The Autonomous House


Everything you wanted to know about saving the planet but were afraid to ask. This book was published in 1975 at an early stage in the ‘green’ movement development. It is interesting to compare its approach with the 2007 beliefs.

At a conference in Cambridge, England, shortly after this and similar books were published, one speaker bemoaned the situation asking that, “we find something to scare the shit out of folk, or they wont buy this”. That something three decades on is the Global Warming extremists.

This book was an intelligent attempt to review all of the possibilities that might contribute to a reduction of consumption and pollution. The authors concluded that it was not practical to build a fully autonomous house without deliberately reducing consumption to reduce the input of resources and the output of waste.

The book contains a great deal of information with many drawings, charts and tables to support the text. The authors have begun with a description of building techniques that might be employed to produce houses that would provide optimum heat containment and use natural resources as far as practical. They then work through all of the services and systems that could be designed with energy and resource conservation in mind. At the time that this book was written a number of test buildings had been constructed in a number of countries to provide data on autonomous living.

There is a heavily “home-made” content throughout the work, with suggestions on how to build a sewage system and store methane gas to be used for cooking and heating. The book describes how the systems could be constructed out of junk such as old vehicle and bicycle inner tubes, jam jars, plastic jerry cans and agricultural materials.


Manufacturing and marketing ‘save-the-planet’ products is now big business

Translating the concept to widespread housing policy and life style was impractical. The fundamentalist Global Warmers realised that they needed something to terrify people, products that could be readily purchased and installed by tradesmen, and ways of making it look more attractive by permitting and encouraging a continuation of urbanization.


The Church of Global Warming makes its message more attractive by offering the purchase of indulgences, to be used when ‘abusing’ the planet. The Christian Church used a similar device to make some of its teachings more pallatable, and making a great deal of money for priests and the Church, but leading to the backlash against hypocrisy that gave birth to the Protestant Christian religions

The concepts of the carbon credit card and the purchase of indulgences would have been regarded as a criminal cheat by the autonomous householder. The result in 2007 is hypocrisy where a new industry makes new profits from products and services that are marketed to solve a problem that may not exist but where a combination of fear and self-satisfaction is promoted. It will be very interesting to see how a generation will view 2007 in three decades time.

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