On civility and peak oil

In his book on the American South, the writer Jeremiah Sullivan recalls sitting in a rental car that is in a long line of cars idly queueing up for gas. They are backed up onto the highway, near New Orleans; it is not long after Katrina. Most gas stations are not working properly and this one, if memory serves, is also low on fuel. People are stir crazy, angsty, short-fused, want to get out. And if there were no more oil? And if, after the supplies of oil soon to be available in the warming Arctic were to dry up, where would we be?

Stepping onto the subway as workers head home from work is an intimation of Hobbes’ war of all against all. Behind me, a woman, two women wedge and slide their way into the jammed subway before I do. Like others, they jockey for handrails, grabbing the best remaining spots on the standing pole. Some apologies, mainly sadnesses. Civility in the city is thin in these instances. How thin will it become?

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