Monday, May 23, 2011

Self Sufficiency and taking care of our environment

This is one of the books I've read recently.  I read Alas, Babylon in my high school Sci Fi class in my senior year, and I've been going back and reading some books from that time again.  Set in the 1950's during the tensions between the US and Russia, Alas, Babylon takes a look into the life of the town Fort Repose after a nuclear war.  It goes through the hardships and successes of survival in a post nuclear war world.  I love this book, and it easily ranks as one of my top favorites.

As I was reading, I started thinking more about our society and our lives.  We are so dependent on luxuries of technology and life that were nuclear war or any other disaster to happen on that scale (zombie apocalypse anyone?), that it would be a huge blow.  Pat Frank, the author of Alas, Babylon, touches on these topics.  One character's life is totally based around money, and when he finds out that it's useless in a post-apocalyptic world he can't live with that idea, so he commits suicide.  Little things we take for granted like coffee, electricity, and even salt, become such luxuries in Fort Repose.  We can go to stores and buy as much coffee and salt as we need, and we have electricity available anytime, so we don't really think "what would happen if this were gone?"  Sure, we've dealt with power outages (I remember the Northeast blackout), but to deal with it being gone for an indefinite amount of time?  I don't know how some people would cope.

A few days after I finished the book, I was watching National Geographic and there were shows on about different apocalyptic scenarios that could happen to humans.  Topics ranged from the Earth slowing down its spin, running out of oil, and population overgrowth.  The first topic is out there, but the other two are real threats.  We use so much oil based products and processes in out lives, and the population is expanding at an exponential rate.  These are real threats to our world.  The shows talked about what could happen after certain amounts of time passed.  As I watched these, and thinking about the novel, I came to one conclusion:

Wow, we're fucked.

Okay, that's probably an overstatement, but still, it's scary!  I didn't stay scared for long, however.  The book made me realize that I should work on some skills to be able to survive on my own in events like war, and the shows made me realize that I need to work on how much I impact the environment.  How can I lessen my impact from things like overpopulation and destroying our resources, and also be more self sufficient?  Why, being green and developing more self sufficiency skills of course!  One of my first ideas for being more green was to buy this:

A bike!  I got it for $40 at a garage sale, and it came with two baskets, two horns, a chain and lock, and a tire pump.  After getting it fixed at a bike shop, I have a new mode of transportation and exercise!  I can use it for short shopping trips instead of wasting gas in my car.  I still have to drive almost 30 miles every weekday to go to work, but it's a start.

Next, I worked on both self sufficiency and being green.  I started a container garden!

Okay, it's just a Sweet Red Bell pepper plant right now, but it's a start.  I haven't had that much luck in the green thumb department in the past, but I hope to change that.  I've got a container to plant small carrots, a kit for growing zinnias, and I have a "tater pot" mini pot with mint planted.  I had to move the pepper plant inside to my craft room and give it an artificial lamp since I don't get enough sun on my balcony, but that's okay.  I want to be able to learn how to garden and grow my own food and to contribute less to buying goods that had to be transported to me by burning fossil fuels.

There are other little things I'm doing, too.  I'm slowly changing all of the bulbs in my apartment to CFLs and turning lights off when I don't need them.  I also bought some ingredients to make homemade cleaning products that are better for us and the environment.  More of my groceries will be certified organic, and I am going to try to prepare more of my meals at home and eat out less.  It's all little things I'm starting with at first, but it will add up.

Besides, knowing how to survive and live more efficiently would be a big help in the zombie apocalypse.

Bring it on.


  1. Interesting post. The one thing I don't agree with is that we'd be screwed if we ran out of oil. The world has a TON of technology that is not dependent on oil, but is not being released because these big time oil/gas companies won't allow it. I've seen concept drawings for cars that run on water and electricity YEARS ago. There is always solar energy and wind energy. The "oil scare" is a tactic that these companies are using to justify jacking up prices or to start drilling in the northeast. And what about all that promotion for corn energy a while back? it was all over the internet and tv and papers... and then it disappeared. not because the technology was incorrect, but most likely because they were bought off or threatened by oil companies.

    the world would be thrown into chaos for the majority of the population for several years. but it would soon ease back into a more "regular" lifestyle once oil-independent technology becomes mainstream. And you can bet your butt that if the big-time companies know that oil is running out for GOOD, they would have their products lined up waiting to stick a top-price dollar on them in a post-oil world. which, again, would eventually go down once these products become mainstream

  2. Those are a lot of good points. I feel like we should be adopting more non-oil based technology, but a big problem is that a lot of it is too costly right now for the average person to implement. As for the corn energy, the only problem with that is that fields would then be dedicated to only growing corn crops for fuel and not as a food source, which is another topic altogether. I've seen used cooking oil being used for fuel, though I think it's only diesel engines that can handle it for now.

    Electric cars are a good idea, but one problem I see with them is how you power it. If you use a renewable resource like wind or solar energy to get the electricity it would work fine for the environment, but a lot of electricity is still coming from coal fired plants that release toxins into the air. That is becoming less of a problem with people investing in renewable resources for electric power, but it's still something to think about.