7.02.2008

yikes

AS I prepare to have another child, I have been worried about the future.

Looks like someone else has stated it, with facts to back it up, for me. Shit.

Peak Oil Mania

by mtippett July 1, 2008 at 03:45 pm http://www.blogger.com/www.nowpublic.com

Wow. That didn’t take long. Back in December when everyone was compiling lists about what the best gadgets of the year were or other nonsense, Jim Kunstler was predicting that 2008 would be the year of peak oil. It is now July and he is right.

Consider this excerpt from a recent piece in the New York Times:

The economics of long commutes are forcing many to the conclusion that suburban living is no longer viable, and suburban housing prices are falling accordingly.

"Suddenly, the economics of American suburban life are under assault as skyrocketing energy prices inflate the costs of reaching, heating and cooling homes on the distant edges of metropolitan areas.

[L]ife on the edges of suburbia is beginning to feel untenable.


And closer to home (in Vancouver, that is) the most respected national paper penned and editorial calling for revolution. In their view, the current state of affairs in Canada is unsustainable if the government doesn’t recognize the existential peril that peak oil represents for Canadians. They write:

Each upward tick in oil prices signals the slow death of a postwar North American way of life, built around car ownership and suburban sprawl. In a harsh diagnosis of the plight of the United States, which could easily apply to Canada too, CIBC World Markets economists Jeff Rubin and Benjamin Tal foresee “the greatest mass exodus of vehicles off America's highways in history.” The change will be especially radical for the four-fifths of households earning less than $25,000 that now own a car. One in five of those low-income Americans will “probably stop driving or give up the second vehicle” over the next four years because the cost of gasoline will gobble up one-fifth of their incomes, a rise from 7 per cent today.

Unfortunately the mainstream media has largely kept us blissfully unaware of this impending crisis, focusing instead on the meaningless, celebrity driven filler that now inhabit our rapidly dwindling news diet.
Well the invisible hand of capitalism is about to flip us all the bird. As Kuntsler says in the latest post of his aptly named blog – Clusterfuck Nation – this ain’t gonna be like your Grandma’s depression:

Our debt problems today are of a magnitude so extreme that astronomers would be hard pressed to calculate them. By any rational measure our society is comprehensively bankrupt. From the federal treasury down to the suburban cul-de-sacs so much loaned money is either not being paid back, or is at risk of never being paid back, that the suckage of presumed wealth has passed through an event horizon out of the known universe into some other realm of space-time, never to be seen again in this realm. This would seem to be the very essence of monetary deflation -- money defaulted out-of-existence.

This condition is partly disguised by both the loss of credibility of US currency and real-world scarcities of oil and food, but the upshot will be something at least twice as bad as the Great Depression of the 1930s: people with no money in a land with no resources (with manpower that has no discipline), hardly any family farms left, cities that are basket-cases of bottomless need, comatose small towns stripped of their assets and social capital, an aviation industry on the verge of death, and a railroad system that is the laughingstock of the world. Not to mention the mind-boggling liabilities of suburbia and the motoring infrastructure that services it.

When it becomes this obvious that the present course of economic development is so clearly flawed then the smart thing to do is develop alternative plans. We need to be investing NOW in new ways of ensuring food security and other essential components of a sustainable, post peak oil world.

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