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James Howard Kunstler on the Colbert Report
Colbert Report, Comedy Central
James Howard Kunstler warns suburbia that it will run out of energy very soon.
"My guest tonight wrote a novel about a world without oil. Hear that? A novel, because it could never happen in real life."
(1 May 2008)
Yet another review of his recent novel, this one from the Texas Observer: Logical Conclusions.
James Howard Kunstler: Colbert Appearance and a Response to Critics
The Oil Drum
First off, here is JHK on Colbert (Flash required, methinks). It's smart, it's funny, and it's worth your time (6 min).
[YouTube of Kunstler on Colbert]
And, Jim has sent us a reply to the critics of World Made By Hand (link to Amazon)...it is posted here in its entirety.
I don't intend to mount a "defense" against all your complaints, but would like to make a few brief points:
The facts support the position that the Y2K computer situation was a serious problem. Billions of dollars and untold man-hours were spent correcting it. It was, however, a very limited problem, and it is fatuous to assert that just because it was successfully corrected means that we shouldn't have taken it seriously.
Complaints have come from many quarters that in my novel the feminist revolution appears to have been discontinued, or that my female characters are not sufficiently valorized. To me, these complaints show an impressive incapacity to imagine that social arrangements might be different under very different practical circumstances. In "World Made By Hand," the corporate milieu no longer exists. Issues of "glass ceilings" and "equal pay" tend to be irrelevant. All the people in the novel are essentially working within their competence. But the divisions of labor are not what they used to be in the age of WalMart and Time Warner. The major female characters are treated sympathetically as real people with pretty complicated lives.
The supernatural elements in the novel were introduced for a purpose: to suggest that the consensus about reality defined by Enlightenment ideas is yielding to a different consensus about reality -- one less grounded in empiricism and logical positivism. I went this way because it seemed probable that socio-economic changes so profound would have to produce changes in fundamental views of reality.
Rep. Bartlett Discusses Current Legislation During Peak Oil Speech (video)
U.S. Congress via Energy Policy TV
During one of his Special Order speeches on peak oil, Rep. Bartlett introduces thre companion legislation to S. 2821, the Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act of 2008, which would extend tax credits for renewable energy projects. S. 2821 has passed the Senate. Bartlett also recommends the Self-Powered Farm Energy Bill (H.R. 80) . That bill would promote federal-support for research, development and deployment for technology to make farms net producers of both food and energy. He also discusses the Drive Act (H.R. 670), which aims to promote plug-in electric hybrid vehicles to reduce reliance on petroleum.
(1 May 2008)
Transcription at Energy Bulletin.
Heinberg speaks with Vermont Business, Finance, Education and Energy leaders
Annie Dunn Watson, Vermont Peak Oil Network.
It was the middle of a busy day for Richard Heinberg, and he appeared to be in danger of losing his voice. But that didn't prevent him from speaking with Vermont educators, business leaders, and energy entrepreneurs at a Roundtable hosted by NRG Systems founders Jan and David Blittersdorf. From this observer's vantage point, it was obvious the information he presented managed to turn a few heads.
After giving an overview of peak oil and the possible role of renewables in mitigating the consequences, Richard responded to questions generated by the attendees. Asked why Germany and other countries were moving ahead on solar and other renewables, Richard noted that the policy put into place in those countries supported the development of fossil fuel energy alternatives. Policy could play a role in reducing fossil fuel use here as well, were it applied to the expedient development of renewables and more efficient technology in agriculture, transportation, building and heating.
Asked which of today's oil-dependent technologies could be replaced, he emphasized that prospects for replacing liquid transportation fuels are poor, but that alternative bio-feedstocks for plastics are being researched. Attendees noted that although Richard's future jobs list seemed exciting, there would be a tendancy to want to "hold on to what is" - peak psyche! - as current jobs begin to disappear. Opportunity, Richard responded, is a great motivator... people will need and want to switch careers, and they will seek training for the jobs of the future.
THESE EFFORTS WILL TAKE ENORMOUS INVESTMENTS of time and money, as infrastructure will have to be built or replaced. The timeframe is too short to manage this without some disruption; we must also learn to live a lower energy lifestyle. Europe was brought into the discussion as an example of how this could be done while still living remarkably well.
Richard advocated for channeling money and resources into renewables now; any continued investment in traditional energy infrastructure, generation and delivery was lost opportunity. He also noted that crisis planning should be on the boards. Time to rise above politics, he said, and have a discussion based on genuine interest in collaboratively solving the problem: getting off fossil fuels, and protecting the climate while doing so.
Richard also suggested that the Department of Energy be given a new and appropriate job: evaluating alternative energy options thoroughly, and analyzing the EROEI and scale-ability of projects (taking into account depleting materials, infrastructure, and the need to prevent another ethanol boondoggle). Real assessments for real situations. Real work for a real world.
In response to a question about the relationship between population and resource depletion, Heinberg agreed that efficiency gains will be wiped out if population is not humanely reined in.
No one size fits all solutions... each region is uniquely challenged, and has unique assets. It's up to the community to assess its consumption, identify its next steps and develop its transition plan. Gas taxes could be part of the approach, as could rationing (tradable quotas). This would use a market mechanism to impact behavior. Vermont is a tiny state.. humans are creative when motivated, and we could do much! Vermont's own planning could provide a template once a tipping point is reached.
Although he didn't say it outright, he left the next steps to us. I wonder what our Vermont educators, business leaders and energy entrepreneurs will do with this powerful invitation.
(1 May 2008)
This is the entire article. (UPDATE - corrected the URL) -BA
Contributor Annie Dunn Watson writes:
"time to build that better mousetrap, everyone..."