Tonight I was on a panel with the author and social critic James Howard Kunstler, of whom many of you have probably heard (The Long Emergency and Geography of Nowhere, among many others). Kunstler writes and talks about many things, including the post peak oil world.
(For those of you who don't know about, its the point at which oil production peaks and, basically, we start running out, as demand increases and supply falls. Many people think peak oil is either here or nearly here.)
Anyway, the quote of the night goes to Kunstler, who said (something like):
The worse things get the more delusional we'll get because that's what we do in crises: we get delusional. And the delusion we're embracing right now is that technology is going to save us.
It's important to realize that we are not going to sustain any sort of a Wallmart or Ikea way of life on any combination of solar panels, windmills and nuclear or vegetable oil grease cars. We'll get through it and there are good things to come, but not that way.
Along similar lines, in a recent interview with Grist, he said:
I'm really rather worried that we're going to squander our remaining resources on a campaign to sustain the unsustainable. I'm inclined to think that we might be better off yielding to some of these realities that are going to assert themselves, whether we like it or not.
That's why I get so annoyed when I go to environmental conferences and the only thing people talk about is how they're going to run cars on chicken fat or French fried potato oil.
To me, maintaining the happy motoring system is a waste of our resources, and hugely destructive anyway. I want people to be prepared to accept the changes that really are unavoidable.
I'm inclined to agree with him. I mean, I support an Apollo-style program of investment in the development of new and the deployment of existing renewable energy sources. Those energy sources will be good to have around, but I have to admit that I don't believe that they're going to allow us to live the way we lived with oil and coal.
I think that we are going to have to accept dramatic lifestyle change, too. And I don't mean sweaters in winter. I mean a way of life that doesn't depend on cars, for one thing, and the list goes on.
What do you think?
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.