Food, Water, Energy & Shelter

SUBHEAD: As things seem to be degrading or coming apart you will have to step in to provide for yourself.

By Juan Wilson on 31 January 2013 for Island Breath -

Image above: From (

A Scary Future
Many of us feel anxiety over a number of current world-wide trends;
  • Uncontrolled Industrialization
  • Global Warming
  • Peak Everything
  • Economic Collapse
  • Environmental Degradation
  • Resource Depletion
  • Food Security
  • Mass Extinctions
All these dire issues point to a single source - Human Overpopulation. How we deal with the pressure our overpopulation places on the living systems of the Earth is crucial. The trend of our efforts to date do not bode well for the current complexity of life on this planet. Our collective foot is still firmly pressing the pedal to the metal on global industrialization and population growth.

What will we face? 
Our lack of action on the causes of global warming is quickly leading to a runaway situation out of our control. Wildly different results are still possible if we act decisively with haste. However, a few things are baked into the cake already.  Any future we likely face will include some combination of the elements listed above on a drier, more chaotic Eaarth with lost coastlines void of healthy reefs and hinterlands with dying forests.

Much of human action is directed irrationally from emotion. We often use our rational intelligence to justify and "clarify" before and/or after those actions. That's okay - it's a problem when we don't realize that tendency. Humans love magic, excitement and drama. And there is certainly drama in the air. As a result we have created some remarkable constructs to explain our predicament we are in and create scenarios about what, if anything, we should do about it.

Scenario 1:
Some people are "preppers" betting on a future like "The Road"; "Soylent Green"; "On the Beach"; "Escape From New York"; or "Mad Max".They are stockpiling freeze dried food and ammo to get them through the tough times.

Scenario 2:
There are also those techno-optimists who see scientists as the white knights of technical innovation who with save us from the abyss - with desktop fusion; throrium reactors; GMO food; and HAARP climate modification. Their solution - invest more in technology.

Scenario 3:
Still others foresee spiritual transformations of some kind - like
the Rapture; or alien interventions; or the coming of the Aquarian Age. These folks are preparing by accepting the changes about us as merely the prelude to a newly transformed world. Their solution -prepare your soul to accept a new world.

Scenario 4:
Others are looking to cosmic cataclysms like collisions with Planet X; an Earth magnetic pole reversal; Massive earthquakes and other such act of God disasters. These folks take some solace in the fact there is nothing they can do about the oncoming apocalypse.

Scenario 5:
And finally, don't forget those whose adaptation to Eaarth's transformation is total denial. They cling to the "positive" message of the mass media encouraging us to be fascinated with celebrity; care about professional sports; be entertained with mindless violence and emotionless sex with the underlying message that we must "Consume!"

All these scenarios are ways of people coping through a basic denial of our situation. None of these paths lead us away from the darkness we face

Mundane Industrial Collapse
The likely result of our denial is a continuation along the slowly degrading path we have been walking already - until we hit a barrier; an interruption; a collapse that we cannot find a way around.

The form that takes is probably going to be an interruption of goods and services that stretches out and becomes a "new normal". We are likely to see a breakdown of large scale services that now provide of food, fuel,
healthcare, distribution, and communications we have come to take as an entitlement. Needless to say, our very lives today depend on some of those systems.

Timing, Extent, Response
First of all, a realistic strategy does not include planning for titanic events over which we have no control. It does take making decisions on how much time we have in which to put in place local redundant sources for the things we must have.
Q: Will it happen in a generation or this spring?
A: It's happening now. Some solutions are already out of reach. Begin now on the most critical items you will need to take care of.

Q: Will it be a short interruption of services or a protracted disaster?
A: Increasingly longer and more frequent outages leading to permanent loss of many things we take for granted - like online shopping and delivery everywhere.

Q: Will there be an effective response by the international community, our national government, state agencies, community services, neighbors and friends or will you be on your own?
A: In the end it will be up to local communities, neighborhoods and yourself to provide the bulk of all services you receive.

    What to focus on
    Global warming is one lens to look through tot the problem. Stresses are already being placed on human systems by climate change that will result in breakdown of food delivery, available water and adequate shelter for many.

    My advice, if you have not started already, begin now to secure a personal source of food, water, energy and shelter.

    If, like most people, your budget is limited, you will have to make modest investments. Some things can quickly be productive for a $1,000 budget. You can source some of these things locally but they are also available by shopping at our ubiquitous national franchises and the internet links to national distribution systems - at least for now.

    For Food -
    A vegetable garden of greens and beans is easy and fast. A planted papaya seed can bear fruit inside a year. Besides your labor in preparing the grounds and a visit to a free seed exchange and some compost from your kitchen you'll need some dried chicken manure, a few bags of organic fertilizer from K-Mart.  This approach does not include fencing, pots or raised beds, if you need them. Cost about $100.

    For Water -
    Put together a simple rain catchment system with some metal roofing, gutter and a closed opaque safe container. Three  pieces of metal roofing (12'x2.5')  cut in half and screwed to a 2"x4" frame with a gutter leading to a 2 - 60 gallon rain water tanks from Home Depot with a stand alone countertop potable water filter. Cost about $500.

    For Energy -
    In order to charge your laptop, phone and a provide a reading light for night use you could use 60watts of solar panel, a cheap controller and inverter from Amazon with a couple of deep-cycle batteries from Walmart. Cost as low as about $400.

    For Shelter -
    Here on tropical Kauai shelter is not as big an issue as in the arid southwest or chilly northeast of America. However, it is important that at, or very near your place of shelter, you have access to land that can be modified to achieve goals related to food, water and energy.

    Your current shelter (some rental units, a condo) might not let you achieve even modest goals. You will have to find nearby alternatives places to live or work, so you can provide ever more important do-it-yourself solutions.

    If you are just starting this journey, be aware that some efforts will take precious years to bear results. Like most long term investments they don't bear mature fruit immediately. Just remember an avocado tree will take zeveral years to bear its first fruit.

    Even four years after building our first chicken coop and raising three generations of free range egglayers we just now feel we can keep the the chickens healthy, reproducing and the eggs coming.

    Planning for the future should based on a expecting a protracted degradation of the larger distant organizations that effect our lives. This will mean turning to services provided by smaller local organizations.


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