Tuesday, December 06, 2005

awareness and preparation part II

So you're terrified of the future described by those who are warning of the coming peak in global oil production and the effects it will have on your life. You can't imagine a rewarding and fulfilling lifetime during which consumption decreases- a lifetime during which in fact all human activity declines. Maybe you've had a sneaking suspicion that despite what Dick Cheney says, our way of life is unsustainable. But you were able to convince yourself we could postpone payment for a bit longer and now you see we can't.

Thousands of Americans are becoming aware of the fact that our way of life is predicated on an energy source that will be entering a permanent phase of production decline in the near future. Some of our older citizens might escape the impact but anyone in their 40's or younger will surely see what it feels like to live with less than their parents did. And if you have children the conversations you carry on in your own head might be even more frightening. No one can tell us exactly what will happen. The future is by definition undefinable. It's not a stretch though to say that Peak Oil will be the single largest event in our lifetimes if not in all of human history.

As people begin to understand our situation as it exists outside of pop media culture coverage, many are having trouble mentally dealing with their epiphanies. It isn't uncommon to see these individuals grappling with the 5 classic stages of grieving. First there's Denial of the problem. We live in an age of affluence, in a country flush with material wealth. The idea that life won't continue as it has to date during our lifetime is tough to admit. Then there's Anger. Once someone has faced the problem and its possible effects he or she tends to get angry. The individual feels cheated or tricked and will blame anyone around: the oil companies, the government, the Middle East, even previous generations of wasteful Americans. Next up is the Bargaining stage. We've lived during an age of incredible technological advancement. Because of this we've developed an unhealthy faith in technology and its ability to continue to make life better. Many believe that because we've been able to do such wonderful things in the past we'll be able to figure something out concerning energy problem in the future. This is a sticking point for most people. Many have yet to get past it. They are willing to switch to a hybrid car or to reinsulated their attic as long as they are still able to drive where they please and walk around at home in their underwear. For those who don't worship technology and are willing to examine its limitation as described by the laws of physics, it becomes painfully clear that there are no comparable substitutes for oil and that change is coming in our lifetimes. Then Depression often sets in. Stable happiness is hard to imagine as any individual completely recreates his or her future based not on the lie of endless growth but on the reality of resource depletion and the limits to growth. For me this lasted about three months. Finally though there is Acceptance. Being constantly sad and upset about something you can't sit down and fix is frustrating. Most people eventually wake up to the fact that life won't stop because you've acquired an understanding of Peak Oil. The world will not come to an end tomorrow. The Peak does not signal the end of the age of mankind. The uncertain future will be full of problems but you now have a way of understanding them. You have the proper perspective with which to comprehend our era. And you have time yet to prepare yourself and your family and your friends and maybe even your community for the coming events. So now what do you do?

I have previously posted about three online resources for personal preparation. I believe this sort of preperation is extremely important. Here are four members of the movement of Peak Oil community planning. Some say you're only as prepared as your neighbor is. I kinda agree.

First up we have Rob Hopkins and Transition Culture. He has produced a road map of sorts and describes it this way. This plan was produced at Kinsale FEC by myself and the college’s second year students, and was, as far as we know, the first attempt by a community to design an intentionally designed way down from the oil peak.

Here in the United States we see the community of Willits, Ca and the WELL organization (Willits Economic LocaLization) Here's a community serious about addressing the issues of Peak Oil through relocalization.

The Community Solution is an organization dedicated to the development, growth and enhancement of small local communities. They have a proposal for a Post-Peak Oil Community called Agraria in Yellow Spring, Ohio. Incidentally Yellow Springs hosted this year's Second Conference of Peak Oil and the Community Solution this past September.

Lastly I wanted to mention the Unplanner formerly of Southern California recently relocated(for reasons you might guess) to Lincoln County, Oregon. I find his articles insightful, especially his idea for beginningng the process of planning for the post-petroleum era.

Never has it been more important to think globally and act locally.


Anonymous said...

the grieving process is well written and applicable. and the references are insightful prognostications. now what?

nulinegvgv said...

This post and my previous post by the same title both begin by discussing the growing awareness of the American people that oil is a finite resource and as such will not last forever. Understanding the implications of Peak Oil is complicated and takes time. The later half of each post points to preparations being made or suggested by those already aware of the problem. The first post lists personal preparations and this most recent post lists community responses to the issue.

I'm hoping to track more comprehensive approaches to planning for a post-petroleum future- approaches that take into account preparation on multiple levels: personal, neighborhood, citywide, regional, and statewide.

Anonymous said...

a - prepare now for a oil depleted future. is it a bumper sticker? it could be.

UNplanner said...

Thanks for the link to my site and your comments. Today's posting responds to comments received and adds some additional info.


nulinegvgv said...

you're welcome. as for the bumper sticker, visit cafe press.