Here are my five rules. They pretty much encapsulate my approach to peak oil / climate change / general disgust with our wasteful ways. Even without peak oil I'd still be an advocate of voluntary simplicity and self-sufficiency, but I think this approach to life will be useful when it comes to dealing with the ramifications of PO, climate change, and our global economic house of cards. These aren't in any particular order.1. Grow your own food
--Everyone should take the responsibility to grow/gather/hunt some of their own food---few of us will reach 100% self-sufficiency when it comes to food, but to quote an old WWII propaganda poster for victory gardens: “A garden will make your rations go further”2. Simplify and seek self-sufficiency
--Redefine the American Dream, reduce your material demands and expectations, rediscover the old ways of doing things, make/fix/grow it yourself (DIY), get as fit as you can so you can keep up with the physical demands of this kind of lifestyle (simplicity doesn't mean easy)
3. Prepare yourself psychologically
--Prepare your mind for dislocation, uncertainty, and a reduction in your material standards---e.g., forced career change (possibly involving downward mobility and/or hard physical labor), sudden decline in income, long-distance move to go where work/family is, widespread economic and cultural malaise, etc.
--Brainstorm about possible personal scenarios, make contingent plans, take time to enjoy life regardless of its challenges, take solace in philosophy or religion (I like the Buddha, Epicurus, Epictetus, Lao-tzu, Chuang-tzu, Confucius, Thoreau)---Sabbe sankhara anicca4. Learn useful skills and acquire tools
--By “useful” I don't mean computer programming or literary criticism or stock trading, I mean horticulture/farming, mechanics, carpentry, food preservation, self-defense, welding, electrical work, plumbing, first aid, herbalism, etc.---learn how to make stuff, grow stuff, fix stuff
--Cultivate as many employable job skills and contacts as possible---diversify your job portfolio
--Most of these skills will require good tools, best to acquire them now while they're relatively cheap (sturdy hand tools, off-grid power systems, books, canning supplies, fuel-efficient and/or biofuel/electric vehicles, rototillers and chainsaws, firearms and ammo, etc.)
5. Build and maintain personal relationships
--Family has been at the center of social organization since primates evolved and it will continue to be so until the last H. sapiens dies—strengthen ties to your family, move closer to them if you can
--Make friends/trade partners with your neighbors, coworkers, and with other local people, especially if they have useful skills
#1 could probably be lumped in with #2 or #4 but I think it's important enough to separate out---without food we die.
I've made a concerted effort to implement these concepts over the last 5+ years. I've cut my expenses (and income) in half, gardened a ton and got a degree in horticulture, worked on acquiring self-sufficiency skills and tools (food preservation and preparation, firearms, off-grid power, various DIY projects, equipment use and maintenance), and last spring I uprooted my city life and moved 100 miles or so to work full-time on an organic farm out in the country.
I feel pretty good about my implementation of rules #1-4 at least. And I love living in the country again and am generally happy with rural poverty, er, “voluntary simplicity.”
I admit some serious failings on #5, though. I'm pretty introverted by nature (i.e., relatively asocial), so I struggle with #5 though I think it's a key concept often overlooked by those of us interested in “preparedness.” I think family in particular is key to our long-term survival in this uncertain world.
A garden will make your rations go further.