Thursday, December 09, 2010

Fleeing Vesuvius (by sea)

This hefty tome was recently published by Féasta, Ireland's Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability. It contains two articles by me: the first is a text version of the presentation I gave at the Féasta conference in Dublin two summers ago, which you can read right on this blog.

My second article in this volume—Sailing craft for a post-collapse world—is a long piece that I wrote exclusively for this publication. It spells out the transportation options that will still exist once fossil fuels are no longer available, concentrating on sail transport. It pulls together pertinent information that is currently scattered across many academic disciplines, and is also informed by my personal experience as an ocean sailor and live-aboard who does all of his own maintenance.

The full table of contents can be found here. The book can be purchased through Amazon.

Fleeing Vesuvius draws together many of the ideas our members have developed over the years and applies them to a single question—how can we bring the world out of the mess in which it finds itself?
Fleeing Vesuvius confronts this mess squarely, analyzing its many aspects: the looming scarcity of essential resources such as fossil fuels—the lifeblood of the world economy; the financial crisis in Ireland and elsewhere; the collapse of the housing bubble; the urgent need for food security; and the enormous challenge of dealing with climate change.

The solutions it puts forward involve changes to our economy and financial system, but they go much further: this substantial, wide-ranging book also looks at the changes needed in how we think, how we use the land and how we relate to others, particularly those where we live. While it doesn't discount the complexity of the problems we face, Fleeing Vesuvius is practical and fundamentally optimistic. It will arm readers with the confidence and knowledge they need to develop new, workable alternatives to the old-style expanding economy and its supporting systems. It's a book that can be read all the way through or used as a resource to dip in and out of.


Tom said...

Bummer, I just closed my Amazon account this morning - they are against the truth reaching the people, you know.

Cascadian Chronicler said...

Is the book being distributed by means other than Amazon?

Dmitry Orlov said...

The UK publisher is

Green Books

g-minor said...

The Feasta website notes that a North American edition will be published soon by New Society Publishers. That will mean lower shipping costs.

Joe said...

I'm glad that you mentioned sailing ships. I also foresee those making a comeback in the transportation of goods.

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jpwhite said...

I was wondering when we'd hear more from you about boats! The book looks like a good read. When I have two nickels to rub together I'll get a copy.

Anonymous said...

About boating... the one major obstacle to taking up the liveaboard/cruising life is the cost of maintenance. Everyone says sailboats are just a big hole in the water where you pour in money. Mr. Orlov, what are your thoughts on economically sustaining a sailing lifestyle?
Yes, humans may eventually go back to travelling on boats made entirely from materials they grow along the shores of their range. Until we reach that point, how do we keep it affordable so we can keep the dabbling in the economic world to a minimum?
Thank you. Sorry my first post is such a demand. I do love your work and you have set me dreaming about a nomadic sail-based lifestyle.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Matt -

There are a few elements to making living aboard a sailboat much more affordable than living on land:

1. Doing all or most of your own maintenance. Unlike on land, where you have to hire licensed tradesmen (electricians, plumbers, gas-fitters, etc.) you can do anything you want on your boat.

2. Not having a house, a car (since they don't fit on board) or furniture (same reason).

3. Not paying property taxes. If you dock in a major city, you may end up paying a bit of excise, but there are no real estate taxes, and if you live at anchor or at a mooring there is no rent of any kind.

4. Much lower utility bills. Sailboats take less energy to heat and illuminate than houses.

5. Don't have to waste money on vacations - just cast off and go wherever you want.

6. Lower food bills, since you are close to a food source - fish and shellfish - which can be bartered for other kinds of food wherever you go.

7. No moving bills: your house moves with you wherever you go, freeing you up to take up seasonal employment or just do projects here and there.

8. Lower medical expenses: the salty fresh air is good for you, and sailing is good exercise. Just being on board a boat in a seaway is a good core muscle work-out.

DeVaul said...

Thanks for that interesting information on living on a boat. It does have many advantages over living on land, but there are also disadvantages too (where do the kids live? are they expected to climb the rigging and man the crow's nest? is schooling necessary at all while at sea? does it even matter?).

Just some historical information about the age of sailing: Britain deforested much of England and Ireland and many of its colonies in order to "rule the waves". I would expect that China would do the same if it wants to dominate the world via trade.

This does not bode well for the few remaining forests in the world, as they will be clear-cut as soon as the oil runs out in order to help prop up the system.

You can pretty much say good-bye to the tallest and oldest trees in the world, as these will be used to build massive warships, just as they were used in the past.

Dmitry Orlov said...

DeVaul -

Right you are, old-growth trees needed for old-fashioned shipbuilding no longer exist. That's why in my article I explore ferrocement as the hull material, using recycled rebar and steel mesh and cement baked out from limestone in solar kilns and ground using windmills. I see no other viable alternatives for building a large number of ocean-going vessels.

As far as the entire live-aboard lifestyle, there is quite a number of people who have done well with it, bringing up their families while living on board. Kids brought up on board tend to be much more competent, in every conceivable way, than kids brought up on land. They also tend to be much better-educated thanks to home schooling. In general, it is an environment that does not reward incompetence, and so the results tend to be much better than average.

The one constant refrain I hear is that sea-steading is not for everyone. That is correct, but not relevant. NOTHING is for for everyone. That is, if you take everyone into account (all 6.5 billion or so) there is NOTHING for them. The planet is much too small.

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DeVaul said...

Oh look: the Silk Road IS being rebuilt. Maybe I was wrong about the Chinese. Maybe they do know what they are doing afterall. No dangerous sea routes for them, no sir! Bring on the caravans!