Energy Fair / Kunstler’s Speech

This particular posting is not about EMF/EMR, but about the situation we face as oil supplies dwindle and our planet heats up.

My husband and I just attended the world’s largest annual renewable energy and sustainable living fair , near Custer, WI, where we partook in 3 very full days of workshops regarding “alternative” building methods, food growing/storage, power production, heating/cooling systems, getting/storing water, etcetera.

One of the Keynote speakers was James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency , a book about what to expect as we run out of the energy and products that depend on oil, and how to respond to the situation that is being almost totally ignored by our “leaders.” I’d like to share with you some of what he said.

Kunstler does not believe that 9/11 was a government conspiracy. Nor does he think we are in danger of the fed. government regulating our lives. Katrina showed that the fed. govn. is profoundly inept. “They can’t even answer the phone,” Kunstler said. He does believe that we are in deep doo doo.

He pointed out that so far, even those who acknowledge the oil situation are almost solely fixated on “How will we power the cars?” What we ought to be looking at, he says, is “How will we stay warm?” and “How will we get food?” He projects that we will not be running cars, Walmart, theme parks….

Kunstler is also astonished at “experts” writing books about our situation who comfortably conclude that our oil-gobbling surburban lifestyle is OK because we like it, because we choose it. No logic here.

He mentioned Dick Cheney saying “The American way of life is non-negotiable.” [ In 1992 President George Bush senior signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with the proviso that the American way of life was “non-negotiable.” Same faulty “reasoning” as “It’s OK ’cause we like it.”] Kunstler pointed out that Cheney and ilk will soon have a new negotiating partner – Reality.

Kunstler is witty, and the audience laughed a lot. Laughter with a sharp edge. He described being invited to talk at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley, perhaps the epitome of the corporate/technological world. He was astonished to find the whole place decked out like a giant daycare center. Toys and games all over, and a snack station every 11 feet, so you are never more than a few steps away from gummy bears, for another sugary fix.

He reports that the upper-echelon millionaire “employees” of Google dress like skateboard rats: sneakers without laces, hats on sideways, their butt cracks showing… Their response to Kunstler’s talk was uniformly “Dude, we’ve got technology!” (translation” “You’re an asshole.”)

They, and many others, don’t know the difference between technology and energy. You have to have energy to use technology. An airplane or car won’t run on ground-up computer chips.

One thing Kunstler thinks the US ought to be hard at work on is resuming our railway system. No other project we could do at this time would be as useful, he says. We know how to do it. No new technology is needed. It’d give jobs and sense of purpose to a lot of folks who need both. The fact that we are not doing it, or even thinking about it, shows how non-serious and in denial of reality we are.

He pointed out that we’d be smart to make our waterfronts functional again, as well. Presently, they are used for little but recreation.

Some think technology will save the day. Some say we’ll organize our way out of it. Some say “the market will take care of it.” As a nation, Kunstler says, we suffer from the Jiminy Cricket Syndrome: “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” We expect a last-minute miracle will occur, and we will be saved without having to work for it.

Kunstler sees Unearned Riches as the American religion. We dream of unearned riches. He points out that even our evangelical preachers don’t have anything to say about the national shrine to unearned riches, Las Vegas. Billboards say “What goes on in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas,” and what goes on there is prostitution and folks gambling away their kids’s college education money. But our religious leaders don’t say a thing against it.

Even the poor buy lottery tickets. The poor, especially, buy lottery tickets. [I continue to be amazed, when I go to a gas station, how many people habitually buy several lottery tickets every time they buy gas.]

People talk about “giving self-esteem” to the poor and disadvantaged, as if they are going to bring it in in a boxcar and distribute it. After listening to some speech on this, Kunstler stood up and said “Let’s give ’em cocaine. You get 11 1/2 minutes of extremely high self-esteem! – And then you hate yourself.”

If the poor/disadvantaged could do useful work to prepare the US for coming times, there would be a win/win result, as they’d generate true self-esteem as well.

Kunstler often lectures to college students, and says their main response is “Can’t you give us help?” That they expect it to be handed out. “You have to generate hope within yourself,” he said, by knowing you can deal with the exegencies reality delivers.” How many of us know we can do this?

Kunstler believes that another factor regarding why Americans are in denial about what the future brings as oil runs low / the earth heats up is the “psychology of previous investment.” False logic assumes that as we have invested so thoroughly in an oil-based way of life that it simply must continue. Because we want it to.

He expects that Americans will be very angry when they loose their so-called “non-negotiable way of life.” Also that there will be great challanges as we finally take on the tasks of deurbanizing and finding ways to make society work again. He envisions that we will have to work together, live together, in ways that we have not for generations.

Kunstler stated very succinctly what it is we need to acknowledge collectively, so that we can get down to the task at hand:

“We have poured our national wealth into a daily life system that has no future.”

My husband and I knew “all about” end of oil and global warming before attending the fair. Since attending it, however, we are inspired to create a more sustainable situation for ourselves ASAP, rather than a few years from now when, given the best-case scenario, we might be better able to afford it.

We may not get the best case scenario. When how you’d like to proceed appears likely to collide with an “inconvenient Reality,” it’s a good time to change course. Reality does not negotiate.

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