It is easy when reading about climate change and peak oil to get into a panic. Easy, but not useful. So whenever I start feeling this way I try to step back and think about what positive steps I can take to mitigate the situation, remembering that I am only one person with an individual set of skills, resources and emotional energy. Nobody can do everything.
So, here are some ideas, in no particular order. Some are things to help my individual family, some are about my local community, and some are concerned with the wider national & world community. Some are things I am already doing, some are ones that I am considering & others are ideas for the future. I think these are important issues because I believe we are going to see significant effects, if not within my lifetime, certainly within that of my children.
- Join Get Up or a similar organisation & add your name to campaigns and petitions on the topics that are of importance to you.
- Read & listen. Educate yourself on the topics of importance to you, you will be able to argue your point of view more effectively.
- Write to your local members (local council, state & federal government) expressing your views on climate change, social justice, food security, CSG - whatever you feel passionate about.
- Write to the relevant ministers on individual topics.
- Go along to local events where you can have personal conversations with your representatives, and express your views face-to-face.
- Join rallies / protests if you can.
- Comment on the blogs you read, expressing whether you agree or disagree, or providing extra information that might be of interest / benefit to other readers.
- Donate money where you can & when you are sure it will be well used.
- Talk to your friends about these issues - but be gentle, don't be a pest, they might not be ready to hear it yet. This blog is one of the ways I am trying to do this.
- Start growing some of your own food - even if only a few herbs in pots. (This book might be useful if your space is very limited).
- Learn about composting & start doing it yourself. Even if you only have a balcony, you can have a worm farm or a Bokashi system & donate your organic waste to a friend who does have a garden (they might even give you some home grown produce in exchange).
- Keep chickens.
- Investigate keeping native stingless bees, for honey & to pollinate the gardens in your area. (Note these bees are not native to all areas of Australia).
- Teach your children to grow food.
- Learn to cook from scratch - and teach your children.
- Buy local wherever possible. I put this even higher than organic.
- Avoid GM at all costs. (More on this in a later post, when I've finished my reading).
- Learn about Permaculture (I've just enrolled for a Permaculture Design Course later in the year).
- Help start a kitchen garden at your local school.
- Get involved in a local community garden.
- Eat seasonally.
- Learn to preserve your own food.
- Learn to use hand tools, especially unpowered, and collect some.
- Learn to do simple household repairs.
- Learn to sew and repair or remodel clothes you already own.
- Volunteer some time in your local community or for causes close to your heart.
- Teach, teach, teach!
Preparing for a Low Carbon Future
- Turn off lights and appliances when not in use.
- Insulate your house.
- If renovating or building - think about your carbon footprint & designing for the long term. Consider Passive Solar & Geothermal.
- Always buy the best quality you can afford, or consider putting off a purchase until you can afford better. Heirloom quality if possible. For example, stainless steel or cast iron cooking pots will last a long time if they are well made, whereas, non-stick coatings deteriorate fairly quickly, and light pans deform so that the heat is no longer evenly distributed.
- Install water tanks.
- Install solar power / hot water.
- Consider other power sources such as wind or hydro electric if that is a possibility on your property.
- Learn to ride a bike - and use it instead of the car wherever possible, not just for recreation.
- Use public transport.
- Get rid of the second car. Instead car-pool, taxi or plan your activities so only one car is necessary (or use public transport or bike as mentioned above).
- Put on extra clothes instead of turning up the heat.
- Dress for the heat and use natural breezes and fans to cool the house to avoid needing air-conditioning. Despite living in Brisbane Queensland, and the house being wired ready for 3 reverse cycle air-conditioners when we bought it, we have never installed air-conditioning or felt we needed it, and we only have two portable oil heaters which are used occasionally to take the chill off on winter mornings. We do have ceiling fans.
- When considering a purchase, don't rule out second hand, this is virtually carbon neutral. Purchasing from your local tip shop etc also prevents things from entering landfill (and can save you vast amounts of money).
- Think about longevity & flexibility & power source. For example - an electric bottling kit is easy to use, but would a stove top one be more useful in the long term, as electricity becomes more expensive and possibly unreliable? This is also the reason for learning to use unpowered hand tools. And the reason I have just purchased this:
The ideas above are about reducing our use of precious resources, and still being able to live fairly comfortably.
None of these ideas are new, or particularly earth shattering. They are not that difficult to implement either. But they are worth remembering. One step at a time.
Thinking long term, and depending on your situation and resources, you may want to think about the sort of community you want to live in, in the future. What will it need to look like to survive? James Howard Kunstler covers this in the last few chapters of The Long Emergency (after building up the background to his point of view). An Australian couple's response can be found in the book "Choosing Eden" by Adrienne Langman.