Mat Stein, author of When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, spoke with the good folks over at How to Boil a Frog about survival and sustainability in the low-energy, post-oil future. The video and transcripts are below. Enjoy!
Part One Transcript:
STEIN: Without proactive planning ahead for peak oil, I think that the impact of peak oil is going to be shattering economically. It’s going to make the last week in America—with all of the Wall Street banks collapsing—I think we’re going to see that as the good old days almost, because you could still go to the store and buy whatever you wanted; you could still go to the gas station and pump your car full of gas; you could still turn on the tap and the water comes out of the tap.
If the country is not proactive, then in the least, it is going to end up like the great depression where hundreds of thousands of people will be kicked out of their homes, you’ll have shanty towns springing up all over, and thing will be pretty rough. And that’s the better scenario.
In the worst scenario, water isn’t flowing, gas isn’t flowing, the governments fall apart, and everything. So it’s kinda—how well do we manage this disaster—what do we do with it? Right now…we’re headed for a real collapse. But, I’m not saying that we can’t do the right things to avoid it. I believe we can do it—whether we will or not, I don’t know. But I believe we can do it. It is doable.
HTBAF: When people think about a collapse scenario, many think about running to a cabin in the woods. Is that a good instinct?
STEIN: Human beings are social animals. We, basically, do better in groups than we do alone. And the lone wolf only has the skills and materials and talents that he has himself. Whereas, in a community, you have shared skills. You have a pool of skills to draw on: one person knows this; one person knows that. You can share your talents, you can share your different materials. Maybe someone has a good set of hand tools, and another person can make shoes, and another person can make clothing. So if you’re in a community, you don’t have to know and do it all. And so the real strength is in a community because, as a lone wolf—if you’ve got your guns and you’re a survivalist and you’re all by yourself and you’re going to fight off the hordes—well, someone might say, “No one’s going to come after me because I’m well armed.” But, someone else will say, “Well, I’ve got a bunch of guys, and he can’t sleep forever. And he’s got stuff I want. So I’m gonna go take it from him.”
So I really believe that it is going to be in self-reliant communities that the real strength of the future lies. And the cities will be a really tough place if things really come down. But in the country, or in smaller communities, that are self-reliant, you watch each other’s back, you know, you pull together—I really think that’s the solution for the future.
Part Two Transcript:
STEIN: We’ve had a government that has supported the greed of financial markets. And it’s supported it with de-regulations and said that the free market will protect us, and everything is best through the free market. It’s like a religion almost. It’s like, “I buhLEEEVE in the free market. The free market with make me RICH! It will make everything good for everybody and it will trickle down to the poor people at the bottom, but it’ll make me rich.”
And so I believe what’s happening now is that the real truth of the free market, is that unregulated free market says that each corporation is 100% responsible to its shareholders to maximize profit. And what does that mean? It means you go to the place in the world that has the least constraints, that basically has slave labor, that basically has no ecological constraints on anything, so that you can maximize your profit.
And what does that mean for the planet? It means that you’re dismantling…that you’re doing a fire sale on the natural resources of the planet that have supported life for millenia. It means that the free market says that the one who wins is the one who most efficiently, most quickly, dismantles and uses up and consumes the natural resources of the planet for profit, for that company. And it means that you’ve got to get it first, before the next guy. Because if you don’t get it first, then one of the other guys will capitalize and use that profit.
So the free market—what we’re seeing is that the natural result of the free market is collapse. And you’re seeing that right now in the artificial financial markets, and you’re going to see that in all the natural systems of the planet. And if we continue with the unrelgulated free market “profit is the #1 god—and it’s more important than anything else”, then you’re going to see collapse of system after system. And the financial collapse is a paper collapse. But you’re going to see the collapse of the oceans, the collapse of the atmosphere, you’re going to see the collapse of the weather system and natural systems that maintain a livable climate on our planet. And that’s the natural and inevitable consequence of the free market.
So either we choose—we wake up and decide that—that we, as a planet, will regulate ourselves to make sustainability the god instead of the free market, and thereby avoid collapse. Or, we keep pretending the paper god of the free market will solve it all, and we’re going to just run into that wall at one-hundred miles per hour and our whole system’s going to fall apart.
Source: How to Boil a Frog