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Preparing for the End of Oil?

Hopedance magazine devotes its Jan/Feb issue to "Transitioning from Cheap Oil to a Post-Carbon World."
Articles include:
Economy and Jobs in a Post-Peak Oil World
Survival During the End of Oil
Interview with "For the Future"
Turning My Back on Bush
(Contents of Jan/Feb 2005 Hopedance)
-BA

In the film "The End of Suburbia," writer/researcher James Howard Kunstler spoke about some of the things we need to do when oil depletion hits the fan of America’s subsidized suburban lifestyle. He mentions a number of solutions: change suburban malls to mixed zoning areas; grow our food locally; get together with neighbors and start thinking about solutions; work closer to home; create local energy resources; design walkable communities and other new urbanism type designs, and other creative activities.

However practical his list of solutions, the major focus he appeared to share is to "mentally prepare" for the inevitable collapse of the American dream. The question is how do we do that? How do we prepare ourselves for any type of collapse or crisis, especially since we are inundated with messages that everything is OK and our leaders continually tell us that "changing our lifestyle is not negotiable." How can a culture predicated on isolation, separation, and individualism even begin to prepare for something that may be so devastating? Can we take it? Can we, you and I, envision a world without oil and the inevitable transformation, both personal and political?

Our government tells us what color the terrorist level is, upsetting our equilibrium, making us all the more fearful. But did the terrorist attacks come? No. Wouldn’t it be wiser for them to focus on real problems — global warming, the deficit, oil depletion, outsourcing of jobs, etc. — so we can prepare for the inevitable changes?

They make us fearful about nonexistent threats, all the while convincing us that the real threats don’t exist. Talk about schizophrenic leadership!

Perhaps it’s time to NOT rely on them. Forget about their alleged power. It’s us who give them the power. Perhaps it’s time to give it back to ourselves; empower ourselves with the solutions that we need and rely less on them for our leadership.

Some ideas for mentally and emotionally preparing:

1. Getting more information to understand the problem, rather than explaining it away or withdrawing into denial or opting for our savior, the government, to use military options to guarantee our lifestyle.

2. Getting together with other people, neighbors and friends to study various books, magazines and documentaries to pursue the subject that will either validate the various scenarios or not.

3. Creating a support group to find rituals for a safe space to let yourselves really FEEL the possible effects of this transition.

4. Read some of the more realistic sci-fi dystopias to see what certain authors have come up with so we can decipher whether there are potential solutions or not.

5. Read and study people/pioneers who have been working on solutions for years. Some people have been warning us for years. Isn’t it time for us to listen to them with bigger hearts and more expanded ears and minds?

6. Check out various "alternative lifestyle" situations where pioneers have created some of the answers, i.e., cohousing, intentional communities, eco-villages. Study some of the world’s societies and cultures that had to deal with specific problems like oil depletion and learn about the painful consequences and some of their creative solutions, i.e., Cuba.

7. Visit some societies, before we can’t, and learn how they have survived pretty well without such an addiction to oil, gasoline, the numerous products made from petroleum, etc.

Many of us cannot easily change jobs, locations, religions, diets, mates. We get attached, but to become dis-attached to a point of learning something new can be a form of "mental preparation" in itself, oil depletion scenarios or not. If we can learn more about our own attachments and addictions and simply see them as they are, perhaps that is one way we can mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves. Granted, we may come up against our fears, our grief, our anger, and our disillusionment and even the possibility of the extinction of the human race.

These are not easy questions to ponder, but then again if one wishes to live life fully, with intensity, those questions are perpetually in motion as we live from day to day, in the moment. But most of us do not have such knowledge, wisdom and resiliency. Most of us have our cultural beliefs and values embedded into our psyches. Perhaps we need to cultivate this vital preparation of our own inevitable personal deaths so that we can become more effective and practical when it comes to dealing with the inevitable challenges that will be upon us.

Bob Banner wants to start a think tank like "For The Future" in Santa Barbara, right here in SLO. He also thinks that reading Powerdown by Richard Heinberg would be a good way to start. If anyone is interested, contact him at hopedance@aol.com or 544-9663.

Editorial Notes: Hopedance ("Radical Solutions Inspiring Hope") is a tabloid/website from San Luis Obispo (Calif) with an intriguing blend of local and global coverage. Past issues have had some outstanding articles (for example, see its Permaculture issue or its Peak Oil issue). -BA

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