Both Jordon Cooper (who continues to need our prayers) and Bene Diction point up a fascinating interview with James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century.
“There is a lot of delusional thinking about how we are going to get out of this pickle. In fact, I like to think of it this way. There are two gigantic mental obstructions thatâ€™s preventing us from thinking coherently about where we are. One of them I call the Jiminy Cricket syndromeâ€”the idea that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. There is a lot of wishful thinking in this culture. The other one is the Las Vegas-i-zation of the American mind, which is based on the idea that it is possible to get something for nothing. You combine those two ideas and you get a lot of delusional thinking.”
The premise of the book (which I haven’t read) is a simple one: “we can no longer expect to have more energy, only remorselessly less energy” Although Kunstler is addressing US society, much of his argument — that oil production is past the Hubbert Peak and suburbia is rapidly becoming unsustainable — will apply much more widely. (It is, of course, very true that the process of suburbanisation has not proceeded with anything like the pace in Europe as it has in the USA)
What interests me particularly is that Kunstler characterizes this as a spritual crisis, not simply a question of economics or ecology. He’s right. The root of the ecological crisis which is undoubtedly facing us lies in the universal human failing not to recognize when enough is enough. (The same might be said about the West’s collective weight problem. We have created a society in which greed is glorified and desires must be rapidly indulged. More is always better than less. And covetousness is raised in status from sin to national pastime. How else do you explain the obsession with “celebrity lifestyle”?
Let’s be clear about this. I’m not pointing fingers here. I’m very much aware that I’m as self-indulgent as the next chap. But sooner or later the “penny must drop”. The lifestyle we have in the west, and especially in the USA, is simply unsustainable . We need to start making changes to have any hope of avoiding a future crisis.