As you've probably guessed by now, I think alot about the future. I am concerned about (and read a lot about) global warming, peak oil, soil errosion, water depletion, agricultural practices, food security, transportation issues, etc. I've become educated on these topics (at least marginally) and what I see coming worries me.
I don't think about these things because I'm some conspiracy theorist/survivalist who wants to believe that I will survive and others won't when the apocalypse comes. I don't think the world is going to end in December 2012. I think and read about these things because the more I learn about them, the more I learn about past civilizations (perhaps I'm pre-disposed to this one because of my archaeology background), and the more I put the two together, I see what's coming down the pike. And I know that I'm going to have to be more self-sufficient than our culture tends to be right now.
Here's what I see: I see gasoline shortages - prices too high for people to buy what they are used to, and simply a lack of the fuel getting to the pumps for periods of time (so I see the need to be within walking distance of resources and rely less on my car). I see food shortages - because of fuel costs being so high and fuel shortages, I see food being highly priced and not being able to get to the stores for periods of time (so I grow food and preserve food). I also see the highly intensive agricultural practices that we've gotten used to in the past 50 years being implausible within the next 20 years or so - partly because of soil depletion, partly because of fuel costs, and partly because the fertilizers that industrial agriculture relies upon are all made out of fossil fuels and will be prohibitively expensive. I see energy shortages - electricity not being able to get to our house for periods of time especially in the winter (so we have a fireplace and a barbeque and candles and lanterns).
So long-term I see this - I see us going back to the one income household. Because one person is going to have to be home to do the cooking, the gardening, the baking, the laundry and the cleaning. We won't be able to afford to have both people go to work to buy the extras - the extra car, the extra square-footage in the house, the expensive vacations, the clothes, the books, the entertainment. I don't think it has to be the woman who stays home to do these things. But I think someone will need to be there. I also anticipate larger extended families living together or in close proximity to each other. I see the ease (that has been created by the oil era) ending and some more hard physical labour taking it's place. And I see all of these things as being positives (except maybe the vacations - I like my vacations). I see families and friends banding together and bonding like they haven't in recent times. I see people being in better physical shape with fewer long-term illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. And they are going to need to be because I anticipate the health care system taking a hit. I hope hunger and starvation don't come into it all.
I am hopeful. But I really do think that we need to start taking responsibility for the basic necessities of life. We cannot rely on stores to provide us with all of our food (sugar, tea, coffe, salt - maybe, but vegetables and fruits year-round, not likely). We need to re-learn those skills that our generations have lost. How to raise chickens, how to grow vegetables, fruits and nuts. And we need to teach these skills to our children. I do a lot of these things already but feel I'm not doing a good enough to teach them to my child.
We need to all know how to bake bread, make soup, use all of an animal (not just the parts you buy on a styrofoam tray), make vegetable stock, compost, sew. But can we do all of that while running on the treadmill of "modern" life? No, not really. So something has to give.
In our house it's my career. I still work, but not very much. And I'm just fine with that. I enjoy doing the other things. It makes me feel useful in a tangable way - not just as someone who makes money to buy bread, but the person who makes the bread. It feels great to be praised for my cooking and baking. It feels great to see the jars of tomatoes on the basement shelves and to see those 6 pumpkings getting orange and ready for Halloween and then cooking and pureeing and freezing so we can eat them later on. It's a different kind of fulfillment - a different kind of success. And it's peaceful. And rewarding.
I encourage you all to get educated on what's happening in the world - what changes are coming economically, climate-wise, and politically. We live in interesting times. We are cursed. But we are blessed as well. We have the knowledge, the technology to share that knowledge, and the past to guide us to the future. We just have to access all of that.