Thursday, July 21, 2005

Summer reading program

I finally got my hands on Jim Kunstler's, The Long Emergency. It comes to me courtesy of the Maine State Library's, Books-By-Mail Program (there are advantages to living in a town without a library).

While only 110 pages into the 268 page book, here a just a few observations that JK makes about imperial America during its summer of Reality TV.

On cheap oil:

Above all, and most immediately, we face the end of the cheap fossil fuel era. It is no exaggeration to state that reliable supplies of cheap oil and natural gas underlie everything we identify as a benefit of modern life. All the necessities, comforts, luxuries, and miracles of our time--central heating, air conditioning, cars, airplanes, electric lighting, cheap clothing, recorded music, movies, supermarkets, power tools, hip replacement surgery, the national defense, you name it--owe their origins or continued existence in one way or another to cheap fossil fuel.

On suburban sprawl:

America finds itself nearing the end of the cheap-oil age having invested its national wealth in a living arrangement--suburban sprawl--that has no future. When media commentators cast about struggling to explain what has happened in our country economically, they uniformly overlook the colossal misinvestment that suburbia represents--a prodigious, unparalleled misallocation of resources.

It's amazing to me, in our land of bread and circuses, how uninformed and in stone-cold denial the everyday citizen is about oil and its unsustainability as the foundation of all that we know in the coming years. As Neil Postman wrote about extensively, Americans have an irrational belief in technology's ability to save us. As Kunstler notes, neither technology, nor the promise of alternative fuels will be able to save us from the long emergency.

If there is one book that I wish more people would read during the remainder of 2005, it would be this one. I'm not holding my breath, waiting for that to happen, however.

I've found that despite the label of pessimism and "profit of doom" that so many would lob the way of someone writing a book like Kunstler's, I find it invigorating and in line with much of what I've thought about and observed during the past five years or so.

True reality has a freeing quality missing from so much of the manufactured faux reality that permeates most of our waking moments.


Joe said...

I have often lamented the fact that the citizens of this country are so damned concerned with the problems that face them today (those problems being (in no particular order) that their taxes are too high, that we face an imminent threat from the middle east, and that gays are being treated like humans) that they don’t put any thought into what it’s going to take to sustain the “American” lifestyle deep into the 21st century. This, of course, results in votes for Republicans.

Then I think more about it and realize that the Democrats really don’t have a plan, either.

How’s the Green Party doing these days?

Jim said...

It's funny that you should ask about the Greens.

Threre was a blurb in the Lewiston (?) paper that their enrollment in Maine has risen to 27 percent, the highest in any state.

Maybe us crusty Mainuhs are going to buck the trend and go green.

Can't find the link to the AP story, but I did find a link to the Maine Greens.