Advice to Parents and Teens – Preparing for Peak Oil

pm110_620As a mom of two teenagers, Deborah Lindsay is deeply concerned about their future. As a peak oil educator, she paints a vivid picture of a post-petroleum world, with an emphasis on preparedness. With teens she talks about career choices and practical life skills. With parents, she focuses on safety, economic and energy contraction, and steps to begin now. In 2006 she began the daily talk radio show “Tomorrow Matters – Giving a Voice to a Better Tomorrow” to amplify her message. Episode 110. [www.deborahlindsay.com]

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  1. Iselin Celestine says:

    So useful to begin having young people reflect upon what they want to do as life work–in the context of peak oil and climate change. It suddenly occurred to me, as Deborah started to talk about school curriculum, that those of the 60’s/70’s and earlier were more relevant than current ones! Home economics, wood shop, etc. We used to laugh about these…and now? Deborah–how I appreciate your choosing to address family size–and the approach by which you do so. Also, that you consider your animals as well as your children! I have found the next confounding for years now. I am not a parent. Yet I have often had the sense that I am willing to do with far less for the sake of coming generations than many parents. I find it challenging to reconcile myself to this. Novel for modern times but traditional as Janaia points out: encouraging women to empower themselves in this way? How productive! Just reading the responses of everyone else. Thank you for the humor Stuart:) As a compulsively clean person for most of this lifetime thus far, I have unconscionably squandered water–and justified (rationalized) doing so due to my minimal use of other resources. Yet I have also gravitated towards just the opposite because I share the perspectives of Stuart and Janaia. I understand the thinking that we in wealthier countries (especially the U.S.) have developed even as I think we need to “lose” it.

  2. Stuart M. says:

    Silly me! I now remember that the U.K. uses Pound Sterling , not the Euro. Are you in Ireland, Colin?

  3. Stuart M. says:

    Hello Colin!

    You are so right! May I ask if you live in the U.K.? I lived in Germany from 1997 to 2003. I admire European countries very much. The easy to use public transportation systems are really great. Germany still had many beautiful forested areas where the locals could go for a hike on weekends. The hiking/biking culture is highly developed in Germany. How are things in the U.K.(if that’s where you are at)? Of course, even Germany had its negative side, the crazed speed-demons on the autobahn, for instance.

    The public transportation infrastructure was of course heavily subsidized by the government. But I can think of worse ways to spend the public’s money.

  4. Colin W. says:

    I love my drying rack. It saves me 2 euro a week and it only cost 8. The last sticker on a dryer I saw said it used 8-900 kWh per year with average use. Now imagine how much energy would be saved if every household in America used them.

  5. June Zimmerman says:

    Wonderful program. Great content. We need Deborah to do this a lot more. Congratulations.

  6. Ed Adamthwaite says:

    Great stuff. It’s reassuring to know that there are people who are thinking ahead and sharing thoughts on how to cope with the likely scenario that will play out sometime in the next decade. Ms Lindsay is right on the button, we should all re-learn the skills of our parents or grandparents. As a child I had to chop wood, keep the coke scuttle full and feed the chooks. It’ll be easy enough for me to go back to that (sans coke scuttle), but for the younger generations that only know of PCs, gameboys and wide screens it will be quite a shock. There will be a need for lots of freely available information on the “how to” of basic low energy living.

  7. Stuart M. says:

    Oh, Janaia!

    I guess I have to get off my high horse, you and Robyn sure put me to shame! I admire your conservation efforts to reduce your carbon footprint, but as you say, these things you are doing will eventually become a NECESSITY!

    Ms. Lindsay’s advice to parents is very good: make sure your kids can stand on their own two feet by teaching them some overlooked, but needed skills like chopping wood, growing vegetables, and sewing/knitting (oops, that was Janaia’s suggestion). Frankly, I know I loved these activities when I was growing up, but somewhere along the way, I got lost. I got a career, like everyone else… now I can juggle mutual funds, but would probably cut my toes off with an axe.

  8. What a wonderful example of an unexamined practice and belief, in our consumer culture. We’ve adopted rather similar practices over time. Shower maybe once a week, depending on the season. Laundry practices also reflect the seasons — primarily our electricity and water resources.

    Electricity. We’re off grid. The washing machine pulls a lot of juice from our batteries. In winter I save up multiple loads of clothes to wash when we’re running the generator to charge the batteries. By having some extra underwear and winter sweats, we can go weeks with doing a laundry load.

    Water. We use 5 gallon buckets to collect water and flush the toilet. In winter, buckets collect rainwater outside from the eaves. In summer, when we have no rain, we collect laundry and shower rinse water.

    Now, I expect these conservation practices are unimaginable to our throwaway consumer culture — so far. But climate change-induced drought isn’t too far away. Can you imagine what it’d be like if the kids not only washed their clothes by hand, but also carried the water in buckets? And rode a bicycle-generator for a few hours to run the washing machine? You’re right, Stuart, I think some habits would get dropped in a flash.

    Oh, I forgot about the clothes dryer. Now, that’s where we’re excessive. Clothesline outside in summer, clothesline in the house heated by the woodstove in winter. Totally suited to a lower-energy future. All solar, and low tech to boot.

  9. Stuart M. says:

    Ms. Lindsay has many good things to say and I wish her well. I would like to comment on her laundry problems. Most people washing clothes in the world are washing their clothes by hand! During a period of about 6 years I visited Romania 15 times and learned the “joys” of washing one’s clothes by hand. I am kidding, of course.

    I swiftly learned that I could wear the same outer clothes several days, that is pants, shirts, etc. I only changed socks and underwear. My laundry chores dropped massively!!! Did I stink and feel miserable? No. At least I didn’t think I smelled and I know I wasn’t miserable.

    I have continued this habit to this day. When one considers the massive amounts of water, and the energy to heat all that water, that is used when doing the laundry, one has to conclude that we in the West are destroying this world with our cleanliness fixation.

    And that gets me to the next climate change sin: showering/bathing too often. The same water/energy waste also occurs when Americans shower every day (sometimes twice). I shower maybe every 4th day and it hasn’t killed me yet. Yes, I do make use of a deodorant. I have posted these two suggestions–shower less, wear clothes several days in a row–on an international youth encounter forum on the environment.

    You should have heard the howls of indignation I got! “That’s not healthy!” “That’s not hygienic!” But the real subtext is that these young people have bought into the consumerist propaganda that if they don’t look just right, and smell just right, they will never get a boy friend/girl friend.

    Just some food for thought on the “You know, I have a family so I’ve got lots of laundry!” comment. Make your kids wash their clothes by hand! They will quickly reduce their carbon footprint, I guarantee.

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