Too Much Magic

Too Much Magic

Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation

Book - 2012
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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 the attention of environmentalists and business leaders alike, and stimulated widespread discussion about our dependence on fossil fuels and our dysfunctional financial and government institutions. Kunstler has since been profiled in The New Yorker and invited to speak at TED. In Too Much Magic , Kunstler evaluates what has changed in the last seven years and shows us that, in a post-financial-crisis world, his ideas are more relevant than ever.

"Too Much Magic" is what Kunstler sees in the bright visions of a future world dreamed up by optimistic souls who believe technology will solve all our problems. Their visions remind him of the flying cars and robot maids that were the dominant images of the future in the 1950s. Kunstler's image of the future is much more sober. With vision, clarity of thought, and a pragmatic worldview, Kunstler argues that the time for magical thinking and hoping for miracles is over, and the time to begin preparing for the long emergency has begun.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthy Press, c2012.
ISBN: 9780802120304
Characteristics: 245 p. ;,24 cm.


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Jan 19, 2019

I agree with the author that it's unwise to try to correct problems created by technology with more technology. Not all technological progress is good. The planet and humans would be better off in terms of health if we went back to preindustrial times, with the addition of modern sanitation/hygiene.

The book advocates for returning to trains because cars will become obsolete. But what will the trains run on?

The author thinks the suburbs are doomed because they require cars, which won't be able to last forever since oil won't last forever. I still hold out hope for clean energy sources like solar though. Maybe we could invent cars that could run off of salt water, or human waste, or plastic garbage? I know that humans would be better off in terms of health if they had to get around using their own leg power, but I hate to think of humans being forced to live in an urban area just because they can't walk/ride very far.

The book includes a good summary of the corrupt banks that caused the 2008 recession, and how it coincided with peak-oil.

I learned that President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof, but Reagan took them off. Humanity has the capability to make our world sustainable but they choose not to!

I learned about the OPEC countries. I notice that many of them are ones the US chooses to war with or otherwise interfere with (iran, iraq, libya, venezuela, etc.)

The book says people won't be able to live in the southern states due to the uncomfortable climate without AC, but how are the northern states any better? They have hot summers too, with the addition of cold winters. And how are people going to heat their homes without electricity? Not many trees left to cut down for firewood. I think people are more likely to survive the heat than the cold without electricity. Temperatures below 32 probably mean death quicker than temps of 100.

Overall, I recommend the book. The author forecasts a lot of doom and gloom, but he may be correct in his predictions. We would be wise to prepare for the worst, just in case it happens. I liked that he was mostly objective and made insightful points.

Apr 01, 2015

I just finished this book and I am frustrated. I really wanted to like this book and I am very interested in the concepts that Mr. Kunstler writes about, but he puts way too much opinion without much proven fact into this book. Overall, I wish I would have just read about two chapters of this book towards the end where he talks about fracking and climate change briefly. Otherwise he just sounds like a grumpy old man. I don't really care about his synopsis of the economy over the past several years, there are other books that do that better. It's a nice hypothesis that we might soon run out of energy, but the whole book make a leap in what he thinks will happen. This makes me sad because as I said, I am intrigued by the authors other titles, but i doubt that I will read one of his books again.

Feb 06, 2013

This book so annoyed me I sang a little song while I was returning it:

Kunstler's right as all can see
He states his facts for you and me
He needs no bibliography
This book is just that fact free

I am the choir he is preaching to, but I like my statistics and 'facts' with citations. Is he quoting himself? Is he an authority on all things? Is he, like my teenagers, allergic to footnotes?

An embarrassing volume.

Nov 08, 2012

To fully grasp why I state that Kunstler is a useless piece of corporate-quasi-environmentalist, please closely read this book, then read the Money Mafia, by Paul Hellyer. Kunstler's book bothers me. It follows a highly intelligent, logical thread, but then when he mentions the Federal Reserve he goes completely ignorant, both historically and from and educated-type perspective, claiming anyone in disagreement with it is a John Bircher --- completely ignorant of the historical fact that the Progressive Faction was against private banks having the power of the American government's money creation. Either he is completely ignorant about who runs and owns his world or he is on their payroll? Keep giving those Wall Street-loving TED talks, Kunstler!

Sep 04, 2012

A must read for those who worry about where the future of mankind is headed. Whether you buy into his ideas or not this book is well written, interesting and presents a few ideas I'd not heard expressed quite the way he does. I will certainly look into other work he has done. The material in his book clearly describes the future that awaits us. A prudent person should read this.

MacGreenBear Aug 16, 2012

The follow up to The Long Emergency from 2005 reveals some of Kunstler's predictions coming true. Well written and insightful. He does offer some solutions even if they aren't what people want to hear...they are the most likely outcome.

Jul 17, 2012

Just another Malthusian, it seems.

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