No Overground Railroad

Yesterday I wrote about the ongoing climate disaster in the Midwest. This has shown my idea of an overground railroad is not going to work. Some time ago I began to think of the possibility of an “overground railroad” to prepare for climate refugees coming from areas of coastal flooding, or displaced by fires, severe storms, drought, or flooding, who might move to the Midwest. The idea being similar to the underground railroad that developed during the time of enslavement in the U.S. I created a Facebook group, Overground Railroad, as a place to discuss this idea. Several blog posts about this idea can be found here. Although I was aware of predictions of expanding areas of drought in the Midwest, I thought it would still be a place with good soil for crops, and adequate water supplies. My idea was to develop ways to rapidly build simple dwellings made from local resources. A small community of such buildings would be like a small town. Actually, it might be a good idea to use small towns as locations to build communities described here. The surrounding fields would be planted with corn, oats, and other edible crops. Solar panels would produce electricity. Indigenous ways of agriculture, and governance would be very helpful.

The extreme temperatures, widespread flooding, infrastructure destruction, and topsoil erosion indicate many of us in the Midwest have become, or will become climate refugees. Our current flooding will continue or worsen as warmer temperatures melt large areas that still contain snow packs. I wonder if we will see “dust bowl” conditions occur with large areas that are bare, with no cover crops and more sandy soil exposed to high winds.

What do we do now? We don’t need to wait for government action on a Green New Deal. We can begin now to build sustainable communities. The widespread flooding we are experiencing needs to be taken into consideration when we think about where to build these new communities. Again, it would make the most sense to use existing small towns in Iowa as the center for Green New Deal communities But areas at risk for flooding need to be avoided. Unfortunately as air, land and water temperatures continue to rise, we will experience greater amounts of rainfall and snowfall, which will of course lead to more flooding.

Following is an early draft of how a Green New Deal could help Iowa.

How can the Green New Deal help Iowa?

Federal/state/local versions of following

          Current focus of Sunrise Movement mainly Federal

          With Bold Iowa/Indigenous Iowa’s resources we can model GND at state/local level

          Iowa Quakers and FCNL—Green New Deal

                    Build network of Sunrise Hubs all over the state. The Sunrise Movement is a rapidly growing network of youth who are working to implement a Green New Deal.

                             Identify local leaders/organizations

                             Provide Sunrise training (via Zoom)

Iowa is a leader in wind energy

          Federal energy policies (U.S. Congressional delegations)

          Continue to 100% renewable energy

                   Move from corporate to local control

                             Local installations wind/solar

                   Increase training programs for wind energy/solar technicians

                   Local manufacturing of wind/solar systems

                   Smart electrical grids

                   Energy storage


                             Solar thermal fuel

                   Rural energy plan



          Build ponds, cisterns

          Water filters

          Bioreactors and cover crops to decrease nitrates in water


          Crops that improve soil quality

          Crops that feed people

          Indigenous agricultural practices


          Insulate existing buildings

          Renewal of rural towns and communities (decreasing long distance travel)

                   Design to be walkable

                   Add local services that people now travel long distances to find


                   Community buildings

                   Churches (share building)



          Life skills

                   Cooking/raising food/buildings/medical/social skills/governance and organizing

          Energy skills

                   Local energy systems and grid


          Faith leaders can be local GND leaders

                   Can see and build faith/social support in communities

                   Might be among best supporters of GND

                             Already have network of connections across state/country


          Whole community participation

          Sunrise Hubs model

          Get existing models to work along lines of Sunrise Hubs

                   City councils/Mayors  


          Postal mail network


          Global Internet network will probably not continue to be available

                   Local area networks


          Pedal powered wagons



This entry was posted in climate change, climate refugees, enslavement, Green New Deal, immigration, Indigenous, Quaker Meetings, renewable energy, Sunrise Movement, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to No Overground Railroad

  1. treegestalt says:

    The local effects of overall climate destabilization are not all that predictable. Air straight down from the Arctic for perhaps many years, or perhaps air suddenly coming from the tropics for an equally unknown length of time. Floods & droughts, hot and cold temperature excesses, without much certainty of who is going to get them.

    People will stay tenaciously wherever they can. In some places, in some times, that won’t be possible. Your original idea of being ready to help people whose home becomes unlivable as weather chaos intensifies… continues to be a good one.

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