The Real Solution
- Begin forwarded message:
> Posting from James Howard Kunstler's 'Clusterfuck Nation' blog.--
> We Want Solutions!
> May 28, 2007
> Wherever the environmentally-informed gather these days (i.e.,
> the clusterfuck-aware), a nervous impatience often mounts, and ends
> up expressing itself as an outcry for "solutions." For example, at
> the Telluride Mountain Film Festival, where I happened to be this
> past weekend, along with a couple of hundred other people who
> spewed airplane exhaust across the stratosphere to get there. This
> year's twin themes were the Castor-and-Pollux of Clusterfuck
> Nation, Global Warming and Peak Oil.
> Many frightening documentary films and Powerpoint talks were
> served up in the opening symposium (including ones by Dennis
> Dimick, the editor of National Geographic, Daniel Nocera of MIT,
> and yours truly) and, as the morning wore on, the audience grew
> visibly impatient, until one speaker dropped the word "solutions,"
> and the audience gave out a big whoop of approbation.
> It only made me more nervous, because this longing for
> "solutions," strikes me as a free-floating wish for magical rescue
> remedies, for techno-fixes that will allow us to make a hassle-free
> switch from fossil hydrocarbon power to something less likely to
> destroy the Earth's ecosystems (and human civilization with it).
> And I think such a wish is, in itself, at the root of our problem
> -- certainly at the bottom of our incapacity to think clearly about
> these things.
> I said so, of course, which seemed to piss off a substantial
> number of my fellow festival attendees.
> My position on this can be easily misunderstood. I don't want
> civilization to collapse (I like Mozart and access to root canal).
> I don't want Homo sapiens to go extinct, or the planet to parboil.
> I certainly don't believe in doing nothing in the face of this
> emergency. But I also don't believe we are going to make any hassle-
> free switch in the way we run things -- or that we should want to.
> Would the USA be a better place if we could run Wal-Mart and Las
> Vegas on wind power? I don't think so. Would the public benefit
> from another hundred years of suburban living -- and an economy
> based largely on creating ever more of it? All the Prozac in the
> universe would not avail to offset the diminishing returns of that
> In my travels, I have noticed a disturbing theme among the
> educated minority of eco-advocates: they are every bit as dedicated
> to the status quo (in their own way) as the NASCAR morons and
> shopping mall developers. The eco-advocates want cars, too, and all
> the prerogatives (like free parking and country living) that go
> with them, just like the WalMart shoppers. If this were not so,
> then why do the eco-advocates cream in their jeans whenever
> somebody presents a snazzy new vehicle that runs on a fuel other
> than gasoline? Indeed, why are some of the eco-friendly pouring all
> their efforts into the invention of such things instead of into
> walkable communities and the reform of our stupid land-use laws?
> I encountered this ethos most strikingly a few years back at
> Middlebury College in Vermont, where angry biodiesel advocates
> assailed my lack of enthusiasm for their particular "solution" --
> which seemed geared mainly to allow them to continue to drive their
> dad's old cast-off SUVs to the snowboarding venues of that
> progressive little state. But the wish to keep running all our cars
> permeates what little public discussion there is of the global
> warming / energy crisis issues at all levels. Even the elder
> statesmen of the eco-movement talk it up incessantly. The first
> great victory will come when they shut up about it and put their
> minds to other tasks.
> The eco-advocate community is still hooked into the Faustian
> bargain of technology with little consciousness of its diminishing
> returns, and to some extent have made themselves unwitting tools of
> the truly clueless and wicked who run business and politics in our
> land. With this particular group in Telluride, which was composed
> heavily of Boomer eco-adventurers (mountain climbers, trekkers,
> kayakers), the infatuation with ever-cooler adventuring techno-gear
> extended naturally, it seemed, to their uncritical view of magical
> techno-fixes aimed at "solving" the climate / oil mess.
> And the setting of the festival -- the Rocky Mountain ski
> resort town of Telluride -- itself induced some eerie moments of
> reflex nausea as one contemplated the many 10,000 square-foot
> peeled-log dream palaces built by Hollywood producers, who derive
> their fortunes by selling violent masturbation fantasies to
> fourteen-year-olds. One couldn't fail to notice that three-quarters
> of the storefronts along the little main street were occupied by
> real estate sales offices.
> But I don't want to be doubly or triply misunderstood as
> appearing to twang on the kind people who invited me there, or to
> evade the obvious fact that I went (by airplane and shuttle van). I
> thought it was worth going to carry this one little message: let's
> stop talking about making better cars and start talking about
> occupying the landscape differently -- which we're going to have to
> do anyway.
- I'd like to run an article about losing weight by
getting rid of one's car in one of the first 3
editions of Sporeprint magazine starting in September.
Any references, direction, statistics, etc. would be
greatly appreciated. I'd really appreciate the names
of any professionals interested in this issue who I
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