Friday, May 30, 2008

Cultivating "practical" lifeskills

Having previously lived for 2-3 years in the 1990’s a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (using less than $1,000 a year to live) in the northern Great Lakes area, I understand the benefits and the disadvantages of living a very sparse primitive lifestyle. I’ve also, like many Americans, been privy to a very opulent lifestyle where almost anything we want we can have. Part of pursuing the Big Good is about better understanding who we are, what is our purpose here on Earth, and to understand where we are in terms of the place we live. As we develop this understanding, Beth and I are also seeking a way of combining the wisdom and knowledge of different lifestyles from indigenous living, to homesteading, while incorporating appropriate technology in how we live.

In a recent book titled PowerDown by Richard Heinberg, the author writes, “We are in deep trouble, and it is essential we understand the nature of the trouble we are in.” Heinberg offers four scenarios or “…options available to us as a species during the next century.” I’ve been thinking about these four scenarios quite a lot over the past year. Somehow we want to be a part of option #4, while contributing to option #2.

Options for the Future:

#1. Last One Standing – The Way of War and Competition

(The “default” scenario if nothing changes from the present situation). A) Resource Wars: increased fatal competition for limited resources; B) widespread economic hardship and income disparity; C) destruction of infrastructure; military funding a priority while social welfare funding reduced.

#2. Powerdown – The Path of Self-Limitation, Cooperation, and Sharing

(What would happen if the Kyoto and Uppsala Protocols were adopted and implemented?) A)Coordinated global efforts toward cooperation and conservation; B) a cultural shift away from overconsumption of resources toward self-limitation; C) massive government and economic reforms; D) community solidarity rather than personal accumulation of wealth.

#3. Waiting for the Magic Elixir – False Hopes, Wishful thinking and Denial

(Plan Snooze: continued denial of “the Problem” in hopes that it will take care of itself): A) technological quick-fixes address the symptoms, not root causes; B) alternative hydrocarbon sources have serious problems; C) the Hydrogen economy is more a product of politics than science; D) continued distraction from the underlying problem of overconsumption

#4. Building Lifeboats – The Path of Community Solidarity and Preservation

(If the collapse of industrial society is unavoidable what can we do?) A) consider the long-term carrying capacity of environments in planning; B) create cultural preservation centers for education; C) cultivate “practical” life-skills; D) reconnect with cycles of the natural world.


jeneflower said...
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jeneflower said...

You guys are awesome!

I can see #3 around me everywhere, and when the denial can no longer be denied everyone is going to be angry and start pointing blame at anyone but themselves. It is so sad.

Brent said...

Thank you Jeneflower for the comment. It seems that more and more folks are waking up and asking questions. Thinking about how it would be to live differently. I think perhaps the biggest hurdle is philosophical in that our scientific-technocratic-militaristic way of doing things is deep in our psyches...and most folks feel that "technology will save us", rather than thinking "understanding and working with Nature will save us". For a deeper look at why technology might not save us I recommend to readers to check out Jerry Mander's In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations