The Long Emergency is a broad presentation of the profound effects that societies world-wide may feel as carbon-based fuels become scarce, as global temperatures increase, and as natural resources including food become more scarce.
The author, James Kunstler, appears determined to wake us up, on an individual as well as collective basis, from what he describes as an "hallucination" i.e. that ample, cheap oil will be with us pretty much forever, and that our environment can withstand anything that people do to it; the fuel crisis is, from his viewpoint, the starting point of all the other aspects of the coming crisis, but he also includes the other issues that confront us today or that will confront us in the near future.
Kunstler details the deep impact that oil shortages will have on the world, including sharply reduced travel, increased dependence on very local agriculture, and most disturbing, the likelihood of a die-off in world population due to lack of abundant oil-based fertilizers, farming methods, and food transport. Such a rapid loss of population is likely to result from not only starvation, but wars and widespread disease due to malnutrition and other failing societal infrastructures.
While Kunstler is not a scientist, he is an experienced journalist, and a well-published writer of fiction and non-fiction. Combining his excellent rhetorical skills with obvious careful research into his topic has led to a book that is very readable and that communicates forcefully a long list of challenges that face our world in the not-too-distant future. The exact year when the crisis will hit public consciousness is less of an issue than the fact that the longer we delay and the more dependent we become on cheap oil energy, the worse the impact will be down the road.
This book is an excellent introduction into the whole range of considerations, both historical and forward-looking, that an informed citizen of today's world should be aware of. And despite its sobering content and lack of soft-talking about the matter at hand, the book does not come off as a depressing litany of woes or as a political diatribe. It impresses instead as a wake up call, and in this case at least, that cliche is quite appropriate.
My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.
Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.
I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.