Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's a Cluster!

Our title is a family catchphrase, a gift from one of my wife's hospital colleagues; it has to be spoken in a cheerful New Yawk accent. And it speaks more succinctly to the situation described in Sunday's post, Procrastination Nation.

This morning AlterNet brings us cogent insights along those lines from the invaluable Michael Klare, professor of peace. Here's a taste, but you really want to read the whole thing:

Consider the recent rise in the price of oil just a faint and early tremor heralding the oilquake to come. Oil won't disappear from international markets, but in the coming decades it will never reach the volumes needed to satisfy projected world demand, which means that, sooner rather than later, scarcity will become the dominant market condition. Only the rapid development of alternative sources of energy and a dramatic reduction in oil consumption might spare the world the most severe economic repercussions.

If any of this matters to you, and I can't see how it wouldn't, it might help to check out James Kunstler's colorfully titled blog from time to time. One friend remarked that Kunstler seems a bit too gleeful about the impending twilight of the Age of Oil. I don't share his glee, exactly, since I've got kids. But I can empathize with the tone of a man who's been warning about this stuff, in vain, for decade after decade.

However, if you're thirsting for some optimism on this topic, and I can't see how you wouldn't be, I recommend you take a look at Christopher Steiner's well-researched work of prophecy, $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better. Seriously.

The chapters start at $6, then $8, $10, $12, and so on. It's coming, whether you're gleeful about it or not. But Steiner patiently explains the upside, from the effects on our agriculture, mass transit systems, and urban environments to the renaissance of US manufacturing.

We could all use a little good news, but I wonder if Steiner has adequately considered the batshit-crazy determination of the Republican Party. After all, as Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

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