Friday, September 14, 2012

The Epidemic of Faith Based Technology

Technology has been an integral part of our modern way of life since the late 1800’s. It has produced many wonders that would seem miraculous only a few centuries ago. Indeed, without it, most of us wouldn’t be alive today. Technology has earned the right to be held high among human accomplishments. No one can doubt that.

However, technology has enabled our industrial and technological civilization to expand into unsustainable terrain. We now have 7 billion people on the planet; our climate is changing rapidly along with deforestation and species loss of epidemic proportions on land, in the sea and in the air.

Technology is not at fault for this situation, it has only enabled it.

We are at fault, or rather our evolutionary inclinations to carry on our genes. Our greatest challenge now is in abating our strong, natural inclinations to procreate and to live as long as possible. Normally this is done unintentionally through war, pollution, starvation or disease. But because these things do not happen at the scale necessary to mitigate our population numbers (thankfully) they are not reliable or desirable methods.

We must mitigate our population by more intelligent and humane methods and in direct opposition to our natural instincts. We must have fewer children and seek to live shorter lives in the long term.

While life expectancy will be mitigated automatically as we power down and fall back on more organic ways of living, healthcare will not have the potential it does today to extend our lives long after nature has given up on us. Our inclination to procreate will be more difficult to stem. Although there is some evidence that humans will procreate less when there are less resources available, there is probably equal evidence to support the opposite. So leaving it up to our ‘nature’ to procreate less is not sufficient.

We must actively seek solutions to decrease our population thus decreasing our burden on the planet and allowing for a much richer life for the living.

However, there are those among us who would have us believe that there is still more Technology can do for us. Even amongst the environmental degradation, resource depletion and serious impacts to the climate and the earth’s natural recycling mechanisms, they feel technology still has more to offer.

I consider this to be the Epidemic of Faith Based Technology.

As all of our technical 'progress' has been at the expense of the planet’s health in one form or another, either directly or indirectly, it is extremely difficult to perceive technology as the solution when thus far it has been an enabler to the destruction and desolation we face.

In most cases, when a technological solution is proposed it will inevitably have side effects that will then themselves need to be mitigated by more technology/technology based solutions that ends up devolving into a constant battle to counter the side effects of the side effects of the side effects, ad infinitum.

This reasoning that gives way to this devotion to technology is at first glance, logical. For it is technology that has provided the high standards of living that most of us in the developed civilizations enjoy today. It is technology that has decreased the infant mortality rate and increased our lifespan, cured diseases and started the ‘Green Revolution’. It is technology that is allowing you to read these words at this very moment.

But there are limits. And this is where the faith part comes in. There is a growing number of people out there that manage to ignore the various situations we face today such as pollution and resource depletion because they have an unhealthy faith in technology. It is understandable, as technology has so far been able to counter all of the side effects of technology’s influence in the first place, it is a losing game that cannot last.

But as I said there are limits. We are at most of those limits now and will be reaching the rest within the next couple decades. This is where technology runs into the cold, hard laws of physics. And this is where otherwise rational and intelligent people start to move into the realm of faith when it comes to technology and our future.

Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dicks
futurereferencefarm @

Video of the farm

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's All About Oil

It's all about oil, everything started with oil and it will end with oil.

That's a big statement so let me break it apart and make sense of it.

'It's all about oil,'

Every issue we face today such as pollution, declining resources, declining fish stocks, declining arable land, declining ground water, climate change, and over-population all started with oil.

In the begining of Industrial Man, there was coal and with coal came the steam engine. This technology, while high on carbon emmisions, would have kept us at fairly sustainable numbers and limited our technological expansion somewhat, preventing the fast paced, convenient consumer life style we have today in the developed world.

'everything started with oil'

Then came oil and internal combustion as well as the unimaginable amount of materials and chemicals derived from petroleum. (Plastics, paints, paint thinners, detergents, fertilizers, and on and on.) This began the death spiral of human expansion and the race to convert the earth into people, our products and our waste.

'and it will end with oil.'

Technology continues to be developed, produced and distributed via a fossil fuel dependent infrastructure and operating paradigm. Studies have shown that alternative energies cannot provide the kind of versatile and energy dense power that fossil fuels provide. We cannot build enough alternative energy to power our societies AND maintain these alternative energy devices. Their production and distribution depend far too much on many links that can only be secured with fossil fuels.

When the oil requires more energy to extract and refine then the amount of energy we get from the refined product, our industrial civilization stops. That is what is happening right now. We are not in a depression or a recession. We are in the death throws of our fossil fuel dependent way of life.

Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dicks
futurereferencefarm @

Video of the farm

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Solar Food Dryer

It really is fun and rewarding to work with and prepare your own food. It provides an air of freedom and a sense of limitless possibility. When I first considered preparing for a life with less, for the end of economic growth, I imagined how it would be possible to feed myself throughout the year. Obviously there needed to be some sort of food preservation as I live in a cold climate and cannot rely on hunting to sustain me through the winter months.

Drying food is a very easy and energy cheap way to preserve food. While it is not as convenient as having an actual food dryer, it can be done with no accessories, in the sun. However, that is not necessarily practical when trying to preserve enough food to sustain one through the winter months. So I built a solar food dryer. It uses light from the sun to create heat and convection which dries the food. The one I built is fairly large and can dry quite a bit of food at once.

 As it is powered by the sun, it uses no energy besides that which was required to produce the parts. It runs for free, for as long as it lasts and as long as the sun shines. Since I have planted several fruit trees on the farm, the food is in essence, free. This is a perfect example of how humans can live in harmony with the planet letting mother nature do most of the work.

I planted one peach tree on the farm last year and this year we got fifty-five delicious peaches from the tree. It is still small, so when it is in full production, I imagine it will produce hundreds and hundreds of delicious, sweet peaches.

What I needed to prepare the peaches was just a fairly sharp knife, a pair of pliers and a cutting board. The process begins with picking and sorting. We certainly aren't going to waste any peaches just because a couple birds got their share, those we will keep for cobbler or other treats. But for drying, we want only the best. Once we have them sorted out we will want to wash all of the peach fuzz and any dirt or dust off of them.

Now, to prepare them for drying we want to slice them in thin slices in the same direction as a pineapple is sliced. To begin, make the first cut evenly through the center letting the knife rest on the pit. Once you have completed the cut you can now separate the two halves and the pit will be stuck in one of them. Now use the pliers to remove the pit from the one half. When slicing the peaches, start at the small end and work your way toward the larger end. This will make it easier to hold while cutting.

Once you have them all sliced, they are ready to go in the dryer. Make sure they do not touch when you put them in the dryer otherwise they may stick together as they dry. Currently we still have some plumbs drying but luckily I had enough room for the peaches.

We have 11 fruit trees on the farm, two cherry, two apple, two plumb, one cherry plumb, one peach and three pear trees. We also have an almond tree and a very little walnut tree that I hope to live long enough to see become a giant. With all of this potential fruit, we will be putting the solar food dryer to good use for sure.

If you have any property, even a small back or front yard, consider planting a fruit tree. They provide all the benefits of an ornamental tree along with an abundance of free, delicious fruit. And if you do not have any property, plant a fruit tree somewhere else where you can visit it or where others can benefit from its bounty. There is far too much energy, time and resources spent on maintaining plants for the sake of vanity when millions of people go hungry everyday.

Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dicks

futurereferencefarm @

Video of the farm

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Welcome To The Future Reference Farm Blog

Hello and thanks for stopping by. My goal in creating this blog is to provide a pathway for others to begin to recede from the madness and destruction of our modern societies. We have reached the limits of what our planet can sustain in the way of deforestation, pollution, species extinction and climate change. It is now time to discover, or rather rediscover a simpler existence, an existence in which we no longer see ourselves separate from or above the rest of the natural environment.

While many will think that giving up much of our modern luxuries will be too painful, I intend to show that we can indeed live much healthier and happier lives with less. In fact, it is not a choice that we will make, it is a situation that we will be confronted with very soon. The difference is will we be prepared, or will we be shocked and caught with our pants down?

Right now you still have a choice. I have made that choice. I am beginning the transformation from a modern energy consumer to a symbiotic life that gives back to nature as much or more as I take for my own survival. This is my journey into what for most of our population will be alien terrain, yet only a century ago was rightfully familiar to all.

We cannot wait for our government to act. The truth is, the way we need to live does not produce an abundance of profit and therefore does not provide motivation for the powers that be to guide us in the right direction. Instead, they would rather drive us toward the cliff as long as possible to retain their power and to continue to profit from our misery.

I invite you to join me and to consider the challenges and joy of a life beyond growth.

Timothy Dicks

futurereferencefarm @

Resources for learning about our situation:


Permaculture - David Holmgren
The End of Growth - Richard Heinberg
Limits to Growth - Multiple Authors
Gaia's Garden - Toby Hemenway