Population hyper growth is a main factor in the depletion of the resources our society relies so heavily upon. Drawing on Malthus, the author agrees with the clergyman that unconstrained human population will grow exponentially while food supplies will grow only arithmetically. Therefore, the population is now faced with strict and inevitable natural limits. Further examined is how the oil age created an artificial bubble of plentitude for about one hundred years, which is not much longer than a human life. Thus, Kunstler asserts, “As oil ceases to be cheap and the world reserves arc toward depletion, we will indeed suddenly be left with an enormous surplus population that the ecology of the earth will not support.”

Overuse of fossil fuels by this enormous surplus population has created environmental devastation. As a result, numerous species are becoming extinct. Kunstler uses statistics to support this stance. For example, each year 3,000 to 30,000 species become extinct, an all-time high for the last 65 million years.

Another by-product caused by our nation’s overconsumption is global warming. Global warming increases the risk of flooding for tens of millions of people. Climate change caused by global warming could aggravate water scarcity. According to Kunstler, it will increase the number of people exposed vector-borne disease, and it will obviate the triumphs of the green revolution and bring on famines. Lastly and possibly most startling of his claims, it will prompt movements of people fleeing devastated and used up lands and provoke armed conflicts over places that are still surviving off subsistence. Kunstler is sure to mention the important fact that global warming is no longer a theory being disputed by political interests, but an established scientific consensus. Important institutions that agree on the dangers of global warming include the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The cheap oil age, Kunstler argues, created miraculous defenses against age-old scourges of disease. Medicines such as penicillin, sulfa drugs, and their descendents briefly gave the notion that diseases caused by microorganisms could be systematically vanquished. The notion, however, was short-lived as new drug-resistant strains of old diseases are now back in full force. He interestingly states, “In response to unprecedented habitat destruction by humans, and the invasion of the wilderness, the earth itself seems to be sending fourth new and much more lethal diseases.” In his mind a major growing menace is AIDS. Wealthy nations have created the illusion that it is a manageable chronic illness, but its cases are doubling every two years around the world. This fits with Kunstler’s notion of the long emergency because a disease epidemic could paralyze social and economic systems, interrupt global trade, and bring down governments.

The last component of Kunstler’s argument I will elaborate on is his views of complex derivatives. In terms of economics, a derivative obtains its value from an underlying variable asset. He essentially outlined that the commodities countries trade are being based on abstract vehicles of investment. Rather than expanding enterprises in return for earnings or dividends these speculative trades carried out by corporations at such huge increments are undermining national currencies and economies. Under globalism the profits of a generation of speculators will be converted into costs passed along to future generations. The costs come in the form of lost jobs, squandered equity, and reduced living standards.

For the majority of Kunstler’s points I find myself in agreement. We face a harsh reality in the future, a “long emergency,” which many American citizens have yet to notice. As oil becomes a scarce commodity only the wealthy can afford, what will the middle class of suburbia do to combat these changes? Certainly, they will have to adapt or fail trying. Whether or not the crisis will actually delegitimize our national government, however, is questionable in my mind. Many Americans, in fact, like helping others. As a result, it seems unlikely to me that the nation will break up into autonomous regions who depend upon their own production to survive.

Sometimes, dreams do come true. The dream of ingenuity fixing the major problems facing the globe—global warming and overconsumption of oil—will not triumph. The “Jiminy Cricket Syndrome” is likely caused in large part by the media. Americans in particular are watching more TV than ever. According to Nielsen Co.’s “Three Screen Report,” referring to televisions, computers, and cell phones, the average American now watches more than 151 hours of TV a month. That’s about five hours a day and an all-time high, up 3.6 percent from the 145 or so hours Americans reportedly watched in the last year. The commercials people tend to watch are those depicting innovations in vehicles, in medicine, and in technology. If these astonishing consumer products continue to pop up it should be possible to create technologies that can fix our most urgent of problems. The reality, however, is that while technologies currently being developed may postpone the long emergency they cannot prevent it from happening all together. I would also argue that the dreams of many Americans do not involve fixing the planet’s persisting problems. Rather, they are dreaming of their ideal homes, sports cars, and flat screen TVs. All of these add to the American trend of overconsumption.

The cornucopians’ belief that new technologies will overcome the current facts of geology is quite absurd. To me, it is apparent that technologies meant to protect society from catastrophes are not as reliable as first thought. For example, an article republished in the Anchorage Daily News by Tom Fowler of the Houston Chronicle highlights questionable business methods used by BP. In order to trim costs the company took “shortcuts.” At the oilrig Deepwater Horizon, the final section of the production casing was supposed to be centered in the wellbore, the area carved out of the earth by drill bits, by special brackets known as stabilizers. Keeping the pipe centered ensures that the cement is distributed evenly all around and isn’t thinner on one side. The original well plan called for 21 centralizers, but it was discovered that 15 of the centralizers were not the ideal design for the job. Rather than wait for the right ones, the company made the decision to use just the six on hand that worked. In addition, BP also decided not to run a final, time-consuming test on the cement job to determine how well the cement has adhered to the pipe.

In light of all this information, it is safe to say that technologies meant protect the earth do exist, but they are not being utilized. If human error and profit mentality persist in corporate practices around the globe environmental devastation will continue. The means to take preventative measures to ensure a sustainable future are there, but they are not being utilized because they would cut profits.

Technologies meant to fix problems don’t seem to be working as of late either. You can call it a “junk shot” or a “top kill.” I’ll call it not working. The ingenuity of the human race the cornucopians heavily base their beliefs on is failing as of late. Months went by before a “solution” was reached in the Gulf.

Treatment-resistant diseases are emerging at alarming rates. One of the latest is a drug-resistant form of gonorrhea. There is only one remaining class of antibiotics that is recommended for its treatment. Historically, gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to all antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it. Drug resistance can only be tested with a culture, not simply a urine sample. The current Alaskan labs lack the methods to conduct culture tests. In other words, our state lacks the resources. This lack of resources is sure to affect future outbreak of diseases. Without the means to combat new forms of tuberculosis or staphylococcus future sustainability will surely be threatened.

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