Good Comes from a Long Emergency — 1

This CNN frame grab shows people choking all access routes off Manhattan Island during the great New York City power outage of August 2003. Could such events become common in the near future?

This CNN frame grab shows people choking all access routes off Manhattan Island during the great New York City power outage of August 2003. Could such events become common in the near future?

Friends,
One of my readers (Bill) was reviewing what I wrote in Predictions for 2009 and asked me back in February if I read “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler. Bill believed Kunstler’s vision of a period of sustained tribulations in the ecological, social and economic dimensions is now taking place. Kunstler’s premise is that civilization will enter a new energy strapped “Dark Age” because the current fossil fuel addicted and dependent global civilization is past its peak oil production prime. He poses that current calls to go green and find alternative fuels for transport will not be heeded in enough time to prevent a great die-off of humans from worldwide civil supersystem collapse. Putting it in another way, in a popular music metaphor, in a few decades’ time the Prince purple rain party we were having (Let’s Party like its 1999) will look more like a party of resource barbarians scrounging and scratching for survival like its the medieval year 999.

I told Bill that I was aware of Kunstler’s theory. Indeed a number of prophets, including Nostradamus, have been warning us of similar consequences of food, climate and social breakdown if our exponentially growing flock of little dirty human birdies continue to pollute and consume our only aerie in space. Though Kunstler sees a passing of peak oil production as the trigger of all this Dark Age collapse, the prophets of many traditions give us several more possibilities. Whatever way we look at it, we are in the Long Emergency of an evolutionary crisis for the human race. It began in 2008. If we are lucky, it will last 36 to 50 years.

Not so lucky? Not so smart to change? Two hundred to 500 years.

Sorry all you 20-twelvers. The “Long Count” of the Mayan Calendar may soon be ending but we have already embarked on the long count of years unto the maturing of the human race beyond its mechanical and unconscious ways. Gain need not come only through pain. It all depends on just how long we all want to keep talking about change — and I mean all the talking coming out of Obama’s head all the way down to greenie gabbing you and me. We are running out of cocktail party chatter time. Nostradamus’ astrological rants and descriptions of future famine, disease, floods, droughts and wars better match the astrological aspects coming for the early 2020s — not 2012. A completely revolutionary change in ecological-industrial course for the whole human race has to happen now, and every now strung down the next ten years, kapish?

You can rest assured that before we get to the 2020s or even 2012, I will present for you all the prophetic angle of Kunstler’s hypothetical future. That future doesn’t have to be like a variation of Ving Rhames/Marsellus Wallance’s line in Pulp Fiction: “Yo’ future? I’m gonna get medieval on yo’ ass!”

“Bad-future you and present-day me? ” Vings in Marsellus, “There is no you and me. Deal?”

The first step to closing that deal brings on an enlargement of my response to Bill’s comments in part two of this blog.

Bill isn’t full of talk. He’s all AmeriCAN do. He’s the kind of grassroots, private sector trailblazer in “green collar” entrepreneurship that I presaged emerging this first full year of the Long Emergency. In a forthcoming bulletin, I’ll share my reply to his email about his new green-company. It provides affordable, sustainable multi-housing that aims to provide the most efficient use of materials, labor, space and energy (BTUs). Check out the website to ModSystemsSB.com

John Hogue
(17 June 2009)

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