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Author Topic: Fostering personal, household + community resilience. How?  (Read 643 times)
buckworks
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« on: August 09, 2017, 02:36:52 AM »

In another thread, amidst gloomy forecasts for the not-very-distant future, Ergophobe said:

>> We need to enact a lot of small solutions and a few big ones, some of which will be painful

Let's talk about that. What are some of those solutions?

It will likely be a while yet before The Powers That Be get enough of a clue ... and enough support from the populace ... to address any of the various crises that are brewing. We can expect hit or miss action at best, and many things will likely get worse before they get better.

So, what are some ways we can be proactive as ordinary folks?

What actions can we take at the individual and household level to:

1) Reduce our contributions to the problem(s)?
2) Make ourselves and our local communities more resilient in the face of ... who knows what?

What do we need to prepare for? and how?

What can we do to be a positive influence, in the areas where we do have influence?

Quote
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead
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littleman
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2017, 03:03:18 AM »

>What are some of those solutions?
Here are a few...
Policy:
stop subsidizing the oil industry
stop subsidizing corn/soybeans
tax credit for the cost of double pain windows & proper insulation
tax grass in the desert
push the average MPG up 25% within 5 years, then later much higher
tax break for telecommuting
tax breaks for solar/wind power
carbon tariff, put the money into offsetting domestically (more jobs!)


As individuals:
think objectively
buy used
fix things
eat whole natural foods
eat less red meat
turn things off when not in use
consider hobbies that use your own body power
-- if the above isn't an option, electric
--- if that isn't an option, small displacement & light weight
travel less
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Travoli
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2017, 03:55:34 AM »

I just listened to an NPR show about embryonic gene editing. In the near future we should be able to edit-out many chronic illnesses before birth. That could revolutionize healthcare and save trillions.
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littleman
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2017, 05:40:05 AM »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRISPR

It's going to change everything.
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Mackin USA
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2017, 11:51:24 AM »

Quote
As individuals:
think objectively
buy used
fix things
eat whole natural foods
eat less red meat
turn things off when not in use
consider hobbies that use your own body power
-- if the above isn't an option, electric
--- if that isn't an option, small displacement & light weight
travel less

IT IS UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL
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Mr. Mackin
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2017, 04:15:37 PM »

Stay educated. Educate your kids about the real world.
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littleman
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2017, 07:59:21 PM »

Re: Small solutions, this is pretty amazing. 

http://www.domain-b.com/technology/20170809_fuel.html

200 liters of fuel made from solar power and the air's carbon dioxide
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ergophobe
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2017, 06:33:47 PM »

Bucky, I feel remiss not responding here.... I started in on one of my novel-length posts and decided it was important enough to spend more time thinking about before answering. This is a GREAT question and thread. Sorry for not responding even though it's my "fault"!
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buckworks
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2017, 02:52:18 AM »

>> novel-length posts

I look forward to it! Smiley
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Rupert
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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2017, 08:36:15 AM »

Its a good thread... and needs serious thought.  I too look forward to Ergos post Smiley

That 200L of gasoline is great.  The DNA idea... does that mean we live longer, with reduced capability though? 
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ergophobe
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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2017, 02:34:42 AM »

After thinking about this, I just can't get myself to wrap my head around the topic. The more I think about it, the more trite my thoughts seem. I *do* feel it's an important topic, but I still can't quite think through it... But here goes what pops into my mind...
----

I regret the use of the words "small" and "big." I should have said "easy" and "hard," which are different.

As for the "gloomy" tone, I believe we are at an inflection point for many things and the current political upheaval, in the US and UK most notably, have created challenges, yes, but also created many opportunities for breaking long-standing logjams. We are living in a make or break period, similar to maybe 1936-1937, where what we do in the next decade will have profound impact on the future. I am betting on "make" because I think that's the only reasonable way to move forward.

Resilience is an interesting word... we talk a lot in our community about "resilient landscapes" in the context of wildfire. It basically means not a landscape that won't catch fire, but one that can catch fire without catastrophe, a landscape that burns, but not that hot. It doesn't mean it will survive a crown fire though. It means a landscape that will avoid crown fire.

I look at resilience in that way. Not from a prepper perspective of getting ready for the crown fire, but thinking about maintaining some personal and community resilience to avoid the crown fire. For many issues, I think we are too far gone, but better to work the forest before the fire than after...

Personal reslience

1. Live within your means. Again, I'm not thinking of societal meltdown. If that happens, I don't have gold or some other asset like that buried in the back yard. But as a more general rule, I try to spend less than I earn and keep a reserve of money for a rainy day. I realize not everyone can do that and there have been times when we could not, but I do believe knowing that you can get by on less makes you much more resilient. I would even say that knowing you can live on less makes you happier than having all the things you would have if you spent it all. But maybe that's just me.

2. Filter - Read less news (a struggle for me). Mostly it doesn't make any difference and it doesn't broaden my mind.

3. Connect - Seek diverse relationships in your community. We started holding "come one, come all" events at our house for our whole neighborhood, which has had some longstanding fairly acrimonious divisions based on local politics (e.g. the sewer system) long before the 2016 elections. People who hadn't ever met or who had, but hadn't spoken in months or more all said it was really nice to see neighbors on a winter night. I think face to face meetings with non-like-minded people helps build more resilient communities (and your personal resilience by broadening your social world).

4. Disconnect - Find time for quiet. The current "cult of productivity" is often detrimental. Time to meander both mentally and physically, is crucial to having the reserves you need and to being creative. Packing more production into less time is the devil's game. Lots of studies are starting to show that, at least for creative work, unstructured time is key. Also, that unstructured time is your reserve for when the sh## hits the fan and you need to max yourself out to stay afloat. If everything is already optimized, there's no slack and the system fails. Natural systems are rarely optimized for production. They are optimized for resilience and survival.
 
In terms of actions easy and hard you can take... again, I pay attention mostly to climate and to US politics, so some things I'm *trying* to do and sometimes succeeding at tend to fall into those categories.

Easy changes (general)

1. JOIN

Join groups who support causes you believe in. If you want politicians to support your causes, you have to be there in numbers for them when it counts. When politicians cross the Koch brothers or the NRA and look for help, they usually find nobody has their back.

2. DONATE
This is for the US, but I have already started donating for the 2018 cycle. Right now is crucial for grassroots candidates. If you want a political system that isn't bought and sold by big money, small money needs to get in very early. By the start of 2018, it's much too late (I started donating in my congressional district back in May). The money candidates had by June 30, 2018, determined the support they would get on the national level, with a second cut on Sept 20. I'm trying to reward people who are personally committed to a solution, but are willing to compromise and get a partial solution. People who don't make perfect the enemy of better.

Easy changes (climate)

I have climate on my mind a lot lately, so I'll start there. I think there is nothing that will pay benefits to societal resilience like stabilizing the climate. People spend a lot of time thinking about LED lightbulbs and recycling, but these are really minor changes compared to the Big 4 decisions we make:
 - what we eat
 - how much we fly
 - how much we drive
 - how many kids we have
 
 I find the last one hard to process, because if we're talking about the survival of the human race, "have no kids" is not a solution. And for those of us with no kids who still hope to maybe collect Social Security, no kids = no Social Security.
 
 But the other three are potentially easy changes with large effects

1. Eat more plants


A recent study claimed that if the US made no changes at all except substituting beans for beef, we would by that action alone meet the Paris accord promises. In other words, no change in travel, in energy production, in eating chicken, dairy, etc. Just changing out beef for beans would do it. That's not going to happen, but it's really easy for people to cut back on beef. Another recent study said that the rising methane emissions are almost entirely due to the increase in global consumption of beef. Beef is really rough on the planet because of the digestive system of ruminants.

There are, by the way, some plant-based foods that have high carbon footprints - asparagus airlifted from South America, for example. But beef is an easy one, because the very nature of cattle means that even local beef is going to have a huge carbon footprint.

2. Fly less, drive less.
This is tough because after a long time of really wanting to avoid this except for visiting family, I realize that taking trips is important to Theresa's happiness. So my compromise there is to buy carbon offsets for my travel. Yes, we can't offset our way out of this, but at least it makes a nudge in the right direction.

3. How we source our energy.
That comes close to the Big 4. If possible, switch to grid-sourced renewable power. This depends on where you live. Most places in California, it's easy. Other places it varies from the default (Kellogg, TX or Burlington, VT) to impossible.

In California, this takes about 10 minutes through PG&E or Marin Power or others. Basically, you're doing what Google and Apple do when they go "100% renewable" which is to say they are buying a certain about of renewable energy, but in periods where there is a lot of solar available, that power is being sold to regular customers and when the sun is down, Google is buying power off the "old" grid. Until we have good storage, this is how it will be and one fo the reasons it is currently hard to get past about 30% renewable electric. Big storage systems will have to come online to change that.

The way this works is that California imposes standards for the "renewable energy portfolio," meaning a percentage fo electical generation that has to come from renewables. When you sign up for one of these programs, the utility is not able to count your allocation in their renewable portfolio, so it forces an incremental increase. This costs us less than $25 per month with an anverage of 5 users on the system.

4. Use less.
This one I struggle with... the pile of cardboard that accumulates from deliveries is horrifying at our house. I wish I could make more progress there.

---------------------


I feel like that's scratching the surface on a tiny number of the meanings one could give to building resilience... But I need to turn to some other things tonight
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Brad
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« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2017, 09:47:06 PM »

Connect.

I'd like to expand a little on what ergo said.  Get involved with local government.  It does not have to be in a big political way, just start attending meetings and really listen to what is going on.  You will learn a lot. Local government has far more to do with your life than the people in Washington do. In small towns you will find the town council is thankful you showed up.  They get tired of talking to an empty room and start to wonder if anybody cares. Stay after the meeting and chat with neighbors.

But this is valuable, the leaders get to know you the cops and department heads get to know you.  This can be important down the road.
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ergophobe
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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2017, 11:38:49 PM »

It does not have to be in a big political way, just start attending meetings and really listen to what is going on.  You will learn a lot.

Definitely. I started going to local meetings. Met a lot of people. Now I am on our county's "Maintenance District Advisory Committee" which addresses water, sewer, roads. It can be be controversial - we're about to finish a rate study and rates will be going up. Way up. But I have no clue whether a given other member is Republican or Democrat. I've gotten to know a lot of people at all levels in county government and have learned a ton about how our infrastructure is put together and what the threats to our water and sewer are.

Funny story...
We have trouble getting our roads plowed. I came up with an idea for a local group of us "work for home" people (we have quite a few) who would get hired part time who could try to keep things clear until the full-time guys can arrive. When I interviewed, the Director of Roads said "Now, you understand, Ronnie might call you at 5 in the morning."

I looked at her, with Ronnie to her right, and said "Well, since Ronnie already does call me at 5am, I don't think that will be a problem." Ronnie, who oversees snowplowing, laughed and explained to her that he calls me in the mornings to get conditions reports to decide whether or not to dispatch plow drivers.

All of this makes me feel more connected and invested in my community.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 11:41:17 PM by ergophobe » Logged
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