<i>Editor?s note: This must be summer book season, as <\/i>Circuit?s <i>offices have seen a number of new tomes directly related to California?s current energy policies. Here is a review of the latest, <\/i>High Noon for Natural Gas?The New Energy Crisis<i>, by Julian Darley, reviewed by Rich Ferguson.<\/i> At the rate we humans are burning fossil fuel resources, especially oil and natural gas, these limited supplies will be seriously depleted in a generation or so. Several books have appeared in recent years warning that reduced supplies of petroleum soon will be extremely disruptive to the global economy and to human lives. <i>High Noon for Natural Gas<\/i> adds to this genre by describing similar problems with natural gas resources, which, after oil, provide our second-most-important source of energy. The book?s focus is initially on North America, where, for the first time, supplies have failed to meet demand, even though consumption has not increased significantly for several years. North America is now dependent on imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from overseas suppliers. Although Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan, among others, urges the rapid expansion of natural gas imports, <i>High Noon<\/i> describes the dangers of this globalization strategy. All major industrial countries are also dependent on imported gas, and the burgeoning economies of China and India will require increasingly large imports as well. While countries in the Middle East, Russia, and others currently have large resources for export, increasing global demand will deplete these supplies in the foreseeable future. <i>High Noon<\/i> accurately describes global competition for shrinking supplies of these vital sources of energy as a huge threat to society. <i>High Noon<\/i> and its warnings are certainly timely; however, the book has problems that seriously detract from its message. All of us writing on energy topics struggle with the level of technical detail to be included, and <i>High Noon<\/i>?s compromise is an unhappy one. Some chapters are intended for readers who know virtually nothing about natural gas, but others include sophisticated graphs that only experts will understand. The wealth of valuable numerical data included will be incomprehensible to most readers?beginners and experts. An even more serious drawback is one shared by writing on the oil situation. The resource problem is described in terms of a peak in production rather than consumption. As oil and gas are increasingly depleted, production will stop increasing and begin to decrease?i.e., levels of production will reach a peak and then inexorably decline. The details are argued about in trade publications such as <i>Oil & Gas Journal<\/i>, and who reads that? Obviously, if less oil and gas is being produced, we consumers must be buying less, too. Why will we do that? Because we can?t afford to buy more. Readers could relate better to the resource problem if it were described in terms of a future in which less oil and gas is available to them at prices they can afford. A cogent argument to readers that the increasing prices will limit their own use of natural gas and oil would be much more powerful than theoretical arguments about declining production capacity. We?re all shoppers at heart, and prices matter. As prices of oil and gas increase in response to depletion, increasingly energy will be available only to the rich. Despite all the whining about current gasoline prices, energy today is actually quite cheap. In the future, many of us will be too poor to afford the abundance of energy we now enjoy. <i>High Noon<\/i> grumpily exhibits no sympathy for the billions of us consumers who, more or less unwittingly, have become dependent on inexpensive gas and oil and who will be unable to afford it in the future. The anger with which it is written is perhaps the most serious shortcoming of <i>High Noon<\/i>. The author frequently wanders off on rants, not only against energy companies, but also against their environmental and social behavior. Overpopulation, soil and water depletion, the U.S. military, and the entire global governmental and economic systems also come under fire. Enough, already! While energy is indeed related to just about every other human enterprise you can think of, the blunderbuss of blame will turn off many readers and detracts from the natural gas problem at hand. The author pooh-poohs attempts to find inexpensive replacement forms of energy as well as attempts to use energy more efficiently. Instead, he espouses a world with fewer people, living more simply, traveling much less, and eating local produce grown without chemical fertilizers. As increasing numbers of people are unable to afford gas and oil, they may indeed live as the author envisions. But this choice is much more likely to be forced upon them by poverty than by a moral decision to live simply using less energy. The problem of energy resource depletion is arguably the most serious problem facing human civilization. The problem cannot be avoided, and strategies must be devised to minimize the impact on human lives and avoid global chaos. Preparing people and their governments to respond wisely is an important task, but while <i>High Noon for Natural Gas<\/i> sounds an alarm, its attitude and lack of focus provide little meaningful guidance.