Watch James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia at TED
In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.
James Howard Kunstler calls suburban sprawl “the greatest misallocation of resources the world has ever known.” His arguments bring a new lens to urban development, drawing clear connections between physical spaces and cultural vitality.
Geography of Nowhere, published in 1993, presented a grim vision of America in decline — a nation of cookie-cutter strip malls, vacuous city centers, and dead spaces wrought by what Kunstler calls the ethos of Happy Motoring: our society-wide dependence on the automobile.
The Long Emergency (2005) takes a hard look at energy dependency, arguing that the end of the fossil fuels era will force a return to smaller-scale, agrarian-focused communities and an overhaul of many of the most prominent and destructive features of postwar society.
His confrontational approach and propensity for doomsday scenarios make Kunstler a lightning rod for controversy and critics. But his magnificent rants are underscored with logic and his books are widely read, particularly by architectural critics and urban planners.