Archive for September 18th, 2004

100 Things you can do to prepare for Peak Oil Part 1

Sharon September 18th, 2004

I thought I’d start a list of skills/studies/actions one could take to prepare. Let me be clear – I don’t find the Olduvai hypothesis compelling. But I do believe that with the end of cheap oil, we find ourselves in a very different world and a very different economy. Americans live now entirely in a world of consumption – most never really make anything that matters to anyone. But I suspect that is going to change, and change fast.

Every need of your own you can take care of outside the money economy makes you safer. Every skill you have that can be traded upon is a gift. Get ready now – I dont think we have that many years to go. Many of these things can be done even in an urban apartment – although I wouldn’t recommend that anyone stay there in the longer term.

I am aware that this makes me look rather like a wacky survivalist, and perhaps thats true (a leftist survivalist, I would like it stated for the record.) But then again, is this really so foolish? Think about the last 100 years – depending on where you lived when, I can think of dozens of reasons why one might have been poor, cold and hungry. Being able to live outside the money economy is the only real surety one has – whether peak oil or some other disaster comes this time. I would be grateful for my stored food if we lost our jobs, and for my skills if we were forced to flee as refugees – things that happen all the time, all over the world. It is possible that peak oil will be nothing more than a depression, although I find it unlikely – the food-energy link is too strong. But this makes my family more secure than it would have been otherwise.

100 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Peak Oil

1. Talk to your neighbors, friends, family – almost all of them will think you are a nutcase, but at least get them thinking.

2. Learn to knit

3. Grow a garden, however small. Start your own seeds. Grow only open pollinated vegetables and save seeds. Check out for an inspiring example of small scale gardening. Remember, however, that this is done with lots of outside inputs.

4. Compost your own humanure (check out Jenkins _Humanure Handbook_)

5. Make beer, wine, mead or liqueurs. Or better yet, get a permit and make ethanol – then you’ll know how to make whiskey when the time comes.

6. Make a quilt.

7. Begin a food storage program – each week spend ten dollars on a staple food like rice, beans, canned fish, shortening, vitamins, sprouting seeds, dried milk,honey, salt, tang/vit. C supplemented koolaid. Check out and click on their food storage faq, also the wonderful Alan Hagan’s Prudent Food Storage FAQ at

8. Write your congresswoman or man, your senator, anyone you can think of about peak oil. They’ll almost certainly ignore you, but you can say you tried.

9. Grow papaver somniferum (available from Park Seeds as “florists poppy” – check out Michael Pollan’s great article in Harpers April ’97 about growing opium poppies in cool climates at BTW, for the records of the DEA, I have not done so, and have no intention of doing so any time soon.

10. Live somewhere with available greenspace for food growing – work hard to keep that greenspace (private and public) open. Read _The Tragedy of the Commons_.

11. If you have young children, be prepared to educate them through the college level at home. Books have an excellent “R” value, and make good insulation. Get all you can on every subject, especially traditional skills.

12. Take an EMS course, or at a minimum, a good first aid course. EMS is far more useful, particularly if you are young enough to be drafted anytime in the next 20 years – medics have gory, hideous jobs, but aren’t front line soldiers.

13. Get in better shape – do lots of weight bearing, aerobic exercise. Gardening and yard work is perfect.

14. Learn to play a non-electric musical instrument. Sing a lot. Teach your family to sing with you.

15. Buy a manual grain grinder, and use it to make flour.

16. Turn off your dryer and put up a clothesline. Use it.

17. Buy a few good bicycles and get in the habit of using them – they are the most efficient form of transport. If you have a bad back, consider making or building a recumbent (plans at

18. Eat some dandilions from your lawn. Learn to recognize wild edibles in your area – most likely, no one else will.

19. Learn to spin. Even better, raise some sheep, and learn to shear, butcher, trim hooves, wash and spin fleeces. Oh, wait, I’m not supposed to be scaring you ;-) .

20. Arrange a showing of _The End of Suburbia_ in your community, and lead a Q&A afterwards.

21. Learn to split wood – manually.

22. Convert your car to biodiesel.

23. If you are post-childbearing or do not want children, get a vasectomy or your tubes tied. Poverty means less access to contraception, and times of crisis bring comfort and unexpected children. Or prepare for the unexpected children – learn to deliver babies at home, store formula (in case the mother dies in childbirth), cloth diapers and other necessaries. Remember, little as you may like it, your 17 year old will probably not be deferred from sex because you can’t afford condoms.

24. Bring your elderly family members to live with you – they will suffer or be evicted in nursing homes as costs rise and government payments lower.

25. Make friends with your neighbors. Do them favors. Bring them baked goods. Loan things to them. Share their pains and pleasures – your life will depend on these people in bad times.

Ok, end part 1 – more coming.