Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I signed up for post peak living free mini course.

there are a few courses on "Post Peak Living" but you have to pay, so i thought i'd sign up for the free newsletter first.

anyway, so far they have told me to get a 72 hour emergency kit ready.... already done that yawn...

and to start a transition initiative in my neighbourhood, quote "If a group doesn't yet exist in your area, talk to your neighbors and begin organizing."
hmmm easy as that is it?

they direct you to the transition book on amazon but not to any of the transition wikis etc online....

My own googling, i mean extensive research, has been more helpful than their nuggets of wisdom.

for Brisbane residents:

join the ning its like facebook/myspace for community organisations

the transition primer is here

One of the courses that I might have been interested in is about post oil jobs, but then i read the info.
This is their advice, my comments are in italics:

Skills Needed in a Post-Peak World

Here are some of the skills that will likely be needed:

  • medical treatment and nursing (but we won't need dentists? Probably should brush up on herbal medicine and distilling alcohol as well, because without oil, pharmaceuticals will be few and far between. Think biting on a stick while the doc saws your leg off a la civil war. And for those who can't finish a ten year medical degree, check out Where there is no doctor/dentist/midwife etc for some basic info.)
  • welding (uh huh, and the electricity to run the welder is coming from? Lets replace this with blacksmithing.)
  • growing food (yep makes sense, however this should be broader food production in general, ie beekeeping, raising meat/hunting, foraging, learning about agriculture with no chemicals, permaculture etc.)
  • plumbing (with what materials? pvc piping? I guess recycled/repurposed materials then, and when there are no parts anymore? I think running hot and cold water and indoor flush toilets could be out in a low tech post oil future. Learn how to safely build composting toilets.)
  • carpentry and green building techniques (as long as its is traditional artisan woodworking without power saws or belt sanders or oil based varnishes and so on ad nauseum)
  • sewing (with a treadle machine or hand sewing only.... and only with reused textiles, because last time i checked there werent many old fashioned looms around to produce cloth, just a few hobbyist textile artists. and there won't be any petro chemicals to fertilise cotton crops. and how exactly do you process flax to make linen again cos i forgot? Knitting might become more common, since needles are easily made from wood and some spinning wheels can be found in a few "country style" mcmansions gathering dust. Ready to shear a sheep with hand shears anyone?)
  • converting cars to use electricity (this is about POST peak right? i'm sorry but there is NO CHEAP OIL OR GAS OR COAL... peak oil is peak fossil fuels in general so where is the electricity coming from???? solar or wind power right? and the oil based plastic parts to repair and maintain your alternative energy source and your electric car are coming from which factory?? delivered by which trucks?? How about you learn cobbling, as in making shoes from wood and leather by hand, or saddlery and horse husbandry and wagon making, because we will all be walking, and using horse power in a post fossil fuel world!)
  • installing and repairing renewable energy systems (don't forget solar hot water) (groan, maybe in the short term, see what i have said before about repairs and maintenance, once oil, oil products, and things that are energy intensive to produce are firmly out of the affordability of the general public)
  • installing rainwater catchment systems (using pvc again are we??)
  • transporting goods without using fossil energy (rickshaw? horse and cart anyone? grin)
  • installing residential and commercial backup energy systems (oh for petes sake, whatever)
  • appliance repair (repair? and you will plug said appliance into...? knock, knock, like i said there is NO ELECTRICITY!!!!!!!!! )
  • set up and run a food co-op (thats a nice warm and fuzzy one, just don't ask for mangoes in June, no broom broom juice means no airplanes)
  • build and operate a community oven (baking is very energy intensive; not everyone will be able to afford to do it every day) (quite realistic, just make sure you build it right next to your sustainable coppiced woodlot, oh wait, you do have one of those right?)
Guess thats pretty bitchy...
I just get annoyed at people who go on about post peak oil, and then they tell you to do something like buy like kerosene lamps, as preparation. By the way, there will be no kerosene, because it is a byproduct of oil. There are people who think oil will just not be there one day, to fuel their cars, when in reality it will just become more and more expensive. This will in turn drive the cost of everything else up as well. Even completely organic fruit and veg need cold storage and transportation and then cooking, for example.

Some people won't even realise the reason why they can't get ahead in life, can't put food on the table every night, and can't keep their savings account from being eaten away, is not because they are inferior, or stupid or unlucky, its just that every ones standard of living is slipping down as oil becomes scarce and prices rise.

One day (soon) you might notice that you don't go to the movies as often as you once did, or you will put off buying a second car, because you can't afford it right now. You stop and think, and can't remember the last time you bought yourself a new handbag, or shoes. You might keep putting off trips to the hairdresser, "until next pay", and even though you used to get pedicures and waxes all the time when you were single, you haven't done that since the wedding. Or you can't afford new school shoes for the kids this term, and you'll just buff the old ones up and pray they don't have a growth spurt until "things" are less tight.
You might start finding that when you go shopping some things that used to be "needs" have turned into "wants" and less and less is making its way into the shopping trolley, but you still spend the same amount as you did 12 months ago, even three months ago.

Or if you are like me things are already like that :)

I hate to tell you, but you have probably bought your last car. Luxuries will just get even less affordable, and our definition of what we consider to be luxury (needs vs wants) will have to change. Things will not get "less tight", and things will not go back to normal, if normal means consuming more than your fair share of the planets resources.

Everything will slowly grind to a halt, industries will contract, jobs will evaporate, and people will have to shift their thinking, from consuming, and rushing, to just simply living and being.

Here is my list of jobs for the post oil economy (incomplete and in no particular order):
  • Prostitution (just kidding, sort of)
  • Market Gardener
  • Bee Keeper
  • Stock drover (no more road trains, remember)
  • Butcher
  • Baker
  • Carcass renderer (where do you think soap, and glue will come from, when its not economic to make it from oil by products?)
  • Tanner (as in leather, not solarium)
  • Wagon maker
  • Blacksmith
  • Brewer/distiller
  • Dentist
  • Doctor
  • Midwife
  • Teacher
  • Carpenter
  • Potter
  • Weaver
  • Cooper (barrel maker, we'll need to replace plastic buckets, cardboard boxes and stainless steel drums with something.)
  • Printer
  • Musical instrument maker
  • Seamstress/tailor
  • Shearer
  • Cobbler
  • Broom maker
  • Soap maker
Basically anything that is currently produced by energy intensive factories, or transported massive distances, will be reduced to the cottage industry level.
We could even see the rise of "piece work" the precursor to mass production. Especially for women in the cities, they will sew garments, at home with their own equipment, or make baskets, and or any other work where they can get paid by the item (no insurance, no unions, no super.)

If you feel like a beer, it won't be matter of jumping in the car and going to the bottle shop. You'll likely have to brew it yourself, but first you will have to plant a field of barley. If you want bacon and eggs for breakfast, you will have to butcher a hog, salt down and smoke the hams, collect eggs from your chook pen, chop wood for the fire and even before you do that you will have to grow feed for said chooks and hog. You see where I'm going with this?

Forget solar, hydrogen, hydroelectric and the rest. Think 1800s, preindustrialisation, "Little House on the Prairie", "My Brilliant Career". The only difference being the knowledge and scientific advances, for example, understanding germs, the need for sanitation, understanding nutrition and how to properly care for mothers and babies.

But this is countered by the knowledge we have lost since then, such as how to produce lye at home and make soap with no other chemicals. How to kill and butcher an animal. How to grow, and process textiles. How to accept mortality and live alongside death. How to work within nature without fighting and railing futilely against things you cannot control. But we will learn.

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