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Richard Heinberg

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Richard Heinberg
Heinberg discussing energy at University of Toronto, March 2013
Heinberg discussing energy at University of Toronto, March 2013
OccupationWriter, educator, environmentalist
Subjectpeak oil, resource depletion, sustainability
Notable worksThe Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies

Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality
SpouseJanet Barocco

Richard William Heinberg (b. October 21, 1950) is an American journalist and educator who has written extensively on energy, economic, and ecological issues, including oil depletion. He is the author of 14 books, and presently serves as the senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute.[1]

Early life[edit]

Heinberg grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri. His father, William Heinberg, was a chemist and high-school physics and chemistry teacher. Heinberg's interest in science came from his father, but at an early age, he rejected his parents' fundamentalist Christian beliefs. At one point he lived at Colorado's Sunrise Ranch, headquarters of the "Emissaries of Divine Light" group, which Heinberg referred to as "a sort of benign cult".[2]


After two years in college and a period of personal study, in November 1979 Heinberg became personal assistant to Immanuel Velikovsky. After Velikovsky's death, Heinberg assisted his widow in editing manuscripts.[3][4] He published his first book in 1989, Memories and Visions of Paradise: Exploring the Universal Myth of a Lost Golden Age,[5] which was the result of ten years of study of world mythology. An expanded second edition was published in 1995.[6] He began publishing his alternative newsletter, the MuseLetter, in 1992. His next book – published in 1993 – was Celebrate the Solstice: Honoring the Earth's Seasonal Rhythms through Festival and Ceremony.[7]

In June 1995, speaking to the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations in Dayton, Ohio, Heinberg provided "A Primitivist Critique of Civilization" and discussed the ways in which "we are, it would seem, killing the planet".[8]

Heinberg in his garden in Santa Rosa, California. August 2011

In February 2007, Heinberg addressed the Committee on International Trade of the European Parliament and served as an advisor to the National Petroleum Council in its report to the U.S. Secretary of Energy on Peak Oil. In October 2007, the Green Party of Aotearoa organised a speaking tour of New Zealand for Heinberg, which included a presentation in the Beehive theatrette within the New Zealand Parliament building.[9][10] In 2008 he was a Mayor's appointed member of the Oil Independent Oakland 2020 Task Force (Oakland, California),[11] which was convened to chart a path for the city to dramatically reduce its petroleum dependence.

Heinberg is now the Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute in Santa Rosa, California. He is also a violinist, illustrator, and book designer. He is married to Janet Barocco.

Heinberg has proposed an international protocol to peak oil management with the aim of reducing the impact of the arrival of the peak.[12] The adoption of the Protocol would mean that oil-importing nations should deal to reduce their importations in an annual percentage, while exporting countries should deal to reduce their exportations in the same percentage. The Uppsala Protocol[13] has been focused in a similar direction.

Heinberg is the editor of MuseLetter,[14] which has been included in Utne Magazine's annual list of Best Alternative Newsletters.[15] He has appeared in the documentaries Once You Know,The End of Suburbia, The 11th Hour, Crude Impact, Oil, Smoke & Mirrors, Chasing God, What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, The Great Squeeze, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, A Farm for the Future and Ripe For Change.

Heinberg serves on the advisory board of The Climate Mobilization, a grassroots advocacy group calling for a national economic mobilization against climate change on the scale of the home front during World War II, with the goal of 100% clean energy and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.[16]

Heinberg is one of the more moderate commentators on peak oil (compared with others like James Howard Kunstler[17]).


Heinberg's books from the later 1990s address the relationships between humanity and the natural world. In 1998, he began teaching at New College of California[18] in the "Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community" program, which he helped design. He remained a member of the Core Faculty until 2007, when the College closed its doors. His book The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies, published in 2003, was one of the first full-length analyses of peak oil.

In 2004, Heinberg provided the closing address for the First US Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions. His title was "Beyond the Peak".


  • Memories and Visions of Paradise: Exploring the Universal Myth of a Lost Golden Age (1989; revised edition, 1995; British edition, 1990; Portuguese edition, 1991)
  • Celebrate the Solstice: Honoring the Earth’s Seasonal Rhythms through Festival and Ceremony (1993; Italian edition, 2002; Portuguese edition, 2002)
  • A New Covenant with Nature: Notes on the End of Civilization and the Renewal of Culture (1996; Portuguese edition, 1998) ISBN 978-0-8356-0746-9
  • Cloning the Buddha: The Moral Impact of Biotechnology (1999; Indian edition, 2001; Japanese edition, 2001; Chinese edition, 2001)
  • The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies (2003; British, Italian, German, Spanish, and Arabic editions, 2004–2005; revised North American edition, 2005; Spanish edition, 2007; French edition, 2008 German Edition)
  • Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World (ISBN 9780865715103) (2004; British edition 2005)
  • The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan to Avert Oil Wars, Terrorism and Economic Collapse (2006, ISBN 978-0-86571-563-9),
  • Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (2007, ISBN 978-0-86571-598-1).
  • Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis (June, 2009). (ISBN 9780865716568)
  • The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises, edited by Richard Heinberg & Daniel Lerch (2010) ISBN 978-0-9709500-6-2
  • The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, (2011) ISBN 978-0-86571-695-7
  • Snake Oil: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future (2013) ISBN 978-0976751090
  • Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels (2015) ISBN 978-0865717886
  • Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path for One Hundred Percent Clean Energy (2016) ISBN 978-1610917797, co-authored by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley
  • Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival (2021) ISBN 978-0865719675

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Our Fellows". Post Carbon Institute. Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  2. ^ Arnie, Cooper (July 2006). "The Age Of Oil Is Coming To An End – An Interview With Richard Heinberg" (PDF). The Sun. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 23, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  3. ^ Contributors. Kronos VI(2), Winter 1981.
  4. ^ Sammer, Jan. The Velikovsky Archive. Aeon VI(2), Dec. 2001.
  5. ^ Los Angeles, Calif.: Tarcher. 282 pp. ISBN 0-87477-515-9.
  6. ^ Wheaton, Ill,: Quest Books. 294 pp. ISBN 978-0-8356-0716-2.
  7. ^ Wheaton, Ill.: Quest Books. 199 pp. ISBN 0-8356-0693-7.
  8. ^ Heinberg, Richard (June 15, 1995). "The Primitivist Critique of Civilization". A paper presented at the 24th annual meeting of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "Peak oil educator to visit New Zealand" (Press release). Green Party. 4 October 2007. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  10. ^ Fitzsimons, Jeanette (11 October 2007). "Questions for Oral Answer — Questions to Ministers, Questions to Members". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  11. ^ "Oil Independent Oakland (OIO) By 2020 Task Force". 2008. Archived from the original on 2013-05-25. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  12. ^ "#182: The Oil Depletion Protocol: An Update". wordpress.com. 2 June 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  13. ^ Protocol of Uppsala
  14. ^ "Richard Heinberg's Museletter". Richard Heinberg's Museletter. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  15. ^ Heinberg, Richard (2004-09-01). Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World. New Society Publishers. ISBN 978-1-55092-337-7.
  16. ^ "Advisory Board". The Climate Mobilization. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Clusterfuck Nation – Blog Archives - Kunstler". Kunstler. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  18. ^ Newton, David E. (2013). World Energy Crisis: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-61069-147-5.

External links[edit]