What happens if oil isn’t cheap anymore? Our farming and food systems collapse, the suburbs implode, a period of violence ensues, and in the end, we’re all living in small farming communities, riding bikes and milking cows by hand. So says James Howard Kunstler, who predicts this all may start to happen as soon as three years from now.

Ever since the end of World War II, we’ve embarked on this project to build ourselves a drive-in utopia — an economy based on suburban land development, eight-lane freeways lined with fry pits and hamburger shacks and a national big-box chain retail system. It has flourished because of two things: extraordinarily cheap energy and reliable supplies of it, and relative world peace. That has enabled big-box stores to develop 12,000-mile manufacturing and supply chains with the cheap labor overseas.