Previously successful Prophet looks at our Future
Peak-Oil Prophet James Howard Kunstler
on Food, Fuel and
Why He Became an Almost Vegan
KT: In The Long Emergency, published in 2005, you predicted with astounding accuracy how the subprime mortgage meltdown would unfold. Your latest novel, World Made By Hand, takes place in the near future after a massive flu outbreak that originated in Mexico. Um, what should we start worrying about next?
JHK: Worry about the “recovery” that never comes and the insidious collapse of our institutions and arrangements that will proceed from this. Worry about lost incomes and vocations that will never come back (e.g. marketing exec for Target, Inc.) and the need to find new ways to be useful to your fellow human beings (and incidentally perhaps earn a living).
Worry about finding a community to live in that is cohesive enough to stave off anarchy at the local level. Worry about building the best garden you can and making good compost. Worry about how difficult it is to learn how to play a musical instrument at age 47.
KT: You recently wrote “there’s no way we can continue the petro-agriculture system of farming and the Cheez Doodle and Pepsi Cola diet that it services. The public is absolutely zombified in the face of this problem — perhaps a result of the diet itself.” OK, so how will we stock our post-peak-oil pantries? Do we really need to start hoarding rice and beans?
JHK: Get some kind of a hand-cranked home grain mill. Personally, I think it is indeed a good idea to lay in a supply of beans, lentils, rice, oats, other grains and don’t forget salt, boullion (soups can sustain us with any number of ingredients), dried onion flakes, spices (chilies and curries especially).
Our just-in-time, three-day’s-worth-of-inventory supermarket system is very susceptible to disruption. And we’re very far from establishing workable local food networks in this country.
The fragility of petro-ag is being aggravated by the collapse of bank lending now. Farmers need borrowed money desperately. Capital is as important an “input” as methane-based fertilizers. I think we could see problems with food production and distribution anytime from here on.
KT: You’re an avid gardener — do you grow much of your own food? Do you worry that you’ll have to guard your greens with a gun if our collapsing economy sends the mall rats outdoors to forage after the food courts run out of pretzel nuggets?............Read it all at Civil Eats