With the growing stresses of over-population, the only surprising feature of a global pandemic is that it didn’t happen years ago.
After two months of extreme precautions, even the resilient community described in Recipes for Resilience (page 198) would have to consider some activities. Roofs may need mending, crops planted or harvested, essential spare parts manufactured.
In the present world, we need to think about what tasks are crucial, and start moving these into local control. Economy of scale causes inefficiency of delivery at the best of times, and is now a recipe for disaster.
For example, a popular strategy has been to cut one’s workforce, close regional offices and oblige one member of staff to spend their day driving all over the South West to attend to jobs which used to be covered by people in that area. This should never have been thought acceptable. The employer’s staff and office costs are shoved onto the taxpayer in an underhand way, via the road system where the hapless employee now spends most of their time.
In the new world, this paradigm provides a sure way of spreading infection over a wide area.
Other changes have interesting implications.
Working from home, in many cases, has proved not only possible but very popular. The empty office blocks in city centres could be re-purposed for housing. The pressure on roads and public transport caused by commuting would ease. More people could travel to the cities for leisure, without fearing the awful ‘rush hour’.
As long-distance commuting becomes a thing of the past, the pressure to build on prime agricultural land should be eased. We’ll need this land to feed ourselves.
In Britain, we’re only growing enough food for 60% of the population. As these figures come from the farming side, they already assume zero waste at the consumer end. This is as good as it can get. We need to support farmers by shortening the food supply chain, so they get a larger share of the retail price. Then they can afford to explore more resilient practices (see, for example, page 29 of the Handbook and page 6 of ‘Recipes’).
The controversial Universal Credit benefit scheme could be usefully deployed to help with sourcing farm labour without turning to international travel – another high risk activity. This work is seasonal and often involves living on the farm for a short period. As you have to pay for this accommodation, and still keep up the rent on the home you occupy for the rest of the year, this is discouraging.
The UC system is capable of covering normal housing costs during a period of agricultural work, regardless of earnings during this time. It would be a kind of micro-subsidy, going direct to the workers rather than the land-owner. A limit on farm accommodation costs may need to be factored in, and other safeguards against abuse, but at least we don’t have to get permission from Brussels to use such initiatives.
This pandemic must act as a wake-up call. We have exceeded our carrying capacity, as described in ‘The Handbook of Practical Resilience‘ (page 63). Allowing a virus to achieve population reduction for us is both cowardly and dangerous.
The Handbook covers every section of the Resilience Wheel and provides a framework for you to add more information. The Second Edition includes the full Personal Resilience Assessment. Use this to determine where your current level of practical resilience is, compared to the minimum you need to survive, then follow the Resilience Plan to improve this.
‘Recipes’ covers the Food section of the Resilience Wheel in detail, explaining how to store, grow and prepare for maximum food security. It contains over a hundred easy and adaptable recipes, plus seasonal gardening tips and some historical background – how the Icelanders survived 600 years of famine, for example.