I check Bloomberg’s commodity futures each morning. It’s my mental cup of coffee as I make plans for the day. On this day, the oil price is right up there, over $84.00 a barrel. It may drop back down again; in fact it is sure to, but that does not change the trajectory. It is up, up and away.

I have this conversation from time to time with people who are not peak oil aware. Inevitably, they talk about the price of a fill-up, as though this is the only result of higher energy costs. They are also inclined to believe that the solution for this is some combination of off-shore drilling, solar and wind power and the occasional nuclear power plant. Which leads us back to the problem of the cost of a fill-up, as though this a closed loop. Here is the truth of it.

It isn’t a closed loop. It’s a spiral, with lots of loops, all intersecting at various points. The cost of oil impacts employment, health care, education, municipal services and food. Once the price of these things rise, it will stay risen, even if there is a transient drop in oil.

It is all well and good to talk temporary solutions. You can store food and fuel. This will protect you from a price spike or supply drop, but in the long run, peak oil has to be about life style change. It can not be just about storing food but about creating food systems where we live. It is not solely about figuring out how to pay for a solar hot water system but about reducing our heating and cooling needs.

When we adopted Phoebe, she was having seizures nearly every day. She was particularly susceptible to them when she was overheated so we bought several air conditioners. We had not had them before and had only rarely been uncomfortable. On those few nights when the heat and humidity made sleeping difficult, we let the kids bunk downstairs in the living room or sleep out in a tent or on the deck. But once we got the AC, it was easy to crank it up as soon as the house started to heat up. Last year, the AC units stayed in the closet. This year, they are going in the front yard with a free sign. We have found it is nearly as effective to use some common sence when it comes to home cooling. We close the curtains first thing in the morning. We keep the doors and windows shut. At night we open up the house and use some fans in the upstairs, drawing warm air out and cool air in. The kids slept on the deck a  few nights. Now I don’t live in Arizona. If I did, I would surely look at AC as a necessity as much as home heating is critical here. But for us, it’s a luxury and it has to go.

We have had a lot of rain. I realized that I had done a load of laundry that had to be dried and it was going to take forever in this weather so I used my dryer. How stupid. I could have waited a couple of days until the sun shown and I could dry outside. That’s the kind of change that makes much more sense than investing in a more efficient clothes dryer.

Food security is about so much more than having a deep pantry. I have a little stash of money. I could invest it in some more wheat and, in fact, I am going to do that. But it is more important to eat less wheat bread and more corn bread as I can get grow corn here and wheat is a challenge. I am going to buy more fruit and nut trees and get a good bean supply going. Beans seeds are easy to save and the crop is reliable.

Many years ago, we put in a pool. It’s a very nice pool and we use it every day in the summer. The pool is staying until it falls apart but I am already looking at the space. It’s fenced, has a great solar exposure and lousy growing soil as it’s too sandy. It’s just perfect for a chicken yard. When the pool goes, the chickens will have a great home.

I know. I know. I try to stay away from the fear driven preparedness talk. But I think I would be remiss not to say this. Times are changing. Our thinking has to evolve too. Got food?

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