Saturday, January 3, 2009

Surviving the Transition

A few thoughts on surviving the transition from a cheap energy, oil-based economy in a temperate climate to an energy-deprived economy in a hostile climate --

I really thought I had a few years to get my personal act together, but at least for those of us in the U.S., I think this year will be it -- our economy is in such a decline that selling a house and moving elsewhere is extremely difficult and likely to get more so as the year goes by. So I'm digging in and trying to figure out how to make it work on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. I'm starting to learn about raising chickens and rabbits and trying to figure out how to grow fruits and vegetables in pure sand and salt air. For a city girl, that's a lot of learning! We do have a long growing season that's getting even longer, plentiful sunshine and plentiful, if sporadic, rainfall. We have fresh fish, wild foods, and great neighbors. I'm hoping to convince my husband that putting in cisterns and a water collection system would be a good idea, and I'm looking for ways to live without power if need be -- by creating a solar oven, for instance. (I like the version with the black pot inside a clear glass container -- alleviates the need for plastic bags.)

And the good news is that peak oil may do what human will has failed to do --reduce fossil fuel emissions. Ironically, the financial collapse and current dip in oil prices may have also steered us away from the more destructive alternatives -- tar sands and oil shale. It seems to be happening quite fast now -- all of it. I am pessimistic that we will be able to get alternatives up and going in time and quantity to maintain our current standard of living. I am optimistic that the inevitable long-term energy crisis will be a catalyst for fundamental change -- change that has the potential for a better quality of life in the long run. We may have passed too many tipping points already, but just in case we haven't . . .

I think by this time next year, all but a few diehards will have seen the writing on the wall.

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