No cannibals in the suburbs. Yet

An apology to James Kunstler. He's bleak, but not that bleak.

By Andrew Leonard
March 13, 2006 10:53PM (UTC)
main article image

I've been away on family business for the last three days, with little time to keep up to date on How the World Works. So let me get right to it. James Kunstler is correct. I do owe him an apology. In discussing Princeton geologist Kenneth Deffeyes' views on peak oil, I wrote, "He's no James Kunstler, predicting cannibalism in the suburbs the day after tomorrow."

That was an unfair joke, an exercise of hyperbole that verged into complete overkill. As far as I know, Kunstler, author of "The Long Emergency," hasn't predicted an outbreak of suburban cannibalism in the near future. He has written about Asian pirates marauding through the Pacific Northwest, the emergence of a kind of neo-serfdom in the American South, the return of horse-and-buggy transportation, and the likelihood of massive "die-off" in the face of the coming energy shortage. I think it's fair to say that he represents one of the bleaker points of view about where humanity is headed. His predictions of what is likely to happen to the American economy this year are rather dire. But he's not putting us on the menu at your local strip mall. Yet.


Given that my goal here is to inject as many facts as possible into the reporting of some complex subjects, I regret that by trying to be funny I was also misleading. So, I do apologize.

However. Let's suppose that the global economy does collapse in the face of the twin threats of devastating climate change and peak oil. Six and a half billion people on this planet are testing the earth's carrying capacity as never before. Should it all go haywire in the short term, and food production plummets disastrously, there will be an awful lot of hungry people in the world. You can connect the dots yourself.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

MORE FROM Andrew LeonardFOLLOW koxinga21LIKE Andrew Leonard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Globalization How The World Works Peak Oil