Monday, March 19, 2012

Peaked

I read this very interesting article.

It's what the Peak Oil/ASPO people have been saying for years, and while I'm not, really, part of that crowd, over the last half decade I've been following their writings and watching as prediction after prediction comes true. At this point, I believe they know of what they speak, and they say, get ready for less.

But this isn't an I-told-you-so post, because *I* never told anyone anything. I simply regurgitated what people who are far smarter than I am have been saying - and that is, we should be getting ready to be a lot poorer. We should be getting ready to have less oil, which means supply lines will be either slower - or for some things, perhaps completely severed.

It doesn't have to be some gradiose, stock-piling of floor-to-ceiling canned goods, though, and it doesn't have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The first step is not buying stuff, but rather changing one's mindset.

Imagine, for instance, that a winter storm is approaching, and predictions are that it's going to be a doozy. What do we do?

I go outside and check to make sure that my animal enclosures are secured, that all of my feathered and furred charges have plenty of hay and water. I make sure the snow shovels are where I can reach them. We load up the woodbox inside, and .... Well, that's about it. We already have back-up lighting, a woodstove and plenty of firewood, a supply of food, and know where we'd get water if the lines freeze.

That's the mindset change. Deus Ex Machina and I are not preparing for TEOTWAWKI, but rather we're making sure that in the event of an every day emergency (which, incidentally, a snowstorm where we live, is *not*), we know that we'll be okay.

And we'll be okay, because through our preparations, we've made ourselves a little less dependent on an infrastructure (the oil-drenched infrastructure that is our American society) that can, and does, fail us.

I was part of a conversation the other day. A friend was blaming the President (and the EPA) for a pending increase in the cost of electricity. I understand (and agree to an extent) that it's very frustrating to see these increases in cost-of-living, and it must feel like every time we think we're going to break even (or get ahead, if we're lucky), we end up falling ever so slightly behind. And right now, especially, I know it feels like the cost of everything keeps increasing when no one has any money to pay for it (one of my favorite Peak Oil writers is fellow mom, Sharon Astyk, who's been saying, for years, that it won't be a shortage of electricity that gets most people, but rather, the inability to pay for it). I understand the frustration, because I've been there, and a big part of the frustration is this feeling of impotence - like I have no control.

That's the mindset change we need to make. When I started looking at ways I could change my lifestyle so that we didn't *need* to be dependent on this infrastructure, I no longer felt like I was being controlled. I'm not delusional enough to believe that I'm still not as much under the control of our system as the next guy, but when things go bad, my family is not negatively affected.

When there's no power, worst case scenario is that we can't access the Internet.

When food prices increase, worst case scenario is that we eat out less.

When gasoline prices increase, worst case scenario is that we walk to the library instead of driving.

When heating oil prices increase(d) ... well, this no longer effects us, as we use alternative heating methods (and for the past four days, with the temps in the 50's and 60's, we haven't even had fire in the woodstove - which is the other part of necessary mindset change - redefining need versus want :).

When the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that oil production worldwide has peaked (and this group wouldn't make such a claim lightly), validating what bloggers and writers have been saying for years, and what M. King Hubbert predicted back in the 1950s, perhaps it's time we start listening.

The world is getting poorer. The Age of Cheap Energy is over, and we're all going to get a lot more self-sufficient, or we're going to have a very difficult time.

In the end, it's not about getting ready for a one-time catastrophic event, but mentally and physically preparing ourselves and our spaces for a world with less.

3 comments:

  1. So true. You can 'feel it in the air', so to speak, that this is the deep breath before the plunge. I am actually looking forward to seeing if this will finally force our society to live more sustainably. Until everyone gets on board, however, it could be a bumpy ride.

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  2. I think that after the initial freak-out, people are going to find they didn't need nearly as much "stuff" as they thought. After some ugliness, people are going to stop and scratch their heads, then say, "Why was that ever such a big deal?"

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  3. I tend to agree with you, Larry. I think there will be (is being) an initial freak-out period where everyone points fingers and demands solutions, but as they realize those things aren't going to happen for them, they'll start finding their own, and then, wonder, what's the big deal?

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