liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

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Kunstler's ideas

After Kunstler's talk at NAU, an insight is still worming its way through my consciousness. It's a simple one, of which I was already aware, but Kunstler brought it to the forefront. Our economy is based on making more of the very things we need to get away from, for sustainability's sake. Our GNP looks as good as it does because we put our money into war, building things like modular suburbs and infrastructure for automobiles, and providing everyone with cheap plastic crap. And none of these things are essential for life. Our economy serves the people as long as we wish to kick ass for oil, drive our cars, and have nice houses in the suburb. In order for us to rebuild sustainable local economies, our current economy must crater. Yes, I'm rooting for the demise of our corporation dominated global economy along with the conspiring imperialist governments. When our economy finally tanks, we'll be headed in the right direction.

The inevitable increase in the price of oil will cause a cascade of effects that can be generally described as a decrease in our standard of living. Those who are poor will be poorer. Those who count themselves middle class will have to stretch a dollar farther. We will all mourn the loss of our local economies, our communities, our networks. Cocooning in front of the television is less appealing when your belly is empty. We have lost our local economies under the boots of giant corporations bringing cheap plastic shit and processed food. Anyone who makes quality products out of local materials has been put out of business. We sacrificed our sustainable local economies to oil-driven corporations, and now we are faced with the task of rebuilding them.

The things that are essential---good fertile land, clean water and air, the ability and knowledge to build our own houses and tools, have been sacrificed to progress. To the economy.

Biodiesel and solar and wind and ethanol and geothermal and hydroelectric ALL COMBINED cannot come close to providing the convenient cheap easy portable energy that we have enjoyed for the last half century. Nuclear could power a lot of homes, but there is not a good conversion to another form that will keep us driving cars.
It won't be worth it. The cost is too high. It is wishful thinking that we will be able to continue "the American way of life" one some other fuel.

If we were smart as a civilization we would devote the remainder of our share of oil to building things that will be really hard to build without it. We would build things that will last long as a pyramid when oil is gone. We could build nuclear plants to last 10,000 years. It would be really hard to build nuclear power plants when oil is expensive, so we should get busy. And a passenger rail system. It will cost us a lot more to get it done in the future, so we should get after building that system and extending it up every valley NOW. And though this will surprise many who know me, I think we should build small hydroelectic plants all along every river. We need to build them such that the river ecosystem is not destroyed, but we can do this and harvest a great deal of electrical power too. We need to make our constructions durable and repairable, not disposable like most modern homes. We need to concentrate our living spaces such that we preserve some land for growing.

It is only by shifting our economy to forward-thinking projects that we can avoid complete economic failure. Only immense public pressure could cause our government to redirect our public dollars toward useful public projects instead of serving corporations. If we are so short-sighted as to continue developing as if oil were infinite, we will pay a high price. I believe that we are collectively and politically that short-sighted and willfully ignorant too. We will experience a great contraction in our economy that will be more difficult and much longer than the Great Depression. It will be worse because we have lost the means to produce our own food, and moved in great numbers to places like Arizona where it is virtually impossible to grow your own food. Many people will die from disease and hunger and strife. It will be longer because the easy supply of oil is exhausted and we will have to make to with less energy for everything.

FYI: This is why I vote against funding for roads every chance I get.
Tags: economics, nukes, oil, sustainable, the long emergency

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