Living Offgrid Affordably: Before Breaking Ground

Reader Contribution by Jeff Chaney
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To My Readership:

Hello, everyone! It has come to my attention that I have inadvertently mislead you. I put the statement “You may access the entire series of articles…” at the bottom of the 1st and/or 2nd article, because I did not know how easy it would be to access the previous articles on the MOTHER EARTH NEWS site. That statement, I now see, was unintentionally misleading. I publish the articles as they are written. When I publish an article, I post the previous one on the website, for easy access. I am a professional writer only because I have earned $0.13 cents from Yahoo! That is the extent of my writing career. I am much better at homesteading! Please, bear with me. If you are intrigued by this story, it will only get better because it is just getting started, and will take some unusual turns (compared to normal techniques.) I am very sorry for the snafu, and sincerely hope you benefit from the rest of the series! Thanks again, for your interest. —Jeff Chaney

Now that we have successfully exited the minefield of purchasing land, discussed in the second article, Getting Started- Buying Land, we will wax philosophical for a moment, before proceeding.

It is time for us to slow down and think about what we are doing. From the time we are born, we are conditioned to think a certain way. Everyone understands that they are expected to do well in school, get a drivers license, land a good job, marry their sweetheart, and have children. Achieve the American dream of home ownership. There are just some things that we are expected to look at a specific way.

Customarily, all of us look around at this beautiful world and think it is boundless. It is an easy thing to do. There is plenty of room, and vast resources are at our disposal. Waste goes down the drain or in the truck to the landfill. Problem solved. But, it’s not. Flip a switch and the light comes on, or the appliance magically works. What is involved in generating that electricity? We never stop to think.

Electricity is viewed, and used, as an unlimited resource. When generated by solar, it is plentiful most of the year. For the times it is not abundant, if one can think of power as a limited quantity, your entire thought process begins to change.

For instance, think about fresh water. In 1800, the world population was 800 million, let’s say. The actual statistics are irrelevant. In 2010, that number has grown to 8 billion, or by a factor of 10. We never stop to think that we still exist on the same number of gallons of fresh water. Clean water is not created perpetually. Every resource is finite. Looks may deceive, but that is reality.

Think of a rabbit cage, no matter how large. If left to reproduce unabated, the population, at some point, will fill the cage. More and more food will be needed. Waste will build up. There will be dire consequences.

More than 30 years ago, a good friend of mine traveled to the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas, and Cape Canaveral in Florida, to make a presentation on closed environments. NASA was researching the implications of manned space exploration of any duration. Their engineers had to think differently than they ever had before. All waste had to be recycled and reused. Anything that was too toxic to be recycled in the environment simply could not be created or introduced. This concept has not been perfected, to this day. Nuclear waste is a prime example. Where do you go to outwait the ten thousand year half-life? As with the rabbits, how could climate change not be a reality?

In a way, we are all astronauts. I like to think of us as Earthstronauts. We must all embrace this concept to insure our survival. Generations to come deserve no less. We must break free from the standard ingrained way of thinking. Creative is the operative word here. Hopefully, it is not too late. Please help by recycling any and everything, when possible.

Read more by Jeff Chaney at Off The Grid Energy SolutionsNatural Power & Light and  Facebook