Sustainability and population

28 06 2012

Yesterday, I put the new ute to good use.  There’s a hardwood sawmill near here (well, 30 odd kilometres away…) which sells its waste wood, all the stuff on the outside of the logs that can’t be cut any further to make dimensional timber or the middle bits which are often ‘piped’, for just twenty bucks a load.  When you consider that supermarkets sell just a small bag of the stuff for the same amount, it’s a bargain…!  Of course, you have to load it by hand, and no longer being a spring chicken doesn’t help, there’s well over an hour’s work there, and then I have to unload it and stack it!


I figured there’s almost a ton there, the leaf springs on the ute were almost straight, which I’m told is the weight limit, 1 ton.  It’s not seasoned as well as I’d like, but it doesn’t smoke when the AGA is warm enough, so it will have to do.  The plan is to get more during the Summer months and store it in readiness for next winter.

The last load, however, only lasted about six weeks….  the consumption rate is pretty amazing, and it’s just as well I’m lucky enough to be able to burn wood that was going to be wasted from timber manufacturing.  It got me thinking that, obviously, there is no way whatsoever that everyone around me could do likewise.  If ever I needed proof of how overpopulated the world is, that was it.  If everyone in Australia tried to live sustainably “like us”, there aren’t the renewable resources around to do it with.  The forests would end up being cut down until none are left, Easter Island all over again.

The weather of late has been very cold in Tasmania.  I got on facebook and contacted my mate Monte who lives in Geeveston in a strawbale house he built to my specifications, to ask him how they were faring in the freezing conditions.  “It’s short and tee shirts inside” he replied….  his house is so efficient he heats the whole thing with an Esse cooker which is just like an AGA only not as posh… at least Esse make a wood burning cooker, AGA do not.

Monte tells me they buy firewood by the 12 ton truckload…..  GASP!  At least, he doesn’t pay any more than I do for it, especially when you count the fuel I burn to pick my wood up.  I try to roll other errands into the trip to Gympie to ease the pain and guilt of driving at all…..

The niggling thought of what will we do when the oil runs out never ceases to make my brain hurt.  And what will the unprepared people in Tassie, or anywhere else for that matter, do when the shit hits the fan?  Because it will, and every day we are one day closer to this event…..




6 responses

28 06 2012

“The niggling thought of what will we do when the oil runs out never ceases to make my brain hurt. And what will the unprepared people in Tassie, or anywhere else for that matter, do when the shit hits the fan? Because it will, and every day we are one day closer to this event…..” Precisely what James Kunstler’s book published in 2005, The Long Emergency,” is about. I’be been agonizing my way through it for the past couple of months. It’s taken me that long due to the continuing distraction of Fukushima, and the even greater threat that poses to life on this planet as we have known it. At least we have hydroelectric power generators here. No nukes, gas or coal. 🙂

29 06 2012
Jac de Villiers

I am completely unprepared if oil had to run out in the next few months or years! Living in Auckland CBD I rely on everything ‘oil’! Working towards self sufficiency takes some planning and a good amount of savings that most youngsters my age(late 20’s) dont have! So most of us are well and truly screwed when oil runs out. The question is what would you do if you were in my postion? Just keep saving and working in the rat race and live in the land of hope to buy that elusive property to live off… Yip, I am worried about the future!

29 06 2012

Jac, I really really feel for you…… I firmly believe that it is your generation’s parents’ duty to help out here; after all, it was us baby boomers who screwed up. We have done everything at Mon Abri for us in the short term, but in the longer term, it’s all for our twins (who are 25). I’m on a mission with this blog to spread the word…. such as it is, the numbers who read this are in the dozens, not the hundreds of thousands needed for any kind of impact! Not even Chris Martenson has a following in the hundreds of thousands…….

Are your parents aware of what’s going on? If they are not, you need to try to convince them we’re heading for hard times….. and then convince them you need to work together to plan ahead. I know how difficult this is, most of my family don’t want to know, even if they can tell everything’s starting to go pear shaped. Denial is not a river in Africa.

I’m not convinced “ownership” of property is totally essential to surviving the future. If you can find people “like us” in NZ, and they do exist, I’d try wwoofing. I know it’s a complete U turn for anyone’s life, but everything’s about to change, and the quicker you learn how the better.
The very best of luck Jac…


29 06 2012
Jac de Villiers

Thanks for the feedback Mike. I have not heard of Chris Martenson, but I will definitely look him up and see what he has to say..and what sort of advice he is giving out… I cant remember how I stumbled across your blog but very glad I did. Ever since I studied environmental management at college I became very aware that one of the biggest issues humanity will face is overpopulation. Its pretty simple, that an exponential population increase will only put more and more strain on every natural resource especially considering how unsustainable we carry on with our lives. I know that the future will be loaded with major problems. My parents who live on a small(18 hectares) lucerne farm in South Africa close to Port Elizabeth are not open minded about these sort of issues. They agree that overpopulation is an issue but thats as far as it goes(in developing countries this issue is a major one and governments are not doing anything about it; families that barely have a roof over their head and no food still manage to have 5 or more kids…)I could go back to to the farm and try and do what you are doing BUT crime is a major issue in SA and farm murders are a big problem which is my biggest worry there. My wife who is Brazilian is not too keen on SA especially the farm…because of crime. You never know though, I might go back and give it a go. Woofing is an option here in NZ that I might consider as I have a farming background. I am not sure whether there are lot of people here that are too concerned about the future. I am yet to meet any the way you and I think.

For now though, do you think an economic collapse and oil collapse is imminent and would you advise someone in my situation to buy gold as an asset backup? Is cash another good option? To be honest, im not sure what to do with regards to my savings and what to expect in the future. I worry about the future a lot though…

Thanks again for spreading the word and any advice would be much appreciated.


29 06 2012

Jac, when I was a senior in college Limits To Growth was required reading. That was 40 years ago, and nothing effective has been done by any government that I’m aware of to prepare us for the confluence of declines in the next 40 years. Even without factoring in Fukushima, the poisoning of the planet continues. “Will work for food” in an agricultural setting is how we’ll have a chance of surviving. I cannot imagine how that transition will occur peacefully, but “hard assets” are more likely to be a drag than a benefit. Safe, clean food is likely to be more valuable than gold. It would be to me anyway. Like the Boy Scouts motto: “Be Prepared.” Sorry us old farts and baby boomers haven’t done any better for you and the planet. 😦

2 07 2012
Jac de Villiers

Thanks Gordy. Clean food & water will be very important! Im just trying to figure out what my options are when we have a major economic collapse…Limits to Growth is a book that im about to read, the latest edition. I am a big fan of Sir David Attenborough and like he says, ” there is no major problem facing our planet that would not be easier to solve if there were fewer people and no problem that does not become harder – and ultimately impossible to solve – with ever more. And yet there seems to be a taboo on bringing the subject into the open.”

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