So yeah. The sky is falling. Whatever. What're you gonna do about it?
Truth be told, there's not much we can do about it. There's no energy source in existence, under development, or even on the drawing board that's going to permit us to run the United States of America at anything like the energy level we've become accustomed to. So if "it" requires cheap fossil fuels, transportation networks that stretch across thousands of miles, "it" is going bye-bye, whether "it" is Wal-Mart or the nanny state.
Some advice I have for you all to prepare as individuals:
1) Balance out your finances--now. If you're having to tap into credit just to make ends meet, you need to fix that. If you're upside-down on that Ford Explorer, or straining backwards to service the debt on eight different credit cards because "it's the right thing to do," you need to get out from under all that. Move from a credit-based to a cash-based personal economy.
2) Move to a lower petroleum, lower-energy lifestyle. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to fill your gas tank more than once every ten days, you're using too much. And no, I'm not saying that from a nanny environmentalist perspective, I'm saying it from a personal survival perspective. At some point in the next three to five years, we're likely to reach a point where gasoline in the U.S. is somewhere between $5 a gallon and unavailable at any price. If your lifestyle depends on ready access to cheap fuel, change it.
3) Ask yourself what would happen one day if you woke up and found that the "grid" of industrial civilization you take for granted was unavailable. No power, no municipal water supply, no fuel, no bank or ATM machine, no grocery store, no Wal-Mart or Costco. How many days could you survive with only what you had in your home?
I don't want to sound like a total Doomer, and I'm not saying we're likely to wake up one morning in the next few years and suddenly find ourselves back in the 19th century. But asking yourself that question and setting a goal to get the answer to stretch to at least three weeks is a good starting point, because I do believe it is likely we will wake up at some point during the next few years and find that at least ONE of those services we take for granted is offline, at least for a time.
4) Get your hands dirty. If you have land, there's no reason you shouldn't have a garden, for fun, for sustenance, and perhaps profit. Consider that most of the spices in the spice aisle at your average supermarket are not grown locally, but rather imported, often from thousands of miles away. Ditto for what's at the produce counter. If you live in a place where the snow flies at least a couple months a year, and you can grow a couple orange trees indoors or in a greenhouse, you've got a valuable commodity to trade if the transportation grids run out of gas.