Adapting to Third World Life

California is rounding the base at Second World and heading towards Third World. “Home-base” may be defined as re-joining Mexico as a vassal of China. Third world life consists of poor infrastructure, sanitation, and access to capital with high concentrations of wealth and power among the elite and a bureaucracy that skims the rest. Given the Silicon Valley plutocratic insurgency, the $1 trillion in unfunded public pension obligations, the $100 billion in deferred road maintenance, and the resurgence of typhus and other flea-borne illnesses spread by rats in vagrant camps, you could make a credible argument that California is already there.

This week added a new dimension to our infrastructure collapse: two-day power outages affecting much of Northern California. PG&E shut down much of our power grid due to a “red flag warning” by the National Weather Service. We had high winds and low humidity for an evening which allows fire to spread easily. Of course, PG&E never shut off power during these conditions before. It’s only now that they’ve been sued into bankruptcy that they’re taking fire prevention more seriously, and only in a way that’s convenient for them. They’re not, for example, lobbying for better logging regulations nor trimming trees back from power lines nor installing lines that resist higher winds nor encouraging the public to accept acts of God more manfully. This is the other aspect of Third World life that I didn’t mention above: constant CYA and lying from public officials with promises to do better next time and credulity by a whiny, gullible public.

Our government is really a perfect reflection of us. Nowhere is this more true than California: the Land of Fruits, Nuts, and Flakes. It’s finally catching up with us as the infrastructure built by hyper-competent men in the 20th century is decaying and we don’t have the civilization to replace it. As a citizen, there’s little you can do but adapt. Third Worlders typically adapt to power outages by using a lot less power which means fewer appliances and by installing backup generators and a transfer switch to run their house off it.. How many extra appliances do you have in your house that you don’t need such as coffee makers, Keurig machines, etc? Eliminate them. Start grinding coffee at the store or at home by hand and making it in a French press with a tea kettle. What about refrigeration? I’m not sure about this but I imagine that’s the one thing you want to keep running ina power outage. Electric lighting is another great convenience of modern life. Do you have backup lanterns? What about heat? Bundle-up and increase insulation. Maybe a backup propane tank to run your heater is a good idea. People in favelas tend to cook on gas since chopping trees is a huge PITA unless you live on a rural wooded lot (do you have property?)

In the Third World, you often can’t drink the water. This means installing a reverse-osmosis purifier somewhere or buying drinking water. Lastly, if sanitation goes bad, cholera becomes epidemic. Much of the Third World seems to actually deal with this problem by at least flushing waste untreated into the ocean. Home-based solutions include composting toilets and septic systems. Beyond that, you’re digging a pit and putting an outhouse over it. There are a lot of things to do, but start by fixing what’s affecting you now and at least research what you’ll do if the other systems go out. Use the rule of 3 as a guide: you can live 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter (for protection from hypothermia and heat exhaustion), 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

Update: I’m going to miss the indoor plumbing as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *