Saturday, April 26, 2008

Naked child needs what?

This was originally posted over on Gristmill blog in response to a investigation into the "more technology needed" argument. Rather than looking at what we have or want why shouldn't we look at what we need?

Take a naked child, what does that child need?
  1. It needs it's parents to care for it.
  2. Therefore we must support the parents (community services)
  3. It needs clean air
  4. It needs clean water
  5. It needs to be kept in a thermally stable environment 65 to 85 degrees F or so. (clothing and also housing)
  6. It's family needs food and food security
  7. a small fuel or power source to cook food
  8. It needs a mentally stimulating environment (a large garden is ideal)
  9. It will need some medicines at some point. (provided by the garden and community but also trade)
  10. Access to accurate information
That's it. Is there anything else all of us naked children really need? Most of our culture focuses on luxuries.

The cheapest available solutions to the above problems are:
  1. One worker families or no more than 60 hours total for two workers.
  2. social safety nets (cheaper than prisons)
  3. restricted burning of fuels (no coal, oil, biofuel or gas burning without community restrictions)
  4. No net discharge of wastes to water systems. Because dumping fertilizer in drinking water is insane that's why.
  5. A cob or straw bale house (mud and straw; what could be cheaper?) works everywhere but the arctic where logs and mud work just fine. Geo-exchange is just another way of accessing thermal mass. Fabrics can be made from a very wide variety of materials from wool to musk ox to hemp to nettles.
  6. Food security depends upon a biodiversity of food sources. Multiple sources ensure that no failure of a single source results in disaster. Permaculture agriculture promotes this concept. By contrast our current food stream is almost entirely corn, soy, rice, wheat, potatoes, barley and cane sugar.
  7. Solar ovens backed up by wood-gas stoves could provide most of the cooking heat at fraction of current fuel use of even the poorest families.
  8. The cost benefit analysis of gardens effects on health suggest that for that reason alone people should spend time gardening.
  9. A community based upon healthy diet and exercise can more easily afford to care for the remaining sick.
  10. Durable, cheap laptop computers have been designed that could be available to everybody on the planet. Information is the best birth control.
  11. bicycles, barges, heavy rail and sail-powered shipping can move the worlds goods. Airships don't require roads so could possibly be cheaper than rail on many routes. Solar power and solar-generated liquid fuels would be sufficient to provide this transportation structure.

Carbon Capture can be handled by
  • Biochar agriculture (requires a hoe and machete)
  • Rangeland management prioritizing soil optimization (requires a boy with a long stick to prod cattle)
  • Forest reserves, orchard crops and coppicing. (requires a billhook and pruning knife)
  • As a last recourse seeding oceans with powdered minerals that fix carbon dioxide. (requires massive industrial machinery and large shipping capacity)
Now I don't see malls, jet aircraft, Prius or ecotourism on the lists above but the list is survivable and even an improvement on much of the worlds standard of living. What are those breakthroughs we need again?

2 comments: said...

I am interested in your writing and views. What references do you have on the cost benefit of gardens. Could you please share? Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

write on!