Finally getting around to reading The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler, the peak oil futurist whose podcasts I entertain (punish) myself with each week. I am officially rolling up my sleeves in preparation for end of the world as we know it.
I’m normally a pretty smart guy, and usually right in line with contemporary fashions (the latest shoe/backpack/blog/book/CD/magazine I like suddenly appears everywhere), so I’m a little surprised that I don’t know anyone else who thinks seriously about the converging crises that are threatening the globe and our way of life and our whole bloody species right now.
All the little tiffs in Washington seem meaningless. The survey I got in the mail from Nancy Pelosi didn’t mention peak oil as a political priority I could choose, and it barely referred to the environment at all (except climate change, of course). The strife overseas appears to be a precursor to something bigger and potentially catastrophic for us (the fall of the House of Saud, perhaps).
If Kunstler’s right, the decline is underway, and will probably turn precipitous within the decade. I have poked around trying to find something to debunk peak oil, but I’m just not finding much that’s credible (including those who believe oil is spontaneously generated in the core of the earth by some combination of gravity and centrifugal force). Governments and oil companies ain’t talking (except for the scary report issued by Bush’s energy department). A lot of ex-oil company engineers seem to be on the peak oil bandwagon.
Smart people I talk to about it seems to think: a) we’re not really running out of oil (with no reason to believe it) or b) a miracle energy source will appear in the nick of time (with no evidence that we’re even close to something that packs the energy wallop of a gallon of gas). Solar, wind, nukes, tides, rivers — they all require oil (or something else) to get up and running. We mine coal with it, and mine uranium with it, we build nuclear plants and wind generators with it.
Am I just as paranoid as the apocalyptic Christians, or is everyone else living in denial, or is there another explanation? Let me know.