Peak Oil: From Disaster To Opportunity
Changing Your Mindset
By Anthea Hudson
I came across the concept of Peak Oil and all the related issues by accident, and in rather a roundabout way. A different way to a lot of people, and I think a good way, in that it gave me a glimpse into the potential, rather than battering me with the doom and gloom.
My search for "simplifying" (I was trying to find helpful ideas for simplifying my home and possessions) brought me to an episode of a wonderful online TV series "Peak Moment". I watched the relevant episode... then another... and another... and another. Over the next few weeks, I proceeded to watch every available episode!
Now, quite some time later, there are currently 206 episodes at the time of writing this. I was hooked! Fascinated! There was so much happening, and by ordinary- yet extraordinary- people, like you and me. Covering all kinds of topics, such as growing food, eco-wise transport, neighbourhood projects... and even a composting toilet, the host Janaia Donaldson gives us a unique view of how people are rising to meet the challenges ahead. Well worth checking out!
So, my initial reaction was really quite positive... even quite excited about the possibilities. My pioneering spirit kicked into gear! For many people though, when they hear about Peak Oil or other future problems- if they take any notice at all- they are only aware of the dire predictions and potential difficulties and losses humanity may suffer. If I had just read some gloomy article telling me the world as I know it is going to collapse, I would probably have felt fear and despair and hopelessness too. Not to say there won't be great change, and loss, and unfortunately, that probably includes loss of life for some.
But, consider this- is just giving up and withdrawing into a cocoon of fear and hopelessness going to give anyone a better journey through this? No. I don't think so. I think those who acknowledge it, and prepare, will be those who come out ahead. We cannot allow ourselves to be paralysed and overwhelmed.
So, how can we move past that initial fearful reaction and find a different, more positive perspective from which to view the possible future?
Finding Opportunity in Peak Oil
Firstly, how much is loss and how much is equal, or even greater gain?
Yes, we will lose things, we will need to simplify our possessions and our lives, find ways to substitute or do without certain things we have become accustomed to. But how much have we already lost in our modern lifestyles, in the way of time to call our own, communication and connection to each other, the earth... and even to our inner selves? And considering the huge problems of obesity and lifestyle illnesses, our health is also paying the price. Have the material gains and lifestyle luxuries really been worth this? Really? If we focus on quality of life, rather than "standard of living", are we immersed in quality life experiences... or surrounded by a large collection of possessions- and the trade-offs we have to make to afford them?
Is simplicity necessarily a state of loss, or might we gain a lot in the process?
Simplicity, Joy and Social Change
Maybe as things localise we will work from home, or live close to our workplace- and have more time with our families. Perhaps we will wander the local streets to do our shopping at local shops- and get to know others who live or work there, as well as getting healthier from the exercise. We might grow our own organic food, or purchase from other local growers, putting less chemicals into our bodies, and regaining the connection with our food and nature.
Community spirit may increase tenfold as everyone gets to know their neighbours and pull together to create local resilience. New and deeper connections might be made with family and friends as they spend more time together... and pursue activities that actually require social engagement and conversation.
Ingenuity and creativity could flourish as people come up with simpler solutions to complexities. And as our lives become simpler, might they also, in time, become less stressful? Don't these things, in fact, enrich us, rather than deprive us?
We can also look at these times as amazing opportunities to be an integral part of something larger and more all-encompassing than anything that has happened before in our lives- or the lives of many generations before us. How will this time be remembered in history? As a time when people gave up and failed to do what was needed to salvage as much humanity as they could... or a time when individuals and communities stepped up and went joyfully and elegantly to create their "Brave New World"? Which do you want to be a part of?
You can carve out a role for yourself in designing a compelling, positive, resilient future. Exciting isn't it?
Photo credit: Flavio Takemoto
Being prepared, both mentally and in a physical sense, will make you feel much more ready for what may come.
Preparing Emotionally for the Coming Chaos
Even small preparations and changes can make an enormous difference, compared to no preparation at all. Getting clear in your mind on what challenges you may be facing, and formulating a plan to address them, will give you active ways in which you can feel you are doing your best for your family, and your community, and a sense of control and purpose. It's much smarter than just hiding your head in the sand and letting whatever happens, happen.
Photo credit: Jon Wisbey
|Finding others in your community with similar vision can greatly help lessen fears, as sharing concerns, ideas and preparations with a group is easier and more productive than doing everything alone.
Once you all fire up your creativity, you may be surprised at some of the brilliant and ingenious solutions and plans the group comes up with. Being part of a resilient community greatly increases your personal resilience.
Opportunities will abound, like never before, to become involved, make a difference. Sharing, teaching and learning skills will become important.
Elders will be valued for their input of past skills and knowledge. Exchanges of items and services will be made at a much more local level... often not on a monetary basis, but by barter, reciprocal services, or just sheer neighbourly goodwill.
So take time to get to know the people whose neighbourhood you share. Build community.
"Who Am I?" in a Post-Petroleum World
Building Community from Your Front Porch
Changing your mindset can be as simple as changing your focus. Instead of dwelling on the fear and possible loss, switch your view to what you can gain from this experience. Find the silver lining in the dark clouds. How do you see yourself, your family and your community fitting into this future scenario? What needs to be done to make it a better fit? How can you smooth the transition from here to there- and find excitement, joy and personal fulfilment in the journey?
We don't know how soon or how fast the changes will happen, but one thing we know for sure... sooner or later, there will be change. Big change. And challenges. But challenge equals opportunity- so make the most of the opportunity to see things in a positive light, and create a world you will be proud to pass on to your children and all the children to come.
We will be pioneers in an as yet unexplored reality. Let's make it the right one this time...
for the planet, ourselves and for every living being on earth.
More articles that may interest you:
Mark Valencia: Making the Move to Self sufficient Living
Preparing by Simplifying: Sometimes Less is More
Creating Personal Food Resilience
How Gardening Can Help Create Resilience
My Foray Into Solar and Wind Power
Using Resilience as a Decision Making Tool
Creating Community: What You Can Do
Swap, Shuffle, Share: The Website Connecting Food Gardeners Across Australia