Casaubon's Book

Over at Dot.Earth, Andy Revkin points out that basic preparedness is important – and that he’d have benefitted from some.

If I’d followed my colleague Tom Zeller’s advice and invested in a wood-stove-style insert for my fireplace — as I’ve muttered about for years — my family wouldn’t have had to sleep in a 45-degree house for four days in the wake of the epic snowstorm in the Northeast last week. (Although we still would have had to melt snow on our propane stove to flush the toilets; watch the video below for more survival tips from the snow zone.)

Everyone lives where potential disasters can occur. And virtually everyone who is not homeless can prepare in some measure to protect themselves. That is, you may not have any extra money for food, but you can still fill soda bottles put in recycling with water for an emergency and look in on your neighbors What we can do to protect ourselves and our households varies enormously – but our moral responsiblity to do what we can doesn’t change.

We know that many of us will be on our own in the event of a natural disaster – we’ve seen this happen in the US repeatedly, and we also know that even when everything works, the people who are there are the first line of response. They were the first people out rescuing their neighbors in every disaster – the first responders are you.

The more you do to ensure that you can meet basic needs, offer a helping hand to those in need, and make sure that the people who can’t help themselves get resources first, the better off everyone is, whether the earth shakes or a storm rolls in.



  1. #1 Devin Quince
    March 4, 2010

    Never figured out why not having power mattered for flushing the toilets? He had gas to melt the snow and unless his toilet has an electric pump for getting water to it I am not sure why he needs power.

  2. #2 darwinsdog
    March 4, 2010

    “…my family wouldn’t have had to sleep in a 45-degree house for four days…”

    It’s colder than that in the bedroom I sleep in all winter. It’s at the far end of the house from the fireplace insert and the fan doesn’t do a good job of blowing warm air that far. So I sleep in a sleeping bag in winter. Big deal. People are so spoiled.

  3. #3 Sharon Astyk
    March 4, 2010

    We don’t all have town water ;-). If you live out of range of town water systems, most people have electric well pumps.

    Us too, that’s why we have a manual.


  4. #4 Elizabeth
    March 4, 2010

    We have well water, too, but you can still flush a toilet w/o electricity. You just pour a (small) bucket of water into the bowl. The pressure will force-flush it. I think that’s what Devin is referring to.

  5. #5 Sharon Astyk
    March 4, 2010

    I don’t think it did matter for flushing, I think that was just how he phrased it – the issue was getting water for flushing, which is why he was melting snow.


  6. #6 Pat Meadows
    March 6, 2010

    I too noticed the irony of ‘his family wouldn’t have had to sleep in a 45 degree house for four nights’. We set the thermostat for 48 degrees every night! We’re very comfortable at that temperature, and we’re trying to save both energy and money.


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