The End of Plenty

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The age of plenty is coming to, or maybe better put, has come, to an end and with that I do not mean this government imposed austerity in almost every capitalist country.

The plenty that I am talking about here is the plenty as in raw materials, as in non-renewable resources, as in “consumer goods”. This age is coming, or has come, to an end, despite the fact that oil, for instance, is cheaper, at the time of writing in Autumn 2015, than it has been for quite a long time, it is running out and those “reserves” that may still be there somewhere are too expensive to exploit.

The lack of oil and other non-renewable resources will mean that we will be living like in WWII under blockade and such with the big difference, however, being that this will be rather a permanent state of affairs and “make do and mend” will have to be the way of things again (not bad at all) and so will have to be reuse (another very good thing too). It will also mean an end to the consumer society and the rampant consumerism that we know today where almost everything is made to be thrown away (only that there, actually, is no such place as away). That too, in a way, is a good thing – the end of consumerism I mean, not the fact that we toss everything after having used it only for a very short time.

Many of the foods that we take, more or less, for granted today will no longer be coming into the country or at a high cost and we will have to, each one of us, change our diet and grow much more of our own food again akin to the “dig for victory” campaign, only that there will be no victory over an enemy in the end and a return to “normal”. This will be the new normal. The new normal will be the new way, new for many though it is not new at all, and, unlike a war, it will not end.

Wood, responsibly sourced from well-managed woods and forests will be the new plastic and many of the products, whether wooden or others, will (have to) be handmade, either by ourselves or by local makers.

This will not just apply to wooden products of whatever kind but to the vast majority of products as (heavy) industry, as we know it today and have know it since the industrial revolution, without a plentiful supply of fuel and raw materials will cease to exist as well.

Renewable energy, as in electricity, from wind, solar, etc., will not be able to provide the amount of energy that industry gobbles up today. Nuclear is not an option unless we could ever get fusion to work safely. Thus a complete change will come upon us probably rather sooner than later.

The end of the age of plenty does not mean lack of food, if we farm and grow food in a properly sustainable way and also change our diet. It will, however, mean that the vast variety of different foods that we have become so used to over the last five or so decades, many imported from thousands of miles away, will diminish. And it will also mean that using prime agricultural land for the growing of grass and especially “bio-fuel” crops can no longer be a practice.

The greatest impact this end of plenty will have is on our present consumer society and consumer culture and that of disposability, which is not going to be a bad thing at all either.

Those who have grown up in this “on demand” consumer culture, unfortunately, will be in for a real harsh shock and a very rude wake up call unless they, like all of us really, transition to this new way now. Easy this is not going to be for many, especially those who never went sort of anything in their lives, never had to wait to fulfill their wants, at least not to start with.

The good thing is, though, that this new way (of doing things) is actually not new at all but the way things used to be and were done, made and grown not really all that long ago, before the availability of cheap fossil fuels which, however, came at a very high cost to the environment, that is to say the Planet and people's health. It can be don, it must be done, and we must begin now!

The first thing to do right now is to change our diet and reduce – or better still remove – meat (except maybe every now and then if and when control of wild animals may be necessary) and transition to a more plant-based one. The second change we can and must do now is to cut down on our consumption, and here especially on “upgrading” our things, our gadgets, every six months to a year, or so, simply because a “new” model or version is out. “If it ain't broke don't fix it” should be here a case of “if it ain't broke don't replace it”. Make do and mend goes hand in hand here too although I know that many products today – unlike just thirty or so years ago – are made so that we can't actually fix them ourselves easily and repair shops that can are few and far between. Therefore, at least as a stop gap, we will have to learn a great deal of DIY in that department. DIY is also most useful in other respects, as there are actually many things that we could and can make ourselves which saves us money and also saves resources.

Reuse of items that may be seen by others, still today, as waste for things we want and need also, to some extent, falls into the DIY category. It was the way things were before the age of plenty and will (have to) be like that again with the end of plenty being upon us.

In many cases things will no longer be available “on demand” whenever we want them from the stores, as today, or by “mail order” by click shopping. While this may come as a shock for many who are not prepared, those that have the knowledge and the skills will be at an advantage and thrive and therefore it is so important that people prepare for this change.

This is prepping of a different nature as to what many survivalists do, and also groups such as the Mormons do. This will not just be a “long emergency” as described by James Howard Kunstler in his book “The Long Emergency” but a permanent state of affairs. It requires a different approach and mindset and different preparations.

The end of plenty does not have to lead to shortages in food and other basics, if we do it right but for that the way we farm must change too. But it, inevitably, will lead to shortages, or even the lack, of many of the consumer goods that we have come to take for granted and to having them “on demand” to purchase right now this very moment.

The end of plenty not only requires a “new” economic model but also a “new” political one. The economic model and political one are basically of the same nature and must go hand in hand. One cannot work without the other.

As far as food production is concerned, as already indicated, it will require a real land reform and the same goes for “forestry”. The people must work the countryside and the woods to produce food and wooden products for the nation and that means that the large, more often than not unproductive, estates must be broken up and given over to the people to work the land and the woods and everyone who wants to be a peasant (I said peasant not pheasant) or woodsman should be able to and be able to love on the land or in the woods and be able to make a living from his or her labors.

If we do not change the system and begin the transition to a new way of doing things and of living right now – or at least tomorrow – then the outlook is not a bright one, at least not until such a time that we have begun to work in a new way after the collapse and to wait until then would be foolish in the extreme.

© 2015