Static Thinking

I’ve read, to date, exactly one article by James Howard Kunstler. I have come to the conclusion that he’s a moron.

JKH thinks the oil industry is going to shut down and we’re all gonna die. Well, we’re all going to have to make massive changes in the way society is structured and nobody will have a car and we’ll have to return to cottage industry and Wal-Mart sucks and you kids need to stay off my lawn and turn that music down.

I think I’m making that last one up, although I doubt it given the number of comments about kids and iPods. He makes the same mistake every other one-note doommonger makes. He extrapolates one variable in a linear fashion and builds his model of the end of the world from the change in that one variable. Life simply doesn’t work like that. Other variables are also involved which will cause changes in the scenario. The primary variable neglected in the current model is people’s responses. Mr. Kunstler doesn’t think people are bright enough to adapt to a changing environment. Only he can see the one true path! The idea of technical progress and adaptation to incentives doesn’t seem to occur to him. Of course, the entirety of human history seems to belie his way of thinking, but I guess he’s got an answer for that, too. You’ll pardon me if I don’t think a guy who writes novels and engages in elitist architecture criticism is necessarily my go-to guy for energy analysis and policy.

Just because Mr. Kunstler can’t see a solution to his imagined oil crisis doesn’t mean a solution doesn’t exist. People like him are too technically and economically ignorant to see beyond his single variable model of the future. Even if the peak oil theory is true, which it really isn’t, a plethora of solutions exist and may yet be invented that don’t require the radical reconstruction of society along lines that are more esthetically pleasing to James Kunstler. Really, he’s another one in a long line of elitist asshats who decry the choices made by the hoi-polloi. He’s just found a facially plausible theory to buttress his distaste for everything about mass culture. Unfortunately, some of the commenters at AlterNet take his narcissistic drivel seriously.

Also, just as an FYI, it’s bad form to insult the people you’re exhorting to go do things. It makes them inclined to flip you the finger and find other things to do instead.


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