Resilience has fast become a new buzzword with civic organisations, think tanks, communities and corporations addressing potential risks. A system is said to be resilient, if it has the capacity to defend against, adapt to and repair itself after disturbances. While there has been much debate and public discourse around climate change, there has been relatively minimal public discussion and understanding of the challenges of resource depletion. Resource depletion or more specifically, the ‘peaking of oil’ will have far reaching and unpredictable consequences for society in the coming years. Peak Oil is the theoretical date where global oil production starts on a relentless decline into the future. It is not about running out of oil as such, it is about running out of cheap oil. Cheap oil has been the primary driver for Western economies over the last several decades.
The oil depletion story is important to understand as it will have wide ranging and imminent consequences. The significance of this geological story is already starting to play out and is unfolding through financial and or economic crisis and constraints. It is already having major implications for many middle eastern countries. Venezuela and Libya are already experiencing significant social and economic dislocation. The converging crises (environmental/climate), social and financial are inextricably linked. The longer individuals, governments, local and regional councils and communities ignore such matters, the harder it will be to mitigate and manage a soft landing. Hence, it is important to start to build some capacity to withstand and absorb shocks that may occur and play out into the future.
1. Eat Healthy Organic Local Food
Consider incorporating more plant-based whole foods into your diet and eliminating processed packaged foods. Eating a healthy whole food diet facilitates the cleansing of the body of unwanted toxins, and can contribute to greater clarity of mind and increased physical and mental health, as well as reducing your chances of developing degenerative diseases later in life. Living with clarity is the first step to realizing your true potential and freeing yourself from the system. This also makes you less (or non) reliant on the industrialized food system, pharmaceutical grade drugs and the conventional medical system.
2. Downsize Your Life
As housing affordability deteriorates and economies continue to contract, more and more people are seeking alternative ways of living. With most Western nations spending one-third to more than half of their income on housing (mortgage repayments), living small offers greater freedom to the alternative of being tied to a mortgage for decades. There are many options for simple living today with choices including a combination of micro-apartments, tiny houses, yurts, container homes, shipping containers, and customised small homes, all offering affordable and sustainable housing. Prefabricated tiny homes can cost the same price as a new car, ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. If you want to build your own tiny home this can be even more cost effective. See: Living Big in A Tiny House
3. Get in Touch With Nature
Over recent years, urbanization has increased, to the point where more people live in high density urban environments than at any time in history. This has alienated many from the natural world. Connection to the land and natural environment has been replaced by freeways, cities, and concrete landscapes, which bring little solace and opportunity for reflection for individuals. Inner peace and happiness can be hard to find in a world of constant diversion and distraction. M. Sanjayan, Ph.D., lead scientist for “The Nature Conservancy,” outlines how humans are integrally connected with nature: “For 5 million years, humans depended on nature for just about everything, including food, shelter, and the regulation of sleep cycles. It is only in the last fifty years people have become less connected to nature with much of the global population living in large urban centres.” Studies have shown that people need some connection with nature. Getting out of artificial environments helps with overall health and well-being, supporting a stronger immune system as well as stimulating creativity.
4. Become Involved With or Move to an Ecovillage
The ecovillage movement offers a model which requires a paradigm shift from the take, make, waste mentality pervasive throughout our Western culture and economy. The ecovillage movement aims to foster local production and longterm sustainability by maintaining economically and ecologically sustainable communities. The movement tries to integrate ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability in order to regenerate social and natural environments. Ecovillages range in size from small villages of fifty to a couple of thousand people. Designed to be self-governing, ecovillages try to create employment and a greater sense of community. Many incorporate and offer services such as libraries, forests, gardens and orchards. Energy supplies and community based entertainment in the form of markets and festivals are also features of ecovillages. See: http://gen.ecovillage.org/
5. Try WWOOFING
WWOOFing is an acronym for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” or “Willing Workers on Organic Farms.” It is a network of national organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms. The WWOOF model is simple. WWOOF hosts provide volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods. WWOOF volunteers generally do not receive financial payment, instead exchanging their assistance with farming or gardening for food, accommodation, and the opportunity to learn.
WWOOFing is a great way to see your own country or other countries and learn about local culture relatively inexpensively. It allows you to meet like-minded people and learn new skills, and you can specify how long you wish to stay at a host’s residence. This can range from anywhere from a week or two to many months. There are some awesome retreats and communal living properties which host WWOOFers. The great thing about the WWOOF experience is that you never know who you will meet or where this might take you. See: http://wwoofinternational.org/
6. Learn About Landshare / Shared Earth
Landshare is a growing movement which brings together people who have a passion for home-grown food, connecting those who have land to share with those who need land for cultivation. Since its launch through “River Cottage” in 2009 it has grown into a thriving community of more than 60,000 growers, sharers, and helpers. Landshare has spread to numerous countries including Australia, Canada, UK, New Zealand, and the U.S., connecting people who want to grow their own fruit and veg (but don’t have anywhere to do it) with people who have land to spare. If there isn’t a Landshare set up in your region this may present an opportunity to develop. Similarly, Shared Earth (based in the U.S.) is a free online service connecting land with gardeners. There are an estimated 10 million acres of front and back yards in America alone which are unproductive. These could be put to better use than simply growing grass!
7. Reassess Where You Live
During the start of the industrial revolution people moved from smaller rural and regional areas to larger cities. Today, the most urbanized regions of the world include Northern America (82 per cent living in urban areas in 2014), Latin America and the Caribbean (80 per cent), and Europe (73 per cent). This rapid transformation from rural to urban has occurred over the last century, correlating with the growth and exploitation of fossil fuels and the abundance of cheap oil. Increasing populations have driven demand for real estate in certain cities, making many unaffordable. Cities can be expensive places to live and it is easy to become trapped in a never ending cycle of debt. Opportunities exist for a re-ruralization of certain areas. With the average age of farmers increasing in most countries there will need to be a new breed of Permaculture trained people and eco farmers. In many countries, rural communities have dwindled and or been abandoned entirely. This presents opportunities for those wishing to make a change from an urban environment to rebuild and create a new future.
8. Become Involved With or Help Establish a Cooperative
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting recession, co-ops have been recognized for their resilience. They have the ability to preserve jobs and economic infrastructure and support rural communities. Across the globe there are people working to rebuild local and regional food systems, and co-ops have a unique role to play. A food cooperative or food co-op is another model of food distribution coordinated and operated by members. Like most cooperative models they follow a number of principles designed to facilitate more socially responsible interactions. The primary distinction of a cooperative is that they are not influenced by external shareholders, being strictly managed by members. See: http://ica.coop/
9. Learn Permaculture
The term ‘permaculture’ originated from Australian born author, scientist, teacher and naturalist Bill Mollison and co-developer David Holmgren. Mollison wrote several books, the first being ‘Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements’ (with David Holmgren, Trasworld Publishers, 1978). Mollison is known as the ‘father’ of permaculture. He summarises permaculture: “Permaculture (permanent agriculture) as the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.”
In his book ‘Permaculture: A Designers Manual’ Mollison states “Permaculture in essence is how nature ultimately designed things in the first place. The idea behind permaculture is to replicate or mimic the natural systems and environments, while using some of the modern techniques of horticulture, architecture and agriculture to enhance and yield edible food supplies.” David Holgren in his book Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability elaborates. “Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs,” and, “I see permaculture as the use of systems thinking and design principles that provide the organising framework for implementing the above vision.”
For the most part, we have been following a path of intensive and highly automated agriculture that places pressure on natural systems. Permaculture is more closely linked with how traditional natives farmed and worked with the land. Permaculture brings us back to a time when communities, friends and neighbours shared resources. Permaculture is a long way from cheap mass produced food that generate externalities from production. It is about observing nature’s laws and working with nature as opposed to against it. Permaculture is about harnessing what nature has to offer without being greedy and taking more than we need. The collection and storage of water through tanks and the preserving of foods is an example of this philosophy. Realising that what we do today will impact future generations is crucial in paving the way for a sustainable agricultural future. Short sighted profitability must make way for long term sustainability of our land and environment.
Source: excerpts from Rethink…Your world, Your future.
Cover Image: flickr RachelIMFry.com