We have all heard about climate change and some of us have analyzed peak oil and resiliency with others. Many people and communities around the globe have implemented changes in the form or local economies, alternative money systems and alternative energy sources. Fringe groups in communities around the world have engaged in permaculture, formed eco-villages and intentional communities based on cooperation, inclusiveness and resiliency. However, the fact is we still live with a mass oil addiction which isn’t about them, but us.
Like any addict, we first need to come out of denial, second, stop looking for other people to blame, and third, take responsibility for our own consumption. Oddly, any time there is a crisis involving an oil spill or the nightmare of the tar sands in Alberta, Canada enter alternative news sources, we sink deeper into denial and seek comfort through consumerism thus increasing the consumption of oil and other fossil fuels. If you look at people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or gambling for example, when these folks feel stressed or someone or something pushes the buttons of their childhood wounds, they abuse more of the substance in which they are addicted.
Let’s not beat ourselves up over this addiction because that just creates another loop in the addiction and we never heal it. So let’s first come out of denial. I’m including three videos of destruction of the planet caused by our collective addiction. I want you to watch these videos (though extremely painful) and refrain from playing the blame game. Corporations and world governments can only get away with this if there is a demand in the market place (which there is and we’re the ones demanding this cheap oil etc), and if we choose not to think outside of the box. As long as we passively go along with the program, we are just as much responsible for the desecration of the planet as those corporations tearing down forests and polluting lakes and rivers or blowing up mountains. Remind yourself of this fact next time you point the accusatory finger at a corporation or particular politician you despise. They merely act as our shadows, which we then project onto these entities, while playing the role of a weak victim or worst yet, a martyr warrior, neither role will heal the planet. So stop it.
The other thing to remember and this is proven in the field of quantum physics, that our actions, feelings, and thoughts do go out in the world and cause destruction. We are not separate from each other and are in fact (proven fact) part of an unified energy field of consciousness. That means when you hurl a negative thought (which you justify to yourself and others) at anyone or when you pass a judgement of someone as good or evil, you just sent destructive energy across the planet. I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but it’s part of our recovery from our oil addiction. You must go there and slay the demons inside you, not outside of you.
Case Against the Tar Sands (Greenpeace Video)
Mountain Top Removal Appalachians
Coal mining (Montana and Wyoming, Powder River Basin)
The next steps are to research where your electricity, food supply, and your basic necessities come from and how much fossil fuels go into the production and distribution of these products and services. In fact, do an audit of all the products and services you use within a week’s time and see how many of those products and services lead back to fossil fuels.
For instance, I’m using a computer now which was produced from fossil fuels in the form of plastic while other parts of my computer were also mined from the earth (copper and silicon, etc). Now, it’s impossible at the moment for me to do my work without the computer so I need to look how I can eliminate some of the stress I have placed on the system. I can get my computer restored rather than buy a new computer when it reaches that stage. I can spend less time on my computer as far as entertainment purposes. I have refrained from buying other gadgets (I don’t have a cell phone, I-Pad, or other popular gadgets). I also can use less electricity by opting to use my 2-hour battery as opposed to plugging my computer into the wall.
So what areas of our lives involve the use of fossil fuels? Really, his is a no-brainer, but we take so much for granted.
Obviously, unless they are electric or run on alternative fuels, all vehicles use fossil fuels, including motorcycles, motor scooters (try an electric bike instead), gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers (try a rake instead), weed wackers , commercial fertilizers, conventional pesticides, herbicides, conventional cleaning products and most of our clothing and shoes are made from fossil fuels (oil).
Unless, you are living off the grid and on some kind of renewable energy, you are heating your home and your electricity comes from fossil fuels. Thirty-three percent of electricity in Washington State, closer to 37%, derives from coal-powered plants. And if you think nuclear energy is safer, think again. Most homes are badly insulated, especially if they’re older and heated with systems that waste electricity and heat. You can get subsidies and help with this even if you’re low-income.
Buying food locally produced or growing some of your own food cuts back on the fuel that it takes to distribute food thousands of miles by train, trucks, and planes. The idea of cheap food and goods from China when you live outside of Asia is destructive and ridiculous. I am surprised by the amount of food grown in Washington State, for instance is shipped overseas, while our food is imported from other countries. Clearly, we need to eat what is grown in our own backyards! Why are we eating apples from New Zealand for instance in Washington State when we grow an abundance of orchard crops in the eastern portion of the state? Even a child could figure out a solution for this problem. Hello!
So do the audit and be ruthless with yourself during the audit process by only telling yourself the truth. Don’t wallow in guilt or act like a victim, just give yourself a reality check so you can move out of denial. Once you have completed your audit, get together with neighbors or friends and brainstorm alternatives. How could neighbors work together and pool resources? Could you commute to work by bus, by bike, or by foot? Are there any initiatives you can support that would bring high-speed trains to your region that would allow you to commute by train? Can you and your neighbors find a shared space to grow and exchange food with each other? Does someone in your neighborhood have a background in permaculture or organic farming? The point is look for ways you can eliminate waste.
The other part is that we need to heal our childhood wounds. Why? You ask. When we fill empty or someone or something pushes our buttons we grab for the thing that we think will fill our empty spaces. And usually that comes in the form of some kind of consumerism that involves wasting the earth’s resources. In other words, when we feel depressed, we get in our gas-powered cars, drive to the next city and shop at the mall. We buy things we don’t need anyway and don’t consider where those things came from. Then we don’t even show gratitude for what we do have because it’s easy to feel ungrateful for consumer goods, in a world with cheap merchandise. And why do we have so much cheap merchandise? That goes back to our oil addiction.
Also do an audit of all your skills and talents that you can contribute to your community. I like what scientist-metaphysical teacher Gregg Braden says, “Don’t ask what you can get from the world, but ask what you can contribute to the new world that is emerging.” And you might feel surprised what comes up where you will use skills that are an innate part of you as opposed to something you learned at college or through training. For instance, I did something similar when I lost my journalism gig and here I am giving astrology consultations now to help people through this massive transition.
Finally, I want to lift your spirits by recommended books by people breaking the oil addiction:
The Transition Town Handbook, by Rob Hopkins
Power from the People, by Greg Pahl
Deep Truth, by Gregg Braden
And you’ll find more books and videos on sustainable lifestyles at my other blog
My final word for now on this topic, don’t wait for someone else to do this work for you. Don’t expect the environmental organizations to clean up a mess that all of us created. Healing this addiction takes a lot of heartfelt and soulful work and we all must roll up our sleeves and do our part. You can start by passing this post on to your friends and colleagues and post it on your social networks. Thank you.