Peak Oil Apocalypse? Over My Dead Battery!
And check out the website of the newly launched Re-Discovery Institute, which has our famous Disco Boys’ panties in the potage. Vive l’indigestion! In the words of surrealist poet Benjamin Péret, our Disco boys are “stupid like sausages whose sauerkraut has already been eaten away.”
Well, I forgot to watch for Spurlock's show last Saturday; my sweetie and I were busy canning our tomatoes. Plus, I pulled out my old bean plants and overgrown chives, and planted two more beds of beans to take advantage of the amazingly long growing season this year. Damn this nice weather, anyway! It was more fun to be outside.
My parents went through the Depression and World War II (obviously, I came along quite late in my parents' lives, though I was planned), and I grew up watching my mother can food and bake from scratch. I've had a garden since age nine, and like many girls I grew up on those Little House on the Prairie books. My Dad was a sheet-metal worker and I learned how to properly handle tools from watching him (even when he wouldn't let me handle the tools--well, his "girls don't" attitude sure changed after he saw me fell a tree by myself). I consider myself very fortunate to have learned those skills and to have acquired basic, solid American values and do-it-yourself thrift. America started out as a producer of goods; now we are a consumerist culture, but we always have the choice to "opt out" of that lifestyle as much as we can, when we can.
And many people do. I am not a survivalist, nor am I a conspiracy-theory enthusiast, and I don't hold with doomsday scenarios, although I will admit that there is one right-wing survivalist blog that I visit time and again because it has great canning recipes and tips, and in-depth information on everything you never wanted to know about solar batteries, etc. Though this site approaches the conservationist perspective from an anti-government, pro-Jesus angle, I embrace them for keeping alive techniques and knowledge that we really can't afford to lose.
I am also concerned about the possible peaking of world oil production. However, I am seriously turned off by these "peak oil apocalypse" scenarios by groups who seek--like extreme religious fanatics--to ride out the coming collapse of civilization in "lifeboat communities" and that predict, with what I detect to be a certain amount of schadenfreude, violence and starvation for suburbanites who don't live up to their granola standard. ("Imagine There's No Oil: Scenes from a liberal apocalypse" by Bryant Urstadt, Harper's, Aug. 2006)
Let's face it. Apocalyptic predictions are old hat in America. But this is a liberal end-of-the-world fantasy, and I don't like it. I don't hate anyone, no matter how stubbornly I oppose them. Doomsday fantasies are a way of taking something away from other people, and of punishing those not like us or who don't share our values. Rapture nuts want to take my heathenist, atheist, "corrupt" life away from me, and I think that these "peak oil" doomsday cultists (because that's what they are) likewise want to see right-wing Republicans suffer a horrible fate. I don't want any part of it.
Another thing that bothers me is, just as with religious Rapture nutballs, this worldview is a mixture of incredibly grim, bloody violence on the one hand, and mawkish sentimentality on the other. One minute, "peak oil" end-of-earthers are talking about how the mentally ill will just have to die because no one will have time to take care of them; the next, they're having a little cutesy brainstorming session for solutions ("We can plant gardens on top of skyscrapers." "We can turn asphalt streets into forests."). Gaaaa [cough! cough!] Gag me! Yuck! Maybe these dorks should learn how to live without a dishwasher, first? (I don't have a dishwasher, either.)
It's easy to love trees at the expense of people. Now, don't get me wrong, I adore trees. I love nature. However, I consider human beings to be a part of nature, and thus do not draw a line between people, whether they are friends or not, and the natural world. And frankly, while there could be some serious repercussions from the projected decline of worldwide oil production, I do not think it's very likely that civilization will suddenly collapse--at least, I hope not. I don't want to ever become the kind of person who hopes for such a thing.
So, yes, I can my own produce from my garden, and read good canning/baking tips from any knowledgeable source, liberal or conservative. We don't have a composting toilet but we do compost our kitchen scraps. We walk, bus, or ride our bikes. I mend my socks, shop at discount or second-hand stores (I hate shopping!), belong to a co-op, pick up pennies and save them in a jar, take my lunch to work, go to the farmer's market, and cook mostly from scratch. John grows his own grapes which he makes into jelly and wine; I preserve the young leaves for dolmades. We're not doing this to be "better" than other people. We just think it makes sense; much of it is fun; and we're not rich.
But between the choice of 1) a corrupt, polluted, consumerist world in which one has the choice to rebel, and 2) a post-apocalyptic peak oil world (or to some people, paradise?) in which reality brooks no rebellion and no frivolity, I choose the former, however unsustainable, and hope instead for a relatively peaceful transition to a sustainable, cleaner, more healthy civilization. I'm not running to any "lifeboat community" which sounds exactly like some add-solar-energy-and-stir survivalist fantasy. We are responsible for each other.
In the words of one of my favorite poets: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind...