World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Long Emergency

Article Id: WHEBN0002166164
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Long Emergency  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Energy crisis, List of books about energy issues, Beyond Oil, Current affairs books, PetroApocalypse Now?
Collection: 2005 Books, 2005 in the Environment, Current Affairs Books, Peak Oil Books
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Long Emergency

The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century is a book by James Howard Kunstler (Grove/Atlantic, 2005) exploring the consequences of a world oil production peak, coinciding with the forces of climate change, resurgent diseases, water scarcity, global economic instability and warfare to cause major trouble for future generations.

The book's principal theme explores the effects of a peak in oil production, predicted by many geologists, on American society as well as the rest of the world. In both this book and in his other writings, Kunstler argues that the economic upheavals caused by peak oil will force Americans to live in more localized, self-sufficient communities.


Kunstler's premise is that "cheap, plentiful" oil is the foundation of industrial society and the pervasiveness of its effects is not widely appreciated. Through the 21st century, oil and natural gas will become increasingly difficult to obtain, becoming increasingly expensive and ultimately unavailable. Scarcity of petroleum will cause significant problems for transportation and generation of electrical power. In addition, shipping of food and manufactured items will become increasingly expensive, ultimately prohibitively so. Also, natural gas is vitally important to food production as it is the raw material for much of commercial crop fertilizers. In the industrialized West, most food production and manufacturing is performed far from, and generally abstracted away from the consumer.

The author further argues that alternative sources of energy will be insufficient. As petroleum sources become scarce, environmentally harmful or risky technologies such as coal and nuclear will become necessary but not sufficient for our energy needs. Hydroelectric, solar, and wind power, even in combination with coal and nuclear, will also be far from sufficient. Kunstler does not consider hydrogen to be a true energy source since one cannot drill into the earth and obtain hydrogen. Hydrogen must be extracted from other energy sources, such as natural gas or using electricity at a total net loss of energy.

Kunstler states that, as energy becomes scarce, transportation will become difficult or impossible, causing food and other necessary commodities to become unavailable in many communities. It will be necessary for local communities to become self-sufficient for food production, but many communities will be unable to do so, particularly large cities. The result will be mass starvation, disease, and civil unrest. Kunstler suggests that governments will be incapable of managing these problems. This period of scarcity and collapse will possibly last for hundreds of years, hence the "long" emergency of the book's title.

Kunstler, a long-time critic of suburban design, advises people should begin learning to grow food.

External links

  • Author's website
  • Google Books
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.