The Long Emergency

Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・MLA ・3 Sources

Criticism of Kunstler’s “The long emergency”

 “The long emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate change, and other converging catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century” is a book by James Howard Kunstler that addresses the peak of the world oil production in contrast to the forces of the climatic changes and deterioration of living beings’ habitations. The book focuses on showing the impacts of peak oil production where Kunstler views it as a threat to the future generation, majorly, focusing on the American society as well as the whole world regions. The book, being written in the year 2005, it presents the emergency to heed to the precautions possible and necessary to curb the predicted peak oil crisis in virtually all parts of the world in the era of the changing economy, population growth and industrial expansion and digitalization. The beginning of the 21st century is seen to show a decline in the amounts of oil which Kunstler portrays as the main source of power for industries and transportation; especially for the agricultural products. Kunstler also addresses the climatic changes that are seen to face the 21st century and other oil-related catastrophes (Kunstler, p.47). Therefore, Kunstler’s book is a description of an untimely emergency that would result when the cheaply produced oil is depleted.

 Borrowing the idea of peak oil from Hubbert Peak theory, scientists had estimated the same decline in oil extraction to take place in the 2050s (Black, p.130). The predictions portray a controversy between the source of energy and the world economy. Kunstler ideas are in hand with the 2050s peak oil claims that have been predicted by scientists and geologists to start happening between the years 2010 and 2030. Kunstler portrays the alternative methods that may be used in such crisis of energy. However, he shows the insufficiency of these sources arguing that environmentally harmful sources such as coal and nuclear elements may become inevitable to use in future, and still, they will be insufficient. He does not consider Hydrogen as a source of energy and shows that all other sources that can be drilled on the ground will be inadequate for providing power to the industries, sources such as solar energy and wind energy are ignored as good energy sources in Kunstler’s, The Long Emergency.” Some of the dangers or the threats that Kunstler poses are the mass starvation, civil unrest and also diseases as some local communities where food is transported to them will become very expensive and sometimes, it will be close to impossible to feed them. Big cities are depicted to be at risk due to the inadequacy of energy to sustain different activities in highly populated regions. However, the scientists have argued about the power or energy in the sustainability of the future generations, and some have affirmed the logics portrayed in Kunstler’s book. Some scholars have differed with Kunstler’s ideas claiming that; Kunstler has been proven wrong by the test of time as what he spoke about as end oil in the 21st century is not yet come (Pennock, Michael, Blake, and Trevor, p.177).

 One of the prominent theme in “The long emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate change, and other converging catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century,” is the theme of sustainability and human exhaustion of naturally occurring materials. Kunstler’s book describes the human activities to obtain oil during the 20th century and uses those assertions from the 1990s to 2005 to conclude about the peak oil shortly (Kunstler, p.106). In his analysis of the peak oil, Kunstler shows how human beings should seek sustainability for the coming generations.  However, Kunstler fails to give a remedy and a risk management approach to the audience. By so doing, he ends up instilling guilt to the geologists and fear to the masses. When I read the book, I liked it, especially for the awareness that it creates to the humanity. It concurs with the scientific researchers of the over-extraction of oil and petroleum which signifies the end oil. The book’s title,” The Long Emergency,” is appropriate as it depicts an untimely danger or emergency that should be addressed at the moment by the humanity. The feeling of fear that the book creates at the climax of the book comes to be settled as the book comes to denouncement on survival for humans through other forms of energy, though Kunstler says that they will not offer sufficient energy.

 Reading through the book engaged me towards grasping the image of economic, climatic and other catastrophes that are predicted by Kunstler and other geologists. The book views it as an emergency to show that human beings need to know how they will survive these catastrophes caused by the end of oil. I previously thought that decline of the oil contents would result in a realization of new energy sources, but Kunstler shows that there is hardly an energy source that would surpass the oil energy (Kunstler, p.83). Kunstler criticism of Suburban designs and his call for people to grow their food gives me a survival tactic if there would be any decline in agricultural sector due to the end of oil.  

Work Cited

Black, Brian C. "Hubbert Peak Theory." Oil: A Cultural and Geographic Encyclopedia of Black Gold [2 Volumes] 1 (2014): 130.

Kunstler, James Howard. The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Cent. Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2007.

Pennock, Michael, Blake Poland, and Trevor Hancock. "Resource Depletion, Peak Oil, and Public Health: Planning for a Slow Growth Future." Geographies of Health and Development (2016): 177.

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