Saturday, October 22, 2011

Managing Contraction

Loosely adapted from a monday morning blog written by social critic and curmudgeon profit James Howard Kuntsler. 

Reality is telling us to downscale and get different fast. Quit doing everything possible to prop up the drive-in false utopia and all its accessories. Get local. Tighten up. It looks certain that most folks have no intention of doing that.

We're mismanaging contraction. Further expansion is just not in the cards right now. We can't handle more people on the planet, and we don't have the means to accommodate them. There will be no 'recovery" to "growth" - especially by means of pumping more oil into the system. There is no techno-miracle alt-fuel hiding in the wings to take over from oil. And there is no research-and-development program that will make it happen.
I admit that contraction is a hard reality - but so is the recognition that we don't get to live forever, something every child begins to grapple with around age seven. The inability of our society to face comprehensive contraction will only insure that its side effects are more debilitating and cut deeper.

It is important for our local communities to think about powering down -- how we could accomplish the various aspects of our lives (food, water, clothing, education, etc) with very little or even no oil.  We must also plan for how we will accomplish these with far less money.  Things like local reskilling, local resource base, and local production -- coupled with local bartering networks -- become critical parts of the solution. The six R's of lower consumption are important to keep in mind as well. We can happily manage with far less by reducing, recycling, reusing, repairing, re-finishing, and repurposing.

Make every single purchase count toward preparing you and your community for what lies ahead.  Gain the new skills.  Hook up water barrels, put away vegetable seeds, track down mechanical/power-free tools into your neighborhood. But there is no substitute for real connection with your neighbors. Set up chances to meet one another. As the economy continues to contract, knowing the people who live within 15 minutes of you become your de-facto community. Get to know them, and let them know you. When the Federal Government finally admits it does not have the ability to improve our lives, we will have a local network already in place.

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