Initial Publication Date: March 25, 2009

Emerson book quote Selected Readings

This is a collection of books, recommended by the community, that may be useful in teaching energy at the undergraduate level. The list includes textbooks, readings from the popular press and DVDs. They represent a range of interests related to geology and energy resources; some are written from a singular "point of view" and may represent disparate or controversial agendas, philosophies, or values. All provide the opportunity for student learners to apply critical thinking skills, to evaluate the evidence presented, and to identify fundamental scientific principles (or perhaps flaws in the evidence and interpretations). Read well!

If you would like to add to this collection, please [linkcontribute_ref.html 'tell us about books or DVDs you find useful for teaching'].

General | Oil | Coal | Nuclear | Alternative & Sustainable Energy | DVDs


Oil, Water, and Climate: An Introduction, by Catherine Gautier, University of California, Santa Barbara
Anxieties over global and national energy water and climate security are growing. Oil and gas prices are fluctuating rapidly global energy demand had been increasing rapidly until the financial crisis. Energy and water are needed to feed a growing global population. Climate change is exacerbating the impacts of overuse of our planet's population. This book examines the powerful interconnections that link energy water and climate. It explores available options to address these issues jointly and urgently.
Gautier, Catherine, 2008, Oil, Water and Climate: Cambridge University Press, 366 pp. ISBN 978-0-721-70919-4


Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Energy and Society This volume of Taking Sides focuses on energy issues and society. Units include fossil fuels, global warming, nuclear power, and alternative energy sources. Each unit includes 3-6 "issues" or questions that are debated. Each issue is framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. An instructors manual with testing material is available online for each volume. Each Taking Sides reader also features an annotated listing of selected web sites.
Easton, T.A., 2008, Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Energy and Society, 13th ed.: Columbus, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 396pp.

Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues Unit 3 of this volume of Taking Sides focuses on energy issues, including should the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be opened to oil drilling; is global warming skepticism just smoke and mirrors; is wind power green; should cars be more efficient; do biofuels enhance energy security; and is it time to revive nuclear power. Both sides of each issue are presented in debate-style format. Each issue is framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. An instructors manual with testing material is available online for each volume. Each Taking Sides reader also features an annotated listing of selected web sites.
Easton, T.A., 2009, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues, 13th ed.: Columbus, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, v. e, 448pp.

America's Energy Future: Technology and Transformation This book analyzes the potential of a wide range of technologies for generation, distribution, and conservation of energy. This book considers technologies to increase energy efficiency, coal-fired power generation, nuclear power, renewable energy, oil and natural gas, and alternative transportation fuels. It offers a detailed assessment of the associated impacts and projected costs of implementing each technology and categorizes them into three time frames for implementation.


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Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage Using the methods of geophysicist M. King Hubbert, who predicted the U.S. oil production peak, Deffeyes predicts that world oil production will peak between 2003-2009. This primer on oil exploration and drilling supports his argument for the timing of the oil peak and its inevitable nature as well as provides commentary on switching to alternative fuels.
Deffeyes, K.S., 2008, Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage: Princeton, Princeton University Press, 232pp.

Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak Based on the work of M. King Hubbert, this book provides information to support the prediction that the world's oil production will hit its peak in the first decade of the 21st century. The book also predicts impacts, economic, social, and technological, of the peak oil production and a large part of the book surveys the pros and cons of alternative energy sources such as coal and hydrogen.
Deffeyes, K.S., 2006, Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak: New York, Hill and Wang, 224pp.

The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World The End of Oil is a "geologic cautionary tale for a complacent world accustomed to reliable infusions of cheap energy." With the peak in world oil production imminent, this book addresses which energy sources will replace oil, who will control them, and how the transition will take place from an oil dominated society to alternative energy use.
Roberts, P., 2005, The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World: New York, Mariner Books, 416pp.

The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies The peak in global oil production is upon us, and soon oil will need to be replaced with alternative energy sources. This book places the transition between oil and alternative energy sources in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the 20th century, and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the 21st century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South America. The book also describes the likely impacts of oil depletion, and all of the energy alternatives.
Heinberg, R., 2003, The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies: Gabriola Island, New Society Publishers, 288pp.

A Thousand Barrels a Second: The Coming Oil Break Point and the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependent World This book provides a reader-friendly primer on the history of oil, its uses, supply chains and politics, and includes several charts and graphs that illustrate the oil market's future. The author analyzes energy consumption cycles, their breakpoints, and rebalancing periods to provide an outlook on the oil industry.
Tertzakian, P., 2007, A Thousand Barrels a Second: The coming Oil Break Point and the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependent World: New York, McGraw-Hill, 288pp.

Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy Written by an investment banker, this book provides a detailed description of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. and the U.S. dependence on oil. The first half of the book provide background and context for understanding technical discussions of Saudi oil fields and the world's energy supplies; the last half of the book provides an analysis of the Saudi oil and gas industry which is based on technical papers from the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Simmons, M.R., 2005, Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy: Hoboken, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 464 pp.

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power The Prize, winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, is a comprehensive history of one of the commodities that powers the world--oil. Founded in the 19th century, the oil industry began producing kerosene for lamps and progressed to gasoline. Huge personal fortunes arose from it, and whole nations sprung out of the power politics of the oil wells. Yergin's fascinating account sweeps from early robber barons like John D. Rockefeller, to the oil crisis of the 1970s, through to the Gulf War.
Yergin, D., 1991, The Prize: New York, Free Press, 928pp.

Oil! This fast-paced novel is focused on a clash between an oil developer and his son. Undertones of Sinclair's socialism and sympathy for the working man are throughout the book.
Sinclair, U., 1927, Oil!: New York, Penguin Books, 544pp.

The Seven Sisters - The Great Oil Companies & the World They Shaped While outdated, this book provides an excellent, readable primer on the oil industry and world politics. The title refers to the seven oil companies that dominated world petroleum production and provides a history for each of the companies. This book helps readers to understand the history of the oil industry in the Middle East and to contextualize tensions, misunderstandings, and decisions.
Sampson, A., 1980 The Seven Sisters - The Great Oil Companies & the World They Shaped: New York, Bantam Books, 393pp.

The Tyranny of Oil: The World's Most Powerful Industry--and What We Must Do to Stop It The Tyranny of Oil offers both a new take on problems and a new set of solutions as Juhasz puts forward an immediate call to action—a formula for reining in the industry, its governmental lobbying power, environmental destruction, and violence while reducing global dependence on oil. Her thought-provoking answers to the most pressing energy questions speak directly to readers concerned about oil and gas prices, global warming, wars for oil, and America's place in the world. Drawing on considerable historical research, Juhasz explores the parallels between today's companies and Standard Oil, the most powerful corporation of the early twentieth century, whose stranglehold on the economy and government was broken only by the vision and persistence of activists and like-minded politicians. We are in a similar position today, she argues, with powerful opportunities available for ordinary Americans to come together, reclaim their voices, and shore up our nation's crumbling democratic foundation.
Juhasz, A., 2008, The Tyranny of Oil: The World's Most Powerful Industry--and What We Must Do to Stop It: New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 480pp.

Oil on the Brain: Petroleum's Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank Americans buy ten thousand gallons of gasoline a second, without giving it much of a thought. Where does all this gas come from? Margonelli's desire to learn took her on a one-hundred thousand mile journey from her local gas station to oil fields half a world away. In search of the truth behind the myths, she wriggled her way into some of the most off-limits places on earth: the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the New York Mercantile Exchange's crude oil market, oil fields from Venezuela, to Texas, to Chad, and even an Iranian oil platform where the United States fought a forgotten one-day battle. In a story by turns surreal and alarming, Margonelli meets lonely workers on a Texas drilling rig, an oil analyst who almost gave birth on the NYMEX trading floor, Chadian villagers who are said to wander the oil fields in the guise of lions, a Nigerian warlord who changed the world price of oil with a single cell phone call, and Shanghai bureaucrats who dream of creating a new Detroit.
Margonelli, L., 2007, Oil on the Brain: Petroleum's Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank: New York, Random House Inc., 352pp.

Oil & Gas Production in Nontechnical Language This book provides a concise overview of the oil and gas industries. It explores the origins of oil and gas and reservoir dynamics and explains production ownership and land rights. The text is supplemented with a collection of pictures, drawings, charts, and graphs.
Raymond, M.S. and Leffler, W.L., 2005, Oil & Gas Production in Nontechnical Language: Tulsa, PennWell Corp., 221pp.

The Age of Oil: What They Don't Want You to Know About the World's Most Controversial Resource Oil is a vital resource and the oil industry is marked by booms and busts. This book examines the reasons behind these fluctuations and argues that the future of the oil business has never looked better - contrary to what many consumers are led to believe. "The Age of Oil" presents a controversial, yet surprisingly different perspective on the oil industry. It also attempts to debunk the main myths surrounding oil in our time as well as addresses whether we are indeed running out of oil, and examines the role of "black gold" in the world economy and today's geopolitical conflicts.
Maugeri, L., 2007, The Age of Oil: What They Don't Want You to Know About the World's Most Controversial Resource: Guilford, The Lyons Press, 376pp.


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Coal: A Human History submitted by Rebecca Ambers, Sweet Briar College
This book provides an interesting and engaging overview of the history of coal from its earliest uses to modern-day energy and pollution issues. While providing some information on the science and formation of coal the author focuses mainly on the developments in the mining industry connections to the Industrial Revolution and the impacts of coal use. Both environmental and social issues are explored. The geographic focus is initially on Britain but the majority of the book is on the U.S. with a chapter on China near the end. The writing style is highly readable and the author includes many interesting stories some of which are even funny.
Freese, Barbara, 2004, Coal: A Human History: Penguin Books ISBN-13: 978-0142000984

Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future Given assertions made by the Bush administration, it would seem that coal is a glistening new energy alternative, the answer to the current oil crisis. Few of us realize that coal is already one of America's biggest and most influential industries; Big Coal provides more than half of the electricity consumed by Americans today. Every time we flip a light switch or turn on the television, we burn a lump of coal. And coal's dominance is growing. The problem, Jeff Goodell points out in this eye-opening call to action, is that on close examination, the glowing promise of coal quickly turns to ash. Coal mining practices are setting us up for economic and environmental catastrophes. Forty percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year comes from coal-fired power plants, and pollution from these plants has killed more than half a million Americans in the last two decades. But we've become so complacent about our energy future that we haven't invested in alternatives. Goodell clearly explains how we got here and discusses how we can get out.
Goodell, J., 2007, Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future: New York, Mariner Books, 352pp

Bringing Down the Mountains: The Impact of Mountaintop Removal on Southern West Virginia Communities "Bringing Down the Mountains" provides insight into how mountaintop removal (MTR) surface coal mining has affected the people and the land of southern West Virginia. It examines the mechanization of the mining industry and the power relationships between coal interests, politicians, and the average citizen. "Bringing Down the Mountains" reveals how a political system married to natural-resource extraction turns a blind eye to the irrevocable disfigurement of the earth while thousands of West Virginians suffer the consequences. MTR has ruined homes, increased the risk of flooding, endangered the lives of school children, forced friends and family members out of town, and turned West Virginia's hardwood forests into moonscapes.
Burns, S.S., 2007, Bringing Down the Mountains: The Impact of Mountaintop Removal on Southern West Virginia Communities: Morgantown, West Virginia University Press, 248pp.


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Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey When faced with a dramatic increase in energy demand, uncertain supplies and the potentially harmful effects of carbon emissions how are we to make informed choices? Veteran journalist William Tucker has relied on years of research and investigation to help us make sense of America s energy predicament without the burdens of political pressures or predetermined outcomes. In this book, Tucker argues that nuclear energy is the best choice for a future energy source and why coal and renewable energy sources are detrimental or insufficient, respectively.
Tucker, W., 2008, Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey: Savage, Bartleby Press, 420pp.

Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century This well-illustrated book provides general audiences with a primer on nuclear energy. The book discusses energy demands of the future and the potential role of nuclear power in meeting those demands. The nuclear fuel cycle is fully explained from mining uranium through disposal of high level nuclear waste.
Hore-Lacy, I., 2006, Nuclear Energy in the 21 st Century: Burlington, World Nuclear Association, 168pp.

Commercial Nuclear Power: Assuring Safety for the Future This book describes the role that nuclear power could play as a viable option in meeting future electrical energy needs. It explains dangers of nuclear energy as a power source, both human factors and natural factors, and provides insights into the international demand and forecasts for electricity production from available fuels.
Ramsey, C., 1998, Commercial Nuclear Power: Assuring Safety for the Future: New York, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 536pp.

Alternative Energy and Sustainable Energy

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The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis submitted by Glenn A. Richard, Stony Brook University
This book discusses a variety of sustainable energy technologies that can be implemented on a community or regional scale including solar, wind, hydro, ocean, thermal, wave, tidal, biomass, liquid biofuels and geothermal. The discussion of each technology is accompanied by case studies of systems that have been implemented. In addition there is a chapter on how these energy technologies can be integrated into the infrastructures, economies and lifestyles of communities.
Pahl, Greg, 2007, The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis: Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction Vermont ISBN 978-1-933392-12-7

Energy Systems and Sustainability The world's current energy system is dominated by fossil fuels, but has substantial contributions from nuclear power, hydroelectricity, and biofuels. This book explores the origins of these energy sources, the principles underlying their use and evolution into their present forms, their current status, and the future prospect, emphasizing their sustainability.
Boyle,G., Everett, B., and Ramage, J., eds., 2003, Energy Systems and Sustainability: New York, Oxford University Press, 640pp.

Renewable Energy Policy As oil production peaks, renewable energy is becoming increasingly important. Renewable Energy Policy takes a pragmatic, nuts-and-bolts look at the myriad government efforts to promote renewables, and reports back on what works, what doesn't, and why. In clear, jargon-free language, Renewable Energy Policy shows how and why some policies have achieved impressive results, and others have failed. Skillfully interweaving technology, economics, and politics, Paul Komor reveals how the best of policy ideas often end up with unintended results.
Komor, P., 2004, Renewable Energy Policy: Bloomington, iUniverse Inc., 194pp.

Solar Revolution: The Economic Transformation of the Global Energy Industry submitted by Mamadou Keita, Gillette College
In Solar Revolution, fund manager and former corporate buyout specialist Travis Bradford argues—on the basis of standard business and economic forecasting models—that over the next two decades solar energy will increasingly become the best and cheapest choice for most electricity and energy applications. Solar Revolution outlines the path by which the transition to solar technology and sustainable energy practices will occur. Developments in the photovoltaic (PV) industry over the last ten years have made direct electricity generation from PV cells a cost-effective and feasible energy solution. This book argues that the shift to solar energy is inevitable and will be as transformative as the last century's revolutions in information and communication technologies.
Bradford, T., 2008, Solar Revolution: The Economic Transformation of the Global Energy Industry: Cambridge, The MIT Press, 254pp.

Fundamentals of Renewable Energy Processes submitted by Mamadou Keita, Gillette College
This book discusses how and why the most popular renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydrogen, and biomass) work and provides a technical grounding for professionals and students investigating renewable energy resources. The book focuses on the latest advances in these technologies and contextualized to help students and professionals to understand breakthroughs in renewable energy.
da Rosa, A.V., 2009, Fundamentals of Renewable Energy Processes, 2nd ed.: St. Louis, Academic Press, 864pp.

Sustainable Energy: Choosing Among Options Designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students and individuals interested in exploring sustainable energy resource options and technologies, this textbook presents the trade-offs and uncertainties inherent in evaluating and choosing different energy options. It also provides a framework for assessing policy solutions. Sustainable Energy includes illustrative examples, problems, references for further reading, and links to relevant web sites.
Tester, J.W., Drake, E.M., Driscoll, M.J., Golay, M.W., and Peters, W.A., 2005, Sustainable Energy: Choosing Among Options: Cambridge, The MIT Press, 870pp.

The Renewable Energy Handbook: A Guide to Rural Energy Independence, Off-Grid and Sustainable Living As oil prices continue to rise, many people are starting to think about how to unhook from the electricity grid. The Renewable Energy Handbook focuses on the unique requirements of off-grid living and contains chapters on energy conservation; heating and cooling; backup power; domestic water heating; wireless communications; photovoltaic, wind, and microhydro energy generation; battery selection; and inverters. Since its release in 2003, The Renewable Energy Handbook has been a top-selling technology book and is recognized as the best book in its field.
Kemp, W.H., 2006, The Renewable Energy Handbook: A Guide to Rural Energy Independence, Off-Grid and Sustainable Living: Tamworth, Aztext Press, 592pp.

The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy: Achieving Energy Independence through Solar, Wind, Biomass and Hydropower (Mother Earth News Wiser Living) This guide begins by outlining the probable impacts of fossil fuel shortages and basic facts about energy. It then discusses energy conservation and ways to decrease energy bills and prepare for renewable energy options. It focuses on specific strategies needed to replace specific fuels and the practicality of energy options available to homeowners. The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy gives readers sufficient knowledge to hire and communicate effectively with contractors and, for those wanting do installations themselves, it recommends more detailed manuals; it also provides illustrations and further resources.
Chiras, D., 2006, The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy: Achieving Energy Independence through Solar, Wind, Biomass and Hydropower (Mother Earth News Wiser Living): Gabriola Island, New Society Publishers, 352pp.


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A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash (2007) Drawing on an international cast of maverick energy experts and thinkers, directors Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack debunk the conventional wisdom that oil production will continue to climb, and instead stare bleakly at a planet facing economic meltdown and conflict over its most valuable resource. Featuring a haunting score by Phillip Glass and a fascinating array of rare archival footage, the film explores oil's rocky relationship with human progress in locales ranging from ancient Baku, Azerbaijan to dusty oilpatch town McCamey, Texas. Amidst a dark and disturbing vision of our future, A CRUDE AWAKENING hints at a humbler way of life built around sustainability and alternative energy, providing a visually stunning, boldly prophetic testament which provokes not just thought but action.

Crude: The Incredible Journey of Oil (Smith; Richard 2007) submitted by Richard Kettler, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
This DVD is the recording of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary by Dr. Richard Smith. The main program is 90 minutes long and is broken up into 30 minute segments. The video presents information on the origin and generation of petroleum; estimates of future petroleum supply; the carbon cycle; and climate change. It does so by combining interviews with geoscientists (e.g. Ken Deffeyes; Colin Campbell; Mike Arthur; Lee Kump) and ostensibly following a carbon atom as it passes through the carbon cycle. The video and animation are well done and would be appreciated by all audiences. Although the science is presented for a general audience; the concepts discussed (ocean circulation; anoxia) are sufficiently sophisticated that geoscience majors will enjoy the video. See for more information and to view the video on-line.
Crude: The Incredible Journey of Oil. Australian Broadcasting Corporation; 90 minutes; Sydney NSW; ISBN / Catalogue Number: R-107468-9.

Mountain Top Removal submitted by Mark Turski, Plymouth State University
Throughout southern Appalachia mountain top removal coal mining is on the rise, blasting and leveling highland forests and streams. The process literally changes the geology of the region. This video portrays how citizens are negatively impacted by the resulting flooding, pollution and destruction of their homes and how they are fighting back to oppose big coal's impact on their lives and communities.

How to adapt for classroom use:
This video can be shown in class and can be combined with History Channel's video on coal mining. These are used as advanced organizers for the Taking Sides presentations at the end of the class. Students analyze the difference in how the material is presented in the two videos. We also look at Massey Energy's stock prices for the last 10 yrs.

Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006) In 1996, electric cars began to appear on roads in California. They were quiet and fast, produced no tailpipe exhaust and ran without gasoline. Ten years later, these futuristic cars were almost entirely gone. What happened? Why should we be haunted by the ghost of the electric car?

NOVA: Solar Energy - Saved by the Sun (2007) In the face of steeply rising oil prices and political turmoil in the Middle East, there is new urgency in finding a solution to our uncertain energy future. Breakthroughs in new materials and ingenious designs for solar collectors are transforming the technology into a vastly cheaper, more efficient alternative. NOVA presents the latest thinking from solar enthusiasts and skeptics as it investigates cutting-edge research developments. The film introduces viewers to the scientists and business people who are racing to make solar power practical—for lighting, heating, and running power plants.

If you would like to add to this collection, please tell us about books or DVDs you find useful for teaching.