Have people begun to believe that technology can solve all the world’s problems? Author James Howard Kunstler makes this convincing argument in his newest book Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation. In his first nonfiction book since the The Long Emergency (2005), Kunstler presents new evidence to support his predictions about a radically altered future. In it, he argues that technological advances are threatened by a coming scarcity in fossil fuel resources, and we would do well to prepare for this eventuality.
One of Kunstler’s paintings, Factory Ruins on Hill Street, Greenwich, New York
The book is an exploration into an altered, mistaken perception of reality that Kunstler believes has become “baseline normal for the American public lately.” Society, he says, has been misled by the phenomenal technological advances of recent times. If faced with any problem, we have come to believe that it is solvable – as if by magic – with the implementation of some new technology. He also suggests that our society has already been victim to too much magic, since our technologies seem ever less magical as time goes on.
Kunstler argues that there is a fundamental restructuring coming of our society. The increasing scarcity of cheap energy will force communities to relocalize, as geographical regions will have to be accountable for producing their own food and water. Once our cheap oil supplies are exhausted, our waterways and the national rail system may be the only reliable form of transportation.
With his blunt style of writing, Kunstler offers both a history lesson and a warning. History shows us how we came to live in such an oil-dependent world obsessed with expanding its suburbs indefinitely; the warning paints a picture of how our society must adapt to the coming contraction brought about by the unavailability of cheap, plentiful oil. Even if you don’t fully agree with every opinion the author shares, these issues are worthy of discussion and need to be raised. This courageous book will get you thinking about serious societal issues that have been largely ignored by our political discourse.
What can you do to help your community and economy reorganize itself on a more local level?
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