Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Long Emergency

The Long Emergency is the term given to a series of converging catastrophic events identified by author and analyst James Howard Kunstler.

His book, written in early 2005, describes the world events brought about during the age of cheap oil, and the likely consequences for all of us, as we now move inexorably into an era where oil is no longer cheap.

Kunstler examines world history over the period of the last 200 years, and identifies the processes and events that brought about a world economy fuelled by and entirely reliant on continuing supplies of fossil fuels.

World oil production is in terminal decline. Natural gas reserves have already peaked and yet we are all still "sleepwalking into the future" - a future without oil.

Kunstler focusses mainly on the suburban American lifestyle and the effects that a forthcoming oil shortage will have on it, but for anyone reading this book in the western world, the outcome is likely to be the same.

Depressing, fatalistic and apocalyptic, Kunstler's examination of the modern oil dependant lifestyle, reveals the truth about the route we took to get to this situation, and points out that the options for our exit strategy are extremely limited.

The Long Emergency was a gripping read. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to awaken from a century of sonambulism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem is not only future oil shortages, but the criminal acts that are performed to get oil: the recent situation in Irak, the growing tension with Iran, the neverending Congo crisis,etc. are clear examples of this struggle for cheap energy, which at the same time is more expensive than ever due to war and chaos.

Not only that, tyrants and oppresive regimes (Iran and Arab countries, for example, but before that the USSR) are being boosted by oil money, so in the end it is worse for everybody.

If developed countries (particularly USA and its closer allies) don't take an energy diet, for which we have the technical means, the world will become unhealthy for life, not only for climatic change!

I think you Ken are setting an example of how responsible people can do a lot to stop all this nightmare without crossing your threshold.

As you rightly point out in your blog, years ago everything was more reciclable, and every product got a second chance. As modern "life" steps in, we produce more and more rubbish, with little real increase in quality of life.

Just for a bright tip, I will say that in my country we had a floor heating system much like yours: a corridor run under the floor in which leftover hay or wood would be fed and set fire. Its name, understandably, was "Glory".