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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-07-08, 09:39 AM   #1
TuckertonRR
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New Kunstler book

Anybody read Kunstlers' new book "world made by hand". I'm about halfway through, a pretty easy read, with very short chapters. Its about a post-peak world, in upstate NY. Interestingly, there are no bikes. No paved roads to ride them on, no tires, tubes (all oil derivatives). Everybody either walks or rides horses.
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Old 03-07-08, 12:42 PM   #2
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Interestingly, there are no bikes.
I like Kunstler's stuff mostly, and the man does ride a bike. But he is somewhat pointedly dismissive of the significance of bikes to negotiating the downslope of oil. I'm not surprised they don't exist in his fictional "end time."
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Old 03-07-08, 05:09 PM   #3
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My personal take is that Kunstler is on the fringe. He does make some interesting points, but is usually bordering on fanaticism.

As for tires and tubes...ever hear of a rubber tree Also some rubbers and plastics can be produced from things like soybeans.

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Old 03-07-08, 09:30 PM   #4
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I like Kunstler's stuff mostly, and the man does ride a bike. But he is somewhat pointedly dismissive of the significance of bikes to negotiating the downslope of oil. I'm not surprised they don't exist in his fictional "end time."

Kunstler's interview with Bikescape from a couple of years ago is informative. It's possible, maybe, to appreciate his big ideas, while recognizing that he's kind of an ass, and not really a straightforward ally to our little cause.

My favorite (nonfiction) Kunstler is his descriptive mode -- when he's illustrating the places that he loves or hates. His voice really comes into its own when he's passionately describing some road or building or circumstance that has caught his eye, for good or ill. That stuff makes me cheer, or grin, or otherwise do stuff people shouldn't do while reading. Personally, this is where I think he could make the most difference: as a critically insightful observer of things-as-they-are, rather than the futurist pundit he sometimes tries to be.

He's much less effective when he gets into the data, or wrangles with history, or tries to outline prescriptive solutions to the problem. It feels like he's in over his head, and has to fall back on some weak rhetorical strategies to make it through.

I haven't read the new novel, but I can imagine fiction being a great vehicle for his ideas, given the strengths of his nonfiction writings. He used to be a novelist, after all.
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Old 03-08-08, 02:40 PM   #5
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My personal take is that Kunstler is on the fringe. He does make some interesting points, but is usually bordering on fanaticism.

As for tires and tubes...ever hear of a rubber tree Also some rubbers and plastics can be produced from things like soybeans.

Aaron
I agree that Kunstler overdoes the whole end of civilization thing. There are alternatives to petroleum. These include the low hanging fruits of conservation and efficiency, as well as goals that are much harder but not impossible--like renewable electricity.

I agree with burden that Kunstler's best work is on urban design and architecture criticism.
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Old 03-13-08, 12:19 PM   #6
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He's much less effective when he gets into the data, or wrangles with history, or tries to outline prescriptive solutions to the problem. It feels like he's in over his head, and has to fall back on some weak rhetorical strategies to make it through.
Sounds kind of like someone else I know:



Kidding of course. Although nary a Clinton or McCain supporter would disagree!
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Old 03-14-08, 01:14 PM   #7
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I think his book goes beyond just the end of oil. It's the "perfect storm" scenario of 1. End of oil, 2. Terrorist attacks, & 3. flu epidemic.

I'm about half way through it too, and I'm not sure what to make of it. It's got my brain thinking though...
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Old 03-15-08, 10:12 AM   #8
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i finished it. i liked it. the whole no bike thing sucked.

speakin' of books, "the bill mckibben reader" is great.
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Old 03-19-08, 04:16 PM   #9
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I'm amazed he hasn't heard of natural rubber. Tyres were around long before the petrochemical revolution. You can make them out of leather, as well. Really you can make a bicycle with leather, wood and steel. It will be a heavy beastie and would require a spring saddle, but it would work fine.

Not to mention the fact that bicycles are extremely durable, and would continue to be functional for a long time after supplies ran out. They would last much, much longer than autos.

Give me an English 3 speed and a flintlock and I'm good to go!
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