Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin

Transit fares in Canada’s largest city recently increased by $.25 per ride. As an infrequent user of public transit (short distances in off-peak hours), I already do a calculation to compare the cost of parking with the cost of my TTC fare. I don’t factor in the cost of the gasoline my car uses, I figure I’m not going too far, it can’t be that much. If Jeff Rubin is correct, those days are almost over.

In his well written book Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, Jeff Rubin predicts what the world will look like when energy prices are dramatically higher then they are today. First he provides compelling evidence to support why he feels oil prices have no where to go but up: changes in supply with existing supply getting more expensive to produce and changes in demand with global increases in demand coming from the OPEC countries and countries such as India and China.

“However, unlike in the American market, where demand is now falling, demand growth in oil-producing countries rank among the highest in the world.”

Rubin shares his findings that improvements in energy efficiency have led to increases in energy consumption. For example, household appliances, furnaces and air conditioners are all more efficient today then they were back in the 1970’s. Household consumption has not dropped as a result, but increased. Houses are larger so there is, on average, 2500 square feet to heat, cool and light. Air conditioners, luxury items back in the 1970’s are now common. According to the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, 87% of single family homes in the US have central air conditioning.

Having convinced readers that today’s oil prices are going to seem like bargains in the not too distant future, Rubin predicts what life will look like with triple digit oil prices: We’re going to want to live a lot closer to where we work and have good public transportation at our door step. Food will be produced locally and be more expensive. Many of the goods we buy will be manufactured closer to home and not overseas. “Change the price of a barrel of oil and you change trading partners – if you trade at all, that is.” Rubin believes soaring transport costs will bring jobs back to North America from China. He also recommends a carbon tax to level the playing field between high polluting countries, like China, and lesser polluters which he also feels will be good for local job creation.

Well researched, Rubin presents lots of facts and figures, enough to persuade even the most jaded reader. I actually liked the world he described (although I’ll miss travelling).

“You will soon be spending much more time talking to your neighbour and much less time flying around the world…We will soon become far more attentive custodians of our own little worlds. And that is likely to make our neighbourhoods better places to live.”

A Common Outlook recommended read.

This book review was written by Helen Latimer

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