19th July 2023 – Building resilience for the future

Reslience. It’s the buzzword when it comes to talking about adapting to climate change. But how resilient are we? 

I’m sure readers of this column will remember the shopping frenzy that was sparked by Covid. Supermarkets were stripped of toilet paper and shelves laid bare, particularly in urban centres. Panic buying ensued.

We do tend to panic when a crisis hits, which is why preparation in advance is so important if we are to weather the storm, and when the climate crisis really starts to bite this could even be a matter of survival.

In America there is a movement called Prepping, which is also known as Survivalism. Preppers take things to a greater extreme than the average person. The movement started as a response to the threat of nuclear war, so many preppers build bunkers in which a carefully monitored food and water supply is stored.

Prepping may seem like a mad idea, but is it? We are very reliant on third parties to provide the essentials we need for life, and if (or when) when the system breaks down, then what do we do? We can survive without food for a while, but water much less so. And stocking up on bottled water will only go so far – we need a continual source.

A simple way of prepping for water shortage starts now by conserving, so that what we own collectively in our reservoirs can go further. Water conservation includes putting in water buts, grey water storage (using shower, washing machine and sink water for the toilet), flannel washing or having a short shower rather than a bath. 

We have an untapped water resource in our rivers and streams. However when the rains come, flash flooding pollutes water-courses through sewage overflow and nitrogen run-off from fields, rendering them unsuitable for use should they be needed for drawing water. We can all reduce the risk of flash-flooding by planting shrubs and trees to absorb the water before it reaches storm drains. 

Prepping for food shortages starts with growing your own, either individually or as a community. Working together as a community makes for a powerful resilience tool. As a community, growing plots, investing in pasteurisation tanks for preserving food, and sharing buildings for storage of food will help to build resilience.

Prepping for food shortages also means thinking ahead; growing nut and fruit trees and making sure every item in the garden has a purpose. Because the developing climate may well have long dry spells it is important that any shrubs and trees are chosen for their drought tolerance. Learning how to forage is a useful skill too.

Because we are now heading into a glut season for food it is a good idea to preserve excesses. Vegetables and soft fruit can be boiled and placed in sterilised jars, or boiled in the jars if you have a large pan (for pasteurisation the temperature needs to be held above 70C for at least twenty minutes). This will then keep for years.

I am no soothsayer – I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know that when shortages struck due to Covid they struck quickly. I do know that the majority of our large shops have an eye on profit rather than the wellbeing of their customers. I am also fairly sure that there are many things worse than not having enough toilet rolls.

And if we are lucky, and everything goes smoothly in the future and climate change is all a bad dream, then the measures above will reduce your carbon and monetary spend, make your lifestyle more efficient and less wasteful and strengthen your communities. A result worth preparing for.

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