Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Environmental Nutjobism

After being so kindly nominated for the Environmental Nutjob award by Crunchy Chicken (jumping up and down! so excited!), I have to write a post confessing how I am not nearly the Nutjob that I should be. Although, for Oklahoma City, I am pretty weird. You don't even see people using cloth bags here.

First, the unusual stuff. I grow a garden, have fruit trees in my front yard, compost, use a reel mower, use a Sun Oven (regularly!). In the summer, I have 850 gallons of water sitting in raintanks in my backyard. My furniture is all hand-me-down and I buy mostly used stuff. I had a guerilla wedding. I do use cloth toilet paper and cloth hankies - that's probably the weirdest thing.
Occasionally I think things like "I must be the only person in Oklahoma City who owns a Kelly Kettle", and "I wonder if 375 pounds of wheat berries is enough?".

Seriously though - the basic facts of my life. I live in a 2000 square foot house in the urban suburbs. I am married with one child. I graduated from college and worked in the corporate world for 4 years. I drive a car (an old, old car.) I have a fridge and a clothes dryer. I read a lot. I drink coffee, and wine, and margaritas when I can get them. I like to go on long walks on the beach and go to movies. Whoops, this isn't a personal ad, is it?

Here are some pictures showing me being ordinary.

Hausfrau, shown here with real existing friends, who don't actually know about my online identity.

Hausfrau, depicted at the Grand Canyon, a very ordinary spot for a vacation (but with an extraordinary view).

Hausfrau, shown at guerilla wedding. Wait, that is a little strange.

I started this blog as an offering for some of the other people out there who may be stuck in the suburbs, for whatever reason, still living quasi-normal middle-class lives, but still want to prepare for peak oil. You know, I'm not out there with Sharon in the farmhouse. I'm not in a hideyhole with a stash of guns somewhere in Idaho. I haven't emigrated to the island off the coast of New Zealand or that ideal small town in North Carolina. I'm just trying to get along where I am.

The most interesting thing about me is that my expectations for the future are very different from the norm. I'm not expecting the future to be like the past, only better and more stuffed with technology. I'm expecting the future in twenty years, maybe even ten years, to be so different we don't even recognize it.

I think oil will steadily or suddenly become scarcer and more expensive. We may see the end of "retirement". We may see the end of "upward mobility". We may see 20% unemployment. We may see a large rise in crime. We may see the end of the dollar. I don't know that's going to happen, but I see it as enough of a possibility, with enough danger, to prepare for it.

I think climate change will make a big difference in our lifetimes. Crops, coastlines, migration patterns, growing schedules, natural disasters - all will change. I think it will be difficult in many ways to adjust. Places that were liveable will become semi-unliveable, and vice versa.

So I'm preparing for peak oil, and the potential financial and social disruptions that may come along with it. I'm trying to reduce my negative impact on the planet. And I want to help other people understand what may happen, and prepare for it.

In spite of all this, I want to have fun. I want to make the future fun and enjoyable. It doesn't have to be a disaster! It doesn't have to be horrible! Just because we have to give up some of our most cherished illusions and expectations - we don't have to be miserable.

I think one of the most positive things about the future is that we will have to give up our illusions of independence and status and work together. I think that working with other people towards meaningful goals is one of the most satisfying and exciting things in the world. Currently, our lives are not set up to give us that satisfaction. But I believe in the future we will be first forced, then expected, and finally excited to work together to meet our everyday needs. Hallelujah!

I am so honored to be nominated for the Environmental Nutjob award. I only wish I were more worthy. ;)


Wendy said...

I think you're as worthy as the other nominees - in fact, maybe more so, because, like most Americans, you are living right in the middle of what Kunstler describes as the "problem" - in the suburbs, and yet, you've made the conscious effort to live more sustainably. Personally, I think it's easy to live like an "eco-freako" out in the middle of no where. Who cares what you do if you're surrounded by acres and acres of trees? But when your neighbor can hear your T.V. if it's too loud during the summer when all of your windows are open, it's a little different.

Also, I think living sustainably in a place where everything is so available all of the time and everyone is wondering why you bother when you can just go up the road to the grocery is much more difficult. It's harder, in my opnion, to live "on the fringe" when you happen to be in the middle of the tapestry :).

Another reason I think you're more deserving of the title is that, of the nominees, two live in rural areas, one family has been living sustainably their whole lives and so what they're doing is just natural for them, and the other ... well, it's her blog, does she even count as a nominee? :). You're the only one who started much in the same place as many of the rest of us, and your example, for us, is more attainable.

From one suburbanite who is attempting the different to another, I salute you!

Nemo said...

Hi, :)

I just discovered your blog from Sharon's food storage yahoo group email list serve. Thanks for the introduction article. :)

Your vision of the future reminded me of the latest peak moment interview with John Michael Greer (author of "the long decent"). Although he looks like a scary mountain man, he is very articulate in his points on cultural mythology in context of current events. I think you may enjoy the conversation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceRP8rSwlMc&feature=channel_page) and I hope it contributes to the direction of your blog articles.

I just added your blog to my reader and I look forward to reading more from you soon. :)


Crunchy Chicken said...

Phew! I woke up in a panic this morning thinking "oh shit" maybe Die Hausfrau will be upset that I added her to the list. Glad to see that isn't the case!

And, yes, I do count as a nominee :) It's my poll, fer crying out loud!

Parma Powerdown said...

You were a beautiful bride! We are a similar demographic (1 kid, suburb) but I'm much newer to conservation.


Alison said...

As you probably already gathered, I voted for you! What's more nutty about you is that you take the discussion much further out than Crunchy. You know, Crunchy does a great job of motivating people and getting them involved in not just the conversation but also small action steps. She makes it fun. Sorry to say it, but you are more serious about it all in a way. I think there's a place for both of you - that's why I read you both. You really look at the big picture and Crunchy kind of attacks the details. Your scenarios are more scary though for me because I'm a big picture thinker and I read 'chaos', which most people don't like.

Keep doing what you do, you're good at it if just a bit nutty!

By the way, I never heard of a guerilla wedding. Care to enlighten? You look pretty normal :-)

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Wendy - Thanks! Sometimes I think it is harder in the suburbs, dealing with the neighbors and constant temptation.

Nemo - thanks, I'll check that out.

Crunchy - you have definitely made my day!

Parma - Thanks! Usually I'm not so photogenic :).

Alison - I appreciate your honesty! Yes, occasional thoughts of doom are not for the fainthearted. I call my wedding a guerilla wedding because we took over the orchid room in the Denver Botanic Gardens (paying the photography fee, but not a wedding fee) for 10 minutes and said our self-written vows in front of about 8 witnesses. It was short, sweet, and cheap. And we got lots of good pictures!

Morgan G. said...

I have to say, your blog is one of the best on peak oil preparation that I've found. I became "peak oil aware" in late 2006 and have been making changes to my life in response, such as gardening, reducing energy use, waste, etc. As a journalist in North Carolina, I have also worked in the media to try to educate people about it (http://www.news-record.com/content/2008/07/06/article/peak_oil_crisis_alters_lifestyles) and now I cover sustainability issues/trends full time.

Morgan G.

Theresa said...

Thanks for being so nutty - the world needs more nut jobs just like you!

Love the guerrilla wedding - what a great idea!

Lewru said...

Yay! It's the Hausfrau! And having a bit of experience on the matter, you've been weird for, like, ever. But in a pleasant, fun, and refreshingly creative way. Woohoo!

Chile said...

I'm grateful you're willing to share your normal life with us as well as your nutjob tendencies. Wait. I share those tendencies. Does that make me a nutjob? Naw, we're just awake while most of the world is sleeping.

Love the guerilla wedding. Makes me wish we'd done that.

PS: we're finally getting sun in the yard all the way up to 3 pm, so I'm using the solar oven again. Toasted croutons today. :)

Squrrl said...

As a blogger, I'll take you any day for sheer utility and excellence of content, but since, strictly speaking, it's a _nuttiness_ contest, I had to go Greenpa. After all, the man's been living the extreme cabin-inna-woods lifestyle for decades. It would have felt very odd to vote for you, because I think of myself as being very nearly on the same page as you...and not just because we have children the same age, but because we're doing a lot of the same things. You're just, uhh, more organized about it. Now, if it had been a contest about who was the most inspiring model to the most people, you'd be way up there. As noted by other commenters, the very fact that you _are_ "normal" is very valuable to people who are looking for someone they can relate to. Most people are NOT looking to live like Greenpa.