AN BIEN, Vietnam, Nov 25 (IPS) - For the last decade, many families in this southwestern Vietnamese province have been uprooted at least once every two years – but this is not due to economic or political upheaval.
The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century is a book by James Howard Kunstler (Grove/Atlantic, 2005) exploring the consequences of a world oil production peak, coinciding with the forces of climate change, resurgent diseases, water scarcity, global economic instability and warfare to cause major trouble for future generations.
Kunstler's premise is that "cheap, plentiful" oil is the foundation of industrial society and the pervasiveness of its effects is not widely appreciated. Through the 21st century, oil and natural gas will become increasingly difficult to obtain, becoming increasingly expensive and ultimately unavailable. Scarcity of petroleum will cause significant problems for transportation and generation of electrical power. In addition, shipping of food and manufactured items will become increasingly expensive, ultimately prohibitively so. Also, natural gas is vitally important to food production as it is the raw material for much of commercial crop fertilizers. In the industrialized West, most food production and manufacturing is performed far from, and generally abstracted away from the consumer.
Jeffrey Mazo of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, also in London, calls climate change an “existential threat” and fears it could usher in “state failure and internal conflict” in exposed places, notably Africa.
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