All is not lost... but

SUBHEAD: Tough times have arrived and will get tougher. So wadda ya gonna do? Get self-reliant... soon. 

By Juan Wilson on 12 August 2014 for IslandBreath -

Image above: Hawaii residents emptying Honolulu Costco store shelves of bottled water supplies as two hurricanes loomed last Tuesday. From (

Yeah. I know that for some time there has been a "negative vibe" coming off this website. And that's not without reasons. There is a shitstorm worth of consequences from bad decisions and self indulgent inclinations that are building to a head.

Forget the two hurricanes (Issele and Julio) that were headed our way last week. They would have only wreaked temporary havoc with power, telecommunications and food distribution. I'm talking about Real Trouble Coming Every Day! The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse kind of trouble: War - Famine - Disease - Death!

We are definitely in for a heaping portion of those. Why? You know the answers already.

Overpopulation - Overpopulation - Overpopulation - Overpopulation!

And what follows:  Resource Depletion or Peak Everything.

Our continuing struggle to keep "everything running like normal" compounds "Peak Everything" with problems like:

  • GMO-Chemical feed technology and deforestation
  • Oil and gas fracking, shale / tar-sand technology   
  • Nuclear weapons and energy radiation poisoning of oceans, land and atmosphere
  • Global warming (Climate Change) with the attendant drought,desertification, ocean rise and acidification. 
At this late date it is pretty obvious that the "Powers that Be" will continue to try and keep "everything running like normal" because that's what most people who earn money and pay taxes want. They don't want the party to end.

But it will and the "Powers that Be" will be worse than helpless. They may want you in a FEMA Camp or Ebola Isolation Shelter.

Just notice what everybody on Kauai did when faced with two hurricanes on their way. Here in Hanapepe they stripped the Big Save supermarket of bottled water and stripped the Ace Hardware store of plastic tarps and duct-tape. I'm sure the portable generators were flying off the shelves in the big-box stores of Puhi.

Duct-tape and tarps are useful things to have before things break or have to be improvised. My point is that these "emergency" reactions, if they would have provided any help at all would be very temporary. In a day, a week or a month the generator will be out of fuel, the empty plastic water  bottles will be rolling around the garage and the duct-taped tarps will be peeling off whatever they were meant to shelter. Nothing substantial concerning self-reliance would have been solved. If they had the stores shelves would not have to be stripped the day before an expected storm.

We desperately need to be making local small scale solutions to long term problems where we live. Assuming you have a roof over your head, there are things you should have started already. The two most primary requirements are water and food.

Here on Kauai that is not as big a hurdle as elsewhere. We have plenty of rain, sun, and soil. For most people in residential areas that starts with collecting rainwater and having a raised-bed garden and some fruit trees; maybe even having a chicken coop.

In low-lying rural settings your efforts might mean tapping into groundwater with a manual or PV driven pump as well as rain-catchment. You even find that there is ditch water available that could support taro or even talapia. It is risky to the the environment if they escape, but with care a goat can provide very valuable milk protein.

Yes. We've been here before. Me prognosticating on survival and sustainability. Me telling you that time is short and threats are large. But that doesn't mean that all the warning signs can be ignored because we've had a little more time to prepare. At least get a large drinking water barrel and appropriate filtering system like a Berkey urn instead of buying bottled water.

Getting equipped and skilled growing food and providing your own water will take more time than you anticipated. Most things do. Once you have a start on that, another target is acquiring tools and energy.

You should collect a full set of rugged manual gardening tools; rakes, spades, mattocks, shovels, hoes shears, loppers, etc. More over get as many well made hand tools for wood and metal working; files, drills, chisels, planers, saws, snips, etc. And don't forget any opportunity to save jars of nuts, bolts, nails, screws, brackets, clips, angles and other fasteners. It's like having a free store in your garage.

My personal opinion is that photo-voltaic panels on your roof (or other sunny location) is THE answer to your energy requirements. Again, at the bottom of your energy requirements are keeping a light to read under or clean-up when its dark or the ability to run a radio, ipod touch or smartphone when you need one.

That's not much of a demand and if you pay rent to live in a single room you should still be able to achieve that much energy independence.

With more PV energy and money you can charge portable tools and with even more run a refrigerator/freezer, or microwave oven, and heavy duty table saw. But it will never be the same as relying on an outside utility company to meet your needs.

Having cut the wire to KIUC I can tell you that being your own electric utility is a serious job to handle. To me it's like sailing a small boat. Your hand is always on the tiller. You are always aware of the sun and clouds. You are always watching what is coming into and out out of your "sails" (panels).

Unless you have a great deal of money can afford to over-equip your PV needs you will have to be vigilant in overseeing the health of your energy system. You can flatten your batteries to junk in a couple of days of careless management... so start small and become more knowledgeable before  fully investing what you have at hand.

Once more: Learning PV is not something you do overnight or on the fly.

There are many who don't have a roof.  Living without a permanent roof or piece of land is quite different and needs different strategies for getting along. Maybe in a future article we can cover some those.

Please, let me hear from you about these and other topics. People need to share survival techniques now.

See also:

The Titanic or Noah's Ark

In these times I'd rather be aboard the maiden voyage of Ark than the Titanic.

The Hero's Way

Technoptimists, politicians and apocalyptos won't matter as we get down to survival.

The New Game

We're past the fork in the road. Anything beyond will be made up from local efforts.

All Aboard!
Obama needs to get back to Mother Earth by getting out of his bubble and touching down.

Here the Deal! 

There are ways forward while we live through rough times. Those ways are for you to find.

The American Century

The end of Pax Americana will be a good thing.



Anonymous said...

It's challenging to ready yourself for what lies down the pipe when living hand to mouth distracts from extracurricular activities. Many of Kauai's population of permanent residents have landlords, and rent to pay at the end of each month. The cost of housing has skyrocketed lately. Existence for most is not possible outside the contemporary industrial economy. There is nowhere else to go. In earnest, I have been searching for a situation that would allow me the time and space to create a homestead, get off the grid, and batten down the hatches, and for as much rural and unused land that blankets the landscape, none of it is available for farmers or homesteaders. I mean, it is available if you have the means to purchase it.

I enjoy reading your blog. Many of the articles are very insightful and educational, but I would like to read more about how the people of this island can move towards self-sufficiency. Aquiring garden tools, photovoltaics, rain barrels, albeit important, are just small steps. More importantly, how can Kauai create an environment for young farmers to get on some land?

Juan Wilson said...

Aloha Anonymous,

The problem you bring up is a really big issue on Kauai.

For a few the old model works, but that model of providing secure reasonably paying jobs to young people so they can settle down with a house and car and raise a family seems long gone.

And expanding suburban sprawl to cover Kauai as it does Oahu is a dead-end. The trick will be to provide arable land to young people for sustainable food production without ruining the environment.

I think such a way of life can exist, but it won't include a car in every driveway and every driveway on a cul-de-sac. It will mean living in a small community off the grid where there is water and used to be cane or taro/rice fields. There are many thousands of such acres on Kauai.

The Department of Hawaiian Homelands controls some, the DLNR controls some and large private property owners control some. For the most part the ditches and reservoirs still are intact.

Many of those acres are now are being used by GMO chemical companies. Certainly they have to go.

Also a problem is agland that has already been divvied up for McMansions for rich people who like lawns and sport NO TRESPASSING signs. This is mostly a problem on the northshore but other places like Kalaheo is now seriously be californicated.

My personal opinion is that most effective way of getting where we need to go is for a collapse of the world financial system. There will be plenty of suffering but the Earth will get a respite from being raped and pillaged.

Financialization be even become useless.

After such a collapse the value of sweat equity and a good set of skills may be enough to secure a homestead.

I certainly hope so.

IB Publisher

Anonymous said...

Well said. I think a serious disruption in the status quo will open doorways for unconventional land use. Something's gotta give, and when that something gives, 'sweat equity' will be valuable. People who have somehow found the time to cultivate a broad and useful skillset will be valueable. I just hope the transition is slow and people can make use of the arable land.

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