Future as a Verb
Hi JonI saw your statement at the Energy Bulletin website that collects interesting energy/environmental articles for people like me who like to keep up with peak oil-related news. They are also apparently thinking about new directions. I live "in the country" outside Bellingham and teach an energy course (along with astronomy) at the local community college. In the energy course, we begin with a world overview, emphasis on oil and natural gas supplies and related geopolitics and all those apocalyptic future projections from Heinberg et al. (...)After a couple of weeks of doom and gloom, my students start begging for ideas they can implement locally. If you're still thinking of avenues for future blogging that might be a tip. You might get folks like me, who have been thinking and working on adaptations locally, to relate what we've done that makes sense and what we've not done that wouldn't make sense, along with mistakes. Even though that would be a local emphasis, people in similar climate and topography situations around the world could learn from it. At this point, there would be dozens of folks in Bellingham who might participate, and probably hundreds in Seattle, and hundreds more in Portland, and so forth. The Post Carbon Institute "outposts" would be a place to troll for participants.
Thanks for the email, John. Here are some of my thoughts on personal responsibility in the current era of imminent depletion.
- - -
Any discussion of Energy depletion correctly identifies doom and gloom as the base scenario, the one which is effortlessly taking place. This is similar to some of the shrill (frightened) warnings coming from consensus science regarding global climate change. Callow business as usual is steering us towards disaster in both cases.
As a commentator, I am interested in the hefty global issues, and I wish to maintain a realistic yet positivist attitude towards our predicament. The impediments humans battle in maintaining civilization are primarily cultural, not technical, and these barriers thus represent a fatal defect in our so-called civilization which MUST be resolved.
Unfortunately, taking a postive view of the overall global situation is not enough for the individual. One cannot avoid or duck planning for a shitstorm if all the signs point towards a shitstorm. There is the question of how one should prepare as an individual.
Everything one does in their life on planet earth in 2006 ideally will serve a dual purpose -- living a satisfying life in the here and now, yet at the same time preparing for the reasonable spectrum of negative possibilities.
Living in a negative future before it arrives is NOT a healthy way to exist. It also feeds that negative future.
Enjoy the wine from South America, the cigars from Cuba, the delicacies and knick-knacks shipped 4000 miles to your door. Take a trip. Don't overlook thoughtful and simple technical solutions, such as wind energy and conservation.
Meanwhile, identify and learn skills that might become useful in the near future. Plant your victory garden. Connect with communities. Look into modes of living that require less energy. Remember that food, water and a sweater are the bare minimum; everything beyond that is a luxury.
Here are a few examples of positive activities in the Pacific Northwest:
Seeds Saltsprings Eco-Village
"As members of SEEDS, we are working towards creating a planned ecovillage of a sustainably appropriate number of adult members (approximately one adult for every two acres), that is moving towards complete sustainable responsibility, supports a healthy, loving family-based culture, and functions as an educational model for the broader community. The underlying principle of our ecovillage vision is a deep commitment to the sacredness of our relationship to the whole web of life."
Renewable self-sustaining community up in B.C. -- I'd love to get a first hand report on this group. I believe they are trying to buy up enough land on an island to sustain their culture.
Students Flock to Campus Organic Farms
"In the last decade or so, student-run farms have cropped up across the country, at almost 60 schools in 27 states. Foodies call it the latest sign of the seasonal, regional food movement's influence, even on a collegiate landscape that's virtually paved with Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts and leftover pizza."
Starting an organic farm now is a way to lock in incredibly valuable knowledge years before it is needed. Also, check out what is doing in Portland with locally grown food.
Awareness and Community - SeattleOil
"Seattle Peak Oil Awareness is a local citizens action network offering information and practical ideas for living in a time of reduced energy availability. Working in small, focused groups we advocate healthy, sustainable living choices for all interested residents in the Puget Sound region."
Speaks for itself -- social connections are important.
And the list goes on from there -- there are wind farms in Eastern Washington, which in many cases do not interefere with farming and ranching activities underneath. If you live in Washington State and get your energy from the PUD, you can option to pay a little extra for green energy, and support efforts like these.
I'd love to see more ideas for local action posted here.