Kunstler’s “Long Emergency” as “Mad Max Scenario”

The Sustainable Blogosphere has been abuzz over the last few days over Bruce Sterling’s annotated version of James Howard Kunstler’s Rolling Stone article on peak oil. Ianqui at The Oil Drum notes that “to reject Kunstler’s hypothesis outright is, I think, even more dangerous than taking it at face value. Unlike Treehugger, I don’t think Sterling’s snarky comments are particularly useful, or even true, really.” The Treehugger post to which she refers claims “The short notes are sometimes sarcastic, but they raise many good points (or counter-points, rather) to balance some parts of Kunstler’s thesis, and to defuse some others.” The conversations on both post are very interesting, but (dare I say it) often fall into “pro-Kunstler” or “pro-Sterling” positions. Sterling’s tone will certainly put people off, particularly those who do tend towards the idea of Kunstler as a prophet, but I think if we can get beyond the snarkiness, there are some legitimate critiques, particularly of concepts Kunstler seems to take for granted. For instance,

“It will change everything about how we live. (((I hate to say “I’m all for it,” but really, we Americans do need to change most everything about how we live. Why not just own up to it and get right on with the job? Come on, if the Indians and Chinese can do that, anybody can.)))

While I have no doubt that shifting away from an oil-based economy will be challenging and painful, I must admit that I find an awful lot about Kunstler’s post-peak oil scenarios appealing (perhaps I read My Side of the Mountain too many times as a kid). I think Sterling’s absolutely right in his claim that embracing change may be the most important step we can take. Of course, that’s the message I took from The Long Emergency, also. Maybe these guys have more in common than they realize.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve opened myself to multiple criticisms… Fire away.

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