Friday, January 18, 2008

The Great Unwinding

Just read a great article from James Howard Kunstler, the author of The Long Emergency, titled Disarray "I maintain that all the "players" -- from the bankers to the politicians to the editors to the ordinary citizens -- will continue to not get it as the disarray accelerates and families and communities are blown apart by economic loss. Instead of beginning the tough process of making new arrangements for everyday life, we'll take up a campaign to sustain the unsustainable old way of life at all costs."

He's right but instead of just bitching about it, he calls for solutions that can work if we have the will to make them happen. "Stop all highway-building altogether. Instead, direct public money into repairing railroad rights-of-way. Put together public-private partnerships for running passenger rail between American cities and towns in between. If Amtrak is unacceptable, get rid of it and set up a new management system. At the same time, begin planning comprehensive regional light-rail and streetcar operations."

It's time to roll up our sleeves and do something because if we don't, we're toast. Financial markets are unwinding, the US has no money and leadership in both the public and private sectors is anything but as we inch closer to the abyss but there is some hope. Nanotech solar is starting to take off while at the same time, Switchgrass and Algae could replace corn in generating clean biofuel because of their higher energy content and ability to grow almost anywhere there is available land or water.

Obviously these projects are just a tiny start point in the transition process but at least people are starting to realize we are in trouble. As stated before in BRT, solutions exist in the lab but funding and scaling the ones that work in the real world is daunting at best but it can be done if we have the will. We are in for tough times as the end of oil is nigh and global warming threatens us all as we move closer to the "magical" 450 parts per million CO2 levels that could transform earth into a variant of Venus.

I like warmth big time but....

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