Few doubt the reality of the climate emergency heading our way, but even fewer are taking the steps Ben Green is to prepare. Taking over old German barracks in Saxony, Green is working to become entirely self-sufficient in the face of worldwide crisis.
Green’s unusual home is a recent change in his life. Previously, the space was used as army barracks. Right before Green’s purchase, it acted as an outdoor museum for vintage tanks. Now, it’s a home.
To make it right for him, he’s insulated all the windows and fixed the roofs. These modifications mean the barracks-turned-home never drops below a temperature of 5C at night. Green doesn’t operate with a traditional kitchen, instead he cooks on a wood-burning stove. Neither is his bathroom particularly conventional; at times, he has to shower by pouring buckets of water over his head.
When I spoke to Green, he spoke fondly of the space.
‘I didn’t expect it to be in an ex-German army barracks, it just turned out this was the biggest, cheapest place I could buy. […] I just wanted the land, and the fact that it had an army barracks on it was kind of neat.’
He keeps his location—which is simply known as somewhere in a remote spruce forest in Saxony—a secret, aiding the fun mystery of his story.
How does Green work to be self-sufficient?
Green is a vegan and lives almost entirely off of the food he grows himself at home. Currently, he cycles to get cooking oil from a nearby village, but he’s hoping for an oil press for his 50th birthday.
Each year he sets himself a challenge. One year, he made a pizza from scratch. The next, a fruit cake. This year, he’s aiming to make soap. One day, he hopes to make a cotton t-shirt from scratch.
While at the nearest village shop, Green does get chocolate, tea, and coffee (all necessities, of course). He insists, however, that, should an emergency arise, he can live without these things.
How has Green dealt with the recent crises?
Recent years have brought about a series of unexpected crises, a clear sign of the oncoming climate emergency. From the massive global pandemic, coronavirus, to more recent issues of food supply chain issues and this last month’s unprecedented temperatures, one might expect Green’s unusual living arrangements have made these issues even more impactful.
Is it supposed to look like this? pic.twitter.com/I2t76cgiSY— Ben Green (@ThePirateBen) July 18, 2022
But in reality, his lifestyle has allowed him to escape many of these issues. Growing the majority of his own food means he hasn’t had to worry about supply issues. Plus, living in this remote location has allowed Green to avoid a lot of the dangers associated with the pandemic. Anyway, his vaccinations helped.
Green has had a strongly held timeline for the progression of the climate crisis, and this past year has been the one he pinned as the year the emergency would become undeniable. Unfortunately, with these recent issues, he has been proved right.
Happy doomerism in the face of the climate emergency
As more people become aware of the imminent danger climate change is putting us in, more find themselves faced with a bleak outlook. But Green proposes a different attitude.
Green calls his personal philosophy ‘happy doomerism’, an outlook that takes what is coming seriously, but doesn’t get depressed about it. There are so many things we can do to prepare, skills we can learn that don’t have to make us afraid, but instead bring enjoyment and purpose to our lives.
‘You should always be happy, and if you’re not being a bit doomy then you’re just not looking.’
Green suggests learning skills that will become more useful in the face of an emergency: sewing, building, cooking, growing, and—in a particularly emphatic tone, knitting (‘knitting is great’).
‘Learn useful stuff. Don’t do it because you’re miserable and it’s all depressing but because these things are fun.’
Through his social pages (you can find him on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok as @thepirateben), Green brings the message of happy doomerism to anyone wanting to listen.
A manifesto for this philosophy, I have been promised, is coming very soon.
Two people who might need to give it a read? Kylie Jenner and Taylor Swift.