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The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Cent Paperback – March 2, 2006
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This is a frightening and important book.” Time Out Chicago
If you give a damn, you should read this book.” Colin Tudge, The Independent
What sets The Long Emergency apart is its comprehensive sweepits powerful integration of science, technology, economics, finance, international politics and social change, along with a fascinating attempt to peer into a chaotic future. Kunstler is such a compelling and sometimes eloquent writer that the book is hard to put down.” American Scientist
[A] popular blueprint for surviving the end of oil.” Paul Greenberg, The New York Times Book Review
Funny, irreverent, and blunt.” The Globe and Mail
An especial strength of this book is its break with some of the more pernicious strands in the contemporary left, specifically the left’s kneejerk rejection of America acting militarily in its national interest. . . . There are hints of Malthus here, and of Oswald Spangler’s Decline of the West as well. Mr. Kunstler’s book is a jeremiad, driven by authorial presence. Pithy, entertaining descriptions of historical phenomena like the Soviet Union . . . enliven the text, allowing the veteran commentator to expound on themes that might read leaden by a less facile wordsmith. . . . The book succeeds as an accessible primer to a looming crisis that could end the American way of life.” A.G. Gancarski, Washington Times
Kunstler is an amusing and engaging observer and polemicist, and the terrain he surveys is unforgiving and perilous.” Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News
Novelist and journalist James Howard Kunstler is the leading popular voice of peak oil, the theory that says we have gone through more than half the world’s supply of this much-needed resource. Kunstler’s regular Monday morning posts foretell a world beset by oil shortages, which he believes will lead to everything from financial shenanigans (sound familiar?) to food riots, not to mention attacks on the wealthy, abandoned suburban housing developments and a forced return to small-town living.” Helaine Olen, Portfolio
Kunstler displays a kind of macabre wit about the unpleasantness and strife that await us all. . . . His assertions have a neat way of doubling back to anticipate your critiques. If you express doubt about his views, then you may well be among the deluded masses too addicted to your McSUV and McSuburb to accept the reality that lies ahead.”
Katharine Mieszkowski, salon.com
Kunstler is America’s version of an Old Testament prophet, a stinging social critic who warns of dark days ahead if we do not change the way we live.” Brian Kaller, Pulse
Kunstler’s book was shockingly readable and engaging .He covers a vast array of topics I felt like I’d taken a crash course on Big Oil, Global Warming, and Geopolitics just to name a few.”Romi Lassally, Huffington Post
James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency may be destined to become the Dante’s Inferno of the twenty-first century. It graphically depicts the horrific punishments that lie ahead for Americans for more than a century of sinful consumption and sprawling communities, fueled by the profligate use of cheap oil and gas. Its central messagethat the country will pay dearly unless it urgently develops new, sustainable community-scale food systems, energy sources, and living patternsshould be read, digested, and acted upon by every conscientious U.S. politician and citizen.” Michael Shuman, author of Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age
If you give a damn, you should read this book.” Colin Tudge, The Independent (UK)
Kunstler concentrates on the continuing environmental instability and the political consequences of the fuel cessation in equal bouts and this makes for a well rounded argument.” Buzz (UK)
In the annals of doomsday literature . . . The Long Emergency is destined to become the new standard. . . . Demands frank consideration of what up to now has been unthinkable: that the ascendancy of the human race might have been a temporary phenomenon. . . . This case has been made before, but here it is made powerfully and articulately, with no apology and no hint of reprieve. . . . The Long Emergency represents a wake-up call’ in the same sense that a hand grenade tossed through your bedroom window might serve as an alarm clock. The book is stark and frightening. Read it soon.” Jim Charlier, Daily Camera
A shrewd and engaging social commentator.” Sierra Atlantic
Adds a relentless, scary, and entertaining voice to the rising alarm about life after the cheap oil is gone. . . . The internal logic of the argument is persuasive, and one reads . . . the book with white knuckles.” Bryant Urstadt, technologyreview.com
Authoritative and eye-opening. His predictions for the future make for a page-turning Brave New World.’” T-D (London)
James Howard Kunstler has given us, with his usual engaging wit and verve, a new kind
of post-apocalypse scenario. Instead of the nuclear or ice-age wasteland of our earlier imaginings, he has depicted with detailed extrapolation the civilization of the United States after the oil runs out and a great economic collapse occurs. It is a strangely arcadian vision, like the agrarian America that Jefferson, Calhoun, and the Southern Agrarians dreamed of. But Kunstler has fleshed it out with delightful quirky insights and provided our science fiction writers with a fresh mise-en-scene.” Frederick Turner, author of The New World and The Culture of Hope
- Publisher : Grove Press; 1st Edition. (March 2, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0802142494
- ISBN-13 : 978-0802142498
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #327,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Published in 2005, he had enthusiastically swallowed the Peak Oil AND the AGW hoaxes hook, line and sinker.
So what he wrote has to be viewed today as a sort of speculative fiction, heavily larded with the ignorance and prejudices of the aging hippie establishment that still prospers in Vermont and the upper Hudson valley. I'm almost his age, and am a New Englander myself, so the book constantly reminds me of the oh-so-profound discussions we stoners had in the '60s and '70s when the "back-to-the-land" movement was in flower. (It is notable that the few I knew who succeeded at that were trust fund babies; without independent sources of income the rest crashed and burned within a very short time.)
Suffice to say that, fifteen years later, NONE of what he described in such painstaking detail has come to pass! The world has yet another oil and gas glut, America is now self-sufficient in both, (thank you PDJT!), and despite regular increases in CO2, global temperature increase is virtually undetectable, and ditto sea level change.
I'll bet he's MIGHTY disappointed.
1. 2008 recession. He predicted the housing bubble.
2. He criticizes consumerism, suburbia, and car culture.
3. He rightly says our culture is dying, and that we will be moving into a "Long Emergency".
Bad points (these are some examples, there are hundreds of mistakes and loads of junk commentary/predictions in this book):
1. Racism. He lumps Muslims together in chapter 3 for criticism about fundamentalism, and lumps blacks together for criticism in chapter 7. Chapter 3 sounds a lot like what comes out of the mouth of neoconservatives like Thomas Friedman. He seems to support the war in Iraq.
2. He leaves out much popular social criticism about our industrial way of thinking, commitment and individualism in America: see Morris Berman, Philip Slater, Robert Bellah, World-Systems Analysis.
3. He leaves out anthropology, especially when talking about culture and community. He doesn't mention older traditions and ways of living, especially tribal cultures.
4. He says that natives will one day reinhabit the Great Plains. This seems far-fetched.
5. Throughout the book, he says anarchy = chaos and violence. I don't think he's read radical literature, as the word means "without leaders". Read The Democracy Project by David Graeber.
6. He says humans have always made transactions with money. This is false: anthropologists recognize we first had credit before anything else: read Debt: The First 5,000 Years
7. He doesn't discuss pre-scientific thought: people in industrialized countries drastically changed our way of thinking 400 years ago, but he doesn't really address this. Read, "Reenchantment of The World" by Morris Berman.
8. Peak oil. He said shale gas wouldn't be economically viable (he didn't anticipate fraking), and we'd hit peak between 2000 and 2008. He was wrong on both points, but I do believe the peak oil discussion is important. There is good writing about peak oil on smartplanet.com, and discussion by EIA, USGS, and university professors and other authors. It seems peak oil will occur closer to mid-century than right now. That's still really close, so definitely important to talk about!
8. He focuses on peak oil above all reasons that we will enter the "Long Emergency", though it seems like other things could be important as well. There is also pollution, loss of biodiversity, destruction of ecosystems, overconsumption, lack of commitment in American life. Also our economy is based on debt, and it seems like another recession could really mess the system up. He doesn't mention world-systems analysis.
Top reviews from other countries
Both have correlated with our rocketing world population and have defined the carrying capacity of Planet Earth. Before the Industrial Revolution our numbers struggled up to 1 billion and managed to exploit most corners of the world. Now oil allows 7 billion. And when the oil runs out... Will nuclear, hydrogen, solar, wind or hydro cut it? They're relatively so inefficient and user-unfriendly that it seems not.
We believe that technology will deliver. Kunstler doesn't mention biofuel but that may postdate 2004. It doesn't change his assertion that oil also fuels technology so it'd better find an alternative before it runs out. Well before; like now, and that doesn't seem to be happening.
Next up is climate change (not global warming!) Here's a nugget: twice in the last 20,000 years the planet has warmed by double-digit degrees (Fahrenheit, I assume) in about a decade. So you can throw away your smooth temperature projections. It can go crazy!
Oh, we've had scares about the future before. I grew up with the Cold War and nuclear winter but it was only ever one threat at a time. Now the question seems to be more the order in which the many will come. End of oil; end of gas; rising sea; depleted water; exhausted soil (which in any case requires gas to fertilise it for the yields we expect); disease (exacerbated by rising temperatures). And that's not all...
The Running on Fumes chapter is an economic history and pretty much above my head. But I recognise a few terms, enough to think that Kunstler was somehow predicting the banking and real estate crisis that knocked the bottom out of my shares not long back. If so, I'm impressed and the more ready to believe his other projections.
The final chapter is a guess of how, principally, the US may cope post-oil. It sounds rather nice, for the 6 billion who won't die of course. But they'll largely be Johnny Foreigners so who cares about them? The other proviso is that society doesn't degenerate into anarchy or war - rather a big ask given our reputation.
An eye-opener for me then and I thought I was au fait with most thinking about the future. This book does continue the sustainable retreat theme, which looks like the only rational, and hopeful, course of action. We won't like it but we'll like the alternative worse.