Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Russian Old Believers and the New Little Ice Age

Photo by Ivan Boiko, hosted by BBC.  This home is in a region that has a minimum temperature of -50 C.
One way to avoid mistakes is to find a group of people who were there and came out alive.  Even better, find a group of people who survived conditions even more extreme and challenging that what you expect to face and study them.

Russian Old Believers

Russian Old Believers are a group of people who had a theological difference with the mainline Russian Orthodox Church.  Russia, being Russia, they were banished to Siberia by both the church heirarchy and Catherine the Great.

Image from HERE
Russia, being Russia, waves of repression drove the Old Believers deeper and deeper into Siberia.  Deeper into Siberia meant "increasingly hostile: colder, higher altitude, drier, farther from manufactured inputs".

Opportunities lost?

People at the edge are usually very quick to adapt labor saving or force multiplying devices.  Chainsaws, for example.  Those new technologies can tip a community into growth or make hithertofore marginal areas available for colonization.  They also cause quick extinction of the technologies they replace.

This is an unusual way to build a fence.  Image from HERE

Further, groups that are perennially marginalized and living in remote areas are studied less than Rock groups, Sports teams, dominant political "winners" and more accessible, marginalized groups.  Even when the remote, marginalized groups are studied the scholars rarely pay much attention to the nuts-and-bolts of their production systems.

If a "Little Ice Age" were to trigger, intimate knowledge about The Old Believer's "economic and production" systems will be useful.

Of particular interest to me are the "energy" economics.
  • Crops planted
    • Seed sources
      • Land races?
    • Perennials
  • Yields
  • Calorie content
  • Tillage
Photo by Ivan Boiko
  • Where did those calories used for tillage come from
    • Horses, wild meadow forage?
    • Fall tillage?
    • Fat-off-the-horse's back
  • Domestic animals
    • Types
    • Products
    • Nutritional status through the year (milk cows will go through tremendous weight swings through the production cycle)
  • Body weight and body composition swings through the year
    • Special interest on lactating mothers, both human and animal.  They are the canary-in-the-coal mine.
Photo by Ivan Boiko
  • Wild foods.  
    • Types
    • How many calories.
    • Methods of take or harvest
    • Net energy efficiency...or is it a protein thing
Photo by Ivan Boiko
  •  How long do manufactured items last
    • Manufactured items represent embedded energy
    • Manufactured items can represent outside subsidies to the community
    • How are they repaired or recycled

I apologize for the shortness of this post.....I have things to do today and I wanted to jot down a few thoughts for my own follow up.

1 comment:

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