Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The scope of the problem, the feel of the present

How huge a problem is peak oil?  In this blog we focus on the very immediate stuff, homesteading in the face of the end of oil.  But let's try some context, through the lens of climate change, and via Bruce Sterling:
It's  about an old, huge, growing threat to world civilization: the climate crisis. That is a two-hundred-year-old planetary problem. It spares no one.  No verbal maneuver can escape the science there. It's a worry we will surely share with our great-grandchildren. It's a huge, persistent, global calamity.
That's the kind of big picture we carry around in our heads, up here on Pagan Lane.  Yes, we worry about next month's snow levels, but also how to best teach homesteading and global economics to our children, who may well grow up in an age of oil scarcity.  We're figuring out how many maple syrup sap buckets to hang for February, but also wonder what global warming could do to our sugarbush in 30 years.

We are thinking about building a barn, too.  We're thinking about good it will do us (mostly for housing animals and their associated stuff, also some wood storage).  But we're also wondering how to pay for it, in case the markets where my 401K live tank and that money ceases to have value.  So, should we build a barn now, while that retirement money still lives and can be drawn upon?

There are all kinds of politics to this.  Should we follow our Democratic friends and trust in an economic recovery, leading to long-term growth?  Will those political friends consider us foolish or Tea Partiers if we express doubts about that model?

"Planning for retirement" is an exercise in deep, wild futurism for us.  Daily life is microcosmically about planetary crisis.  Why not?

More from chairman Bruce:
The "solutions" we might offer today are like people in 1910 "solving" nuclear warfare. We don't endure the worst of the crisis now, and we don't understand the solutions. I have always known that the Greenhouse Effect was a major threat. I was writing about that in my first books and stories, thirty years ago.  The Greenhouse will get worse and worse, every year, until my lifetime ends.  Then it will get worse yet.  No denial will make any difference.  Most affirmations have been worthless, too.
I can tell people that the climate will get worse, because that's the truth.  But I'm not a politician, scientist, engineer or financier. I'm just a visionary novelist. I can advocate some things and maybe  increase some public awareness of things. Practically speaking, I am not a major actor in this old, colossal, dreadful story. I am just a talkative artist,  someone who can smell that future coming.  I do smell it. I smell it every day. It smells like your home, on fire.


Keiramc said...

One of British Columbia's permaculture pioneers, Gregoire L'Amoureux, http://www3.telus.net/permaculture/speaks about making "biological investments" as opposed to market ones i.e. planting fruit trees and other perennial food producing plants. Closely related to these kinds investments are structures like barns (or neighborhood food storage hubs in cities), or quality manual tools, wells and water storage, insulation in walls, masonry stoves...

It'd be nice to have some public investment or support for that kind of infrastructure.

Which is really a fragmentary snippet of the conversation I've been having in my head lately with the Alexander clan. Thanks for holding down this corner of the web- I like dropping by.

Bryan's workshop blog said...

Biological investments - I like that. It works on the small and medium scales together. Small = household. Medium = block or watershed.

In the US we probably won't see that support for a while.