Friday, July 20, 2007

Glimpsing the future

As a parent it's natural to peer into the crystal ball for your children and wonder what their lives will be like. You want to ensure you prepare them for that future as best you can. For me that crystal ball seems to contain nightmare scenes; global warming, energy depletion, soil depletion, economic collapse, food and water shortages and more. How do I prepare my children for this?

The first thing that needs to be done is to have a best guess at the future of the place we live: Adelaide, South Australia. It's already a semi-arid area so a failure of the global transport network, as is likely with energy depletion, will cause food hardships in the area. Most of the agriculture we do have relies heavily on pumped water, and that is at risk both at the pump (energy depletion) and from the source (Murray River is suffering from global warming and ecological collapse). The unirrigated agriculture is suffering serously from soil depletion as nutrients are constantly being removed and replaced only with synthetic fertiliser. The synthetic fertiliser, along with most other agricultural chemicals, is also likely to be unavailable as a result of energy depletion because they are largely oil and natural gas dependant.

Many of these issues will cause havoc in highly populated regions so it seems likely that Australia will have a constant stream of global warming refugees moving down from the north. The areas to the north and north-west of Australia are the most populous in the world. Many of these countries are already seriously stressed with food and water shortages, so ecological stress via global warming and soil depletion will hit them hard. Other countries, like Japan, are only able to feed their populations because of the global market, with money raised by selling energy intensive manufactured products.

So for us the move to Tasmania is about providing for our children. To have enough land to largely provide for ourselves via organic gardening and permaculture. To have a buffer (Bass Straight) between us and the potential mass migration resulting from global warming. To be living in an area that has very good access for sea and river transport (sailboats folks). To live in an area that still has the remnants of community not yet destroyed by nationalisation and more recently globalisation. To have a plentiful suply of water and wood for heating. To have a well designed solar passive house that hardly needs heating or cooling. To provide our own energy. To learn and pass on the skills our children will need in their lives.