Nearly three years ago, I rounded up 30 people for a conversation. The goal: create a community of friends who would survive and perhaps even thrive during the post-carbon years ahead. The conversation lasted about 18 months, after which we were down to 3 of us (counting my dog).
Oh, everybody thought it was a great diversion, and it allowed us to get together every week or so to draw up plans and get to know each other over food and drink. But when it came time to commit actual resources, such as time or money, my friends and acquaintances scattered like cockroaches when the light was turned on in the dwellings of my grad-school days. A year ago, I was feeling as lonesome as a pea in a boxcar.
By then, I had been predicting oil would hit $150/bbl this July for two years. And $200 by the end of this year. And the end of empire in five years or less. My friends were tolerant, if not exactly appreciative. And they wished me well, for the most part, when we parted ways.
Fast forward to today, and that $150 oil looks like it’ll arrive on schedule. Food riots struck Milwaukee and Detroit last week, and predictions of gasoline at $7/gallon even reached the Tell-Lie-Vision. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is taking a beating, and even Forbes magazine is claiming the end is nigh. They’re quick to blame speculators, even though BushCo’s very own Secretary of Energy says high oil prices are resulting from a gap between supply and demand, not speculation.
Hey, maybe I was on to something.
The “obvious” solution remains the same, of course. As Dubya is quick to point out, we are addicted to oil, and our addiction can be slaked only by finding and extracting more black gold. BushCo’s minions in the Bureau of Land Management are making sure we don’t let solar power interfere with the ongoing collapse. Black is white. Night is day. And so on. I’m reminded of the bumper stickers from the last two elections: Bush/Cheney 1984.
Suddenly, my friends and acquaintances are attempting to reconnect. The phone’s always ringing, and everybody wants to do lunch or, better yet, come visit the mud hut. Turns out nameless marauding hordes at the mud hut are the least of my worries. A far bigger problem is presented when people I know show up. If I thought I would face a difficult decision when an unknown face shows up in the sights of my rifle, imagine my chagrin when that face belongs to a friend. And she has children.
Seems not all my angst is existential.
Yes, these people chose ignorance over preparation not so long ago. Is that sufficient reason to play the ant, relegating the grasshoppers I know to starvation, or worse?
Obviously, I do not want to shoot anybody. But I will protect those I love at the mud hut when they are threatened. Current occupants on the property have us at, or perhaps slightly in excess, of carrying capacity. The lifeboat will sink when we take on additional people.
Once again, I seek the sage advice of my wise readers. Our legal agreement at the mud hut precludes long-term visitors. But soon enough, law enforcement comes down to a negotiation, preferably without violence. What to do, when the marauding hordes are friends and their children?