Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Link Love

My post about identifying the steps you would take in the event of job loss has been included in today's Carnival of Personal Finance, hosted over at Pecuniarities. There's a passel of good articles over there. I especially enjoyed Aryn's piece entitled Do We Have an Obligation to Spend? Three guesses as to her answer, and the first two don't count.

Penelope at Pecuniarities is also doing a giveaway for a 6-month (analog) subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Imagine all the good uses that free newsprint could be put to in a garden! If you're interested, get your entries in by January 24th.

While I'm in the mode of pointing you elsewhere, here's a great summary of a study done at Cornell University which found that eating less, eating local, and eating better could slash US energy use. A few tidbits from the article:
  • Americans, on average, consume about 50 percent more calories than recommended by the federal government for optimal health and get one-third of their calories from junk food.
  • "We could reduce the fossil energy used in the U.S. food system by about 50 percent with relatively simple changes in how we produce, process, package, transport and consume our food," said David Pimentel, professor emeritus of ecology and agriculture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.

Also, something Sasha Cedar said yesterday really echoed with me. She and her family, former city dwellers, have recently moved into an Amish farmhouse without running water or central heating. How did that happen? She said it's part of her ongoing reaction to peak oil, and her decision to "power down at our own rate and on our own terms. We wanted to learn and practice to become self-sufficient before it became a necessity."

While I'm still enjoying the use of electricity and oil heat, my efforts at frugality and self-sufficiency are motivated by the same sentiment, along with my intense desire to pay off our mortgage. I'd much rather change my lifestyle slowly, for my own reasons, and not in a crisis environment, than wait till the feces has hit the rotating oscillator. Even if peak oil turns out to be as much of a non-starter as Y2K was, frugality and self-sufficiency are great insulators when recessions arrive. And we all know that recessions come and go with certainty, if not regularity. So right now I'm glad I know how to garden, and bake bread, and stay comfortable in a cold house, and in the habit of doing all those things.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kate, I feel the same way you do. I still have all the conveniences as you do but am glad I garden, sew, cook, bake and cut my own wood for our fireplace, with the help of me husband. Last December we had an ice storm and were out of power for elven days. It wasn't fun but we handled it pretty well. Our only heat was our fireplace and by 5 o'clock we were in the dark. We were lucky that we could cook because our stove is gas so we ate pretty well. I know people are worried about peak oil but I think weather and nature is going to be a factor as well . After last year I have felt the need to be prepared.

Kate said...

DiElla, I know what you mean. So many of us live where one form of natural disaster or another is likely in any given year. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, ice storms. I hope that people took away from Katrina the message that they have to rely on themselves, and not the government or conveniences that are only available to them when everything is normal.

Wendy said...

Same here. I want to simplify our lives on *my* terms and not when it will feel like deprivation, because what we want is no longer available. Better to change our habits and lifestyle now, when we have the choice.

And so far, it's been really easy. None of us is feeling like we're suffering. We eat well (all of our dairy and meat, and most of our fruits and vegetables are local), have plenty of clothes, stay warm, and generally just enjoy life.

We've made some very conscious decisions with regard to reducing our footprint, and none of us has regretted one single day of *less* :).