The Long Descent

The Long Descent : A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age

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Description The Internet writings of John Michael Greer - beyond any doubt the greatest peak oil historian in the English language - have finally made their way into print. Greer fans will recognize many of the book's passages from previous essays, but will be delighted to see them fleshed out here with additional examples and analysis.The Long Descent is one of the most highly anticipated peak oil books of the year, and it lives up to every ounce of hype. Greer is a captivating, brilliantly inventive writer with a deep knowledge of history, an impressive amount of mechanical savvy, a flair for storytelling and a gift for drawing art analogies. His new book presents an astonishing view of our society's past, present and future trajectory--one that is unmatched in its breadth and depth. Reviewed by Frank Kaminski The Long Descent is a welcome antidote to the armageddonism that often accompanies peak oil discussions. "The decline of a civilization is rarely anything like so sudden for those who live through it" writes Greer, encouragingly; it's "a much slower and more complex transformation than the sudden catastrophes imagined by many soical critics today."
The changes that will follow the decline of world petroleum production are likely to be sweeping and global, Greer concludes, but from the perspective of those who live through them these changes are much more likely to take gradual and local forms. Reviewed by Bruce Sterling Americans are expressing deep concern about US dependence on petroleum, rising energy prices, and the threat of climate change. Unlike the energy crisis of the 1970s, however, there is a lurking fear that now the times are different and the crisis may not easily be resolved. The Long Descent examines the basis of such fear through three core themes: * Industrial society is following the same well-worn path that has led other civilizations into decline, a path involving a much slower and more complex transformation than the sudden catastrophes imagined by so many social critics today. * The roots of the crisis lie in the cultural stories that shape the way we understand the world. Since problems cannot be solved with the same thinking that created them, these ways of thinking need to be replaced with others better suited to the needs of our time.
* It is too late for massive programs for top-down change; the change must come from individuals. Hope exists in actions that range from taking up a handicraft or adopting an "obsolete" technology, through planting an organic vegetable garden, taking charge of your own health care or spirituality, and building community. Focusing eloquently on constructive adaptation to massive change, this book will have wide appeal. John Michael Greer is a certified Master Conserver, organic gardener, and scholar of ecological history. The current Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), his widely-cited blog, The Archdruid Report ( deals with peak oil, among other issues. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 153 x 229 x 20.32mm | 454g
  • Gabriola Island, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0865716099
  • 9780865716094
  • 156,386

Table of contents

Foreword; The End of industrial Society; Imaginary Solutions; The Stories We Tell Ourselves; Briefing for the Descent; The Coming of the Deindustrial Age; Tools for the Journey; The Spiritual Dimension; Bibliography; Index.
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Review quote

"Candidates for public office, and the voters who elect them, should be required to read John Michael Greer's accurate diagnosis of the terminal illness our fossil-energy subsidized industrial civilization has too long denied. He shows how stubborn belief in perpetual progress blinded us to the abyss toward which we were speeding and thus impeded wise preparation for our unavoidable descent into a deindustrial age. We must hope that the array of mitigating tools he prescribes may yet render that descent down the back side of Hubbert's peak less devastating than it will be if we insistently claim a right to be prodigal in using this finite Earth."
-- William R. Catton, Jr. author of Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change
"This is a very wise and timely message for a nation facing enormous practical challenges. Greer's generosity of spirit and essential kindness are habits of mind and heart very much worth emulating."
-- James Howard Kunstler author of World Made by Hand and The Long Emergency

When we find ourselves falling off the lofty peak of infinite progress, our civilization's mythology predisposes our imaginations to bypass reality altogether, and to roll straight for the equally profound abyss of the Apocalypse. Greer breaks this spell, and instead offers us a view on our deindustrial future that is both carefully reasoned and grounded in spirituality.
-- Dmitry Orlov author of Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects

"If, as Greer suggests, our"prolonged brush with ecological reality" is not a slide or a free-fall, but a stair-step, then we have time to see this book made required reading in every U.S. high school. This is both a past and future history book, written from a perspective that is rare now, but will soon be widely shared."
-- Albert Bates, author of The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook

""Sweeping historical vision"is not generally a term applied to books about peak oil, which tend to imagine the coming crisis in terms as a culmination and a single event. John Michael Greer offers a useful corrective to this narrow vision in a book that is both pragmatic and visionary. In this deeply engaging book, Greer places us not at the end of our historical narrative, but at the beginning of a some- times harrowing, but potentially fascinating transition."
-- Sharon Astyk author of Depletion & Abundance: Life on the New Home Front and blogger,

"At once erudite and entertaining, Greer's exploration of the dynamics of societal collapse couldn't be more timely. Resource depletion and climate change guarantee that industrial societies will contract in the decades ahead. Do we face a universally destructive calamity, or a long transition to a sustainable future? That's one of the most important questions facing us, and this book is one of the very few to address it on the basis of clear reasoning and historical precedents."
-- Richard Heinberg Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, and author of The Party's Over and Peak Everything

"The fall of civilization, according to Greer, does not look like falling off a cliff but rather "a slide down statistical curves that will ease modern industrial civilization into history's dumpster." Presenting the concept of "catabolic collapse", Greer brilliantly assists the reader in deciphering an illusory intellectual polarity consist- ing on one side of the infinite progress of civilization and on the other, apocalypse. Not unlike the journey through the mythical Scylla and Charybdis, Greer appropriately names this odyssey The Long Descent , and for it, he offers us not only an excellent read, but tangible tools for navigating the transition."
-- Carolyn Baker author of Speaking Truth to Power
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About John Michael Greer

John Michael Greer is a certified Master Conserver, organic gardener and scholar of ecological history. His widely-cited blog, The Archdruid Report, deals with peak oil. He is the author of The Long Descent and lives in Ashland, Oregon.
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Rating details

656 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 45% (295)
4 36% (235)
3 15% (99)
2 3% (18)
1 1% (9)
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