As most of you may have heard, I attended a conference on Community Solutions to Peak Oil in NYC last weekend. If you're not familiar with the term Peak Oil, it is in a nutshell the halfway point in world production of oil. It marks the highest level of oil output that will be achieved on the planet. Some believe that the supply of oil in the world is endless, or that there are vast quantities of oil waiting to be tapped at a moments notice by the Saudi's, or by the "big oil" companies. Unfortunately this is proving not to be the case. The last major oil field discovery was 30 years ago. In 2004 30 billion barrels of oil were burned up, while only 8 billion barrels of new reserves were discovered. That ratio has worsened into 2006, as the world now uses about 6 barrels of oil for every 1 barrel of new reserve that is discovered. If your looking for somewhat of a primer on peak oil go HERE or HERE for more info. Our nation's present lifestyle is becoming unsustainable in the face of rising energy costs (this article voices the opinion of James Kunstler who is one of the most outspoken in it's level of unsustainability.) Whether or not you believe in "peak oil" or all of it's implications, the important thing to realize is that rising energy costs will begin to affect all aspects of our lives. I hesitated in sharing my thoughts on peak oil with my friends and family, initially because I hadn't sorted out my thoughts on the subject, and then more so because my fear of being the bearer of bad news. Recent admissions by the president ("we are a nation that is addicted to oil"), and by big oil companies ("will you join us" and "beyond petroleum") have solidified my belief that we may have seen the last of cheap energy costs, and the beginning of increased fuel and expenses.
Here is my post from GG:
One of the first warning signs of peak oil is upon us, the inability of oil producing nations to keep up with the increasing demand of worldwide consumers. The ability to control the price of crude oil has fallen out of the hands of the OPEC nations. The government has begun to warn us that price hikes may be less temporary than they previously had stated, now slated to last through 2007. (As you'll note in the article, no reason is given for a possible reduction in prices at that point.)What is our only option for riding the peak oil production plateau and inevitable slide (or shock, as it may be)? Relocalization.
Dozens of presenters came and spoke their peace at the PeakoilNYC sponsored Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma Conference. Most touted relocalization in some form, as the nation's (and world's) only hope of coming out safely on the other side of the peak. Michael Brownlee from Boulder Valley Relocalization spoke on day one of the conference, and his words on relocalization are worth reading (.pdf).I also was deeply affected by some of the speakers who presented on economic topics. As I posted earlier, John Ikerd's speech was rousing and inspiring. Catherine Austin Fitts, although I may not fully buy into (or understand) the entirety of the Solari Model of economics, made me think outside of the box on my personal spending and investment. The important thing that I took away from her talk (avail in powerpoint), was that we have a tremendously effective way to change the society and world that we live in, by spending and investing our money in socially and locally responsible ways. We should be reinvesting in our communities, and increasing the "popsicle index" in our neighborhoods. There was so much good information on socially and locally responsible economics, that it will certainly warrant its own post in the near future.
After the conference had sufficiently filled my admittedly out of shape brain (it has been some time since I have studied a topic day and night for 3 days in a row), I took a few days off to decompress, and sort out the myriad of thoughts in my head. I was reduced from my normally talkative self to responding that the conference was "great" and "informative". So pen in hand, I began to write down what I feel that I can do to relocalize my life. (click more for the list)Here they are, in no particular order of importance. Perhaps it will inspire you to find ways to spend your money locally and reinvest in your neighborhood, as well as finding ways to improve the quality of life for you, your friends and family, and in turn, your community.
- Shop at regional market weekly.
- Find organic local dairy farm, and inquire about whole/raw milk, and artisan cheeses.
- Move money from Chase to our local credit union.
- Resume blogging at geddesblog. Use this as a tool to promote local businesses, and continue to encourage others to spend locally.
- Share CSA and garden veggies with friends, family and neighbors, so they may share in the wonderful harvest of fresh, local organic food. Use this as an opportunity to meet neighbors within a 3 home radius of our house.
- Find a source of local meat.
- Buy New York state wines from the Finger Lakes Region, versus cheap bottles of wine that have travelled around the world from Australia.
- Buy beer from local brewers.
- Get wax for Mrs. Balogh's candle making from local candle factory, instead of shipping from Texas
- Talk to local politician (in charge of an energy task force) about peak oil, and local energy generation possibilities.
- Write to Centro (bus company) about expanding bus hours and frequency of routes for downtown trips (currently ending at 5:15 pm).
- Frequent local arts and musicians for entertainment, instead of watching TV.
- Find an alternative to shopping at Lowe's or Home Depot - our guilty pleasure.
- Find a list of locally produced goods/services and support those businesses. Chamber of commerce?
- Talk to 40Below group, to see if there are plans for community gardens in the city, and volunteer time.
- Make sure that money is spent and invested in line with beliefs.
- Research ethical investment options.
- Find local grower of fruit trees to plant in yard.
- Learn how to make strawberry jam from Gram. Get raspberry shoots from Aunt Kathy's garden. Learn how to can tomatoes this summer. Then get others together and pass on those techniques.
- Learn how to make yogurt.
- Join local church.
- Clean off and service bicycles given to us. Look into bike cart for kids/groceries. What is the road distance to regional market by bicycle?
- Get serious about reducing waste and recycling. Remember that the majority of local garbage collection is incinerated into the air.
- Make rudimentary water catchment system from gutters.
- Learn how to make charcoal.
- Have a local showing of "End of Suburbia" in community. Invite friends and family. Encourage discussion of local solutions, and the importance of community.
- And finally, help inform others to prepare, by talking to them and setting an example with my actions.
We need to realize that we are all in this together. Liberal, conservative, old, young, rich, poor. We all have something to bring to the table. An idea, a skill, the ability to speak in public, the ability to grow food, the ability to give a bike a tune up. Just think how you could help your neighbors and how they could help you. When the world around you is going to hell in a handbasket, you'll be amazed at how people can come together. However, the time to prepare is now.Comments at GG: Relocalization - Our Only Solution to Peak Oil