I’m glad you looked at the sites of the two doomers I mentioned. I don’t think you’re being completely fair, though. Granted, both guys are American and see many things through an American lens. However, they are both mostly interested in the underlying processes (mostly of the negative/destructive kind) and it appears that the U.S. right now is a trailblazer in regards to those.
Of the two, Kunstler is probably more obviously US-centric because his main critique is that of the American “urban form,” which he calls a “living arrangement with no future” – the vast, sprawling, ugly suburbia which requires the whole country to drive everywhere. Many of his books focus squarely on that.
As pertains to our (nomadic) business, his most interesting (and worrisome) prediction is what I mentioned in my previous post: that in a decade or two we may not even have a functioning airline industry to speak of. Therefore, he says, the US (and Canada) should invest in rail right now (forget high-speed – he’s convinced it will never happen on any significant scale – just maintain the old tracks and lay new ones while the money can be found).
If you’ve ever taken an Amtrak train from Montreal to New York City (12 hours, moving at ~45km/h, stops several times to let a freight train pass), his predictions will definitely ring true. Did you know that when trains started moving on this route about a century ago, they were vastly more comfortable and… arrived quicker (if I am not mistaken, 9 or 10 hours instead of 12)?
Greer is an even more colorful figure (one look at his photo will convince you of that), and I’d say his thinking is less US-centric. He sees us all as inhabiting one “civilization” – the industrial one – and he’s interested in the processes affecting this civilization. He’s also quite interested in what follows it (that it will end is not even questioned).
Again, looking at stuff directly relevant to us, here’s a small taste of his vision of the state of things in 2065 (taken from his blog):
Unless you’re one of the very rich or an employee of one of the institutions just named, furthermore, you won’t have access to the internet of 2065. You might be able to hack into it, if you have the necessary skills and are willing to risk a long stint in a labor camp, but unless you’re a criminal or a spy working for the insurgencies flaring in the South or the mountain West, there’s not much point to the stunt. If you’re like most Americans in 2065, you live in Third World conditions without regular access to electricity or running water, and you’ve got other ways to buy things, find out what’s going on in the world, find out how to get to the next town and, yes, look at pictures of people with their clothes off.
Certainly not the picture most of us here are painting in our heads, right?
Going back to the 10-year timeframe, if the overall trajectory outlined by Kunstler, Greer et al is correct, we’ll probably still be enjoying a decent (although declining) standard of living, as far as the availability of modern amenities, but the economic situation for many of us is likely to worsen, which can interfere with our chosen lifestyle.
If those who believe in the singularity are correct (assuming that progress is always happening and always accelerating, the Amtrak example above notwithstanding), then you can reverse the statement above. We’ll live better and have more clients, more places to visit (cheaper), more money and more things to spend it on. Personally, I’d like to hear from someone who can convincingly argue that viewpoint.
My personal observation is that the Nomad group curiously combines elements from both camps: we are not running for the hills (or the farms), so we’re probably more in the “techno-optimist” camp, but at the same time, we’re refusing to participate in the race to accumulate crap (traveling with even 1/10th of what a normal Westerner has at home would be impossible). We’re also clearly hedging our bets by not committing to one place. That to me reveals some underlying doubts about any particular place – even our birthplace – necessarily being “the best,” and maybe even some deep-seated anxiety about the future of many of those places. Ok, the psychology stuff will have to wait until another post.
P.S. I have not read Al Gore’s book (and to be honest, I am very skeptical because of the author), but I’ll look for a review/summary. Thanks for the suggestion!