Technological optimism is a dangerous mindset, It is something we often fall back if we face big changes, if the world around us seems uncertain, if we find ourselves running out of oil. Wait, we are! Can we just turn to alternative fuel sources and call it a day? Are we ready? A mindset that we “can just fix it,” and go on with life-as-usual compromises our true likelihood of survival. Technology is certainly amazing – and most of it is way beyond me… however it is just not enough to fix the big issues we are facing today.
In this article, James Howard Kunstler states his opinions about options for living in a post-oil world that is rapidly approaching. This article sums up many of the points he makes in his longer book, The Long Emergency – about peak oil, decline in world oil production, technology, suburbia and the ultimate end of our industrialized world.
…the widespread wish persists that some combination of alternative fuels will rescue us from this oil and gas predicament and allow us to continue enjoying by some other means what Vice-President Cheney has called the “non-negotiable” American way of life.
The long-term solution lies in truly changing the ways in which we live and consume. We have a moral, as well as technological, dilemma facing us. And we will certainly have to make some big choices in the near future as we move to living in a society with too many people, and too few resources that we’ve depended on in the past.
Of course, the single worst impediment to clear thinking among most individuals and organizations in America today is the obsession with keeping the cars running at all costs. Even the environmental community is guilty of this. The esteemed Rocky Mountain Institute ran a project for a decade to design and develop a “hyper-car” capable of getting supernaturally fabulous mileage, in the belief that this would be an ecological benefit. The short-sightedness of this venture? It only promoted the idea that we could continue to be a car-dependent society; the project barely gave nodding recognition to the value of walkable communities and public transit.
While his article does not sing the praises of our accomplishments, Kunstler is by no means arguing that we give up on civilization completely, as other critics might. He lobbies for dramatic changes, and promotes living in a more localized, settled manner. In other words: my dreams of hopping around the world may not be realized if I wait too long and the fuel runs out. I also better get in my car and drive across America a few more times… A localized way of living does have its advantages, bringing an end to the Wal-Mart and superstore area, a return to slow food and local business.
Kunstler is mainly an author, also critic (obviously) and avid blogger himself: www.kunstler.com