The End of Suburbia

Since World War II Suburbia has become the American Dream which is why Peak Oil strikes at the very heart of that way of life. In terms of the word ‘dream’ this is quite an alien concept outside of the US as few countries have had the luxury (or short-sightedness maybe) to follow this model. It is a product of seemingly endless cheap energy and boundless post war optimism. The automobile replaced the community – roads replaced pavements. Ironically, whereas Europe was destroyed by bombs the post war American Urban landscape was demolished by the wrecking ball in what Kunstler calls the ‘greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world’. Europe and Japan neither had the space nor the energy for this experiment. This 78 minute 2004 documentary is accompanied on the DVD by two whimsical 1950’s educational films – interesting but hardly essential – and an audio commentary. The Director, Gregory Greene, started the project thinking he would make a documentary about 9/11. However, the more he studied the ‘war on terror’ the more he realised it was about Peak Oil.

Outside of the US it is hard to image why Americans are willing to close their eyes to the evil done in their name. Why is the American way of life non-negotiable yet everyone else’s is? It is the myth of suburban life that is under the skin of the America. It is a living breathing cult. No one in the documentary is scared to say this. There is one architect who is trying to promote “The New Urbanism” in places like Denver and the documentary does steer clear of the darker side of Peak Oil theory. Food production is mentioned at length but the Directory describes this work as “peak Oil-lite” but at the same time said that this film scared his wife. If Peak Oil-lite is this frightening God help us all. The expert talking heads appearing in the movie is a who’s who of Peak Oil guru’s. Anyone who is anyone gets extended interview slots: Richard Heinberg, Julian Darley, Michael Klare, Colin Campbell, Michael Ruppert and James Howard Kunstler.

In fact the film-makers were criticised because all the participants were men. This movie is a far better introduction to the topic than Greene’s later work but it is still too long. Some points are too laboured and it could have been edited down to a more punchier 60 minutes. However, it is all good and probably one of the best documentaries we have seen so far that should be shown to a general audience on the basis that it could hold their attention. All the main themes are there. All the characters are in place. It is still NOT Peak Oil’s “An Inconvenient Truth” but it is half way there. It doesn’t overly shock nor numb and audience. Buy this and show it to everyone you know. And hundreds you do not. The makers are so convinced of the cause that they grant open license. You can show this movie to whoever you want. They originally talked to major Distributors to finance the work but no one wanted to make the documentary in the form proposed. It was seen as too depressing. So the makers decided to make it independently. The world is a better place for this. Get your copy from www.powerswitch.org.uk/order.htm

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

Comments are closed.