You might be able to accuse me of all gripe and no solution. That would only be partially true because in most all of my essays and articles I have been advocating specific changes, some in detail. However, in this chapter I am going to exclusively deal with the issue of change and the tasks involved. Get ready to go to work. We did not get here overnight and we will not get out of here overnight. The changes are massive in size and scale. They involve just about everything and everybody.
There are several other factors that are subject to cause collapse, but climate change and peak oil are the two that are set to happen as 100% certainties. I will leave you to study and learn about these issues to make that determination of certainty for yourself. However, only one fact is needed to tell the tale of peak oil; we have limited supply of oil, plain and simple; we will run out. As a result of peak oil and climate change we will see economic collapse, it is a simple and logical deduction. The food and water shortages alone caused by climate change will cause this, but there are literally hundreds of other climate impacts that will disrupt our economic paradigm enough that they will bring about major collapses in our systems. Finally, I believe I can assume it is obvious that having no oil…well, you go figure.
So, we are headed for trouble; what are we going to do? Below is a list that deals with the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of our change and is more or less chronological in its order. From there foreword I will deal with each item in detail. I say it is chronological but in reality much of it will need to happen simultaneously or will be overlapping.
- Food and Water
- The System
- Evaluate and Implement Technology
- Teardown and Rebuild
- Brace for Impact
Awareness is the first step to saving our collective ass. Except that you might say to me, “Yeah of course we need awareness but don’t you think we have had awareness up to our necks, I mean c’mon, we’ve been having these issues shoved down our throats for decades now–I’m aware–give me a break!” Sadly you would be all too correct. The problem is we don’t know the depths of these issues; particularly climate change and peak oil.
The first clue to the fact we don’t really know about these issues is because when we talk of solutions we think we will be safe. And the solutions themselves are telling of our lack of awareness. No, we will not be safe. No, we are not going to solve these problems to the point of happiness, we won’t, we can’t. These issues are going to hurt us and they are going to kill many millions, likely billions of people and this is what we need to be aware of. Simply put, we have gone too far.
We need to know this so we can do the proper preparations for what is coming down the pike and so that at least “some” of us will survive with our lives. Changing to energy efficient technologies is a very good thing; we do need to do that. Green jobs are great, clean fuels are wonderful, reducing, reusing and recycling are very good intentions. But all these things are not going to stop these two monsters. They may weaken them and that is good, they will slow them down and that’s real good because time is very important. But we are still going to be slammed with no oil, and a climate that is lethal. Our economies will not handle the shocks and we will collapse. The life we know now is going to end.
Being aware of these realities is crucial. If we do not know what is going to “really” happen, then our preparations will be wrong. Let’s get it right and let’s get it right—right now. I emphasize ‘right now’ because timing is everything. These events are not going to wait on us to get ourselves together; they are coming on their own schedule, which is in about 20-30 years, and in many ways are here already. That is in terms of significant impacts, particularly with climate change. If we are not deep into adaptation efforts by then, we will never catch up and the consequences of that I don’t even want to go into. Stop right here and check out the science if you do not believe me. Look for “climate change impacts”.
There needs to be awareness campaigns. My writings here are my effort towards awareness. Don’t wait on the media, they are bought and sold already. Don’t wait on the government either, they too are bought and sold. If you feel the need to write your congressmen please do so, it can’t hurt. But real awareness is going to come from grass roots campaigns that are not political. We’ve been doing political advocacy for decades and we are no closer to awareness than we’ve ever been; misinformation maybe, but real awareness? No.
“So who are we supposed to talk to; if not the media and not the government, then who?”
You must talk to each other. Talk to your neighbor, your friends, your co-workers, your church, your non-profits, your schools, your kids, your relatives—every-freaking-body! I am not actually saying to not talk to media and government, especially media. I am saying don’t solely rely on them, that will fail. We need to use what ever media will listen and if your congressman will listen, by all means get his or her ear. But word of mouth is going to be where the real truth lies, especially if citizens inform themselves properly.
The important thing to remember is the message must be about adaptation. We have to think in terms of protection and defense. The enemy has advanced too far; negotiations are no longer a viable solution. We must surrender and learn to live with the enemy. I know this is not what you want to hear, but you have to hear it and you have to shout it back to those around you.
“So what will all of “us” knowing this stuff do for us if you are not including the government? Don’t we need them to get these “preparations/adaptations” done?”
Yes, we will need some form of organization. I do not know what that will be. I do believe though that once awareness has truly peaked, then leadership will fall into place naturally. If that leadership is from governments, then great, because that will mean they have gone through major and vital changes. If it is not government, then that will mean something else has risen to meet the challenge. I do not know what that something would be, but do not, I repeat, do not rely on the status quo as it is now, it will screw your cookie.
The challenges ahead are so big and so complex that we will not even get close to accomplishing the tasks without very intelligent planning. As I said previously, once awareness has reached levels that truly motivate, then leadership will naturally evolve. Those leaders will see and know that the implementation of adaptation will take many years. The world will not look the same, operations will have taken on whole new concept; we will be living in a new paradigm.
The next several sections of this chapter tell what the planning will be about. But suffice it to say that commitment is key. Why? Once again, it is about time, we do not have time to start this and stop this for something new. We have to know what we are doing and be committed to seeing it through with no turning back. Therefore, concrete and well thought-out plans are imperative.
As you read on, you will see that though the changes are massive, at the same time in many ways they are actually simple and monothematic. It’s is all about survival, nothing more nothing less. It all boils down to food and water.
Food and Water
It is hard to get our heads around these doom saying scenarios. We are not only instinctively inclined to not accept them; they are as ‘facts” not very believable. After all, there is no visible or obvious evidence for the average citizen to latch on to. But nevertheless, just a little self study shows us that these scares are very real and are forthcoming. However there is one doom scenario coming that a person won’t need to have studied to make them a believer and that is food and water issues involving shortages, rising prices and contamination.
In 2010, both Russia and China suffered grain losses from drought and heat waves and at some of the highest levels in their histories. Weird cold spells in the southern U.S. I’m sure have not helped anything either; massive floods in Pakistan; droughts in India and Africa, Australia the same for floods and drought. These type of events are going to increase in frequency and potency, count on it. How much and how often we will see the changes I don’t know, but they are sure to come. We can only hope their pace is slow but if the current pace is the ongoing trend, then we’d better hurry.
Water issues are the same, there is trouble a plenty. You can check these issues out for yourself as well. What I wish to convey is we need to get our collective ass in gear and begin to deal with this and get way ahead of it long before climate change destroys our chances to eat and drink—permanently. That is why this coarse of action is listed early in my to do list above. Getting started on this one is so critical that if we fail then it’s all over but the crying. This is because this is where climate change is first going to have cataclysmic impacts. Well hell, I’ll just go ahead and say is having cataclysmic impactsright now. Just ask Africa, they’ll tell you it’s cataclysmic.
The answer is very simple but is equally difficult to pull off, and that answer is local farms. Better yet, subsistence farms. You need to get started right now growing your own food. If you have money to invest it in self-sufficient food production and water catchment (not wells) systems, then just do it, don’t ask, just do it. Talk your neighbor into doing the same thing; in fact, talk your neighborhood into doing the same thing with you. In fact, why don’t you just get your neighborhood to turn itself into one big “local” farm?
If you want to shout something then shout this, “CORPORATE FARMING CAN GO TO HELL”. Corporate farms as opposed to local farms will not be manageable in the very near future, not without large oil supplies and not without very favorable weather. The other problem is distribution. Again, there will not be fuel available to move the food, there will not be an economy for exchange of food and there will not be an infrastructure sound enough to deliver food. But with local farming all those issues are non-issues because there is no need for distribution systems, the food is already there; no need for exchange, it’s your own product, and the infrastructure is small, it’s about 1000 feet long and 200 feet wide.
“Hey asshole, you make this sound awful easy. There are all kinds of things to do to make a neighborhood into a farm.”
That’s right dude, better get started. Be ready for some back breaking work. You also got a lot of thinking and planning to do. You have to get organized. You have to study and learn some very new things. You have to learn how to take care of yourself and your family. You have to learn to think cooperatively and collectively.
I can’t delineate all that has to be done here in this chapter; it is a book by itself. But I can tell you that it is absolutely vital that we citizens of the world accept the fact that we are going to have to go back in time a little, like it or not. That is, if you want to stay alive. Maybe it is not “you” that you need to worry about, especially if you are over 50, but maybe you need to think about you children and grand children, they are heading into a storm. It is your responsibility to help them get ready for it.
If you are able, start a farm, or find a farm to get involved with; build a greenhouse (very important); start a garden. But most important begin now to learn what it is you need to do to secure your relationship with food and water. Do not wait on the system to deal with this, it can not do it. Ultimately, it will be up to you and your clan, whatever and whoever that may be.
This part of this chapter is the most challenging of all. If the government or corporations thought I had any clout at all, then I’d probably would be killed for saying the things I’m about to say. But since I’m a nobody and would be pegged by the average citizen of the developed world to be a nut, then I have little to worry about.
Let’s shut it down folks, shut it down. The “it” I am referring to is the free enterprise economy and much of the systems that run and operate the modern world. Yeah I know, I know, “pretty drastic” you say, I know, “devastating” you say, “dangerous” you say, yeah I freaking know, OK?
The system is going to circumstantially shutdown anyway, why not do it ourselves andunder our control and not at the hands of climate change and peak oil. Let’s do a controlled shutdown. The electrical grid in America is about to fall even without these scenarios. It’s estimated it will take 2.5 trillion dollars to overall America’s electrical grid. It is way under capacity now and they say it will not handle expected future demand and will most assuredly start us having blackouts on a regular basis. This is before climate change and/or peak oil. With those it is a sure thing. And that is just talking about periodic blackouts. Which of course is nothing to sniff at but it doesn’t even compare to a permanent nationwide shutdown of the entire grid.
If we are smart we will begin to methodically, intelligently and over a long period of time start weaning ourselves off the systems that support this massive way of life we know in the industrialized world. And here’s the thing, if we do this right we won’t have to lose allof it like we will if we go on as if we can go on forever. If we admit it is coming to an end then we can deal with that end and not let it be “the” end. In fact, with solar and wind power we can still have a communications system and lighting at the very least. We may not be buzzing around in cars, boats and planes, but we will be able to talk and communicate with each just as we do now.
But I have to admit, that’s about all we’ll have. There will be no Macy’s, Wal-Mart’s or Penny’s. There will be no malls, downtowns or resorts. Luxury life will be a thing of the past, as will yachts, sports cars and even motorcycles. These are not going to be omitted by choice if that’s what you are thinking; instead it will be the result of economic collapse. It is the free enterprise system that brought all this about because its foundation is growth and growth’s foundation is innovation and sales. With no economy there will be no free enterprise and therefore no product. But if we do this shutdown intentionally, we can retain some products. That issue is another book, but if you use your head, then you will know what I mean.
These are not pleasant thoughts, and they become nightmares when they are forced upon you with no mercy. If we don’t take shutdown into our own hands then it will come to us this way, hard and fast with no mercy. We will be caught with our pants down and bare assed to nature’s fury. The only way to avoid that is to plan a shutdown that we can live with.
Just like the food and water situation, time is the absolute fundamental element to our success. We have to start now, right now. It will take at least 20 years to do this shutdown correctly. You need to also consider that we will be returning to an agrarian lifestyle at the same time. In one way, culturally that is, this will help but it will also be lots of work. We are going to be busy bees let me tell you. So again, time is vital because there is much to do. That is the nature of catastrophic events; they make life very hard, extremely hard. The more you accept and expect that the better off you will be. It’s war folks, quite literally. You thought WW2 was something, ha!
It is natural to assume that we will need some sort of system for society to manage. We do this with the free enterprise system now in most of the developed world. In other words, economy sets the stage. And then there is government providing law, infrastructure and defense.
I am not going to pretend I can even begin to lay out what the system in this new world will be. But as I said in the first section of this chapter, once awareness of our needs have been fully realized; then leaders will step forward to organize our doings. I believe the same goes for our system of operations. Remember, we are going to be a “society” of beings that are existing merely to survive. Economic growth and development, city planning, cultural development and the like will all be put on hold so to speak. We are going to just be trying to eat substantive food and drink clean water.
So given that scenario your guess is as good as mine. But just like with our shutting down the grid and infrastructure, the same goes for our societal systems. We will need to wean off of our systems as we know them now and gradually form new approaches to these needs. The trick is to acknowledge that the system as we know it is coming to an abrupt end when considering historical time. For 5000 years we’ve been developing civilization and suddenly we are going to be forced to start over and develop something new in just a few short decades. However, it isn’t like we don’t have much knowledge at our disposal to figure this out; that is not the problem.
Whatever happens in regard to the functioning of our new system, one thing for sure that will have to be its backbone is the collective mind. We are going to have to cooperate with each other, not compete as we do now. There will be no competition because there will be no jobs. At least not in the way we know them now. We will have to have an organized system of some kind for production purposes. For instance, we are still going to need salt. Get it? We will need clothing and other materials for everyday survival. In other words, tasks for the greater good will have to be performed. This is where you sacrifice, you will have to give your time and energy to the greater good, or you and the rest of us will die. You will not do it for money, money will be passé. You will do it because you, just like the rest of us, will want to live.
Evaluate and Implement Technology
As I referred to in the section on shutting down, it is very likely that we can hold on to portions of our present life. Of course survival is the key word here. We are going to be faced with tremendous threats to our very lives; we must retain the technology and even develop new technology that will aid us in devising ways to protect us from these threats.
We will need heating and cooling for sure, we will not have the energy resources we do now, so we will have to get very clever. Perhaps we will retain nuclear energy, but personally I hope not and I also doubt it because I doubt that energy will come from grids. Instead, energy will be localized and maybe even home produced or neighborhood produced. There most likely will not be a grid to hook into. However, there will be some sort of infrastructure in place, however crude. In this case there may be some sort of power grid for use of this infrastructure and perhaps it might be powered by nuclear energy. The question is can we maintain and oversee such a thing when people are just trying to eat? All this becomes very dependent on the collective will and development of the cooperative spirit we talked about before.
Speaking of nukes, we have tons of them on this earth. Something is going to have to be done about them. They can’t just be left to sit and rot. We are going to have to nuke down. The same goes for other chemical and biological toxics. We won’t be using them but the damn things are still going to be around and they will have to be destroyed or stored for safety. The reality is we will need technology to deal with technology.
These things will hopefully be handled in the shutdown phase. But then again maybe they won’t, maybe we won’t have the time. You see, we are in an emergency; most of us do not even know it yet. That being said, a smooth transition can not be at all guaranteed. In fact, count on lots of trouble and lots of screw ups.
Teardown and Rebuild
This section could really just be a rewrite of chapter 5 of my article Evolve Now. In that chapter I talk about all of us getting out our hammers and shovels and start tearing down our present infrastructure in order to make a new one. This and the next section are all about that.
Much of this phase can be dealt with during the shutdown phase. In fact, just like the food and water situation, it is really something we need to start on immediately. The main reason is for materials. We are going to need lots of materials to build an infrastructure and shore up our homes so that in both cases they become able to withstand the coming climate change impacts such as floods, extreme heat and cold and severe weather.
We will not have the big manufacturing and raw resource industries we have now. Remember, the grid will have been or will be in process of being shut down. So energy to get these things done will not be available. What will be available is muscle. Yes, we will have machinery for a time, but remember these projects will take decades. Climate change will be hitting us hard, oil supplies will be rapidly diminishing and also remember we will be intentionally weaning ourselves off these assets. We will use them as long as we can but no way can we depend on them for the duration of our transition period.
Again, this is where cooperation will become a life saving attribute. All able bodied men and women will need to be involved in this massive demolition effort. We will need materials. Remember, the seas are going to be rising within the next 50 to 60 years, perhaps much sooner. That means a whole lot of people will need to be relocated all over the world and they will need homes. Get it? Even if we had the fuel to get this done, we still will not have the raw resources to manufacture enough building materials to deal with this mass migration we are going to see. We are going to have to teardown and reuse our materials.
Brace for Impact
Let’s pretend that all this “action” as gone as good as it could go. That means that within the next 4 or 5 years, or by 2015, we will have gotten passed the awareness stage. We will be well in to growing our own food by 2020 and should also be finishing up our long term planning; starting our shutdown and our new system should be conceptualized and started. All these tasks will have needed to have been totally completed by 2040 while the teardown and rebuilding projects should also have been going all during this time as well and then be completed by at least 2050.
So, if all has gone right then it will be ready to go in 2050. It better have, honey. Why? Because if it has not gone right, then we will most likely be out of oil and the climate will be kicking our ass all over the planet. Our economy will have collapsed and our ability to extract raw resources and convert them to product will be long gone. We’ll be sitting ducks.
But can we actually depend on all this going right? That’s a big, big question if you look at where we are at right now. I have to be honest; it sure doesn’t look like we are anywhere near ready for what I am calling for. But hey, god damn it, I gotta think we are going to wake up and kick it in the ass real soon. If we don’t, then all I can say is brace for impact.
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