Must-read interview with The Arch Druid
UPDATE Link fixed, hat tip affinis. If you haven't clicked thorugh, do. It's awesome. --lambert]
It's all so good I can't really pick out the best part, but here's a random rethinking of our past:
The car culture was largely a function of the Cold War and the unstated drive behind it. This is coming from historical research. The unstated drive behind it was the desire to decentralize industry and population from the core cities so if we got into nuclear war, fewer people would be killed immediately. This was literally a Defense Department – they stopped calling it the War Department at that point – the Defense Department directive that went out that helped shape American suburbia. The Cold War is over, and now we’re dealing with the cost of what was a short-term military strategy that ended up shaping our long-term environment – not for the better.
And here's a nice thought for the future:
What an astonishing opportunity we have to create – with our own lives, with our own choices – to literally shape the future ahead of us. What I’d say to advice is biased very powerfully by my own experience. Back in the very late 1970s and the early 1980s, I was very much into the kind of appropriate tech/organic gardening/sort of post-hippie scene. I spent a while living on a commune and I earned the beard and the ponytail. But there were a lot of skills developed at that time. There were a huge number of skills, technology, technique, and tools that were worked out at that time for precisely the situation that we’re moving into because nobody thought we would squander our last resources on a thirty-year blowout, which is, in fact, what we did.
And so people are saying okay, the age of scarcity is breathing down our necks. We need to develop these with home-scale ways of producing enough energy to be able to do useful things with it, producing at least some of our own food to give us resilience in dealing with increasingly unstable supply chains, ways of taking back control of our own lives from these vast mega systems on which so many people are lethally dependent. All of it boiling down to what you do in your own life. You must change your life. That’s the beginning.
And in fact, one of the reasons why the whole social protest thing has been such a complete failure since the beginning of the Reagan era is that that got ditched at the same time. No, no, no, we can’t possibly conserve energy in our own lives. No, we’re going to protest it and insist that the government get out there and conserve energy instead. We can’t stop driving SUVs. We need to fight climate change in some other way. Is it any wonder that it was a complete failure?
So what I advise is that people start by looking at their own lives and saying okay, how is my life going to change as energy constraints continue to squeeze in, and then get ahead of the change instead of being dragged along behind it? Get ahead of it, give yourself some space, work through the learning curve picking up the skills you’re going to need. Do it now, so that by the time it’s necessary, you’re comfortable with it, you know what you’re doing. You’ve already insulated your place. You may have a solar [hot] water system in place if you can afford one. You’ve torn up some of the grass in back and turned it into a vegetable garden so that you can stretch out staples. You know how to cook from scratch so you’re not dependent on the vast corporate structure. You have these various skills. You maybe started developing some tradable skills. You’ve got a little basement workshop where you’re doing something you can barter with your friends. You’re brewing beer in the basement, you know? That’s actually my number one suggestion for a lot of people – learn how to brew beer. If the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse knock on your door and you can offer each of them a cold one, they’re your friends.
Yep. A beer or a Plantidote!