6Sustainability(353) A collection of resources on sustainable living, organized around Maslow's hierarchy of needs. (See my related lists on Peak Oil and What To Do.)
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ITEM - Death if denied in X time Oxygen fit to breathe - deathtime, 3-12 minutes. Water fit to drink - Deathtime, 3-6 days. Food fit to eat - deathtime, 21-31 days.
Fortunately, it's pretty safe to say we will continue to have a plentiful supply of oxygen, especially after the fossil fuel industry is collapsing. Let's look at other things.
Note that food and food fit to eat are 2 different things. Yes, a freshly killed squirrel is food, but is it safe to eat? You can be sure of it by cooking it, but this takes energy and tools. The form of energy can change the tool list somewhat.
Alas, the Mormons are known to insist that a good Mormon maintains a 1 year supply of essentials at all times. Although most do not keep THAT much, almost all of them lean to keeping a VERY generous pantry. Go thou and do likewise. PS: Looters, take note, most of them also keep firearms and know how to use them. You also go and do likewise. AND DO NOT ADVERTISE THE FACT.
Growing food If you intend to grow you own food, learn about crop rotation, and set out at least 4 fields. Crops divide into 3 or 4 groups, according to nutritional needs and who you organize. As 4 crop rotation is quite scientific, you might like to fall back to the earlier and simpler 3 crop rotation system, which demands 4 fields. The 4th field is FALLOW, planted in something that fixes nitrogen. Make sure that plant is allowed to go to seed, and gather the seeds for next year. Your horses can graze there also, a simple way to feed them. Make sure they have water. Animals can also graze a field AFTER you harvest a grain such as wheat, there will be plenty Learn to love potatoes and turnips and other root stocks. the grow well and are a simple if troublesome harvest- leave them in the ground until needed, and dig up a few.
There are other things it REALLY HELPS to have, and under SOME circumstances will be essential and will kill by lack.
CLOTHING Due to weather. cold kills. In WARM weather, a bib overall has LOTS of pockets to put tools into, or carry little items in, so is a major asset to stockpile. A 3 piece suit is a waste of resources. SHOES are essential to avoid nasties like tetanus or a broken toe. SOCKS are a convince, and a padding- thick warm wool socks anyway, or thick cotton jym socks, not those decorative thin nylon things, ignore THEM. But if money is tight, ignore socks, get work shoes or boots.
Do you know how to repair clothes? Sew by hand? WASH by hand? Repair shoes? MAKE Them? Or at least a good Roman sandal, a much more likely product? HINT- walmart offers denim and other cloth, and all the tools and supplies and assories (buttons, zippers, etc) you will ever need. TANDY LEATHER has everything to make sandals, including leather. They BOTH even offer BOOKS for your library.
SHELTER Someplace to keep 'it', keep it out of sight, out of the rain, out of bitter cold or blazing sun. Nice place to sleep, too. But different threads here are discussing this subject. A library MUST be a part of the design.
MEDICAL CARE Learn first aid. Adopt a paramedic, or encourage one of the kids to become one. Keep basic supplies and books in the house; if someone is a paramedic, encourage them to keep far more than the basics. Send a kid to scouts, and insist they go get the first aid merit badge- you go to Red Cross and take their course, and learn all you can. Purchase these books: 'Where there is no doctor', 'Where there is no dentist'. Learn basic herbalism, and keep a good herb garden- a possible cash crop when things are getting bad. If anyone has a special need, stockpile the things they need, or assume they will not be with you very long. HOW MANY people in America are diabetic today? LOTS Drugs refrigerate, and some will tolerate freezing- test a sample in a deep freezer if you have one. Insulin does not tolerate freezing, but refrigerates. Antibiotics are also a good thing to have. Vicillin (oral pennecillin) refrigerates well, and is a very good general purpose antibiotic. Note that viruses do not respond to antibiotics, but secondary infections and diseases which tend to set in while resistance is reduces when sick will. Phumonia is a bacterial infection of the lungs while sick with a virus- the cold or flu. It WILL respond to antibiotics.
ENERGY Work after dark sometimes cannot be avoided. And cooking takes energy. What is your energy source? How do you store it? How will you apply it? Other threads address this theme and I will defer to them.
WATER You want a tested and known 'fit for human consumption' well. Mo deeper, mo better. Insure it is properly sealed at the top by pouring concrete around the top of the well casing to prevent surface runoff from following it down the bore hole into the well intake- surface runoff is almost always contaminated. A windmill is picturesque, but will pump water- and used motor oil can lube the gearbox years after the cars are rusting. So can the oil you extracted (and purified by boiling) from Castor beans. If the pump is a combination lift/force pump, it can force the water up to a tank above your use area, and you have running water on the farm, allowing you to use plumbing. Consult with the windmill manufacturer for rigging a windmill with a force pump, the benefits are many.
SANITARY WASTE DISPOSAL This along with sanitary water and germ theory did more to prevent disease than antibiotics. You want some sort of rat proof garbage cans - metal, with lids (and use them)- and some way of disposing of it. Biodigestion for fuel gas, or just burn it or BURY it is a good idea. Store it in the cans until there is enough to cycle. RATS CARRY DISEASE. Adopt some cats on the farm, they eat mice and rats. If the cat starts acting WEIRD, assume rabies and shoot it from a safe distance, and burn it at once, the fleas carry it. Wear gloves. Wash them afterward.
At the least, equip the farm with a septic system for sanitary disposal of the sewerage you generate. The closest approach of this to the well should be AT LEAST 60 feet, and preferably it should be downhill, so groundwater migration carries AWAY from the well.
REPAIRS Learn how things work. Have the tools and spare parts to repair them. You want some good hand tools, and some not so basic things. A grinder, a drill, a welding TORCH- which can be used for things a 'lincon' electric welder cannot- and supplies for them. Send someone to shop class to learn how to do things. Go yourself maybe. Remember that horses can make horses, but cars and trucks just make rust.
COMMUNITY Learn who your friends are- and are not. Trade with friends. Build alliances. You can't do it all, be everything, have everything. Even in the crunch, there will be 'commerce' even if it is barter.
To facilitate trade, we use money. But the current crop of paper and sillycoin is going to be garbage some day. Go purchase a 'bag' of silver (1 bag = $1000 face value junk quality coins- worn, scarred, but still legible as to what they are). Bury it in the ground, or in the attic, or under you bed- hell, bury it IN the bed! Coinage is a useful asset to facilitate local trade. People trust silver and gold when they think federal money is fit to use for toilet paper. PS: You can melt the bimetallic stuff to cast things out of, but I never advocated that... it's illegal.
(Oh- Lost wax casting. Assuming you have some wax, go get a book from Lindsey about it. Get some investment compound also, it will not break down at heat the way plaster of Paris does. You need a welding TORCH to do this, or a cupola furnace, and Lindsey also has books about those.)
COMMUNICATION This is only useful in the context of community, as giving information to enemies is suicidal. If the phones are down, your line to the community is radio. Unless you have the time and expertise to get into ham radio, your best bet is good old CB. If the phones are out, you can be sure the cell towers are dead also. Your little solar panel may not be enough to give you a 20th century all electric lifestyle, but you can sure at least keep a golf cart battery alive and run the CB radio CONSTANTLY on the local community's paging channel. This means assuming 2 amps use 24 hours a day, or a panel delivering 24X2=48 Amp Hours, plus allowance for inefficiency, so call it in excess of 50 amp hours a day. As the useful solar day is about 8 hours long (beginning and end produce some, but not much), you should allow the panel to generate 50 Ah in 8 hours, the extra is gravy and allows for cloudy days. This means a capacity to deliver 6.25+ Amps in bright sunshine. A 12V battery with 100+ amp hours capacity will handle the load nicely for more than 2 days with no effort to conserve usage. A standard golf cart 12 volt battery, 6 cells, at 125 Ah capacity will sit on a nice piece of wood or recycled plastic and run your station to the community. MAKE SURE The panel contains a diode to percent reverse current when it's dark, or the cells will drain the battery slowly each night.
Respectfully, Kirk D Bailey Pinellas county Florida USA
•For my money, one of the best "one stop shopping" places for practical sustainability info is www.journeytoforever.org . Click on the links on the left side of the page for biofuels and small farms library.
For beginning farmers and gardeners, the best place is www.squarefootgardening.com .
For those thinking about a local food system, visit my website www.oklahomafood.org and see one in action.
And for any new folks who need a reminder of what I think the "best practices" are for dealing with peak oil, here they are:
1. Get out of debt. The borrower is the slave of the lender, the truth of this ancient phrase will become increasingly evident as the peak oil situation becomes "economically obvious". Learn to live on much less money.
2. Superinsulate your dwelling and invest in energy efficient appliances and lighting. Reduce your need for energy (i.e. we are learning to live without air conditioning).
3. Buy a bicycle and ride it.
4. Plant lots of edible landscaping, particularly perennial food producing plants such as fruit trees and berry bushes. Help jumpstart a local food system in your area by: (a) growing as much of your food as you can, (b) buying as much of the rest of your food as you can from local farmers. Patronize local farmers' markets, if there isn't one in your area, start one.
5. Develop a way to make a living in your local economy, abandon the globalized international economy as much as is practical in your situation.
6. For many, depending on their situation, moving to a small town may be the best option. Wherever you live, get involved with the local community. Develop friendships and support networks now before times get tough.
7. Promote voluntary and political initiatives that increase sustainability including public transit, energy conservation, and local food systems.
•A solar powered "fan" is easy to install and has no moving parts.
Attach a 10-15ft upright pipe between 6-10inches in diameter to the side of your house where it will get maximum sun exposure. Cap it to keep out rain and screen it for bugs. Run an air duct (flexible plastic in 4-6inch diameter works well.) to the air outlet on your composting toilet. Paint the upright pipe black.
This will work all night just on the temperature differential between the house and the night air, but during the day draws more than enough air to evaporate excess moisture from the pile and keep it aerated.
•A friend of mine who was into permaculture for many years bought a house built on a very steep block of land. Because of the topography, the block had to have been severely terraced. In several places, the cut was in excess of a hundred feet!
Needless to say, at such a depth, there is NO soil whatever.
He setup a chicken pen above the dirt, which was hard it was impossible to dig it. It literally sat on top of the dirt, which was like concrete.
He then filled it with a couple of feet of sugarcane mulch, and let the chickens at it. Of course there were inputs. There was nothing for the birds to eat there, and grains and food scraps were provided.
Within twelve months, the most amazing vegetable garden was growing there...... and it ALL came by itself. Merely seeded from the food scraps fed to the chickens.
I was sold, and I can ABSOLUTELY garantee it works.
To supply the birds and livestock in a permaculture setup, one needs to simply produce much more than the human occupiers need. You have to feed the whole system, and eventually it's self sustainable. After a few years, it even requires very little work.
After all, mother nature looked after all the creatures on the planet for millions of years without any help from US! Or oil inputs.