Economic Multipliers (121)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

History is an economic multiplier if we pay attention to what people knew in the past.


In the 1940’s, John J. Rowlands wrote a mostly fictional account of semi-wilderness living: Cache Lake Country: Life in the North Woods (The Wilderness Edition, 1947, 1959).

In it, he wrote about a water cooled refrigerator … a set of hanging shelves covered with a cloth dipped in a pan of water set on top (to wick downward) and tied on the bottom to keep out insects … to be hung in an area with a breeze (for evaporative cooling). Air can’t store a lot of ‘coolth’ and is easily blown away so the value of this specific refrigerator had/has applications within a very narrow range: I wouldn’t rely upon it to keep milk or meat cold. (See P.S.)

The thousands of other little tidbits he shared in this book (like how to minimize the amount of wood fuel needed while cooking, how to make moccasins or how to filter water through sand) read like an instruction manual for how people in the United States and Canada built their bases of wealth in the early 1900’s.

Since I believe that altering how we think about energy and water is the key to future generations having a good future, it is easy to overload this series on economic multipliers with articles about energy and water.

Where’s the fun in that? … other than good futures are great fun!

Likewise, if you go back in time and look at old designs, you still need to understand the range of applications that the old designs were suitable for and the design evolutions that came along with expanded scientific knowledge.

Cache Lake Country is a great (starter) book to read if you always aspired to have a parent or grandparent who taught you skills but somehow didn’t get one. Just remember that, on the whole, the skills are real but the life account is fictional.

To my knowledge, John Rowlands never got married or had children. Some people would say that he did not leave a legacy. I disagree.

If you ever read his book and use any of the tidbits (see P.S.P.S.) to create greater wealth or joy in your life and hopefully the lives of others, he has an expanded and worthy legacy: That legacy is you.


P.S. In Economic Multipliers 116, 117 and 119, I wrote about ‘passive cooling’ concepts. When you’d like to cool things … even air … ask yourself how cool things need to be. Misting systems are many times used in arid climates to cool air and a wicking water-fed mesh with fans could also provide similar value. In areas where insects are a problem, a wicking insect screen would have even more value: Just don’t let the water tray become a breeding ground for more insects.

P.S.P.S. Cache Lake Country could use an index: Thoughts on and skills for fishing, camping, cooking, gardening, birds, shelters, weather, water, ice boats, canoeing, sails, lumber camps, insects, animals, food, signaling, tools, equipment, survival, firestorms, bug dope (read cautiously on this as some things used years ago are considered toxic today), etc.

I don’t know of similar skill intensive easy reading and enjoyable books for tropical climates, agricultural communities, urban communities, coastlines, etc. that cover the array of knowledge and skills that originally helped create the bases of wealth in those communities. It wouldn’t surprise me though if they exist.

And, in regard to legacies … If you missed out on the ‘teaching’ grandparents or parents, imagine that every useful tidbit you read was written by someone in your extended family and written just for you: It’s sort of like having a supportive grandparent who lives far away.

Likewise, if you create value for someone else by virtue of something you communicate, you indirectly become part of their extended, supportive family.