Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Winning by not loosing

The economics of just staying warm have changed over the
course of history. If we consider the "temperate" climates
where the most industrialized and fuel intensive centers
of population exist today, the pattern of the historical
change might be characterized as a backwards "J" shaped
plot. Measured in the number of hours a household had
to devote to work that obtained fuel and kept the fires
going, we went from a lot of hard work gathering wood
to increasingly mechanized acquisition of coal and oil
and increasingly automated distribution and consumption
via electrification and increased efficiency of centralized
generation plants. What we DID NOT do , except sporadically,
was find ways to live with less energy and that non-trend
has combined with the other trends to push us to the point
of exhausting all the cheap sources of fuel. A brief
change of course in the USA after the oil embargos of the
1970's was a heartening demonstration that laws and
consciousness can be changed toward more rational use of
resources but in time, the old ways of find-more-burn-more
reasserted themselves. The bottom of the j shaped curve
has been reached and energy will take an increasing bite
from here on out.
Today's link is an example of
how thorough economic analysis shows that you can build
for strict energy conservation and wind up saving a bundle
of cash into the bargain. This page has many links:
Of which I particularly recommend:

Monday, June 28, 2004


I got to wondering why companies like GE or GM keep making stuff
that burns up so much energy and creates so much pollution. If
you are out of money, you would do without some things but
stuff you gotta have, food and transportation for instance, you
would go to great lenghts to find or make as your resources
permitted. You do whatever you have to in order to survive.
The thought thats with me today is that the GM's of the
world, every bit as much as persons or families, are trying
to survive. To the extent that they can buy or bend the
political powers that make the laws and taxes which affect
business makes them different from individuals but in so far
as their well being depends on coming up with goods people
will pay for and doing so at less cost than their competitors,
they are like individuals. WE are still part of the equation
and can't hope to reform the great, visible waste of industries
whose goods we still keep buying. So perhaps, rather than waiting
for the smelters and foundries to burn up the skies and dry up
for want of coal, we consumers should reform ourselves. What
we demand, the smart company will supply...I hope Toyota eats
GM's lunch by selling a ton of hybrids [to cite a hopeful trend]
The next or perhaps at least, the ultimate stage of the consumer
led revolt for sustainability might be less painful than collapse
and spotty self sufficiency by primitive means.

Friday, June 25, 2004

A few good links

What got me started on this enlightened self-sufficiency kick?
Well I was always inclined this way....I built a solar heated
house back in 1980. But a friend of mine renewed my interest
when she traded in a high tech career in the Boston area for
a cleaner, simpler life at an intentional community dedicated
to sustainability. Conversations about resource issues and
my own reading led me to believe there is much merit to the
"doom sayers" of the green left. Some URLs to check are:

That'll keep you busy for today. I will bring in a few
from time to time. I am hoping that where this ends up
is an exposition of low tech ways of reclaiming a higher
quality of life.

Thursday, June 24, 2004


if this is a BLOG about how to live when the electricity
goes out, what good is it going to do us? pencil and
paper don't support blogging very well!


Blogging has gotten so easy that no barrier prevents the creation of
Weblogs devoted to very narrow topics. Narrow but politically charged
topics will of course invite stray conversations but none the less,
let me kick _this_ one off with the following statement about the
intended topic:

The comments and the links dragged in here should focus on practical
means of living or making a living that will still work after or
in spite of the collapse of wastefuel [yes, a coinage] industrial
and lifestyle practices. Greenies won't need this preaching and
most Democrats and all Republicans won't even know what we are
talking about. Somewhere underneath all the hyperbole and mistrust
there are simple things that real people can do, without needing
a law or a subsidy, to put food on the table, keep their water
clean and ward off frostbite. If all you are worried about is
how you are going to pay for your kids college, zoom out to a
bigger picture...in what world are they going to apply that
expensive education? What are education and for that matter,
money, going to mean when no amount of money will drag another
barrel of oil out of anybody's patch of this earth? Almost by
definition, the means and ways we hope to discover links for or
see discussed here cannot cost much. The solutions presented here
may not have an obvious or at least economically compelling
problem in the strangely naive world of 2004 U.S.A. but the bias
and assumption expected in this blog is that the matter is one
of when, not if, these problems will emerge.
Think "socialist survivalist with a Phd" and you may be in tune
with this blog.