Tuesday, 5 July 2011


by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin.

Being resilient is about being able to withstand a shock to the normal way of life.  Recently there has been a shock in the form of the Global Financial Crisis and the ongoing economic crisis, however I believe that these are tame compared to what is about to come in the next decade.

For me, two big issues come immediately to mind.  Climate Change and Peak Oil.
Me being a concerned citizen at a climate change rally
You have probably heard a lot about the concept of Climate Change, and we are already feeling the effects of extreme weather events all around the world.  Doesn't it seem strange that we are getting more and more '1 in 100 year events' closer together and they are becoming more like 1 in 10 year events?  Not strange, but normal according the climatologists.  Climate change means more extreme weather, not just getting a bit warmer. Of course the climate changes over time and has many times before in Earth's history, but not in a matter of decades as we are now seeing, we are talking hundreds of centuries for these events to occur naturally. You can't take millions of years of trapped sunshine in the form of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil and release it in to the biosphere in the space of fifty years or so without some repercussions.
Attempting to spread the word in our local newspaper about Peak Oil.
This leads me to the other big issue.  Peak Oil is a term that many might not be familiar with. Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. There was a time when Climate Change suffered the same lack of media coverage.

Peak Oil is not about “running out of oil” – we'll never run out of oil. There will always be oil left in the ground because either it's too hard to reach or it takes too much energy and cost to extract. Ponder on a fact that the economists conveniently gloss over – regardless of how much money you can make selling oil, once it takes an oil barrel's worth of energy and cost to extract a barrel of oil, the exploration, the drilling and the pumping will grind to a halt.

Peak Oil is about the end of cheap and plentiful oil, the recognition that the ever increasing volumes of oil being pumped into our economies will peak and then inexorably decline. It’s about understanding how our industrial way of life is absolutely dependent on this ever-increasing supply of cheap oil.  To learn more about Peak Oil please read a this previous post of mine titled "We Are Oil Junkies".

So why did I start out talking about local community resilience?  Well the two big issues have a lot to do about community resilience, because when these two effects start to bite hard, the outside inputs that supply our towns, cities and countries will begin to slow down, and we have to depend upon each and our local communities more and more just to get by.  This is why the Transition Town movement are going a long way to solving this problem of resilience.

Let me pose this question.  Do you know your neighbours, or at least 10 others in your community?  If you don't it might be a good idea to reach out to others where you live, because soon enough we are going to need each other more than over.

Local resilience begins when like minded people actually care and look out for each other.  People work better in communities, and have done so throughout all of history.  So join a local club to build that community spirit and start to talk about the two big issues that I have articulated in this post.  We have the power to change the way we do things, before the change gets forced upon us!

“Because the best protection isn't owning 30 guns; it's having 30 people who care about you. Since those 30 have other people who care about them, you actually have 300 people who are looking out for each other, including you. The second best protection isn't a big stash of stuff others want to steal; it's sharing what you have and owning little of value.”

- Charles Hugh Smith

How are you building resilience into you family and community?


Donna OShaughnessy said...

Such a great reminder ! We live in a small community on a small farm. We often barter with neighbs for services we need in exchange for some of our organic meat. No one really keeps track on paper but everyone sorta knows who owes for what.For example a half a hog is equal to about 75 bales of grass hay Give or take a pork chop or three

Rainbow Rivers said...

I loved this post, sometimes I wonder how Americans have become so far removed and stay isolated from community and this post is a nice reminder how important a community can truly be. We have moved several times and many times have never gotten to know any neighbors however this last move we have been working really hard to get to know and help our neighbors and build a community that I feel is the way we were designed to be.

jessieimproved said...

We are doing our best to bring our neighborhood together. Recently we had a successful block party where we served my husband and another neighbor's home brewed beer. We're also considering setting up a neighborhood CSA to redistribute the backyard bumper crops. Even traditional neighborhoods can do small things to move toward resilience.

notesfromthefrugaltrenches.com said...

I agree so much with your wise words. I think one challenge I have found is you can want to build a community but you can be on your own with that mindset, or you could luck out and be in a great community like that. It is very very hard to build a community to support each other in the former situation. This is such a good reminder to keep going!

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

I thought your post was very thought-provoking. I'll admit those are two subjects that I've not thought a whole lot about. For me, it's all about the economy and jobs. You did bring up one point, that you might not have real ized, or maybe you did :) :) :) Real change starts from the ground up with regular people like us ;) :) I would never expect the government to fix things, because they can't, in my humble opinion :) :) Very good post. Greetings from Oregon, Heather :)

Bel said...

I am part of a huge sub-community I guess developing in my local area. We are concerned about economic crisis, peak resources and climate challenges. :) We are walking the talk with Transition Initiatives and it's such a blessing to know that there are 100s of other households working toward resilience! Great post.