The End is Nigh
Date: Thursday, August 11, 2005 @ 21:39:06 GMT
Topic: General


by David Ehrenfeld

The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century. James Howard Kunstler. x + 307 pp. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005. $23.

James Howard Kunstler begins The Long Emergency with the hope that "the American public will wake up from its sleepwalk and act to defend the project of civilization" while there is still time. "Throughout this book," he writes, "I will concern myself with what I believe is happening, what will happen, or what is likely to happen, not what I hope or wish will happen." The reality that our society is currently refusing to face, Kunstler says, is that time is just about up for industrial civilization as we have known it.

Kunstler's thesis is straightforward: Malthus was right, but cheap oil has postponed the day of reckoning, creating a century-long "artificial bubble of plenitude" and generating a host of intractable problems partly or entirely related to our prolonged energy spending spree. These problems include serious damage to our agricultural infrastructure, global climate change and the reorganization of living places into unsustainable suburbs and cities. Now cheap oil is disappearing fast, leaving only the problems behind.

What sets The Long Emergency apart from numerous other books on this theme is its comprehensive sweep—its powerful integration of science, technology, economics, finance, international politics and social change—along with a fascinating attempt to peer into a chaotic future. And Kunstler is such a compelling, fast-paced and sometimes eloquent writer that the book is hard to put down...

Read the whole article here: AmericanScientist.org/BookReview





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