Essential to communities achieving resilience is their acceptance of the new reality in which they are living. They must resist the urge to cling to what they might see as the glory days of American prosperity and recogemptystore1nize that those days were mortgaged to the future. The debts we incurred in those days are now being called for repayment.

James Howard Kunstler is most known for futurizing peak oil and its impacts on civilization. For that, some have branded him one of the doomiest of Doctor Dooms, but I think it unwise to discount his vision. Like Kunstler, I don’t gain any satisfaction by seeing yesterday’s pessimistic scenarios being played out today. If anything, I hope that predictions made in books like The Long Emergency and World Made By Hand and validated in real life will get our attention and make us think more rationally about the future. And not just think about it, but change our practices and lifestyles and priorities to avoid the nasty consequences of sticking to the status quo.

In a column published on Alternet, Kunstler proclaims the death of consumerism and wonders if Obama can “lead us to a downscaled lifestyle.” Can this new president resist the pressure to miraculously deliver American society back to the good ol’ days of unlimited credit, planned obsolescence and obscene wealth to whomever can get it? Does this president recognize just how radically the world has changed with this lurch into economic chaos?

Dear Mr. President, you are presiding over an epochal contraction, not a pause in the growth epic. Your assignment is to manage that contraction in a way that does not lead to world war, civil disorder or both. Among other things, contraction means that all the activities of everyday life need to be downscaled including standards of living, ranges of commerce, and levels of governance. “Consumerism” is dead.