Saturday, May 31, 2008

An Interview with Peter Laskowski: Survivalist

Interview with Peter Laskowski in Waitsfield, Vermont
June 2008
[webposted by Danny Bloom, Internet reporter in Taiwan]

Danny Bloom: How did that Associated Press story of May 2008,
reprinted worldwide in newspapers in over 100 countries come about?
Did you know the reporter Samantha Gross beforehand, or how did she
find you?

Peter Laskowski: The AP reporter heard about me from my daughter. She
had heard that I lived "off the grid" and called me on the phone one
day last spring, spring of 2008. She interviewed me over the phone
first, and then she sent an AP photographer up to Waitsfield, Vermont,
where I live, to take photos and do a second interview.


Danny: The AP article was titled in some newspapers as "Energy fears
looming, new survivalists prepare".
And it began like this: "A few
years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban American
grandma, driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at
McDonald's, buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings.
That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future of
the world's oil supply. Now, she's preparing for the world as we know
it to disappear."

What did you think of the AP article after you read it? Did the
reporter leave anything out, did she go too far, or did she not go far
enough in reporting the "news" of what's coming in the future?

Peter: I thought it was a short and concise report. I talked to the reporter for about an hour, but only about 5 minutes worth of my remarks made it into her final article. So yes, I feel the AP report was accurate in digest form.

Danny: What impact do you think this AP article, reprinted in
hundreds, maybe thousands of newspapers and websites around the world,
will have on people worldwide, and especially in America and Canada?

Peter: I think it will add to the national conversation. The issue of energy depletation is at this point well-known, although it is not actually believed by many people yet. I think this article will make more people aware of what some people are doing to prepare.

Danny: There's an AP photo of you by Toby Talbot, that accompanied the
news article, that shows by your indoor house garden.

Caption quote: "Peter Laskowski plants vegetables [indoors] at his
remote home in Waitsfield, Vt., on Friday, April 11, 2008. Convinced
that the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's economies
are heading for a crash, people around the country are moving onto
homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in
some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend
themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who
didn't prepare."

The second AP photo said: "Peter Laskowski stacks firewood at his remote home in Waitsfield."
The third AP photo said: "Peter Laskowski feeds his chickens and sheep at his remote home in Waitsfield."

If things get worse, as the article said they might, and as others
quoted in the article said as well, where will most of your food come
from? And not just you there in Waitsfield, but where will the food come
from for people who live in large cities like New York or Chicago or


Peter: I think we are heading into an era of resource shortages. I plan to grow as much as possible myself and then hope for the best.

Danny: The AP report continued: "Convinced the planet's oil supply is
dwindling and the world's economies are heading for a crash, some
people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live
off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on
guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from
desperate crowds of people who didn't prepare.......[While] the exact
number of people taking such steps is impossible to determine,
anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been gaining
momentum in [the USA and Europe] over the last few years.

These energy survivalists are not leading some sort of green
revolution meant to save the planet. Many of them believe it is too
late for that, seeing signs in soaring fuel and food prices and a
faltering U.S. economy, and are largely focused on saving themselves.

Some are doing it quietly, giving few details of their preparations —
afraid that revealing such information as the location of their
supplies will endanger themselves and their loved ones. They envision
a future in which the nation's cities will be filled with hungry,
desperate refugees forced to go looking for food, shelter and water."

Do you also believe it is too late to save the planet? Do you believe
that we are past the point of no return? And if so, when do you think
things will begin to get really bad and desperate?

Peter: I think our world population may be too large. Time will tell whether we are past the point of no return.

Danny: According to the AP story: "On the website,
where upward of 800 people gathered on recent evenings, believers
engage in a debate about what kind of world awaits.
Some members argue there will be no financial crash, but a slow slide
into harder times. Some believe the federal government will respond to
the loss of energy security with a clampdown on personal freedoms.
Others simply don't trust that the government can maintain basic
services in the face of an energy crisis. The powers that be, they've
determined, will be largely powerless to stop what is to come."

Where do you stand on all this, Peter? Do you feel the US government,
and other governments around the world, from Russia to China to France
and Germany, will be "powerless to stop what is to come"?

Peter: Sorry, no crystal ball. We are certainly in for some changes. But I am not an optimist. Many societies and civilizations have crashed when faced with resource issues or over-extension. None have gone through a decline to carry on better than before. Then again, we are in a unique period of history..... 150 years of massive energy consumption.... A monumental increase in population and no substitute for the energy we are now using up. Will future technology save us?... or a more rational use of the technology we have developed to date? We can hope that reason and justice will prevail. More likely , we, people, will devour everything until there is nothing left to consume.

Danny: The AP report said of you: "Peter Laskowski is taking steps
similar to environmentalists: conserving fuel, consuming less,
studying global warming, and relying on local produce and craftsmen.
Laskowski is powering his home with solar panels and is raising fish,
geese, ducks and sheep. He has planted apple and pear trees and is
growing lettuce, spinach and corn. .......Whenever possible, he uses
his bicycle to get into town. ......"I remember the oil crisis in
1973; I remember waiting in line for gas. If there is a disruption in
the oil supply it will be very quickly elevated into a disaster."

Were you quoted correctly? And do you have anything else to add here
as a new comment for online readers around the world in terms of what
you think they should be doing to prepare for such a future?

Peter: Yes, I said what I was quoted as saying, and many other things as well that were not included in the AP story. As I mentioned above, I spoke to the reporter for about one hour, but only a few of my remarks were quoted. Do I have anything to add here? Yes: We are in for interesing times, revolutionary times...

Q: Three quick last questions. Do you follow any specific religion?
A: No, I don't follow any religion, not yet anyway. I did study
religious groups from many years and had a particular interest in the
Shakers and similar utopian/communal/agricultural groups.

Q: Have you read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" yet?
A: No, I have not yet read that book yet. I plan to read it soon.

Q: Have you ever heard of the futuristic concept of "polar cities" --
not really at the poles, but in northern regions -- for survivors of
peak oil, global warming and mass migrations northward, as British
scientist James Lovelock has said, to live in, perhaps in the year
2500 or so? Do you think such "polar cities", or northern towns in the
Arctic, might be needed in the future to house future survivors of
peak oil and global warming?

A: No, I had never heard of your polar cities idea before. I plan to
look into your website when I have time. It sounds interesting.

Danny: Thank you, Peter, for this email interview. You told me in an
earlier email that you have been in Taiwan before and know the night
markets here very well. As you know, I have been in Asia for 16 years,
and in Taiwan for about 12 years now. What brought you to Taiwan and
what did you do here then? When was this? Small world!

Peter: I was in Taiwan in circa 1994. I was in Tokyo on a business trip and decided to get a visa there for Taipei to see the National Palace Museum. I had once been a museum director (Shaker Museum, N.Y.) and have gravitated to different museums around the world. I spent several days in Taipei and had a great time touring around.




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