The Future Is Not What It Used to Be provides a potent antidote to wishful thinking about the scale of global problems and a brutally honest high-level assessment of humanity’s failure to act. For pessimists there is much to confirm one’s world-view and insight into how to avoid the traps of despair or denial. For optimists the book is a gruelling but ultimately enlightening experience. Falling into the latter camp, I found the book a dark masterpiece. A sober check against reckless hope, it contains a message that anyone interested in civilisation’s long-term future needs to hear.—Robin Lovelace, Environmental Values—
This is a rare find among the many books written about climate change over the years, one that explores how humans are not only depleting natural resources but also—because of how the world has changed—are naive to assume the kind of transitions that have occurred between climatic eras can ever happen again. Through an astute and well-reasoned argument, Friedrichs—citing past cases in which climate stress was exacerbated by energy scarcity—takes a systematic look at how infinite growth is not possible and how—rather than just shifting from one energy market to another—the support structure for the industrialized world itself could be in danger of collapse. Whether or not you want to believe civilization itself is on a collision course with a destiny it cannot yet see or predict, this Oxford University scholar’s work is chilling, mind-bending and creatively forward-thinking, without being sentimental. It offers a perspective that goes well beyond floods, hurricanes, and a warmer planet.
—Citation from the Rachel Carson Award, given by the Society of Environmental Journalists
This book, subtitled Climate Change and Energy Scarcity, is an important challenge to conventional thinking.
—The Quarterly Review of Biology