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Thread: Kunstler article in Orion Magazine

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Kunstler article in Orion Magazine

    Back to the Future
    A road map for tomorrow's cities

    by James Howard Kunstler

    A major theme of mine over the years has been the fiasco of suburbia,

    The infatuation with technomagic in our visions of the future city has paradoxically produced places with no magic, no power to enchant the human spirit.
    If you are interested.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    I originally thought it said The Onion magazine and was thinking how appropriate.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    I originally thought it said The Onion magazine and was thinking how appropriate.
    Happy to see I was not the only one that "saw" that.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  4. #4
    I'd read an Onion article by JHK in a second, an Orion article? Ill pass.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I actually read it.

    According to Kunstler, previous predictions about cities of the future from the 1920s and 1950s got it so wrong because the futurists were really talking about their presents and not imagining the future at all. Then he proceeds to give his version of the future based on his assumption that no energy source(s) will be developed to replace oil -- with a perfectly straight face. I could point out numerous logical problems with his predictions but it's not worth the effort.

    The guy's an asshat whose anti-technology/anti-scientific bias blinds him to the resourcefulness of the human spirit and makes his predictions of the future no more likely to come to pass than those of the preacher who recently predicted the world would end back in May.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    Then he proceeds to give his version of the future based on his assumption that no energy source(s) will be developed to replace oil -- with a perfectly straight face. I could point out numerous logical problems with his predictions but it's not worth the effort.

    .
    I occasionally read JK and am not defending him, but I'm curious how - on a finite planet bounded by rules of physics - its possible that we have overlooked an energy source that is similarly cheap and dense as petroleum?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I like Kunstler generally as I think he speaks to and engages a more lay audience around planning issues, but this was a strange article. He starts out saying that predicting the future is so terribly impossible because of the inability to anticipate the unanticipated (which I agree with).Then he goes on to predict the future in much the same way as those he criticizes at the beginning.

    As fun as fantasizing about what could be is, this was kind of a waste of my time. Why would I put more stock in what he has to say about the future of humanity than anyone else? He undermined himself from the get-go.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    I occasionally read JK and am not defending him, but I'm curious how - on a finite planet bounded by rules of physics - its possible that we have overlooked an energy source that is similarly cheap and dense as petroleum?
    I don't know, but I'm not trying to predict the future, either. I do know that we're producing vehicles and all kinds of appliances that take much less energy input than even a few years ago. The development of longer lasting, rechargeable batteries in just the last few years has made solar technology much more reliable and cost effective.

    I can't drive the local interstate or other highways around Upstate NY without seeing all kinds of small-scale solar cells powering road signs. There are major wind farms on the old Bethlehem Steel site on the east shore of Lake Erie in Lackawanna, NY, and inland in Wyoming County. My own county is generating energy from methane produced at the county landfill. The Marcellus shale formation in NYS and PA holds vasts reserves of natural gas that we now have the technology to tap.

    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    I like Kunstler generally as I think he speaks to and engages a more lay audience around planning issues, but this was a strange article. He starts out saying that predicting the future is so terribly impossible because of the inability to anticipate the unanticipated (which I agree with).Then he goes on to predict the future in much the same way as those he criticizes at the beginning.

    As fun as fantasizing about what could be is, this was kind of a waste of my time. Why would I put more stock in what he has to say about the future of humanity than anyone else? He undermined himself from the get-go.
    That's exactly my criticism of the article, too. Our imaginations are limited by the fact that we can't escape our own time and place.

    I will also add that I think Kunstler really glosses over the logical conclusion that stems from his vision: an era equivalent to the historical Dark Ages that ushers in the end of human civilization. Kunstler claims there will be less fuel to transport goods (I get the impression he might think that's positive) but that also means there will also be less fuel to produce even locally grown food for his smaller, denser cities much less transport it there. At the same time, he scoffs at the idea of turning the abandoned areas of shrinking cities like Detroit into farm land. Maybe that's where they'll bury all the poor people who will die from starvation, so instead of having cities surrounded by "mega-slums" (he predicts there won't be slums in the future), we'll have cities surrounded by "mega-graveyards".

  9. #9
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post

    The development of longer lasting, rechargeable batteries in just the last few years has made solar technology much more reliable and cost effective.
    My own county is generating energy from methane produced at the county landfill. The Marcellus shale formation in NYS and PA holds vasts reserves of natural gas that we now have the technology to tap.
    Methane and NG are short-term as they contribute to the greenhouse gas problem in the atmosphere. I have spoken several times this year on re-thinking our built environment to be more solar-friendly so I might know a thing or two about it, but solar won't replace fossil fuel for a long time, even with discoveries like graphene, as the REMs needed for that scale are not economically recoverable.

    So we can hope something happens to replace an energy-dense source with solar. I hope something does happen.

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