Brian Muller


James Howard Kunstler has written prolifically about the problems of sustainability and livability in the modern American city. This Essay discusses Kunstler's view of adaptation and compares it to the various efforts underway in cities across the United States to address problems of climate change and resource depletion, which I generally term the urban "sustainability retrofit." Kunstler describes an adaptive path that is brutal, driven by resource scarcity, social collapse, and environmental disaster. Although Kunstler presents an extreme view, this Essay argues that his books are important because they demand that readers reflect about the conditions under which sustainable and livable cities can be created, and the capacities of our polity, institutions, and society to face monumental problems such as climate change. This Essay draws on Kunstler's writings to construct a framework for assessing the effectiveness and possible consequences of the sustainability retrofit.