Awhile back a reader asked me how to be as self-reliant as possible because they didn’t like the idea of depending on society. The reader says, in effect, that they’ve noticed how morally inept the local government is there, how fragile society really is, and how reliant they are upon society and how much they dislike being in that position. I gave a quick answer, but thought this topic worth exploring a little further.
First of all, I’m not sure morally inept is the term I’d use – at least where I live. Probably more like morally bankrupt at this point, at least from what I’ve seen in local government around here where I live. Not everybody of course, but enough so that when it gets into the local newspaper you scratch your head and say, “Man. That’s messed up.”
Here’s a quick example. A local town manager here in Maine had an old school building that the town has been trying to sell for awhile and was approached by a guy with a rather shady deal. The guy wanted to buy the old school and put in a methadone clinic. The town manager went behind everybody’s back and said, “Sure!” knowing full well that the town’s people would be irate at the idea. The deal was set to go through until the local paper got hold of the story. He even lied to some of the council members about what was going on. Once everybody found out that this tiny town was going to have a large methadone clinic operating in the middle of it the sewage hit the fan in a big way. There were all kinds of problems with this idea and over a period of months the idea finally got shot down, but it never should have been brought to light in the first place. The town is so small that there’s only one working traffic light and the amount of traffic would have overwhelmed the local population among many other issues.
The point is that greed and desperation can sometimes cause leaders to act in ways that are contrary to what we as citizens expect from them and as the economy continues it’s downward slide (at least in my mind) the pressure put on our leaders continues to grow.
Once mankind moved out of the forests and into the first cities back in Mesopotamia there arose a need for government and I believe that’s when corruption started. When you place one man in authority over another there lies the seeds of abuse of power and corruption. But this is balanced by agriculture, commerce, technology, art, and the other benefits of a modern society. To give up all of these things would be to give up all that we have become as a species. There’s a lot of engineering, and labor, and technology, and brilliance behind the simple act of turning on your light switch.
I don’t think distancing ourselves from our community or technology is the whole answer. But I do think that we should be as self-reliant as possible for several different reasons: first, we reduce the carbon footprint on our world if we recycle, use clean energy, and so forth, and second, if TSHTF we are less of a burden on our local town or city government than others less prepared are sure to be, and third, we don’t have to worry about starving or going without if something happens because we’re ready for it.
It’s even possible that when others see how squared away you are – and OPSEC or not people are bound to notice eventually – you might be called on to fill a leadership or advisory position in your community because you obviously thought ahead. Are you ready for that responsibility?
The question then becomes how do we become more self-reliant? After food and water our biggest dependency is power. It didn’t take long from Edison discovering electricity to scientists inventing quantum physics and giving us television, computers, microwaves, and so forth to where we are today. All made possible by electricity.
The bad thing is that our highly technological society is completely dependent on it. The good thing is that there’s more than one way to generate it.
There are two main ways of lowering your dependence on outside entities generating your electricity. First is to simply reduce how much you use. Second is to try and generate as much as possible yourself.
To figure out how much electricity you use try the Energy Guide site. It’s an eye opener how much juice some of the appliances we use suck up. Once you know how much you’re using you can start figuring out how you can cut down. When you get consumption down as much as possible you can then start looking at how much you need to generate.
Wind and Solar Energy
The two ways available to most people willing to invest a little money is through wind and solar or a combination of the two. You can actually tie the two together so that if the sun isn’t shining hopefully the wind is blowing and you’ll still be charging batteries. Electricity from solar energy is created through the use of solar panels. The panels direct the energy to a charge controller that regulates the flow of electricity into a battery or a bank of batteries. The batteries store that energy and output it to a device called an inverter. The inverter changes it from 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC, so that it can be used by your appliances.
Each of the components that make up a system come in different configurations, sizes and outputs, and you’ll need to do a lot of research if you decide to go this route.
A windmill creates electricity through wind force and it can be tied directly into a solar system or can be used by itself with the same components as a solar panel system.
End of part 1
Next post I’ll discuss homesteading, independence from civilization, and ideas for a total breakdown, plus my conclusions about whether or not we can live without civilization.
What do you think? Can we?