Resilient Self-Sufficiency: The Garden Pool

Garden pools can create resilient communities.Some may think my concerns are misplaced but for those who follow the science and pay attention to actual facts, we are living in a time of extreme and rapid change. Nothing like this has ever happened before.

Climate change is not just about polar bears, penguins and Greenland’s melting ice. Climate change harms people, everywhere. Based on the evidence, more than 97% of climate scientists are now convinced that human-caused climate change is happening. The best time to prepare for disaster is before it actually occurs. We are woefully late to the party.

Be Prepared

Ironically, September is National Preparedness Month. It is wise to stock up on important supplies in the event of a local emergency, but the real disaster will not be over in a few days. Preparing for the impacts of severe climate change should be front and center.

The ongoing and severe drought is bad enough, but what about actual warming? This Southern Nevada summer really hasn’t been that hot, right? That has certainly been my experience. The data shows that a large percentage of the additional human-caused heat is being absorbed by the oceans, ameliorating the effects in the atmosphere. We haven’t felt it much – yet. It is a temporary condition.

Remember, human activities have caused an imbalance and it is huge. I’ll repeat James Hansen’s example: The extra energy equivalent of 400,000 nuclear explosions is being added to the planet every day. Oceans cannot absorb it forever and when the shift occurs, scientists say things may get very, very hot and that it could happen abruptly.


So how are we dealing with this crisis? There is no significant leadership at either the national or local level. Recent articles about a new sports stadium are all the proof one needs that local politician’s priorities are very misplaced.

On the state level, a government-appointed “commission” of industry insiders just rubber-stamped a permission slip for the oil and gas industry to frack Nevada. Good thinking. Let’s implement a short-lived, highly-toxic, and extremely water-intensive technology in the driest state in the country. So what if fracking exacerbates climate change. It all makes perfect non sense. Alice in Wonderland experienced nothing nearly as crazy as the tragic reality of our current culture.

As individuals, our homes can be our best option for building the resiliency we will need as the crisis deepens. Some homeowners are taking things into their own hands and some very good ideas are spreading.

The Garden Pool

One example is the garden pool. Mesa, Arizona resident Dennis McClung has turned an empty backyard swimming pool into a miniature, self-sufficient ecosystem that produces much of his family’s food.

He transformed a large run-down pool into a closed-loop food production system. The system incorporates aquaponics. Power is supplied by solar energy. The system was designed to feed a family of four, providing organic eggs, milk, fruit, veggies, herbs, and fish – 365 days a year.

McClung’s garden pool system uses 90% less water than conventional farming methods, a very crucial factor in a dry climate that is only becoming drier. He has formed a non-profit organization to innovate, teach, and help others implement better ways to grow food.

His website,, contains a wealth of information about living a more sustainable urban lifestyle in the desert southwest. The subject matter is broad. Topics include: gardening tips, water conservation, beneficial insects, raising goats and chickens in an urban environment, as well as plenty of How-To articles to help you get started.

It is heartening to see grassroots innovation. Dennis McClung isn’t waiting for someone to tell him what to do. He is creating solutions and sharing them with the world. Responsible citizens do that. His example is simple and effective. It is inexpensive, logical and accessible to many. If local officials have an ounce of collective sense, they will make it easy for this sort self-resiliency to thrive. I’m not suggesting they take the lead, just don’t stop others from doing so.