Alternate Energy – It may be closer than you think

It is obvious reading all the MSM articles on energy that they still are counting on technology to ride to the rescue of the declining oil age in the form of alternate energy on a white horse.

I wish I shared their optimism, but the facts don’t seem to support that rosy outlook.  I do believe we are closer to the alternate energy that no one wishes to think about.  It is time proven, inexpensive to implement, useful for growing crops, building or repairing houses, transporting you 10-20 miles, but nowhere as efficient as what we use today.

Where is this miraculous alternate energy?  Why it is in your very house.  Get up and go to the bathroom. Take a look in the mirror.  You are looking at the alternate energy of the future that you, your family, and neighbors will have to depend on—-you.

That’s right, you, that miraculous machine that takes in food energy and converts it into useful work.  Wait a minute you say, I am a pencil pushing paper shuffling e-mail dynamo, how is that going to be useful alternate energy in the world unfolding before us?  Well, in a few words, it won’t.

One of the mantras we have heard repeated during this economic downturn, is that to stay employed you have to constantly re-invent yourself.  Welcome to the biggest re-invention you will ever experience, the world’s newest (and oldest!) alternate energy source.

This alternate energy source already runs on bio-fuels without any need to convert its inner workings.  It will work in extreme heat or cold, just not as well as in moderate temperatures.

Uh oh, I think I hear the term physical conditioning coming.  Is this some kind of New Year’s resolution thing?  I don’t do well with those.  Well, those of us who have been to a Dr. in the last 10 years have already heard the speech, so I will dispense with it here.

What I would like to focus on is how we can make better use of this age old form of alternate energy in the future.  If one looks at a copy of an old Sears catalog from the late 1800’s, you will find all sorts of tools to multiply one’s ability to accomplish work.  Some are simple and still in use today, the crowbar and the pulley being two such items.  Others are a little more complex, such as the bicycle.

In order for these to be useful to you, two things must be in place.  First, you must understand how to use these tools in a manner for which they were designed, and their limitations.  Secondly, you must possess or have access to these tools when they are needed.

There is a second way to multiply this alternate energy when needed, recruit other alternate energy supplies to assist you with your task at hand.  This may be the biggest challenge to the new alternate energy.  We have lived several decades, at least one full generation, with the notion that to ask for help is a sign of weakness.

Our pride can be our undoing.  In order for this alternate energy of the future (and the past) to be effective, it will have to be a collective effort in many cases.  Unless you live in a very small community, calling your friend on the other side of town to assist may not be your best idea.  Instead, you will need to start cultivating the fields of neighbors right around you.  The sooner the better.

Not only can you acquire different skill sets by doing so, but you can come up with a way to multiply your tool access in the process.  It will usually be sufficient for there to be only one or two sets of certain tools among your group to accomplish most tasks.

It is very inefficient for everyone to have a copy of the same tool set, if it isn’t used very often.  Part of the process to break the ice, is to have an inventory of your own tools and skills  which you pass to each neighbor with the understanding that they are available if needed, and ask them to add anything to the list they might be able to make available if needed.  This is an early step in making “community” right where you live.

Up to now, this seems to be a “me and mine” or “you and yours” type of arrangement.  There is another group you need to realize your alternate energy will have to be used for.  In your “community of neighbors” will be those whose alternate energy has decreased to a barely functioning level, either by age or physical infirmities, who will have to depend on you and your neighbors to assist with, or in some cases completely take on a task of theirs which is beyond their capability.

In the future, giving them a phone number of a United Way agency or telling them to call an out of town relative for assistance will probably not be an option, and will not discharge your obligations to the “community”.

All of this prepping for the new alternate energy takes something all of us try to hoard, TIME.  Some of your neighbors today will see no reason to invest any of their time in any endeavor of this sort, because they don’t see a problem they can’t solve themselves or with a phone call……..yet.

I’m reminded of times when a strong hurricane is approaching shore, and the population has been put under a mandatory evacuation order, there are still those who want to do it all themselves and stay put, their pride won’t allow them to be anything but completely independent.

Unfortunately, they put others at grave risk trying to rescue them later.  You probably won’t be able to convince a large portion of your neighbor community to work at mutual assistance initially, but seeing it in action can be a powerful incentive.  Somebody from the city or the state is not going to come in to set up the kind of “community” you need, it will have to originate with YOU.

Will you start using your alternate energy productively today?  Let’s hope so.  It may be all we have available in a few years.

About Kathy McMahon

Kathy McMahon Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist who is internationally known for her writing about the psychological impacts of Peak Oil, climate change, and economic collapse. She's written for Honda Motors, and has been featured in American Prospect, Greenpeace International, the Vancouver Sun, Freakonomics, Itulip, Ecoshock Radio, and Peak Moments Television.

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