Friday, June 03, 2005

down the rabbit hole

Last night I came upon another institute that is working to educate communities about sustainable living.

[The] Post Carbon institute is an educational institution and think tank that explores in theory and practice what cultures, civilization, governance & economies might look like without the use of (non-renewable) hydrocarbons as energy and chemical feedstocks.
Their conclusion is that we need to "powerdown," and one of their strategies is to "Develop a network of community groups and organizations working on relocalization." In a nutshell,

Relocalization is the process by which communities localize their economies and essential systems, such as food and energy production, water, money, culture, governance, media, and ownership. This process will require that we rebuild our cities to severely reduce transport needs and support localization of essential systems - ecological city design provides as framework for this transformation.

The most exciting thing I came across on their site was a call for volunteers to help them work with community "Outposts" groups. You can bet I'll be following this up. I'll let you know what I find out in a week or two.

Speaking of support, I have been checking out bulletin boards and forums that relate to peak oil. When I read an introduction to one that said "[t]his is the group where feelings are as important as the desire for knowledge," I knew I had come to the right place.

I have learned that my own experiences after I first heard about "peak oil" are pretty common. When my friends and husband wanted to talk about it, I would stick my fingers in my ears and sing "la la la la la." They finally got me to watch The End of Suburbia, but I still felt the information in it was too fantastic to be believed. I hated the feeling that I was being presented with yet another vision of doomsday, and I was angry that they were pressuring me (as it felt to me then) to listen to information that I could give no credence to.

I didn't want to think about it, learn about it or know about it. But it was too late. I had already swallowed the red pill.* I'm not sure how it happened but slowly, bit by bit, I was able to let a little more in. Then I passed my own tipping point and suddenly I immersed myself in it. The results you see here.

It has been a relief to know that I am not alone. That the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) are a perfectly normal reaction to information that is potentially life-altering. I think I am in the bargaining phase, trying to find information that will help me survive this mess we have gotten ourselves into. There are no easy answers, and everyone will have to make their own way. But we are not alone.

If you, or someone you know has doubts and are willing to see a very rational explanation of the mathematics behind our predicament, I highly recommend this video of a lecture by Al Bartlett. He's a great educator, end even though it is a small format and it is hard to see all of his overheads, he does an excellent job of explaining the power of growth rates and the implications for our oil reserves. He dissects some of the claims we have heard over the years from experts and our government and gives the viewer the power to do their own analysis.

* for Mom: this is a reference to the movie The Matrix.

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