My Twelve Step Programme for Reducing my Oil Dependency

I’ve been reading a bunch lately and one of the books I picked up by Rob Hopkins, “The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience” has been holding my attention with a sort of morbid fascination and a level of excitement that keeps me coming back for more.

Part one of the book covers the reasons why people should be considering their options. Basically Hopkins outlines “The Long Emergency” from his own perspective. He doesn’t really get into the failures of an economy based on cheap, easy fossil energy, but his analysis concerning Climate Change and Peak Energy is very well reasoned and, this is where the morbid part comes in, very frightening.

Or at least it should be, in trying to open up dialogue on the topic of TLE I’ve basically been told (by the internets) that its all bunk. Climate Change is a cabal foisted on the people of the US by the UN in order to tax its citizenry to death. And Peak Energy can’t be true since the earth has a regenerating crude core which will pump magical energy to humanity forever. Suffice it to say that I’m not enthusiastic about either of the common responses I’ve been getting; basically it just confirms my suspicion that the internets are full of trolls.

On to the reason for my post. In part two of the “Transition Handbook” Hopkins does what a lot of other people fail to do, that is, he begins to lay out a strategy for dealing with humanity’s energy descent. What is most interesting about his strategy is that its based on a psychological framework for dealing with addiction. He presents our dependence on fossil energy as just that, and addiction, and doesn’t really pull the punches when he goes on to say that we each are culpable and thus responsible for achieving the change we (secretly) hope to attain.

He also talks about how this social addiction to a substance qualifies as such because it is doing harm to humanity currently as well as the will do additional harm in the future. Our situation becomes even more complicated by the fact that our dependence on this substance tends to fill us with fear and self doubt when we question the idea of living without it, or with reducing our consumption of the same.

Later in the book Hopkins presents an exercise which I resolved to take part in last night (although modified since I don’t have a group and my participation seems dependent on this blog). The gist of it is that were supposed to visualize and express the conditions or goals we’d like to achieve toward building a more resilient, less dependent lifestyle. The statement he uses is:

“My Twelve Step programme for reducing my oil dependency. In order to make my life less reliant on the unreliable, I pledge to myself to strive towards the following 12 goals over the next 6 months.”

So here they are, my 12 goals:

  • Permaculture Goal: I will learn more about permaculture and find ways to integrate these principles into my day-to-day life. These principles will help me design a more resilient, less dependent future for myself and my family.
  • Reduce Household Consumption Goal: I will baseline household electrical consumption in August and reduce over all consumption by 50% within the next six months.
  • Reduce Food Miles: I attempt to limit or reduce the overall distance food needs to travel before it goes on my table.
  • Increase Food Storage: Because only a portion of the food we regularly eat can be grown or produced nearby I will work to limit the number of trips necessary to feed my family by storing and putting up food as it comes in season. This will have the added benefit of giving my family additional food security if and when food prices rise later in the year because of current extreme drought conditions.
  • Build a Resilient Community: I will attempt to find like minded people in the area around Gunnison in order to form better relationships with people who are interested in graceful energy descent.
  • Start Energy Descent Plan: If I can build a community of people interested in planning for a graceful energy descent then I will, with their help, create an energy descent plan. If I cannot build a cohesive community of people then I will create an EDP for my family.
  • Design Small Scale Gardens: I will complete the design of a small scale garden for my parents on Glade Park and work with them to start building out the garden. I will complete two small cold frames behind our town house. I will look for other opportunities to expand gardening and food production locally.
  • Car-free Self, Car-Light Family: I will continue to avoid the use of internal combustion engines for transportation. I will build and refine my human powered modes (bicycles, velomobiles, skis, feet, etc.). I will attempt to reduce our already very low family use of automotive transportation.
  • Reduce Meat Consumption: Meat will be locally raised and organically produced. To accommodate increased prices and lowered availability for this we will learn to consume less meat week-over-week.
  • Forage, Fish and Hunt: Because there is a natural abundance of food I will continue to learn to use what is freely available naturally.
  • Reduced Medical Dependency: Over the next six months I will attempt to reduce my dependence on modern, fossil fuel dependent medicine.
  • Build Hinterland Cycles: I will continue to build Hinterland Cycles my offering to the world for sustainable transportation.
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