Tennesseetransitions


Alternatives

“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy – sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”~ Thomas Edison, 1931.  That’s right~Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb and founder of General Electric said that.

We’ve put a man on the moon, invented computers and the internet and a bajillion other things since then, but our dependence on oil and coal has only increased, even though ‘sun, wind and tide’ have proven that they can be strong contenders for powering our lives. I’d like to add ‘human power’ to that list of renewables. These infinite energy sources will never be able to produce the amounts of energy that cheap oil has allowed us to waste use, but if a person were to first reduce their energy usage, they could sure make a difference between surviving and thriving in a lower energy world.

When I think about what I might miss most if we were to have locally the ‘rolling brownouts’ that I experienced first-hand while living in central California, it would be: lighting, cooling, and communication with my family. For others it might be refrigeration, your computer or a washing machine. Our individual wants and needs are as varied as we, the people! I remember one hot summer day at work, in a corporate office on the second floor, when the brownouts began. The first time it happened, we were sent home from work early. The next time we were told to do paper work in offices nearest the windows (for lighting only mind you-the ‘modern’ corporate office windows didn’t open and close!) My job was telephone and internet-driven, so the paper work was quickly caught up with. The next time it happened, we had phone service, but still no computer-or air conditioning! In no time I was sweltering hot and the interior bathrooms were pitch black, and like walking into an oven. Those short-lived brownouts left an impression on me: BE PREPARED!

But how can I be prepared, when practically everything requires some form of energy? I’ve found a few things that really can make life easier when the grid goes down, whether for an afternoon or indefinitely…

1. Wind:

2. Sun:

3. Tides:

 

4. Human (AND solar!)

I rarely endorse buying new things, but this hand-cranked or solar application is an exception because of its’ practicality, reliability, low-cost and safety:

This little jewel is an AM/FM/Weather Radio that also includes a light and cell phone charger!

And this little jewel gets me where I need to go:

OOPS! Wrong picture! Let’s try that again…

These ‘alternatives’ certainly won’t take the place of everything that electricity and cheap oil provides in our lives. When combined with staying out of debt, learning to grow and preserve food, maybe raising a few hens in the backyard, tending a hive of bees, insulating our homes or learning a barterable skill, they can help us keep our heads above water when shit hits the fan! And if shit never does hit the fan, you still win because you’ll have no debt, good food, comfortable shelter and a skill that you can trade.  The end.

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