“[A] popular blueprint for surviving the end of oil.” Paul Greenberg, The New York Times Book Review
The Long Emergency
Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century
978-0-8021-4249-8 • $14.95 • Paperback • Apr. 2006
James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency was an underground hit, going into nine printings of the hardcover edition. Kunstler’s shocking vision for our post-oil future caught the attention of environmentalists and business leaders and was the subject of much debate, stimulating discussion about our dependence on fossil fuels. Now in paperback, with a new afterword, The Long Emergency is set to reach an even larger audience.
The last two hundred years have seen the greatest explosion of progress and wealth in the history of mankind, much of it based on the exploitation of cheap, nonrenewable fossil-fuel energy. But the oil age is at an end. Life as we know it is about to change radically, and much sooner than we think. The Long Emergency tells us just what to expect after we pass the point of global peak oil production and the honeymoon of affordable energy is over, preparing us for economic, political, and social changes of an unimaginable scale.
Are we laboring under a Jiminy Cricket syndrome when we tell ourselves that alternative means of energy are just a few years away? Even once they are developed, will they ever be able to sustain us in the way that fossil fuels once did? What will happen when our current plagues of global warming, epidemic disease, and overpopulation collide to exacerbate the end of the oil age? Will suburbia collapse when the car culture becomes obsolete? Will global models of industry, commerce, and food production collapse, and will we be forced to revert to the more agrarian, localized economy we once knew?
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.
Warnings from The Long Emergency:
• The oil age began in 1859 and peaked in 1970.
The oil endowment allowed us to use the stored energy of millions of years of sunlight. Unfortunately the fossilfuel honeymoon is almost over.
• It has been estimated that without coal, oil, or natural gas, it would take several planets just like Earth to support the current number of humans living.
• World oil discovery peaked in the 1960s. Since 1999, the discovery of large oil and gas fields has collapsed:
sixteen in 2000, eight in 2001, three in 2002, and none
• There are half a billion cars and trucks currently in use around the world.
• We will not be rescued by the wished-for hydrogen economy. Our daily enjoyment of oil and gas has given us the energy equivalent of three hundred slaves per person in the industrialized nations. No combination of alternative energies will permit us to continue living the way we do, or even close to it.
• All the major systems that depend on oil, including manufacturing, trade, transportation, agriculture, and the financial markets that serve them, will begin to destabilize. The boundaries between politics, economics, and collective paranoia will dissolve.