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Quiz for Sustainable Lifestyles: How do you rate compared to your 1860 ancestors?

September 7, 2012

Quiz: Back to the Basics    Are we really better off now than we were 150 years ago in terms of self-sufficiency, self-worth, and sustainability?

1-10 points  Seeing yourself in two places in history: the present vs in 1860  Each person will have their own scores. A score of 1 means “Worst”. A score of 10 means “Best”

1860 vs 2012 You know yourself better and your situation

1.  What is your current stress level now in 2012?   1860?

2.  How would you rate your overall health currently?  If you had lived in 1860 at your current age?

3.  How would you rate the quality and quantity of your food in 2012?  Quality and quantity of food in 1860?

4.  How would you rate your ability to produce your own food in 2012?  In 1860?

5.  How do you rate your family’s closeness in 2012? Are you close-knit and happy to be with each other? What do you think your score would have been in 1860?

6.  What is your current skillset for survival should electricity, water, and transporation suddenly be cut off in 2012?  What would it have been in 1860?

7.  If you lost your livelihood this year and faced the rest of your life without being able to get a job, how would you rate your ability to adapt easily?  What if it had happened in 1860?

8.  Given the current crime rate and world issues, how secure do you feel in 2012?  How secure would you have been in 1860?

9.  If you had to, could you build your own home in 2012?  Could you have in 1860?

10. Do you feel that your energy and water footprint is sustainable now in 2012?  What would it have been in 1860?

Summary: Comparing scores between the time periods, it’s easy to see how far we’ve come in certain instances for improved quality and sustainability of our existence. Conversely, a lower score of our current lifestyle in certain categories gives us a chance to envision how we could improve our lifestyles. It’s never too late to make changes, however small or large. We get carried away by the minutia of daily living. You can use your scorecard as a measurement to see how you progress on your basic skills for a sustainable, self-sufficient, and healthy lifestyle.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan Munroe permalink
    September 8, 2012 10:45 pm

    Do you mean for us to compare what we are and know now, compared to a person of our financial class, upbringing and age back then?

    Or are you asking how well we would exist/survive if our modern selves were dropped into 1860 conditions due to a massive meltdown of our economy, or if a huge solar flare caused a total worldwide frying of all electrical equipment that wasn’t in a Faraday Cage? Knowledge of current needs and conditions, and the ability to deal with them is crucial.

    The difference would be the person’s upbringing and current knowledge. Practically everyone in 1860 that had some land probably had a garden, and knew how to grow most of their own fruits and vegetables. They knew how to put up food, how to milk a cow, how to cut firewood with hand tools. Here in 2012, we have at least two generations who can get to level seven of a video game and not much else.

    People back in 1860 knew how to do the necessary day-to-day things because they were brought up knowing them, and had to do them to survive. Only the wealthy could afford to hire people to get everyday jobs done. Women had very few options: marriage, be a maid/housekeeper/cook, be a governess/teacher, or be a prostitute.

    Men had more options due to society’s more generous outlook and sheer strength. Education could help, but was no guarantee. Today, there are bunches of male MBAs who aren’t capable of taking out the garbage without hurting themselves, much less know the difference between a dandelion and a young cabbage plant. They can’t do anything without power tools, and many can’t do diddly even with them. They have no idea how to sharpen a hoe, an axe or saw. They can’t tell the difference between edible and poisonous wild plants. If they were able to kill a deer, most of the meat would rot because they wouldn’t know how to deal with it.

    I’m sure a person from 1860, brought into our time would do far better than most of today’s people would if dropped back into 1860 with the today’s set of skills.

    Some people think it wouldn’t be much of an issue if we lost all electrical capability with no warning, and that we would just go back about 100 years. What a joke! We would go back the Middle Ages! And here we would be with no real industry, virtually no way to feed ourselves (or the knowledge, or the seed supply), no way to travel very far, no modern medical care. Want to walk up the stairs to your NYC penthouse apartment? Are the windows sealed? What’s your source of heat that isn’t gas or electricity?

    How much need will we have for all the computer programmers, the MBAs, the real estate agents, bankers, Wall Street chimps, auto builders and mechanics, HVAC services?

    What happens when people run out of their box of matches? Do they know what flint and steel are, or where to find some, how to use them?

    We’ve been poisoning our water sources with farm chemicals and industrial pollution, and the city water supply isn’t pumping. Can you collect and store enough rainfall to last through your dry season? Do you even know how much water you would need, mainly for drinking, cooking, irrigation, and hand washing? Wouldn’t have to worry about having enough for showers or the washing machine or washing the Lexus!

    How to handle disasters? No hurricane warnings, no heavy equipment for dealing with earthquake rubble, no sitting in the lawn chair waiting for the military to drop water and MREs. Do you live in the desert? How’s SoCal or Phoenix or Las Vegas fixed for even drinking water without pumping stations?

    In 1932 (two years into the Great Depression), there were more than 12 million farms scattered all over America. Now there are about 2 million, mostly in the Midwest and California, all dependent on Big Oil. Could the farmers in your city/county/state feed the local population with hand tool? How soon before all the existing canned/bottled/stored food runs out, and no more coming in?

    And the really horrible thing is that most Americans think that none of this will ever happen, so why prepare? Why learn? Someone will always come and take care of them… won’t they?



    • September 9, 2012 9:18 pm

      Sue, you are so right. I’d hoped to tackle life skills from a sustainable point of view but as usual, you are right on target with the bigger question, “What if?” I think another question is looming, “When?” No one thought that Rome would ever fall. Same with Greece. No country is invincible. We owe it to our children to teach them the basics of living, pure and simple.


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