Friday, November 20, 2009

Peak Oil Prep Strategies

Time for a quick poll: Who's doing what?

A. Urban gardening and community

"I live near family in a reasonably priced or paid-off home, with a stable job. I think where I am is my best bet, although I might have an emergency plan to "bug out" if needed. I am increasing the energy efficiency of my house, and maybe adding solar panels or maybe just some solar battery chargers. I have a good-sized garden, and support my local foodshed by buying from farmer's markets, CSA or Co-op. I have a high- efficiency vehicle like a hybrid, or I could bike or walk to where I need to be. I have stocked food storage of several months, as well as trying to meet needs off-grid if needed (warm bedding, Sun Ovens, wood stove, etc.). I am working with neighborhood or civic groups to build local community and resiliency.

My weak spot is widespread rioting or other urban unrest. In that case I might be toast."

B. Back to the land

"I have started a farm with the goal of being mostly self-sufficient, although this whole farming thing is a little new to me. I've got a large garden and some livestock in a place that might be well out of the way, or maybe fairly close to urban centers so I can get food to market. Rainwater cisterns, root cellars, compost toilets, perhaps even an underground or earth-sheltered home. I'm installing a wood stove, wind turbine, solar panels, even biogas. I hope to be the refuge of last resort for my more-clueless relatives. I may or may not be paying serious attention to security - don't try me!"

C. Amassing wealth

"I think the main repercussions of peak oil and our unsustainable financial system are going to be economic. People who have secure paid-off houses, a good job, cash on hand, offshore accounts, gold and silver, wise investments, and five hundred pounds of MRE's just-in-case, are going to have it made in the shade. I plan to not lift a finger in the near future since everyone else will be unemployed and I will be able to employ maids, chefs, gardeners, and anyone else for close to nothing. Bow down before me ye wretched serfs!"

D. Guerrilla prep

"I am highly mobile with few possessions or attachments. I possess highly-honed wilderness skills, a tent and sleeping bag, rifle (insert specific name and model here), motorcycle/boat/hiking boots, cash and gold. I am unencumbered by illness or disability, pregnant wife, infants, or the elderly. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of edible weeds and know 42 ways to start a fire. Eventually I may settle down, but I can leave at a moment's notice if trouble brews. See ya!"

E. Nothing - I have never used oil or electricity so what's new?

"My parents were hippies or Amish and we never had any use for these new-fangled gadgets. I can make my own clothes from cotton from my fields, fish and hunt, garden and farm, make my own cheese, sauerkraut, yogurt and beer, and can preserve hundreds of quarts of tomatoes and pickles a day on a wood stove while managing my flock of nine children.

We might use a little electricity or oil here and there, but the community I live in is filled with people with similar skills and the ability to laugh at hardship. Although my Internet business selling hand-knitted goods at amishscarves.com may shut down, I probably will not even notice when oil hits $250."

F. Nothing - no need to prepare.

"What's all the fuss? Sure, oil may go up in price, but human ingenuity will create alternatives to the amazingly unprecedented energy-dense liquid oil inheritance of 100 million years without any inconvenience to ME. Or the government will intervene and solve the problem, just like they did with that economic thing-a-ma-bob. Surely nothing can change all that much. After all, history is a long uninterrupted chain of progress into a better and brighter future."

G. Some other strategy, perhaps you wish to enlighten us?

33 comments:

Aimee said...

I am a back-to-the-lander, with a little bit of "E" thrown in. A few years ago I moved from the big city to a small farm near a small city. I would have done this anyway, since I wanted my kids to grow up the way I did with room to run around and animals. And a few years ago I wasn't thinking seriously about climate change and peak oil. Now I am, and luckily I think I chose a nearly perfect place. I'd like to be a little farther away from major urban centers, but other than that, my set up is pretty good. I have chickens and goats and a garden and good neighbors, and I know how to can and otherwise preserve lots of food. My husband is very handy and has already built a biodiesel processor. The windmill is next. Or maybe biogas, considering the amount "compost" we've got here.

Katrien said...

I'm aspiring to B. but at the moment am more of A. (without the Prius and the PV).
I'm also afraid that most people are F. So A. might not matter...
Pretty depressing.

Kate said...

Almost all of A (still rely on a car for a few trips per week, may look into an electric assist bicycle next year), with a bit of B thrown in to boot (livestock, rainwater catchment, and plan B's attitude towards home defense).

Wendy said...

I'm an "A", but without the rioting issue, at least I don't think it would be an issue, as we're more "sub"urban than urban.

I live kind of off the beaten path on the outskirts of a small, seasonal town, and depending on the time of year, most folks know there isn't much to loot where I live. Most of the stores down town are seasonal and most of them only offer things tourists would want anyway - nothing very useful for the purposes of survival. So, I think, there is more likely to be an exodus of people moving out rather than a lot of people milling around and causing trouble.

MN_homesteader said...

I am mix of A, B, and C except for the paid-off house part. Either way I am not too concerned if things bad enough the banks and their conies will have bigger things to worry about than people pay their houses off.

Steve in Hungary said...

Most definitely a B

Anonymous said...

I'm an A - no hybrid, but I do bike to work when it's not raining. We moved from Atlanta to New England and are digging in lots of garden beds. I look at all the prep we've done, and how much is left, and am either hopeful or discouraged, depending on the day.

nomad496 said...

I am mostly a B, although I have a commute to work. We have been planting fruit trees and figuring out how to grow enough fodder to feed our stock. The PV piece is out there, but not something we can afford right now. We have some cisterns set up and more being added as I can find the time. We already grow most of our food. My day job is teaching, so that is something that can be done much closer to home if need be.

Diane said...

We are also "A" without the hybrid, and without the fear of what we'd do in a situation of urban unrest as we live in a pretty small town, where most families own at least one firearm (usually more)and know their neighbors well. Our only concern would be water, which is why we plan on relocating northwest of here within 5 years, to a fully-paid-for small farm. We'll lose the sense of community, but if there's no water, community isn't going to do much good, sadly.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Thanks for the replies! Good to hear from people who are actively working towards an energy transition. Thanks for your ideas and inspiration.

Julie said...

Oh the whole thing made me laugh, seeing myself in some of all of them. Thanks for the giggles!

Fleecenik Farm said...

I am mostly B with elements of A. We are homesteaders but make good use of our very rich agricultural region to access local foods we are not providing for ourselves. We have cisterns, sheep, gardens and fruit trees. We feel fortunate to be surrounded by old timers with a wealth of knowledge in country living. But we are also surrounded by some extreme rural poverty, drug addiction and general apathy which at times leaves us concerned about the safety of what we have worked to achieve. We are not off grid but would not be to inconvenienced as we have been powering down in many aspects of our lives.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I'm back to the land, and rely on my and my husband's family farms. I'm also using my good job to amass wealth (what little I can) right now, so maybe part of that, too, but I certainly don't have "wealth" unless you define it by the Global Rich List.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I am an A, with delusions that I'm a B.

Crunchy Chicken said...

And, no, I wasn't really referring to my cup size...

casey said...

I'm a solid A working towards being a B. Moved from Phoenix to port charlotte florida this year. (outskirts) from a large home to one half the size and 1/4 the price, but on 1/2 acre of land. The goal is to have it paid off in 2 to 3 years. Have a prius, but my hubby and I both kept our corporate jobs and work from home, so no commute. yes, we pinch ourselves everyday. We have GREAT neighbors, we're near family (FL natives), have a big garden (many failures) a flock of chickens, a sailboat, solar oven, and a fishing pier in walking distance. I'm somewhat worried about riot and unrest, but mostly I'm worried about rising seas. I dont want to move again, but I'm 2 blocks from where the river meets the harbor. If the seas rise more than a foot, I'm soggy bread.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the "wannabe" catagory.

I want to homestead, raise chickens and children, can on the woodstove, work online, live in a cob cottage and grow a big garden. In reality, I'm a debt slave, without a home, and am probobly screwed four ways from Sunday. In many ways I would be better off in a fast crash than the Long Emergency.

madison

Robin said...

I'm a B, but if I didn't have kids I would so be a D.

Megan said...

A but dream about B-dom

Kate in NY said...

I am an A- (sans hybrid or reasonably priced home). I am going to go out on a limb here, and admit to having some (gulp) "E" tendencies - without the maids or offshore accounts, anyway. In addition to starting a garden and an emergency stockpile this year, I am getting chickens and hanging my laundry and using my car less and less. But I am still focused on shoring up our financial situation - whatever the upcoming years and decades may bring, I figure debt-free with a healthy emergency account (or any emergency account, for that matter) is a good way to go.

I dream of going B, but the husband and kids are still a little resistant (some mutterings about me turning into an eccentric hippy freak recently . . . but they're coming around . . . slowly).

Best,
Kate in NY (suburban NYC, really, though we like to think of ourselves as living in the country!)

Kate in NY said...

Oops - I meant to sheepishly admit to having "C" tendencies - I'd be nothing but proud if they were "E" tendencies.

kate

James & Leslee said...

I'm a B. We moved to a 5 acre farm two years ago that has both hot geothermal water and spring water, all artisian and gravity - no pumps. The first thing we did was put up a 3000 sq. ft. greenhouse, heated w/ hot water. We have been working hard to learn out how to grow food in the winter. I think we're in a good position when "collapse" happens. We have a "when the SHTF" List and we're working through that starting with good food storage. We've started to raise meat rabbits and plan on getting some chickens soon.
We have done an assessment of our neighborhood and we have some amazing neighbors who will be an asset when times get tough. We do have a small mortgage, but if inflation hits it'll be really small compared to the cost of everything. We have a list of things to purchase while things are still cheap...wool clothing, boots, plumbing and lumber items, and materials to build a micro-hydro plant.

Ahavah Gayle said...

I'm an "A" but would like to be a "B", though I feel both groups will probably end up as "toast" if the economy really tanks. Nothing's going to stop a starving mob from taking everything you have - nor is there enough firewood or wild game to sustain a desperate population even a quarter of our current size.

PennyWalker said...

A describes us perfectly! I'm kind of surprised and delighted that there is a typology and that it reflects me back to myself.

My partner is pushing us to move towards B, but since we can't even put up shelves and our apples are mouldering on the ground as I type, I think I'll have to take my chances with the angry mob.

Ponderingly,

from London UK

Penny

Raye said...

A-B hybrid, on an acre of what was 30 years ago a sheep pasture, now an aging suburban neighborhood. Hard to say if civil unrest will hit us here - as the crow flies, we are 25 miles from a city, but we aren't on a main road. We are expanding gardens, applying some edible forest garden permaculture practices, planning for ducks in the spring (I pray things hold together at least long enough to get the ducks - how selfish of me). My energies are becoming more focused on skills and tools for income or trade. Too old to do much heavy lifting anymore, but still can wield a hammer and push a loaded wheelbarrow up a 12 percent slope without collapsing. Also circulating more intentionally among other townfolk, trying to find people who "get it" and make local connections.
-Raye

Green Assassin Brigade said...

I'm definately an A wanna be B,, but I'm hoping my C will leverage me into B when the ecconomy finally goes FUBAR.

Lance Michael Foster said...

I am a G but won't reveal my strategy except for this little koan-like story.

A fellow from an indigenous far off place was visiting New York City. As he was peering from the top of a skyscraper's open-air observation deck, he asked his host, "I have heard of this word 'problem' but don't quite understand what it means."

The host said, "Well, if I held you by your feet over the edge there dangling you above the streets, then you would have a problem."

The indigenous guy thinks for a minute, then he says:

"Well, if you pulled me back up, I wouldn't have a problem. But you would.

And if you dropped me, and I died, I wouldn't have any problems at all. But you would."

So strategy G is for me ;-)

awlknottedup said...

The problem with such classifications is that they are always too narrow. It would not matter how many steps you had, A-Z would still be too narrow. We are individuals, each with our own capabilities, experience, knowledge, outlook, desires, the list goes on. These in turn lead to individual interpretations of the problems and predicaments that face us hourly and very individual solutions. The problem with such classifications is that the solutions then need to be forced into one of the classifications. That is one of the major problems with modern politics, we are all forced into one of only two classifications.

Back to the question at hand. I was a suburban living A with shades of B. I lived in a tract house but had a woodworking shop and drove old cars. I fixed anything and built many things. I had a garden and my wife canned everything. Along the way I managed to collect a complete tool set for building, repairing, fixing anything.

But we all know about the best laid plans of mice and men. I aged out of a lucrative career, over a thousand resumes collected only two phone interviews and no face to face. So I put the tools in storage, bought a travel trailer and hit the road with grand plans of seeing the country. The pickup was loaded with tools to fix cars or houses and that is what I have done. I was mostly totally self contained. Now two cats, five years, and 30,000 miles later things are changing again.

I am building a modest shop and house in the Missouri Ozarks. The house and shop will be small but fully paid for. I will once again have a garden, bees, and chickens. I will once again have a fully equipped shop where I can set up for woodworking, welding, blacksmithing, and general repair. The big differences between now and then is that I have gone to a very modest income but I have time to myself.

I do not know where that places me on your continuum but things change and narrow classifications make it more difficult to adopt to changes.

Gary said...

Hybrid C-D.

"I am highly mobile with some possessions and attachments. I possess highly-honed wilderness skills, a tent and sleeping bag, rifle (Remington Model 770 .243),hiking boots, cash and gold, etc. I am unencumbered by illness or disability. I have knowledge of the woods and know many ways to start a fire. Eventually I will settle down (rent now), but I can leave at a moment's notice if trouble brews, but will stand my ground if necessary, since I have stored food and supplies.

Joyce said...

Oh, my gosh! How funny! I hate to say it, but I'm more E than anything else with B a near second because of all those relatives in denial. For Christmas I'm getting bib overalls, new hiking boots, and long underwear (got Muck boots for my birthday). I am involved in building a local food network. Don't have gold cause you can't eat gold and most of my wealth is in my head. Don't plan on leaving where I'm at, but if worse comes to worse, I'll cut down some basswood trees and build a house boat!

Anonymous said...

Ambitions of being an A, but I have a physical disability so I help my family where I can (they are the actual A's), and work on getting a transition initiative started in our town while attempting to find work I can do so I can support myself. Trying to get our town prepared is really important to me, because I figure that if everything really falls apart I'm in big trouble.

rely said...

Since I am just learning to cook, I would love to have a look at Simply in Season. Love your posts!!

Andrea G. said...

A + B, with one exception: In case of riots, I plan to turn wherever I'm living into a clinic. (Particularly if, as we've seen in Iran & Lybia recently, government forces start disappearing the wounded who go to hospitals.)