Sunday, June 13, 2004

Clusterfuck Nation

I like to consider myself a futurist. I'm interested in predicting what is going to happen in the future based on current trends. I'm a science fiction junkie and a news junkie, so it's a natural preoccupation for me.

Clusterfuck is probably my favorite word. So when I saw James Howard Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation Chronicles, I felt an instant affinity.

My friend John pointed me to Kunstler's site with a link recently...Kunstler shares my interest in future trends...and my pessimism.

I don't agree with everything Kunstler writes, but he's provocative.

While written prior to the invasion of Iraq, his essay Clusterfuck Nation: A Glimpse Into the Future brings together several trends that are shaping America and the world. These trends include:

1. The growing indebtedness of Americans and America (personal debt, trade deficits, national debt) and the inflated value of American real estate

2. The total reliance of American commerce on cheap oil

3. Suburban sprawl and cities that require car transportation

4. The dependence of the US on Saudi Arabia's stability and continued good will for cheap oil

5. The total failure to plan for the peak oil phenomenon (ie, oil is a finite resource, and we will soon hit the point where more than half of the world's oil reserves have been used up)

6. Allowing a few large chains (like Wal-Mart) to run our entire commodity distribution network

7. Large-scale factory-farming which is poisoning the land and are themselves dependent upon cheap oil to get food to consumers

8. Environmental Degradation leading to global warming, climate shifts, rising sea levels, and reduced agricultural production

9. Overpopulation and demographic shifts to both seaboards and southwestern US

10. The spread of difficult-to-treat diseases including AIDS, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, Mad Cow (or TSE's) and malaria (abetted by global warming)

I would point out that he neglected to mention the fact that the planet is running out of unpolluted fresh water....or that a breast-fed infant receives its so-called "safe" lifetime limit of dioxin in the first six months of drinking breast milk

But Clusterfuck Nation is still a nice little disaster essay with a catchy title.

Kunstler does offer some suggestions on what life will look like after the crash here.

With this background, his blog seems more reasonable.

I hope that he's wrong, I really do. And I'm willing to entertain any arguments that Kunstler is a lunatic, or that nuclear power will save us.

Or that our debt will never catch up with us. And the environment isn't really a problem.

Dioxin levels appear to be falling according to the Chlorine Chemistry Council. Why am I suspicious of a group called the Chlorine Chemistry Council?

Given these trends, are there suggestions about how our society can be saved? Or should we just prepare for the end of the world as we know it?

We should probably ignore this all and have one big end of the world party....

How big would the bonfire need to be to see it from the space station?

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