In just three years, airlines as we know them will be gone. Only the rich and the elite will be able to fly. You won't be going to Louisville to see Granny anymore. That's over. |
Those were just a few of many jarring statements made Thursday by James Kunstler, author of “The Geography of Nowhere,” “Home from Nowhere” and “The Long Emergency.”
Kunstler spoke at Augustana College's Community Convocation at Augustana College Thursday and, as I filed into Centennial Hall for his presentation, I was greeted by a projector screen that read “We're in trouble.”
As a May 2008 Augie grad, I took a seat with my former classmates to find out why.
Kunstler's books discuss how 21st Century catastrophes are all somehow connected to the global oil crisis. So I had some idea of what “trouble” Mr. Kunstler was talking about.
“The most frightening thing,” he said, "is our inability to construct a consensus of where we are, where we are going, and the future of energy." The majority of his concerns stem from “the American way of life;” more specifically, in the way Americans use oil, energy and technology.
Mr. Kunstler had much to say on it all, including:
The economy: Most Americans think the current decline is just a part of a “cycle;” if we wait through the cycle, we'll swing up again. "It's not going up,” he said. “We're done.”
Oil: By 2010 - perhaps sooner - the U.S. may lose Mexico as its No. 3 source for oil.
Alternative energy: This is a “fantasy,” Mr. Kunstler said. Although he said he isn't against the idea, “the truth of the matter is that no amount or combination -- solar, wind, used French fry potato oil” -- will work for us. “We're not going to be able to run things the way we are (in this) happy, motoring utopia," he said. "If you don't negotiate the American way of life, reality will negotiate for you.”
Our food: We need to learn to farm differently and locally with “more human attention." He added we also must change how we shop, and reformat our schooling.
Taking action: “Time is over for being crybabies,” he said. “Gender, race and ethnicity are irrelevant. We have a long to-do list.”
At the close of his speech Mr. Kunstler wished the audience “good luck,” leaving a number of us more than a little alarmed.
“It really freaked me out,” said Augustana sophomore Corynn Hanson. “It was a little intense, but I do agree (with him). He needs to be intense because we need to do something.”
"Things need to be done differently," added senior Nicole Jarrett. "It's definitely time for a change.”
Regardless of the validity of Mr. Kunstler's views or solutions, many people were overwhelmed by the problems he addressed.
“I feel like I can't make a difference," said Ms. Hanson. "It doesn't feel like reality, and there are so many people who don't want to think about it because it's depressing."
I agree wholeheartedly. The problems our country is facing, especially with oil and our economy, are depressing.
I feel as though I am part of a generation that is old enough to recognize and understand these problems - but not quite old enough, smart enough, or experienced enough to know what to do.For more information, visit James Kunstler's blog at kunstler.com.