The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future of our Economy, Energy, and the Environment by Chris Martenson

The Crash Course was the first book that woke me up to just how unsustainable our current system is. I always had this feeling that our economic paradigm was flawed, and at first I thought capitalism was to blame. However, I am convinced that our current central banking fiat money system is the problem after reading Dr Chris Martenson’s book.


The Crash Course really dives deep into the root of our economic, environmental, and energy security problems. Packed with charts and data, it was quite a dense read, but fascinating nonetheless. It looks at the US Federal Reserve banking system and government policy in the Economy section of the book. Here, he explains how central banks across the world are really to blame for the unsustainable trajectory we are on.

Ultimately, we are living well beyond our means as a society, and this is thanks to central bank’s monetary policy. We rely on a system of endless debt and credit to keep our economy running, and eventually it will collapse. Nothing can keep growing exponentially, and our economy is no different.


Linked with the economy is our energy system, which primarily relies on fossil fuels to keep running. Climate change aside, Martenson argues that this reliance on oil and gas simply isn’t sustainable from an economic and resource availability perspective. He claims that we need to diversify our forms of energy and ultimately shift to an alternative energy system.


The Crash Course also takes a look at our many environmental issues, primarily resource depletion. He covers topics such as peak oil, water and food security, biodiversity, declining soil fertility, and more. Martenson goes on to explain how this environmental issues intersect with our economic and financial system as well as our energy grid. Interestingly, he uses a nuanced and non-partisan argument for conserving our environment, contrary to the emotional language used my many environmentalists. If more environmental activists constructed their arguments in the way that Chris has, they might have an easier time converting some of the skeptics.

Takeaways from The Crash Course

He also makes the case for real stores of wealth, such as land, property, food, water, and gold. These are what he calls primary wealth, while everything else are simply claims on wealth, called secondary and tertiary forms of wealth. Martenson outlines the steps everyone should take to become more self-reliant, prosperous, and less dependent on this unsustainable system.

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