The Long Emergency

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A controversial hit that sparked debate among businessmen, environmentalists, and bloggers, The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler is an eye-opening look at the unprecedented challenges we face in the years ahead, as oil runs out and the global systems built on it are forced to change radically.

Customer Reviews:

  • Worth Purchasing for Yourself
    I did something with this book I rarely have done before. I checked out a copy from the library. Read it. Then purchased a copy for myself.

    The book is filled with information I know I will want access to in the future.

    It really takes a book like this to give a handle on reality, in the face of the daily barrage of information that tells you something else is true. Just driving around in the suburbs with traffic going in this and that direction, building developments continuing, markets shelved with a huge variety of foods and supplies, all the signs that growth and prosperity will continue.

    Kustler has brought together in this book the evidence of converging catastrophes that will completely change the viability of these growth and prosperity scenarios. I would much rather be alert to these impending changes, and adjust my lifestyle and life choices in gradual anticipation, than to be happily going about my business, and suddenly have to confront these realities without any advanced preparation.

    ...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
  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The decline of the oil age
    Kunstler begins with the premise that we, i.e. the US and the world are running out of oil. Who can question that premise besides those with vested financial interests in keeping it a secret? If one accepts his premise that oil is a diminishing commodity, the only salient question remaining is, what happens as a decline becomes obvious in the global market?

    In my opinion, Kunstler does an exceptional job of sketching a post-oil world. The only criticism I have of his portrait is that it is probably not bleak enough. We are a world of 6-7 billion people who are sustained by an affordable and available source of energy. When that source is no longer affordable and/or available, I fear that his view of a changing society does not begin to describe the ensuing chaos and disorder.

    The author is making a classic Malthusian & Darwinian argument of vital resource depletion and the impact it will have on human population. The only conclusion one can draw is that the outcome will not be pleasant. Hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of people will starve or die until an equilibrium is regained. Kunstler might appear to those free market optimists as simply a left-wing political nut job, extremist, but he raises crucially important questions for all mankind that cannot be brushed aside with platitudes and the hope of future technology.

    Ultimately I hope that he is wrong in one key area: human ingenuity and resourcefulness will keep the modern, industrial world intact. Necessity is the mother of invention and one can only hope that someone or something will appear on the horizon before it is too late. If not, we are indeed in for a long, dark emergency.

    In closing, I hope that President Obama has read this book....more info
  • A great scarey book
    The book had the most detailed discription of it's condition I have ever received from a used book seller. It was exactly as discribed and in excellent condition. The book contains all the information that I was looking for and is something every one living in the United States should read....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 defines the coming world
    Jim Kunstler, who is a determined gadfly and I think an honest lover of the American land, is trying to wake the lot of us out of our stupor and make us realize what he sees clearly. He has made a shtick (and it is a successful one as indicated by the fact he has just had to conceal his email address to, as he says, get something besides correspondence done) out of the coming oil depletion, drop off, "peaking," or whatever else you want to call it. At best, or thereabouts, we have another decade to motor around like crazy in the landscape burning ever dearer gasoline, but the END IS IN SIGHT. The real gloomers say that in a very few years we are headed into an energy slide that will deliver us to a stone-age world faster that you can say Jack Robinson, and say they, a stone-age world will do well to support a sixth of our present world population. Kunstler is no such Ultimate Gloomer, but he does say we need to get busy devising alternatives to what he calls our Happy Motoring Utopia, and has a litmus test for our collective intelligence: can we see that we need to rebuild our railroads and get off our large rear ends and do it? Answer so far, no. Has busy, bad Bush ever mentioned it? No. Do we really need to do it? But yes. The issues are presented in Kunstler's "The Long Emergency" wittilly, trenchantly, even amusingly, but they are there and they are dire, Jack, and no kidding. I'd a little fault the author for taking man-made (as opposed to longterm geological) global warming perhaps a little too seriously, and I see no real appreciation by him of the exponential slide into financial disaster that was initiated (to use just a recent date) by the fastening onto the backs of the English speaking peoples of the money system originated by the Bank of England 300 years ago, but apart from these two cavils I'd heartily recommend reading this book in preference to endlessly perusing the pages of the "clueless" (Kunstler's word) New York Times until one's eyes glaze over. Kunstler's website, refreshed weekly on Mondays is [...]...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
  • Depressing, but interesting
    This book gives a lot of interesting historical and current information, but is a little too "doom and gloom" and repeats thoughts a little too much and also is too emotional for a nonfiction book. However, hopefully enough people will take notice of the message and start doing things differently....more info
  • The end is coming
    This book is good for one thing: Getting people to think about Peak oil and the credit crisis and how it will affect us in the future. Other than that, as others have said, you will basically get the opinions of the author presented as facts in a way that seeks to belittle anyone who does not share the same view.

    His disregard for alternative energy is laughable. His borderline hate for all people that are not like him is very evident. He not only believes that doom and gloom are the future but it is very evident that he wants this fate for the US.

    Overall, read this book with a grain of salt and there are probably much better discussions on Peak oil out there....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
  • 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
    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
  • A Wake Up Call
    This is a must read for anyone who wants to know how to survive the coming global financial meltdown. Kunsler shocks you into reality making you aware of the awful mess our planet and our governments are in.
    We are now searching for a property where we can survive off the grid where we grow our vegetables and live without reliance on others to supply our basics. This shoud be compulsory reading for all....more info
    Publishers weekly says: ""Kunstler's name is mostly associated with nonfiction works like The Long Emergency, a bleak prediction of what will happen when oil production no longer meets demand ---- the world economy will collapse and society as we know it will cease.""
    This book however is nothing but the author's sick and profoundly pessimistic view of a possible future that he longs for, definitly fiction, possibly good fiction but not based on anything real. Environmentalist doomsayers are welcome to write their dreams of catastrophy as works of fiction but please don't try to pass them off as non-fiction....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
  • The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler
    The Long Emergency is an eye-catching book with hits bright alarm-yellow cover and black and red title. It's a book about the future of the world, what's going to happen when we run out of oil, and what to do when this "Long Emergency" begins. The first part of the book goes into depth about when oil was discovered, how it was first used, when and how it was converted into the many products that use oil today. The reader learns what are the events that led up to the discovery of oil in the Middle East and the reason it is in its horrible state today.

    After this enlightening history lesson, Kunstler goes on to explain that there is a specific oil production peak that will be reached, when half of the available oil would've been used up, and the other half -- which is harder to get -- will drive up gas and oil prices. According to a number of sources in the footnotes, this peak will be reached some time between the year 2000 and 2008. Kunstler says that they way we will be able to tell is through the oscillation of oil prices rising greatly, then dropping a little, then raising more, but only going down a little each time. Over the past year, this is exactly what has happened, and I'm pretty sure we're never going to see gas go below $2 again.

    Kunstler goes on to point out that the supposed alternative forms of energy we're working on will be nowhere near to replacing the oil industry once we dispense with it. This is mainly due to the recent Republican Presidents, starting with Reagan who stopped most funding to alternative energy means and essentially killed the drive for it. Along with Bush Senior and our current idiot, they are all part of a white male arrogant group that believe we will never run out of oil, and it is merely a case of finding it in the earth, albeit by digging deeper and further (re: Alaska!); couple with this is these men's beliefs that the Rapture will arrive tomorrow and they'll be ascending to Heaven, leaving all their problems behind them. Though Clinton is also to blame for looking towards the future and working on prepare the civilized world for the inevitable.

    Kunstler predicts all out pandemonium and chaos, worst felt in the United States, of course, where suburbia is in full force. When all the material goods and services we've taken for granted for so long collapse, and our society crashes around us, the Long Emergency will being. This is what Kunstler says. Though he provides little advice and assurance in how one can survive this event. Plus there's the fact that this nonfiction work doesn't have an index or bibliography at the end. I know all nonfiction works don't need this, but when it's a book predicting everything going to hell in my lifetime, I would at least like a list for further readings, or maybe some websites.

    It will at least be interesting the see in the coming decades what will begin happening, and I know for now what I most want to get is a hybrid, because gas prices aren't going down ever again.

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  • Doomsday comedy
    I don't know what's scarier; the doomsday scenarios laid out in this book that totally ignore and/or dismiss the human ability to overcome problems, or that this was assigned reading at my University. In the first five pages of the book, the author basically admits he is a member of the "die-off" crowd; the crowd that believes we are rapidly running out of oil and that civilization will self-destruct in our lifetime. He thinks that vast portions of the population will die off because the oil-free Earth cannot support them, that the United States will break up into regional territories, that we will be forced to revert back to 19th century pre-industrialized ways, (with maybe a few exceptions in medical knowledge retained) and that the suburbs will be abandoned and become the new slums, unfit for human habitation. He mocks those who believe that humanity will find another source (or sources) of transportation power. He is definitely skewing the argument in his favor, sometimes completely ignoring developments, such as advancing hybrid technology, and rapidly developing plug-in cars such as the Volt that GM is working on. You can't really blame him, though. Alarmism is the way to sell books. Would this book sell worth a darn if it were titled "The Temporary, Passing Emergency?" No. But, it's not all doom-and-gloom rubbish. I agree with him when he says that we need to get over our stupid fear of the nuclear boogeyman and start ramping up nuclear power again. The French get most of their power from nuclear; why aren't we? Has anyone in the United States EVER died from a nuclear power plant accident? (No!)
    Anyway, I think I'll keep this book instead of selling it back to the bookstore at the end of the term. That way in 20 years when my kids come home teary-eyed from college, convinced that we only have a few years of civilization left, I can pull out this bad boy and show them this type of alarmist propaganda is nothing new. ...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
  • 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
  • A very important book...
    There are many reviews here and on the web so I will add only a small amount to the praise. "The Long Emergency" is a very important book since it grapples with the issue of how (and even examines if) western culture can proceed now that we have passed peak oil. I use the past tense since all indicators point to the fact that we passed peak oil at the end of 2005 - so there is a real state of global denial over planning and implementing changes to deal with this problem.

    Kunstler guides the reader through the issue - our global reliance on cheap oil - and the ramifications of the fact that this stage of our development is now over. He deftly examines the geopolitical history of the production of oil and the impacts that this history will have shaping the future. He makes his case on the enormous issues that arise because everything is based upon the premise that oil is a cheap and infinite resource. That is, technology (and he nicely separates the concept progress from growth/technology) is dependent on cheap oil so there is no quick fix.

    His real aim is to examine the possible outcomes of our lack of response, on any but a very small individual level, to the problems that now face us. This is why the book is so scary - no government action is occurring besides preparations for resource wars and keeping the soon-to-be-irate population under control (hundreds of millions are being spent on incarceration facilities!). Not a good prognosis for the future and a very pathetic legacy for future generations.

    It is nicely summed up:

    "Some other things about the global energy predicament are poorly understood by the public and even our leaders. This is going to be a permanent energy crisis, and these energy problems will synergize with the disruptions of climate change, epidemic disease and population overshoot to produce higher orders of trouble.

    We will have to accommodate ourselves to fundamentally changed conditions."

    We are shortly going to look back and wonder why we didn't act when there was still time...You should read this book so at least you know the facts for later years when you and your children are living like we did hundreds of years ago...

    ...more info
  • The Long Emergency
    This book was fun to read but did not have much sound science with in its discusseions. However, I would suggest it as a good read....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
  • Must read, must share...
    This book provides a glimpse into our not-very-distant post-oil world. Realistic, without becoming negative. Fact-based and logical in every respect. The writing is never dull. Since buying this book, I've shared it with five friends. I also enjoyed Mr. Kunstler's book "Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape".

    Mr. Kunstler was also very giving of his time in answering some questions I emailed to him after reading this book....more info
  • The Long Emergency
    An incredibly eye-opening book. The Long Emergency was used extensively in research for my own novel: Sunset on Ghawar. I just love Kunstler's writing - The LE and the Geography of Nowhere have prominent spots in my library. I can't wait for his new novel: World Made by Hand. Chad Sands (Author, Sunset on Ghawar)...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
  • excellent
    An excellent treatment of a simple but elusive subject- running out of oil, and what that means....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 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 Bit Too Pessimistic
    Kunstler is correct, obviously, that the amount of oil drawn from under the ground or under the sea will decline. And he's right that our society will have to adjust to more expensive and more scarce oil. I also found his arguments about the reasons why alternative energy sources cannot, right now or in the near future, replace coal or nuclear power or natural gas- or oil-based electricity production persuasive. He also cogently explains why hydrogen-fueled vehicles likely have too many technological obstacles to overcome in order to be a feasible replacement for fossil-fuel powered vehicles.

    That said, I think Kunstler makes one big mistake in his argument. He assumes that the market, and thus our society, will either have no time or no willingness to adjust our energy usage patterns. He essentially dismisses any notion that effective conservation programs, driven by incentives or mandates, will be put in place before oil quantities decline to the crisis point. He also does not adequately discuss the possibility that the problems with at least some alternative energy supplies and with the political and social concerns about using nuclear power can be addressed by the time oil becomes to expensive and too scarce to fuel our economy.

    I was also disappointed that Kunstler did not see fit to mention the arguments to the effect that peak oil production may not actually have happened yet. I recognize that it may have, but his argument really rests on the assumption that it either has or very soon will. Not all scientists agree. Besides, scarcity does not mean none. As prices of oil rise, which they will as demand grows and it becomes more costly to extract oil, there will be strong forces driving both energy companies and industries dependent on oil to invest in additional research and technologies. Where that will go, we can't say.

    Kunstler argues, as he did in previous books, that the American suburb is essentially doomed. With this I have a hard time disagreeing. While the downfall may not come in five or even ten years, it is hard for me to see how the intensive car-based culture manifest in so many suburbs can survive the pressures to reduce fuel use and air pollutant emissions dramatically unless they become far more walkable, economically self-contained, and receptive to mass transit.

    I don't agree with Kunstler that we're headed for a return to a sort of feudal economy redux. I think that's far too pessimistic and, again, totally overlooks the functioning of the laws of economics. Besides, his argument is somewhat based on the premise that open trade is either objectively bad, socially speaking, or economically unsustainable due to the energy required to transport goods. As I said above, given time I think there is a reasonable chance that the market will solve the energy cost issues. As for the social question, it's hard to dispute that, while free trade has costs, the majority of people in the world will be better off in the long run with fewer obstacles to international commerce in place, at least if the bedrock need to preserve environmental values and prevent undue exploitation of workers is taken seriously.

    The book is a good read, though a bit histrionic. One might actually benefit from reading Alan Greenspan's memoir to get a somewhat different view about how future possible energy shortages may affect the economy....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
  • Compelling Prediction but Scattered
    This book is very readable. Kunstler has an excellent style although he goes over the top with the use of some words. Nevertheless, he has broached some very important topics for the current era even though he has used a scattered approach to the many disasters waiting to happen. He would have been better off in focusing on the oil scenario coupled with the geopolitical risk attached to Middle Eastern oil. His divergence into climate change, pandemic disease and water scarcity distracts the reader from his excellent first half of this book which is the crux of his message. He loses focus (I believe)with his ramble about nature fighting back and his account of the history of credit, the demise of LTCM and the housing bubble. This should have been left for another book perhaps and possible to an author with a much greater depth of knowledge on these topics. Having said that, his arguments and research appear very sound but as said previously his divergence from the first half of the book was not necessary. Further the last chapter had little relevence to me here in Sydney, Australia talking about the demise of various regions of the USA. However I could identify with his abhorrence of suburbia which is very evident here in Sydney.

    Now back to the first half. The author has given an excellent account of the dilemna we face now that peak oil is upon us. I agree totally with Kunstler that the bulk of the population of Western societies are oblivious to the massive issue of transference to alternative fuel and believe that a smooth transition will occur. His denouncement however that all the possible alternative energy sources will not work is very pessimistic indeed although his argument against hydrogen based fuel is extremely reasonable and valid. Certainly here in Sydney there is an addiction to cars which is not helped by poor infrastructure and woeful public transport. Another important point is the fact that OPEC can no longer be a swing producer of oil as the Arabian oil fields are aging and making production very difficult. This simply means that OPEC can no longer flood the market and drive down the price due to supply constraints. The only way for the oil price is now up. This will cause unprecedented alarm around the globe. This has the making of a severe recession or even depression. This is the true Long Emergency that we will all face.

    ...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
  • Not so much pessimistic as filled with errors
    In "The Long Emergency", James Howard Kunstler, initially famous as a critic of modern urban design, argues that the world's future is severely endangered by the coming oil shock and the problems that will result when oil production declines. He argues that there is no likelihood any of the many alternative energy sources have the potential versatility of oil, nor the abundance that permitted oil to have the influence it did on the world during the latter half of the twentieth century.

    Kunstler believes that once oil declines, people will be forced into much more traditional societies based around farming, which itself will become less productive in the absence of fertilisers. He argues that many "modern" regions of the United States like Texas and Arizona will be depopulated without cheap energy for private cars and air conditioning, whilst he has much more hope for Europe and "blue" America owing to their more compact cities. He points out that the oil states of the Persian Gulf face a great deal of trouble once their oil declines as they will have nothing else to support themselves with.

    There are many problems with Kunstler's argument, however. One is that nations like Sweden are already - and with considerable success - phasing out the use of oil through research into renewable energy. This suggests that there is quite considerable potential for supplanting oil with appropriate energy development. On the other hand, a critical fault with Kunstler's predictions is that those nations he believes able to cope with the crises he predicts today have cultures much too self-centred to cope with conditions of scarcity. The kind of energy and food crisis Kunstler describes would likely cause a return to the political instability and/or extremism that characterised Europe in the early twentieth century. Europe, East Asia, New Zealand and "Blue" America also have the problem of severe demographic decline that could easily see them disappear as nations quite soon. On the other hand, Red America (which Kunstler predicts to disappear without cheap fuel), as Arthur C. Brooks shows, still has not only fewer demographic problems but also a quite communitarian, other-centred culture that would cope much better with scarcity because their people are willing to freely share limited resources.

    He also fails to grasp that without industrialisation Europe and East Asia could, owing to higher valuation of their soils and oceans, support economically far larger populations than they can in an industrial age where these resources are rendered valueless.

    Kunstler's brief discussion of Australia and New Zealand is also enough to shake my head. He believes they will suffer little more than Europe from declining fuel supplies. Whilst this is true for New Zealand - indeed without the Industrial Revolution New Zealand's European population would have grown much larger than it has today - in reality without industrialisation Australia could hardly support more than its original Aboriginal population of less than 1 million. He also does not realise how it is possible, owing to its exceedingly powerful road lobby, that Australia and not a much more populous nation like China may control dwindling fuel supplies in the future.

    On the whole, this is a book I would wish to admire, but quite simply cannot. It is too obviously flawed for one of my scientific knowledge....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
  • author dilutes a needed discussion with his own agenda
    Many people view the author as Chicken Little. And I must admit that he dilutes a potentially compelling discussion with his own agenda regarding perceived world overpopulation and a longing for everyone to return to Walden Pond. This is especially evident in the latter portion of Chapter 5: Nature Bites Back, where he seems almost to hope for a "rapture - type" event to rid the world of all but the deserving!!

    However, if even half of the events he describes come to pass, life on earth after oil supplies are depleted will never be the same - and I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. In any event, we all should begin to think (and act) as though his predictions just might be true. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. ...and plant a garden in your back yard. In fact, Barbara Kingsolver's book ANIMAL , VEGETABLE, MIRACLE is a good pairing to read with this one....more info
  • Enjoyable read, for the most part.
    I enjoyed reading most of this book, except for the rant against Wall Mart, that section seemed unrelated to the rest of the books arguments and subject matter, and a bit lefty to boot whilst most of the rest of the book seemed fairly politically agnostic.

    It has been over a year since I read it, so there may have been other bits that bothered me, but I can't recall them....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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Read this book if you care about the future
    "The times they are a changing" is indeed the theme of this book. And if you truely are concerned about our little island home called plant earth, I would suggest reading this book and acting now. Life as we know it will indeed change for human kind, so please become aware of this now. The Long Emergency will start this process....more info
  • Sleepwalking into the Future
    The Long Emergency is written with the pretense that humans will not develop alternative forms of energy for a long time. According to Kunstler, "new fuels and technologies may never replace fossil fuels at the scale, rate, and manner at which the world currently consumes them." Later Kunstler writes, "The wish to keep running the same giant systems at gigantic scale using renewables is the heart of our illusions about solar, wind and water power."

    We don't have to agree with Kunstler. Certainly, if we do agree this becomes a dark, grim scenario which he describes for us in thoughtful detail over 324 pages. Kunstler is a practical thinker that makes his speculation interesting. A sensible and realistic approach is applied to knock down one alternative energy source after another. The limitations brought onto civilization from reduced energy are then accounted for on subject after subject, such as climate, transportation, urban design, health care and agriculture.

    In my humble opinion, I feel that Kunstler underestimates human innovation. He could turn out to be correct in his direction regardless. The next President, whomever that unfortunate President might be, will have to impose corrections that will make him/her very unpopular. Conservation and government programs to solve energy shortages will enable the mainstream media to anger the populace. The media is filled with bias and yellow journalistic exaggeration for political gain. We can build whatever we need technologically, but politics will do its tricks to stop us....more info
  • When the oil runs out, life as we know it will end....
    Well, there's no denying that there is a finite amount of oil in the earth, and when that runs out, we're in big trouble. Most of the "alternative means of energy" we now know about are poor substitutes (e.g. require more energy to produce than is obtained). Oil is also used to make fertilizers, plastics, and other modern products. Nuclear power might be used to keep the lights and heat on, but "you can't run a car with it". Having a well kept up railroad network would be helpful too.

    In short, all of 20th/21st century technological advances and life style depend on easy-to-get oil. Add the effects of global warming and emergent diseases, and society (primarily United States society) will have to adapt. Anything that was made possible by cheap oil, from suburbs to skycrapers, to the Sunbelt and Southwest, will be abandoned. Farming, manual labor, and all those nearly-forgotten pre-industrial age skills will suddenly become valuable again. Automobiles, air travel, and even modern healthcare and education will, if still available, become the domain of societal elites. For the most part, people will travel less....much less....

    Of course, how people will react to these changes will determine whether this future society looks like the Amish, a 16th century European feudal society with fancy guildhalls (not over six stories) in each city, or something out of Mad Max/Blade Runner....A lot of our social advances (civil rights, women's rights, perhaps even our whole Constitutional system of laws) may be considered luxuries and fall by the wayside as well. Kunstler in a couple of places envisions armies of angry whites causing trouble, perhaps Mexico (re)taking the Southwestern United States, Asian pirates off the coast of Seattle, etc. (He doesn't think that out-and-out slavery would coming back, though)

    _The Long Emergency_ reads like a sequel to Kunstler's _Geography of Nowhere_, where he has very little good to say about the development of the American city, especially the suburbs. But while _Geography_ was mostly one criticism after another, the tone of _Long Emergency_ seems to be "Oil's running out? Bring it on. And don't look for technology to save your butt this time, you geeks. I can't wait for 18th Century society to come back". Rather analogous to the "Rapture Ready" evangelicals he denigrates. but instead of God whisking us away to a better place, Kunstler would like to use the social upheavel caused by the "perfect storm" of peak oil, global warming and emergent disease as a "dice roll" that would, hopefully, remake society into a form more to his liking.

    I think the book is useful as a reminder to everybody that the end of oil is coming. If we don't want to all go back to the farm (and that's one of the "nicer" scenarios in this book), we'd all better think long and hard about the big part oil plays in our society.

    ...more info
  • Important Book
    This is a very important book. Peak Oil is real. If there are any doubts just read the International Energy Agencies Report that came out in the Fall of 2008. The IEA report says Crude oil production will decrease at a rate of 9% annually. Yikes. Also read the NIC Global Trends 2025 report. Peak Oil is for real, and I fear we are ill prepared.

    The Long Emergency is one of the most shocking books you may ever read, and it is one of the best books on Peak oil, and post peak living....more info