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Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation

1 rating: 5.0
2012 nonfiction book by James Howard Kunsler

James Howard Kunstler’s critically acclaimed and best-selling The Long Emergency, originally published in 2005, quickly became a grassroots hit, going into nine printings in hardcover. Kunstler’s shocking vision of our post-oil future caught … see full wiki

1 review about Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology,...

Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ear, for the world as we know it is about to disappear.

  • Mar 9, 2013
  • by
Rating:
+5
"From here on there will be no more growth defined as increased wealth from industrial production, only contraction. There is no credible model of a postindustrial economy that would permit our accustomed comfort and convenience to continue as is—apart from the wishes and fantasies of people who would like there to be one." – p. 10

So just what does the future hold for the United States of America? Some prognosticators will tell you that exciting new technologies will save us from many of the calamities that we face in the coming decades. Others would argue that vast new supplies of oil shale and gas shale are destined to be our redeemer. Then there are those who insist that renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biofuels are poised to save the day. James Howard Kunstler would beg to differ. Mr. Kunstler, who has written extensively on this subject continues to believe that we are in for an extended period economic displacement and contraction, severe energy shortages and potentially devastating climate change. What's more he holds that the slow and painful downward spiral has already begun. In his new book "Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation" Kunstler refutes these claims and others while painting a rather frightening picture of what America and the rest of the world might look like in just a decade or two. Sweeping changes are coming and the sooner we realize it and prepare for them the better chance we have of surviving them.

What surprised me most is that James Howard Kunstler was not quite the left-wing idealogue that I expected him to be. Clearly his politics lean in that direction but Kunstler is every bit as critical of his friends on the left as he is of his opposition on the right. For instance, the author lambastes President Obama, whom he characterizes as the "custodian of the status quo", for not using a chunk of the 2009 stimulus money to help restore the U.S. passenger rail system. He feels strongly that investing that money in the auto industry and highway construction was a colossal waste of taxpayer money. Kunstler despises suburban sprawl and just about everything associated with it and makes a convincing argument that this kind of lifestyle is simply unsustainable. He predicts that as the result of shrinking energy supplies life in suburbia will eventually become a fiasco causing real estate values in those areas to plummet dramatically. And if Kunstler has disdain for certain liberals and Democrats he positively despises those on the right whom he frequently characterizes as just plain "stupid" for not owning up to or being willing to address the mess that we find ourselves in.

Throughout the pages of "Too Much Magic" the author contends that oil production and available capital to grow the economy are inextricably linked. This is the essence of his argument. He writes "Just as ever increasing energy inputs to the global economy expanded the total amount of money and credit since the mid-1800s, so will a declining base of energy inputs contract the amount of money and credit available—most critically, money and credit to finance exploration for future oil discovery and production to keep up with ever declining existing oil resources." If this is indeed true, and I believe that it is then we are in for a very rough time. Kunstler also spends a considerable amount of time refuting claims that new technologies and so-called "renewable" energy will be able to make significant inroads in the myriad problems that we face in the years ahead. He believes that the current expectations for most of these to be nothing more than "wishful thinking". Add to all of these factors the incompetence and corruption of those in Washington D.C. and on Wall Street and what you have is a recipe for disaster.

I found "Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation" to be a comprehensive and rather sobering survey of what could well take place over the next couple of decades. The author believes that it may already be too late to stop much of it. Make no mistake about it—James Howard Kunstler is not afraid to call ‘em as he sees ‘em. He is an extremely gifted writer and I literally could not put this book down. Much of what you will read in "Too Much Magic" will scare the daylights out of you. It should. But it is much better to have some idea of what could happen than to just go through life blissfully unaware of what is coming. On second thought……… Very highly recommended!

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