Why Learn Sustainable Living and Survival Skills?
break the reasons into two groups, as listed below. I have written
this page with the more confronting, or as some would call them, "doom
and gloom" reasons
first, so as to end the page with a positive frame of mind. If you
with the positive reasons, click here.
Healing the Negative Aspects of Life
A great many people today, even those who do not openly
acknowledge it, have a feeling that
our world is—in some sense—dying.
What depresses men and women most today is the unconscious
realisation that the many false ideals they have held so close to
through fear and inherent laziness, must now be replaced by a sane
and responsible approach, if global disaster is to be avoided. People's
sense of depression also arises because they feel that they do not
know which way to turn, or what to think. Men and women everywhere
are quietly beginning to fear the worst imaginable nightmares, whilst
their world and beliefs continue to
crumble..... Humanity now has its back firmly up against the wall—it
is now or never.
It is precisely within this grim state of affairs
that lies man's hope for a bright new world—a world in which
peace and abundance will once again be the common heritage of all
life upon this planet. However, this bright new world is not about
to appear out of the mist. Such a world will have to be planned and
worked for. Therefore action is the order of the day.
Theun Mares, Cry of the Eagle, p16-17.
The End Of The World As We Know It
There is a lot of evidence which strongly suggests that existing
modern systems of food production (and so on) will be unable to cope with
of global and local economic growth that is ahead of us. If people
are motivated to learn
useful skills, then no matter what happens, there will
be a lot more
everyone is 100%
on the supermarkets, on the oil
supply, and on economic growth.
We may be living in an "information age" with "information
overload", in some sense. But when it comes to what actually
gets into people's heads, we're instead living in an age of "knowledge
People no longer know information that's vital to
sustain life—how to grow their own food, how to find drinkable
water, what's in their food, how to build a fire and keep warm, how
to survive in
the natural environment, what the sky means and how to read it, when
the growing seasons begin and end, what plants in the forest and
fields are edible, how to track and kill and dress and eat and store
game, how to farm without (or even with) chemicals and tractors,
how to treat broken bones and other common medical emergencies, or
how to deliver a baby, among other things.
Because of this "information deficit",
we are out of touch with reality and are also standing on a dangerous
shelf of oil-dependent,
corporate-induced information starvation. In the 1930s during the
Great Depression, far more people lived in rural areas than in the
cities. The information about how to grow and preserve food, how
to survive during difficult times, and how to make do with less was
general knowledge. Today we know the names of the latest movie stars
and how much their movies grossed, or what level the Dow Jones Industrial
Average is at, but few of us could survive two months if suddenly
the supermarkets closed.
Thom Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, p105 (original edition).
For those of us (including myself) who can find this topic
depressing, note that the rest of this page is positive. And that
there is also an inspirational
section of this website.
Adding to the Positive Aspects of Life
The more I read about cultures that lived
what we call a "simple" lifestyle, the more it seems that
people in those cultures really were more happy, much more happy,
everyone who lives in the modern world. So adopting some of the qualities
of these lifestyles into our own lives could very well lead to a
happier and healthier way to live.
of this kind
Busting the myth that ancient people had to work much harder
When many of us in modern society think of "ancient" people,
we think along the lines of "all those starving
people in Africa", or something like that. Those are not the
kind of people I am talking about in this website. What
is generally not
at all well understood by modern people is the difference between
ancient people living in their natural setting, and those who have
been disturbed (invaded, colonised, enslaved, abandoned,......)
by a large, aggressive, dominating culture such as our own.
The fact is that there are (or at least were) a great many cultures,
that we would think of as "primitive", whose members had
access to far more of the basic essentials of what makes life worth
anyone in modern society. It is also true that shortly after these
cultures come into contact with a large, aggressive, dominating culture
Western civilisation), their quality of life is in general completely
destroyed. This in itself is one major reason why most of us in the
of ancient people as living miserable, desperate lives—because
those cultures undisturbed by us are therefore not known to us.
But of course there have been some cases where Westerners have been
able to observe "uncivilised" peoples in their own
unspoiled, original, pre-civilised setting. And as I have discovered,
reading about these indigenous cultures brings to light a completely
The solutions I'm proposing in this book are neither
new nor radical in the total history of the human race. In fact,
they represent a way of viewing the world that has sustained and
nurtured humanity for tens to hundreds of thousands of years. The
indigenous tribes of South America, North America, Africa, Australia,
and early Asia did not overpopulate or destroy their world, even
though in most cases they had access to far more resources then they
used. Neither does the fossil and historical record show that they
led rude and desperate lives, as is so often depicted in the media
and in the mind of the average person. They lived a sustainable way
of life, seeing the sacredness of the world and the presence of the
Creator and divinity in all things, and generally led fulfilling
lives with far more leisure time than the working-class citizens
of the industrialised world will ever enjoy.
Thom Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, p3 (of the
Remarkably, Ladahkis only work, really work, for four
months of the year [the short Himalayan growing season]. In the eight
winter months, they must cook, feed the animals,
and carry water, but work is minimal. Most of the winter is spent
at festivals and parties. Even during summer, hardly a week passes
without a major festival or celebration of one sort or another, while
in winter the celebration is almost nonstop.
Helena Norberg-Hodge, Ancient Futures, p35-36.
The Shoshone require the same average 2000 calories
of food energy per day as do any other humans. However they expended
on average only two hours per day to acquire it. Toronto University's
Professor Richard Lee found that a similarly structured tribal group,
!Kung of the Kalahari Desert in Africa,
spent less than 15 hours a week (about 2 hours a day) attending to
gathering food and other necessities of life. The rest of the time,
they played, told stories, and made music. John Yellen of the National
Science Foundation found the same to be true of the Hottentots.
Thom Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, p160 (of the original
Some anthropologists believe the hunter-gatherer lifestyle
was mankind's apotheosis—the original affluent society free
of worries and wants. As testimony they point to the Kung Bushmen,
modern-day foragers who thrive in Botswana's harshest desert. The
Kung expend only 12-19 hours a week in search of food, and they suffer
less during droughts than their farmer neighbours, for the desert
is rich in untapped foods.
Tim Low, Wild Herbs of Australia and New Zealand, p4.
There was another, really good quote, that I can't
remember the source from, so I can't quote it properly. It was about
American "Indians", pointing out how different the land
was before white settlement, and how so many more resources were
Aboriginal people are generally masters of resource management, having
learned over many hundreds, or thousands, of years how to tailor
their activities to the most efficient possible lifestyle.
Modern people see the land as it is now, despoiled and relatively
barren, and wonder
how people could have lived with such meagre resources available.
People do not realise how different the land was. The quote
described how there once used to be flocks of pidgeons so numerous
that the whole sky would turn dark, as in an eclipse
of the sun. There were so many fish in the rivers that at times the
whole river would be a single shimmering liquid mass of silver. And
so many buffalo on the plains as to make the entire grassland look
black stretching all the way to the far horizon.
Murnong tubers were favourite staple foods of Victorian
Aborigines, gathered by the basketful from meadows and woods. According
to one early report (E.M. Curr, 1886) the tubers “were so abundant
and so easily procured, that one might have collected in an hour,
with a pointed stick, as many as would have served a family for the
Tim Low, Wild Food Plants of Australia, p206.
Not only did they have access to far more resources than they used,
but their way of life was—completely unlike our own—designed
from the ground up (literally) to not only conserve, but to actively
increase the availability of
Thus in the lapse of only two hours, having walked
leisurely about a couple of miles, I saw them collect opossums, kangaroo-rats,
a bandicoot, grubs, ant's eggs, and honey, without much trouble and
exertion; and, they not only excited my surprise by their activity,
but afforded me great amusement, by the droll and humorous way they
have when engaged in any employment.
From the Journals of William Govett, 1836-1837, about Australian
Aborigines in the Blue Mountains, as quoted in "Blue Mountains
Dreaming", ed. by Eugene Stockton, p92.
That is how they lived in the Garden of Eden,
when people lived close to God and to the Earth. We have a word for
it in our language: "Paradise".
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Basics and General Skills
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