Peak Oil is You

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Page added on June 29, 2008

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UK: ‘The Archers’ brings the idea of a self-sufficient community to the fore

The petrol pumps are dry, the supermarket shelves are bare and family cars sit uselessly in driveways. Faced with a national shortage of oil, the comfortable lifestyles of middle-class people are threatened by an austerity not seen since the post-war rationing of the early 1950s.

This is Britain in 2012, according to 54-year-old Richard Hathway and his wife Karen, who live in a family home in a sleepy Worcestershire village. They are convinced the country is heading for the worst oil crisis it has ever known, so this year they have decided to change their lifestyle for good.

The couple are now well on the way to making their lives “oil-proof” from the energy shortages they believe are inevitable. The biggest change is disconnecting their house from the mains (known as going “off-grid”), but they have also bought five acres of land for growing vegetables, chickens for eggs and meat, goats for dairy products and a generator for emergency energy.

“In four or five years’ time life is going to get so much harder,” says Mr Hathway, whose plans for the miniature farm include wind power and a rainwater butt. “So it’s going to be very important to grow your own vegetables when the supermarkets stop being able to import. People will start stealing fuel – it could even lead to looting.”

The Hathways are part of an increasingly vocal movement of “new survivalism” taking hold among ordinary, rational people, who have started to panic about the future of a Britain unable to source enough energy. Many are worried about the theory of “peak-oil”, believing that the world’s oil extraction has peaked and the precious commodity will soon be too expensive for everyday use. What would happen, they ask, in a world where oil becomes scarce? Would your family be able to survive an energy famine?


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