Thriving in Times of Transition

by aspen apGaia

This is a follow up to my previous article, ‘The End of Empire’ where I discussed the consequences of a growing population utilizing increasing amounts of natural resources. Though our society may not be transitioning to more sustainable ways of living, as individuals we can start asking import questions about how each of us, our families and communities will meet our needs in more resilient ways that don’t make us quite so dependent on the global economy.

At the moment, we have access to vast amounts of information, we can reach out to almost anyone in the world at almost any time and we can work together with others to create solutions that none of us could have created on our own. But the time will come when we are left alone in the dark, with only that information, skills, & knowledge that we have gathered and developed up until that day. We might find books or set up local communication networks, but the days of instant access to the entirety of human knowledge will be behind us. For that reason, it will be important if there is something you will need to know, that you learn it now, before you no longer have access to the information. None of us can become proficient in everything we might need to know or be able to do, but if each of us pursues our own passions and interests, together we can develop the skills that we might need. Similarly today, if you have the money, there’s almost nothing you can’t buy or have made. You can purchase products from any corner of the globe and have them delivered to your doorstep. But as international trade becomes more expensive and begins to break down, you will be left with what you have gathered and can make for yourself. What tools and resources do you have access to today that you won’t have access to later, but will need or want to have with you when trying to provide for the basic needs for yourself and your loved ones? When considering how to meet these needs, we can think in dual systems, utilizing the high energy/yield options available to us today and the more sustainable solutions that our grandchildren will be able to produce and maintain in the years to come.

Some needs like air, seem like a given, but if you live near or downwind from an area of industrial pollution it might not be something you can take for granted. For generations ‘fresh’ water simply meant that it wasn’t salt water, but as rain scrubs toxins out of the atmosphere, we now have to be thinking about the safety of our drinking water. As climate change destabilizes our weather systems, we’re seeing increased flooding and drought conditions. Frozen water in the mountains act as water batteries, storing rainfall from the winter months and releasing it in the dryer summer months. As the glaciers melt and snow packs fail to form, the water that falls in the winter will run off immediately and be unavailable in the drier summer months.

When considering our homes, we might want to keep in mind the availability of replacement parts for those elements of our system that will fail in time. Especially anything that we can’t repair or replace ourselves. An example of this might be the difference between wind and solar power systems. Certainly different locations are better suited for one or another, but we might also consider our ability to repair or replace those systems ourselves.

At the most basic level our bodies need water, a certain number of essential nutrients and enough calories to do the work a given day requires. There has always been an element of celebration and sharing related to our food. Part of the reason for this might well be the challenges associated with securing enough food when you have to do it for yourself. Challenges that will only be more difficult in a destabilized climate with limited access to clean, fresh water and a lack of a recent cultural history/knowledge of food production and preservation.

As we become more skillful at meeting our basic needs, we will have more opportunity to turn towards more long term considerations such as, the arts, community, celebration and educating future generations.

Looking at the potential of needing to meet more of our own needs can feel overwhelming, but we have time, access to tools and information, and most importantly we have each other. We’re not going to be faced with the full consequences of these changes tomorrow. We don’t need to change everything about the way that we live our lives immediately. Just becoming more aware is the first step. What the next steps look like will be different for each of us, but as we follow our hearts, they will guide us to the answers that are right for us.

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