The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler

Haven’t finished this book completely and had to return it to the library.  (drat) But… I am so very close to the end and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

The books takes on the challenge of explaining how worldwide oil depletion could pan out and then takes it one step further.  This book attempts to answer why.  Why won’t Hydrogen replace gasoline?  Why won’t there be enough wind or solar power?  Why won’t the ion battery work?  Why?  Why?  Why?

Early on the author states his position between the cornucopia and extinction groups.  He claims to be neither but somewhere along the middle, a few points further from the cornucopia camp. Kunstler believes humanity will survive, all over the world, in small localized towns and villages.  He foresees a bottleneck in human population caused by famine and increased diseases.  Also a loss of technologies the cheap oil era provided will contribute to a declining population… a triple bypass surgery or mitral valve replacement just isn’t possible without lots of electricity.

Without abundant cheap energy their are not enough ventilators  and lights for the large numbers of surgeries performed daily.  Electricity is also needed to sterilize the equipment and to monitor the patient before, during and after the operation.  It takes electricity to diagnose the problem and to make the anti-rejection medications for after the surgery.  So many energy consuming steps have to take place, in the right order, in a specific time window.  If one step is missed the success rate of such intricate surgeries plummets.

The book was published in 2005 and many (not all) of his predictions have come to pass.  I agree that the future holds many changes, not all of which will be easy.  I enjoyed this books view of history and the way the author connected the dots between seemingly unassociated events.  I really need to finish the blasted thing before I comment any more… but suffice it to say it’s a good book with clear and thought out explanations and opinions.  I recommend this book to everyone with an interest in the future of humanity.  It is a relatively easy read:  Not too much jargon and lots of footnotes!


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