources to give value to that money. Read more
resilience  icon CULTURE AND BEHAVIOR: Dangerously Addictive: Why We Are Biologically Ill-Suited to the Riches of Modern America
By Peter Whybrow • September 22, 2011
Regardless of what we have, we want more and we want it now.  The roots of this conundrum are to be found in our evolutionary history. Read more
resilience  icon CULTURE AND BEHAVIOR: The Human Nature of Unsustainability
By William Rees • August 31, 2011
Why does our reasonably intelligent species seem unable to recognize the crisis for what it is and respond accordingly? Read more
resilience  icon ENERGY: Making Sense of Peak Oil and Energy Uncertainty
By Daniel Lerch • June 28, 2011
Oil is such an intrinsic part of how our world works that the "invisible hand of the market" is simply unable to deal adequately with the threats posed by peak oil. Read more
resilience  icon ENERGY: Peak Oil and the Great Recession
By Tom Whipple • May 26, 2011
The peaking of global oil production has already had economic consequences, which will become increasingly serious as time goes on. Read more
resilience  icon EDUCATION: Community Colleges: A Vital Resource for Education in the Post-Carbon Era
By Nancy Lee Wood • May 4, 2011
The key question is, "Where in our current educational system is it possible to develop and institutionalize the kinds of education needed to prepare people for work in the post-carbon economy-and to do so relatively quickly?". Read more
resilience  icon CLIMATE: The International Response to Climate Change
By Richard Douthwaite • April 18, 2011
Whatever carbon-management system the world adopts, farming methods will need to change, and the efforts of hundreds of millions of people will be necessary to get the carbon out of the air. We, the residents of the world's industrialized countries, should not expect our lives to continue in much the same way. Read more
resilience  icon CITIES, TOWNS, AND SUBURBS: Local Government in a Time of Peak Oil and Climate Change
By John Kaufmann • April 4, 2011
If government is not responding as we would like it to, we cannot tear it down or abandon it. We must make it work. Government, after all, is us. Read more
resilience  icon FOUNDATION CONCEPTS: Thinking "Resilience"
By William Rees • March 21, 2011
Since techno-industrial society remains utterly dependent on ecosystems to continue providing life support, learning how best to cultivate systems resilience must become a key element of sustainability thinking. Read more
resilience  icon FOOD: Getting Fossil Fuels Off the Plate
By Michael Bomford • February 28, 2011
Taking fewer trips to the grocery store, or getting there by foot, bike, or transit, has far more impact on energy use than obsessing over paper versus plastic bags. Read more
resilience  icon CULTURE AND BEHAVIOR: Remapping Relationships: Humans in Nature
By Gloria Flora • February 7, 2011
Nature and ecosystems, when thought of at all, are seen as luxuries or impositions: Wilderness is a place for the elite to frolic while sporting expensive clothing and equipment, and open space is idle space. Read more
resilience  icon ENERGY: Hydrocarbons in North America
By David Hughes • January 24, 2011
The sheer scale of our dependency on nonrenewable, enegy-dense "fossilized sunshine" is often lost on those who believe that renewable energy sources can supplant hydrocarbons at anything like today's level of energy consumption. Read more
resilience  icon BIODIVERSITY: Peak Nature?
By Stephanie Mills • January 3, 2011
Virtually every human threat to other species and their habitats is driven by economic growth and by our consuption, be it of food, energy, products, or even scenery. Read more
resilience  icon FOOD: Tackling the Oldest Environmental Problem: Agriculture and Its Impact on Soil
By Wes Jackson • December 13, 2010
On a global basis, agriculture is the largest threat to biodiversity and ecosystem function of any single human activity. Read more
resilience  icon CITIES, TOWNS, AND SUBURBS: Toward Zero-Carbon Buildings
By Hillary Brown • November 22, 2010
In many ways, the green building movement represents a broad urge among builders, designers, and citizens alike to proactively respond to climate change and other environmental issues without waiting for governmental action. Read more
resilience  icon ECONOMY: The Competitiveness of Local Living Economies
By Michael Shuman • November 3, 2010
The only thing standing in the way of localization is policy-makers committed to propping up noncompetitive global corporations. Read more
resilience  icon TRANSPORTATION: Transportation in the Post-Carbon World
By Anthony Perl and Richard Gilbert • October 26, 2010
Successful post-carbon transitions will benefit from understanding the dynamics of transport revolutions.  We define a transport revolution as being a substantial change in a society's transport activity-moving people or freight, or both-that occurs in less than twenty five years. Read more
resilience  icon HEALTH: Human Health and Well-Being in an Era of Energy Scarcity and Climate Change
By Cindy Parker and Brian Schwartz • October 12, 2010
Climate Change and the threat of energy scarcity now pose serious challenges to our "health system," specifically health care services and public health services. Read more
resilience  icon WASTE: Climate Change, Peak Oil, and the End of Waste
By Bill Sheehan and Helen Spiegelman • September 27, 2010
We in rich countries have almost lost the ability to supply our own needs through local manufacturing and agriculture--or even to extend the life of products through reuse, repair, and repurposing. Read more
resilience  icon BUILDING RESILIENCE: What Can Communities Do?
By Rob Hopkins • September 13, 2010
Community matters when we are looking for responses to peak oil and climate change because of the power that emerges from working together and creating meaningful change through shared action. Read more
resilience  icon FOOD: Growing Community Food Systems
By Erika Allen • September 1, 2010
The idea of a community food system is much larger than just urban farming. It deals with everything, all the components that are needed to establish, maintain, and perpetually sustain a civilization. Read more
resilience  icon POPULATION: The Multiplier of Everything Else
By William Ryerson • August 17, 2010
One thing is certain: The planet and its resources are finite, and it cannot support an infinite population of humans or any other species. A second thing is also certain: The issue of population is too important to avoid just because it is controversial. Read more
resilience  icon ENERGY: Nine Challenges of Alternative Energy
By David Fridley • August 10, 2010
Alternative energy faces the challenge of how to supplant a fossil-fuel-based supply chain with one driven by alternative energy forms themselves in order to break their reliance on a fossil-fuel foundation. Read more
resilience  icon FOUNDATION CONCEPTS: Beyond the Limits to Growth
By Richard Heinberg • July 27, 2010
At some point in time, humanity's ever-increasing resource consumption will meet the very real limits of a planet with finite natural resources. We, the authors of The Post Carbon Reader, believe that time has come. Read more
resilience  icon CITIES: Smart Decline
By Deborah and Frank Popper • July 19, 2010
In 2002, after decades of trying to restart economic development like most other Rust Belt cities, Youngstown made a radical change in approach. The city began devising a transformative plan to encourage some neighborhoods to keep emptying and their vegetation to return. The plan, still early in its implementation as we write, would raze...Read more
resilience icon RESILIENCE: Personal Preparation
By Chris Martenson • July 6, 2010
My "standard of living" is a fraction of what it formerly was, but my quality of life has never been higher. We live in a house less than half the size of our former house, my beloved boat is gone, and we have a garden and chickens in the backyard... Read more
cities icon CITIES: The Death of Sprawl
By Warren Karlenzig • June 23, 2010
In April 2009—just when people thought things couldn’t get worse in San Bernardino County, California—bulldozers demolished four perfectly good new houses and a dozen others still under construction in Victorville, 100 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles... Read more
water icon WATER: Adapting to a New Normal
By Sandra Postel • June 22, 2010
Water, like energy, is essential to virtually every human endeavor. It is needed to grow food and fiber, to make clothes and computers, and, of course, to drink. The growing number of water shortages around the world and the possibility of these shortages leading to economic disruption, food crises, social tensions, and even war suggest that the challenges posed by water in the coming decades will rival those posed by declining oil supplies... Read more