A new peak oil organization, called Ohio Peak Oil Action (OPOA), is working to prepare the Ohio area for the coming times by promoting relocalization, sustainability, permaculture, and bioregionalism.
What would you think if someone told you that we could simultaneously create strong, safe, sustainable, and vibrant communities while also solving the most urgent problems of our times? This is exactly what a growing number of people are talking about. Many call it the “Relocalization” movement.
As we confront some of the gravest challenges that has ever faced humankind—global climate change, overpopulation, economic instability, and environmental destruction—there are many indicators suggesting that our current materialistic and unsustainable modern way of life (particularly in wealthy countries like the U.S.) will not go on for much longer. The most immediate and pressing issue (and one that isn’t widely discussed in the media) is known as “peak oil.”
Peak oil, a theory first developed by petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert in the 1950’s, refers to the fact that there is a limited amount of oil in the earth that can be pumped and produced. When half of the oil has been pumped out of the earth we will reach “peak.” At this point, we will no longer be able to increase annual world oil production, as we have since oil was discovered in the late 1800’s. This will happen at the same time that demand is still rising exponentially. Many predict massive energy and food shortages, economic decline, and social instability as a result of peak oil. I don’t have the space to write about the theory in full—but I strongly urge readers to Google “peak oil.”
We are already seeing the effects of a tightening oil supply with rising prices at the pumps. But fuel costs are not the only thing that peak oil will affect. Industrial agriculture, medicine, tourism, manufacturing, road repair, home heating, and a host of other things could also be drastically affected.
Historically, societies that face serious resource shortages undergo either significant contractions or collapse. Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” published “Collapse,” which chronicles the connection between resource depletion and collapsing civilizations throughout history. Diamond concludes by warning that, “One of the main lessons to be learned from the collapse of the Maya, Anasazi, Easter Islanders, and those other past societies (as well as from the recent collapse of the Soviet Union) is that a society’s steep decline may begin only a decade or two after the society reaches its peak numbers, wealth, and power.” Despite the belief that we are somehow special and invincible, history shows that all societies are subject and vulnerable to the same forces which have caused past societies to collapse.
Fortunately, there is growing consciousness and activity around the issue of peak oil and how we are going to solve it. The “Relocalization Movement” is promoting the idea that the best way to prepare for the coming crises is by creating sustainable, self-reliant communities that are beautiful and worth caring about.
Two particularly inspiring groups working on these issues is located right in Ohio. Community Solution, a small non-profit organization in Yellow Springs, has been holding annual conferences for a couple years now and has recently begun to hold peak oil leadership training workshops. The other organization, Ohio Peak Oil Action (or OPOA), are organizing leaders and concerned citizens to prepare the Ohio area for peak oil by supporting sustainability, renewable energy, and strong local politics and economies.
When people ask us about what they can personally do about peak oil, we recommend fourteen things. Not only will they help you prepare, they are also fun and exciting!
1) grow a garden, 2) weatherize your house, 3) join or start a relocalization group in your community, 4) store food, 5) make and eat meals with your neighbors regularly, 6) get healthy, 7) learn some wild edible plants, 8) volunteer in your community, 9) learn self-reliant skills, 10) read James Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency,” 11) find out what “permaculture” means, 12) promote local renewable energy, 13) support local farmers, and 14) join Ohio Peak Oil Action!
Ryan Hottle and Theresa Bratton are the founders and co-directors of Ohio Peak Oil Action! (OPOA!).