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
Solar thermal fuel
Rural energy plan
Build ponds, cisterns
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
Churches (share building)
Cooking/raising food/buildings/medical/social skills/governance and organizing
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
Postal mail network
Global Internet network will probably not continue to be available
Local area networks
Pedal powered wagons