Peak Oil and the End of Sweet Suburbia

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in Culture

Published on June 08, 2008 with 4 Comments

June 8, 2008

“We’re literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up.”
– James Howard Kunstler

Global oil peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now. Are today’s suburbs destined to become the slums of the future? This is a short version of “The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream,” a documentary about the end of the age of cheap oil.

The complete 78-minute version of The End of Suburbia is available on DVD at

Discussion and debate is welcomed.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Peak Oil and the End of Sweet Suburbia are now closed.

  1. The vast majority of the housing that is being built in SF is not affordable to the workforce that moved out to the suburbs for whatever reasons. In the Richmond District, where I live, it is common to walk into an Open House and view condos of 1,200 to 1,900 square feet that sell for a minimum of about $800,000. Transportation of children across town to go to school, the solution that the Board of Education has come up with to meet the requirements of court-ordered desegration, is certainly a problem — but it’s just one more on top of an increasingly exclusive housing market. Unless housing is affordable, people cannot move back into the cities.

  2. I have chosen to believe that the future is promising, with new industries enabling a comfortable life style with less consumption. We can see even local policies in San Francisco i.e. Plastic Bag ban, Subsidies for Solar Paneling and the Turbines under GG Bridge, are trying to help curb demand on resources (not sure all of these are necessarily economically feasible but is that the point?).

    Rising Fuel costs will speed up this innovation and direct people’s choices, towards less driving and locating closer to work and entertainment. House builders and Transportation suppliers will move to meet this growing demand. There is some interesting work done on this by the “Pigou Club”.

    We can see in San Francisco and to a lesser extent Oakland downtowns are more popular locations to live than the Suburbs, the hardest test for us now is to balance the demands of the current residence against the demands of new residence. I think Education is in more of a crisis than Housing as we see a two tier system being created. The idea of lottery is like throwing in the towel and admitting that some schools will always be allowed to lag behind others. The school lottery also forces parents to drive across town than to walk the couple of blocks to the closest school.

  3. No corporation is more responsible for unplanned suburban sprawl than the Lennar Corporation. And now they’re profiting from commuter crawl and soaring gas-priced flight back into the inner cities.

  4. As Marc Salomon always says, cars (especially SUVs since they are large) are the affordable housing of the future;.