Thursday, October 13, 2011

Magic of Words - The Nightmare Life Without Fuel

Synopsis of the Essay
The present essay written by the Russian writer Isaac Asimov basically concerns about the fuel shortage in the present world. He has given us the instances from America about how the fuel shortage directly or indirectly relates to human life and its adverse impacts. The writer kindly advices us to preserve the existing natural resources that gives us the enormous fuel to sustain life. The essay “The Nightmare Life Without Fuel,” originally published in the Time Magazine in 1977, portrays America in the late 1990s, where the existing fuel resources have reduced this developed and rich nation to miserable condition of dark and dirty replica of the pre-industrial 1800s. America is just a small example to show how dwindling fuel resources have been reducing. The central essence of this essay is considerable that the worst condition will be happened if we do not preserve the natural resources of the world.

The writer describes the terrific situation in the urban areas of America where people are wandering here and there for the fuel and energy. People gather in the subways where the bus is already left and bicycles are splashed on the muddy water, which indicates difficulties in life due to shortage of fuel. Coal is difficult to get by digging and nuclear fusion is very risky and then the solar batteries are very costly. The stuff of the decaying city should be the mineral mines to use again.

There are several adverse impacts on human life due to fuel shortage; but the writer says that this kind of shortage would be beneficial to some extent. Automobiles are vanished and become the metal resources; likewise the ration system also be decreased. According to the writer, there is the reports from the newspapers in 1997 that the environment becomes cleaner, crime rates are reduced and the policemen are returned to their beats. The streets are deserted and the legs of the people become superior in the street. People do not consume the expensive electricity; they are deprived from modern facilities. For them open air is the air condition and home made sweaters are popular indoor wear.

The people in the city feel comfort rather than the people in suburbs. Energy crisis is the vital problem for the city dwellers. The nation should find the alternative source of energy to soothe the growing population. The condition outside USA and Europe is even worst and the people do not have sufficient food stuff to eat; only more than one in five has enough food to eat. Rest of people would die of starvation. But the writer states that starvation reduces the world’s population and more than two billion people suffer from brain damage due to less nutritious food. The fuel resources are limited, so it has the great impact on human life. The energy crisis is continued and as a result, the world’s countries would not afford their cost, keep their soldiers for the long time and unable to feed their people properly. Because of fuel shortage, the electricity is not possible, the people will deprive from watching TV, movie and reading books and they will ultimately return to the age of 1800. Then the existing fossil fuel (natural fuel produced by decomposition of organic) will work out.

The agricultural system will be also destroyed, the new technologies will be halted due to fuel crisis and farmer can not produce enough crops to sustain people’s life. As a result more people will die of starvation. The situation will be havoc, to cope with such situation, we had to take step to improve the situation 50 years ago, and then it would have been quite better to cope with fuel crisis.

It is indeed a serious issue to preserve the dwindling natural resources and if we do not think positively, it will devastate our society, and nation which are completely depended on fuel. The general people on the outskirt of the city (suburbs) will die untimely because of fuel shortage. The condition of poor nation will be perilous and the women and children’s mortality rate will increase and those who remain alive also suffer from bad health. But in the case of rich nation, it won’t be serious problem, they can afford their necessities and there will be the wider distinction between poor and rich people.

Finally the writer recommends us the possible solution of the current fuel crisis in the world. He strongly suggests to preserve the natural resources though it is very late. The remaining natural resources will also make us relieve if we seriously ponder about it and do something for the sake of natural resources to tackle the fuel crisis.


Q.1. What kind of serious problems could fuel shortage cause?
Ans: In the essay “The Nightmare Life without Fuel”, Isaac Asimov has tried to foresee into future when human will have to suffer from extreme fuel crisis.

The essayist is an American and has started the essay by mentioning the negative effects of fuel scarcity on American society. According to him, the American life will be changed into a nightmarish life. They will find themselves unable to keep private vehicles and have to travel in crowded public transport. The factories will stop production and they will have to rescue the metal parts from old and demolished buildings. Inside the house, they won’t be able to operate AC’s, heaters of refrigerators. Hardly any Americans will be able to lit lights after supper. In short, they will have to live inside their dark cold and cave like houses. The fuel shortage will put the human settlements in and end in suburbs.

The American government will have to overlook the personal interests of his citizen. They will only allow the railway to use the coal. The remaining energy will be used by agriculture sector. The car factories will start producing agricultural machines. This will grow the agricultural product in America. But the price of food will knowingly kept high. This will discourage the people to buy more food and allow the government to export them, as it will be the only source of national income.

The condition outside America will be more pathetic. There will be widespread starvation, as only one out five people will get sufficient food. About 80% people will suffer from hunger. Around 2 billion will have their brain permanently damaged. Human muscles and beasts of burden will replace the use of machines. They will have to work for longer hours with less leisure time and amusement. Even then, there won’t be any guarantee of food. In short, the whole human race will be doomed to languish in the hell like situation.

Q.2. What specific problem does Asimov focus on in this essay? Why does he consider this issue worth of attention?
Ans: Asimov focuses on the fuel crises in this essay. He considered this issue worth attention because the amount fossil fuel is limited .it couldn’t fulfill the insatiable human demands forever. But human beings are using it ignoring its limitation. This trend might finish and might invite countless troubles for human being. It is also a considerable issue because the time has come when we must look for some alternatives of fossils fuel. If other alternatives to produce energy are found in time, the human will be doomed to live a cursed life in the future.

Q.3. According to the author, what will be the advantages and disadvantages of the fuel crisis?
Ans: Quite surprisingly Isaac Asimov has counted some advantages of fuel crisis. He tells the fuel crisis will make the air cleaner. As the result less people will suffer from cold. Crime rate will come down. The police would be present in their beats and people will be able to walk on the streets in late nights.

However if we look at above advantage carefully, we will find they are actually the result of several disadvantages. The air will become pure not due to our inability to drive vehicles or run factories. So the air will become cleaner only at the cost of human comfort. Similarly, the crime rate will be found low because the police will be unable to patrol on the roads or reach crime scene. Thus they cannot keep record of crime due to fuel crisis. The American will be walking on streets in late nights because they will be compelled to do so. They won’t be able to afford vehicles even at the late nights or in time of emergency.

There are several other disadvantages of fuel crisis too. It will force the human to give up the use of AC’s, heaters, and refrigerators. They will have to languish inside the dark, cold and cave like houses. They must need to work manually as they won’t be able to run machines .in short these disadvantages will force the human to live in a nightmarish hell-like situation.

Q.4. In Asimov’s essay what is happening in the rest of the world as America struggles without fuel?
Ans: The situation outside America is worse as the people are dying out of hunger there. Only one of five people gets enough food. About 80% people outside America and Europe are compelled to live in hunger. The first victims of starvation are innocent children. They can hardly survive once their mothers become dry.

There are some who are getting only that much food which can move their bodies. But it cannot keep their mind feet and there are around 2 billion people whose brains are permanently damaged.

Q.5. What does the author means when he says,” the suburbs are born with auto lived with auto and are dying with auto?
Ans: Asimov has imagined a nightmarish life, which can be turned into reality due to the fuel crisis in “The Nightmare without Fuel”. In the given line he has presented the dependency of America suburbanites on automobiles.

When the cities grew a lot of industries and factories were established in it. To run them they needed extra manpower. But there were not enough space to accommodate them all inside the cities. So these workers settled several kilometers away from the cities. They could do so because their life was supported by their automobiles. They could easily go to their work and come back home in time. Thus the automobiles helped the human to settle in suburbs. As the habitation grew the facilities also grew there. It attracted the rich and professionals to come and colonies were established and the suburbs developed.

But all of the sudden the automobiles, the only medium that has linked them to cities, has stopped working. When the suburbanites cannot afford the price of fuel, they left driving cars and cannot reach office or do the shopping in time. They are cut with mainstream of America. Therefore, they are dying now.