Well, there were two bits of excitement yesterday. The one you probably missed was that an indpendent panel of scientists from all over the world warned that we are closer than we think to an irrevocable tipping point that will lead to the planet warming by as much as 11 degrees by the end of the century (no one ever hypothesizes what will happen after the end of the century - don't think too much about why that might be), and the deaths of millions or billions of people from climate change.
Now Hitler killed 11 million people, give or take a few, and we have branded him one of the greatest monsters of all time. What do you think our children and grandchildren will think of us if we succeed in killing 12 million, or 100 million (within the potential forecasts) or a billion people. Do you think of yourself as a monster? Well maybe it is time to think about what kind of unconscious monstrosity we're engaging in as a population, and how to resist.
The panel of scientists is still calling for alternative energies, and I have no objection. But we are increasingly unlikely to be able to replace large chunks of what we consume with alternative energies - and you and I don't have time to wait until we can afford to power our whole lifestyle with our cute little solar panels - we have to stop emitting now. And the only way that will happen is if we get comfortable with the notion that private cars, lots of appliances and unlimited resources are not in our future - period.
The event I bet you noticed was the stock market. Now I make no pretensions to understanding financial markets - heck, I've noticed that most of the people who say they do understand them are wrong most of the time, so I won't predict anything. This could be a little blip, or it could be the beginning (well, not quite the beginning - 1 out of every 35-45 American homeowners is being foreclosed upon right now, and foreclosures have hit epidemic proportions in places like CA, Ohio and TX) of a recession. After all, we've blown a large chunk of our GDP on war, and we're about to blow more (BBC reports that we're building up steadily for an immanent attack on Iran - does this surprise anyone), and we haven't been investing in much of anything that matters.
Now I don't know if this recession is a big economic crisis, but if other countries find themselves in trouble and stop propping up our currency (note, the problem started in China), we're in big trouble, and it could take a long time to get out of. And that long time is just what we don't have in terms of peak oil and climate change. It may be that what we go into a recession with today is much of what we'll have when we come out.
All of which is just an argument for being prepared. Who cares if are set at risk because you lose your job or because of peak oil? The solutions are the same. Get the heck out debt - cut everything you can out of your budget - new clothes, meat, vacations, all extraneous driving, etc... and put it towards your debt, or, if you don't have any, your mortgage. Have a solid economic reserve not entirely dependent on the stock market. Store food - when you go shopping, buy a few extra bags of beans, rice, cooking oil, honey, spices, peanut butter, canned veggies. Or better yet, go to the bulk store, or a local farmer and buy potatoes, wheat, dried beans. Don't just store it - learn to eat it and enjoy it, and get your family used to it. Start a garden. Landscape with fruit and veggies - get rid of your lawn, and replace your shrubs with berry bushes. Use less, need less, get used to fixing things and making do. Find a way to get water, heat and light without power, just in case.
Because maybe it will never happen - but in most lives a little rain does fall. Get an umbrella.
Do it now. And remember, we can stop the rain from turning into a flood if we're just willing to do things differently.