Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Peak Oil Perspective: James H. Kunstler

What happens when the oil runs out? As Chaos has pointed out recently, the issue has bubbled up to the surface of mainstream media's attention, and tentative articles on the issue have appeared. Curious readers who wish to know more, however, must drill down deeper and it is in this context that Chaos presents one of the prominent voices of the effects of peak oil (the geologic basis will be further discussed in an upcoming post), James H. Kunstler. The author of several books, including the recent The Long Emergency, Kunstler has done more thinking than anyone else about just how addicted this society is to cheap energy and what will happen once it is gone. Key highlights: the hopeful thought that "technology will save us" is "Jiminy Cricket" thinking--wishing upon a star won't make it so, and no alternatives to oil are able to step in and rescue our easy motoring society. The U.S. has constructed an entire economy based on cheap energy and when it is gone, many aspects now taken for granted will have to be relearned, chiefly food production and transportation. The suburbs, a giant misallocation of resources, will be particularly hard hit, but everyone will have to scale down and live locally. Kunstler's tone is harsh, pitiless, and forbidding, which makes The Long Emergency somewhat depressing, and some of his projections for the future are clearly sheer speculation, but his take on the coming energy crisis is dead-on. (It's not an accident that Kunstler begins with a quote from Jung that "people cannot stand too much reality.") For those lacking the time or intestinal fortitude this holiday season to parse the entire work, here's a summary to get started with Kunstler, and his weekly blog has more thoughts.

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