Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ideas, lying around

Milton Friedman famously said "Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around."

We certainly don't want Mr. Friedman's ideas to be the ones that are adopted - radical privitization, slashing of social services, disregard for the masses of humanity.

Instead, peak oil activists are anticipating the crisis point of peak oil - when things become too bad to be ignored - when governments are having difficulty fulfilling basic functions under the "business as usual" model - or just when people wake up and realize the future is not more of the same, that the ideas we have been sold are a cruel hoax.

Peak oil activists are anticipating this point, and preparing ideas to have conveniently lying around. Ideas like retrofitting our homes, organic agriculture, victory gardens, government bikes, etc. We need to have solid, but flexible, plans in place, ready to implement in place of the corporate /profits as usual model. This applies to governments, businesses, and regular citizens.

What might these ideas look like for the government of Oklahoma City? I like to divide it into 5 areas:

1. Stop wasting time, energy and money on projects that have no future. Stop tax windfalls for gas and oil. Stop new highway development. Stop destroying rail architecture. Stop wastes like trying to attract pro-sports teams.
2. Encourage more citizen action in areas of energy conservation, food growing, and alternative energy generation. This can be done through education, dedicated resources, land grants, financial incentives, and removing government obstacles. Laws could be passed to encourage businesses to form carpools, install bike racks, etc. Laws could be passed to encourage use of clotheslines, front yard gardening, etc.
3. Leading the way in areas of energy conservation and alternative energy generation. At this point, these things make good economic sense - insulation, efficient windows, solar water heating, purchasing hybrid vehicles, encouraging workers to live near where they work, biking to work, providing decent public transportation, etc.
4. Mitigate changes underway. Start planting trees! A city with more trees is a city with less runoff, with more shade and less need for A/C, more greenery to improve the view, more free fruits and nuts for the citizens, more preservation of topsoil, and easier biking and walking. Prepare for more need for social services! Radical action might need to be taken to accomodate joblessness, homelessness, and hunger.
5. Prepare for the worst. Where's the disaster plan? Is the city preparing to function in the case of rolling blackouts? Being cut off from goods by a trucker strike? Citizen unrest in the face of massive change? How about a long-term energy descent plan? What will the city do to function when gas is $8 a gallon? Is the city just going to give up and die, or will it try to fulfill it's duties to the people? What functions will it try to keep, which will it abandon, which new ones will it adopt?

1 comment:

Lewru said...

God, I wish Mick Cornett would read this.