I first remember hearing about Peak Oil about five years ago. I had been in my house for a year and a half, we were expecting our first child and still had a lot to learn about life. I was at a coffee shop with friends and strangers alike talking about environmental issues and how the planet is being affected by all the problems afflicting it. This is the first time I had ever heard the term Peak Oil. At first I kind of laughed it off, but in the following days and weeks, myself and a close friend kept talking about Peak Oil. At the next meeting of this same group of people, a woman brought in an essay entitled “The Slow Crash”, written by a guy with a funny name, Ran Prier. I had never read anything quite like it and now I was intrigued. From that one essay, the last five years of my life has been a crash course on gardening, carpentry and construction skills, food preservation, and all things related to survival and old time homesteading.
A quick note on what Peak Oil is and isn’t. First off, Peak Oil is not the end of the world or the apocalypse, but rather a change in paradigms. Our good Earth is a finite planet, and what we call resources will eventually run out, but not likely in our life times or even our kids life times. But what is happening is that demand is starting to out pace supply. This in turn leads to extreme price fluctuations in oil and other necessities, spot shortages, recessions, and eventually unreliable supplies and infrastructure. For more in depth commentary concerning Peak Oil please check out James Howard Knustler, Ran Prier, The Arch Druid Report, The Oil Drum, Dmitry Orlov, Powering Down….
As the description of this blog states, my family lives in an urban setting. We have lots of neighbors, stifling zoning ordinances and laws, and many hurdles to overcome in a world with a lot less oil. When the major symptoms of Peak Oil start to really show themselves, such as food shortages, unreliable infrastructure or any number of related scenarios become apparent, the cities will not just go away. As James Kunstler says, we need to find a new way of inhabiting our landscapes.
What I like to call Urban Homesteading will become the norm for those of us living in the cities and even the suburbs. We will have to start growing our own food again, and raising our own meat. We will need to relearn skills that haven’t been used since the time of our grandparents or maybe even great grandparents. We will have to rebuild actual community; knowing our neighbors, helping each other with projects and harvests. We will have to celebrate together and mourn together. We all have a lot to relearn, but we also have a lot of teachers to learn from.
In the city of Detroit, there are over 40 square miles of vacant land and lots and has a huge number of urban farming projects. In New York City there are urban farmers bringing produce to market. And in Cuba where they have already gone through their own version of Peak Oil because of the Soviet Collapse, has a thriving urban farming movement. All around the world, even in America there are people who have taken food production back into their own hands.
Peak Oil will definitely change the world, but I like to think there are going to be positives that come out of this change. Food and culture will become more localized, peoples diets will consist of real foods which will lead to better health, and we will get out from behind these computer screens and TVs and start to live again.