Peak Oil: High Tide for an Oil Addicted World/Personal Action
This sounds bad, but why should I worry about it?
Isn’t it your world? Your friends? Your family? Your children? Your grandchildren? Isn’t it in some way going to affect you? Your standard of living? You don’t want to worry about that? Well, maybe you shouldn’t worry about it, worry does not get you anywhere. Worry does not help. Besides, it’s not all bad. OK, oil will one day be too expensive to use. One day we will be living in a post carbon world, but that world is not necessarily a dystropia. It is not by all means certain that we will end up living in a “Mad Max” nightmare. Think of peak oil from a more positive side. Think of a world that is more locally organised, one that is in balance with nature. We can still have technology base society. One with a good standard of living. Peak oil gives us an opportunity. One where we can start to think about what kind of world we want for our children and our grand children. One we can start building. It is not beyond our abilities to do and the earlier we start the easier it will be. Don’t worry, act!
How am I supposed to prepare for this when I have so much else to deal with?
Lack of time for you own survival? Lack of time for your own future? One might wonder about priorities! However, preparing for peak oil and a post carbon world is probably not something that you should be doing by yourself. If at all possible then you should be working with others. Family or those living close to you for example. Sharing the work is one way of giving yourself more time.
If I start giving stuff up, it’ll just make things cheaper for others and they’ll be able to enjoy it instead. Why should I give things up?
Greed and selfishness will always be with us and it is the nature of cooperation that when the majority benefit there will always be more to gain in the short term by acting selfishly. However, in the long term all will lose. Hopefully, most people will realise that their long term best option is to work together with others. To reduce, reuse and recycle so even though some people will gain by acting selfish most people will still gain overall. Greed and selflessness are part of human nature and they will never go away. But so is generosity, a cooperative sprit and a willingness to do things for others. Those characteristics will, most like, be the characteristics that will see us though and hopefully enough people will realise that so that we can benefit from working together, despite the minority that will be working against everyone else for their own selfish reasons.
Do I have to go and live in a cave or in a forest?
Most likely, no. It will be very unlikely that that will be the sate we will end up in. The human race has spent most of its existence with out oil. Civilisations have come and civilisations have gone but even when things have been at their lowest people have survived with out haven’t to go back to caves or the forest. It is quite clear that we can not continue as we are but that does not mean things will go backwards. Already there are people working on local solutions to a post carbon world, people are forming communities and looking at growing their own food. You could see those as seeds of a future society. Perhaps one that is more in balance with nature? They can be seen as a sign that people will not have to go back to caves but there is a way to live post carbon with a good standard of living.
Should I get a gun or learn self-defence?
Learning self-defence is a wise thing to do regardless of peak oil and there are many good self-defence systems such as ju-jitsu that a person can learn. As for a gun, it is not clear what the situation will be like post peak but it is probably unlikely to deteriorate to that degree. On one hand, as time and finances are limited it would be wise to allocate such resources to more important activities such helping with local solutions. However, on the other hand a gun could be an option if you wish to plan for the worse case scenario. It can also be seen as an unwise activity as more and more people obtain guns it becomes more of a necessity to have one, which then contributes to a deteriorating situation. Not opting for a gun could help keep the situation at a more civilised level.
One compromise position is to obtain a gun for hunting rather than self-defence which can also be used on a farm for activities such as shooting vermin. The gun could then be available if things do go really bad.
Will people wake up in time?
On the basis of the past we predict the future. Everything was fine yesterday and it is fine today so it will be fine tomorrow. Won’t it? There has been plenty of doomsayer in the past predicting the end of the world and they were all wrong so anyone today predicting bad time ahead will also be wrong. Won’t they? People like to think things are going well. They don’t want to know about problems. They vote for politicians that promise them a better future. Even if there are problems, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. So even if you have all the facts in the world stacked in your favour. Even if the evidence supports your case people won’t listen. They are too busy with their own lives to think about something that is depressing. Not until thing start to hurt will people wake up and then they will want to know why was anything done sooner?
Even so, there are people who wake up early. There are people who listen and there are people who act. A world with out oil is not all doom and glom. Peak oil gives us an opportunity to think about what we are doing and what kind of world we want to live in and people are being to wake up to that. The question should really be are enough people waking up or is apathy going to bring about our doom?
Where should I live?
Where you live is, of course, up to you. But factors you might like to consider when deciding where to live are things like:
Distance to work – with ever increasing oil prices the car might become too expensive to use on a daily bases. You might like to move closer to work or somewhere where you could telecommute.
Growing space – food prices might also go up. It might be economical, or even necessary, to grow your own food. That could mean you might want a house with a garden or a place near an allotment.
Other people – some people are already acting. You might want to consider moving to where there are already people preparing for a post carbon world.
Should I have children?
This is essentially and hopefully will remain a personal choice. If you don’t care about the future of the human race then you probably wouldn’t be interested in the consequences of peak oil and are best to go out and party. If you do care, then at the societal level sensible reproduction is not only not at odds with mitigating the worst consequences of peak oil, but is essential for the future of the human race. In fact just a small drop in the overall birthrate, i.e. sensible reproduction, would reduce our population naturally over a reasonably short period. Reducing our population is seen by many as important in order to share out the reduced resources and pull ourselves back from overshoot (please see The Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update (Meadows, Randers, Meadows ISBN 193149858X June 2004 for more info). However stopping all reproduction would lead to self imposed die-off , which unless all you are interested in is a human free world for all the fluffy bunnies is not the solution.
In short, have children if you like, but not too many.
How should I change my life?
The keywords here are: reduce, reuse and recycle. Something you could do is to try and look at what you use and see if you could reduce you consumption and your eco-foot print. Look at what waste you produce, look at insulating you home or look at just turning down the heating a bit. When you go shopping plan your waste in the shop and think about what goods you buy. Then look at reusing things. If you reuse something it will save you having to buy it again and saves having to throw it away. Many things can be reused such as margarine tubs which can be used for storage, so can glass bottles and jars. Clothes can be passed on to other kids etc. Recycle what you can't reuse. It only takes a small amount of additional effort to throw waste away in a container marked “glass” or “paper” rather than all in one bin. Then those, already sorted, containers can be taken to the local recycling station.
Another thing that you might want to consider is where you buy your goods from. Local produced goods have less of an impact on the environment than goods produced halfway across the world and are then transported to you local shop. The same can be said for buying things that are organic. If you can buy locally, think about doing so (even if it's a little bit more expensive). See if there is a local farmers' market or box scheme in your local area. Support your local shop and even see if you can work in cooperation with your local shop.
If I tell people about this, will they take me seriously?
Probably not. After all, why should they? Everything is fine isn’t it? Besides, if things were to go wrong then the government would fix it, wont they? And what do you know about it anyway? If there was a real problem won’t the experts be telling us? We don’t need to hear it from doomsayers such as you! Now, I will go stick my head back in the sand!
However, that is not a good reason not to inform other people. You can never change people’s minds, they will do that to themselves. You can’t tell other people what to think but you can inform yourself and then inform others. It is then up to them what they do with the information and most people probably wont take it seriously until things start to hurt them personally. However, sooner or later you will find someone who will take it seriously and then another and then another. There are already a small groups of people becoming informed and informing others who are taking it seriously. Hopefully the number will continue to grow by small actions of individuals who inform others despite most people they meet not taking it seriously.