How to Boil Water Without Power or Water

More thoughts on the climate crisis in Texas

Icicles hang from a frozen water fountain in front of the state Capitol building in Austin, Texas, December 12, 2000. Freezing temperatures gripped the state.

Here’s another topic I’ve been harping for years: preparedness. An entire state is in trouble. Texas, I’m so sorry.

What’s the problem we are not recognizing? Weather changes, or whatever you want to call them. It doesn’t matter what you call it; climate change is here. That picture from Austin, Texas, is from 2000. It’s been here.

Climate deniers. Water deniers. Pollution deniers.

It’s time to start believing, start responding, and hold these officials accountable. This country must start investing in infrastructure.

Here’s a 2014 article from a Texas professor talking about privatization and deregulation of the state’s electric utilities.

He writes, “Cold weather during February 2011 and ineffective weatherization that did not protect the plants caused many Texas electric power plants to shut down.”

Here we are in 2021. Your power grid failed. Now, you’re in a water crisis. And that’s big trouble.

People, safety, infrastructure, first. Our country needs to get prepared.

Can you hear me? Is anyone out there? Hello!?

Floods, Freezes, Droughts, Fires.

We need start paying attention to the environment.

In case you missed my story about water and climate change from last summer, I’ll say it again. Climate change is a water crisis too.

It’s about too much, too little, or none at all.

Severe winter weather (i.e. ice and snow) in Texas delivered a brutal punch to millions, who have been living without power and water for days.

When your power grid goes down, so does your water utility. Many cities in Texas are sending out boil water notices like faulty gumball machines spitting out candy, while others have no water at all.

Everyday folks are in survival mode trying to stay warm, fed, and hydrated.

Where’s our leadership?

Elected officials showed their true colors during this crisis. While Texas Senator Ted Cruz jetted off to Mexico, a Texas mayor resigned after essentially telling residents to fend for themselves.

This is why I say superman’s not coming. I didn’t think I had to say that compassion isn’t coming either.

We are seeing the leaders that shouldn’t be leading. Weather changes are here. The planet is changing.

Rachel Carson said it too. “Our war against nature is inevitably a war against ourselves.”

If we don’t act collectively, it will be too late for all of us.

We can’t ignore how ill-prepared our municipalities are for these climate events. Faulty power grids are due to infrastructure problems, and these storms are only getting worse.

It’s time to listen, learn, and apply better management practices. I have been to help in Texas many times. I’ve visited Midland, Corpus Christi, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, all to work on water pollution, lack of water, and/or infrastructure problems.

We will either learn from our mistakes or we will be condemned to repeat them.

On Boiling Water & Kindness

And for how to boil water without power… A teacher from an outdoor survival school weighed in. You can boil water on a natural gas stove. If the gas is out too, you can use a camping stove or barbecue grill, just know that grills must be used outside, not indoors or in a garage.

“The best way to deal with the mental fallout or the tremendous stress that comes from an event like this would be community,” she said. “Does somebody not have enough? Can we share? Is there someone who's cold? Who has a blanket?”

She’s right.

Kindness can be a tool, according to environmental science write Kat Kerlin.

“In California’s recent wildfires, neighbors knocking on neighbors’ doors helped save lives,” she writes. “Checking up on vulnerable neighbors during heat waves, hurricanes, or other extreme weather events can make a big difference for that individual, with global ripple effects.”

I see it every day in the work that I do. When there’s a water crisis, people help each other out.

They watch each other’s kids while they attend city council meetings. They knock on each other’s doors to sign petitions and spread the word about what’s happening. They take bottled water to those in need. The organize and support.

This resilience is what I hope can save us.

RAM

A powerful tool I’ve developed over the years is called RAM. It stands for Realization, Assessment, and Motivation. It’s a process I teach to help individuals, companies, and cities to get empowered, check their instincts, and take action.

R: Realization is the epiphany and the response.

It’s easy to blame others, but the moment of realization comes when you decide to get honest and take responsibility for your actions.

A: Assessment is taking stock and being accountable to yourself.

Assess your skills, your attitudes, your beliefs, and if you don’t like what you see, don’t be afraid to remodel. Tear things down and start over if you need to.

M: Motivation and mindfulness is what keeps you going.

Your motivation is the fuel that will keep you going. Most public utilities should be motivated by the sheer fact that their job is to deliver safe, clean drinking water to the residents of the area. But as you can see in many places, this motivation has not been effective. That’s where you come in. You need to make sure that those in charge can see your faces, hear your problems, and know that you care. We’ve forgotten how much power we really have. It’s time to use it.

We also need to take time away from our screens to stop and reconnect with the planet. There’s so much chatter these days that it becomes hard to hear your own voice and even harder to tune in to what’s happening around you. Keep observing the world around you and be mindful of the details, and particularly when conditions change. You are your own best ally.