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Old 01-05-2011, 03:18 PM
ndk ndk started this thread
Location: Estes Park
68 posts, read 263,012 times
Reputation: 61


The thread about the Census count yielded two sets of responses: some excited about the future for Colorado and humanity at large, and others worried about overpopulation and resource depletion and the inability of ingenuity to overcome those forces.

Acknowledging that divergence, let's assume the latter set of folks is correct. I'd like to explore the path seen by those who think there's just not enough water, oil, or other resources to support us 5 million Coloradans, and that it's time to prepare.

So: extrapolating from current trends and momentum, how and where would you build a sustainable life for an individual or a family in Colorado?

1) Live in the center of Denver and leverage the economies of scale that all big cities bring? Is East of the Divide out entirely due to rainfall/water supply patterns?
2) Small-scale farming somewhere on the West Slope? Poudre Valley? Elsewhere? Ranching in North Park?
3) Take advantage of an anticipated upswing in tourism and economic development along train routes, e.g. Glenwood Springs area?
4) Catch a massive energy boom in the Northwest part of Colorado as the Piceance Basin is developed?

What would YOU do?
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:41 AM
ndk ndk started this thread
Location: Estes Park
68 posts, read 263,012 times
Reputation: 61
I'm a little shocked that there were so many pronouncements of imminent danger and doom for Coloradans on the other thread, but nobody to pipe up and suggest a strategy, personal or otherwise, for avoiding it.

Other than curiosity, I also posed the question because self-sufficiency is a fascinating topic for me. And that's mostly because few of us realize how utterly dependent we are.

Moving to the mountains has been an interesting experiment for me in that regard. While I'm way less dependent on others for things like recreation, everything else still comes from civilization. Food comes from the prairie; oil comes from overseas, and it's even more necessary here. Everything from tires to televisions to toothbrushes comes from the city.

Even if I were somewhere where agriculture were feasible, independence from civilization seems like it's mostly a mirage. And thanks to Jevon's Paradox and the so-called tragedy of the commons, it's virtually impossible for individual efforts to make a dent in societal consumption.

It seems like the only/best thing we can do as individuals is to hope those who see sufficient resources for all of us are right, and to live our lives as if they are, because there really isn't much of a viable alternative. Particularly not in our arid, sparse, rugged state. And maybe that's why we can only proclaim doom, but not solutions.

And, case in point, I'm off to the city today to try to get my electric bike wheel fixed.
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:52 AM
20,308 posts, read 37,804,669 times
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"Independence from civilization" is mostly a myth. Even early cave men found that survival depended on banding together to face common enemies and survive.

Common enemies consisted of: wildlife that would attack, kill and eat you within sight of the group compound; starvation; roving bands of other semi-starving clans/tribes/villages; drought; lack of water, shelter, warmth or clothing; and many more. There was no "911" to call when crap happened, no docs, no EMTs, no dentists. Most people died as kids, an old adult might be all of 25 and usually died of starvation after all his/her teeth finally rotted out. It was dreadful.

By grouping together, you had strength in numbers. Especially key was the division of labor, where the best spear makers did their thing while the best hunters did their thing, etc.

Come forward 25,000 years and you have largely maximized the benefits of specialization and living together in cities, but absolutely key to all this is that we are truly dependent on each other for our survival and certainly the high standard of living we have.

We saw what happened to the hippies in the 1960's who went "back to the earth" or whatever they called it. They quickly foundered and gave up; most of us cannot be all things to ourselves. True subsistence living in modern times means a sod hut out on the prairie, scratching a few veggies from the soil and raising a steer or two plus some chickens. But, here's a good question for those folks: How ya gonna make the steel plow to till the earth or make the knives to butcher that steer. That's the gotcha moment. They can't make everything they really need, they still have to rely on other people in other places to make and deliver what they need.

Granted, "sustainable" means something different from "self reliant" so I'm stretching the argument a bit, but still, someone who is somewhere else has to make those solar panels and all the framework and electrical doodads to make it work. Yes, one can get to sustainable electricity, maybe even for water too, but no matter how far out one goes, they still truly are dependent on others for a lot of their needs.

IMO, we must not make energy sustainability an "every man for himself" thing or it will not get done. We must have "utility scale" solar and wind energy that feeds into the main utility grids, thus spreading the costs as equally as possible across all of society. This allows us tremendous economies of scale and mass buying power. Many homeowners and businesses are putting solar panels on their roofs / properties but that's a drop in the ocean and is only done by those with major motivational habits.

I see no need for the gloom that some people harp on like broken records, and I ignore their apocalyptic visions and agenda.

What is worth full scale pursuit is achieving energy self-sufficiency so we can get the bulk of energy from renewables. Second to that are new or better ways to deal with the need for clean water and to handle the wastes.

Energy and water issues seem to present major challenges, but for the most part they are simply vast opportunities to move society forward to a new era of well-being.
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Last edited by Mike from back east; 01-07-2011 at 10:12 AM..
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:12 PM
2,253 posts, read 5,838,130 times
Reputation: 2615
Wink Of balance & life

Estes Park was once the hunting ground for Native Americans in the region. If and when all falls apart one might return to that. Well, maybe in time. In the short-run one would discover a lot of desperate people and most wildlife soon hunted to near extinction. The same parameters that applied but 200 years ago would not return for some time.

Besides which, as romanticized as life of the American Indian can be presented at times, all was not clover fields and honey. Most of the tribes lived in a near constant state of low-level warfare or uneasy truces, particularly in this region. They lived close to the land, with a commendable respect for it largely absent in today's society. But one will also find most modern Native Americans happily adopting such modern conveniences as electricity, if in other respects an uneasy truce with modern culture. Certain exceptions would be the Acoma of New Mexico, those that choose to live in their ancient Sky City perched high atop one of the mesas, without either running water or electricity. But they do allow it to be overrun with visiting tourists at times, with much the rest of the tribe content to live on the desert floor below with modern conveniences.

There was a movie where a suburban family prepared for Armageddon with a well stocked and comfortable bomb shelter under their house. Fearing the worst, they decamped there for a decade or two with no communication to the outside. Imagine their surprise when at last venturing forth to discover the world had not totally disintegrated, only changed, and themselves confronting a time warp of sorts.

Presumably this is what various members of the elite plan on doing, only the notion of this time for real. Anybody else as serious could as well. But what they are overlooking is that if surviving perfectly well to live another day, yet in a world dramatically different than accustomed to, or probably desired.

There would be no new toothbrushes on sale at Safeway. There would be no Safeway. Several years ago in the large snow storm that closed DIA for several days, people in Estes Park discovered how quickly milk and other items could disappear from the shelfs, not to be restocked. As comfortable as our modern life can be, it is also a tenuous thing more finely balanced and interconnected than many imagine.

We should wish to see it prosper, if for no other reason than very, very few would wish to live within and confront this world entirely, or nearly so, on their own. We are highly interdependent. When some, such as myself, speak of concerns with over population, our environment, unwise policies in general, it is usually not from the vantage of wishing to see this entire society disappear, just the opposite.

Only better, and in balance sustainable, something of lasting benefit to all.
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