OK, Kunstler Nailed this Recession, What Does He Suggest Now?
During GD1, prairie farmers hooked their cars up to horses and called them "Bennett Buggies" after the Prime Minister that they blamed for the depression.
It's time for all the Kunstler Kritics to get over Y2K, it is so almost ten years ago. And whether you agree with him about peak oil or not, the fact is that he predicted this economic crash, and the reasons behind it, with absolute accuracy. (see his predictions for 2006 in Treehugger here) For years he has been saying that the American economy was essentially one of building houses and building big box stores to fill with imported stuff to fill the houses and big cars to move between the stores and the houses, all predicated on an infinite supply of funny money and cheap energy. So now that he called this, let's look again at his other predictions of what we have to do to survive it. Grist points us to an article he wrote with some suggestions; we pick a few favorites.Will we have "Bush Buggies" in GD2?Expand your view beyond simply finding fuels other than gasoline to power vehicles. The obsession with keeping cars running at all costs could prove fatal, especially because so many self-proclaimed "greens" and political "progressives" are hung up on this monomaniacal theme. Cars are not part of the solution, no matter what fuel they use. They are at the heart of the problem. Trying to salvage the entire Happy Motoring system by shifting from gasoline to other fuels will only make things worse. Think beyond the car.
We have to produce food differently. The Monsanto/Cargill model of industrial agribusiness is headed toward its Waterloo. As oil and gas deplete, we will be left with sterile soil and farming organized at an unworkable scale. Many lives will depend on our ability to solve this problem. Farming soon will return closer to the center of American economic life. It will have to be done more locally, at a smaller and finer scale, and it will require more human labor.
We have to redistribute the population. Virtually every place in our nation organized around automobile dependency is going to fail. Quite a few places (Phoenix, Las Vegas, Miami) can support only a fraction of their residents. We'll have to return to traditional human ecologies at a smaller scale: villages, towns, and cities (along with a productive rural landscape). Our small towns are waiting to be reinhabited. Our cities will have to contract.
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. Like farming, this will require the revival of skills and methods long forsaken.
We have to move things and people differently. Get used to it. Don't waste society's remaining resources trying to prop up car and truck dependency. Water and rail are vastly more energy efficient. Start with railroads, and let's make sure we electrify them so they will run on things other than fossil fuels. We also have to prepare our society to use water much more to move people and things. This will require rebuilding infrastructures for our harbors and for our inland river and canal systems, including the towns associated with them.
Read more of Kunstler's suggestions at NewsmaxMore Kunstler in TreeHugger:James Howard Kunstler Spares No One in New "KunstlerCast"Interview with James Howard KunstlerThe Long Emergency: A Long ReviewJames Howard Kunstler Takes on Stephen ColbertInterview with James Howard KunstlerJim Kunstler's predictions for 2006: Stay in Bed.