Others are approaching the future differently, believing the biggest threats we’re facing are problems that we’ve caused ourselves. Richard Heinberg is one of the world’s foremost peak oil experts, who warns that we’re addicted to fossil fuels and must adapt before they run out. David takes us to a Los Angeles suburb to meet the Dervaes family of so-called ‘urban homesteaders’. They’ve already adapted and are living self-sufficiently and almost entirely off-grid.But are they all being over cautious, or will the rest of us be under prepared?
Heinberg thinks that if we’re going to survive, we need to change the way we live.
RICHARD HEINBERG: We’ve got to work together on this because individual survivalism just isn’t going to cut it. You know, if I’ve got my vegetable garden and my neighbour is starving, then the only way I’m going to be able to continue eating is to stay up all night with my shotgun to make sure no-one goes over the fence. What kind of life is that? We’re creating out of this paradise, Earth, we’re creating a hell for our descendents. I think it’s our duty, not just to somehow try to survive this but to change what we’re doing and to create a survivable planet for everyone, for our communities and for our descendants.
I met a family that’s doing just that.
JULES DERVAES: Some more tomatoes here, we’re about 90% self-sufficient in the summertime because this is all our bounty.
Jules Dervaes lives in Los Angeles, right next to a major highway, but he’s turned his backyard garden into a farm.
JULES DERVAES: These are heirloom squash from Italy, and they hang from the trellis here. Just watch your head.
He’s got two daughters and a son.
REPORTER: How do you like this yourself?
JUSTIN DERVAES: I love what I do, so I can’t complain. I’ve got a green thumb.
They grow 350 different fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries. They all survive on what’s grown here.
JULES DERVAES: This is our barnyard. It’s in the city, so we’ve got a nice little animal enclosure here. We’ve got five ducks, eight chickens and two goats.
And while I’m there looking at these goats and chickens, I can hear the traffic next door, whoof whoof up and down the highway, but you could be in the middle of the countryside.
JULES DERVAES: We’re looking at a planet that has run amok. So you have to be sensitive about which direction you’re going. If it’s going the wrong direction, it’s either you’re going to turn around early or you turn around at the edge of the cliff.
Come up here to our store on the front porch – Nice to meet you.
They obviously had a fear for the future too of what’s going to happen. But they’re going around it in a different way.
JULES DERVAES: This is a completely different dream, we’re talking about self-sufficiency, we’re talking about neighbourliness, we’re talking about a community of helping one another.
ANAIS DERVAES: It has the herbs from the garden. And we’ve already made some ice-cream. Yeah we have a hand-cranked…
JORDANNE DERVAES: It’s cool, yes, it works for us. But it’s a little scary because out there, it’s no. It’s, you know – you could actually forget about the bad things out there.
There seems to be this common strand running through America right now – A fear of the future, and a sense of doom. But I saw people responding in very different ways – from preparing to hide from change, to preparing to make change happen.
JULES DERVAES: So we figure we’re preparing ourselves to live simply. I mean this here is riches, but people don’t understand. If you look around, you’ll see riches here but it’s in the form of tomatoes and peppers and animals. So we’re going backwards, and I say a step backwards is progress.
Though Mr Brill was here for well over four hours, tis a shame that the piece didn’t capture the entire workings of the urban homestead – we’d need a whole show or two, there! A seasoned and well traveled journalist, was really taken with the place and after the filming as the sun set we sat down to a homegrown meal (which he enjoyed) there in the garden while Blackberry and Fairlight looked on.
We received an email from one of the SBS staff which said:
“We had so much wonderful footage and it was such a such a shame that we couldn’t have included much much more of the Dervaes’ in our piece (especially for me as a Researcher who sets up stories and then hands over the reigns to a producer and editor).”
Perhaps if enough folks write in?
The debate continues, what happens when the times turn bad? Escape or take a stand? There are the extreme preppers and practical preppers – what’s the future going to be? Is sure is a scary thought, especially for us in the city who have, as urban homesteaders, taken practical steps towards positive change. Of course, it’s not just an American problem like it sounded in the piece, we are all are on the same train – though some countries may be slightly behind we are all traveling the same track. One day we are going to have to deal with the future because it’s happening now.
So what are you doing to prepare for an uncertain time? Which side are you on?