Solutions – Water

Note:  This post is being published now, in an incomplete state, because I wanted to make it known that I am still working on this project while at the same time looking for a new dwelling place as a result of change of ownership of my current rental home as addressed in this postThis is an unsettling time for thinking about larger issues but I will continue to add to this work as and when I can.

Introductory Remarks

I have adopted a new form for the title of this series of posts, changing from ‘A Challenge’ to ‘Solutions’ since I failed to meet my own expectations of the challenge.  I have also updated the title of the previous post to suit the new format.

If you wish to start at the beginning of this series, go here.

I started with a solution to a simple need in the previous post and then considered what to do next.  My thoughts were developing along lines that there is a need to provide, in these early stages, some indication of the intended scope of the type of solutions that I will be examining here.  So, from simple needs we go to a basic but very important necessity for human existence – Water.  This is a huge subject and discussing potential problems and solutions may very well spread over a number of posts if we are to do any justice by it.

Water – A Need Becomes A Problem

This will be a focussed discussion about perceived problems around the ecological and social need for water.  Just that.  We will afterwards look at potential solutions to specific needs.  For any other information about water, there is an excellent Wikipedia article on the subject.

Water?  A problem?  Martians would wish for our problems.  We are surrounded by the stuff.  But in the right condition/form?  At the right location?  At seasonally the right times of the year?  With sufficient purity for intended use?  In sufficient amounts, manageable quantities and reliable deliveries?  These are the problems we have in relation to water.

At least those are the problems that much of the world’s population has with regard to their water supply, while those of us fortunate enough to live in a highly developed nation may not quite see it that way just yet.  We may be lucky enough to be able to turn on a tap (water faucet) conveniently placed in a number of rooms around our dwelling place and even freely available in public places around the town/city in which we reside.  Water problems?  What water problems?  Even being so blessed, many of us still desire or find convenience in being able to buy a plastic bottle of drinkable water from any of numerous retail outlets in the area where we live and work.  We are even willing to pay several thousand times more for that privilege than we would have if we simply obtained the same amount of water from a tap.

At some stage, whether we are prepared for it or not, that ubiquitous availability of water will be drying up or becoming very costly for even the most advantaged of us.  Why?

It is said that only around 3% of all water on this planet is fresh water, the remainder being the salt water which is mainly found in the world’s oceans.  I do not know if that 3% freshwater is likely to vary over time but I doubt it and this work is not intended to be a study in such matters.  What is important is the question as to whether such fresh water as there is will be available in the quantities and places where it is needed.  Two valid factors appear to be at play here.

Drought,  whether induced by climate change or not, appears to be both spreading in it’s scope and increasing in it’s frequency over recent years, affecting both food production and water storage.

Population Growth  means that the area of land required to support human existence is always increasing, often intruding into places to the detriment of other aspects of that support.  This also has a diminishing effect on the per person share of available water.

There are other relevant factors to this equation also of course like the quality of the water supply and the costs of bringing that to levels acceptable for purpose.  All of these things together represent a considerable issue both for future planning and for the very continuance of human society.

With water being one of the most basic requirements for human and most other life, this is likely to become a huge issue before, excuse the pun, very much more water has flown under the world’s bridges.


Solutions – A Stitch In Time

If you wish to start at the beginning of this series, go here.

Just Suppose…

What if you found yourself in a situation of need to sew something as an emergency repair, a patch or even in the act of making something?  “Oh, I would get my electric sewing machine out” you say.  But what if there is no electric power available, whether through temporary outage, circuit failure within the home or out in the grid?  “Well, then I would use my treadle sewing machine” you say.  Oh, come on, you don’t really have a treadle sewing machine do you?  And even if you did, it has also been destroyed by something more serious like it is buried under the wreckage of your home following a tornado, tsunami, superstorm, fire, flood, earthquake or volcanic activity.  So, what now do you do?

I will tell you.  You retrieve from your readiness storage or emergency bag, your SPEEDY STITCHER Sewing Awl, and get straight to work because you were prepared for just such an eventuality.  Well done!SPEEDY STITCHER

With your sewing awl, which takes up very little space and is quite light in weight, you can perform construction, repair, patching and strengthening on materials both light and probably heavier than your electric machine would not even have been able to touch, using a genuine lock-stitch action.

This is an American product with a vintage dating back to 1909 but it is also available in Australia and I expect most other countries through outlets like eBay and Amazon.  I bought mine (and a number of other useful gadgets which I propose to reveal here) from a local online shop called Fusion Gear.  I think it was about A$22 but you may be able to find cheaper elsewhere.  I bought parts from a couple of sites because I found that the kits for sale did not always contain identical components so shop around until you like what you see.

The kit I bought came with a couple of different size needles and a full spool of white thread which appears to be unwaxed and therefore of not mush use for outside tasks.  To enhance the usefulness and resilience of this product I also opted to purchase an additional set of six different size needles and an extra spool of tan coloured waxed thread.

This is a very useful tool for emergencies such as tent repairs, tarps, outdoor clothing, or for regular but heavy duty work at home.

The thread spools are the bulkiest part of the kit but you may find that you can leave them at home base when traveling on short journeys.  There should be enough thread on the internal spool inside the wooden handle for most emergency repairs.  Or you may have a spare spool laying around that you could fill up or maybe use just a small length of dowel.

I keep my extra needles wrapped in a small snap-lock plastic bag rolled up and inserted inside the centre tube of the extra thread I bought.  Know where they are and shouldn’t lose them from there.

The actual awl fits nicely inside the other thread spool which is one of the tapered variety and hides the nasty sharp end of the needle, meaning that the awl can be safely stored ready for immediate action.

Just suppose…  you find a need for a length of strong waxed thread.  With this kit in your readiness store, that is another problem already solved.  “Why would I need a piece of strong waxed thread”?  How about to tie around your finger to remind you to buy more thread (or anything else).  Or, as I did the other day, to create a nocking point on my bow string for correct arrow positioning (but that’s another story).

Be prepared.

Note: This is an example of how I intend to work on this series from now on.  See a problem, find a solution, where possible, and give advice, if able.

A Challenge! – Part 3 – Identifying And Categorising The Problems

If you wish to start at the beginning of this series, go here.


Note: I realised when I started this post that I had already strayed from my original tentative plan and I needed to go back and complete Part 2 by finding where I digressed and correcting that.  That has now been done and I am ready to continue.

The title and focus of this post has changed because I tried to skip some important steps in the process of identifying problems to be categorised prior to focussing directly on possible solutions or at least ideas around them.

This note is then, just a holding place to let readers know what has been going on and that they may need to return to Part 2 to catch up with the changes.  These I think, are mainly to be found in the additional note at the end of the post.

I will remove this explanation eventually and Part 3 actually starts below.

The Basic List of Problem Sources

I am repeating in this post the basic list of problem sources to be considered (Note the new name), as a reference to circumvent the need to continually return to Part 2 to locate it.

The Basic List Of Problem Sources Facing Humanity

  • Climate Change
  • Financial System Instability
  • Growing Debt
  • Population Growth
  • Food Security
  • Water Security
  • Essential Infrastructure Damage
  • Armed Conflict
  • Wealth/Poverty Imbalance
  • Pollution
  • Eco-system Destruction/Degradation
  • Political Instability
  • Resource Depletion

Identifying The Underlying Problems

Never having attempted this task previously, I am unsure just how far this will go or what the results will be.  Perhaps it is even a little, or a lot, audacious of me to even think that I could make a fair fist of the process.

Let’s take just one item from the list and see where that leads us.  Consider Climate Change.

I will start by trying to list the ideas that come to mind when thinking about Climate Change and then we will see if the results can be grouped, re-expressed or whittled down in some way.

  • Unusual periods of Extreme Heat
  • Unusual periods of Extreme Cold
  • Unusual Periods of Drought from Lack of Rainfall (Excluding Water Table Decline)
  • Unusual periods of Flooding from Rainfall
  • Unusual periods of Flooding from Oceanic Inundation
  • More in Number and More Powerful Storm Events

That list is not exhaustive but we will stop there and take stock of what we have found.

These are all problems, yes, but insufficiently defined for us to be able to work with.  We need to take this down at least one more level.  What underlying problems emanate from this list?

  • Infrastructure damage
  • population migration (various levels)
  • food shortages
  • water shortage
  • business losses
  • economic activity curtailed
  • health issues
  • etc., etc.

I begin to get the picture.  Let’s take just one of the issues down another level.  Take Infrastructure damage.  What do we see.

  • Sea wall collapse
  • Traffic chaos
  • Business suspended
  • Loss of income
  • Homes destroyed/damaged
  • Utility services disrupted
  • Food distribution disrupted
  • Contaminated water supply
  • Transport systems disrupted
  • Bridges destroyed
  • Health systems disrupted/overwhelmed
  • Investments devalued
  • and so on, and so on

I think we have followed this pattern for long enough now.  It is obvious that no matter how far we drill down into relevant issues we can still formulate problems that could be further broken down.  This top down approach is not going to work.  At least not for me.

I could go back, pretend to start again and claim that I knew this all along.  I did in a sense because that is also the same reason that my other blogging attempt to do something similar on my Preparations blog bogged down.

So, top down is out.  Would bottom up work?  Maybe, but I suspect only on a personal level, and that is probably how I should have started this, talking about things I know about from experience.  Actions that I have personally taken towards my own resilience or have thought about and placed on a to do list.

Has this all been a waste of time and effort?  Not if I have learned the lesson.  I suspect there are many folk out there trying to find the connection between the high level issues and their own concerns, perhaps still thinking that the problem we need to solve is Climate Change when in reality it is much, much closer to home.  Climate Change will not kill you.  An inability to feed yourself as a result of some breakdown in the food security chain, connected to some climate event but many times removed from it in the links of causality as we have just demonstrated, will.

So, I have come to accept that this plan will not work.  The task is too complex and I feel exhausted by it already.  How could I have thought that such a complex system as we have at great lengths constructed over the last few centuries, be analysed and broken down into identifiable component parts as possible problems to be solved in a disrupted world?  By me at least.  Sorry.

I don’t feel that I have cheated myself in this endeavour so far because I view it as a valuable experience.  An enabling and a clearing experience.  But I hope that I have not disappointed readers too much through taking you along on this circular trip.  I think that much of what has been said anyway is valid.  Feel free to take up that particular challenge for yourself if you have been enthused to do so.  It may just be a mental block in myself that prevents me from completing the process.

So, where to from here now that the original plan has been thrown out?  I am going to continue by revealing how I have personally prepared for some possible situations and I am going to start with something quite simple but effective, in the next post, Part 4.  Hope to see you there.

For Part 4 go here.