I wrote this in response to a blog post a while ago. It's pretty good as is
Ah, Kunstler, my favourite car-hating, scare-mongering dystopian. Let's go through his points.
Price of gasoline will become prohibitively expensive: Absolutely, but it will be on a pace that we can keep up with. People will buy smaller cars, governments will invest more in public transit, crazy-ass zoning laws will change to encourage businesses and residential neighborhoods to occupy the same space, we'll get rid of parking subsidies (somebody pays for that "free parking" at Walmart). These are just the cheap solutions.
People will not be able to afford to buy, maintain or run a car: Cars lose their value through use. More expensive gas means less use, therefore, cars will last longer and need less maintenance. Besides, unless we somehow run out of money at the same time, car maintenance won't be our biggest problem
Suburbanites will have difficulty commuting to work, shopping, schools: Maybe that'll encourage them to move schools, shopping, etc. closer, remember. This will happen over the course of 20 - 50 years, even at the most pessimistic estimates. Suburbs will be different, not gone.
Suburbanites and others living in McMansions will not be able to afford to heat their homes: Two words. Electric Heat. A good percentage of our electricity comes from hydro and other renewable sources, I'm not sure Ontario has that many gas-fired turbines in the first place.
Like the Victorian mansions of days gone by, McMansions will be chopped up into several apartments housing more than one family: One word. Yep. Is this really a bad thing? Maybe it'll solve their heating problem.
Kunstler believes the suburbs will become slums; others think with a little vision and foresight we can convert them into self-sufficient villages: Count me among the latter group.
Since North America does almost no manufacturing of its own anymore, we will have difficulty getting goods from China:
First, because of the high cost of shipping
Second, because we will be competing with China for energy resources and they will cease to be a friendly trading partner:
I love this one. "America doesn't make anything anymore" As soon as stuff from China becomes more expensive than making stuff here, America will start making stuff again. You know, my friend built himself a little machine called a "cupcake", that makes stuff for him. He feeds it a CAD drawing, and it will make the desired object out of plastic. Amazing stuff. Making stuff is the easy part, why do you think we off-shored it to the Chinese for so many years.
We will not longer be able to afford to import or transport food thousands of miles: and... Seriously, I fail to see the downside of this one.
Agriculture in North America is heavily dependant on petroleum products since our soil is pretty much completely depleted and crops can be raised only because of extensive use of petroleum-based chemicals, (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.): So you're saying that we won't have factory farms anymore. There are ways to farm without these things. Letting fields lie fallow, alternating nitrogen-depleting crops like corn, with nitrogen-fixers like beans, etc. Go out and ask an Organic farmer about more of these tricks.
Growing food therefore will become more labour intensive necessitating more human labour and less machinery: Yep, there will be more farm workers, it's back-breaking, thankless, low-pay labor. This one'll suck.
Anyone who has land will have to start growing crops to help feed their families and/or sell in their communities: Most people who have enough land suitable to grow food on, already do. More marginal land may have to start being farmed on, but if you have land, you may have to start growing vegetables, rather than a lush green lawn of Kentucky bluegrass. Again, failing to see the downside.
Centralized energy plants will cease to exist and we may have to go to energy co-operatives using windmills to provide energy locally: Given a choice between this and Hydro One spending $75 billion dollars on new nuclear plants, I'd love to be forced into this choice.
A whole host of businesses, industries and professions will no longer be sustainable: Yep, buggy-whip makers will be missed.
The trucking industry, for instance, will need to be replaced with an efficient rail system. (Third World countries apparently have a much better people -and-goods rail systems than we do in North America): Three words. Holy fucking shit! Are you fucking kidding me? I've lived in 3rd world countries. Go look at the railroad from Uganda to Mombasa, and then look at the Railroad from Salt Lake City to Oakland. The one in Kenya has small trains, mainly designed for moving people about, not very quickly, the other one can move 200 full-size containers from SLC to Oakland in the same time as the Kenya train takes to move 20 from Mombasa to Nairobi. I swear to god, the only thing worse than the railroads in 3rd world countries are the roads themselves.
Other than the one outright stupid point, and the one that I concede, will kinda suck, You have a recipe for a more sustainable world. It's all in the perspective. If you love Suburbia, in it's present cookie-cutter, Centrum, tree-killing form, then yes, it'll suck, but I don't, and I won't miss it.
21 January 2010