no third solution

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What is an “Earthship”?

February 19th, 2008

Last night I watched an episode of Invention Nation, a show I’d kind of been meaning to watch for some time. I’m glad I tuned, because the episode was about Earthships, which are basically these quasi-futuristic, quasi-primitive houses which are designed to be self-sustainable. They’re built out of old tires and bottles and stuff, which the owners carefully refer to as “ending the cycle,” not to be confused with “recycling.” The ones they profiled were in the desert near Taos, New Mexico. According to the official Earthship website, they are designed with several goals:

  1. Thermal/solar heating & cooling
  2. Solar & wind electricity
  3. Self-contained sewage/wastewater treatment
  4. Constructed of natural/recycled materials
  5. Water harvesting
  6. Food production

The downside is, that right now, in order to buy the plans to build one, you’ve got to shell out $5,500 or so. And the website indicates that they cost about as much as a wood-frame house to build. If the developers are really stoked about the proliferation of Earthships, they should make the plans available for free. They shouldn’t charge me $5,500 for the privilege of doing my part to save the earth. Now, if they want to make a modest income, they could manage crews, or negotiate with contractors who construct the earthships, do something value added and stop being a lycanthrope.

I imagine that the deserts of NM are unincorporated, which gives the landowner a bit more freedom than those of us who live in cities and towns. I think they should have resources available for those who might need to deal with “incorporated” municipalities, which can be a major pain in the ass. Imagine telling your local code enforcer that you’re recycling your own wastewater!

Of course, with agorism on the brain, the “earthship” idea really got me thinking. If you can build a self-sufficient house that survives on 8 inches of rain per year, imagine what you could do with a milder climate? It is possible that “earthships,” if they ever became popular, could completely supplant the current, busted model of “public goods,” provided by government and paid for with confiscatory taxes and implicit violence. When we also consider that they’re environmentally friendly, hell, symbiotic wouldn’t be too far off-the-mark, and tremendously efficient, storing heat and energy like a giant battery, they appear to be a win-win proposition. Also, they can help destroy peoples’ reliance on the parasite State.

Plus, they look like modded out hobbit holes, which is a benefit in and of itself!



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no third solution

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