Archive for September, 2008

Background: The End of Suburbia Video

A great video introduction to the post peak-oil future facing America. A little out of date now (as everything is, with this speed of change), but a really good look at the future that faces the American Dream. This is just the cut down version – the full version is available from www.endofsuburbia.com.

Watch it, show it to your friends, get moving.

Interview with Transition Towns’ Rob Hopkins

 A great interview with Rob Hopkins, the international face of the Transition movement, and author of The Transition Handbook.

Buy the book, and get a move on.

Preparation: Peak-oil kitchen gadgets

OK, time for another light-hearted one 🙂 . We’ve been baking bread as part of our after-peak-oil preparations, and it turns out that all our standard two-litre pyrex bowls are way too small for serious home self-sufficiency. So it’s time to go for the classic – one of those huge cream-and-white mixing bowls that everybody’s grandmother has somewhere!

Apparently they’re made by Mason Cash, and you can buy them at John Lewis – up to 5.8 litres for only twelve quid, which is a decent amount of bread!

Resilience: Coping with the energy crisis at home (2)

This is the second post in my series looking at our personal resilience, and what plans we need to put in place to make sure that we are in a position to help our local community through any deep potholes on our otherwise Gentle Descent. These posts are not designed to provide long-term solutions, rather they’re looking at short, sharp, shocks to the system: the impacts of extreme weather & flooding, rolling blackouts, fuel shortages and the like.

In making your own plans it’s important to consider each end of the spectrum, from extreme heat to extreme cold, and drought to flooding. Remember, nobody seems to be giving a consistent 10-year weather forecast for the UK in a changing climate, other than to say “weather will be more extreme, more variable”. The lessons from recent incidents in the UK and overseas is that if you really want to minimise your impact on local emergency services, and be in a position to help, then you need to be able to look after yourselves for at least ten days. Here are our initial preparations:

Location, Location, Location

Are there any specific risks in the areas where you live, work, and play? Regular major floods? Hurricanes, threat of Earthquakes etc? If there are – and you can – MOVE. Life is tough enough without having to cope with all that extra worry! If you can’t move, then make sure your preparations also include thing to offset those risks – e.g. buy a boat! I won’t be going into too many of these specific risks as we’re going to make pretty sure we’re moving to an area without them. Check out your flood risk at the Environment Agency Flood Maps, and if flooding is a problem they have some great resources on preparing for floods. As a curiosity you can also look at your risk from rising sea levels.

Come up with a Plan (or several)

All the cool gadgets in the world aren’t going to save you if you panic, and don’t know what to do – so make sure you have some sort of plan, and share it with your friends. There is a pretty thorough discussion of this over at DailyKos – it’s a little alarming and serious, but worth a good look.

Water

More than anything else, clean water is our most vulnerable necessity. A small failure in any number of things can result in a failure of the water supply and treatment systems. How will we cope if the taps suddenly stopped delivering clean water? This is exactly what happened to 350,000 people after the 2007 UK floods, and it took 16 days to get the water back on. You need to make sure that your water supply system is able to cope with extreme cold, and potential contamination from low-level floods. If you need to make sure your water is clean, look at this post on providing clean drinking water post-peak-oil, and I’ll have a post shortly on rainwater storage and collection, to make sure you actually have some water to clean up!

More to follow . . .

That’s enough for today, the preparations I’ll look at in the next posts are: Sewage, Food, Medical Supplies, Communications, Clothing, Light, Heat / Cooling
Cooking, Tools, Fuel, Maps, Entertainment, Knowledge & Skills. Just a few more things to think about!

Inspiration: La Ferme de Sourrou

This post was triggered by seeing this photo posted over at Powerswitch on avoiding the need for refrigeration. I think it is just such an uplifting picture – amongst discussions of doom, gloom, and rampaging hordes seeing it just makes my heart ache. The sheer organic nature of the construction, the multiple levels of greenery, the life just bursting out of the page . . . just . . . breathtaking.

The photo was from HardWorkingHippy from La Ferme de Sourrou, I’m not sure where to start on describing what I found most inspirational: they are living off-grid, have built their own gorgeous house and are now building an impressive extension. They have an Angora goat and sheep farm, and also keep pigs and chickens, and are making great strides towards self sufficiency. Plus, they take really great photos!  

Here are some of the most beautiful ones I’ve found so far – their woodburning stove and this beautiful garden layout. Maybe I’ll skip work today, just curl up with the laptop and read their site from start to finish!

Resilience: Clean drinking water post-Peak-Oil

The number one item on my domestic resilience list is maintaining access to clean, safe, drinking water.

Coming from Brisbane, where the dams that supply our drinking water recently bottomed out at around 14% capacity, I am keenly aware of the importance of available water.  With increasingly unpredictable weather in the UK, and water treatment works subject to flooding and blackouts this is one area I don’t want to take chances on.

I am already planning significant rainwater storage (I’ll detail this in a separate post), but I need to make sure that water will be safe for us to drink. The best way to do this for moderate amounts seems to be a countertop water filter. The best one I’ve found so far seems to be a British Berkefeld (Berkey) Water Filter. It’s gravity fed, so no power is required, and it can produce up to 80 litres a day – easily enough for our drinking needs. Cost – around 90 quid. Even better – it’s made in the UK, so you’re also supporting local manufacturing when you buy one!

Preparation: Peak Oil Ironing

Ok, so this is a little bit frivolous, but an electric iron will be too powerful for our PV batteries to handle, so how will we iron Post-Peak-Oil? The answer is probably that we won’t (we barely do as it is) but for the occasional wedding or funeral it’d be useful to have something. So how about one of these: a classic Victorian Cast-Iron Flat Iron – ready to be heated on our wood-fired stove 🙂 You can even buy them online at “The Collecting House”.

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