“The Long Emergency: Survivng the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century” by James Howard Kunstler (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005)

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The Long Emergency is an eye-catching book with its 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 in the world has 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 the 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 of 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 believes 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!); coupled 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 not looking towards the future and working on preparing 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 suggested websites.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on May 20th 2005 ©Alex C. Telander.