I hope that’s how you spell it.
Those who know me know that I am somewhat fascinated by the preparedness movement. The bit of “back to the land” that’s involved. The dash of animal husbandry. The food preservation techniques employed. The adrenaline rush of post apocalyptic planning. All of it combines to give me a little contact high. But lately I’ve been thinking more critically about it.
First, full disclosure – I could not be classified as a “prepper.” I don’t have any guns. I don’t have food stockpiles that could feed a small village (although my pantry is well stocked). Gas masks are not a part of my wardrobe. And here’s the kicker, I believe that if a catastrophe large enough to warrant living in an underground bunker for a year were to happen we’d pretty much be fucked anyway.
But I do have a nagging suspicion that we don’t’ build enough resiliency into our lives. And I have another nagging suspicion that by the twilight of my life that resiliency will be indispensable.
We live on a finite planet yet we pursue a course of infinite growth. I don’t think we can help it. We are living, natural organisms. As such it is almost impossible for us to ignore the DNA imperative to reproduce. This wouldn’t be so bad except that we’re also smart. We manipulate our environment in ways that other organisms just can’t achieve. We “intelligent” our way out of limiting factors and in so doing we defeat the equilibrium that nature would otherwise impose on us. We’re like the rabbits of Australia. Rabbits didn’t exist in Australia until 1788 when they were imported by English colonists. In an effort to make Australia more “English” 24 of the little buggers were released into the wild. By 1920 those 24 rabbits had exploded to 10 billion.
That’s billion with a B.
The rabbits weren’t evil. Hell, they weren’t even aware. All of a sudden they had all this space, and all this available food (energy), and no natural predators. They did what they were suppose to do, namely grow. They just did it in an inappropriate place.
We have experienced the same kind of population boom with the relatively recent discovery of easily obtainable, ridiculously concentrated energy.
Oil has been our Australia.
It is no coincidence that the absurd growth in world population coincides with the discovery and implementation of oil. And the problem is, even if we find a substitute for oil (which we won’t), even if oil were limitless (which it isn’t) it wouldn’t matter – because the rest of the earth is finite. We require so much more than energy to live and we are screechingly close to our limits.
I don’t think the species will be wiped out, I certainly hope it won’t. We’re a pretty cool bunch in my opinion. But I just know that life for my children and grand-children (when they come… and it better be a few more years!) is sure to be very different than what we’ve experienced so far. And while I think the downward slope will be a slope and not a cliff I still believe it will be a bumpy ride. And so, in this very roundabout way we reach resiliency.
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back, to adapt, to weather. Resiliency is the answer to the question “and then what?”
Oil production begins to decline… and then what?
Population reaches it max… and then what?
Climate change happens… and then what?
The zombies are finally beaten back… and then what?
I’ve come to realize that it is not the fate of my generation to stop these things from happening. We couldn’t stop it even if we had the willpower, which we don’t. My generation’s responsibility is to leave behind the best chance possible for our children.
My responsibility is to start building resilience into my world.