The U.S. economy of the decades to come will center on farming, not high-tech, or "information," or "services," or space travel, or tourism, or finance. All other activities will be secondary to food production, which will require much more human labor. Places that are unsuited for local farming will obviously suffer... To put it simply, Americans have been eating oil and natural gas for the past century, at an ever-accelerating pace. Without the massive "inputs" of cheap gasoline and diesel fuel for machines, irrigation, and trucking, or petroleum-based herbicides and pesticides, or fertilizers made out of natural gas, Americans will be compelled to radically reoganize the way food is produced, or starve.
I've just finished reading The Long Emergency
, which should suffice to convince you that we are in for a radical revision of the way we live in the next few decades.
The world is now using 27 billion barrels of oil a year. If every last drop of the remaining 1 trillion barrels could be extracted at current cost ratios and current rates of production -- which is extremely unlikely -- the entire endowment would only last another thirty-seven years.
Kunstler makes short work of the miracles -- hydropower, solar power, hydrogen fuel cells, nuclear power -- which won't be coming to save us, and convincingly demonstrates that a world which held approximately one billion people at the start of the oil age simply won't be able to sustain the six and a half billion people we now having walking around, even if the environment weren't collapsing around our ears, which it is.
In short, things are fixing to get incredibly ugly.
The book was excerpted
in Rolling Stone
not too long ago; I know I've linked to it before. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever -- and then read this book.