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Any little vibration could reduce the whole creaking arrangement into a heap of rubble and ashes.
January 2, 2013 3:30 AM   Subscribe


 
Two hundred years of cheap fossil fuel

Um ... Okay, I guess he's including coal in that statement?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:44 AM on January 2, 2013


The whole site is squashed into 800 pixels of width and the text body is only 400 pixels wide. This is like going back in time to the Internet of 2000.
posted by crapmatic at 3:57 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Surprisingly less spittle flecked then I was expecting.
posted by The Whelk at 4:00 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm assuming this guy had some forecasts for 2012 as well, right? And a blog post discussing how they panned out?
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:02 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Now that the cheap fossil fuels have plateaued, with decline clearly in view, the hope remains that all the rackets of modernity can keep going on techno miracles alone.

"Decline clearly in view". Is that a forecast or a wish? Because if you view projections made by the U.S. Dept of Energy. The EIA projects annual "U.S. natural gas production to increase from 23.0 trillion cubic feet in 2011 to 33.1 trillion cubic feet in 2040, a 44% increase." (emphasis added.)
posted by three blind mice at 4:06 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The journey to that destination could include a war with China, which also would be consistent with Japan's suicidal inclinations, so clearly displayed in its last major war with the US. ..... It's too bad the UK didn't keep making chocolate bars and those wonderful tin soldiers I played with as a child. Instead, the nation became a casino with a lot of excellent Asian restaurants.

Hadn't read anything by this guy before. Is this supposed to be provocative tell-it-like-it-is journalism? Does he have a track record I should be aware of? Otherwise its, you know, just some guy's opinion.
posted by vacapinta at 4:25 AM on January 2, 2013


Here's his 2012 forecast. While I'm all for critiquing the status quo, his predictions sound pretty hysterical, rather than critical.
posted by suedehead at 4:27 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anyone want to bet againt my prediction that *none* of his predictions at the end of the article come true?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 4:59 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


A modern Ignatius J. Reilly! That was a treat to read.
posted by Syllables at 5:09 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can anyone summarize his previous 2012 predictions and his hit:miss ratio?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:19 AM on January 2, 2013


He's a piker. Wait til you see my predictions.
posted by Xurando at 5:22 AM on January 2, 2013


Can anyone summarize his previous 2012 predictions and his hit:miss ratio?

Turkey and Iran were supposed to go to war and China was supposed to completely collapse under its own weight and break up into smaller, semi-autonomous nations.
posted by NoMich at 5:26 AM on January 2, 2013


His writing looks ripe for a column-generating automaton like the Friedman one that was posted here the other day.
posted by jquinby at 5:27 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


tl;dr - James Howard Kunstler did not, in fact, get a blow job for Christmas and is somewhat cheesed off.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:30 AM on January 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


I find Kunstler useful. He makes cogent and insightful observations of fundamental structural issues in our society, but then undercuts them with his own impatience for everything to just go to heck as a result *right now*. This means he refuses to acknowledge that the machine can run with imbalances and in fact be adjusted going forward.

If you keep this in mind when reading his stuff, you do at least get a picture of what might eventually go wrong if we as a society really did just always flow in the do nothing status quo. The reality is that we all constantly change and adapt, and so his predictions often look well overblown.
posted by meinvt at 5:31 AM on January 2, 2013 [25 favorites]


Ah, do I miss the Kuntzler who wrote THE GEOGRAPHY OF NOWHERE. That guy saw straight into my heart. I have no idea who this hysterical doppelgänger is.
posted by newdaddy at 5:31 AM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's been cranking this stuff out since the late 1990s, and he's about as accurate as John Bolton. His Eyesore of the Month is sometimes quite good, however; it's mostly crowdsourced rather than original to him.
posted by texorama at 5:32 AM on January 2, 2013


In other words, in 2013, a once-prescient and thoughtful commentator on important issues of urban planning will continue to lurch embarrassingly into a Glenn Beckish deranged crankiness while following up on his dire Y2K prognostications with even more histrionic excess and self-satisfied smugness.

If you'd told me, way back in the nineties, that the guy who wrote Geography Of Nowhere and Home From Nowhere would eventually metastasize into this grumbling carbuncle of drunken avuncular overstatement, I wouldn't have believed you. There's so much sense in that work, even if you can see what's coming with a bit of hindsight.

Sadly, a few years of listening to the horrid Kunstlercast (archived here for your grinding pleasure) turned me from a shiny evangelist for Kunstler's take on urbanism, handing out copy after copy of Geography to friends I thought would enjoy it, to a guy who listened to the podcast while cursing out loud. It's really a textbook case of snotty sanctimonious self-righteous cultivated pessimism cloaked in concern, yet it's almost pornographically vivid in the way that Kunstler and his fatuous co-host sneer and snicker and look down at the people that would most need to be convinced about his views if he meant to actually make some change in the world.

It's literally the perfect case of podcast-based preaching to the choir imaginable, complete with occasional commentary from conspiracy-minded baby boomers and their acolytes who chime in with the awkward gushing liberal version of "DITTOS, RUSH!"

If you never read Kunstler until his most recent writings, you can probably just write him off as a crank straight off, but man—there used to be a there there.
posted by sonascope at 5:35 AM on January 2, 2013 [29 favorites]


I noticed a whiff of gold standard in there (something about how the unenlightened still are unaware that stocks are just as value-less as is money), as if gold isn't valuable simply due to everyone agreeing that it is.
posted by thelonius at 5:38 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


his own impatience for everything to just go to heck
I was struck by the bit in his previous prediction piece (for 2012) where he said that he is "often disappointed" by the failure of his (apparently yearly) "Dow to 4000" prediction.
posted by Flunkie at 5:40 AM on January 2, 2013


> as if gold isn't valuable simply due to everyone agreeing that it is.

The rules have changed? Says who?
posted by de at 5:41 AM on January 2, 2013


"A major earthquake hits the West Coast."

This guy is an idiot.
posted by gertzedek at 5:41 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I noticed a whiff of gold standard in there (something about how the unenlightened still are unaware that stocks are just as value-less as is money), as if gold isn't valuable simply due to everyone agreeing that it is.


He makes the correct point that without addressing the physical fundamental problems bankrupting our economy (read: energy, sprawl), no amount of monetary or fiscal stimulus will help.

That's not quite gold buggery, but it does look like it from afar.

But Douglas Adams said it better in the first page of the Guide.
posted by ocschwar at 5:44 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, I left someone once, who I probably needed to leave anyway, but after I'd done it, I realized that the biggest relief was that nobody was going to be quoting the KunstlerCast at me ever again.

The first few were kind of interesting and he had some interesting ideas but I got the impression that he was surrounded by so many adoring people that he'd totally stopped thinking critically about stuff. I liked his ideas about small towns and mixed-use planning and walkability, but he was utterly devoid of any desire that I could see to actually research how to make those towns *work*, like, not the ones being built for people with money to throw away but the struggling small towns of the midwest and whatnot.

All his followers asked for was snark and soundbites, so that's pretty much all he started producing.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:52 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, when you're done with the cranky, have a gander at this guy:

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal
posted by ocschwar at 5:59 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The guy wants a return to agrarian societies. In other words, he's a nut, and a crypto-conservative. Well, not so crypto, perhaps, given this quote from his 2011 predictions:
Just look at how we behave, from the cloakrooms of Congress to the piercing parlors of West Hollywood to the 7-Elevens of suburban Maryland: a nation of thieves, racketeers, reality TV sluts, wannabe road warriors, light-fingered gangsta-boyz, and crybabies living in an anomie-drenched decrepitating demolition derby landscape of failure.
So, there's some homophobia, use of "slut" as a derogative, some barely hidden racism, and typical conservative macho posturing against "crybabies".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:01 AM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


One things for certain: if anything bad happens anywhere in the world, he will have predicted it.
posted by zipadee at 6:03 AM on January 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


So, when you're done with the cranky, have a gander at this guy:

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal


What am I supposed to be paying attention to there?
posted by OmieWise at 6:11 AM on January 2, 2013




What am I supposed to be paying attention to there?


Actual solutions to the problems Kunstler rails about.
posted by ocschwar at 6:16 AM on January 2, 2013


> as if gold isn't valuable simply due to everyone agreeing that it is.

The rules have changed? Says who?


Gold has no inherent and inviolate value. There is a prolonged commodities bubble in progress... and, as you have rightly pointed out, since the rules haven't changed, gold is right there with the rest of it, and is probably in no small way driving it. When that bubble pops, the economy of any country on the gold standard will crater so hard, it will leave a dent you can see from space.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:17 AM on January 2, 2013


I liked his ideas about small towns and mixed-use planning and walkability...

The guy wants a return to agrarian societies. In other words, he's a nut, and a crypto-conservative.

Which makes him useful because many of the Prius-driving class share his vision of "human-scale" civilization and local sustainable agriculture but don't have the courage to embrace the conservatism inherent in that, return of the semi-migrant agricultural laboring class and all.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:21 AM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


American oil production has gone down, but thanks to the tar sands Canadian oil production has gone way up and is still rapidly increasing. So long as we don't mind turning half of Alberta into Mordor we're a long way from North American peak oil.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:26 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Fourth-and-finally, the news media in league with the public relations industry have undertaken a campaign of happy talk to persuade the public that everything is okay...

This is the "it's tortoises all the way down" of public policy.
posted by ardgedee at 6:32 AM on January 2, 2013


This lyrical little essay sums up Kunstler's whole world-view:
In this new era, coming soon to a twenty-first century region near you, the formerly industrial nations will have a great deal of trouble keeping the lights on, getting around, and feeding their people. Vocational niches by the hundreds will vanish, while the need to make up for a failing industrial agriculture, with all its oil-and-gas inputs, will require a revived agricultural working class in substantial numbers. This is in effect, a peasantry, and the word itself obviously carries unappetizing overtones, especially among those who used to be certain that the perfectibility of both human nature and human society were at hand. It all seemed that way, I suppose, in the early 1960s, when the United Auto Workers Union was setting up vacation camps along the Michigan lakes, and President Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon before the decade ended, and the doctrine of mutually assured destruction kept a sort of peace among the great military powers, and Dad drove home from the Pontiac showroom with a new GTO, which his son, Buddy, used to cruise the strip on Friday nights while Born to Be Wild rang out of the radio and out into the warm, soporific San Fernando night.

All over. All over but the keening for our soon-to-be-lost machine world. We’ll have to find new satisfactions now looking inward and reaching out with our limbs to those around us to discover what they are finding inward and outward about themselves. We’ll certainly find music there, and dancing, and perhaps some fighting, and we will still have the means to make bases and balls and sticks for hitting them and gloves for catching them and twilight evenings in the meadow to play in. Amid a great stillness. With the moon rising.
I think he's been repeating himself for awhile; once you've made your apocalypse prediction there's nothing to do but wait.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:38 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


. . . some barely hidden racism.

This is mild compared to other things I've read by Kunstler. His inability to see how counterproductive hating average people is for someone focused on urbanism, or to question his own class / race privilege, are why I gave up on his blog / podcast a few years ago.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:42 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd save for posterity the analysis that fracking and shale oil are only profitable at a price which is unaffordable for the economy. Needs more numbers but sounds plausible. And, to be fair, there is definitely a link between the end of the credit bubble and energy prices.

The earthquake line is what neatly illustrates much of the rest as disaster porn, though.
posted by imperium at 6:43 AM on January 2, 2013


If you keep this in mind when reading his stuff, you do at least get a picture of what might eventually go wrong if we as a society really did just always flow in the do nothing status quo. The reality is that we all constantly change and adapt, and so his predictions often look well overblown.

Yeah, I've loved reading his stuff in the past, but I've had to admit that it's starting to read a lot like vintage science fiction - "if nothing else changes, eventually the world will look like this", which makes for a great read but doesn't ever actually happen. I still think he's got a lot of cogent, important things to say about suburbia, and maybe the fact that he's warning of impending doom and calling for change excuses his failed predictions; "If we keep doing this, disaster!" so we change or mitigate some of that, whatever it was and the predictions don't play out.

So as much as I love his writing - partly (mostly?) because it mirrors my own distaste for sprawl and suburbia I think, if I'm honest with myself - my own prediction for 2013 is that in 2014 much of this will read like that classic golden-age sci-fi nugget about the guy who's got to pull over his flying car to use a payphone.
posted by mhoye at 6:44 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since wishful thinkers, by definition, are allergic to arguments against wishfulness, my book failed to make an impression.
Too bad he couldn't predict bad book sell numbers (or "impressions") before he finished writing it.
posted by stltony at 6:45 AM on January 2, 2013


Does this fellow get drunk before writing these, because:
1 - It sort of reads that way
2 - if he isn't he should be. at least it would be fun for someone.




Reminds me of that Russian fellow a few years back who said America would be four or five different countries by 2010.
No one went broke by predicticting the downfall of the US
posted by edgeways at 6:51 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


We’ll certainly find music there, and dancing, and perhaps some fighting, and we will still have the means to make bases and balls and sticks for hitting them and gloves for catching them and twilight evenings in the meadow to play in.
Yeah, the hilarious thing about Kunstler is that he seems to genuinely believe that the post-apocalypse will look more like rural America ca. 1900 and less like Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Still, points for effort. Predict the end of the world often enough and sooner or later you'll be right.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:52 AM on January 2, 2013


Yeah, the hilarious thing about Kunstler is that he seems to genuinely believe that the post-apocalypse will look more like rural America ca. 1900 and less like Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Well, that's the thing: he's presenting a hopeful vision of the future and it looks a lot like c. 1900 rural America. The other thing is that rural America (in the Northeast, Kunstler is camped out around Syracuse, NY I think) is full of dead little towns being bought up by 40 year-old retired investment bankers/internet/software money lottery winners who've gone back to the land to breed before their or their wives ovaries expire. These people look out wistfully at the environment and architecture of a dead society built on small-scale organic agriculture and imagine the whole 20th century as a wrong turn without ever really fleshing out that wistful feeling.

Once it has some flesh it actually feels like a nightmare, unless you can afford to retire to some charming 19th century prosperous farm house.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:06 AM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Does this fellow get drunk before writing these

I think that's just the trying-to-sound-like-Hunter S. Thompson module.
posted by thelonius at 7:14 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Once, Mr. Kunstler told me in a telephone conversation that he thought I was an idiot. (I was calling him for a quote in a local newspaper). It caught me off guard so much I just laughed and said, "Well, yeah, probably." Just wanted to share that. Despite this, I still find him interesting to read, or, honestly, to skim.
posted by Buffaload at 7:20 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dow to hit 4000 and gold to hit 2500? Are these to happen simultaneously? If so, it seems he's hedging his bets.
posted by Brian B. at 7:24 AM on January 2, 2013


Unless the apocalypse is literally some substantial portion of the earth bursting into flame (as implied by The Road), it makes a lot more sense to assume a post-economic-apocalypse would be entirely orderly, if perhaps a bit more nasty, brutish and short than it is now. Human beings are organizing, economic animals. Even in the most apparently-chaotic of circumstances (African refugee camps, say) there very quickly develops a nuanced and comprehensive social organization. Of course, that nasty, brutishness and shortness is going to have an interesting bimodal impact: people who've been living on welfare or disability are going to be very unhappy, but the demand for lawyers and hedge fund managers ain't going to be great, either.
posted by MattD at 7:27 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, that comment thread is as fine a collection of goldbugs, survivalists, Randians, NWO-ers, and white supremacists as any I've encountered. Which is a shame, because like others, I'm at least broadly sympathetic to Kunstler's criticisms of urban sprawl and the tyranny of the car.

it makes a lot more sense to assume a post-economic-apocalypse would be entirely orderly

Well, if you say so.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:37 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Above, I said: So as much as I love his writing

... and now that I've read this in a little more detail, man. I take that back. This is ill-informed, vaguely-racist global-catastrophy doomsaying is not the Kunstler I remember.
posted by mhoye at 7:46 AM on January 2, 2013


After reading both the 2012 column and this year's, I think he makes a lot of good points but has the time scale off by at least an order of magnitude. Possibly two, in some cases. Things just don't change on an international geopolitical scale as quickly as he seems to think that they will.

On many of the fundamentals — the unsustainability of fossil fuels and the economic system derived from them, of the challenging demographics of India, of the fragile political stability bought with rapid growth in China, etc. — he may be, and probably is, right. But the predictions of imminent collapse don't necessarily follow from those premises, and he seems to consistently underappreciate the amount of skill and cleverness that civilizations can bring to bear in order to paper over fundamental problems, however temporarily, in order to win a few more years of relative tranquility before everything comes apart.

I share, in many ways, Kunstler's generally pessimistic view on the future, but I have little doubt that there are more than enough people invested in growth-centric, fossil-fueled, industrialized capitalism to keep it afloat for a while yet. Even people who agree that the boat is a shitty design will move quickly to step on a leak if they happen to be chained to an oar inside it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:57 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The earthquake prediction was almost certainly meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
posted by gimonca at 8:16 AM on January 2, 2013


The (predictably anti-modernist, except on rare occasions, when it's anti-sprawl in shooting-fish-in-a-barrel fashion) Eyesore of the Month website sets a bad example by opening a new window for every entry. He might want to look into Tumblr.
posted by raysmj at 8:24 AM on January 2, 2013


You know, sometimes I wonder whether overhysterical panic mongers like this guy, or scythe boy featured a few days ago, are not paid by the same people as the global warming deniers, as a sort of fifth column as all this overblown doom mongering does much to discredit genuine concerns about sustainability and global warming.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:44 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Kunstler's a ceteris paribus type: as long as no variables at all change, he's spot on. The problem is, the variables are always changing.
posted by chavenet at 8:52 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: "Decline clearly in view". Is that a forecast or a wish? Because if you view projections made by the U.S. Dept of Energy. The EIA projects annual "U.S. natural gas production to increase from 23.0 trillion cubic feet in 2011 to 33.1 trillion cubic feet in 2040, a 44% increase." (emphasis added.)
The EIA is sort of infamous for extremely rosy long-term projections. 10 trillion cubic feet (283 billion cubic meters) is only about 8% of current annual global production. It's a lot to get from one place, but it's not that much in terms of keeping prices low or in terms of the long-term viability of natural gas as a fuel. It's certainly not enough to ensure that global gas production in 2040 is even maintained at the level it is today.

And that predicted increase is predicated on 27 years of fracking.

If you invested in a stock that was only able to grow 8% in 27 years, despite huge investments in the latest technology, you'd be pretty disappointed. Kuntsler's use of "plateaued" seems pretty apt.

Kunstler's predictions of future collapse are extreme and I think probably not right. But I'm glad he's out there calling attention to the issues, which I think are real.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:56 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kunstler seems to be a pretty decent political observer, and absolutely terrible at making predictions or anticipating human behavior.

A few thoughts/reactions from his piece, in no particular order:
* His observations about the politics of oil production seem to be fairly percipient. He distilled the 1970s oil crises very nicely.

* He calls 'stagflation' a silly term that disingenuously bundled several unrelated economic phenomena together. Good call -- until he forecasts a second round of stagflation at the end of the article.

* He fails to ascribe any meaning to the recent (and unprecedented) drop in oil consumption, and doesn't predict how that trend might continue. It's one hell of a data point to mention and subsequently ignore.

* Urbanism and sprawl *are* slowly dying, although Kunstler's echo chamber probably doesn't like to talk about that, so he might not believe it himself. Urban housing is in crazy demand right now. We can't build it fast enough, and normal folks are increasingly unable to live in cities. Housing costs in 'job centers' are even more out of control than fuel prices are. Urban residents are also increasingly demanding good public schools. (And nobody seems to want to talk about the other end of urban gentrification -- minority populations are increasingly living in the suburbs -- but that's neither here nor there.)

* Shale oil extraction is difficult and expensive. He's right on the money that it's not a good long-term solution to our energy needs. However, he also ignores that it does effectively put an upper limit on oil prices, and severely limits OPEC's ability to fuck with the market.

* Germany will not pull out of the Eurozone. The other member states of the EU will bend over backwards to make concessions to prevent this from happening. This would be a fatal blow to the EU, and nobody actually wants that to happen (or, at least not abruptly). If Germany gets tired of propping up the rest of the EU, they've got enough leverage to negotiate better terms for themselves. They've also got plenty of political capital -- most Europeans currently hold Germany in very high regard.

* China doesn't export many flat screen TVs to the US. LCD Panels are largely made in Korea and Japan. Sony, Vizio, and a few others build panels for the US market in Mexico. This is a nitpick, but Kunstler needs to do better research.

* He doesn't tie the winding-down of globalism to rising fuel costs. I'd agree that it's on the decline, but not for the crazy reasons that he states.

* He underestimates Mexico. His forecast for the Middle-East is completely baseless. He's partially right on one thing -- Pakistan is a wildcard, and has been for some time.

* No mention of Syria? Egypt? Iraq? Afghanistan? The US's increasingly strained relationship with Russia? I know he can't address everything in one article, but there's a whole herd of elephants in this room.

Honestly, he reminds me of the certifiably-crazy economists that shout a lot during those bizarre interviews that RT does. Unsurprisingly, he actually does get quite a bit of airtime on RT, but isn't quite as crazy as the tinfoil-hat schizophrenics that RT usually puts on the air.
posted by schmod at 9:01 AM on January 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, the hilarious thing about Kunstler is that he seems to genuinely believe that the post-apocalypse will look more like rural America ca. 1900 and less like Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

World Made By Hand, his post-apocalyptic novel, is basically a crypto-conservative agrarian masturbation fantasy. Well, maybe not so crypto, actually.
posted by dersins at 9:06 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


American oil production has gone down, but thanks to the tar sands Canadian oil production has gone way up and is still rapidly increasing.

This humorous statement is really bugging me: American oil production has actually gone up (note that that's production, not projection) due to in no small part to fracking.

Kunstler is undoubtedly right that, at current technological levels, we are rapidly reaching a leveling off and slow slide in oil production but that doesn't account for new technology (no doubt there are other options as revolutionary as fracking now that the money is there)--and really, I expect there will be quite a few attempts to 'fix' oil production before people embrace whatever alternatives exist at that point.
posted by librarylis at 9:11 AM on January 2, 2013


Actually, I pasted an excerpt into an online Markov generator and the results are not half bad (if not a little tortured grammatically):

The meltdown will be such attentially destroyed their homegrown Islamic revolution vis-à-vis they face the coming great continent ruling this years further in effect by an Islamic revolution could trash the USA and the unwinding of their ailing partners, and collapsing computer hugger-mugger place again, but the forces with government and AWOL rule of civil order, living spice to the south. Too maneuver in the USA.

Could be a window into the final, drug-addled days of the man.
posted by jquinby at 9:19 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


jquinby, what generator did you use? :-)
posted by scolbath at 9:31 AM on January 2, 2013


So, there's some homophobia,

I'm not sure I see the homophobia in that sentence. Is it "piercing parlors of West Hollywood"? I think that's more because Kunstler has an irrational hate for tattoos and piercings. It's all over the Eyesore of the Month. Here's an example.

On that note, Eyesore of the Month has been pretty disappointing lately. But "Live, Worship, Shop" is hilarious.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:34 AM on January 2, 2013


I used this one and played around with the 'level' setting.
posted by jquinby at 9:37 AM on January 2, 2013


I think that at some point in the recent past the Kunstler that wrote Geography of Nowhere stop trying to actually make positive change in the world and instead gave up and gave in to a WAIT UNTIL THE WORLD ENDS AND THEN THEY'LL KNOW I WAS RIGHT mindset. It could be frustration, a feeling of futility, or simply egotism—either way, any critic who doesn't deeply care for the thing he criticizing isn't really a much of a critic in the first place.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 9:39 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


(And nobody seems to want to talk about the other end of urban gentrification -- minority populations are increasingly living in the suburbs -- but that's neither here nor there.)

And if you thought the decay of cities in the 80s due to white flight was bad just wait till the current crappy insta-suburbs start to fall apart. Homes built as cheaply as possible with zero incentive appeal to anything but middle class parents with young children, now with no tax base, no long term infrastructure, and not even an iota of public visibility? Oh boy, that's going to go well.
posted by aspo at 9:55 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


As incoherent, hysterical and nonsensical much of this is, the first few paragraphs do evince a fairly clear understanding of the situation the world is in:
We're now entering the seventh year of a smoke-and-mirrors, extend-and-pretend, can-kicking phase of history in which everything possible is being done to conceal the true condition of the economy, with the vain hope of somehow holding things together until a miracle rescue remedy -- some new kind of cheap or even free energy -- comes on the scene to save all our complex arrangements from implosion. The chief device to delay the reckoning has been accounting fraud in banking and government, essentially misreporting everything on all balance sheets and in statistical reports to give the appearance of well-being where there is actually grave illness, like the cosmetics and prosthetics Michael Jackson used in his final years to pretend he still had a face on the front of his head.
Come back in 2023 and compare that paragraph to the type of boosterism found daily in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times. Kicking the can isn't going to work that much longer.
posted by crayz at 10:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


. . . urban sprawl and the tyranny of the car. . .

As a New Yorker this is really a pet peeve of mine. You know what the cure for the tyranny of the car is? Cities.
posted by The Bellman at 10:39 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what the cure for the tyranny of the car is? Cities.

I also live in one of the few cities in the US where that's true, but you know what America has a ton of? Large cities that are designed around car ownership.

How many of these cities are places where living car free is something you are going to do out of necessity? Out of the top ten, New York, maybe Chicago, maybe Philadelphia? Go to the top twenty and you get San Francisco, and after that, Boston and Portland, with a possible Seattle? I know someone who is carless in Seattle, it's difficult, but doable.
posted by aspo at 11:03 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


> You know, sometimes I wonder whether overhysterical panic mongers like this guy, or scythe boy featured a few days ago,
> are not paid by the same people as the global warming deniers, as a sort of fifth column as all this overblown doom
> mongering does much to discredit genuine concerns about sustainability and global warming.

My own prediction for 2013--the rate of We Are All So Fucked pronouncements on metafilter will show no decline from prior years. I'd add my own if I only knew how to hook up with the paymasters.
posted by jfuller at 11:11 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did it in Atlanta; it was horrible
posted by thelonius at 11:11 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


(ack, that should read AREN'T going to do out of necessity)
posted by aspo at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2013


TMI, theloneus!
posted by de at 11:14 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I read it... and thought to myself... he's LESS cranky and more fact-based than he used to be. I'll agree that he's got his timescale off by an order of magnitude, but otherwise seems to have a good idea of the implications of our addiction to cheap oil.

The one thing I don't understand: Why do some people here think gold will drop to almost zero value in a commodities crash? I'm certainly not going to be hurt if it does, I'll just buy lots of it for science projects.
posted by MikeWarot at 11:14 AM on January 2, 2013


Pruitt-Igoe: "I'm not sure I see the homophobia in that sentence. Is it "piercing parlors of West Hollywood"?"

Yes. West Hollywood's population is 41% gay or bi male, so it's kind of hard to take him choosing that city specifically as anything but homophobia.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:22 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


That man (?) sure does know how to barf up an article.
posted by Twang at 11:26 AM on January 2, 2013


The Bellman: ". . . urban sprawl and the tyranny of the car. . .

As a New Yorker this is really a pet peeve of mine. You know what the cure for the tyranny of the car is? Cities
"

Exactly. Agriculture, at least agriculture with anything approaching the efficiency of modern agriculture, is transport and fuel intensive. So unless he's suggesting we go back to pre-1900 methods of agriculture as well (which would imply genocide or genocide-scale die-offs), agrarianism is worse, energy-wise, than suburbs.

But he doesn't seem to like cities because they're full of, you know, piercing parlors and light-fingered gangsta-boyz, so he writes science fiction books where a return to a pseudo-feudal system is presented as a good thing.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:27 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


West Hollywood's population is 41% gay or bi male, so it's kind of hard to take him choosing that city specifically as anything but homophobia.

I live here so it could also be taken as specifically anti-Justinian.
posted by Justinian at 11:34 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, that's the thing: he's presenting a hopeful vision of the future and it looks a lot like c. 1900 rural America.
I'm closer to the "getting too old for this shit" end of the spectrum than I was when I was the bad ass lone berserker and I asked one of my far-seeing buddies what I should do for a civilian-type occupation (other than open a bar or restaurant or teaching - education is great, but I've been in classrooms more than friends of mine who are heart surgeons) or becoming a filthy bloodsucking whor... I mean, defense contractor. *cough*

He's one of these kinds of futurologists. Doesn't get paid, gets "endowments." Does something that looks like Math but has symbols maybe 3 other guys understand. Hangs out with the think tank-types, not for policy, but the actual results type stuff. Gets awards named for mathematicians and scientists. Took a few years off to really focus on his frisbee golf game. One company offered him something like a $3 million a year contract. Nope. He's gotta do this frisbee golf thing now. Make sure there are more courses out there. $3 million is for suckers.

So I'm your basic highly talented overeducated niche specialist looking to expand into something else (and not real estate, Hackworth got rich but he also got divorced, no thanks) asking a guy who's essentially so smart he's considered psychic by governments and multi-nationals what I should do for a living that's a little more stable than the violence/anti-violence industry.

Plumbing.

Yeah.

The American public finally begins to freak out when confronted with $9 boxes of Cheerios.
This seems to be one of the things Kunstler is right about. Whatever the nature of the future, whether it holds a major disaster or not, whether it's fast or slow, people have a complete blindness to it, sort of like the frog in a slow boil - with the exception that unlike the frog there comes a point where they completely freak out.

Typically it's over something like, yeah, $9 Cheerios.

So my prior focus was on the freak out. I can protect people. I can marshal forces. I can lead and organize, I can speak a bunch of languages, I can gunsmith, I know history (mostly military), logistics, politics, if there's some major unrest I could probably be handy, even if the world ends, at the very least I'm a prime security specialist...
Nope, my buddy says. Plumbing.

His reasoning is this: I shouldn't be a hydraulic or hydrological engineer because most of the resources for that will be centralized (computer and what not) as will the earthmoving machines, fuel, etc. Most projects will be local and require manpower and on-site production, which apparently is pretty easy when it comes to making pipe (don't ask me), and you can produce local power pretty well with moving water. Most of the value would be from interpersonal projects like sewage, etc. that the state isn't going to be able to do on its own.
*shrug*

Sounded more like Medieval guilds to me. And apparently, that's where he thinks we're headed. Given we can't produce enough food for everyone. Given we can't maintain the same system of energy production (whether peak oil exists or not). And given all of the other mundane type repetitive labor (including warfare) is farmed out to robots, computers, and people off site but hooked in to a bunch of stuff for efficiency - the humans of the future will be skilled interpersonal service laborers. Barbers/Parasitic Specialists. Mechanics. Bike mechanics. EMS/nurses. Firefighters. Plumbers. etc.

The reason being, not so much the cause of any particular disaster (although he's including global warming, war, drought, etc etc. we're apparently already in a "plunder economy") but because organizations do not, and apparently cannot, systematically learn from past errors and disasters and people can.

So we'll lose systemic support - in whatever form, from whatever cause, - and we won't be able to rely on past organizational responses (from the state, corporations, economic - whatever) but we can and will rely on the labor and technical know how of our neighbors.
He went off into "anti-learning" theory and organizational heuristics in complex data environments which made my brain hurt.

But anyway, the "wealth" will "shift" from markets to that kind of stuff. He says. Then go off into something else we can't imagine right now the way a knight couldn't imagine computer algorithm driven trading on wall street.

But in the who knows how long interim - people will still take dumps and bathe and will want a system to recycle/haul that stuff off. Local irrigation, etc. A plumber will be worth far more to a community than a warfighter in that environment.

As though trading blood for feces is such a bargain. Plus, man, plumbing? I couldn't do medicine? Or hell, for that matter, be a butcher?
Nope. Not enough livestock. Not enough medical infrastructure to support high levels of expertise. GPs maybe. But biology isn't my metier (apart from anatomy).
The most important men will be the ones who's work impacts the community on a personal level the way, yes, butchers did in the past.
I've got to spend about 4 years as an apprentice first. No hurry though, he says.

Y'know, I don't even like Cheerios.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:42 AM on January 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Nope, my buddy says. Plumbing.

Methinks you owe your buddy $3 million.
posted by chavenet at 11:56 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Methinks you owe your buddy $3 million.

Or one free Roto-root when it all goes pear-shaped.
posted by jquinby at 12:07 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


My plan is to go insane inside a locked hotel suite ala David Bowie in the Man Who Fell To Earth.

I mean I was going to do that anyway, regardless of total economic collapse.
posted by The Whelk at 12:11 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given we can't produce enough food for everyone. Given we can't maintain the same system of energy production (whether peak oil exists or not).

While I think it's likely that some of us reading these words may live to fear these events, my feeling is also that if/when they start to negatively affect our quality of life/ability to govern in a very big way, then it won't much matter if I'm a plumber, a butcher, or a tattooist, because I'm as likely to die in the ripple shocks of famine or unrest as anyone else who isn't obscenely wealthy and heavily protected. Generally, I tend to think that trying to game out the post-economic collapse is only a little less silly than trying to game out the post-nuclear holocaust.

All that said, yeah, plumbing's a pretty good gig.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:34 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm certainly no expert on this, but I've always felt like the whole "not enough food because of peak oil/gas" thing wasn't really the issue that we would actually face if things got that bad. We really do have a bazillion tons of coal, that really would last a very long time, don't we? And I'm aware that part of the issue is fertilizer, rather than energy, but you can make fertilizer from coal rather than natural gas, can't you?

I'm of course not saying that burning that coal wouldn't be without its own issues. Maybe those issues would even be worse, especially in the long run. I'm just saying that if you give people a choice between "environmental hellscape" and "no food", "hellscape" is going to win in a landslide.

Am I wrong that we really do have a whole bunch of coal? Like, I've seen claims that peak coal is hundreds of years off. Or am I wrong about how well it can be converted to fertilizer, relative to natural gas? Or wrong about something else? I'm pretty sure I'm not wrong about the outcome of a vote on "hellscape" versus "no food".
posted by Flunkie at 12:54 PM on January 2, 2013


On that note, Eyesore of the Month has been pretty disappointing lately. But "Live, Worship, Shop" is hilarious.

This is religious bigotry of the worst sort. The Fosterite Church of the New Revelation is a legitimate religion.
posted by scalefree at 12:54 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


We're not really at any risk for running out of ways to supply power to the electrical grid, which isn't really even fueled by oil anyway -- petroleum-based fuels account for approximately 1% of America's electrical generation capacity. We could stop burning oil in power plants today, and nobody would notice. We already have enough spare generation power to switch off every oil plant in the country right now if we wanted to.

We really do have a bazillion tons of coal, lots of natural gas (which we totally take for granted if you look at Europe's natural gas troubles), and nuclear power is always an option. If the promises of thorium hold true, nuclear power will also be an easier sell to the public.

However, unlike any of those other sources, oil is very portable, which is why we use it in cars, farm equipment, etc.

If we do have a sudden, all-out, 'no more oil for anybody' emergency, we could divert our domestic oil reserves/production to farm equipment and vital transportation, and use biodiesel once those reserves ran out. Having no cars would suck, but society probably wouldn't collapse.

The currently extant alternatives to oil are too expensive to compete with oil, but they're technically viable, and there's no reason why we couldn't transition to them if it became a national emergency to do so.

These doomsday scenarios always assume that we won't react or respond to these crises as they arise. Humanity's got a pretty good track record to suggest that this won't be the case.
posted by schmod at 1:34 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Am I wrong that we really do have a whole bunch of coal? Like, I've seen claims that peak coal is hundreds of years off. Or am I wrong about how well it can be converted to fertilizer, relative to natural gas? Or wrong about something else? I'm pretty sure I'm not wrong about the outcome of a vote on "hellscape" versus "no food".

actually the big limit on fertilizer is not fossil fuels per se, but rather energy. The atmosphere is 70% nitrogen so there is plenty around, it is a matter of having enough energy to run the machines/processes to convert it to ammonia or some other chemical that makes it available to plants. It doesn't matter if that energy comes from wind, solar, nuclear or burning fossil fuels.

In fact energy is really the whole bottleneck and abundant cheap energy is the backbone of prosperity and the middle class. Right now the cheapest way to get energy for most things is fossil fuels. This is due to some natural limitations (geothermal/wind/solar) but also due to some regulatory frameworks (also wind/solar/nuclear) and some outright fear (nuclear) and hysteria (wind/solar) and some we just don't know how yet (space based solar/fusion/unknown). If your energy is cheap enough you can combine atmospheric CO2 with N2 and O2 to make liquid fuels and have a net zero carbon reaction to power anything not easily hooked up to the grid(transport mostly).

A real limit to fertilizer is stuff like phosphates/potash, kinda like the peak oil scenario.
posted by bartonlong at 1:50 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


West Hollywood's population is 41% gay or bi male, so it's kind of hard to take him choosing that city specifically as anything but homophobia.


It's Kunstler. If he's commenting on West Hollywood tattoo shops, it's because he was there and saw tattoo shops, probably without paying any attention to people's sexual orientation.
posted by ocschwar at 2:07 PM on January 2, 2013


And the awful people are in cars all the time, listening to raps and shooting the jobs.
posted by The Whelk at 2:19 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Always there are the perennial and chipper announcements that we'll just shift to some other energy source and innovate our way out. I'll give you your coal and nuclear for electricity but the exploitation of coal and nuclear are heavily dependent on petroleum.

Lots of natural gas? Many of the rosier predictions gloss over the less stable and shorter term yield of gas resources, and the expense of constant and deeper drilling.

The trouble with biodiesel is that ultimately that biomass has to come from our already overextended agriculture system. This industry we just spent a century consolidating into a few too-big-to-fail operations is a huge consumer of petroleum in fertilizer, irrigation, pest control, transportation, processing, refrigeration, transportation again, distribution, transportation again, and refrigeration again. And energy scarcity isn't the only threat: the nation's biggest aquifer is in a bad way.

Also we don't only have to weather increasing resource extraction prices but also growing demand, because our "needs" are not static but have to continue growing. If the economy (i.e., resource and energy consumption) is not growing, our financial system does not work. And without that financial system in place, what of the huge centralized production systems that have come to feed and clothe us?

Kunstler's rhetoric deliberately and facetiously rubs us the wrong way, and calls attention to the fact that we're not prepared to contemplate the manual, agrarian, local, and the rural. We don't do ourselves any favors by assuming those things mean backing up in our footsteps to return to the dark ages any more than we do ourselves favors by assuming that collapse isn't happening just because it doesn't arrive suddenly, totally, and punctually.
posted by maniabug at 2:37 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


These doomsday scenarios always assume that we won't react or respond to these crises as they arise.

Who's we, BigFoot?

Climate change has already arisen, the response time isn't exactly impressive, and we're all making eyes at Canada's 200 year stock pile of would be asphalt.

I totally get Kunstler's feigned burnout. I wouldn't hold it against him if he threw it all in and retired to Kennebunkport; he's made quite a living out of treating Americans as (reliable) consumers.
posted by de at 2:42 PM on January 2, 2013


Having no cars would suck, but society probably wouldn't collapse.

but it would have to make some pretty radical adjustments, which would make the current bigbox store, living in the suburbs, drive miles to get to anything lifestyle we live impossible

which, when you boil down kunstler's rants, is pretty much what he's really saying - only he goes a bit too far and starts talking about us going back to a jeffersonian agricultural "world made by hand"

well, at least he refrained from ranting about tattoos - the man's got a serious issue with those

he does have some points to make - but alas, he's let his contempt and horror at 20th century sub-"urbanism" and culture get the better of him

i think eventually we will find that he was partly right, but neglected to see that the changes that a post peak oil world will bring are much more gradual than he believes

i've been reading his column for years and unfortunately, he's gotten increasingly cranky, in both senses of the world, and repetitive
posted by pyramid termite at 2:55 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stories to watch for in 2013
  1. Economic turnarounds in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and possibly Pakistan and Myanmar.
  2. Pressures for secession in Catalonia, and a potential crisis of the Spanish state.
  3. East Asian belligerence, with more hawkish leaders in the three major countries.
  4. There is actually a non-trivial chance we totally blow it on the debt ceiling.
  5. The continuing rise of machine intelligence and the general recognition of such as the next major technological breakthrough.
  6. Significant positive reforms in Mexico on education, foreign investment, and other matters too.
  7. Political collapse in South Africa.
  8. Continuation of America's "Medicaid Wars," over state-level coverage, combined with the actual implementation of much more of ACA. Continuing attempts in Rwanda, Mexico, and China to significantly extend health care coverage to much poorer populations.
  9. The return of dysfunctional Italian politics, combined with the arrival of recession in most of the eurozone economies, including France and Germany.
  10. The ongoing barbarization of North Africa, including Mali, Syria, and possibly Egypt. And whether any of these trends will spread to the Gulf states.
  11. Whether China manages a speedy recovery and turnaround.
  12. Watching India try to overcome its power supply problems, its educational bottlenecks, and its low agricultural productivity.
  13. Seeing whether Ghana makes it to "middle income" status and how well broader parts of Africa move beyond resource-based growth.
  14. Whether U.S. and also European political institutions can handle the intensely distributional nature of current fiscal questions.
posted by kliuless at 2:56 PM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


By the way, if anyone's still wondering if he's a homophobe (or a total batshit crank), try this on for size:
I have been puzzling over the issue of gay marriage myself the last few weeks, as perhaps many of you have. It seems to me that everything necessary in the way of legal protection for same-sex partners was already available in the several "domestic partner" laws already enacted in states such as Vermont. Gay marriage, on the other hand, is an effort to gain official approbation for a form of sexual behavior and establish it as socially normative. This, it seems to me, has several drawbacks for all concerned, gay and non-gay alike.

As much as the gay community wishes, they will never persuade the non-gay majority that homosexual behavior is wholesome, in particular between males. In reality, the norm of male gay social behavior is extreme promiscuity with predatory overtones -- hence, for example, all the problems the Catholic church is having with what is basically a homosexual subculture devoted almost exclusively to victimizing boys.

The wish to normalize male homosexuality is inevitably a way of discounting and marginalizing male heterosexuality. However, I'm not convinced that male homosexuals want to cede the social margin to the straights; that "outsider" position is so deeply connected with gay culture generally. What we are really seeing, I believe, is the final tactical move of the womens' movement to keep bothersome men away from them generally and to get as many men as possible corralled into a gay ghetto with the priapic diversions of gay life.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:31 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not to get Joe Haldeman in here but promoting homosexuality would be another excellent way to drive down the birth rate.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:56 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


kliuless: "The return of dysfunctional Italian politics"

It left?
posted by schmod at 8:08 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


^ East Asian belligerence??

C'mon. Take some responsibility.
posted by de at 8:13 PM on January 2, 2013


By the way, if anyone's still wondering if he's a homophobe (or a total batshit crank), try this on for size:

And while there read what else he had to say 9 years ago, and ask yourself why anyone listens to this guy. His reasons to be afraid for the future aren't exactly revelationary, and his ten year predictions of mine years ago were about as wrong possible.
posted by aspo at 12:34 AM on January 3, 2013


I came across a lot of this guy during my review of Wacky Apocalypse Wank Fantasies and he's pretty amusing in just how close to the surface and nakedly exposed his assorted gift baskets of Issues are, it just gets increasingly hilarious how many damned harems show up. What is with these guys and multiple wives? That just sounds exhausting. Every time you think he might be self-aware enough to be addressing the problematic parts of his gentleman farmer fan fiction, bam! It's goes straight into Jack D. Ripper territory.

And anyway it's also amusing how freaking common this particular fantasy flavor is, even among people I'd consider very staunch progressive allies, part of the reason I read all those damned books and the only conclusion I can come to is - hey wasn't it great when rich white guys had all of the power instead of just most of it?

they also never seem to understand how unrelentingly boring and hard most farming is but whatever, fantasy novel
posted by The Whelk at 12:54 AM on January 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll give you your coal and nuclear for electricity but the exploitation of coal and nuclear are heavily dependent on petroleum.

There's very little coal exploitation that's dependent on petroleum in the sense that it couldn't be done with coal as well, albeit at the expense of diverting some fraction of the extracted coal for extractive use -- in other words, the "overhead" costs of mining would increase.

Most mining is done with diesel engines of some sort or another, and you could run them on Fischer–Tropsch "coal diesel" pretty easily, or similarly derived fuels from natural gas. Right now, such fuels cost more than conventional petroleum based ones, and this has been true basically ever since the process was discovered (with the notable exception of wartime Germany). But there's not really any reason why we couldn't do it, if there was sufficient motivation. (Actually, it's possible to run a diesel engine on coal dust, and in fact some of Rudolph Diesel's original prototypes did this, because the Germans had just that sort of coal surplus and petroleum shortage when it was designed. They wear rather poorly, but metallurgy is a lot better today than it was in 1893.)

It would be messy -- literally, in the sense of pollution that most people alive today haven't experienced -- but we could probably convert most of the US economy over to coal instead of petroleum in the space of a couple years if push really came to shove. Transportation would become more expensive, because there don't seem to be any liquid fuels derived from coal or natural gas that approach the price-per-BTU of petroleum fuels, but electrical energy is already more coal than petroleum dependent, and coal heating is basically a solved (if annoying, compared to oil or gas) problem.

I haven't run the numbers, but my prediction for world energy usage is that we'll progressively exhaust the planet's supply of fossil fuels basically in straight order by [Energy Extracted / Energy Required to Extract]. Petroleum tops that list, and the oldest oil wells and the earliest oilfields exhausted were the ones where the stuff just squirted up out of the ground with minimal effort. Coal requires more energy to extract, so it will be a while before we work our way back to the Appalachian coalfields in large scale (it's used today, but mostly for specialty and metallurgical coal), but we'll get there eventually.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:56 AM on January 3, 2013


God damn it I hate Kunstler. Back in 2006 I was taking a class in biodiesel production so I could lighten my carbon footprint a bit. My area is blessed with a bunch of smart, hippie types with a powerful entrepreneurial bent and they were sharing their knowledge with the world by teaching at a local community college. As a "break" from our time in the lab with grease and catalysts they showed "The End of Suburbia". It spun me into a 6 month stretch of anxiety, depression and general hopelessness. Over time I realized that Kunstler was (or had become) a misanthrope masquerading as a messiah. We need that like we need James Inhofe overseeing climate science.

The thing is, I agree with a lot of what Kunstler says. It's just his anger and condescending tone are going to drive folks who might join the fold away. For my money Amory Lovins is more on track in his wonky, data driven way. We need solutions not a scolding.
posted by skepticbill at 7:22 PM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


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