Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Crude -- $134
Welcome to the Brave, Cold, New World. It's been a long time coming.
Since the early part of the decade I've been reading Jim Kunstler. Back in 2001 he was one of the few commentators on matters having to do with energy and finance who saw clearly where things were going, and seven years ago he predicted with startling accuracy where we'd be today.
He was widely ridiculed for his trouble, and was almost a lone Jeremiah crying out in the wilderness. People told him he didn't have to worry, that biofuels, or hydrogen fuel cells, or this, or that, or the other thing, would solve all our problems. Others said that really, there was plenty of cheap oil left in the world. A few even put forth the ridiculous and uninformed notion that the U.S. could be energy (i.e., petroleum) independent again.
They all said we'd never see seven-buck-a-gallon gas.
In 2004 he laid out his comprehensive vision of the future in his book "The Long Emergency." I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to know what comes next.
This week he wrote of the current energy-inflation-falling dollar-rising unemployment crisis, The important part of this is that the money is gone. What makes matters truly eerie is that the "bubble" in suburban houses has occurred at exactly the moment in history when the chief enabling resource for suburban life -- oil -- has entered its scarcity stage.
The logical conclusion of all this is not what the American public wants to hear: we have become a much poorer society and are now faced with the unavoidable task of making major changes in how we live. All the three-card-monte moves at the highest level of finance lately amount to an effort to avoid the unavoidable, acknowledging our losses. Certainly the political fallout of all this will be awesome. But it's not about politics, really. It's about the entire society's inability to form a workable new consensus of reality.
See Kunstler's weekly blog, Clusterfuck Nation.