Peak Oil Crash = Simultaneous Government and Market Failures

April 16, 2008 at 5:13 pm 3 comments

Peak Oil disagreements and conflicts

No one said it would be easy to implement fixes for peak oil or climate change, and it is evident it will only occur with a bottom up and top down approach.

For years now, we have heard the Peak Oil predictions of Kunstler, Simmons, Heinberg, Blume, and other authors preaching their Peak Oil prophecy. As reality begins to pry the fingers from the ears of people who have long ignored our global problems, a critical mass of people have begun to ask “So what are we going to DO about it?”

What are we going to DO about Peak Oil?
What are we going to DO about rapid climate change?
What are we going to DO about market failure?
What are we going to DO about government failure?
What are we going to DO about fixing the food system?
What are we going to DO about fixing the transportation system?

Why is government failing? No one seems to agree, and it is BECAUSE no one seems to agree that man made laws are resisting adaptation to live with nature’s reality. After all, in a consumer driven planet, how can governments force consumer choice if choice is still abundant?

It is exactly for this reason that markets are failing in a growth-oriented global economy. Since resource scarcity is real, we are no longer able to have as much choice of supplies for real world items such as wheat, gasoline, and water.

But we have plenty of crappy niche Web 2.0 applications rushing to save the day, don’t we? Not enough engineers are focused on real world solutions such as local alcohol fuel and food production made from permaculture systems. Software jockeys are too busy drinking and coding Java to look up and see the ship is crashing on the rocks as both government and markets fail at the same time.

And while local municipalities are now actively creating Peak Oil Task Forces and sustainability commissions to help address the issues, they are powerless in the face of consumer choice. After all, money in people’s pocket means permission to consume. While these task forces seek to offer plans and advice for reducing carbon emissions and decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels – we are lacking the human willpower to change in time to mitigate a population and food disaster.

It is for this reason that these task forces can skip budgeting for “Outreach Programs” designed to talk about Peak Oil problems – and begin to look at funding implementing tools designed to support hyper-local communities, such as Bright Neighbor.

Yes, I am biased because that is my company’s solution (and competition is sure to follow). Right now, municipalities could implement tools to quickly help people learn to grow food at home, safely meet and collaborate with their neighbors, buy, sell, and barter at a hyper-local level, lend things out to one another, make ride sharing simple, among many other communications improvements. One problem is that people can do many of these things using a variety of tools available to them, but there needs to be an aggregated set of tools that eliminates redundancy.

For instance, if a community ends up using five different neighbor-to-neighbor applications, there will be neighbors that never connect. An immediate fix for Peak Oil, climate change, market failure, and local food systems would be to deploy an all-in-one tool that addresses life-support systems, supported by local governments or neighborhood leaders. If all the community members with Internet access and mobile devices in a single neighborhood coordinated to use a single communications system, then the chances of that neighborhood collaborating to help one another grow gardens, share resources, and generally improve their community are greatly increased.

It is the mission of Bright Neighbor to deliver community living tools that we can use now, instead of waiting for things to get worse. Why shouldn’t you be able to find someone in your neighborhood who has a 30 foot ladder right now? Or coordinate music jam sessions while bringing pot luck dinners created with locally produced food? Or help single moms locate other single moms that live around them to safely meet one another and share soccer-mom duties.

There are many ways to get started with Bright Neighbor, and they are life affirming reasons, not “doom” tools. We can gain value from better community living systems today. That is why we are excited to announce Bright Neighbor is now actively seeking pilot communities and neighborhoods looking for community organization and sustainability tools.

To sign up your neighborhood for a Bright Neighbor test run, please visit Bright Neighbor.


Entry filed under: Carpooling, Community Building, Creativity, Economic Collapse, Gardening, Global Climate Change, politicians, Solutions, Sustainability. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Francesca  |  April 20, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Thanks for the great post, Randy. I am struck by a couple of things. First, it appears I’m first to leave a comment which is a damn shame. I hope a lot more people are reading your stuff than are commenting here. Because what you say is always worth reading. Compare this to the rush to comment on Kunstler’s blog. Is it because he is so consistently dark and negative, offering few words of hope? I prefer your informed optimism… your search for solutions while still understanding how serious this all is.
    Second, I’ve been wondering whether the very act of being online to discuss this stuff with like minded people detracts from the desire to connect with people locally. Here in Phoenix it takes a lot more effort to find local soul mates than in places like Portland and Boulder. So it’s tempting to spend more time sharing ideas with distant friends who get it.
    For me, the change has to be bottom up. Not necessarily from people who are “green” but from people who are driven by fear of shortages or economic necessity…. or sometimes, hopefully, the realization that a more self-sufficient, careful life can be joyful and fulfilling.
    I’ll check out Bright Neighbor. Thanks for the good work.

  • 2. peakoilboy  |  April 20, 2008 at 1:19 pm


    Thank you for your comment. I have have a few hundred readers, and Lawns to Gardens is simply one outlet for truth. I hope other in our discussion community will comment more as well!

    And you are right – the bottom up and grassroots level must do more, right now. Parents need to stop placating their kids and truly love them by leveling with them, and kids need to level with their parents as well. It comes down to education, motivation, and ability to tell your own ego that it is not a God, rather one of 7 billion other egos on the planet. We are all special, and we are all nothing at the same time.

    As for the Internet, I can’t say that having an online presence distracts too much from the desire to meet people locally. Speaking for myself, as much time as I spend online, I also spend time in my garden munching on anything growing right now, to taste real food and gain nutrition from living plants.

    That is living!

    I talk with my neighbors, and if I truly need something from them, I could go ask.

    That is living!

    I am about to ride my bike to the library and get my wife some more novels. I could take the car or ride my scooter, but the fresh air allows me time to think.

    That is living!

    But without time on our hands, which is robbed from us by the constant quest for money to pay for food, shelter, and transportation – these things seem like luxuries rather than natural paths to living.

    Where the community disconnect seems to be is in neighborhoods beyond our immediate circles-of-knowledge. Online, Facebook offers a fake “Social Graph” – and while social networks are important, they truly only serve a part of the very real need for people to meet in the real world.

    That is why human organizers and Meetup are more relevant than existing social networks, because if neighbors have organizational tools and people with motivation, they can act locally if they truly want to.

    While capitalism is rotten at the core and mother earth has sent humankind their eviction notice in the mail, there is still not enough suffering for people to massively change in droves. We are watching it all unfold – what an amazing time to be alive!

  • 3. Mark S  |  May 23, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Hi Randy, a new reader here. I was Googling David Blume to see if there was anyone on the web discussing his new book and this is the first link I found (props!) and have already graffitified some blog posts here with my own pro-ethanol evangelism. 😉 GWA propaganda has gotten me worked up this past month, ha.

    I posted a question at this blog entry here: that seems appropriate here. Are you aware of any online communities devoted to the discussion and study of David Blumes book? He commented that his original draft was even bigger than the published book. A webboard or wiki seems like a great way to flesh-out the more difficult technical and background info he needed to gloss over.

    Oh, a bit of a cutesy idea: a service like eHarmony to help compatible people make platonic relationships seems like a good idea. Profiling via trusted third parties could be a way to maximize the creation of productive social enterprises like co-housing, co-operatives (bulk purchase clubs, CSAs etc) and starting businesses and marketplaces. Basic awareness and access to local interests might be enough for some people but I bet much opportunity is being wasted without a more granular focus on the variety of personalities, abilities and interests which make up diversity of people.

    Thanks, Mark Smith


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