(by Alexia Parks)
15 June 2010
What were the Gulf States like before the introduction of oil refineries? Before offshore drilling? Not all of the Gulf of Mexico is destined to become a dead zone. Not all shorelines along the Gulf states — along with the air, itself — will be off limits to life and tourism. Life will move forward. However, what is different here is that this catastrophic environmental disaster marks a watershed in human history.
Why? There is not much slack left in the human timeline. We have a small window of opportunity in which to imagine a world without oil and then create it.
Harvey Wasserman imagined this world in SolarTopia. “Solartopia has made me what I previously thought impossible, optimistic…” wrote Kurt Vonnegut.
A few years ago, I conducted a solartopia-type experiment, an experiment in optimism, with the Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, Frank Cownie. Frank and I first met at the USMayors.org in Washington D.C. Together, we hosted a one-day Community Energy Planning conference and invited citizens to imagine: A World Without Oil.
To make the process even more interesting, I had them imagine that we had only ONE year to make the transition. Groups were organized to discuss rapid transitions in transportation, housing, schools and hospitals, the commercial sector, and food supply and distribution. There were 10 groups in all. At the end of the day, each group reported back to the whole conference. The results were exhilarating!
We then invited the rest of the community to participate by taking some of the ideas from the conference and writing stories that described “A Day in the Life of Des Moines” without oil. We put the stories to a vote and Votelink.com gave the winner a check for $500.
In one day, the citizens of Des Moines had done what few corporations or government agencies dared to imagine: they imagined a fossil free future filled with can-do spirit and hope.
“It’s all been invented, it just hasn’t been applied,” reminds Amory Lovins, co-founder, chairman and chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). The “Einstein” of Energy Efficiency, Lovins has come up with his own energy formula to free the global economy of its dependence on fossil fuels. I call it E=3E Squared, or efficiency, efficiency, efficiency, and then more efficiency.
RMI co-founder, Hunter Lovins, now president of Natural Capitalism Solutions, takes these solutions into the marketplace. Traveling the globe, she reminds audiences that citizens, communities and companies, working together within the market context, are the most dynamic problem-solving force on the planet. Working together, they could both imagine and create a world without oil.
As the global economy exits the era of offshore drilling, of military ventures to secure oil and mineral riches in foreign lands, of oil-on-demand, we are exiting the Corporate Middle Ages where profits, not people, come first.
It could also be called the Dark Ages of cronyism and corruption, a time of corporate feudalism when money bought power. It was a time when the CEO was king. Ordinary citizens lived outside the walls of the corporate castle and supplied it with whatever resources it needed regardless of the cost to human lives, or Nature.
Just as the ecological disaster of the BP oil spill will force citizens in those states to change, it also opens the door to a Renaissance period. Can we claim it? Can we use this heartbreak to break the inertia and our dependence on oil?
Can those who have lost their livelihood and perhaps their health re-imagine a different future? Can we as a nation do more than imagine a global model of Conscious Capitalism, where jobs and business turn green — sustainability — and operate on principals designed by Mother Nature. Can we actually begin to create it?
The point I want to make here is that we get to CHOOSE the world we want to live in. It happens with every purchase we make. Every step we take. The door is open. Behind us lies a dead zone. Ahead, the Renaissance.
An Amazon bestseller, Parkinomics, is an inspirational Job Hunter’s Boot Camp in a book. It focuses on careers in the New Economy. Parkinomics. It includes ideas and links to resources.
Alexia Parks offers online tele-seminars for people in transition to jobs in the New Economy. With 61% of people wanting to be their own boss, she shows how to tap into your skills and passion to create a DREAM job that offers you a life of meaning, prosperity and purpose. Learn more on AlexiaParks.com.