Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

The Gift of $200-a-Barrel Oil

Necessity is the mother of conservation.

Let’s face it, we, as a society, will not surrender our excesses until we are forced to do so—primarily because we don’t see our excesses as excesses. One car per driver, cell phones in every purse, MP3 players in every pocket, strawberries in January, bananas in the northern hemisphere…these all, at various times, would have been seen as extravagant luxuries. In most places in the world, they still are. However, now, in our society, they’re commonplace to the point where to go without them seems absurd. These are the everyday items of life.

Yet, the world is changed. Peak oil is approaching, if not past. Cheap energy is over. The consequences of our oil consumption is choking off the ecosystems from which we were born and which we need to survive. Many of us have realized this. Many of us remain unconvinced—though this summer’s iceless north pole will pull more heads out of the sand.

Conservation is no longer optional—conservation of land, oil, soil, water, energy, food, and money. Yet, we do not because we do not have to. The planet’s tipping point will not be advertised on TV or be available in 10 minute clips on YouTube. We won’t know. We can’t watch, and therefore the threat of humanity’s destruction—as funny as it sounds—is not enough to demand action.

The good news is that there is one potential catalyst which will universally prompt immediate conservation across this culture: money. We will all drive less if we can’t afford the fuel. We will all forgo our cell phones if the monthly bill interferes with feeding the kids. We will stop buying power-hungry devices to entertain ourselves if our electric bill is already unmanageable. We will reform our lives as necessary to fit new economic constraints—because we will have no choice.

It’s already begun. As the price of a barrel of oil climbs, so too does the level of conservation. Oil at $100 per barrel forced us out of SUVs. Oil at $120 per barrel kept us home on the weekends. Oil at $140 per barrel forced us to plant vegetable gardens, ride a bicycle to work, and research solar hot water heaters.

I have hope for the future of humanity because I have faith in our ability to adapt to the pressures of the world. The pressure, however, must stay on. I welcome $200-a-barrel oil and every incremental increase in between. It will be a difficult transformation. Our society was built on the idea of everlasting fuel and the permanence of car culture. As we now know, this was a devastating miscalculation.

We will need to evolve toward sustainability. Cities will grow as people migrate toward public transportation. Suburban homes will rot in place as they sit on the real estate housing market—too expensively far from work. Gardens will replace yards. Solar-raisings will replace barn-raisings. Communities will rediscover themselves to help members through a difficult and shared transformation.

A sustainable society isn’t only possible, it is inevitable. Whether through total collapse of the world’s economic market and infrastructure, or through careful steering of society before the end, the next generations will inherit a planet where gluttonous consumption is no longer an option. The oil is gone. And with it, our oil culture.


Happy Holidays from Chelsea Green Publishing!

Today we kick off our Holiday Sale — with 35% off every purchase at our online bookstore. Simply use the code CGS16 at checkout from now until the end of the year. Along with this great discount, we are offering free shipping on any order over $100*. Are there homesteaders or organic gardeners on your […] Read More

You won’t have a revolution if you don’t ask for one. So, what are you waiting for?

Get ready for the era of Big Organizing. In Rules for Revolutionaries, authors Becky Bond and Zack Exley lay out the 22 Rules the fueled the Bernie Sanders campaign and which provide a way forward for activists looking for ways to move forward post-Election Day. This model, which the authors call “Big Organizing” is the […] Read More

Author Nicolette Hahn Niman to Speak at Nobel Dialogue on the Future of Food

What does a former environmental lawyer and vegetarian turned cattle rancher have in common with Bob Dylan? They’ll both be — theoretically — in Stockholm in December during the Nobel Prize ceremonies. That’s right – Chelsea Green author Nicolette Hahn Niman will be one of several global opinion leaders and experts taking part in this […] Read More

We Got Trump-ed. Now What?

As the country braces for a Trump presidency, this post-election playbook points the way forward. “We can win — but only if we continue to develop the kinds of tactics, tools, and vision laid out in this vitally important book, perhaps the first to explore how to organize at the true scale of the crises […] Read More

“Rules for Revolutionaries” Offers New Political Playbook for Activists

A riveting behind-the-scenes look at the “rules” used by the “revolutionaries” who helped harness the volunteer power that fueled Bernie Sanders’ historic, and insurgent, presidential campaign. Authors Becky Bond and Zack Exley led the Sanders campaign’s efforts to recruit and engage volunteers at an unprecedented level, which was crucial to the Vermont senator capturing 46 […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com