Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wishful thinking

If we must decrease our collective carbon footprints by 90% to avert the worst effects of global warming... that means cutting electricity use, along with everything else, by 90%. So, if we are only going to be using 10% of our former electricity, plus maybe a little extra from wind and solar, what functions and products would you like to keep? What is most vital to our society's well-being?

I think we can cross Nintendo and clothes dryers off the list. And while undoubtedly it won't work out this way (probably the rich will keep getting as much as they want while the rest get what they can afford), I think it's good to think ahead - in case we have the chance to make intelligent choices.

Here's my short list for best use of electricity:

Public services
  • Neighborhood canning kitchens
  • Libraries
  • Emergency rooms
  • Wellness & family planning clinics
  • Water
  • Firefighters
  • Police
  • Weather information & alerts
  • Dentists

Home usage

  • Lighting
  • Ceiling fans
  • Telephones
  • Efficient cookstoves (only to be used when the sun isn't shining ;)
  • Radios


  • Immunizations
  • Anaesthesia
  • Alleve :)
  • Birth control
  • Canning lids
  • Bike tires
  • Soap & detergent & floss & toothpaste
  • Books!
  • Chocolate & coffee

Your thoughts and wish lists?


Matriarchy said...

I would suffer withdrawal from the internet. I am addicted to the information I can find. I would argue for community centers where TVs, computers, and even game systems can be used periodically. Perhaps that is a "library" function, but I think there would need to be more of those centers than the current public library system would support. TVs wouldn't be so bad if they weren't all used by only one or two people at a time, and left on when no one is watching. We need to treat them like public transit or carpooling - solitary watching wastes energy. Group watching would also promote discussion and criticism, leading to greater selectivity.

I would also argue for communal refrigeration lockers - like we have self-storage now. When electricty is expensive and unreliable, a secure, reliable facility with back-up generation - possibly wind/solar powered, would be valuable to a community. Medicine often need refrigeration - seeds, food storage that allows meat and dairy shares. The neighborhood canning kitchen can be there. CSA drop-offs. Near a farm market to facilitate the canners.

Tara said...

I think I'd have to add shoes and hardware to my "manufacturing" list. In fact, I'd give up electric lights in trade. And by shoes, I don't mean that in a fashionista, I'm-addicted-to-shoes kind of way. I just know that if I had to, I could sew some clothes for myself, but I don't think I could competently make shoes. Oh, and wine! There must be wine. Although I'm pretty sure we could manage that without electricity anyway. ;-)

Verde said...

I'll have to think on your questions but for now I've come with one of my own.

Which of your sun ovens do you like the best and have you had any trouble with plastics off-gassing into the food?

Hausfrau said...

Matriarchy, I like your ideas! Sounds similar to some thoughts I saw in a book Superbia, have you read it?

Good idea, I am adding shoes, socks and underwear to the list!

Hausfrau said...

Verde, I like the Global Sun Oven best. Heats up quickly, sets up easily, you can cook several items at once if you have the right sized items. I use it 4x a week, so far it's holding up pretty well. I have only used glass and stainless steel cookware, no plastics. I think plastics might melt in the 300+ temps the GSO gets up to. Hope that helps!

Lewru said...

I would add:

Public services
* Mental health groups/skills courses with ecopsych/self-efficacy focus
* Gardening training courses (compost, permaculture, seed saving, etc)
* local public seed bank (would need temp/humidity control)
* how-to courses (building rudimentary solar projects, making clothes, making reusable goods like menstrual pads, etc)
* neighborhood watch/planning committees
* Oral history project

Home usage
* Rebates for retrofitting
* Neighborhood "barn-raising" groups to help insulate, install rain barrels and solar panels, install solar water tanks, put in drying lines, etc.

* Chronic illness meds but with growing emphasis on using natural alternatives if possible
* WINE. WINE. WINE. (but agree with Tara that we could probably pull it off)
* innovative recycling efforts to sustain the use of items we still have
* landfill excavation for above

Fun exercise! I'm sure there's a ton of stuff I'm forgetting.

I might take out or not advocate allocations for:
* home lighting (unless seriously low impact high efficiency and even then within limits)
* Telephones (rather a local phone-share program like we had in Senegal with a bank of comfortable seating booths on a block)

MeadowLark said...

I'm with Tara on wine and shoes.

And I'd give up lights... I look best in dim light, so candles/lanterns I'm all over those.

Just think, me in my shoes and underwear with a glass of wine in the candlelight. That's romance baby!

Verde said...

Thank you and it does help. The one criticism I've heard about that model is that it gives off a plastic gas itself.

On the other subject. I would miss the internet more than anything except emergency medicine. I'm happy to give up electric lights, and the stupid electric range.

I think I could go Amish in all ways except the internet(um... and women's equality).

Hausfrau said...

verde - the GSO instructions say to "run" the GSO for a few hours before actually cooking in it, and vent it. That seemed to do the trick. Unlike the Tulsi, which still sort of smells plasticy/rubbery after a few uses.

Lamzeydievey said...

I like Lewru's suggestions for public services. the community seed bank and resources for teaching folks how to be more self sufficient are great ideas and we need more of those NOW!

I would ditch electricity for lighting, vaccinations, and birth control (which is NOT necessary for survival and has been shown to have serious negative impact on both women and the environment).

And, like Tara, I would have a very hard time making shoes!