Kunstler’s tips to prepare for a post-oil society
This post by James Kunstler, “10 Ways to Prepare for a Post-Oil Society,” is a little old, but still timely, as the economy is in the midst of its first major convulsion caused by a radical swing in energy prices.
The first point is especially applicable: The religious belief in the ability to substitute any fuel for oil never seems to wane. The eighth point is oft-overlooked: Although we discuss the future at length, we remain silent about the kind of programming for the past that schools teach.
Read the rest of Kunstler’s list below the fold:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. We have to redistribute the population …
4. 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. The great harbor towns, such as Baltimore, Boston, and New York, no longer can devote their waterfronts to condo sites and bikeways. We have to put the piers and warehouses back in place (not to mention the accommodations for sailors). Programs are under way to restore maritime shipping based on wind — yes, sailing ships.
5. We have to transform retail trade …
6. We will have to make things again in America. However, we will make less stuff … As a practical matter, we are not going to relive the 20th century. The factories from America’s heyday of manufacturing (1900-1970) were designed for massive inputs of fossil fuel, and many of them have been demolished. We’re going to have to make things on a smaller scale by other means. Perhaps we will have to use more water power. The truth is, we don’t know yet how we’re going to make anything.
7. The age of canned entertainment is coming to an end …
8. We’ll have to reorganize the education system. The centralized secondary school systems based on the yellow school bus fleets will not survive. The huge investments we have made in these facilities will impede the transition out of them, but they will fail anyway. Since we will be a less affluent society, we probably won’t be able to replace these centralized facilities with smaller and more equitably distributed schools, at least not right away.
9. We have to reorganize the medical system …
10. Life in the USA will have to become much more local, and virtually all the activities of everyday life will have to be re-scaled … An entire social infrastructure of voluntary associations, co-opted by the narcotic of television, needs to be reconstructed. Local institutions for care of the helpless will have to be organized. Local politics will be much more meaningful as state governments and federal agencies slide into complete impotence. Lots of jobs here for local heroes.