Kunstler on The Long Emergency

MediaJim Kunstler on The Long Emergency
In Brief: Speaking about his new book The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century
 
Jim Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century, interviewed by Els Cooperrider, 14 March 2005
 
Els Cooperrider: I would like to start out by asking you, what is peak oil?
 
Jim Kunstler: Oh my gosh, your listeners know what that is.
 
EC: But maybe not everyone. Not everyone has seen The End of Suburbia, and there’s a lot of people out there who are still not familiar with it. Of course, if anyone listened to NPR this morning, hearing that the airlines are struggling because of the aviation fuel prices that are soaring now, there’s no mention whatsoever about why that’s happening.
 
JK: Well, it is peculiar. Although, I myself am not really a conspiracy buff and I really am allergic to conspiracy theories. I think that we just have a fantastic amount of cognitive dissonance in our culture, a kind of ‘collective static’ in our imaginations that is preventing us from thinking clearly about these things. The peak oil situation is fairly well understood and not that complex. We’ve been running an oil economy in the industrialized world over 100 years. There’s a finite amount of oil in the ground all over the world. We’ve run through about half of it. The global peak comes when you’ve reached the turning point, the halfway point, between rising production and falling production. We’re now about to enter a global arc of depletion—in which we will never pump as much oil as we did at peak and we will be faced with a steady decline and depletion of our oil stocks. That has tremendous implications for how we live.
 
EC: In the book that is going to be released this May, The Long Emergency, what is the ‘long emergency’?
 
JK: I’ve given that name to the period of time that we’ll be facing when the oil problems really gain traction, when, really, our energy problems generally gain traction because we’re also talking about the natural gas situation as well. The ‘long emergency’ is really going to be an interval of, really, we don’t really know how long, between the time that these energy problems really start to grip and the point where we, if we’re lucky, are able to re-establish some new terms for carrying on this project of civilization.
 
EC: I’ve read several different books from different authors on this ‘long emergency,’ and I’ve also read a report that you may have seen. It was commissioned by the Department of Energy and it came out on the 8th of February. It warns the Federal Government, or the White House, about this period of, what they consider to be, somewhere between 20 and 30 years to convert to infrastructure to be independent of oil. During that whole 20-30 year period, they expect oil shortages and are advising the White House to take immediate action, implementing crash programs to start this conversion and, especially, pay attention to risk management. Do you have a comment on that?
 
JK: Yeah, it’s really the first time that we’ve heard from any Federal official entity that there’s a serious problem. My comments about it would be that their estimates tend to be overly optimistic and generous. Like a lot of individuals and groups, what we see, I think, is a tendency to underestimate the potential for social disorder and for the instability of many of the systems that make it possible for us to live in an orderly society, once the important supports of our energy start to be cut out from under us. I don’t think we’re looking at a 20 year period. I think we’re going to start to see some serious instabilities, we’re really already entered that era of continuing instability and there’s really no horizon on it now, only the prospect for it to become more intense.
 
EC: How would you describe that instability specifically?
 
JK: For one thing, several years ago, we began to have international conflict over oil. It started with the 9/11 attack, which, by the way, I am not among the people that believe that there was a conspiracy by Dick Cheney or the federal government to make that happen. I’m very disappointed that people are spending their energy on that. I think it’s fruitless and paranoid and it discredits people who have been working on the energy problem. But, anyway, we invaded Iraq, obviously. And why did we invade Iraq? A lot of people think it’s just because we wanted to steal their oil. I think that’s actually rather silly. At the very most, we’ve shown that all we really wanted to do was buy their oil.  What we were doing there was simply setting up a large police station in the Middle East, in an attempt to stabilize the region since they have more than two-thirds of the remaining oil reserves in the world. And, that oil is crucial to our national interest, such as it is, and such as we live these days. The Iraq invasion was more about a desperate attempt by the United States to stabilize that oil-producing part of the world, and to influence and moderate the behavior of the other states in that region, most particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia. So, that’s happened. The big prospect, I think, that we face is further decay of peace and order in that part of the world and, perhaps, the entrance of other players into the scene.
 
EC: Yeah. Now, of course, if the US hadn’t gone there, maybe China would…
 
JK: Well, that’s something that we have to think about. There are a number of things, where China is concerned, that ought to be of concern to us. One is that they use an enormous amount of oil, and the rate that they’re using it is increasing very, very steeply. Another thing is that they have relatively little oil of their own, somewhat less than we have left after we’ve pumped over 150 years of oil out of our soil. They have somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 to 27 billion barrels left, and we’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 to 28 billion. So they have to get their oil from someplace else as well. They can walk into some of the places that the oil is, and we can’t. They can walk into Central Asia from where they are. If they walk a little further, they can walk into the Middle East. And, if they don’t walk in, they can certainly extend their influence and hegemony politically over some of those areas. So, what we have to ask ourselves is: Are we compared to contest with China over these areas? Are we prepared to have a land war with the Chinese Army in Asia? I don’t think so. Personally, our prospects would appear to be poor in an enterprise like that.
 
EC: And why is that? I know you’ve written about it, and I’ve read that, but why is that?
 
JK: They can walk in and drive their supplies over. We have to fly 12,000 miles to get there with our stuff. I think it’s very unlikely that we’re going to be fighting the Chinese in Khazakhstan or Uzbekistan. And I don’t think that it would be a winning proposition for our side unless we want to blow up the entire region, and I don’t think we want to do that. All of this is apart from the question of what happens in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, where most of the rest of the oil in the world is. We know that Saudi Arabia may not remain in the property of the Saudi Royal Family forever, and that has implications that are fairly straight-forward and difficult for us. It raises the question: under what circumstances might we try to invade Saudi Arabia and control the territory there? I have no idea. I think our prospects of controlling the terrain there would be pretty bad, given our experience in Iraq. Our prospects for controlling the oil infrastructure would probably be also not very good. That’s not something that we can look at with a lot of optimism. It’s hard to look at the whole picture and not come to the conclusion that sooner rather than later, the United States is probably going to have to withdraw back into the Western hemisphere, in some way or other. We simply can’t control and occupy all of these unfriendly nations for an indefinite period of time without either bankrupting or exhausting ourselves, or both.
 
EC: Yeah, well, it looks like we’re already doing that. You made a statement…let me just remind the listeners if you’re just tuning in, this is The Party’s Over I’m your host, Els Cooperrider. We’re speaking today with James Howard Kunstler, who has written numerous books about ‘the end of suburbia,’ so to speak. He’s also a figure in that documentary. Jim, you wrote in a recent publication, in a magazine, that you expected the peak to happen this year. What made you think that?
 
JK: There seems to be a consensus that is filtering through from the people who study the oil peak to those of us who, in one way or another, expect(?) to be commentators on it. Certainly the consensus seems to be changing among the people who have made their life careers of this, the people like Colin Campbell and Kenneth Deffeyes at Princeton, and the usual suspects. We’re also getting a lot of information (simply news information) that is giving us a clearer picture of what is going on in the Middle East. One of these things is the production figures that are coming out of Saudi Arabia, and the fact that, no matter how many times that they pretend to try to increase their production, they are simply not doing it. They have said that they are going to it three or four or fives times over the 12 months and each time they’ve really failed to it. There’s a great deal of speculation going around right now that they have lost their surplus capacity, that, in effect, in one way or another, they may have come up against their own peak. Part of the problem for them would be that they get a surprisingly large percentage of their total production from one set of oil fields, the giant Gharwar field, which was first begun to be pumped in the 1950s. So it’s a relatively very old oil field. It’s been pumped for a long time, beginning in the 1970’s or ‘80s, they started to experience problems with water coming out of the Gharwar field. And they’ve been pumping seawater into the Gharwar field at an increasing rate in under to pump the oil out. So there’s a question about whether or not they’ve degraded the field geologically and hurt it’s geological structure from pumping so much seawater into it and whether, in fact, a lot of the oil that was thought to be in there will never be recovered. I think that’s probably the main thing that is stimulating the consensus that we may be reaching peak—the fact that Saudi Arabia (the world’s greatest oil reserve) doesn’t seem to be able to pump more oil.
 
ER: Yeah. If it happens this year we can expect to see the price of a barrel of oil to go up and up and up.
 
JK: I don’t think that’s all we’ll see. Part of the point of what I’ve been writing is that it’s not just a matter of oil prices going up. Once that starts to happen and once all the institutions and systems in the world start to apprehend that there are problems with the energy supply, then you start to see all sorts of weird reverberations and all sorts of wobblings going on.
 
ER: I would like to go into that because your byline for The Long Emergency says ‘surviving the end of oil age, climate change, and other converging catastrophes,’ and I would to have you talk to us about what we need to do, what we need to prepare for in our towns and our cities.
 
JK: I’ve been affiliated with the ‘new urbanist movement’ for the last 12 years or so. This was a group of people, including a lot of architects and town planners and developers and public officials and journalists, who were deeply concerned about reforming, not just the land development industry in America, but really the way we live in America and the choices that we’ve made about how we’re going to arrange our laws. I still think that the work that they did was tremendously important because the main implication of oil peak, from the point of view of how we live on the land, is that we’re going to have to return to some traditional arrangements that we abandoned about 50 years ago. Because industrial agriculture is going to suffer so deeply by the end of cheap oil and natural gas, the implication is we’re going to grow a lot more food closer to where to live. And we’re going to have to farm differently on a different scale. I think we can draw the conclusion that the successful places will be the places that have a viable agricultural hinterland. I personally think that the more successful places will be the smaller towns in America, and the smaller cities in America. I think all of our big cities in America are going to be in trouble, I think some regions in the country are going to be in more trouble than other regions. I think that the Southwest, in particular, is going to be in terrible trouble. I think that places like Phoenix and Las Vegas are literally going to dry up and blow away. And, I think the Southeast, what’s often referred to as the ‘wet sunbelt,’ is also going to be in trouble for quite different reasons. To summarize all this blather, the successful places, I think, will be the smaller towns and the places that are proximate to viable farming where people can have an agricultural economy that is integrated into the rest of their economy.
 
ER: I would like to remind our listeners that you’re listening to KZYX and KZYZ. This is Mendocino County Public Broadcasting. You’re listening The Party’s Over with your host Els Cooperrider. Today we’re speaking with James Howard Kunstler. He is the author of many books and one about to come out about peak oil called The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of the Oil Age, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century. As is usual in this program, I will ask you another question or so and then we will open up the phone lines for our listeners to be able to ask questions directly of James Howard Kunstler, a very prominent figure in the documentary, The End of Suburbia. Now, I would like you to expand a little bit more, you said the big cities are going to be in trouble but the big cities have a million or more people. What’s going to happen to the people who live in big cities that don’t have that surrounding farmland like the small towns do?
 
JK: Well, we really don’t know, Els. I think all we can really predict is that there’s going to be a lot of turbulence, that there’s going to be a lot of people moving around. We can also say, I think with some confidence, that the period ahead is going to produce a lot of economic losers, and we really don’t know where they’re going to go. Some of the possible outcomes are, in some ways, very daunting and dreadful to imagine. In some other ways, they may not be that bad. But, for example, the end of industrial agriculture, practiced with huge “inputs” of oil and gas, is going to lead, naturally, to us having to return to a much more labor-intensive, small-scale type of farming. That implies that a lot of people are going to be working in agriculture, more so than today, a larger percentage of the population. We might conclude that many of tomorrow’s economic losers, the people who are no longer going to have vocational niches in this society, will, in some manner or other, end up working in agriculture. This could imply a return to social relations that are not that appetizing. People may seek security, both physical security and food security, by becoming dependent on people that own land and entering into labor relations with them that we haven’t seen for a long, long time.
 
ER: You’re talking about feudalism?
 
JK: Yeah, pretty much. Or some variation of it, sharecropping was a form of feudalism, really, in the United States. But some sort of variant of it, and it’s kind of scary to imagine how that might play out. Personally, I think that these large classes of economic losers, including what I refer to as the ‘farmer middle class,’ I think these people are going to be very angry and full of grievance and resentment, and are liable to take actions that express their anger and resentment. They may take action against the people who have land. We have no idea how we’re going to re-allocate land for the kind of agriculture that we’re going to need.
 
ER: This is a really big problem.
 
JK: Yeah, one thing we do know is that the sub-division of rural land in the last 50 years has been extremely destructive. It’s destroyed the contiguity and integrity of large agricultural tracts, it’s destroyed some of the best farm land east of Mississippi, and how it’s returned to some kind of production is a real big question mark. I don’t happen to be that optimistic about those people who are living in the cul de sac subdivisions. It’s certainly possible to imagine that they may be growing food in their yards. I really don’t know. Although, it is harder to imagine the kind of social organization that would support that or a fully integral economy that would allow people to continue to live in suburban subdivisions, especially if they are great distances from other things. You asked me about the cities—we have to remember that most of the great cities of America are products of the last 150 years of exuberant industrial activity. There was no medieval Cleveland, there was no Renaissance Fresno. These places are all new. The largest of them express the tremendous material exuberance of the cheap oil fiesta. We may never have industrial cities on that scale again. Many of them, in fact, have already entered into an advanced state of decomposition, if you go to places like St. Louis, Detroit, and Kansas City; those cities are largely already hollowed out. One thing we do know about them, and I think we can state with some confidence, is that they occupy important sites. St. Louis is an important place on the Mississippi. Kansas City exists because the Missouri River and the Mississippi meet there. Or is that St. Louis?
 
ER: I don’t know.
 
JK: It’s one of them. Anyway, Cleveland exists because it’s at a place where the Cuyahoga River goes into Lake Eerie. Detroit exists because it’s a very strategic site between two Great Lakes. Manhattan is on this wonderful island, on this wonderful deep harbor, and so on. But, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which these places will to be able to remain as large as they are. They are probably going to have to contract considerably in population, that process of contraction is liable to be very painful and, perhaps, disorderly. New York and Chicago are especially troublesome because they have so many enormous buildings, so many skyscrapers, so many buildings over 15 stories high. I think that those giant buildings are going to be very hard to take care of, and to keep operating in an economy where our energy is growing scarce.
 
ER: I would like to let the listeners know that if you have a question for our guest, James Howard Kunstler, you may call the studio at……and please make your comments brief and to the point so that we can get as many answers from our guest, James Howard Kunstler, as is possible. Hello caller, you’re on the air.
 
Caller: Hello, Els. This is a wonderful program. I read Starhawk’s book The Fifth Sacred Thing. As you may recall, the city of San Francisco had utterly been transformed, and the streets were gone, and the creeks were back up in view, and they grew lots and lots of wonderful food.  
 
JK: Are you talking about ancient history? I don’t know what you’re talking about? Ancient history?
 
Caller: No no no, this is Starhawk’s book, The Fifth Sacred Thing. It’s set in the future. Anyway, I understand there are lots of people who are talking about this—about taking up the streets, taking up the cement, and transforming areas of cities into bountiful gardens.
 
ER: Did you have a question for our guest?
 
Caller: Well, I just kind of wanted to offer that and see if…
 
JK:  Well, you know, it’s interesting but I’ve got to say this. To me, this illustrates how trapped we are in our own mentality. Only somebody who enjoyed living in such a cheap energy society as we do would imagine that we would have the wealth and the affluence and the energy to undertake such a project. In a way, I think it’s kind of laughable. If anything, we’re going to be stuck with this infrastructure that we’ve spent our national wealth of the last 100 years putting up. What do you think we’re going to do—rent a bunch of front-end loaders and come in and take up Geary Street? It sounds crazy to me. It would take an awful lot of time for that to even to begin to happen naturally.
 
ER: Let’s take another call. Hello caller, you’re on the air.
 
Caller: I was quite interested in his remarks about the purpose of us going into Iraq was to stabilize the oil in the Middle East. Does he feel we did it on a humanitarian basis for the good of the world, or just to take care of the United States and control the oil over the rest of the world. I would like to think it was the former, at least if that’s why we went in for but I’d like to hear what he says…
 
JK: Well, wars are rarely prosecuted on a humanitarian basis and to think that we would do it for a humanitarian reason, I think, is simply naïve.
 
ER: Ok, that answered that question. Hello caller, you’re on the air.
 
Caller: Hi, good morning, this is Robert from Western Willets. I heard, and I’m not quite sure where, I think it may have been in the AM radio some time back, that there was a project that was either begun or researched, to put a turban somewhere near the Golden Gate bridge for capturing energy from the tidal water that goes in and out of the Bay. Have you heard about that?
 
JK: Nope.
 
ER: No.
 
Caller: Never heard of it. I wonder what happened to it. The other question is alcohol as a motor fuel. I know it works, I didn’t experiment with it myself and didn’t blow the car up…The point I want to make is the production of alcohol creates a great deal of carbon dioxide, it’s a little dirty secret of the wineries, but they do have stuff left over that could be distilled from the wine-making process. So, anyway, thank you for the show.
 
ER: Jim, did you have a comment?
 
JK: You Californians really crack me up. Even the environmentalists among you think that we’re going to keep on running cars the way we’re running them. You’re still desperately searching to find some desperate way to keep on running your damn cars…it’s laughable. Something needs to be said here—as far as I know, virtually all of the schemes for using alternative liquid fuels for running cars or for running things the way that we are currently running them, are basically net-energy losers. It takes more energy to create the alcohol or the ethanol or the bio-fuels or the bio-diesel or whatever it is you’re talking about, it takes more energy to create these things than you get from the energy that is produced. It’s essentially an act in futility. I don’t see why intelligent environmentalists ought to think about other things. They ought to think about things like living in walk-able communities.
 
ER: That’s very well said, and actually, I would refer the caller to a show that comes on KZYX the second and fourth Friday mornings at 9 A.M. It’s called the Alternative Energy Show. It’s very well done by Doug Livingston   If you listen to that show you will hear a lot of information about the so-called hydrogen economy, ethanol for fuel, and even bio-diesel, in the long run, is going to be a net energy loss.
 
JK: Els, there’s something that we’ve got to say about this, the main, basic issue facing the U.S. is how we are going to downscale everything that we’re doing and re-scale everything we’re doing. Anybody who predicates their ideas about the future on the notion that we’re simply going to continue running pretty much the same system is fooling themselves
 
ER: Of course, well said. Well, the phones are just running off the hook here. Hello caller, you’re on the air.
 
Caller: Yes, Jim. Thank you for coming on this morning. What about the practicality of replacing the oil that we’re burning now with solar and wind. Do you have a capability of doing that?  Thank you.
 
JK: In my opinion, no combination or amount of alternative fuels or systems is going to permit us to continue running what we are running, the way we’re running it. And probably not a substantial fraction of it, either. We are probably going to use solar and wind, but my guess is that it will be done on an extremely small local basis, probably a household basis and that, because of the expense in setting it up, it’s liable to excite the envy and resentment of the people who don’t have access to it. We have to bear in mind that a lot of the components of solar and wind power generation require tremendous amounts of energy to manufacture, and are predicated on being built in a cheap oil economy. And we don’t even know if we’re going to be able to fabricate these things.
 
ER: That’s right. And the Department of Energy report that came out last month agrees with you, Jim. That no combination of the alternative energy is going to be able to make any kind of substitution for what we’re doing today. We need to power down. Ok…hello caller, you’re on the air.
 
Caller: Thank you, thank you. I have a question, it is about water. The combination of the fact that we won’t have electricity to pump water out of our existing wells, and anyone who has ever worked on a drip system knows that they need constant upgrades, and the cost of all that kind of plastic is going to skyrocket. How do you see us providing water for our basic food-growing needs in the scenario you are speaking of? Thank you for your work.
 
JK:  Well, I don’t think that the American west is going to do as well as it has in the past because it’s so deeply dependent on irrigation, and the long-distance transportation of water. My guess is that parts of the west will be substantially de-populated. We’re certainly not going to be sending those Caesar salads on 3,000 mile trips from the Central Valley to Philadelphia after a certain point. And whether or not you’re going to be able to grow them out there, for yourselves, is kind of iffy. It’s hard to feel optimistic about California as it’s presently constituted. The trouble is the kind of contraction that that implies would probably be very disorderly, and produce a lot of angry losers. It’s rather dreadful to contemplate.
 
ER: Let’s take another call. Hello caller, your question?
 
Caller: I don’t know what your guest means by walk-able communities.  We are living in a small town here. There’s no way in which I could go from where I am to the nearest store without getting into a car.
 
ER: Well, how about a bicycle?
 
Caller:  A bicycle? I couldn’t make it on a bicycle and then you add to that…
 
JK: This is a common problem out in the Western U.S.
 
Caller: Where are you?
 
JK: I’m in the northeast. I’m in upstate New York.
 
Caller: Do you have a car?
 
JK: I do own a car, but it sits out there in the street for days at a time and I don’t have to use it because I live four blocks from the main drag of a classic Main Street town. I’m fortunate.
 
Caller: …and when you get to be a certain age you can’t do that.
 
ER: Well, these are the problems that we’re going to have to get our heads together and solve together here in California. But, let’s give Jim a chance to answer your question.
 
JK: What’s a walk-able community? In general, traditional towns, traditional neighborhoods and villages, and even small cities, they’re all based on the same unit of development, which is the quarter mile walk neighborhood. One neighborhood is a village, several neighborhoods is a town, and many neighborhoods is a city. And this is traditionally how human beings lived for about 10,000 years. It’s only been in the last 50 years that we’ve set up a living arrangement based on cars. The gentleman is right that a lot of people are going to suffer if they can’t get to the things that they need or, for one reason or another, if the motoring system becomes a problem. I would have to add something, though, that has hardly been mentioned in our public discussion: our planning boards and City Halls are, to a large extent, run by senior citizens in America. These are people who have grown up through the whole 20th century and have enjoyed the motoring fiesta to the max. They have also seen to it that our environments become increasingly car-dependent, and now that they’re elderly the prospect of not having that car dependency frightens them. I have to say, I think it’s a terrible thing that America was held hostage to this kind of car-dependency for so long, for so many decades, and that we have, really, the older generation to thank for that…and they continue to do that. If you go to places like Florida and Arizona, the people who run the planning boards in these places are people who don’t want car dependency to end, and, in effect, do everything they can to promote it. And that is going to be very much against the interest of the generations to come.
 
ER: Absolutely. Let’s take another quick call. Hello caller, you’re on the air
 
Caller: Hello, I just wanted to mention to Jim that New England has been going for over 400 years, adapting to whatever come along. A very good example is the Second World War, everyone managed there fine. But don’t take it out on us Californians, please, because we supply this whole country with their food.
 
JK: I’m not taking it out on Californians. I’m simply trying to point out what seems to be the obvious reality of this situation. You’ve invested 50 years of your wealth in building a living arrangement that has no future. It’s a tragic and unfortunate thing, but you did it and you’re stuck with it.

ER: Yes. Thanks for that call, and we’ll take another caller. Hello, you’re on the air. And this is The Party’s Over, I’m your host Els Cooperrider, and we’re speaking with James Howard Kunstler.
 
Caller: And I’m Anna in Navarro, saying I’m so glad the car question has finally come around. I wanted to know if your guest would revisit that remark about disorder in the cities because I think disorder is perhaps a euphemism for something quiet terrible, and that there is a genocidal component in that most black people now are in cities. Whereas, in this county, we’re already well along toward a plantation system with Mexican labor. It seems to me that advances in technology, if we address this in a more collective and less corporate way, that the transition to whatever it’s going to be need not leave only a bunch of rich white people and their feudal slaves. You know?

ER: Thanks for the comment. Did you want to have a comment on that, Jim?
 
JK: I think it’s a mistake for somebody to assert that I’m speaking in code when I say that this period of history ahead of us is going to be disorderly. I’m not speaking in code.  The long emergency that we face is going to be a problem for everybody. No racial or ethnic groups are going to be excused from it or excepted from it. We’re all going to have a hard time. Hardship will be suffered by everybody. And there are, obviously, many ways that it can play out. But I’m not suggesting that genocide is about to happen. And I generally, as I started out saying 45 minutes ago, I tend to be allergic to conspiracy ideas and paranoid notions.
 
ER: One thing that bothers me a whole lot is that our elected leaders are not really working on this. In the ‘70s, President Carter made a speech where he warned the nation that this was going to be coming up, and we’re going to start getting ready and nothing was really done and here we are now, up against a brick wall. But, let’s take another call. Hello caller, you’re on the air.
 
Caller: Good morning, you hit right on what I was going to ask about. Do you think it would be wise for the citizens to gather themselves together and start thinking of an alternative form of government to take the place of this totally inactive, ineffective, bought off system that we have right now, ready to step into place, when these storms…when everything converges. Do you think it would be wise for us to plan for that?
 
JK: I would put it in a little bit differently. A lot of my friends are concerned about living in a ‘big brother’ society, for example, where the federal government is going to keep track of all their activities and oppress them. I think that what we’re going to see, and what we are already seeing, actually, is that big government is just going to become more and more ineffectual and impotent. In fact, our lives are going to become profoundly and intensely local, in the years ahead. And we’re going to have to, probably, arrange governing systems that comport with that reality. I would expect that the federal government is not going to become more tyrannical really, it’ll probably become more inept. We’ll be lucky if they can answer the phones, let alone regulate anybody’s activities.
 
ER: I’m afraid you’re right. Well, Jim, I realize that we’ve come up to the end of the hour. I want to thank you for a very stimulating conversation about peak oil. Thank you for coming on the program. Do you have a website where people could go to find out more about you and your writings?

JK: I do have a website. It’s my last name.com (www.kunstler.com). I would like to leave by relaying to you a wonderful quote from Wendell Berry, the wonderful writer from Kentucky, who said: “Our country is not being destroyed by bad politics. It is being destroyed by a bad way of life. Bad politics is merely another result.”
 
ER: Very well said by Wendell Berry. Well, Jim Kunstler, thank you so much for coming on The Party’s Over.
 
JK: Thank you for having me here.
 
ER: I really appreciate it. Bye-bye.
 
JK: Bye-bye, Els.
MediaJim Kunstler on The Long Emergency