Sunday, October 09, 2005

Back to the future: peak-oil scenario fuels "go local" campaign

BRATTLEBORO — Good news! The world is fast approaching the end of its oil supplies. Their depletion will lead to a Malthusian catastrophe as oil-driven economies crash, petroleum-linked world food supplies shrink, transportation costs skyrocket, and industrialized urbanization reverses itself, sending people fleeing their SUV-dependent suburbs for a rural lifestyle.

It takes a real optimist to see opportunity in such a dire scenario. But, a handful of Windham County activists see the end of oil dependence as the beginning of a better way of life.

“I believe that there are tremendous opportunities embedded in this whole issue/crisis of peak oil,” said Brattleboro ecological engineer Tad Montgomery.

“I’m seeing a lot of people wake up. A lot of people who have wanted to implement alternatives for years or decades finally are saying this is the time to put up those solar panels or drive a biodiesel car. They’re insulating their homes, riding their bicycles, growing gardens, and preserving foods, finding self-reliance,” he said.

Montgomery is a co-founder of Post-Oil Solutions (POS), a group of about 10 people who have been meeting twice a month since the summer to brainstorm ways to insulate and strengthen their communities against the potential effects of an oil-based economy crash. Self-reliance is the POS watchword, but so is interdependence: the ironic juxtaposition that community interdependence will achieve independence.

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