Jim Kunstler is a lucid, sarcastic and prophetic writer of the way that the future is going to be in a post-oil age. The entire structure of our daily lives is predicated on cheap, readily available oil, and that reality will not exist for much longer. For those who want more concrete examples, here’s a select list of things that will no longer work the way that they do today:
- Transportation (most of this today is trucking)
- Wal-Mart (and other big-box chains)
- Electricity (of the always on, available and affordable variety)
That’s just a smattering. None of these things as performed today have a future. There is no other combination of alternative fuels capable of fueling the life that we’re running today. There isn’t enough farmland on the planet to grow that much ethanol, never mind having some food left to eat. Hydrogen? That doesn’t make energy, it just stores it. Where’s this power gonig to come from?
Nowhere. People who say this kind of thing are inevitably labeled “gloom and doom”, such as Jim Kunstler. The thing is, he is constantly providing ideas and solutions for the future. Trouble is, we don’t want to listen because they’re hard and are going to take a lot of work and a lot of time. Here’s a smattering of his suggestions for moving into a post-oil age:
- Expand your view beyond the question of how we will run all the cars by means other than gasoline. …cars are not part of the solution (whether they run on fossil fuels, vodka, used frymax oil, or cow shit). They are at the heart of the problem… We have to make other arrangements for virtually all the common activities of daily life.
- We have to produce food differently. …the knowledge and skill for doing these things has to be painstakingly retrieved from the dumpster of history.
- We have to inhabit the terrain differently. Virtually every place in our nation organized for car dependency is going to fail to some degree. …The stuff we build in the decades ahead will have to be made of regional materials found in nature — as opposed to modular, snap-together, manufactured components — at a more modest scale.
- We have to move things and people differently. This is the sunset of Happy Motoring (including the entire US trucking system). Get used to it. …Get involved in restoring public transit. Let’s start with railroads, and let’s make sure we electrify them… We also have to prepare our society for moving people and things much more by water. This implies the rebuilding of infrastructure for our harbors, and also for our inland river and canal systems — including the towns associated with them.
- We have to transform retail trade. The national chains that have used the high tide of fossil fuels to contrive predatory economies-of-scale (and kill local economies) — they are going down. …The local networks of commercial interdependency which these chain stores systematically destroyed (with the public’s acquiescence) will have to be rebuilt brick-by-brick and inventory-by-inventory. …Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Internet will replace local retail economies. Internet shopping is totally dependent now on cheap delivery, and delivery will no longer be cheap.
- We’ll have to reorganize the education system. …I believe that the next incarnation of education will grow out of the home schooling movement, as home schooling efforts aggregate locally into units of more than one family. …One thing for sure: teaching children is not liable to become an obsolete line-of-work, as compared to public relations and sports marketing.
The link was at the beginning, but here it is again. Go read The Agenda Restated. It’s long and I’ve given a solid preview here, but it’s definitely take the time to read it, think about it, pray about, and act on it.