Saturday, April 21, 2007

so you know about peak oil. now what?

People often ask me what they should do once they understand that a global peak in oil availability is right around the corner. I need a place to point them so here is a quick list of the top six steps I think make the most sense to focus on in light of what's headed our way. Even if you don't think peak oil is real, these aren't bad life changing suggestions in my humble opinion.

Step One. Get Educated. I'm not talking about going back to school or watching more Fox newz. I'm talking about diversifying your sources of knowledge and learning as much as you can about what's really going on in the world. Take the red pill, swallow it and enjoy the ride. The real world is nothing like the nightly newz. You can find a short list of helpful resources on the right side of this webpage but do your own investigation. And do not believe all of what anyone says. Me included. It's your only life. Don’t you want to know what's really going on?

Step Two. Get Out of Debt. Peak oil will inevitably mean a chaotic financial future. Ultimately we're talking about the end of economic growth. We do not have a substitute model up and running so the transition period is going to be rocky. The last thing you want is to owe someone else money. Cut up your credit cards. Terminate your cable subscription. Toss your cell phone. These are only a few of the luxuries we've come to view as necessities but they really aren't. Do not believe the myth that it's impossible to live cheaply in America these days. It just takes a commitment. I bet you'll be amazed at how good being debt free feels.

Step Three. Divorce Your Vehicle. Examine just how dependant your are on gasoline. If you drive more than 10 miles a day to meet your basic needs, make change. Transportation is especially dependant on petroleum and a shortage of liquid fossil fuels will express itself early on as really expensive prices at the pump. Dump your gas guzzler and replace it with more fuel efficient car. You don't have to violate Step Two to do this. My current car is a 1996 Nissan Sentra that regularly gets more than 30 miles to the gallon. I bought it 3 years ago on eBay for $900. It is possible you just have to be willing to trade status for prudence. Better yet, find a living arrangement that requires little or no dependency on an automobile for daily needs. All over the country there are communities where families can live within reasonable walking distance to school, shops and offices. Maybe try something insanely radical like riding a bike. It is after all, the most efficient form of human transportation ever invented.

Step Four. Grow Some Food. You don't need to try and grow ever calorie your family eats. That would be difficult if not impossible but you can plant some potatoes, tomatoes and beans. Towards the end of World War II, Americans were growing more than 40% of their vegetables in their own gardens. Time to rip up the lawn again. Not only will you be pleased with the flavor of your homegrown food, but you'll get some exercise and most importantly, you will transform yourself from a consumer into a producer. This might sound like a subtle distinction but it is incredibly empowering; the idea that you are in charge of your life, you don't just purchase it from other people. Growing some of your own food isn't difficult. Your ability to do so will improve with practice though so start today. Right now even.

Step Five. Get Rid of Your Television. This might sound silly to some. What does my television have to do with preparing for peak oil you might ask? The average American watches more than 3 hours of TV each day. Some estimate more. But even 3 hours daily equates to 21 hours a week. That's more than half an average work week. One of the most common complaints from people resistant to change is that they don't have time to learn a new way to live. That excuse factors in almost an entire day each week spent sitting in front of a box watching other people pretend to live lives you wish you could. Madness. Unplug your idiot box and take it to the curb today. Put a sign on it, "WORKS JUST FINE." It'll be gone in 15 minutes. And you will have given yourself an extra day, 21 hours each week, to learn a new way of life. I promise, 6 months from now you won't even miss it and you'll be well on your way towards living your own life.

Step Six. Feed Your Soul.
Change isn't easy. And the issues surrounding peak oil can be incredibly depressing. I didn't recognize this as I began to explore peak oil on my own several years ago. I got a good taste of depression and it wasn't at all yummy. Peak oil is not the end of the world. In fact, I think in the long run it'll be a good thing for us and our country. But the transition, any transition, can be jarring. Be sure to stay happy. Listen to music. Share with your family. Adopt a friend. Spend time in reverence whether it’s in a church, synagogue, mosque or the woods. Talk. Share. Laugh. Drink. Eat. Play. Enjoi your life in the ways that most make you happy. You are going to live through one of the most monumental events in human history, the peaking of global oil production. Don't close your eyes or hide away in fear. Embrace the time you've got and try and balance prudent preparation with enjoyment of life. Fear can be a motivator but is ultimately debilitating. Try and buffer against it.

Best wishes on your journey and good luck. I hope this advice proves helpful.

My friend Sharon has a couple of other lists- further steps you can take to prepare for peak oil. You can read them by clicking on the following links.

The Next 100 Things You Can Do To Get Ready For Peak Part I

The Next 100 Things You Can Do To Get Ready For Peak Part II


Emmanuel said...

Interesting article. The best way for you guys to prepare for oil peak would be to consider relocating in another country, but maybe that's not very practical for you.
I myself have chosen to leave Western Europe and settle in Southeast-Asia.

For another source of inspiration, I could recommend that you read the John Titor story. Not for the tacky time travel thing (which I don't believe in) but for the observations he makes about what could become of our future (which I find quite interesting).

perplexd said...

Kick-ass list. There are so many long lists out there and all of them uslessly complex. This one you can read quickly then start on. If you really do just these six things, you'll change your life forever.

nulinegvgv said...

emmanuel, if relocating only meant me I would probably have already left America. Last Monday’s shooting was yet another example of how irrational the U.S. has become. Not 24 hours went by before I started seeing pro-gun comments like, "This was a horrible event but don't you dare even consider gun restrictions." Several people went so far as to say that if the students had been armed, fewer people would have been killed. That’s right, people were actually saying that more guns, not fewer would have helped. Perhaps they think everyone should carry a gun at all times instead of fostering a civil society where people don't need to carry guns. Insanity, but just another example of how narrow minded many in this country have become.

Sorry, wandered off on a rant there. I was going to say that I have a wife and a young daughter. We live in a small town with family very close by. We grew up here and know plenty of people. I think that will be very important to us in the future. It’s hot in the summer but I feel comfortable with the climate and its ability to support us in the foreseeable future- its pretty easy to stay warm in the winter and our long growing season makes food production easier. We get plenty of rain in normal years.

Plus I haven’t entirely given up on this country. I think I can help my community, so we have made the decision to stay.

perplexd, thanks for the compliment. I think life change is possible. In fact I have experienced it. If this list helps just one other person to make change I’ll be happy with it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information. I have already taken notice and realize that the oil is running out. I personally have begun research into alternative energy. In my opinion there are plenty of resources, we just need to begin using them.

I can't however give up my cable, or the tv. It's not that I sit and just watch, I really use it for info. I have found some programming to be right up this alley. There was a show recently that featured ancient technology, and I have been thinking a lot about incorporating some of it in my life in order to deal with the oil crisis.

I have also seen some programming on new and inventive vehicles. One in particular was using compressed air.