Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where to Go?

For quite some time, we were seriously considering leaving this area. In 1999 we almost bought two adjoining lots in Crestone, Colorado – an area which intrigued us because of the spiritual and natural building emphasis to be found there. We decided against moving there because of the isolation, the harsh high-altitude climate, and the impossibility of making a living there.

In 2000, after the presidential election, I heard that Mendocino County in northern California had the highest Green voting percentage in the country. This seemed like an intriguing demographic to explore. So I got interested in northern California, and spent a lot of time on the Internet researching real estate, climate, job opportunities, etc. We even subscribed to two Mendocino Country newspapers for awhile.

This was during the lull between the dotcom crash and the real estate bubble. When I saw an ad on the People’s Real Estate website for 40 acres at $30,000, I was sorely tempted. But I wouldn’t buy sight unseen, and didn’t want to drive (or fly) all that way without Laura, who was going to school full-time. So I let the opportunity pass, and land prices quickly went ballistic.

I decided to go global. This was all fantasy, so why not? I was intrigued by the southern hemisphere, since there’s a lot more water than land there. Water heats up more slowly than land, so I figured the southern hemisphere would be a good place to attempt surviving global warming. (The ozone hole is a lot worse in the southern hemisphere, however, so that is a factor to consider. Would you rather fry in the northern hemisphere’s heat, or in the southern hemisphere’s ultraviolet radiation? Your choice!)

When looking at the southern hemisphere, I decided to consider only English-speaking countries. I eliminated South Africa because of its bad karma. That left Australia and New Zealand.

Tasmania was my sentimental choice, because they had the first Green Party in the world, and one of their Senators belonged to the Green Party. (A Green Senator would be an impossibility in the U.S.) Tasmania has a benign climate – much cooler and moister than the rest of Australia. There was a lot of good real estate available at a very reasonable price – due in part to the favorable rate of exchange in the early 00s, when the dollar was still worth something.

The problem with Australia was getting in. Laura and I were too old and too poor to be considered for immigration. New Zealand seemed to have an easier immigration policy, and it’s even further south and therefore cooler, but real estate, for some reason, seemed much scarcer than in Tasmania.

Looking at the northern hemisphere, Canada is an obvious choice. Once again, the problem for older people of modest means is getting in. Alaska, being part of the U.S., doesn’t have this problem. There might even be some liberal enclaves in this conservative state, for all I know. Sarah Palin, here I come!

The strategy for both the northern and southern hemispheres is to get closer to the poles, which will presumably remain cooler than lower latitudes. However, when CO2 and methane levels get high enough, even the polar regions will be much warmer than they are now. But even then, the sunlight will continue to strike at an oblique angle, reducing the solar heat gain, especially during the winter.

A further strategy is to locate close to an ocean, which will remain cooler, at least for a while. The panhandle of Alaska is ideal in this regard. The prevailing winds there come from the Pacific, a huge body of water covering half the planet. Further, the climate tends to be rainy and foggy. In other words, by conventional standards, the climate really sucks. (Today’s forecast for Sitka, AK: high 38, low 36, chance of rain 90%. It will be this way for months on end. Cabin fever, anyone?)

But in the future, what we consider a “good” climate will change. In the future, heat will no longer be our friend. Sunlight will not be our friend. Would-be survivors will seek refuge under persistent cool cloud cover.

That pretty much covers “where,” now let’s consider “what.”

My own lifestyle choice, to paraphrase the poet Gary Snyder, involves living “from the sun and green of one spot.” In other words – hunker down, live simply, and utilize solar energy and photosynthesis to make your living. This “eco-peasant” lifestyle offers the advantage of making it possible to eke out a living when money is scarce or nonexistent. It also makes you a sitting duck for any chaos emanating from the cities.

An alternative is to become a nomad, which gives you the option of moving to an area of greater safety -- assuming you can move quickly enough, far enough, and know what direction to travel in the first place. Modern nomads are totally dependent on money, so if money loses its value, there goes the lifestyle. This will hold true for almost everybody, not just nomads.

It’s possible that people might rise to the occasion, come the crisis. If it’s do or die, at least some people will probably choose to do something creative. (Ours is a singularly uncreative era.) At the present time, Americans remain amazingly passive. You can’t even say they’ve given up, if they’ve never even tried in the first place. The earlier can-do American spirit has given way to an unconscious fatalism. Most Americans aren’t in denial – they’re unconscious. Denial at least admits the possibility of psychological dissonance... which is to say, psychological discomfort. But unconsciousness – ah! Pure, sweet bliss! The elegant zenlike emptiness of the blank slate! My beautiful and empty mind will remain calm and unruffled at all times, come what may! Facts? There are no facts! Everything is opinion! And my opinion is, there’s nothing to worry about. Even a charbroiled planet is divine perfection made manifest.


Anonymous Jacques Conejo said...

OK.... so what's up? Is this an old pondering/writing? I noticed the absence of the "Goldilocks Project" in your "where to be" project report...

Are you having a psychological backlash to all the time, effort and resources you've been pouring into your "one spot"?

It sounds like a post-busyness realization that no matter how much we pour into our preparations and plans, that nothing can be guaranteed or assured... That's a feeling that calls for it's own special sort of integration...

Seems like an expression of many strong feelings.

I like the structure in your posting, of looking outward in all directions and being blocked at every turn, then the final and inevitable turn within.

I sense toward the end of your post today, a wry and dry resolve to accept human-ness and uncertainty and mortality.

I see the struggle between the self and societally imposed burdens of being "The Man" and the simple humility that allows us to accept being merely "a man".

Of course I'm just speculatin' ya' unnerstand.....

What's up?


7:52 AM  

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