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Would You Know How to Survive After the Oil Crash?

Could you get by without your car, food from outside your community, your job? There's a bunch of folks who want to show you how.

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Angelantoni echoes what folks like Kunstler have been saying for years -- new technology won't bail us out of this one, and we've started too late on renewable energy and alternative fuels to have them quickly replace fossil fuels in our energy diet.

Taking it to the Next Level

There is a least some amount of shuffling above the neighborhood level when it comes to peak oil.

The city of San Francisco recently put together a Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force, which is getting ready to present its findings to the city's Board of Supervisors. Like most of Americans, San Francisco is fossil-fuel dependent, with 84 percent of the energy consumed coming from oil and natural gas, both likely at or nearing peaks.

So what's a city to do? Here's what the task force says:

  • Encourage the installation of local, renewable, distributed electric-generating facilities
  • Pursue the conversion of the electric system to a smart grid
  • Convert vacant and underutilized public and private properties to food gardens
  • Vastly expand urban agriculture programs and services
  • Expand passenger capacity of all mass transit
  • Avoid infrastructure investments that are predicated on increased auto use
  • Convert city equipment, buses and trucks to 100 percent biodiesel from reclaimed lipids, as feasible
  • Discourage private auto use by disincentivizing car travel and ensuring that alternatives (walking, bicycling, public transportation) are competitive with driving
  • Expand the potential for rail and water transport, for both passengers and freight
  • Encourage local manufacturing that utilizes recycled material as feedstock
  • Retrofit the building stock for energy conservation, efficiency and on-site generation
  • Begin an education plan, to inform San Francisco residents about peak oil and gas and its implications

One of the main things the task force stresses is beginning to take action ... now.

We will only know when we've hit peak oil after it is has already happened, and that means we may be nearing too late.

"The recent spread of peak-oil resolutions and projects by cities and towns across America is thus a very hopeful sign," John Michael Greer wrote in the task force report; he has authored essays about "catabolic collapse." 

"It's going to take drastic changes and a great deal of economic rebuilding before these communities can get by on the more-limited resources of a deindustrial future, but the crucial first steps toward sustainability are at least on the table now. If our future is to be anything but a desperate attempt to keep our balance as we skid down the slope of collapse and decline, these projects may well point the way."

And what can the average person do?

"If you own a house, think about putting solar on it, making it more energy efficient or moving to some place smaller," said Jeanne Rosenmeier, a member of San Francisco's task force. "You should be thinking about how to get around without a car and if you have a place to grow a bit of food. There are people out there saying 'hoard gold, buy guns,' but I'm not advising that."

Angelantoni believes courses like his are a good place to start.

"When people go down the tunnel of thinking about what it will look like, they get stopped at 'I lost my job, how do I make money, what do I do for food,' " he said. "We aim to show them a glimpse of what it could be like on the other side -- people are now thinking about how to become business people -- and less about who's going to hire them.