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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Muddling through and making do

For decades serious thinkers gave well reasoned and researched warnings about impending problems. Pick your poison: energy depletion, economic downturns, financial collapse, environmental degradation, agricultural shortages, civic unrest, climate change, encroaching tyranny -you get the idea.

The argument has been that proper planning and investment in solutions could do much to soften the blow. That may be true, but except for individual and local actions, no big grand sweeping schemes have come to fruition. In a world that only looks as far as the next quarterly report, election cycle, or news deadline, it’s no surprise so little has been done.

Now that many of those dire predictions are coming true; what’s a person to do?

First of all, don’t expect the people who’ve ignored the big picture for so long to provide any last minute solutions. It could happen but don’t hold your breath. Get into your head that you are pretty much alone here. Friends and family might help, but don’t expect much beyond that.

Forget the high tech solutions that will keep your world humming along as if nothing has happened. Where would the investment money come from? It ain’t there. It doesn’t exist. Inflated made up fiat currency purchases fewer and fewer real world goods and services. The deadline for financial investments in such things are gone. Instead, the money (which is really debt) went into jacking up house prices and purchasing fictitious things like derivatives.

What we are left with on an individual level is making do and muddling through. If you still have a job that pays a somewhat living wage and a roof over your head, count yourself lucky. There’s still a chance to soften the blow as things grind slowly downward. Lose those things and options become limited rather quickly. How many people are one paycheck away from disaster? One major car repair from ruin? One medical bill from bankruptcy?

Plenty of people are making do right now. I’ve a former neighbor who’s been on that slow slide. He used to have an apartment in town and a cottage on a rural road. His pension fell short of what he had counted on. He gave up the apartment and moved into the cottage. Eventually, he lost the cottage due to the inability to pay the taxes. Last I heard, he took his ice fishing shack, loaded it on a small flatbed trailer and hooked it up to truck. That’s where he lives now.

He can’t even move in with his kids as they are undergoing even worse domestic disasters. At least he still has his truck.

Recently there have been a series of house fires, some with tragic loss of life, caused by candles. People are burning candles because their electric power has been cut off. A few solar charged LED lights would have been a cheap and wise investment.

Picture the guy who lives in a house with all the services cut off. His car sits on blocks. The alternator and battery have been salvaged to build a small wind generator. The car’s lights have been wired into the house to provide at least some lighting. Maybe even the car radio has been installed in the house.

The hood of the car is missing. It’s been removed and hammered into the shape of barbecue grill. The windows have been used to build a solar cooker. Some of the car’s wires are now rabbit snares. He checks them on the way to the lake to haul his water. The guy built a water filter from homemade charcoal and fine sand. Not quite trusting it, he boils his drinking water in the solar oven.

His house sewer system no longer works. He does his business in a bucket and composts the waste in his backyard. The compost is later buried in the yard and squash seeds planted on top.

That’s how muddling through and making do could look. Your mileage may vary.



  1. I would think when that happens, those of us who have spent a lot of time in the woods hunting and fishing, would have it a little bit easier. It would bring back memories of all the old camping days back in the 1950's when we used coal oil lights and cooked outside on an open fire. That was real fun!! Could be again, all in your frame of mind.

  2. last blackout,both LEDlanterns quit

    for the emergency camping kero lanterns did the trick, fueled with charcoal lighter fluid

    may not have been as bright, but beats stumbling in the dark