Class 11 | The Magic of Words

The Nightmare Life Without Fuel

Writer: Isaac Asimov


“The Nightmare Life Without Fuel” is an essay, which depicts the life of this world in the coming future when the fuel resources will have reduced from their source. The main thrust of this essay is: what is going to happen if we do not conserve the world’s natural resources. Asimov focuses on a specific problem that will arise by the lack of fuels. This whole world is run by different resources such as petrol, diesel, water, wood, etc. We cannot imagine this world without the use of fuel. In comparison to the past days, we are now facing the problem of scarcity of fuel resources. Earlier these resources were found in large quantity and lifestyle was easier.

As the fuel resources were abundantly found, every sector was found running successfully and easily. Factories, industries, transportation, great organizations, etc. were in proper condition. People didn’t have a problem of scarcity of fuel resources. But slowly and gradually population growth increased and brought bad consequences. Agricultural lands occupied by huge buildings and industries. Also, the number of vehicles also increased. Due to the maximum use of the resources, human life has been in discomfort. Human beings feel that their lives are really unsecured. They always have a fear that they will lose work and food. They think that they are themselves responsible for causing scarcity of resources. As they are less conscious of their future, they suffer because of the destruction of the resources. Most of them claim that they will have new resources invented. Of course, new resources such as nuclear energy and solar power have been discovered but they are very dangerous and also expensive in use. People know that their pleasures are in danger and also their future is dark. Coming generations will suffer more than us.

Asimov focuses on the decreasing resources of fuel in the world. Life will be full of struggle without fuel resources. This world will slowly go dark, as less lighting bulbs will be there in the streets. Electrical appliances will be used less as there will also be the scarcity of electricity. Even luxurious provisions and equipment will be impossible. More time will be taken to do simple work also as there won’t be any vehicle running in the streets. There will be difficulty in transportation and accumulation of required foodstuffs. Due to the shortage of food, people will die due to starvation and malnutrition. Due to the lack of a properly balanced diet, there will be a problem in human brains. The child death rate will increase, as children will be deprived of proper nutritious and bodybuilding food. Especially, simple towns, suburbs will be affected much. These areas depend upon transportation for all kinds of things. They will be in danger of extinction. Every human activity will be minimized due to less light, heat, and less comfort.

Security forces will also be affected badly. Without the use of weapons, military forces will be purposeless. Their work will end because they can’t work without fuel. They use scientific weapons, which are operated with fuel and are very expensive. Only the technically strong countries will be able to exercise their military power if fuel is saved in time. Factory workers will be jobless as industries and factories will be closed. So, it will be very difficult for them to provide basic needs to their family also.

Only small benefits will be there due to lack of fuel. The environment will be fresh, cool and pure. Crime rates will decrease. People will understand the importance of nature and will go attached to it. People will be cooperative, as all of them will be facing the same problem. They will keep themselves warm using sweaters and other thick clothes only.

The writer tries to warn us about the devastating situation of this world in the coming future. If we are not serious at present only, we have to suffer a lot in the future. We must t understand the importance of nature and try to conserve it. The world is depending upon the trade and because of trade, the environment is being neglected. People are living in the cities and the environment of the cities is polluted. The major population of the world should be engaged to plant the trees to make a better world in future. We cannot use solar easily and even if we use, it cannot naturally help us. But if we preserve the jungle, our environment and energy will be improved.

Important Questions and Answers:

1. According to the author, what will be the advantage of the fuel crisis?
The essayist talks about the advantages and disadvantages of having fuel. The essayist says that the air will be pollution-free if there is no fuel. There will be no new danger along the road. There will be fewer crimes. Police service will not be needed. The parks and theatres will be full of people.

2. What will be the disadvantages of the fuel crisis in 1919 according to the author?
Ans: People won’t get enough light heat, water, etc. people will have to work for longer hours and they will have less time to enjoy. People will have to walk on crowded trains or buses. The babies will die of hunger and adults mind will be damaged permanently.

3. What does the author mean when he says, “The suburbs were born with the auto, lived and dying with the auto?”
Ans: People go to urban area from the village area for good facilities. When cities become crowded, people start to move towards suburb areas for peace. They move to suburb areas because they can go there easily on their vehicles if there is a lack of fuel, they will have difficulties.

4. In Asimov’s essay, what is happening in the rest of the world as America struggles without fuel?
The writer shows a very dismal picture of the rest of the world as America struggles without fuel. People will be starving in many parts of the world. Perhaps, not more than one in five will have enough to eat. There will be a high rate of infant mortality. Due to the lack of food, there will be many cases of permanent brain damage by undernutrition. So much so, many such people will have to be killed out of mercy.

5. What kinds of serious problems could a fuel shortage cause?
i) No normal life             
ii) No food                                 
 iii) No transportation                
iv) No industries         
v) No production                     
 vi) No employment                
vii) No civilization       
viii) Malnutrition                     
ix) Brain damage                
x) No Medicines           
xi) Difficult to sustain our life

Questions for Practice:

  1. What are the functions of fuel in human life as described by Isaac Asimov in “The Nightmare Life without Fuel”?
  2. Explain what Isaac Asimov means when he says, “work, sleep, and eating are the great trinity of 1997, and only the first two are a guaranteed.
  3. What would be the impact of complete disappearance of fossil fuel on the life of people in big cities?
  4. Describe the comparative advantages of the fuel crises as shown in the essay. “The Nightmare Life without Fuel.” Also, write its result to the rest of the world.
  5. What kind of serious problems could a fuel shortage cause? You base your answer on “The Nightmare Life without Fuel.”
  6. What kinds of serious problems could a fuel shortage cause?
  7. Describe what the writer thinks will happen when fuel begins to run out.


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