Preparedness: A good alternative to denial (Review of Fleeing Vesuvius, Part 6)
Fleeing Vesuvius, New Zealand Edition
(2011, Feasta and Living Economies)
Fleeing Vesuvius finishes with an Epilogue (Part 7), in which different authors give practical suggestions about preparing for the eventual collapse of our present energy intensive economic system. The items reflect a wide range of perspectives and priorities. However there are a number of common themes:
- Try to be less “busy,” even if you have to cut back your work hours. Give yourself time to focus on surviving in uncertain economic times. Surveys show one of the main reasons Americans give for non-involvement in political and community activity is being too “busy.”
- Begin investing in land, fruit trees and non-perishable foodstuffs, rather than banks and stocks.
- Get out of debt and reduce your consumption by practicing frugality.
- Build a survival support network by shifting from cash transactions to bartering and (where available) to local currency transactions.
- Avoid the bunker mentality that characterizes the Survivalist Movement. Once another major disaster like Katrina hits, the denial practiced by most of the population will evaporate. Even if you have a shotgun, defending the food and water you have hoarded against an anxious and destitute mob is a risky proposition. This is why it’s essential to network with neighbors and other community members in preparing for a weather-related, public health or other crisis that disrupts the distribution of food and basic services.
- Replace virtual relationships with face-to-face ones (i.e. spend less time on the Internet). Build stronger connections with friends, family and neighbors. Join something.
- Re-skill in preparation for a new era in which energy guzzling technology is no longer an option – for example, learning how to grow veggies; make clothes, simple repairs and homemade cleaning products; and cook meals from scratch (a biggie for many young people).
- Work with local government to develop food security and other strategies to help your city or town become economically independent and energy self sufficient.
- Support site or land value taxes (LVT), similar to those enacted in Pittsburgh (see http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2012/01/15/money-and-energy-scarcity/)
- Organize and speak out against the refusal of elected officials to tell the truth.
- Organize and speak out against the failure by national governments to enact a feasible and effective emergency preparedness plan (addressing food and water security in the case of major infrastructure collapse).
- Organize and speak out against government policies that dig a deeper hole, by increasing dependence on dwindling and costly fossil fuels. Building more highways and coal fired power plants is just plain stupid.
- Lobby against government subsidies for “greener” technology – people who walk to work shouldn’t have to pay more taxes to pay for biofuels for people who insist on driving.
- Lobby for cap and share laws to reduce carbon emissions (see http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2012/01/17/surviving-the-collapse-possible-strategies/)
- Lobby for your national economy to become energy self sufficient.
Lobby for an international treaty that puts a price on carbon (i.e. that requires countries to pay for their carbon emissions) and allows a rapid rise in that price until countries and companies have no choice but to curb emissions and promote carbon sinks.
Transition Towns New Zealand
The final section in the New Zealand edition contains very brief essays by activist in New Zealand’s Transition movement in various parts of the country. Four of them are available on-line:
North American Edition
The North American edition of Fleeing Vesuvius has a preface by Richard Heinberg, author of the End of Growth (see http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/2011/10/30/documenting-the-collapse-of-capitalism/) and fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. Heinberg seems to have the same reaction if did: (”What a goldmine!”). You can read Heinberg’s preface here: http://fleeingvesuvius.org/2011/04/17/preface-by-richard-heinberg-north-american-edition/
The US edition also has an appendix “Should the US try to avoid a financial meltdown?” – a dialogue between two of the economists who contributed essays (Richard Doutwaite and Tom Konrad): http://fleeingvesuvius.org/2011/04/17/should-the-united-states-try-to-avoid-a-financial-meltdown/