The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century

The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century

by James Howard Kunstler
     
 

With his classics of social commentary The Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler has established himself as one of the great commentators on American space and place. Now, with The Long Emergency, he offers a shocking vision of a post-oil future. As a result of artificially cheap fossil-fuel energy, we have developed global models of…  See more details below

Overview

With his classics of social commentary The Geography of Nowhere and Home from Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler has established himself as one of the great commentators on American space and place. Now, with The Long Emergency, he offers a shocking vision of a post-oil future. As a result of artificially cheap fossil-fuel energy, we have developed global models of industry, commerce, food production, and finance over the last 200 years. But the oil age, which peaked in 1970, is at an end. The depletion of nonrenewable fossil fuels is about to radically change life as we know it, and much sooner than we think. The Long Emergency tells us just what to expect after 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. It is bound to become a classic of social science.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The indictment of suburbia and the car culture that the author presented in The Geography of Nowhere turns apocalyptic in this vigorous, if overwrought, jeremiad. Kunstler notes signs that global oil production has peaked and will soon dwindle, and argues in an eye-opening, although not entirely convincing, analysis that alternative energy sources cannot fill the gap, especially in transportation. The result will be a Dark Age in which "the center does not hold" and "all bets are off about civilization's future." Absent cheap oil, auto-dependent suburbs and big cities will collapse, along with industry and mechanized agriculture; serfdom and horse-drawn carts will stage a comeback; hunger will cause massive "die-back"; otherwise "impotent" governments will engineer "designer viruses" to cull the surplus population; and Asian pirates will plunder California. Kunstler takes a grim satisfaction in this prospect, which promises to settle his many grudges against modernity. A "dazed and crippled America," he hopes, will regroup around walkable, human-scale towns; organic local economies of small farmers and tradesmen will replace an alienating corporate globalism; strong bonds of social solidarity will be reforged; and our heedless, childish culture of consumerism will be forced to grow up. Kunstler's critique of contemporary society is caustic and scintillating as usual, but his prognostications strain credibility. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
With the discovery of new oil fields at a crawl and alternative energy sources not up to snuff, we're facing some big changes. So argues Kunstler, who writes regularly on economic and environmental issues. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Move over, Malthus. According to suburbia-hater Kunstler (Home from Nowhere, 1996, etc.), the world's going to hell in a handbasket-and in about 15 minutes, too. Aiming at the broadest side of the barn, Kunstler asserts that we're living in "a much darker time than 1938, the eve of World War Two." Why so? Well, for one, because the world's population is vastly overextended-never mind that Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich hashed that argument out a generation ago, with Malthusian arguments taking a beating in the bargain. All right, because there's a superplague about to descend on the world, or maybe AIDS in mutated form, or a designer virus unleashed to rid a given polity of its surplus population, the elites having been inoculated beforehand. ("If this sounds too fantastic," Kunstler helpfully adds, "imagine how outlandish the liquidation of European Jewry might have seemed to civilized Berliners in 1913. Yet it happened." No bites? All right, it's because we're about to run out of oil, and there's nothing to replace oil. Now we're getting somewhere-except, oil economists such as Kenneth Deffeyes (Beyond Oil, p. 31) have remarked, the peak in world oil production is probably happening right now, and it will take some time to bleed the pump dry, by which point alternative technologies may have been employed to carry at least some of the load. That presupposes a shared view that the oil-based economy is on the way to profound change and that we're all in big trouble; but we're a delusional bunch, Kunstler avows, content to ugly up and pollute our world so long as we are able "to quickly escape the vicinity in cars luxuriously appointed with the finest digital stereo sound, air-conditioning,and cup holders for iced beverages." Aha. It's the fault of the ice-chewers in this age of global warming. But look at the bright side, Kunstler urges: At least when the air conditioners fail, the mega-churches will have to close down, a death blow to Republican civilization. Cant-filled and overwrought: a crying-wolf approach to real but largely addressable issues, long on jeremiads but absent of remedies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780871138880
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/28/2005
Pages:
307
Product dimensions:
6.18(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.08(d)

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