How civilised

I just saw this video which was referred to on Keith’s ‘Unsuitablog

I love this video – and it pretty much sums up why I feel so uncomfortable with the level of greenwash that we are subjected to on a daily basis. The whole ‘civilisation’ game is a very finite game and is defined by how long we can get away with unbridled over consumption, relentless extraction of resources and exploitation of labour. Industrial civilisation is pretty much doomed to be no more than a blink of an eye in terms of how long it will be around in the history of Homo sapiens but it could well be the very last chance we get. In our haste to convert everything to liquid assets and to extract every last drop of energy we can dig out of the ground – we are probably going to royally fisk it (it being earth) up for our unfortunate successive generations who will be forced to deal with our incredible short sightedness.

Today, some of our main arguments are whether or not it is worth our while to turn off domestic appliances when not in use, or whether we should eat food flown in from the other side of the planet, or whether wind-turbines have a place in our countryside…

If we carry on asking stupid questions like those, in the future the big question will be whether we reproduce to preserve the human race or whether not to bother in order to preserve the rest of life on earth and quite possibly the solar system and universe at large!

Time to start honing those self-sufficiency skills?

Here’s a Ferengi quote for Trekkies:

Quark: I think I figured out why humans don’t like Ferengi—
Sisko: Not now, Quark.
Quark: The way I see it, humans used to be a lot like Ferengi: greedy, acquisitive, interested only in profit. We’re a constant reminder of a part of your past you’d like to forget.
Sisko: Quark, we don’t have time for this.
Quark: You’re overlooking something, Commander. Humans used to be a lot worse than Ferengi. Slavery, concentration camps, interstellar war… we have nothing in our past that approaches that kind of barbarism. You see? We’re nothing like you… we’re better.

Mind the gap

I am not the only one fretting about over-specialisation it seems. I was pointed to Sharon Astyk’s ‘Casaubon’s Book’ blog by this Eating the Seasons post, which mentioned the book Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front.

The post that I thought might be of interest is this one about the ‘gaps’ in our self-sufficiency skill set. It is an interesting challenge, and one I am already engaged in constantly! Not necessarily because of peak-oil, but perhaps more to do with John Seymour and maybe Felicity Kendal.

For the past couple of years I have been trying to grow stuff (I have an allotment now even, but need to get a bike and somewhere to store tools & shelter me from the rain.. look out shed alert!).

I recently fixed my daughter’s bike which had suffered a horrendous chain tangling accident (involved the use of a chain link removal tool!).

I have wrestled with basic plumbing (I can plumb in a dish washer or washing machine, replace washers in taps, unblock drains etc), I sweep my own chimney, split logs, make kindling and light a fire without a firelighter (i do want a firesteel though and must have a go at friction fire lighting).

We make our own compost, I collected seed from some of the veg and herbs I grew this year, and we have eaten stuff I grew (just not as much as I know we can).

My wife has always been a great cook, but she has been whipping up some delicious veg box meals, and has recently become a bit of a compulsive masterbaker! She can now pretty much cook any recipe, but her cakes and cookies and sweet treats are better than anything you buy in the shops. I am a competent cook too, just not as dedicated, or perhaps committed…

That was quite cathartic, we/I have made progress. But here is my list (to be expanded upon and hopefully crossed off):

  • I many have gaps in my DIY skills – we need to decorate (we know how to do that – we just enjoy sitting down after work ;)) and erect many, many shelves and stuff
  • Lots of room for improvement in the horticultural field. I just need to get out there more. Weeds, slugs, spider mite, blight and cabbage white butterflys are on my hit list – I generally want to grow gluts, cancel the veg box and learn to preserve
  • I want to learn how to use a chainsaw and more tree related stuff (I have been planting tree seeds recently – want to go collect some acorns, but also want to learn how to fell and coppice etc)
  • I want to learn to play an instrument – one that doesn’t need plugging in
  • I always loved chiseling and whittling wood as a kid – I want to rekindle that and turn it into something useful (like a breadboard or a wooden spoon)
  • I want to learn more bushcraft and foraging skills

I have an abundance of diverse technical skills and I blame that for my lack of diversification and competence in more practical skills, but at least it is doing something tangible to help – it is paying the rent and putting food on the table, and giving me a lot of job satisfaction, as I have managed to combine my geeklust with an environmental job. So I am sorted there really – I could go on for ever learning this scripting language or that OS but I am slightly less obsessed now I have a fairly good grounding I can plug most gaps one way or another.

That’ll do me for tonight!

Anyone else feeling gap aversion?