Last night, while all the pundits and news editors were focused on President Obama’s jobs speech to Congress, a small news item at the bottom of the page caught my eye: blackout in southern California. 1.4 million without power, from Arizona to Baja California, including San Diego and Tijuana. No explanation.
This morning, the blackout is still on, and there is still no explanation.
With a strange blend of fear and hope, I find myself wondering whether it could possibly be the result of a Deep Green Resistance strike. According to the DGR website, the mission of the underground resistance movement is to “dismantle the strategic infrastructure of power” that has brought our planet to “the brink of complete biotic collapse.”
Really, folks, all of this dithering about tax cuts, monetary policy and jobs creation would instantly be totally beside the point if the energy that fuels our society were to sputter and die. To say this is not to be alarmist, it’s simply to be real.
As anyone who has had to go through a power blackout of more than a few hours knows, we 20th-21st century Americans are uber-dependent on our electric juice. We are so addicted that we no longer know how to live without it, in a literal sense: our food and water supplies are almost completely reliant on fossil fuel-based energy.
No gas, no ATMs, no refrigeration, no supermarkets, no water pumps, and for many of us, no heat in the winter, never mind AC in the summer. Oh, and did I mention no internet? No video games? No email, voice mail or cell service?
Science fiction has tried to imagine what the collapse of civilization as we know it would look like. We have all seen films like The Day After Tomorrow, or read books like Margaret Atwood’s chilling Handmaid’s Tale. Mostly, our imagination of this kind of future seems pretty grim.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Just as there is already a guerilla movement bent on taking down industrial civilization, there is also an aboveground movement looking to put in place the building blocks for a new, sustainable civilization. It’s called the Transition Town movement. It started in the UK, and is now gathering steam in the US as well as around the world.
While the Deep Green Resistance folks seek an aggressive approach to dismantling what is, the Transition Town movement is more about working with what is to create something better.
It’s a bit tamer, but will be far more digestible to the majority of Americans. It has a role for everyone, and a focus on the positive: on what can be done if we work together in the service of a strong vision of positive change to a sustainable future.
There is no doubt that the climate crisis is upon us. The signs are apparent on a daily basis. Wildfires out of control in Texas; flooding in the Northeast; blackouts in California; droughts in the Midwest.
Fear, panic or depression will get us nowhere. Anger is useless unless channelled into positive action.
The most important thing you can do to prepare for what’s coming is to strengthen your relationships with your local friends, neighbors and community. We are going to need each other in the months and years ahead. We’re going to need all the love, resilience and solidarity we can muster.
The time to start is now.