The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century

 
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Product Description

James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency was an underground hit, going into nine printings of the hardcover edition. His shocking vision for our post-oil future caught the attention of environmentalists and business leaders and was the subject of much debate, stimulating discussion about our dependence on fossil fuels. Now in paperback, with a new afterword, The Long Emergency is set to reach an even larger audience.

The last two hundred years have seen the greatest explosion of progress and wealth in the history of mankind, much of it based on the exploitation of cheap, nonrenewable fossil-fuel energy. But the oil age is at an end. Life as we know it is about to change radically, and much sooner than we think. The Long Emergency tells us just what to expect after we pass the point of global peak oil production and the honeymoon of affordable energy is over, preparing us for economic, political, and social changes of an unimaginable scale. Riveting and authoritative, The Long Emergency is a devastating indictment that brings new urgency and accessibility to the critical issues that will shape our future, and that we can no longer afford to ignore.

Customer Reviews:

  • A peak oil salesman....
    Rather than immediately address the positives of this utterly gut-wrenching glimpse into the abyss that is the future of mankind, let me begin by pointing out the imperfections that resulted in less than a five-star sweep.

    While Kunstler is talented and articulate, there is nobody who is quite as convinced of that great talent than, well, Kunstler himself. His tone his preachy, his dimissal of contrarian views condescending, and his prejudices against people from afar both baseless and stupid. For example, he views Southerners with a simplistic hatred that is as appalling as it is inaccurate. Didn't you know that all Southerners are straight out of Deliverance, the awful product of bad corn liquor and unbiblical sex? Just ask Herr Kuntsler.

    These flaws are unfortunate, because they are a distraction from the central and all-important theme of the book: We, as a species, are about to go down the poop chute courtesy of oil depletion. Mad Max got it right. Who knew?

    And in making the case for this conclusion, Kuntsler generally shines. Following his logic and research, we are left with the conclusion that in the next quarter century or so, between you and your five closest friends, only one of you will survive the coming die-off caused by an energy deprived future.

    Wow. Head drag. Just when I was getting good at parallel parking, cars are going to become static sculpture across the ruined landscape of a destroyed world. Every element of modern civilization, propped up on the shaky pillars of cheap oil, is about to come crashing down. Essentially overnight, we will be forced to revert to a hunter-gatherer mode of life, with the inconvenient realization that we no longer possess any hunter-gatherer skills. In that sense, there is a little good news: both global warming and obesity become self-correcting problems.

    I walked away fairly convinced that Kunstler had illuminated a problem of enormous magnitude. Instead of wasting more than a few pages spewing his vitriol against things he detests (suburbs, the Bush family, Southerners, suburbs again) he might have better spent his time telling us how to increase our individual chances of survival. (Solar-powered iPods, anyone?) On this rather important subject he was strangely tight-lipped.

    Anyway, buy the book. If you're like me, you'll agree that it is an important read. And even if you don't like it, you can always burn it for fuel in a few years.
    ...more info
  • Have a box of tissue handy
    This is an important book that every thinking person should read. It will never be a musical....more info
  • This book will slap you in the face and wake you up.
    Before buying this book, which a friend of mine recommended, I came to Amazon to check out the reviews. From reading the reviews, I went back to my friend and said, "I don't know, everyone is saying how exaggerated it is, and how he is biased against suburbia," and things like that. So, I wasn't too hot on buying it. So my friend said, "Read the effing book!" As you can tell, he was very determined to have me read the book. After reading this book I e-mailed a big thank you to my friend for making me read it. This book will open your eyes and wake you up. It has changed my world view, and I am very serious about that. Everyone should read this book to find out how bad things really are. As if things can be any worse? They can, and they will be. Take oil out of the U.S. equation and everything stops. And that day is coming. ...more info
  • This One's a Keeper
    I first read "The Long Emergency" by taking it out from the library. Then I decided I wanted my own copy so I could make high-lighted sections and annotations. Then I ordered an additional, used, copy so I can send it around to my family and friends without giving up my original copy. James Howard Kunstler gained credibility with me from the fact that I am living through the very conditions predicted when the book was published in 2005, such as so long to cheap gasoline and heating fuel....more info
  • If Only He Could Have Been Bothered to Fact-Check
    I had read the Rolling Stone article, and I was positively stoked to begin this book. During the first half, I was fascinated, but then, I am neither a geologist nor an engineer.

    I was even willing to overlook Kunstler, in the early pages, defending fellow prophets of doom Thomas Malthus and Paul Erlich, and claiming that they were right after all, despite the fact that the predictions of either man never came to pass.

    Then, during the second half of the book, Kunstler started discussing things I actually know quite a bit about, to wit, human disease and history. Oh, Holy Cats, how incorrect his facts were. In the words of another reviewer, he gets it Just Plain Wrong.

    For example, he says that historians don't really know what the cause of WWI was. Huh. I guess the Army War College and every 20th Century History department need to talk to Kunstler, so they can be properly informed of their ignorance. Yeah, WWI's causes are complex, but just because Kunstler doesn't know what they are doesn't mean that nobody else does either.

    He also claims that global warming will accelerate the spread of diseases that were previously confined to a specific geopgraphic area, which is probably true. However, we have already seen diseases migrate a good deal because of the volume and speed with which humans jet around the globe on a daily basis. Kunstler ignores the profound upside to this, being that, for the vast majority of us who are not immunocompromised, this challenges and boosts our immune systems.

    Or how 'bout when he says that the 1918 flu jumped directly from birds to humans, without the usual influenza pit stop in pigs. If that's the case, why was the 1918 flu first noticed on a Kansas pig farm? Or when he claims that we still don't know why the 1918 flu proved fatal to so many young adults- uh, yeah we do. Because of cytokine storms, which turn your own immune sysstem against you- the stronger the immune system, the worse you're affected.

    The worst offender, however, is when he claims that HIV (which he incorrectly calls AIDS) is on it's way toward mutating from a blood born pathogen into one that's carried on air. Give me a break. I have had five years of schooling training me to be an HIV educator, and I have never heard or read anything remotely like this from an even somewhat reputable source. Why did he make this claim of HIV, and not, say, hepititis B (another sexually transmitted blood born pathogen), which infects 1.7 billion more people than HIV does? Because "AIDS" sounds scarier, that's why.

    All this JPW stuff in the second half of the book makes me doubt the veracity of the first half, and that was only reinforced when I made it to the very end and read Kunstler's racist rant against Mexicans and African Americans. He had already skewered every subset of white people that were remotely different from him, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

    I've checked "The End of Oil" out of the library, so we'll see how the first half of "The Long Emergency" holds up, fact wise. But if you're really interested in reading an Apocalypse Story, I'd suggest picking up Stephen King's "The Stand".
    ...more info
  • A MUST READ!!
    This is a clearly written treatise. Very easy to read. Very hard to put down. The issue of Peak Oil is convincingly discussed and demonstrates how our economic woes are just beginning to grind down. It also shows how suburbia is not sustainable. Very insightful, very accurate. I am not sure that I completely agree with the sections on health catastrophies and climate change; however, the scenarios are realistic and not fringe sci-fi.

    This is a frightening book, one that we must embrace as being accurate. How do we adapt and change now to minimize suffering just a few short years from now??

    If you are a thinker, this book is for you!!

    Overall, a MUST READ.

    C. Bruce Carroll, MD
    St. Mary's, KS...more info
  • Great Book!
    Great book. The most amazing point is our lack of rail infrastructure.
    No politician has addressed this point. None will start the US on a road (rail) of solutions before we hit a tipping point....more info
  • Wake Up Call
    The serious subject matter of this book, life without affordable energy, can and should be heavy, yet Kunstler manages to make it understandable and very readable in this elegant and wide-ranging essay. Mr. Kunstler can write. Unlike some other reviewers, I did not sense any I-told-you-so satisfaction on the author's part, although he does not conceal his animosity toward suburbia, WalMart, and American hyper-consumerism, he writes more with mature resignation than anything else. This is a serious book about a serious subject, and that it is easy to read is a tribute to its author.

    In light of this, I will allow Mr. Kunstler the few certain small lapses he displays (without detracting any stars): Lack of index or adequate foot-noting, failing to home in on times and durations, ignoring bicycles as a form of transportation, describing the end of oil as if a switch that will be turned off abruptly, and allowing that humanity will (apparently) make a relatively orderly and bloodless transition from today's world to that of cooperative small community living.

    This is a vitally informative must-read for anyone who is concerned about our future and our children's. ...more info
  • Informative, thought-provoking, highly readable...
    Knustler might just be the Edward Abbey for the new millennium. If you loved "Desert Solitaire" (you have read it, right?), you will love "The Long Emergency." Combining intelligence, irreverence, information, and passion, Knustler compellingly covers the complex relationships between cheap energy (oil), consumerism, suburbanism, social and environmental degradation, and our need for real sociocultural change. Not a doom and gloom tome, this work which was written in 2005, is amazingly prophetic related to the current financial meltdown and social malaise. Well written. Excellent, highly recommended! ...more info
  • I barely survived this book
    I got this book thinking that the author would actually discuss how to survive the various coming catastrophes. Silly me, I shouldn't have expected the subtitle to be accurate. There is next to nothing in this book about what one should actually do during the coming apocalypse to protect himself. I'd call that false advertising.

    Instead of telling us how to live through the disasters coming our way, the author, for the majority of the book, gives us a history lesson on a number of disaster situations that have happened previously. Okay, thanks... but please tell us more about the COMING disasters you warn us of. In fact, some of the historical information seems to be random facts pulled from memory of his Western Civ. class with little actual relation to the subject matter at hand.

    When we do, in the last chapter, get to actual scenarios of what will happen in the FUTURE US when the disaster events unfold, the author shows off his geographic bigotry. Using stereotypes of the various regions of our country often portrayed in poorly made movies, Mr. Kunstler educates the reader as to why the Northeastern US will be the best-equipped for making it through the coming hard times. These are, of course, industrious, hard-working people with the strong communal ethic being their saving grace. Compare this characterization to that of southerners: crazy, fearful, gun nuts whose society will break down into feudal chaos at the first signs of trouble. Religiously fanatical barbarians of a people who might even bring back slavery. Thankfully for him, I guess, the author actually lives in New York state. Oh, what a coincidence.

    On a more serious note: The argument that the American south is poorly suited for life after peak oil fails for a number of reasons related to climate, agriculture, and social factors. As soon as the Northeast begins to experience its first winter without heating oil, there will be a mass exodus to the warmer southern states, making it a far more habitable place throughout the year as compared to the Northeast. Related to this is the southern growing season. Before those up north are even able to begin planting, the crazy folks down south will already have enough food grown to last a year. After the first crop is harvested, more will be on the way, making it--potentially--a net exporter of agricultural products, thus benefiting the southern economy in a way other regions can't compete with.

    Culturally, the south often contains an extremely tight-knit social community in rural and (even) urbanized areas. This is exactly the organization needed for survival in times of trouble. In fact, this cohesion has been tested time and time again in the gulf states by the aftermath of major hurricanes. People usually pull through with help from their neighbors. One might even say hurricanes and other natural events have created a culture of social preparedness for just the type of disasters described in the book. This is a very different possibility than the one painted by the author.

    Finally, many people currently living in the south were alive before industrialization took hold there. If not themselves, then their parents know what it was like to live before many of the modern amenities we rely on today were put in place. I am a 27 year old son of the south. My parents, still living, grew up without indoor toilets and subsisted mainly on what could be farmed and raised by their family. Their lifestyle was little different from the one that will be necessary in a peak-oil future. This knowledge will be critical for the survival of current and future generations. Many parts of the north, on the other hand, have been industrialized and so oil-dependent for much longer than we down here in crazy land. Much of the survival knowledge we possess will be lacking in the cold, dead north.

    The fact that the author didn't consider any of these arguments tells me he's probably myopic in other areas of reasoning as well. Such near-sightedness makes sense when one considers that Mr. Kunstler blatantly makes an argument in favor of the current disaster of a war in Iraq early in his book.

    I thought this book was largely a waste, however I did give it two stars for the author's use of historical facts in the largest segment of the book. Of course, history is history. ...more info
  • The future is grim, but hopefully not this grim
    Wow, this book is a punch in the stomach for energy-addicted countries, especially the United States. The week I finished this book, oil increased 10$ a barrel in one day. Even if you do not believe everything in this book, the basic premise is sound- an one echoed increasingly by many decision makes and politcos that are not living in a fantasy world of their own concoction- that we as a country, as a world civilization, better get ready for post peak oil world. And if we don't start making hard choices soon, the we are in a world of pain, not to much later.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, humans. The future is coming at us fast....more info
  • A long, rambling discourse focusing on the worst possible outcome....
    I bought this book so that I could relate to a friend who is using it like his bible and guide for his future. I found it to be poorly organized and a long and rambling discourse on the evils and eventual failure of fossil fuels, nuclear energy, the food supply, and an eventual return to living in the stone age in our lifetimes. He passes opinion off as fact to build his case.

    Mine's for sale used!...more info
  • A Tsunami Warning !
    Kunstler's Book the Long Emergency is a 'Tsunami warning'. WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF OIL...what do you think the last 7 years have been about? It is both well written and tightly argued. The logic of it is dreadfully inescapable. Even if we agree that 'peak' oil (which most probably has already happened) is not the end of supply we must admit that it is the end of cheap supply and I think we are all seeing that at the pump. Add to that the potential for supply interruptions due to political instability and terrorism and..well...you can see the problem. Disruption could lead to cascading system failures throughout our economy reminding me of the sinking of the titanic. Once the four compartments were flooded the ships designer, Mr. Andrews, knew the ship would founder. We have been headed down an illusory primrose path with our McMansions and SUV's and our luck is about to run out. It is not that our society is addicted to oil it is that our entire supporting infrastructure is predicated on it. Without the inputs the house will come tumbling down and very rapidly indeed. Even if we could formulate a solution to the problem in time by utilizing some other combination of alternate energy sources the shape and character of our society would be forever altered. The most feasible types of alternative energy do not support a suburban sprawl based configuration. Kunstler is quite correct about this. Most likely we will have to retreat to more traditional community based local living arrangements. It is going to be a rough ride...but I have hope that we will make it in the end and be the better for it. I think the implications of Mr. Kuunstler's argument are too terrible for most people to fathom and so...they take the blue pill and go back to sleep....more info
  • Very interesting
    Kunstler has formulated a vision of the future that is very frightening to those of us who have only known a cheap-oil world. The problem is not just global warming, but the breakdown of just about every product and service that we have come to rely on. The analysis of just how much we depend on fossil fuels is alone worth the purchase price.

    I would be very interested to read a counter-point to this book. That is, what is an alternative, more hopeful outcome for the world when oil production begins to decline? Is there one? I would like to compare the plausibility of the future described in 'The Long Emergency' with a more optimistic one. I have a feeling, however, that Kunstler's pessimistic view of the future would be a lot more believable.

    Anyway, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in energy issues. But since energy use underlies almost everything in our modern world, this book would be of interest to many. I highly recommend it....more info
  • Kunstler says peak oil spells the end of civilization as we know it.
    The premise is this; oil production is peaking. That is: the world oil fawcett is now fully open and from this point on we cannot increase the oil supply; in fact it will start to drop off. On the other side of the equation demand for the black stuff continues to grow. What happens next?

    This book contains Kunstler's prediction for the post cheap oil age. He believes civilization will devolve back into a way of life similar to the 18th century. He goes into great detail explaining why wind, nuclear, hydro-electric, biomass, solar or any other possible source of energy will have a negligble effect. He throws in climate change, some horror stories about AIDs and the bird flu. Then he describes a painful and deeply troubling picture of life in the coming decades filled with wars, pestilence, starvation and lawlessness.

    While I do believe in the premise about peak oil I found this book to be a little too much doom & gloom. Kunstler's argument is very black. There are no shades of gray. He discounts each alternate enregy source in turn but does not allow that each might help in some small but significant way. If oil is $200/barrel will we not start to build more nuclear plants, wind farms, solar panels, energy efficient homes etc. He points out that most of the fertilizers we use for farming are made from or with cheap oil. Perhaps there are alternatives out there that would cost twice as much today but would be viable in the new economy. He does not examine these kinds of possibilites.

    My main criticism is that there is almost no constructive advice. He spends over 300 pages spelling out the same story over & over again. Then he describes his current lifestyle in the last 2 pages. He's living in a small town in NY state but he hasn't really done anything special to prepare for the coming apocalypse. What should we do? Invest in oil stocks? Buy land? Move to Hawaii? Which areas of the country or world might fare the best? Other than some very vague notions he doesn't proffer any advice. He seems to be very fatalistic about it and if that's the case why bother to write the book?

    Personally I do agree that there are some very tough times ahead but I do not think the situation is totally hopeless as Kunstler would have it.



    ...more info
  • Absolutely awful! Avoid at all costs!
    This author is a chump and is somebody that should stick to fiction rather than non-fiction. He has absolutely no scientific background to speak of, and it's easy to tell by reading his work. This man googled his way to a novel with the hopes of cherrypicking evidence that supports his anti-suburban and anti-American excess vision of the way things will be. Basically, he flips a coin one thousand times and it lands tails one thousand times, this is how likely his vision is to become reality. Also, his absurdly excessive use of the "Long Emergency" within the novel is distracting and insulting. He seems so pleased with his creation of a catchphrase that he does his very best to make others use it as well. This is, by far, the worst non-fiction work I have ever read. It's devoid of balanced research, logic, and scientific scrutiny. If you want to read about the troubles facing the world in regards to climate and oil, read "End of Oil." It has the necessary characteristics that this book painfully lacks. I wasted too much money buying this book, don't do the same!...more info
  • excellent
    An excellent treatment of a simple but elusive subject- running out of oil, and what that means....more info
  • Thought provoking
    Reading this book will make you think, that's good. Like Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" it's easily accessible to laymen and opens the door to deeper investigation. Whether all the facts and projections are all correct or not is irrelevant in my view - as long as it makes more people aware of the (potential) problem and situation we could be facing the book is a success.

    It spurred me to think and to follow up reading other books on the topic. I've thought about what I could do to conserve energy. I'm more conscious of energy waste in my daily life, and I'm more conscious of how much garbage I generate.

    Really, what would our society do if we ran out of oil? It won't happen overnight, but imagine if it did. We couldn't feed ourselves. Most of us live miles from the nearest farm. I live in a highly populated area in Boston, and our food comes from distant places. The food travels here by rail or trucks. Without oil - we have no food.

    I exist in a high-technology world as a computer programmer - so I tend to believe that the cleverness of mankind will prevail and we will discover or invent new ways of organizing energy for our use. Energy is everywhere - it's just not in a "usable" organized form for our consumption. In 20 or 30 years, we've seen tremendous scientific advances in many areas, and I hope that with some dedicated people on the problem, we'll come up with something. If we don't we're in big trouble. The thing which gives me hope for a solution is that people are pretty greedy, and there is an incredible amount of money to be gained by alternative energy companies once the oil and gas expire.

    Summary, it was an easy read, well worth the time I spent on it....more info
  • Don't bother......
    This book is long on illustrating a make-believe world that the author desires, and short on facts.
    Very short on facts.......

    The author manages to insults virtually every racial and geographic group - except for his own, of course.

    Honestly, save your money, this book is a waste of time!
    ...more info
  • Kunstler is an idiot
    I read several environmental books in early 2005, and treated most of them in environmentally friendly ways. Richard Heinberg's and John Roberts's books I borrowed from the public library, Mark Hertsgaard's I sold back to Half Price Books, Ronald Wright's Massey lectures I read inside Elliot Bay Bookstore during three lunch breaks, and James Howard Kunstler's _The Long Emergency_ I read in one sitting in a local Barnes&Ignoble. The theme of the book is simple. Humanity has already consumed about half of all the oil residing in Earth's crust, and that was the easily available half. Within a few decades, worldwide oil consumption will inevitably fall several times. None of the available substitutes are as good as oil. Energy will become so scarse that the Industrial Age will come to a slow end. In the United States, suburbia will cease to be an affordable way of life, worldwide movement of goods will crash (and "globalization" will cease to be significant), and large social disruptions will follow, which might have political repercussions such as red-white-and-blue fascism. Large-scale and complicated institutions such as multinational corporations will be unviable; economics and politics will be local and regional; lifestyles will be simpler and closer to the earth.

    The one thing that stands out in this book is a near-total absence of numbers. And the reason Kunstler doesn't have any numbers is that nobody does. Vaclav Smil's book on the energy perspectives cites some predictions from the early 1970s about the world's energy consumption in the 1990s that turned out to be spectacularly wrong. Likewise, nobody knows, what the energy landscape will be like in 2050. The US DOE has drums with over 400,000 tons of depleted uranium. If half of it can be bred into plutonium, and the plutonium fissioned (the fission energy of plutonium is 1 megawatt-day per gram), this will produce 2E11 megawatt-days of thermal energy, and in power plants with 30% efficiency, this will amount to 6E10 megawatt-days, or 6E21 joules. The annual energy consumption of the United States is about 100 quadrillion BTUs, or 1E20 joules - 1/60th of this number, and the annual electricity consumption is about 4000 billion kilowatt-hours, or 1.4E19 joules - or 1/400th of this number. I don't believe that the United States would rather starve than use up the energy from these drums. Of course, electricity is a far more cumbersome fuel than gasoline (and only usable for ground transportation), so the current American two-cars-in-every-garage lifestyle will have to end anyway - but it will end far less dramatically than Kunstler envisions it.

    The main reason I think Kunstler is wrong is that there are many feedback loops in a democratic society that will enable it to adjust to the shortage of hydrocarbons. Some of these are technological. For example, fertilizer is now made with hydrogen obtained from natural gas. Given shortages of natural gas, will there be far less fertilizer made, which will cause the agricultural yields to fall dramatically, which will lead to food shortages? I suspect that it is more likely that waste heat from power plants (both coal-burning and nuclear) will be used to preheat water for high-temperature electrolysis, which is well known to require less electricity than room-temperature electrolysis. Of course, care must be taken to ensure that if hydrogen blows up, it doesn't damage the reactor. Another thing I didn't see discussed is the fact that so much stuff has been made in the twentieth century that much of it can be reused for decades if not for centuries. Robert Sheckley paperbacks from the 1960s are still perfectly readable, and will remain so for many decades. Also, considering how much garbage has been generated in the last 50 years, I would be surprised if in the 21st century, much of it isn't reused, possibly for fuel: for example, thermal depolymerization can be run on plastic bottles from landfills and generate diesel fuel.

    There are also many social feedback loops. The fact that the educated public is now much more interested in environmental and energy issues than 30 years ago is a good sign, even if this means that it is buying books by ignorant ideologues such as Kunstler....more info
  • It Just Makes Sense
    Kunstler tackles many subjects.......these are some, apart from the end of the oil age, not in order as I'm writing from memory,
    Globalism, The industrial revolution, Suburbia, The depression, Human history, Consumerism and entropy, Ice ages and global warming, The world wars and others, Alternative energy and fuel, Politics, Medical science and environmental destruction.

    The picture he draws is not a pretty one, the facts he explains are believable. His consequences for our waste are extreme.

    I have read books on every one of the mentioned subjects and Kunstler picks snippets from each and leads you on a journey of fear and regret.
    The Long Emergency left me pondering what might/could/should have been.

    How could have we been so stupid to waste resources and a planet?
    For me the book is an expose on the stupidity of a narcissistic or even psychopathic mankind, we cared for nothing but ourselves.
    We thought and think we are so smart, we looked to the stars and wondered if other life existed. I wonder if their planets had the great fortune to receive a gift of millions of years of stored liquid energy.

    Read the book and contemplate its deeper meaning. The future world Kunstler predicts is just that, a prediction, no one knows for sure what the future holds, we can just hope for the best or use our experience to minimise the overall calamity.

    I wonder if anyone has written a book explaining what we should have done with the oil, what would the world be like now if we had managed our energy gifts responsibly?




    ...more info
  • Another Cassandra calling
    Kunstler offers much vallid research and seems to make sense about the immediate future. Unfortunately, his credibility drops to 50% when he gives an obviously pro-Israeli view of the Middle East and Israel's problems. His view of it makes it clear that he is a Jew (as am I) and he is clouded by bias. That bias undermines the validity of his book, in my opinion....more info
  • A must read
    This is an excellent book. I have shared it with mny friends and co-workers. All of whom felt it very educational. ...more info
  • Obsolete
    When oil was going to bust the 150/barrel predictions it looked like this book was going to be ahead of its time. Basically, society would break down and a new world would come that was not backed up by cheap oil. You could have seen the return of the sailing ship. Humanity would be come isolated again.

    I really liked this book when it was first out. The author had done his homework on connecting that cheap oil meant cheap transportation meant cheap food all because of the petroleum industry. In modern America less than 5% of people are involved in agriculture. In pre-oil America more than 20% were involved in agriculture. This book had put everything together and analyzed "system failure". What would happen if the oil bottle ran dry? The end result would be no food, little transportation, and hard times for all.

    But it thing that is going to kill the American economy is not expensive oil. It was cheap credit. Who would have thought that $250,000 "McMansions" bought on adjustable mortgages (sub primes loans) would eventually be sold to every nation on the planet as AAA investment bonds. If people don't have money they don't buy fuel, cars, and all the other items of modern life. Right now oil is 1/3rd the price it was in 2008. And if the oil supply fell the prices would not go up because the demand is falling faster than supply. The ironic thing about the cheap credit is it will add another ten to twenty years of life to cheap oil.

    But this book is now obsolete. The present economy of the world was built on cheap credit and not so much on cheap oil.

    Perhaps there will be a future with little oil. But the coming world depression will take no less than 10 to 15 years to recover from. Before the world would return to the 2007 level of consumption it will take another 10 years. That means the true future of "peak" oil will not hit until 2030 or later.

    This book could have been right provided that cheap credit had not been more toxic to the world economy.

    It's a nice "what would have been" book. But it's obsolete. It's dated.
    ...more info
  • sometimes a bit flippant
    Long Emergency is an easy read, chilling but somehow entertaining, and generally on target. I've been obsessing on these subjects since the first oil shock in 1973. The book disappoints is when the author paints some important issues with a very broad brush, leaving his conclusions questionable. If you're interested in a book that's more thoroughly researched and still quite readable, try 'Powerdown', by R. Heinberg. Heinberg's earlier book, 'The Party's Over', is even more deeply researched, but it's easy to get bogged down in the minutae. Any of these books are well worth your time.
    ...more info
  • The Long Emergency
    An excellent argument that we are at or approaching the peak oil production plateau, and speculates on the drastic future we may expect. Well done. Provokes a lot of thought about how one should adapt to eventually intolerable circumstances!...more info
  • Deja vu chicken little
    All us hippies from the 60's can feel validated somehow, even while we suffer along with everyone else, or worse, because we are old, we can at least say I told you so. The sky is falling, as I have been saying for the last 30 years....more info
  • An important, but flawed book.
    The author does an excellent job of connecting the dots to show why the modern world is the way it is with respect to energy, oil politics, and suburban development. I won't go over the good points of the book as this has already been done in previous reviews, but will instead go over a couple of other issues that need to be addressed.

    When the author dismisses some alternate energy idea as unworkable as usually presented to the public, he makes no attempt to see how it could be made to work on a different scale, or in a different environment. This is just being intellectually lazy.

    The other fault I take issue with is his nearly non-stop misanthropic rant against those who have made poor decisions or fail to see the TRUTH as clearly as he does. When he discusses the South and Southerners, he takes it up a notch and reaches a fine, spittle-flecked invective. If the bigotry is not obvious, replace the word "cracker" with a pejorative for some other ethnic group and it should be clear.

    While this is a useful book, it is a tedious read....more info
  • Read it but don't stop there
    Kunstler's book raises questions that are too big and too important to be answered by any one book. Rather than criticize the limitations of this one, I believe readers should use it as a springboard to conduct their own investigations throughout the literature of peak oil, global warming, bubble economics, environmental degradation, alternative energy technologies, population, agriculture, water, global political instability, entropy, epidemiology, etc. All these themes are interwoven. I for one have been pursuing this study for the past two years and so far have been unable to refute Kunstler's analysis and conclusions. The biggest threat appears to be the imminent passing of the age of cheap fossil fuel, which is perhaps already underway and for which our species appears to be unprepared at every level. Try to imagine the world without cheap fossil fuels. We are all bound by the laws of physics. I have been looking hard but have yet to find any consoling evidence that our civilization can be rescued by alternative energy sources or quick techno-fixes. This is scary stuff, but if we care about future generations we have a duty to try to understand and mitigate it as best we can....more info
  • Interresting facts and opinions brought up
    The book was interesting and informative. There were a lot of facts, ideas and concepts brought up that made it very worthwhile to read.

    As would be expected, there were a few points where I disagreed with the author, but that is to be expected in any controversial book.

    I highly recommend it.

    Jerry Minchey...more info
  • A Dire and Stark Warning for the Whole World
    Whew boy! After catching Kunstler on the radio, I bought his book, and read it with great fascination and mounting alarm. As a scenario for disaster, this book should please fans of fiction writers like J.G. Ballard. Only it is not fiction - Kunstler predicts the coming collapse of all human civilization, and he provides dark, witty descriptions of how this will come to pass. He makes a strong, compelling case, and I found myself fervently hoping that he is completely wrong. But we ignore this kind of prediction at great peril. For too long people have complacently accepted the status quo without looking to the future, and the leaders of American business and government are among the greatest offenders.

    Kunstler sees a coming collapse and severe contraction of the world economy. When the cheap oil begins to run out, our severely overpopulated world and its global consumer economy will begun to fall apart. Violence, disease, and much lower standards of living are coming to the world's strongest countries, and the developing world will never develop. We will all be taking giant steps backward, and there is no cure, no new technology that will bail us out. Already (in 2008), much of what Kunstler predicts here appears to be taking shape.

    As a polemicist and writer, Kunstler is very impressive. He is a good phrasemaker and possesses a sharp, dry wit. However, he is not a first-rate scholar. There are hardly any footnotes and references, and no bibliography. He makes broad predictions without referring to anything that buttresses his views, no political or sociological or scientific or historical studies of any kind. He dismisses all alternative energy technologies, yet he is not a specialist in this area. He offers little in the way of solutions, and instead sketches out a series of inevitable disasters that lurk in the near future. He also presents a brief history of the USA in relation to oil consumption that can no doubt stimulate some discussion. He basically sees the rise of the USA, improvements in world agriculture, and all the technological advances of recent decades as being completely dependent on cheap oil.

    It is important to remember that this is a man who dislikes contemporary American civilization and may, in fact, look forward with relish to its collapse. His region by region description of the USA lurching painfully backward towards the 1800s would be amusing if it were not so disturbing. He may be right that American suburbia is the greatest misallocation of resources in history, but his blatant hatred of it may also color his views a little. He certainly possesses the biases of many liberals of his generation, such as viewing the American Southeast as a land of ignorance and stupidity, despising big box stores, and disliking big business in general - but that does not automatically mean he is wrong.

    I would recommend this book, but I would also recommend reading it critically and taking into account the views of other writers on the subject. It is now unquestionable that action needs to be taken on his central issue - the dependence of American civilization on imported oil. Personally, I look forward to exploring more of Kunstler's works. His views are pretty extreme, but they make for very interesting reading, and his sharp, cogent writing makes them easier to digest.

    ...more info
  • On target
    Kunstler does an excellent job of pulling together information on many subjects to provide a coherent forecast of the near future. He then uses his imagination to extrapolate further. An awesome and well written book....more info
  • A Great Book with a Fresh Idea that Everyone Should be Concerned About.
    I started The Long Emergency after a friend loaned it to me. What an amazing journey! Kunstler thoroughly explores the world 30 years from now and beyond to provide a chilling and plausible representation of what our relatively peaceful globalized rock in the midst of the cosmos may become.
    Even if you are not a fan of predictions which may seem apocalyptic (but are truly quite likely), it is important to read the chapter concerning alternative fuels. So many people argue that we must switch to hydrogen or ethanol immediately. Kunstler explains why all alternative fuels are ineffective one by one listing legitimate and real concerns.
    I cannot lie. A little bit of disappoint arose when Kunstler took some partisan views, leaning left at the end of the book when discussing anything about the South and what it means to be conservative. I did appreciate that he gives a totally objective commentary on "going to war for oil." A great book, wonderful writing style, and an essential to anyone who rants about how wonderful hydrogen will be, expects oil to last forever, or believes that suburbanization is still the "new cool thing."...more info
  • A realistic, yet depressing, scenario
    Books with disturbing, unconventional ideas are invariably controversial and James Howard Kunstler's dire treatise falls into this category. He presents global warming and the impending oil crisis as a simultaneous set of calamities, and contends that the U.S. faces economic, political and social crises as a result of the looming fuel shortage and climate change. This is not an upbeat prediction, but it packs a shocking punch that could alter your point of view. Certainly, his central theme - the demise of cheap oil colliding with the impact of global warming - rings true, but since no one has an accurate estimate on when the flow of oil will end or how climate change will unfold, his predictions warrant more investigation. Kunstler relates drought, famine, upheaval and disease to oil shortages and climate change. Despite some repetition, his arguments, especially regarding globalism, provide a needed, mind-changing perspective. Kunstler raises interesting questions. The challenge will be finding out if any of them have answers. getAbstract thinks this provocative book could stir widespread debate, especially in business circles....more info
  • A learning experience
    This is my first peak oil & energy book so it was a learning experience.

    The first six chapters are good.
    1. Sleepwalking into the Future
    2. Modernity and the Fossil Fuels Dilemma
    3. Geopolitics and the Global Oil Peak
    4. Beyond Oil: Why Alternative Fuels Won't Rescue Us
    5. Nature Bites Back: Climate Change, Epidemic Disease, Water Scarcity, Habitat Destruction, and the Dark Side of the Industrial Age
    6. Running on Fumes: The Hallucinated Economy. A history of how we got where we did. Gets a bit tedious. I had a headache that day and it made it worse.

    The last was not so
    7. Living in the Long Emergency

    "Synopsis:
    The depletion of nonrenewable fossil fuels (oil, nat. gas, coal) is about to radically change life much sooner than anticipated. This title describes what to expect after the honeymoon of affordable energy is over, preparing readers for economic, political, and social changes of an unimaginable scale."

    So. what I expected out of chapter 7 was a timeline of what would go down first, second, third, etc. ....when and why. But he doesn't give you one. Can a model timeline be figured using currant data?
    From reading this you get the impression it's gonna happen over night. Boom! 2025. I guess you have to read his novel 'World Made by Hand' to get that info.

    There's no practical advice spelled out for you. Even the author hasn't seriously prepared himself. I guess like me he figures he'll be dead by then. And again like me he has no children to tend to. He's tucked away in a small town like me only we have two dams and a small 20mw hydroelectric plant, lots of wood. Possibly he has other homes in strategic locals.

    Mr. Kunstler has an aggravating tendency to repeat himself ... a lot. And to harping endlessly on certain immutable issues ... like suburbia. He just HATES suburbia, yet doesn't lay out his solution, not that I could see anyway. I guess that's in his other book 'Home from Nowhere'.

    I'm a cynic and a lifetime misanthrope, same as Mr. Kunstler, but his repetitious ranting anger in places became tiresome. So be forewarned.

    There's no index. And hey!, what about Hawaii and Alaska?

    Remember: Gene Rosellini. Highly intelligent/knowledgeable.
    He arrived in Cordova (Alaska) in 1977 and began a remarkable anthropological experiment in which he wanted to find out if it was possible to live independently of modern technology.

    "I began my adult life with the hypothesis that it would be possible to become a Stone Age native." He "purged his life of all but the most primitive tools, which he fashioned from native materials with his own hands," Krakauer (Into the Wild) writes. For TEN years, Rossellini toughed it out. Eventually, however, he gave up: "I would say I realistically experienced the physical, mental and emotional reality of the Stone Age. But to borrow a Buddhist phrase, eventually came a setting face-to-face with pure reality. I learned that it is not possible for human beings as we know them to live off the land." We had devolved
    ...more info
  • Review of The Long Emergency
    This is a very important book! It has changed the way I look at lots of things: what kind of car to drive, where to live, the need for being prepared for a very hard time ahead. If our Congressmen would read it they would be influenced to do something productive for a change. I don't agree with the author's view of Christians, but that doesn't change my opinion of the importance of his book. He doesn't realize he is describing the End Times....more info
  • The one book every American must read.
    This book is the holy grail of humanity. If you don't read this book, you will live in denial. Read my review of "Powerdown" on the end of the fossil fuel age, then read this book. The last chapter will fill you with the despair that comes from seeing the truth about what we have done, and how our children will be unable to pay for it.

    Unless you can think in terms of "geological time", you might remain in denial. If you are one of the rare people who can, you will come to realize that the only thing you can do is to enjoy a responsible lifestyle during you lifetime, because this is the last generation. Our children and grandchildren will pay the bill for the fossil fuel orgy in the form of famine, plague, and the collapse of the civilized world, or what we call humanity. This is a truly great book, the truth really hurts....more info
  • The Long Emergency
    Good book, the author does a good job outlining history and then going on to describe the consequences of our actions, however he is very extreme and a pessimist. I would only recommend this book if you are a pessimist about the future of energy....more info
  • Well-written and interesting...
    A good look over the times to come here in the U.S. following the end of oil. Kunstler does a great job of explaining the uniqueness of oil and how it has powered this glorious epoch we live in. I, for one, do not believe his gloom and doom predictions. It will be interesting to see what options there are for electricity in the future and his predictions about the southwest will surely prove true. A good book to try to get one to wake up from, as he would put it, "oil-fueled dreams," but Kunstler fails when he gets carried away with his constant dwelling on oil as the singular cause for the present state of affairs. In particular, his use of the word oil must total well over 500 in the course of the book. ...more info
  • A Pessimist is Rarely Disappointed
    Before reading "The Long Emergency," I had only a vague notion of the implications of Peak Oil. Thanks to Mr. Kuntzler, I now realize exactly how dangerous the situation is. Do I necessarily believe that things are going to play out exactly as he describes? Of course not. Speculative writing is always just that, an educated guess. What I am certain of as a result of reading this book is that some variation of the future it outlines is going to play out.

    What was most eye-opening was the discussion of so-called alternative fuels. Most people seem to believe that the free market will take care of itself by developing replacements for oil, coal and natural gas with little disruption to our way of life. Kuntzler painstakingly demonstrates why this is a dangerous fantasy. For that alone, the book is worth reading.

    One word for those who say Kuntzler is too much of a pessimist. His vision of the future is actually more positive than that of some Peak Oil theorists who believe that it will be a (human) extinction event. Kuntzler believes the world's population will merely return to pre-industrial levels (about one billion), and that this will eventually mean a return to locally based economies. Admittedly this shows a bit of a hippie mentality on his part, but it in no way detracts from his overall message. ...more info
  • Over-rated
    I was very excited for this book, but I honestly couldn't make it past the first chapter. I think the worst claim was when he siad that it a ruling elite could unleash a deadly virus on the world for which only they had the vaccines. I consider myself an environmentalist and know that global warming is an emergency that needs to be addressed, but from what I have read, this book does not compare to other books like "Plan B" by Lester Brown or "A Green History of the World" by Clive Ponting....more info
  • Doom and Gloom
    The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler is a sobering view of a post- 'peak-oil' America. 'Peak-oil' refers to the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum production is reached, after which the rate of production enters its terminal decline. Basically, the point when we've pumped out more than half of the oil that has ever been created. There are many estimations for when this will occur, as there are many factors that make it nearly impossible to predict. For instance, it is in the producer's best interest to keep their reserves secret...Saudi Arabia has maintained that they have around 260 billion barrels, but that figure has not changed in 40 years. Sure, we can keep finding new reserves and creating new technologies that allow us to reach oil that was previously uneconomical...but this cannot go on forever. Kunstler takes a rather pessimistic view, saying the peak will occur between 2000 and 2010.

    This means we have used about half of all the oil that was ever created...great, right? That sounds like we have plenty of time. The only problem is the world uses a bit more oil these days than it has in the past, actually a lot more. In fact we've used 25% of all the world's reserves in the past decade. The author estimates at current trends, we have about 35-40 years left of oil...the oil that is the hardest to get...and if it takes more input energy than you get out, it is not a winning proposition. Bottom line, we WILL run out of oil someday, it's only a matter of when.

    The problem with this, we soon realize, is that our entire way of life - modern western civilization - has been created and subsidized by copious amounts of cheap energy. Contemplate the rise of technology after the discovery of oil...kerosene lamp, car, plane, transistor, computer, space flight...all within about 100 years. When this cheap source of energy is expended, what happens? Perhaps a regression to a time prior to the industrial revolution? Unfortunately, there is no inherent guarantee that human advancement will continue; especially in a continuous, unbroken, upward slope. There have been regressions in the past; mighty and advanced civilizations have faltered before...

    The optimist in us all believes that some magic technology will rescue us, perhaps some alternate fuel that is in the works right now. The author does a pretty good job of systematically raining on the parade of every legitimate alternate fuel source. Natural Gas, Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, Coal, Hydroelectric, Solar, Wind, Synthetic Oil, Thermal Depolymerization, and Nuclear are all discussed and largely discounted.

    After a few chapters discussing how he feels global warming is going to get us and how the global economy is destined to fail and how the suburbs are the bane of human existence, he hits us with his view of life in America without cheap oil: The Long Emergency.

    I'm not going to ruin the ending, you'll have to check it out for yourself. I will just say that the book is very pessimistic, and at times it seems as though he is relishing the thought of his post-apocalyptic existence. The biggest problem with the book is that I can't really find too many faults with his logic (he was wrong about Y2k, however). Peak oil is either upon us now, or will be in our lifetime. Any alternative that we currently have is either more expensive or has other major drawbacks. I feel it may come down to not 'if'; but 'when', and 'how severe'. I highly recommend this book. While I don't think (and certainly don't hope) the future will be as dire as depicted; I do think there are some important insights to be gleaned concerning overall trends that could be instrumental in making sound long-term decisions: where to live/retire, employment, investing, etc. These insights can also be leveraged in everyday decision making: what we eat, what we buy, who we buy from, etc.; that may lessen or even prevent The Long Emergency. But you don't have to take my word for it...head down to your local library and check it out for yourself.

    http://tragedy-of-the-commons.blogspot.com/...more info
  • Time is running short for the long emergency...
    This was the second Peak Oil book that I had the pleasure of reading and I wish it was the first. By and large, I would classify this text as a classic. Kunstler's begins his treatment of this topic by viewing the current socioeconomic climate as filled by a populace blinded by certain assumptions that make the coming (or present) oil crisis all the more severe. He then goes on to treat the rise of our modern industrial civilization and its roots in cheap energy (oil) and how the geopolitical nature of oil has shaped international trade and events.

    As in other texts on the subject, Kunstler examines the potential alternatives to oil, and how even if combined, the most they are likely to do is soften the fall. Unlike other books however, there is an extensive treatment of the environmental component of the dilemma that other books fail to address. Kunstler wraps up the Long Emergency by forecasting Peak Oil's effects on the economy and what living in the "long emergency" may indeed be like.

    Across the board, I enjoyed Kunstler's writing style and presentation. His voice adds to the rising tide of those that herald the awareness of Peak Oil. Like Heinberg, his writing rises to the top and demands the attention that few can or deserve. This is an essential book that is strangely, given the subject nature, enjoyable to read.

    For more Peak Oil reviews: http://www.peakoilresources.com
    ...more info
  • We are in the Long Emergency
    This book is for those interested in what the future might hold as our infrastructure is overloaded and resources are becoming expensive and limited. This book will convince the reader that there are major changes in our future and our standard of living. It will also give you some insight as to what to do about it to. Highly recommend this book and the Geography of Nowhere. ...more info
  • speculative but still worth reading
    By and large, this book rests upon two factual claims:

    1. The world supply of oil and natural gas is starting to decline, and will continue to decline in coming decades.

    2. No alternative technologies will bail out industrial civilization, because most other sources of energy cannot be created without prodigious amounts of oil and natural gas (which, if assumption (1) is correct, will not be around).

    If assumptions (1) and (2) are correct, industrial civilization will disappear, and standards of living will decline around the world.

    I have no way of knowing whether assumptions (1) and (2) are in fact correct; these seem to me to be technical issues that only scientists can have informed opinions upon.

    But having said that, Kunstler does present an interesting case that (1) and (2) are at least possible. And he certainly presents a good case that if (1) and (2) come to pass, civilization will take a giant leap backwards. So I think this book is worth reading, even if one should not take it as gospel.

    I do think it could have used a bit of editing in the second half; judging by the most negative reviews, many of Kunstler's comments therein about Wal-Mart, the South, etc. seem to have needlessly inflamed readers, and I found his discussion of "entropy" and the economy hard to follow in parts. But even if you skip the second half, the early chapters of this book are worth reading. ...more info
  • A Brilliant "Peak Oil" summary...!
    JH Kunstler has produced a VERY readable, very 'accessible' book. THE best overview of the peak oil situation I have found!! The possible future he outlines is all-too-clearly outlined!
    The only part I felt was missing is the role the central government and more importantly, the Military would play in a domestic economic downward spiral as a result of skyrocketing oil prices and the shortages resulting from dwindling supplies. Kunstler feels that the sheer scope of the 'reality of peak oil' on a commercial society would overwhelm the central authority and render it powerless in the face of the chaos. I believe the Federal Gov and more importantly, the military would not sit around while the country 'unravelled'. He does not touch on their intervention in ways like 'Marshal Law',etc in a widespread domestic crisis. This is the ONLY part I feel is missing from his analysis. Otherwise it's brilliantly laid out. The conclusion stark and bare! A MUST READ! ...more info
  • Scary stuff
    This was the most scariest book I have ever read. With a movie, you know it is not real and can turn it off, but this book is the real thing. You can't really stop the future. ...more info
  • A Must Read!
    Kuntsler's got it right regarding the challanges we face in the not too distant future. His wit and sarcasm combined with a clear writing style make this work a most enjoyable read.

    Kuntsler also presents his case cogently in a video entitled The End of Suburbia. I have been influenced by his work, and have actually made lifestyle changes ranging from the use of compact florescent lightbulbs to an investment in a sustainable living community to help me to cope with the coming difficulties that Kuntsler predicts.

    There is one point that I would like to add. I see a ray of hopefulness in recent advances in lithium ion battery technology, that will allow the production of electric cars that are actually usable. Theses advances had not been achieved prior to the writing of this book, and therefore are not included in Kuntsler's vision of The Long Emergency. Thank you James Kuntsler for making us aware of the implications of the unsustainable lifestyle arrangements we have created....more info
  • Really not funny anymore
    James Howard Kunstler has written some very insightful and important books over the years covering expansive topics like American cities and the 'geography of nowhere', the American addiction to cars and the lifestyle it serves, and now this, perhaps the final chapter.

    The Long Emergency is named after what the author believes is a coming massive depression of sorts. The era of cheap energy is coming to an end as we've reached 'peak oil' and we start down the road of dwindling cheap energy supplies and the consequences of our decisions to build America in the fashion we have. He runs through the history of cheap energy and its impact on the society, pointing to nearly every facet of American life and geography as having been affected and indeed dictated by the availability of cheap oil and natural gas and the dependencies on cars and trucks to rule the way we live. Attention is given to the world stage, to the various natural resources both past, present, and future, and the serious, serious, serious problems we're facing (such as the entire society collapsing).

    The last chapter is dedicated to what the country COULD look like if we do not take serious steps to curtail the downward spiral. (By the way, by all accounts, we're not taking the right steps soon enough). It reads like a final warning, and it's absolutely grim. Kuntsler paints a picture of a USA with farming as its chief industry again. Things would need to re-localized. Our current mode of living, in its basic form in terms of distance and dependence on cheap energy is going to break down, and it won't be pretty. And while the country is owned and operated by big business, whose priority is hardly to ensure the survival of mankind, heck, why bother? If I have to return to an 18th or 19th century mode of living when I'm 60, say, no thanks.

    With that, since reading this very important, insightful, and quite (appropriately) bleak book, I've taken on a heavy carbon existence in my own personal attempt to speed up the end of the earth and mankind's parasitic, meaningless existence on it. Not content to wait for nuclear war, it seems more likely that a few degrees shift in global temperature may be enough to wipe out quite a few folks, so why wait? In addition to running my air conditioners even in the winter, buying only heavily packaged foods, and telling everyone I know to buy an SUV, I've also opened my own coal power plant and am personally trying to catch all of the local fish in the sea. The Long Emergency need not be so long, let's get on with it.

    Highly recommended....more info
  • A cattleprod to the genitals of complacency!
    This book was both an education and an affirmation of suspicions and doubts
    I've long held. Well written and compelling. Mr. Kunstler paints a detailed
    picture of a broad, multifaceted landscape. He holds up a mirror to our follies and greed. It is a clarion call to change. The section on the evolution of modern economics was especially enlightening. This is a book you will want to share with friends you care about....more info
  • Doomsday - but is it for real?
    Having read the book in 2008, and knowing that Mr. Kunstler wrote it 4 years earlier, the writer is very astute in correctly forecasting the sub-prime/debt crises and the oil price increases.

    He does a credible job of explaining why oil may not be there for all time. Unfortunately, his treatment of the alternative fuel and new technologies is rather brief and he seems to dismiss any solution, as it would interfere with his relished doomsday scenario.

    Kunstler brings up valid points, but his suggested outcome (a return to a version of an 18th century rural lifestyle) is rather far fetched and does not do justice to mankind's creativity and tenacity in addressing the real energy challenges we are faced with.
    ...more info
  • prophetic -- read this excerpt
    I'm posting this mid-October 2008, in the midst of the global financial crisis. Here's a phophetic excerpt from The Long Emergency that was written in mid-2004:

    "By the time you read this, it is very likely that the housing bubble will have begun to come to grief... The economic wreckage is liable to be impressive. If house owners cannot make their mortgage payments, Fannie May and Freddie Mac, and by extension the federal government, would be the big losers. The failure of [Fannie and Freddie] would make the Savings and Loans fiasco of the 1980s look like a bad night at poker... It could easily bring on cascading failures that might jeopardize global finance. This time, the American public will feel the pain... Our desperate problems with oil and gas will effectively shut down the growth of our industrial economies, and with that our expectations for economic progress, as we have known it... The transient and ephemeral condition of industrial hypergrowth that the world has known for just over 200 years will be over. Energy will be at an extreme premium, and human survival skill will be the new capital. What it may be like to live later on in the 21st century ("The Long Emergency") is the subject of the next chapter."

    I haven't read the next chapter yet, though unfortunately I have a feeling we're all about to "live" The Long Emergency instead of "read" it.

    ~mark~...more info

 

 
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