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community building | sustainability

Toward a new economy

I have been reading a lot about the coming economic crash and its effect on life as we know it. Also, more gloomy, are the recent papers on "Peak Oil" and the resultant deaths of billions of people around the globe. These works have caused me to start thinking "what if..." What if it all happened, just like the authors said? What can we do to prepare in a realistic way for the coming world so that we are able to cope with the changes mentally and physically? No one seems to have any answers for us.
What if oil went to 3, 4 or 5 dollars a gallon tomorrw? OMG! Wake up tomorrow and find lines miles long as people start to hord gasoline. Think of the run at the bank as 200 million drivers in this country show up to get cash for gas! The economy would sink in a flash. Would you go to work? How long would work be there before it folded? How long before the grocery store shelves became bare? In last winter's ice storm it only took A FEW DAYS for them to get pretty slim from the lack of passable roads. How about finding that grocery prices hit the roof and a loaf of the crappy white bread was 10 dollars? Your pay is not going to go up, that's for sure.

What would we do? What could we do to survive and help each other without allowing society to degrade into a Mad Max rerun? Are Americans able to care about each other enough to help rather than kill and steal from each other? I have seen no indications that we are able to do much else. The folks in my area are hard line nazis, its "everyone for themselves and if you can't make it its your own fault" around here as far as I can tell.

I think that perhaps a post dollar world would have to depend upon bartering for more economic exchange. If the dollar is worthless and there is nothing to replace it there would be little alternative. But, with so many people living in cities with little real value to use for bartering (not much use for a programmer when no one is doing business, nor maids, nor gas attendants, nor waiters) What can people use for currency to get the goods they need in a city?

I live in the countyside, very close to the burbs though. I have some farm animals but not enough to survive with. And how do we pay our tax bills, water electric etc... we need cash for that.

I'd like to start a connection point for discussions on the topic of a post capitalist world. How can we make a better future through our efforts today?

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doomsday forecast 06.Mar.2005 21:19

greg snyder

I guess it's easy to worry about what might happen. But don't let it get the best of you. The economy could be managed vastly differently than it is, starting with the United States switching to a hydrogen-based economy. The technology exists. There just needs to be the political will to make it reality. If hydrogen were the base of our economy we would no longer depend on oil, gas, or nuclear energy. We could then focus on also developing other additionally sustainable energy sources like wind, hydroelectric, solar, etc.. If we were completely independent for our energy needs, it would be a vastly different world. The entire world could live very comfortably like this and have a very high quality of life and humans would no longer have to worry about self-destruction through degradation of the environment.

But as it is, the people who make the decisions about the economy, make the decisions they do. There are clearly other options than the decisions that they have made. But they ignore them. The people who make the decisions think they are right, that they are making the right decisions. But, they are only making things worse for the world. How you, as an individual, respond to what they do is partially your choice. It's out of your hands. Only the doers and shakers of the world's economy are able to make those kinds of executive decisions. So, why should you fret? As Doris Day sang, Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be. So why sweat it? If those in charge take us up in a puff of nuclear winter with them or insist that we use up every last god-damned hydrocarbon while doing nothing to secure a safe, energy-independent future, so be it. It's their decision. But you can always state that things should be done differently, that the world could and should be managed vastly differently than it is currently being managed.

The only things you can do as an individual are get off the grid as much as possible. By that I mean become energy independent, if possible. And hopefully you have some kind of skill that is marketable and that you are a resourceful person. Being able to work for yourself would be crucial in a world like the doomsday world you are wondering about. You can also be politically active for change if you are so inclined. Incidentally, that is exactly the type of world that George Bush and his administration very much wants you to believe we inhabit; a dog eat dog, ruthless, Hobbesian world. It doesn't have to be that way though. The world could easily be a place where we all work together and help each other. It has been done before and it will happen again and again. Too bad your neighbors don't know that. Maybe you can find a place to live where your neighbors are more of the belief that they can help each other and thereby prosper. There is a choice.