"The Long Emergency" by James Kunstler
Brian Gongol

Sometimes, a writer gets stuck on an idea in a way that ends up permeating everything he or she writes. Unfortunately, there are few ideas worth quite so much obsession. James Kunstler's obsessive idea in "The Long Emergency" is that everything ought to be local -- food production, retail store operation, power production, and on without end. Unfortunately, this obsession keeps "The Long Emergency" from being a thoughtful examination of the perils of waning fossil fuel supplies and turns it into a needlessly apocalyptic prediction of a morbid future no one would want to live in. Kunstler is probably right in observing that we are ill-prepared for the future of energy. But he's likely wrong in expecting that we can kiss the modern world goodbye; the incentives to find answers are too great for that to happen. ""The Long Emergency"" contains some useful insights and far too many insistences upon "localism." For best results, keep a copy of a "Calvin and Hobbes" treasury nearby to stave off the inevitable depression. Better yet, alternate chapters from Kunstler's book with something from Milton Friedman. The future could be painful in ways, but there's no reason to assume the worst.