Thursday, July 14, 2005

Letters to the Editor: Peak oil; Indy stores; Respect; Dunce; Superpowers

Thanks for thought-provoking articles on Peak Oil issue
I want to discuss an issue that your weekly publication has definitely subscribed to: Peak Oil. Since many of your readers are familiar with it, why not use it as a rally cry to change the lives of its readers? Why not set aside a small portion of the paper to its solutions? What about adding a forum for this subject to your website?

Currently I am deployed to Iraq—for whatever reason people think we are here—well, except for making America freer. Who am I helping out by being here? Our generators, SUVs and Humvees alone use hundreds of gallons a day. The war is a huge drag on our economy.

Now, I have wanted to prepare for the Long Emergency for quite some time. I sold my car in March of 2003 in protest of the war and [our government’s involvement with] Saudi Arabia. (I also participated in the anti-war March in October of 2002—where Wellstone was going to be speaking.) If I wasn’t deployed this year, I was going to take out a community garden and learn how to manage an organic garden. Instead my girlfriend has been doing work on her grandma’s garden in Michigan.

While in Iraq, I purchased a book on Intentional Communities from an organization that promotes them at I honestly feel that cooperative community arrangements are the only solutions to surviving the Long Emergency. I have found many communes, but few are truly prepared for post-oil.

I have meditated on which regions of America would be most suitable to survive post-oil. I used to think that the Pacific Northwest region of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia were good candidates. After reading James Howard Kunstler’s arguments against this region, however, I would have to agree with him.

The best place, post-oil, that I can find currently is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The soil is quite good for agriculture. The area has an aging population—the oldest in the Midwest, which is already aging. The area is sparsely populated—on average only seven people per square kilometer.

Post-oil, the region would be isolated from the lower part of the state of Michigan, and could become a separate entity if the state government is not sustainable. A hint of this is that Escanaba has an annual Upper Peninsula State Fair. Also the region is surrounded by the Great Lakes, which will be a valuable transportation asset post-oil.

The southern portion of the Upper Peninsula near Lake Michigan has a growing season similar to that of Missouri, so the area has a longer growing season than anywhere in Minnesota.

I would like to say that Minnesotans have a good chance to make it—and I think that many will. But looking at our sprawled out Twin Cities—and the “interstate cities”—these places are unstable and will not make it. There are too many people here for life to become sustainable. We do have many good things going for us—the cooperative businesses and organic farms.

I feel that those who live in the Twin Cities should strive to meet the challenges of the Long Emergency. There are many opportunities currently that will allow civilization to continue going in some form. I hope that the Pulse can make this a long-term issue for positive change in our communities.

I think that an investment in the Upper Peninsula for an eco-village would be the best solution in the Midwest. I have contacted an organization doing just this in various locations. They have expressed interest in the Upper Peninsula — but only if I can find others who are potentially interested.

I consider myself a pretty committed individual in preparing for the Long Emergency. I only became conscious of the subject in the fall of 2002, and decided it would be smart to wean myself from the car culture. I am out of the active guard in May of 2006 and will be on IRR (aka I will probably be drafted) until 2008. Hopefully I have as much time as all of you in Minnesota—but I am currently trapped by something out of my control.

So I have been going on those “Support the Troops” websites asking for books on organic gardening and other useful endeavors post-oil. I have only received a couple books thus far—and a whole lot of care packages containing useful items while here—but not post-oil. And the bunch of tiny folded flags won’t mean anything if I’m trying to grow food for my survival in 2015.

I really can’t wait to return to Minneapolis and have a library with such diverse resources again!

I love your paper, but really dislike some of the partisan hatred I sometimes feel emanates from it. With peak-oil an actual issue, it is time to be inclusive. Survival is not a partisan issue. As one individual wisely stated on the subject of the Long Emergency: “Competition was the watchword of the ascent, cooperation will be the foundation of the descent.”

Kevin Chavis

Editor’s note: Your letter is one of the best we have ever received—thank you. Please continue to write us about both your experiences in Iraq and your thoughts on a post-oil future. Brian Kaller - Managing Editor, Pulse


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