Thursday, July 22, 2010

Peak Oil and Us (You, Me, Everyone) Part IV - Getting Dirty

So let's see. Where did I leave off on Peak Oil?

At some point in the next 10 years or so, it is likely that we'll start to see the impacts of peak oil. Gas and home heating oil prices are probably going to spike sooner, but we'll see a tipping point only after those prices have reached a point where either a) Americans decide that a little civil (emphasis on the civil part) unrest is a good way to get heard and/or b) even the well-to-do start to be impacted.

In contrast to the above paragraph, probably most of you are thinking something like "Um, gas prices are down, thanks. So if all these supply issues are real, then why didn't gas stay high?
Well, there is an explanation. The high gas prices started their downward trajectory after their peak in 2008 just as the economic crisis was making it's way around the world. Remember the headlines - hundreds of thousands laid off every month, with no end in sight, banks on the verge of collapse, that sort of thing?

Unless you were living in a mud hut, you heard about this stuff. No offense intended to mud hut dwellers, of course.

Gas price swings are not directly related to supply. In many cases, they are about projected demand. When you think of it that way, it makes perfect sense that the price at the pump is different from what the actual long term supply is.

So it's easy to look at stable gas prices and see Peak Oil - and this series of blog posts as yet another sky-is-falling paranoid delusion. The implications of Peak Oil are unimaginable to most of us. Me even. Things always get more prosperous for America, right?

If only we could be so lucky.

Oh, how I wish all of the above were true, and you could just write this off and call it a day. I do.
But it isn't, so let's move on to reality and what baby steps can be taken now to help us plan for then. First, and most key is thinking with your tummy. Think local. Think dirt. Think seeds. Think the farmstand down the road. Think Chickens in Your Backyard. Hey, chickens as pets are cool now, right?
I'm not going to tell you how to start a garden. There's a ton of resources out there to tell you just that. But here's what I am going to tell you - some of that perfectly maintained lawn your lawn service grooms in the back might just be the perfect place to solve some long term problems, so lay off the weed-killer, since it's not very tasty or good for you.
And here's some other things - gardening is a great way to get all of you outside, even the smallish ones. Kids love to grow things. Kindergarten, remember? Seeds in little paper cups covered in plastic wrap on the windowsill. Read even a toddler the story of The Carrot Seed (for what it's worth, this is one of those rare board books that both my toddler and I can read approximately 412,356 times a night and still enjoy). Then go plant one. It's not too late - just cover it up with these in the fall and watch it grow.
The key here is to start small. Sure, Peak Oil is a big problem. But we've got a few years yet, so don't go tilling up your entire plot of land or stockpile Ensure. Get a tomato plant. When you have a nice big one, slice it up with some salt and realize that a dirt manicure can be one of the most gourmet experiences there is.
We're all going to have to get dirty at some point. All the better if we first learn how to enjoy it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with your thoughts of home gardening and practice it at my current residence. I am in the process of looking for a house, and most of the subdivisions in my area do not allow vegatable gardens. Can you believe it!? It is acceptable for the white house lawn to contain vegatables but not in your precious subdivision. People need to open their eyes and see the bigger picture!