21 September 2007

Peak Oil and living the simple life

I try to be non-political in my blog. I don't really see the point of talking about what should be done when everyone has such widely differing views on most political topics. I am usually suspicious of bloggers who write about what everyone should be doing but don't appear to be doing anything themselves. I try to be more practical here, I try to show how living a simple sustainable life will help all of us, no matter what the reason for living that way.

However, I listened to a radio broadcast (podcast here, her bit is half way through it) the other day and am still thinking about it now. It was about an Australian woman and her response to Peak Oil. Her philosophy is almost identical to mine and she clearly pointed out why we all need to prepare for ever increasing oil prices. So I thought that just this once, on this important subject, I'll talk about a political subject. If you don't want to read, that's fine, come back tomorrow when I'll be back to the more practical but this topic does effect us all.

Peak Oil is the point at which the global extraction of oil reaches its peak and starts to decline, and the cost of extracting oil goes up. The problem with this is that there are very few new oil discoveries and countries like India and China, which both have huge populations, are now using a lot more oil. China's population is currently on 1.3 billion and India's is now 1.1 billion. It is predicted that in the next 50 years, their combined population will be 3.5 billion. The population of the US is now 301 million and they use most of the world's oil. The US projected population in 50 years is 420 million.

And there is no more cheap oil.

So as oil production is decreasing there is a massive increase in demand. No doubt many of those newly affluent people in India and China will buy cars and use a lot more oil, but cars and fuel aren't the only thing we have to worry about with Peak Oil. Peak Oil is also about food and the irrigation and transport of it, as well as the products that are made with oil, like plastics.

For me, Peak Oil means that I need to provide as much as I can for myself. No one can predict what will happen in the future, but I'm sure that if oil is increasingly expensive, food and groceries prices will rise, so will the price of fuel, electricity and gas as well as many other things that we all use. We all need to be well informed, so find out as much as you can about Peak Oil. If you don't believe there will be a problem, do some research and see what you find. I think there is no doubt, but everyone sees things with different eyes.

Once you're informed, or if you already are, you'll need to work out a plan for your own family. Part of that plan should be to skill yourself in as many areas of food production, cooking, preserving and home management as you can. Everyone needs to reduce their debt as much as possible or get rid of it completely. The future will be much easier if you have no debt.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that food production and home management are my main subjects. Peak Oil is one of the reasons for that but I also believe that living a simple life is better for us and the planet than the product driven lifestyle that I left behind. This simple life is more enriching, it satisfies the soul, it makes me a better person and it's an easy way to live. So my blog will continue to discuss how to live well in your own home and I promise not to return again to the political without a compelling reason. So let's get on with it, let's learn how to live well.


  1. Thank you for your post Rhonda. Peak oil is of major importance when considering the future and therefore how we should live today. I don't see it as political but rather a practical motivator.

    No one knows exactly what impact it will really have or when, but it is certainly prudent to factor in scenarios to our individual/family plans. Having thought through a subject helps you be prepared to adjust to many different outcomes.

  2. Thanks for tackling this topic, Rhonda - IMHO, one can't be overly prepared, just MORE prepared than the normal person (g). Anyway, I have found a lot of information and good reading at the website for the Backwoods Home Magazine. Here is a URL to an article about Peak Oil. While you're there, browse through the Article Index - I guarantee you'll find more information than you can read in one sitting. (and lots you can ignore, too)
    Whoops! It might be too long for here! I'll send it to you via email.
    Carla In North Idaho

  3. Rhonda I don't think you have to be so reluctant about using the word political. In some ways your blog is extremely political in the pure sense of the word. Your blog is about the management and administration of the economics of your home and the interplay with the community. Going against the consumeristic mainstream is a revolutionary act, maybe covert, but all the same that is why you have so much support. I think sometimes as women we are reluctant to go into the 'political arena' as developed by men. But, my belief is that women are constantly downplaying their skills and roles as leaders of families and visionaries of the future. For the changes that we need to face, such as peak oil, unsustainable growth etc,,, we definitely need to hear voices of women!! Your blog is about questioning the very foundations of the political rhetoric..."all growth is sustainable" "economic growth is the ultimate sign of prosperity" etc etc. Although we use different language, we as women are political and must realize the power in that.. With these small steps, hopefully one day there will be a major ground shift (think of the struggles of the suffragists). Sorry Rhonda but I think your blog is political,
    :-). I like reading your blog for the same reasons I like reading Arundhati Roy...a voice that speaks of independently questioning how we live our lives, challenging misconceptions and creating vision of a more harmonious way of existing and that happens to be a female voice!!! Bella

  4. addit: I was referring to the brillant non-fictional writings/essays of Arundhati Roy.

  5. Rhonda Jean, I listened to the same interview the other day...whilst driving the 20km to town for my grocery shop. It's confronting isn't it...there I was consuming oil while listening to an opinion on the effects of it. Such irony! A woman on last night's "Difference of Opinion" used words to the effect of "we're not an economy, we're a society"....and that very much sums up how we, as women and homemakers, need to view the so-called "political" debate. Politics is never just politics. Economics is never just tables and figures. It's all about people.

  6. I too believe that the two are intertwined peak oil and living simply. I think you have your head in that sand if you can't already see the costs of everything going up. I am trying harder to buy locally or at least australian made as well as work towards a more sustainable lifestyle - one baby step at a time :)

  7. I think we are deluding ourselves with some of the prices we are paying for things, so we think we are more prosperous than we really are. For example, my mum bought me roller skates when I was 11 in 1981 and they cost $45; I bought my daughter roller blades and they cost $25. Clothes, electrical items etc are expendable because of low labour and freight prices overseas. When we start having to pay the real price for these things I think we are all in for a shock. perhaps then we will buy fewer things and start demanding quality. My generation (I'm 37) has lived with a glut of 'things' all our adult lives, or at least with the expectation that we can own them, and I'm sure that has to change.

  8. Hi Rhonda, I was going to say something along the lines of Bella's comment, but she put it far more eloquently than I could, so can I just say "ditto" :-)

    It's such an important topic and inextricably linked to the need to live more simply, and your blog is generously providing us with the skills to do so! Kudos to you.

    Cheers, Julie.

  9. Hello everyone. Thank you for your interesting and intelligent comments.

    I am by nature a subversive and am quite political in my real life. However, I do not want this blog to be a place of discussion about various ideologies or reasons for change. I want this to be a practical mother's kitchen where the words incite to baking rather than riot.

    There are many other blogs that focus on why we should be changing, less of them about how that change can be implemented. That is where my interest lies. I want to support, show, teach, befriend and sustain. And if that is a political act, then so be it. I'd rather just see it as me helping others.

  10. I agree with everything you said Rhonda now if only my hubby would take soemof it on board.
    I listened to the podcast and have just reserved Adrienne's book at the library. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. I have come to believe that living a simple life is the best insurance against all types of disasters. If we have small needs and a big set of practical skills there isn't much we can't work through.


  12. There is not much i wouldnt give up to have the world safe and clean. I am very weathly by global standards but if I was plunged into poverty tomorrow I would know how to cope very well. I often wonder how i can live more sustainable and try everyday to follow that path - that and voting for the people I think are going to improve things (not Bush)

  13. Well said! If we don't start taking care of these things now, we'll be sorry later I'm afraid. I would like to become prepared for future problems little by little and reading blogs like yours is such an inspiration. I just found your blog this week, but will be checking it out regularly! Thanks.


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