With climate change, resource depletion, rising inequality and corrupt political institutions, many Americans are frightened that our civilization is disintegrating and we must prepare for a bleak future. James Fallows writes in the Atlantic that fear of another Dark Ages may be unwarranted; that the disappearance of the Roman Empire unleashed the creative powers of self-governing duchies and monasteries — the medieval equivalent of today’s state and local governments. Like Ancient Rome, imperial America is becoming ungovernable from above. At the same time, nose to the grindstone, many states and cities are solving both daily and long-range problems with innovation and practicality.

If there ever was an American town that needed to examine how it might survive in the face of dysfunctional national or regional systems, it is Bozeman. Out here, we are at the end of the food, energy, transport, medication and general supply chains. We are vulnerable at nearly every point. To meet the coming challenges, wouldn’t it be wise to pre-forge the tools needed for local self-governance in the form of contingency plans that will support a “standalone” town in case of major systems disruption?

Some examples:

- Establish a local currency like the Depression-era Austrian Woergl;

- Tap the large geothermal reservoirs in our region for a reliable source of energy;

- Urgently electrify everything that moves;

- Plan to strengthen critical institutions in an emergency;

- Support and conserve agricultural operations that will feed our local population when supply lines become unreliable;

- Design a public works program to create useful jobs for local residents;

- Promote local cooperatives and worker-owned businesses;

- Tax profiteers.

Now, stop rolling your eyes and go back over this list. Ask yourself how fanciful these suggestions would be after our president creates a global emergency and the Middle East explodes.

Jay Moor