You hear about a crashing ecosystem, from climate disruption to disappearing species and landscapes. What to do? There are two options: try to organize social change, or try to escape to a safer place. In this show, you will hear a sample of both. From 3CR radio in Australia, Vivien Langford explores personal carbon rations with Tina Fawcett, author of the book “Suicidal Planet”. Then Californian permaculture podcaster Diego talks with Canada’s permie guru Rob Avis: how to find an “anti-fragile” place to live. The search goes on.
Vivien Langford produces and hosts the “Beyond Zero Emissions” radio program on 3CR community radio in Melbourne Australia. 3CR also broadcasts Radio Ecoshock every week. I play the first half of this program, as Vivien talks with Tina Fawcett. Within living memory, Great Britain imposed strict rations on consumption of all kinds during World War Two. As one way to stave off a global climate disaster, the UK government just explore the possibility of bringing back limits on the amount of carbon each person can emit into the sky.
Let’s face it: WE CAN’T ALL CONTINUE TO BURN AS MUCH CARBON AS WE FEEL LIKE…. There will have to be limits. I cringe when I hear someone breathlessly describe how they flew their whole wedding party to Fiji for a fabulous tropical party. Do the bride and groom expect to have children? What world will they live in? That goes all the way back to you and I. Can we really still drive across the country because we want to see some scenery? Are we still in a world where I can legally buy 4 generators, fill them full of gasoline, and just let them run for the Hell of it? Are we still racing cars around race tracks and buying monster SUV’s for fun and status? If so, buckle up, because climate change is going to be your next monster adventure.
So, boring or impossible as it sounds, Tina Fawcett and Vivien have the talk we all need to have: personal carbon rations. Thanks for doing this Vivien! Vivien is kind of a radio buddy of mine – we talk by email and listen to each other’s shows when we can. Vivien follows up in this program with an interview with famous British author and journalist George Monbiot. Unfortunately, I did not have time to run that. Find a link to get the whole show at bze.org.au, or grab that whole broadcast here.
Broadcaster Vivien Langford
The book “The Suicidal Planet: How to Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe” was published in 2007 by Mayer Hillman, Tina Fawcett, and Sudhir Chella Rajan.
Vivien provides these follow-up links for this interview and her show:
by Tina Fawcett, Mayer Hillman and Sudhir Chella Rajan
Youtube with Dr Yael Parag: http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/people/tfawcett.html
Mayer Hillman: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/26/were-doomed-mayer-hillman-on-the-climate-reality-no-one-else-will-dare-mention
2. “Out of the Wreckage” by George Monbiot
FINDING YOUR OWN “ANTI-FRAGILE” PROPERTY – Rob Avis and Diego Footer
A few years ago I left Vancouver Canada to find a more sustainable home and a healthy place to grow more of our own food. Many people have that dream, but what should we look for, and what should we watch out for? From California, Diego Footer has a great podcast series called “Permaculture Voices”. I tuned in to episode #226 titled “Tips and Thoughts for Buying an Anti-Fragile Property – The Anti-fragile Property Series with Rob Avis – Part 2”. Here is Diego with Rob Avis, co-founder of Verge Permaculture in Canada.
Rob Avis, permaculture teacher
The Verge Permaculture began in Alberta Canada, with Michelle Avis and husband Rob. They morphed from being engineers in Canada’s oil fields to finding a way of life that promotes healthy life. Rob and Michelle studied regenerative design at the pioneering Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark and have made the whole field their life study and teaching. They have a permaculture homestead in Calgary Canada (I visited there) – and also seem to work with some property near Invermere B.C. (which I hope to check out soon).
In 2015, to make a living for their family, they also started a for-profit company called Adaptive Habitats. They offer a two hour free video course on finding your own property (at their web site), and you can take on of their twice yearly courses on site, or even have a custom consultation and design of either a “retreat” property, or just rural permaculture choices.
Diego Footer (mainly just known as “Diego) is host of the Permaculture Voices podcast. I highly recommend it. Tune in at permaculturevoices.com. Find this whole discussion on choosing a property (just over one hour long) here.
Diego Footer, Permaculture podcaster
This “Voices of Change” podcast is hosted by Diego Footer. Here is a podcast with Diego Footer who talks about his Creative Destruction podcast, and here is the web page for that Creative Destruction podcast.
Part of my interest is in survival resilience for seniors, whose abilities (physical and/or mental) may decline. That may happen during a period of social and economic decline. Resilience for a partial or very slow moving collapse, at least in the country or region inhabited, could happen while more serious and deadly collapse occurs overseas. That is different and less than the prepper who expects a complete and/or fast moving collapse. Note the slow pace of the 2008 crash, which actually took a year to play out. The same is true of the Great Depression. The trigger may have been the 1929 stock market crash, but the worst of the Depression showed up three years later in 1932 and after.
Here are some of my notes from this interview excerpt with Rob Avis and Diego. Rob consider resilience as a middle stage between fragile and anti-fragile. Resilient things, in this “granular” definition, resist being broken. Antifragile things strengthen with challenges and volatility. However, if you remove stress from an antifragile thing, it can atrophy, like our muscles when not used.
Before looking at land: what are you trying to insure against? Social disruption, food disruption, energy grid crash, climate crash?
Rob talks about having biology versus technology. A property can have technology like solar panels and batteries, but the biology is key for survival, and living well, he says. A primary need for any property is a water source. People in the Northern Hemisphere have a unique opportunity with snow. A person can plan to harvest and store that frozen water, for use later in the hot season when water might be scarce.
Solar access is also important. Permaculturists and ecological land designers love to find south facing slopes, especially in colder climates like the Northern United States and Canada. The same would apply in Scandinavia, and likely where altitude can add a level of cold. Then the soil: how alive is it with microbes, decomposition, depth? You may want to consider access to a market, if you want to trade your production, and the regulatory environment: what are the zoning bylaws and restrictions you may face.
In the previous episode, Rob cautioned that people tend to buy the wrong piece of land when driven by sentiment. Part of the problem is that we are used to comparison shopping for small things, like at a grocery or hardware store, but seldom have the experience of buying a big-ticket item like land. “We tend to look at the lipstick” says Avis. The “lipstick” might be the view, or how nice the kitchen is. Inevitably, if a couple is buying, they may have different needs, and Rob can end up almost as a marriage counselor. And making a major investment, then finding the property is not what you need or want, can lead to tears.
Remember that when you hire a real estate agent, there is a huge conflict of interest. The real estate agent wants to make a sale, to make a commission. Some are good at representing you, but they still want a sale. Rob says he always asks himself, not just in land purchase but in any venture: “What is the weakest link”? Where are the problems going to come up? What cannot be solved, or is way to expensive too solve?
“I think water is going to be the master resource in the future” Rob says. Then he makes another key survival skill: teach yourself how to fast. In addition to preparing your land or skills, “there’s all sorts of mental things you can do to harden yourself” if hard time come. Teach yourself to live with less right now.
Avoiding Type One Errors in Land Purchasing.
One example is buying a house in a flood plain. Even if it’s only a 1-in-500 year chance, with climate change those extremes become more likely. I would add buying near a possibly active volcano, a nuclear plant, and other unrecoverable risks. Another that Rob gives is building a home in a forest where all the seeds of those trees require fire to germinate. The trees expect a fire. You should too. It may be OK to locate there if you have enough water resources to at least protect your home. Another bad error says Rob, is buying a house that has a sump pump that runs every 5 minutes. The ground water is too high, and to go off grid, you always need power to keep the sump pump going – or have your personal flood.
Rob says he expects society to go on more or less as it is – “I’m not a doomsayer”. By the way, he is speaking from Calgary, Canada during this podcast. Also, people can think they want super remote living, but then find it’s lonely, low social life, and few support systems. As weird as it sounds, Rob says that access to the internet can be really important especially in a remote location. “Human connection plays into resilience. It’s really important.”
SUMMER PLANS FOR RADIO ECOSHOCK
In September I’ll be back with another year of all new Radio Ecoshock shows. Starting next week, I’ll be pulling some of the really big interviews from past Radio Ecoshock shows as our summer programming begins. These scientists, authors and activists stand the test of time, and they are worth your time, so please keep tuning in.
At the end of this program I play a few bars of music from “Chill Out India” by Areil Kalma (used with permission). Most of the other music you hear at the start of the shows, or interviews, I write myself using computer synthesizers and Ableton Live 9. That also helps smaller radio stations avoid any copyright license requirements.
My sincere thanks to all the listeners who keep this show going with their financial help. Find out how you can help here.
As always, thank you for listening, and caring about our world.