Venezuela: Shortages and hyper inflation… How it looks on Main Street

news-desk[1]A. Venezuela Enforces Fingerprint Registry to Buy Groceries: What to Do Before Rationing Starts in America 2 April 2014, SHTFplan.com, by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper, http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/venezuela-enforces-fingerprint-registry-to-buy-groceries-what-to-do-before-rationing-starts-in-america-04022014

Pasted from: http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/venezuela-enforces-fingerprint-registry-to-buy-groceries-what-to-do-before-rationing-starts-in-america_04022014

Editor’s Note: In recent weeks the country of Venezuela has implemented everything from price controls to rationing in an effort to control the hyperinflation that has gripped the nation. All attempts at controlling demand and ‘hoarding’ have thus far failed, prompting government officials to issue directives requiring biometric verification for the purchase of foodstuffs. What’s happening in Venezuela is a clear example of how government first causes the problem, often leading to panic, and then points the blame at everyone but themselves. Officials claim that unscrupulous merchants (who have been forced to sell goods at prices lower than they have acquired them) and the hoarding of food by individuals is to blame for the shortages.

The solution, of course, is more government, and in this case that means registration of fingerprints and other personal data in exchange for permission to purchase food. Be assured that the same plans are in place right here in the USA. In fact, we already have an electronic mechanism of exchange in the form of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Should the worst happen and the US dollar crashes at some point in the future, those who failed to prepare (or, hoard as the government would suggest) are destined to forced registrations at their local post office or other government entity. Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper explains what’s happening right now in Venezuela, how a similar situation could unfold in the USA, and what you can do to prepare in advance.

For those looking to implement a frugal and highly effective strategy in advance of food shortages or currency crisis we suggest taking a look at Daisy’s book The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months.

Venesuela1(Pictured: Amateur photo: Venezuelans line up for miles in an effort to acquire food during hyperinflationary food shortages – March 2014)

.Venezuela Enforces Fingerprint Registry to Buy Groceries: What to Do Before Rationing Starts in America
By Daisy Luther

What if you were forced to “register” in order to buy groceries?  And what if, through that registration, the food you bought could be tracked and quantities could be limited?

That’s exactly the plan in Venezuela right now.  The AP reports that in an effort to crack down on “hoarding” that ID cards will be issued to families.  These will have to be presented before foodstuffs can be purchased.

President Nicolas Maduro’s administration says the cards to track families’ purchases will foil people who stock up on groceries at subsidized prices and then illegally resell them for several times the amount…

Registration began Tuesday at more than 100 government-run supermarkets across the country. Working-class shoppers who sometimes endure hours-long lines at government-run stores to buy groceries at steeply reduced prices are welcoming the plan.

“The rich people have things all hoarded away, and they pull the strings,” said Juan Rodriguez, who waited two hours to enter the government-run Abastos Bicentenario supermarket near downtown Caracas on Monday, and then waited another three hours to check out.

Checkout workers at Abastos Bicentenario were taking down customers’ cellphone numbers Monday, to ensure they couldn’t return for eight days. Shoppers said employees also banned purchases by minors, to stop parents from using their children to engage in hoarding, which the government calls “nervous buying.”

Rodriguez supports both measures.

“People who go shopping every day hurt us all,” he said, drawing approving nods from the friends he made over the course of his afternoon slowly snaking through the aisles with his oversized cart.

Reflecting Maduro’s increasingly militarized discourse against opponents he accuses of waging “economic war,” the government is calling the new program the “system of secure supply.”

Patrons will register with their fingerprints, and the new ID card will be linked to a computer system that monitors purchases. On Tuesday, Food Minister Felix Osorio said the process was off to a smooth start. He says the system will sound an alarm when it detects suspicious purchasing patterns, barring people from buying the same goods every day. But he also says the cards will be voluntary, with incentives like discounts and entry into raffles for homes and cars.

Expressionless men with rifles patrolled the warehouse-size supermarket Monday as shoppers hurried by, focusing on grabbing meat and pantry items before they were gone.

Last year in Venezuela, it became a crime to “hoard” food, and the country’s Attorney General called upon prosecutors to crack down on “hoarders” by imprisoning them for the “crime”.

Some people may read this and think to themselves, “Why on earth do I care about what happens in Venezuela?” You’d better care, because this is our future.

Already the Obama administration has moved the pieces into place on the board to be able to appropriate supplies from anyone, at any time.  Mac Slavo of SHTFplan warns: It should be clear from the laws that are already in effect that the government has given itself a legal pretext for confiscating anything they so choose in the midst of an emergency.

Should an emergency befall the United States, the military, national guard, and local police operating under orders from the Department of Homeland Security will have carte blanche to do as they please.

In a widespread emergency where supply lines have been threatened and millions of Americans are without essential resources because they failed to prepare, the government will swoop in an attempt to take complete control.

They will enter our homes and search them without a warrant. They will confiscate contraband. And they will take any ‘excessive resources’ that you may have accumulated. This includes food, toiletries, precious metals and anything else emergency planners and officials deem to be a scarce material.

Just think how much easier it would be to do so if every purchase you make is tracked and documented for future reference.

How Much of a Footprint Are You Leaving?
Now, think about those “loyalty cards” that every grocery store in North America promotes when you go through the checkout. Have you noticed how much more those are being pushed lately? Could there be a nefarious purpose to that?  I doubt the person at the cash register thinks twice about it – if these actually are data collection tools, it is something put in place by people far higher up the food chain (pun intended) than the staff of your local supermarket.

I strongly recommend you think twice about collecting “points” – the discounts may not be worth it if it means that your stock-up purchases are in some database, easily accessible to the NSA.  If you feel it is imperative to have one of those cards, consider using a pseudonym and false address.  You really don’t want to provide an inventory of your stockpile to the government. Some cards, like the one from Target, for example, even take it a step further and link to your credit card or debit account.  I can’t even wrap my brain around giving out that type of information to the person who rings up my paper towels and garbage bags.

To take this even further, if you haven’t been convinced yet that you need to begin producing your own food by gardening and raising micro-livestock, this should solidify the importance of not being totally dependent on “the system” for what you eat. Looking at the drought conditions across America’s farmland, is it a stretch of the imagination to think we could soon be facing rationing like that which is currently happening in Venezuela?  As the middle class gasps its last breath here in America, we may soon be faced with a situation where only the wealthy can afford to avoid rationing.  By becoming independent from the purveyors of food, you can assure that your family will not go hungry at the whims of a government who really doesn’t care.

Plan of Action
Here are a few things that you can do to pre-empt feeling the effects of a system like the one in Venezuela before such a change occurs on our own soil. Start now to leave less of a footprint for the government to follow.

  1. Plant a garden.
  2. Grow food indoors in sunny windows.
  3. Consider an aquaponics set-up in a spare room.
  4. Raise chickens and meat rabbits.
  5. Stock up NOW on long-term staples like grains and beans, before limits are instituted.
  6. Buy heirloom seeds – lots and lots of seeds.
  7. Practice careful OPSEC (OPerational SECurity) when making large purchases.
  8. Store long term food supplies in more than one location. That way if you lose some of your supplies to thugs (government or other varieties), you still have supplies to fall back on.
  9. Learn to preserve food.
  10. Stock up of preservation supplies like lids, jars, etc.
  11. Do NOT use so-called “loyalty cards” or memberships to make large purchases.
  12. When ordering large quantities of supplies, consider having them mailed to some place other than your home.
  13. Use cash or prepaid VISA cards purchased with cash to make large purchases.
  14. Don’t tell others about your supplies and purchases.
  15. Teach your children not to discuss things like food pantries and preparedness.
  16. Don’t store your supplies out in the open for anyone who comes into your home to see. Stash your 5 gallon pails away in closets, under beds, or in the basement.
  17. Disengage from the system by purchasing from small local farmers.
  18. Use the barter system whenever possible.  When money was tight and I lived in a place where I couldn’t grow much food, I worked on a farm harvesting vegetables in exchange for produce that I could preserve for my family.
  19. Change the way you eat – go with a local, in-season menu that is far more difficult to track than grocery-store purchased items.
  20. Learn to forage. Even in the city, you might be surprised at how many things can be found growing in your own back yard or falling off of the trees in a local park.  My children and I picked up one small bag of walnuts a day at a little park down the street one year, resulting in almost 15 pounds of shelled nuts by the time we were through.

Whatever your plan, don’t delay. We need only to read the many articles predicting a food shortage this year due to poor weather conditions to see the writing on the wall. You must become responsible for your family’s sustenance if you don’t want to suffer at the hands of those in power. I have no intention of standing in line for hours with my “ID card”, only to be allowed to purchase a small amount of highly inflated food.

[Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.

Daisy Luther is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

  .

B. Price controls and scarcity force Venezuelans to turn to the black market for milk and toilet paper
16 Apr 2015, by Girish Gupta in Caracas
Pasted from: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/apr/16/venezuela-economy-black-market-milk-and-toilet-paper

From those struggling to meet inflated prices for everyday goods, to lawyers turned pasta smugglers, the street economy flourishes under President Maduro

Venesuela vendorWith supermarket shelves empty, buhoneros (street peddlers) hustling everything from coffee to
shampoo are an increasingly common sight across Venezuela’s slums.  Photograph: Girish Gupta

In Petare, a giant slum overlooking Caracas from the east, hustlers known as buhoneros sell their goods at a busy intersection. “I’ve got milk, toilet paper, coffee, soap…” said 30-year-old Carmen Rodríguez, pointing to her wares by the side of a road busy with honking motorbikes, cars and buses. “Of course they cost more than the government say they should. We have to queue up to get them or buy them from someone who has done. We’re helping people get the basics.”

Yet, many of the poor simply can’t afford Rodríguez’s basics. In a raw and arguably necessary display of capitalism, she sells them for far more than the government’s legally required “fair prices”. It is ironically because of those government-imposed fair prices that the goods often aren’t available at supermarkets at fair prices as it’s simply not profitable to import them. This is thanks to economic policies dating back more than a decade.

Rodríguez sells each of her products for around 100 bolívares. At the black market currency exchange rate, that’s just 30 pence or so. But at that same exchange rate, the minimum wage in Venezuela is around £15 a month.

Venesuela2 queueA queue for a supermarket in Caracas. Photograph: Girish Gupta

“I can’t live like this, earning the minimum wage. It’s not enough at all,” said Araceli Belaez, 40, lining up for groceries at a supermarket in the Caracas slum of Catia.

Johan Elizandre is a fruit-seller in 23 de enero, a slum on the other side of Caracas. It overlooks the presidential palace and its walls are adorned with murals of leftist heroes such as Che Guevara, Karl Marx and former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. “A kilo of meat costs me 600 bolívares” said Elizandre, who earns 7,000 bolívares a month, around £20 when measured at the black market exchange rate – far more than the minimum wage. “I have sons, aged five and seven. I’d rather give them the food and not eat so much myself.”

Of course my goods cost more than the government say they should. We’re helping people get the basics

The scenes at Petare’s intersection, 23 de enero’s streets and Catia’s supermarkets are manifestations of an economy in tatters: one in which people buy milk, toilet paper and shampoo at inflated prices because supermarkets, with long queues outside, are near empty; in which engineers and lawyers smuggle pasta and petrol across borders to earn many times more than they would carrying out their profession; and in which surgeons complain that people are dying on the operating table because they cannot import medicines and equipment.

Venesuela3 queueThere will not be much left in the supermarket for people at the back of this queue Photograph: Girish Gupta

President Nicolás Maduro’s approval ratings are currently in the mid-20s. Annual inflation is at nearly 70% – which doesn’t include goods prices with the hefty premiums charged by the buhoneros like Rodríguez. The currency has fallen some 30% against the US dollar this year on the black market. And the murder rate is one of the world’s worst.

In 2003, Maduro’s predecessor Chávez enacted strict currency controls, pegging the bolívar to the US dollar. The aim was to reduce inflation and curb capital flight though neither has been achieved. Price controls, currency controls and the lack of dollars the government provides mean that importers no longer have the incentive to bring in goods. A thousand bolívares would have bought £30 on the black market when Maduro was elected to power in March 2013; it now buys less than £3. In the meantime, prices have risen rapidly while wages have not kept up.

On the country’s border with Colombia at San Antonio, engineer Jesús Arias, 33, has given up on his profession and smuggles petrol across the border. One of the country’s most costly price controls means that filling an entire tank costs just a couple of cents, converted at black market rates. Over the border, petrol sells for hundreds of times more. “Here petrol is practically a free gift,” Arias said. “A litre of mineral water costs more than a litre of gas.”

Children walk across the bridge to Colombia with Coca-Cola bottles filled with petrolThe subsidy costs the government around $12bn (£8bn) a year and Maduro is very clear that it needs to end – though that would be politically disastrous. Arias fills his 50-litre tank for just a few pence; a few hundred metres across the bridge in Cúcuta, Colombia, he can sell that for around £15. “Doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers we’re all doing it,” he said. “Here on the border, I can earn in three or four days what I earn as a professional in a month.” Children walk across the bridge with Coca-Cola bottles filled with petrol.

Maduro blames the problems on an “economic war” being waged against his government, with help from Washington. He blames smugglers, hoarders and street vendors for causing the problems rather than being a consequence of them.

Venesuela cash- barterPeople are leaving their jobs as they can make more as a black-market vendor. Photograph: Girish Gupta

Last year, the government tried to ban websites which publish the black market exchange rate, leading one blogger to liken the manoeuvre to banning the sale of thermometers to crack down on cold weather.

Yet, the black market, while imperfect, is offering an escape valve for the economy, a means for the poor by whatever means to obtain goods they would otherwise have to do without. “Repressing the black market rate, smuggling or trading is going to deteriorate the economic picture even further,” said Alberto Ramos, a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York. “It will lead to even high inflation and higher levels of goods’ scarcity. The unofficial foreign exchange market and smuggling are to a large extent economic escape valves.”

(News & Editorial/ Venezuela: shortages and hyper inflation. How it looks on Main Street)

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An approaching learning curve for non preppers

A. “I’ll Come To Your Place When SHTF” – No You Won’t
23 Oct 2014, SHTFplan.com,  by Mac Slavo
Pasted from: http://www.thedailysheeple.com/ill-come-to-your-place-when-shtf-no-you-wont_102014

Editor’s Note: This article has been generously contributed by Glen Tate of 299Days.com. Glen is the author of the 10-part series 299 Days, which is inspired by his own life and personal journey. It begins with 299 Days: The Preparation and introduces us to a husband who awakens to the fragility of modern society and embarks on a personal journey that introduces him to a world of self-reliance and liberation. 

non prep1In the following article Glen covers an issue that is very dear to most preppers – what to do when neighbors, friends and family come knocking. With limited resources available we’re all going to have to make tough decisions. Like many of us, Glen plans on helping those truly in need. But what about those who refused to see the warning signs and stuck their head in the sand, perhaps even lambasted you for your extreme ideas and theories? Instead of being frugal and preparing, they focused their efforts on entertainment and good times.

But when the good times end, they will come to you for help. What will you do when they show up at your front door?

 

“I’ll Come To Your Place When SHTF” – No You Won’t By Glen Tate Author of  299 Days
(This post is something you can send to your friends or print out and hand to them when SHTF.)

Dear Friend: I love my friends, but I will shoot you if I have to.  I’m serious.  Here’s why.

I tried to persuade you to prepare for what’s coming and, in the process, revealed that to you that I’m preparing.  You realized that I have food, guns, etc., and ended up saying, half kidding but half serious, “I’ll come to your place when SHTF.”

No you won’t.  I will shoot you.  If you threaten me and my family, I will use force to defend against any threat.  And showing up at my place hungry and unprepared is a threat to me.  You will eat my food and use up my medical supplies, generator, firewood, etc.  That’s less of these life-saving things for me and my family.  That’s a threat.

Is this greed on my part?  No.  I will take care of the truly needy – those who cannot take care of themselves.  But you are different.  Very different.  You had plenty of chances to prepare for yourself.

But what did you do?  You spent the weekends watching football, went on expensive vacations, and never made your spouse mad at you with your “crazy” ideas that something bad was happening.  You didn’t do shit because… you would just come to my place.  Problem solved, right?  You didn’t need to spend time, money, and create domestic strife because I did that all for you.

Not.  Why should I spend my time, money, and stress just so you can waltz into my place and live happily ever after?  I’m a nice guy, but – really? – I’m going to spend my (very limited) free time, disposable income, and domestic tranquility just so you can have a leisurely life and more material comforts pre-Collapse while I don’t?

Why do you think I will sacrifice enormous amounts of my time and money so you can enjoy yourself while I’m slaving away?  Would you assume you could come over and leave your broken car at my house?  That I would just spend thousands of dollars on parts and several weekends fixing it and then hand it over to you with a smile – just because I’m a “good guy”?  Would anyone expect that?

You do, apparently.  You actually expect to waltz over to my cabin and receive – with a smile – thousands of dollars of food and other supplies that took me all my weekends to acquire and store.

So, my grasshopper friend (as in the story of the grasshopper and the ant), here is your official warning: if your “plan” for you and your family’s safety is to come to my place, you’re wrong.  When you show up, I’ll ask you to leave.  When you don’t, I’ll point a gun in your face.  If you refuse to leave, I will shoot you.  You are a threat to me.

You had years of time and very clear warnings to get ready.  But you didn’t.  Hey, I love football but haven’t been able to watch a game in a few years; I’ve been fixing up the cabin, buying supplies, and training with the Team.  I spent a lot of money doing all these things so I haven’t gone on a long vacation in… forever.  I have had several difficult times with my wife because of all the prepping I’m doing; I could have easily done what you did, which is just say “Yes, dear” and not prepare because she didn’t want you to. I hope this message jolted you.  There’s still some time.  Go prep.

.

B. When Real Disaster Strikes: These Are The People Who Will Loot, Pillage and Kill You For Your Food
27 Jan 2015, SHTFplan.com, by Mac Slavo
Pasted from: http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/when-real-disaster-strikes-these-are-the-people-who-will-loot-pillage-and-kill-you-for-your-food_01272015

Time and again we are reminded why it is prudent to have a backup plan just in case things go wrong. You’ve already got car insurance, house insurance, medical insurance and life insurance. But what about disaster insurance? And no, we’re not talking about a piece of paper guarantee issued by some behemoth corporation who you’re supposed to call when things go wrong.

Real disaster insurance in this context refers to your own personal and familial emergency reserve supplies and strategies, to be consumed and implemented when all hell breaks loose.

non prep hopeful shoppers(Panic In Northeast: Tens of thousands raid grocery stores in search of food and supplies)

What’s happening in the North Eastern part of the United States right now – “Snowpacolypse” – should convince anyone who hasn’t done so yet to prepare themselves for short- and long-term calamities. They happen quite regularly all over the world. We’ve seen them hit time and again in both, first and third world nations in the form of storms, natural disasters and even economic meltdowns. Yet, despite the repeated media broadcasts of suffering and complete destitution often wrought by these events, millions of people still laugh at the notion that, as even the government recommends, you should have a two week emergency supply of food, water and other disaster gear.

It is these very people – the ones who call preppers crazy and snicker at their idea of prudent preparedness and self sustainability – who will be out in force to loot, pillage and kill for these critical lifesaving supplies when a widespread disaster or emergency strikes their area. And no, we’re not talking about a 3-day scenario like a snow storm, which is limited in scope and comes with warnings ahead of time, with supply lines being restocked soon after the storm passes.

non prep shop lineRather, we’re talking about any number of events that are capable of crippling our entire nation in one fell swoop for an extended period of time lasting two weeks or more. These may include national-scale disasters such as a cyber-attack on our utility infrastructure, a super electro-magnetic pulse weapon that takes down our power grid, or a massive financial collapse that locks credit markets and makes resupply of essentials like food, medicine and gas impossible.

All of these events and numerous others like them, though unlikely, remain a plausible and serious threat to our way of life because they are capable of literally sending us back into the middle ages overnight. Should such a scenario ever become reality, then guess who’ll be coming over looking to take your supplies? Here’s a hint. They’ve been lining up in droves at local super markets and clearing shelves all over the North East as a massive snowstorm approaches.

Store shelves are cleared within hours of people realizing that a disaster is in progress.

We know what you’re thinking, “it’s just a snow storm.” And you’re right. These short-term events are nothing to really worry about. Even if you got to a grocery store late and couldn’t get food or fresh water you can still go over to a friend’s house or perhaps knock on your neighbor’s door for some food to get you by. But should the disaster facing the population be something more severe, when people have realized that no re-supply is coming because our just-in-time transportation system has shut down, then you can fully expect that frantic knocks on peoples’ doors will be ignored. Then what?

The answer is simple. As The Prepper’s Blueprint author Tess Pennington notes in Anatomy of a Breakdown, you can expect widespread societal breakdown within 72 hours:

Have you ever heard the saying, “We’re three days away from anarchy?” 

In the wake of a disaster, that’s all you have is three days to turn the crazy train around before crime, looting and chaos ensue.

Multiple factors contribute to societal breakdowns including failure of adequate government response, population density, citizens taking advantage of the grid being down and overwhelmed emergency response teams.

non prep empy shelvesFor whatever reason, 3-5 days following a disaster is the bewitching hour. During this short amount of time, the population slowly becomes a powder keg full of angry, desperate citizens. A good example is the chaos that ensued in New Orleans following the absence of action from the local government or a timely effective federal response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In such troubled times, people were forced to fend for themselves and their families, by any means necessary. This timeline of Hurricane Katrina effectively illustrates “the breakdown,” and within three days, the citizens of New Orleans descended into anarchy, looting and murder

The majority of the looting, and certainly the despair, can easily be prevented with basic preparedness strategies that include managing your own food supply and stockpiling key supplies. In her free 52 Weeks to Preparedness web series Pennington outlines scores of essentials that you won’t really know you need until you need them, including food supply lists, medical items, toiletries, alternative power sources, and home defense tools.

At the very least, every American should have a stockpile, even if just a couple of boxes that fit in your closet, containing the following:

  • Meals Ready To Eat – These are full course meals that pack a caloric wallop and will suffice just fine for a period of two weeks or more. They are compact and easy to store, and given their relative low cost, are an excellent investment not just for emergencies in your home, but something to take hiking, camping or leave in your car in case you find yourself broken down in the middle of nowhere. High density emergency food bars are another option to diversify your reserves.
  • Water Reserves – Expect water utility companies to be out of operation as employees stay home to care for their families. This happens in almost every major disaster, meaning that you either better have effective water filtration and treatment supplies, or have reserve water packets.
  • Medicine – Basic first aid kits are an absolute must. A small cut can do serious damage over a two-week period when there is no doctor.
  • Toiletries – You’ll want some reserve toilet paper, for obvious reasons. But also consider sanitation as a key preparedness strategy, because if your toilet doesn’t flush then things will get ugly very quickly.
  • For an extensive list of preparedness considerations, supplies and strategies check out the free 52 Weeks To Preparedness web series.

At last count some 1% of Americans, roughly three million out of our nation’s 300-plus million people, have taken any steps to prepare. It’s a sobering statistic to be sure, especially considering that the Department of Homeland Security has warned people to stockpile at least a two week supply of food and water rations just in case.

Most Americans, it seems, still think the government will be there to provide assistance when the worst happens. The problem, of course, is that despite the millions of meals-ready-to-eat they have stockpiled, they will not have the resources to deal with 300 million desperate people.

The following statement from one San Francisco resident hit by last year’s West Coast storm pretty much sums it all up:

“I couldn’t get my car out of the garage, I have no food, I have no cash, so I’m trying to forage for something.”

After the 72-hour mark this individual and others like him will have no choice but to go out “foraging” for food. They’ll likely be armed, operating in groups and they’ll be going door-to-door.

non prep - watch

Be Prepared

(Survival Manual/Prepper Articles/ An approaching learning curve for non preppers

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Yes, there’s “climate change”, its cooling

A. Sunspots 2015: Year of the decline
4 Jan 2015, Posted by azleader
Pasted from: https://informthepundits.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/sunspots-2015-year-of-the-decline/

Cooling1 sun Giant solar flare on October 27, 2014. Credit/NASA SDO spacecraft

Solar maximum has passed. What climate effects will come next?
Austin, January 4, 2015 – Solar maximum activity peaked in April 2014 at an exceptionally low 81.9 spots/day. Waning solar activity in 2015 will begin the long, inexorably journey towards solar minimum over the next half decade or so.

If solar physicists are correct, solar activity could be very low for several decades to come. How that will affect climate change is anyone’s guess, but low sunspot activity has already been identified by the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as one of the main causes for the 15+ year “hiatus” from atmospheric global warming.

cooling2 progressionSolar max arrived in April 2014. Credit/Steve Davidson-SILSO data, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels

The Royal Observatory of Belgium released December’s official monthly international sunspot numbers on January 1, 2015. Sunspots increased again in December, but the 13-month smoothed sunspot number that defines solar maximum declined for the 2nd month in a row. Given that solar maximum is a 13-month running average, no one knows maximum has been reached until at least seven months after the fact.

What does the downturn in solar activity mean for earth’s long-term climate change? One legitimate comparison of the current situation on the sun is to a cold period on earth called the Dalton Minimum. It happened 200 years ago.

cooling3 daltonCurrent solar activity is similar to the Dalton Minimum. Credit/Steve Davidson using SILSO data

There were three declining solar cycles leading into the Dalton Minimum, just like now. The third exceptionally weak cycle had a rare higher secondary peak than its first when the Dalton was reached, just like now.

That cycle was followed by a decline to zero spots. The period of zero spots lasted nearly two years before another weak cycle occurred. The match to current activity isn’t exact, but it’s eerily similar. There is modern supporting evidence that the sun will have an exceptionally weak cycle next time, just like the Dalton.

cooling umbralSunspots are becoming harder to see and weaker. Credit/Dr. Leif Svalgaard Research Page

Umbral intensity is a measure of how black the center of the average sunspot is compared to its surroundings. An intensity of 1 means the sunspot is invisible. Sunspots have been fading away since the late 1990s. In the last 3-4 years, though, the fading has leveled off.

Umbral magnetic field is a measure of the strength of the average sunspot, measured in Gauss. The lower the number, the weaker the sunspot. Strong magnetic fields are what cause giant solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that dramatically affect earth. Sunspots cannot form with a field strength below 1,500 Gauss. In the last 3-4 years the decline in magnetic field strength has leveled off, too.

When this data was first published in 2011 it caused quite a stir among solar physicists. Some predicted sunspots would totally disappear after the current cycle ended. It doesn’t look like that will be the case after all. It looks like the next cycle, Cycle 25, will be another weak one, just like during the Dalton Minimum.

Reliable global temperature data does not extend further back than about 1850, fifty years after the Dalton. However, anecdotal evidence suggests there were very cold winter temperatures in the northern hemisphere during that time period.

The current sunspot cycle most closely matches Cycle 12, which peaked in 1883. That one is within reliable global temperature records.

cooling monthly smoothedThe current solar cycle is best matched to Cycle 12. Credit/Steve Davidson using SILSO data

Both Cycle 12 and the current cycle have a rare secondary peak higher than the first. That has got to mean something.

According to IPCC data, the period of the 1880s to the early 1900s was characterized by a general decline in earth’s global atmospheric temperature.

 cooling trend1880-1910 cooling trend corresponds to low sunspot activity. Source/IPCC AR5 Report

Cycle 12 and the two cycles following it were exceptionally weak cycles leading into the early 1900s. It corresponded to declining global temperatures. Coincidence? Not likely.

Conclusions
Solar sunspot maximum was reached in April of 2014. That did not become known until recently because solar max is computed as a 13-month running average. You can’t know it has been reached until at least seven months after the fact. There have been two months of decline since then, so it is reasonably certain the maximum was finally reached. As it is, it was over two years later than originally predicted.

If the current cycle follows past solar behavior then 2015 will see a steep decline in solar activity as it progresses toward solar minimum in the next five years or so.
The current cycle (Cycle 24) has strong similarities to both the Dalton Minimum and Cycle 12 that peaked in 1883. Both time periods are associated with cold earth temperatures. Cycle 12 is more meaningful because it is supported by current United Nations IPCC data.
That being the case, it’s time to start thinking about breaking out the cold weather gear.
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B. New Ice Age to Begin in 2014
23 Feb 2012, IceAgeNow.info, By Robert
Pasted from: http://iceagenow.info/2012/02/ice-age-2014/

“Forecasters predict that a new ice age will begin soon,” says this article on russia-ic.com.

“Habibullo Abdusamatov, a scientist from the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences considers that the sharp drop in temperature will start on the Earth in 2014. “According to the scientist, our planet began to “get cold” in the 1990s. The new ice age will last at least two centuries, with its peak in 2055. “It is interesting, that the same date was chosen by the supporters of the theory of global warming. “The expected decrease in temperature may … become the fifth over the past nine centuries, reports Hydrometeorological Center of Russia. Experts call this phenomenon the “little ice age”, it was observed in the XII, XV, XVII, XIX centuries. This cyclicity makes the theory of upcoming cold weather in XXI century look like truth.” http://russia-ic.com/news/show/13717#.T0Q3Ms7rk9C Thanks to Thomas McHart, Stephanie Relfe for this link

Habibullo Abdussamatov is not just “a scientist.” Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov, astrophysicist, is head of the Russian segment of the International Space Station, and head of Space Research of the Sun Sector at the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences. I
’m inclined to take his forecasts seriously.
I’ve met Dr Abdussamatov, and posted other articles about him here: http://iceagenow.info/2010/05/new-little-ice-age-to-begin-in-2014/
And here: http://iceagenow.info/2011/11/russian-scientists-predict-100-years-cooling/

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C. New Little Ice Age ‘to Begin in 2014′
20 May 2010,IceAgeNow.info, by Bob
Pasted from: http://iceagenow.info/2010/05/new-little-ice-age-to-begin-in-2014/

cooling Habibullo AbdussamatovRussian scientist to alarmists: ‘Sun heats Earth!’ 20 May 10 – CHICAGO – Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, predicts that a new “Little Ice Age” could begin in just four years.
I sat just ten feet away from Abdussamatov as he made this startling assertion at the Heartland Institute’s 4th International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago just two days ago.
Jerome R. Corsi from World Net Daily covered the proceedings exceedingly well, and I am quoting or paraphrasing him extensively here.
In a two-part video recorded at the conference by WND (link below), Abdussamatov explains that average annual sun activity has experienced an accelerated decrease since the 1990s.

Habibullo Abdussamatov Head of the Russian-Ukrainian project “Astrometria” on the Russian segment of the International Space Station, Abdussamatov’s theory is that “long-term variations in the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth are the main and principal reasons driving and defining the whole mechanism of climatic changes from the global warmings to the Little Ice Ages to the big glacial periods.”

In his speech, Abdussamatov took on advocates of the theory of man-caused warming who want to curtail our use of hydrocarbon fuels. He contended, instead, that a reasonable way to combat coming cooling trends would be “to maintain economic growth in order to adapt to the upcoming new Little Ice Age in the middle of the 21st century.”

Sun’s activity determines temperatures
Abdussamatov argues that total sun irradiance, or TSI, is the primary factor responsible for causing climate variations on Earth, not carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is “not guilty,” says Abdussamatov. “As for what lies ahead in the coming decades, it is not catastrophic warming, but a global, and very prolonged temperature drop.”

Abdussamatov pointed to the English astronomer Walter Maunder, who noticed that sunspots had been generally absent from 1645 to 1715. That period coincided with the middle and coldest part of the Little Ice Age (see article D, below), which began around 1650 and extended through 1850.

“There is now an unavoidable advance toward a global decrease, a deep temperature drop comparable to the Maunder minimum,” he wrote. “Already there are signs of the future deep temperature drop.”

“The observed global warming of the climate of the Earth is not caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses, but by extraordinarily high solar intensity that extended over virtually the entire past century.” “Future decrease in global temperature will occur even if anthropogenic ejection of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere rises to record levels.

“The implementation of the Kyoto Protocol aimed to rescue the planet from the greenhouse effect should be put off at least 150 years.”

I have the utmost respect for the courageous scientists who presented at this convention.

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D. The Little Ice Age in Europe
Scott A. Mandia, Professor – Physical Sciences, S.C.C.C., Selden, NY
Excerpts pasted from: http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/lia/little_ice_age.html

Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850 that brought dire consequences to its peoples. The colder weather impacted agriculture, health, economics, social strife, emigration, and even art and literature. Increased glaciation and storms also had a devastating effect on those that lived near glaciers and the sea.

Impact on Agriculture
Lamb (1966) points out that the growing season changed by 15 to 20 percent between the warmest and coldest times of the millennium. That is enough to affect almost any type of food production, especially crops highly adapted to use the full-season warm climatic periods. During the coldest times of the LIA, England’s growing season was shortened by one to two months compared to present day values. The availability of varieties of seed today that can withstand extreme cold or warmth, wetness or dryness, was not available in the past. Therefore, climate changes had a much greater impact on agricultural output in the past.

Fig. 16 and 17 show the price of wheat and rye, respectively, in various European countries during the LIA.

cooling wheat pricesFigure 16: Prices of wheat expressed in Dutch guilders per 100 kg. in various countries vs. time. (Source: Lamb, 1995)

Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850 that brought dire consequences to its peoples. The colder weather impacted agriculture, health, economics, social strife, emigration, and even art and literature. Increased glaciation and storms also had a devastating affect on those that lived near glaciers and the sea.

Impact on Health
The cooler climate during the LIA had a huge impact on the health of Europeans. As mentioned earlier, dearth and famine killed millions and poor nutrition decreased the stature of the Vikings in Greenland and Iceland.

Cool, wet summers led to outbreaks of an illness called St. Anthony’s Fire. Whole villages would suffer convulsions, hallucinations, gangrenous rotting of the extremities, and even death. Grain, if stored in cool, damp conditions, may develop a fungus known as ergot blight and also may ferment just enough to produce a drug similar to LSD. (In fact, some historians claim that the Salem, Massachusetts witch hysteria was the result of ergot blight.)

Malnutrition led to a weakened immunity to a variety of illnesses. In England, malnutrition aggravated an influenza epidemic of 1557-8 in which whole families died. In fact, during most of the 1550’s deaths outnumbered births (Lamb, 1995.) The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) was hastened by malnutrition all over Europe.

One might not expect a typically tropical disease such as malaria to be found during the LIA, but Reiter (2000) has shown that it was an important cause of illness and death in several parts of England. The English word for malaria was ague, a term that remained in common usage until the nineteenth century. Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400) wrote in the Nun’s Priest Tale:

You are so very choleric of complexion. Beware the mounting sun and all dejection, Nor get yourself with sudden humours hot; For if you do, I dare well lay a groat That you shall have the tertian fever’s pain, Or some ague that may well be your bane.

In sixteenth century England, many marshlands were notorious for their ague-stricken populations. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) mentioned ague in eight of his plays. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) died of ague in September 1658, which was one of the coldest years of the LIA.

Five indigenous species of mosquito are capable of transmitting malaria in England where they prefer the brackish water along river estuaries. The anaerobic bacterial flora of saline mud produces a strong sulfur odor that was widely believed to be the cause of agues in salt marsh areas (i.e. Shakespeare’s “unwholesome fens.”) The term malaria comes from the Italian term “mala aria” meaning “bad air.”

Impact on Economics
In addition to increasing grain prices and lower wine production, there were many examples of economic impact by the dramatic cooling of the climate. Due to famine, storms, and growth of glaciers ,many farmsteads were destroyed, which resulted in less tax revenues collected due to decreased value of the properties (Lamb, 1995.)

Cod fishing greatly decreased, especially for the Scottish fisherman, as the cod moved farther south. The cod fishery at the Faeroe Islands began to fail around 1615 and failed altogether for thirty years between 1675 and 1704 (Lamb, 1995.) In the Hohe Tauern mountains of the Austrian Alps, advancing glaciers closed the gold mines of the Archbishop of Salzburg who was one of the wealthiest dukes in the empire. The succession of two or three bad summers where the miners could not rely on work in the mines caused them to find employment elsewhere, which resulted in an abrupt end to the mining operations (Bryson, 1977.)

Not all of the economic impact was bad. The fertile fishing grounds of the present day Newfoundland Banks were thought to have been found by fisherman in the late 1400’s who were looking for the fish stocks that had deserted their former grounds as the result of the movement of colder waters from the north (Lamb, 1995.)

English fisherman benefited by the southern movement of herring normally found in the waters off Norway. This increase in deep-sea fishing helped to build the maritime population and strength of the country (Lamb, 1995.) The failure of crops in Norway between 1680 and 1720 was a prime reason for the great growth of merchant shipping there. Coastal farmers whose crops failed turned to selling their timber and to constructing ships in order to transport these timbers themselves (Lamb, 1995.)

Social Unrest
Conditions during the LIA led to many cases of social unrest. The winter of 1709 killed many people in France. Conditions were so bad, a priest in Angers, in west-central France, wrote: “The cold began on January 6, 1709, and lasted in all its rigor until the twenty-fourth. The crops that had been sewn were all completely destroyed…. Most of the hens had died of cold, as had the beasts in the stables. When any poultry did survive the cold, their combs were seen to freeze and fall off. Many birds, ducks, partidges, woodcock, and blackbirds died and were found on the roads and on the thick ice and frequent snow. Oaks, ashes, and other valley trees split with cold. Two thirds of the vines died…. No grape harvest was gathered at all in Anjou…. I myself did not get enough wine from my vineyard to fill a nutshell.” (Ladurie, 1971) In March the poor rioted in several cities to keep the merchants from selling what little wheat they had left.

The winter of 1739-40 was also a bad one. After that there was no spring and only a damp, cool summer which spoiled the wheat harvest. The poor rebelled and the governor of Liège told the rich to “fire into the middle of them. That’s the only way to disperse this riffraff, who want nothing but bread and loot.” (Ladurie, 1971)

Lamb (1995) reports the occurrence of cattle raids on the Lowlanders by Highlanders who were stressed by the deteriorating climate. In 1436, King James I of Scotland was murdered while hunting on the edge of the Highland region near Perth. The clan warfare grew so bad that it was decided that no place north of Edinburgh Castle was safe for the king so Edinburgh became the capital of the country.

In England, the effect of starvation and the poor condition of the country encouraged men to enlist during the War of the Roses (1455-1485.) As tillable land was converted to other uses such as sheep rearing, the landlords who organized the conversions became the focus of many hostilities.

One group in particular suffered from the poor conditions – people thought to be witches (Behringer, 1999.) Weather-making was thought to be among the traditional abilities of witches and during the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries many saw a great witch conspiracy. Extensive witch hunts took place during the most severe years of the LIA, as people looked for scapegoats to blame for their suffering.

One of history’s most notorious quotes might have been due in part to a rare extremely warm period during the LIA. In northern France in 1788, after an unusually bad winter, May, June, and July were excessively hot, which caused the grain to shrivel. On July 13, just at harvest time, a severe hailstorm (which typically occurs when there is very cold air aloft) destroyed what little crops were left. From that bad harvest of 1788 came the bread riots of 1789 which led to Marie Antoinette’s alleged remark “Let them eat cake,” and the storming of the Bastille.

Art and Literature
Writers and artists were also influenced by the great change in climate. In 1816, “the year without a summer,” many Europeans spent their summers around the fire. Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein, and Polidori, The Vampire. Both authors, together with Byron and Percy Shelley, were in Switzerland, near Lake Geneva where Byron said “We will each write a ghost story.” Percy Shelley also referred to a glacier in his poem “Mont Blanc” when he wrote “…and wall impregnable of beaming ice. The race of man flies far in dread; his work and dwelling vanish…”

Neuberger (1970) studied more than 12,000 paintings in 41 art museums in the United States and eight European countries to test his hypothesis that paintings would accurately reveal the climate record. These paintings covered the period from 1400 to 1967. He categorized the blueness of the sky into a three-step scale consisting of pale blue, medium blue, and deep blue. Cloudiness was estimated according to the U.S. airways code: clear (less than 10 percent coverage), scattered (10 to 50 percent), broken (60 to 90 percent), and overcast (more than 90 percent cloud coverage.) In addition, the types of clouds were observed according to four families: high, middle, low, and convective (vertically-developed) clouds. Neuberger separated his data into three epochs. According to the data in Fig. 19 below, during the second epoch when the LIA was at its peak, cloudiness and darkness prevailed.

cooling sky paintingsFigure 19: Epochal changes in various painting features. (Source: Neuberger, 1970)

Neuberger suggests that the similarities between the second and third epochs have more to do with a stylistic change in the third epoch to impressionism which produced hazy atmospheres and also to an increase in industrial pollution.

Frequency of Storms
Fig. 20 shows the number of reported severe sea floods per century in the North Sea region.

cooling severe sea floodsFigure 20: Number of reported sea floods per century in the North Sea region. (Source: Lamb, 1995)

During the LIA, there was a high frequency of storms. As the cooler air began to move southward, the polar jet stream strengthened and followed, which directed a higher number of storms into the region. At least four sea floods of the Dutch and German coasts in the thirteenth century were reported to have caused the loss of around 100,000 lives. Sea level was likely increased by the long-term ice melt during the MWP which compounded the flooding. Storms that caused greater than 100,000 deaths were also reported in 1421, 1446, and 1570. Additionally, large hailstorms that wiped out farmland and killed great numbers of livestock occurred over much of Europe due to the very cold air aloft during the warmer months. Due to severe erosion of coastline and high winds, great sand storms developed which destroyed farmlands and reshaped coastal land regions.

(News & Editorial/ Yes there’s “climate change”, it cooling)

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The Human Ponzi Scheme

Study the following two images. Realize that they are telling you what you already know, that there is a hierarchy in the affairs of men. Not only a hierarchy in the roles we fill but within the functions of the organizations and symbols that cohesively move a large collection of people. The personal pyramid of values and cherished symbols within your life do not translate to the same visions held by our  overseers.

 scale pyramid1

and similarly, but updated 3500 years,

scale pyramid2

 Scale Matters
11 January 2013, The AutomaticEarth.com,  by Nichole Foss
Pasted from: http://theautomaticearth.com/Finance/scale-matters.html

Scale matters. When it changes, other things change as a function of it, often in unpredictable ways. Emergent properties are system characteristics that come into existence as a result of small and simple units of organization being combined to form large and complex multi-unit organizational structures. One can know everything there is to know about the original simple units and yet be unable to predict the characteristics of the larger system that emerges as many units come together to interact as a larger whole.

For instance, knowing everything about an individual cell sheds no light on the behaviour of a sophisticated multicellular organism. At a higher level of organization, knowing everything about an organism does not predict crowd behaviour, the functioning of an ecosystem, the organization of stratified societies, or the dynamics of geopolitics as societies interact with one another. The complex whole is always far more than just the sum of its parts.

Human social organization is particularly flexible when it comes to changes in scale. It can function in a myriad forms – from simple, generalist tribal associations, where everyone knows everyone else and interactions are grounded in established personal relationships, to the most complex, specialized and hierarchical imperial civilizations, where emergent connections and institutional structures must inevitably transcend the personal.

Where human societies find themselves along that continuum will depend on many local factors, including the nature, extent, accessibility and storability of the resource base over time, as well as the potential for leveraging human labour, historically using animals. Energy, and particularly energy returned on energy invested (ie the potential to control substantial energy surpluses) is critical. The greater the extent to which substantial, storable resource surpluses can be amassed and centrally controlled, the more likely a complex hierarchical organizational structure is to emerge. Where surpluses are small, resources cannot be stored, human efforts cannot be leveraged, or key resources are less subject to control, much smaller scale, simpler and more horizontally structured groups would be expected instead.

Forms of organization based on agriculture are inherently both expansionist and catabolic. Existing ecosystems are destroyed to make way for patches of monocrop, rapidly converting the productive potential of the land into human biomass at the expense of biodiversity and soil fertility. Many hands are needed to work the land, so many children are produced, but as they grow up, more land must be cultivated every generation, because the existing land cannot accommodate the rapidly rising number of mouths to feed. Carrying capacity is, however, limited.

This in-built need to expand, sometimes to the scale of an imperium in the search for new territory, means that the process is grounded in ponzi dynamics. Expansion stops when no new territories can be subsumed, and contraction will follow as the society consumes its internal natural capital. Previous agricultural societies have left desert in their wake when that natural capital has been exhausted.

Limits to growth are not a new phenomenon, nor is collapse when expansion is no longer possible. The difference this time is that we are approaching hard limits at a global scale, there is nowhere left to expand to, modernity has greatly increased the scope and the rate of our catabolic potential, and therefore the collapse will be the most widespread human civilization has faced.

Some societies are more despotic than others. Elite control over resources, distribution of surpluses, or monolithic infrastructure, such as major dams, confers power and strengthens hierarchy. Where surpluses are substantial, controllable and storable, and can support a large percentage of the population not required to work the land directly, a great deal of societal differentiation and complexity may develop, with a substantial gap between haves and have nots. The haves are typically part of the rentier economy, or otherwise in a position to cream off the surpluses from the labour of lower social strata.

The degree of general freedom probably depends on the extent to which it is in the interests of the powerful. If it is more profitable for the elite to grant economic freedom, and then reap a large share of the proceeds, than to control society directly from the centre, then freedom is far more likely. When circumstances change, however, that may no longer be the case. Relative freedom is associated with economic boom times, when there is an explosion of economic activity to feed off. When boom turns to bust, and there is little economic activity for a prolonged period, direct control of what if left is likely to be of greater appeal. As we stand on the verge of a very substantial economic contraction, this is a major concern. Freedom is addictive, and taking it away has consequences for the fabric of society.

In our own modern situation, the freedom enjoyed in first world countries is arguably both a direct and an indirect a result of the enormous energy surplus we have benefited from. Energy surplus has allowed us to substitute energy slaves directly for the forced labour that has been a prevalent feature of so many previous societies, and it has allowed us to intensify complexity in order to create many opportunities for innovation and advantage. It has also enabled an increase of scale to the global level, so that hard work for low pay, and unpleasant externalities, could be off-shored while retaining the benefits in the first world, albeit very unevenly distributed within it.

The size of the global energy surplus is likely to fall very substantially in the coming years. This will inevitably have a major impact on global socioeconomic dynamics, as it will undermine the ability to maintain both the scale and degree of complexity of the global economy. The expansion of effective organizational scale on the way up is a relatively smooth progression of intensification and developing complexity, but the same cannot be said for its contraction. As we scaled up we built structural dependencies on the range of affordable inputs available to us, on the physical infrastructure we built to exploit them, on the trading relationships formed through comparative advantage, and on the large scale institutional framework to manage it all. Scaling down will mean huge dislocation as these dependencies must give way. There is simply no smooth, managed way to achieve this.

A foundational ingredient in determining effective organizational scale is trust – the glue holding societies together. At small scale, trust is personal, and group acceptance is limited to those who are known well enough to be trusted. For societies to scale up, trust must transcend the personal and be grounded instead in an institutional framework governing interactions between individuals, between the people and different polities, between different layers of governance (municipal, provincial, regional, national), and between states on the international stage.

This institutional framework takes time to scale up and relies on public trust for its political legitimacy. That trust depends on the general perception that the function of the governing institutions serves the public good, and that the rules are sufficiently transparent and predictably applied to all. This is the definition of the rule of law. Of course the ideal does not exist, but better and worse approximations do at each scale in question.

Over time, the trust horizon has waxed and waned in tandem with large cycles of socioeconomic advance and retreat. Trust builds during expansionary times, conferring political legitimacy on larger scale forms of organization. Trust takes a long time to build, however, and much less time to destroy. The retreat of the trust horizon in contractionary times can be very rapid, and as trust is withdrawn from governing institutions, so is political legitimacy. This process is already underway, as a litany of abuses of public trust previously obscured by expansion is coming to light. Contraction will rapidly lift the veil from far more trust-destroying scandals than almost anyone anticipates.

Even at the peak of expansion, international scale institutions struggled to achieve popular legitimacy, due to the obvious democratic deficit, lack of transparency, lack of accountability and insensitivity to local concerns. Even under the most favourable circumstances, true internationalism appears to be a bridge too far from a trust perspective. For this reason, world government and a global currency were never a realistic prospect, as much as some may have craved and others dreaded them. Even a transnational European single currency has suffered from a fatal disparity between the national level of primary loyalty and the international level of currency governance, and as such has no future.

As the circumstances supporting economic globalization and attempts at global governance evaporate, and the process goes into reverse, smaller and smaller scale governance structures are likely to join international institutions as stranded assets from a trust perspective – beyond the trust horizon – and lose legitimacy as a result. International structures are likely to fade away, or be torn apart by strife between disparate members who no longer see themselves are part of a larger whole. The socioeconomic impact of the latter process, for which Europe is the prime example, is likely to be enormous. For a time this may strengthen national institutions, but this is likely to be temporary as they too are subject to being undermined by the withdrawal of trust.

Where people no longer internalize and follow rules, because they no longer see those rules as in the general interest, existing national institutions would have to devote far more energy to surveillance and compliance enforcement. The difference in effort required is very significant, and that effort further alienates the governed population in a socially polarizing downward spiral of positive feedback. It also renders governance far less effective. The form of the institutional framework may still appear outwardly the same, but the function can be both undermined from below and overwhelmed from within by an obsession with enforcement until it ceases to be meaningful. This shift is already well underway.

As contraction picks up momentum, the combination, on the one hand, of a desire to control remaining resources and the benefits from remaining economic activity, and on the other the loss of trust and compliance, and consequent movement towards enforcement, is likely to lead to far more authoritarian forms of government in many places. While central control can occasionally facilitate useful responses to crisis, such as rationing of scarce resources, the power is far more likely to be abused for the benefit of the few, as has so often been the case throughout history.

It is within this general context that society will have to function, although considerable path-dependent local variation can be expected. Trust has a very long way to withdraw, especially in places where some form of totalitarianism develops, as this malignant form of governance actively undermines trust among the populace for the purpose of maintaining control through fear. Even in luckier locations, trust is likely to contract enough to undermine the efficacy of any institution beyond municipal scale, and possibly smaller.

Contractions as large as the one ahead lead to a major trust bottleneck through which society must pass before any kind of recovery can begin to get traction, but the narrowness of that bottleneck will vary considerably between societies. Societies with well developed, close-knit communities are likely to find that far more trust survives, and that in turn will mitigate the impact of contraction and hasten the recovery that will involve rebuilding trust from the bottom up.

Given that trust is a major determinant of effective organizational scale, and that the trust horizon is set to contract substantially, the scale at which it makes most sense to work will be much smaller and more local than previously. The future will, eventually, be one of decentralization by necessity. The odds of making a positive impact at smaller scale will be substantially higher, particularly if the actions undertaken are predicated upon a simpler society rather than based on current complex systems. It makes sense to focus scarce resources – money, energy, materials, effort, emotional intensity – where they can achieve the most. An understanding of scale and its determinants is critical in this regard.

It is interesting to look at the role of money in relation to trust and societal scale. Very small and simple societies grounded in personal relationships can function on a gift basis, as the high level of trust in a small number of well-known others is enough to mean that keeping track of favours done for one another is not necessary. Favours may simply be performed when necessary and reciprocity taken for granted. Resources may be ‘owned’ by the group, or made generally available to the group, rather than owned privately and subject to specific exchange.

Scaling up from this point requires interacting with people less well known, where there is less faith that favours done will be reciprocated, so that keeping track becomes necessary. Larger societies are more likely to be hierarchical, with resources privately owned. Exchange of goods or services would then require some form of relative value quantification. It could be decided that everyone’s time is of equivalent worth and therefore that, at the simplest level of value accounting, keeping track of hours contributed would be sufficient. Further scaling up would require greater sophistication in both time and resource accounting. Money is the value abstraction that evolves to perform this function, hence the development of a monetary economy is an emergent property of scale. The paradox of money is that even as it allows trust to scale up beyond the personal, its use is fundamentally a measure of distrust in reliable interpersonal reciprocity.

scale fractal wavesAs scaling up continues, along with increasing socioeconomic differentiation, it becomes necessary to interact constantly with completely unknown individuals. For this to function, the necessary trust must vest in the institutional framework itself, in the abstract representation of value that becomes a store of value in its own right in addition to being a medium of exchange, and in the complex web of rules by which it operates in large scale societies. These rules grow progressively more complex with expanding societal scale and increasing complexity, as the nature of money itself becomes increasingly abstract and derivative.

Money in the form of precious metals was replaced by promissory notes based on precious metals, then promissory notes backed by faith alone, virtual representations of promissory notes, promises to repay promissory notes, or bets on the abstract price movements (denominated in promissory notes) of underlying assets, which could themselves by abstract. Trust in the value of these abstractions in turn gives them value, and each extension of monetary equivalence creates the foundation of confidence for the next step.

The initial physical monetary commodity would have been chosen to be relatively scarce and not creatable, facilitating central control over a limited money supply. However, when an expansionary dynamic is underway, and a larger money supply is called for in order to lubricate the engine of a growing economy, a rapidly expanding supply of increasingly abstract monetary equivalents may serve that need, at the cost of the loss of any semblance of control over the supply of what is accepted as constituting money. In other words, inflationary times are grounded in an exponentially exploding supply of human promises, backed by assets that are increasingly over-pledged as collateral even as their price is bid up by the expanding purchasing power granted by confidence in promises to repay. This is another self-reinforcing dynamic.

Our history has experienced many credit-fuelled cycles of expansion, going back to antiquity. Positive feedback spirals continue, relatively smoothly, until they can no longer do so. A limit is reached, and there is typically a rapidly spreading realization that the pile of human promises is very heavily under-collateralized. The trust which had conferred value in abstract promises dissipates very quickly, taking the erstwhile value with it.

The credit which had gained monetary equivalence during the expansion is deprived of it, and the resulting abrupt contraction of the effective money supply becomes a major factor in a positive feedback loop in the deflationary direction – the collapse of the money supply removes the lubricant from the engine of the economy, the fall in purchasing power undermines asset prices and promises consequently become even less well collateralized, driving further contraction.

The last thirty years have seen the latest incarnation of a major expansion cycle, reaching unprecedented heights in terms of trust in the value of abstractions as the exponential growth of the shadow banking system has overwhelmed official monetary channels and control mechanisms. We are now on the verge of the implosion that will inevitably follow as trust evaporates and virtual value disappears. The contraction will proceed until the small amount of remaining credit/debt is acceptably collateralized to the few remaining creditors.

At that point we can begin to rebuild trust in a new monetary system, and by extension a new form of societal organization. It will likely be one with a strong emphasis on central monetary supply control, with little or no scope for the monetization of expansionary promises. The successive ‘financial innovations’ that built the bubble will be outlawed, as similar phenomena have been before in the aftermath of collapse. Unfortunately, the controls do not last, and a new generation will eventually make similar mistakes once the experience of boom and bust passes once again from living memory.

While there is nothing we can do to prevent the bubble from bursting, or the contraction of the trust horizon that will inevitably occur, we can attempt to cushion the blow and limit the extent of contraction. Understanding the critical role of trust, how to nurture it, how it determines effective organizational scale, and therefore what scale to operate at at what time will allow us to maximize the effectiveness of our actions. In terms of rebuilding a monetary system, it will be necessary in many places to operate at a profoundly local level initially, with the reintroduction of the simplest forms of trust extension above a gift economy – keeping track of hours traded in a time banking process, and local currencies operating within the trust horizon. It will be necessary to build community interconnections actively in order to establish, maintain and increase the necessary trust.

If the process succeeds in halting and reversing the contraction of the trust horizon in places, then new monetary arrangements can be scaled up in those locations when necessary. There will be no need to do so rapidly, as the artificial demand stimulation of the bubble years will have disappeared, inevitably leaving much less economic activity during a period of economic depression, and therefore much less demand for a large money supply to lubricate the engine of the economy.

Governance arrangements operating at a scale in line with local monetary provision will be necessary, and can expect to be more effective than larger institutions substantially beyond the trust horizon. The latter, where they still exist and can exercise power at a distance, are most likely to make it more difficult for society to be able to function rather than less, as they can be expected to resist the decentralization that could allow localities to establish resilience.

Operating at a local scale to build local supply chains and resilience is far more compatible with the human psyche. At times when social organization has expanded to the point where it dwarfs individual actions, and may control them either directly or indirectly, individuals are disempowered by scale. Many feel they have no control over the critical factors of their own lives, which often leads to psychological disturbances such as depression, at present widely addressed with medication. Increasing scale can reduce both empowerment and civic engagement, as it fosters the perception that one can achieve nothing through individual action.

The increasing complexity that accompanies scaling up also occupies time, money and individual energies, leaving little in the way of personal resources to contribute to the public sphere. Of course for the few in positions of control, scale translates into leveraging power, which can effectively become a drug in its own right, but for the masses it is much less conducive to functioning effectively and meaningfully. For a while the masses can be bought off with bread and circuses, and, for some, with aspirations to achieving a position of power and leverage themselves.

This only works while it remains possible to supply sufficient bread and circuses, and while people still believe that higher aspirations may be realistic. Expansions do shake up up established orders enough to open doors for a few to exploit the new niches that open up with increasing complexity, but in the latter stages of expansion, the social strata typically reform and solidify again, so that upward mobility becomes harder or impossible. The combination creates a dangerous situation, where financial implosion and social explosion can happen in a simultaneous dislocation.

The shift to operating at a local scale, over the longer term at least (once the dust has settled), can be expected to improve the balance between individuals and society, albeit at the cost of living in a much simpler, lower energy and less resource intensive manner. The implications of this shift are huge. Almost every aspect of our lives will change profoundly. We can expect the transition to be traumatic, as the dislocation of major contractions has always been. What large scale and extreme complexity have given us only appear to be normal, as they have persisted for much or all of our lifetimes. In fact we stand at the peak of an unprecedentedly abnormal period in human history – the largest in a long series of financial bubbles, thanks to the hydrocarbons that allowed it to develop over decades.

Things look good at the peak of a bubble, as if we could extrapolate past trends forward indefinitely and reach even higher heights. However, the trend is changing as the enabling circumstances are crumbling, and the bubble is already bursting as a result. Our task now is to navigate a changing reality. We cannot change the waves of expansion and contraction, as their scale is beyond human control, but we can learn to surf.”

scale me & all ya'll

(News & Editorial/Our Human Ponzi scheme)

 

 

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On being prepared

On being prepared

A. How to Survive Societal Collapse in Suburbia
Excerpt pasted from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/magazine/how-to-survive-societal-collapse-in-suburbia.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&

Suburban1

Photograph by Dwight Eschliman for The New York Times

The Douglas Family Stockpile
1.  Staples in 6-gallon buckets include: rice, beans, nuts, sugar, salt, matches, wheat, flour
2.  Freeze-dried meals
3.  Assorted canned foods: cheese, butter and meat
4.  Water-bath canner
5.  Vacuum sealer
6.  Pressure canner
7. Pot
8. Canned meat: red is pork, green is turkey
9. Broth: beef and chicken
10.  Salt: 25-pound bags
11.  Aluminum foil
12.  Portable first-aid kits, lighters, U.V. light sticks, fast-acting glue
13.  Candles
14.  Sunflower seeds
15.  Cough drops
16.  Canned turkey
17.  Stackable containers of canned food
18.  72-hour backpacks
19.  Charcoal chimney
20.  Potatoes
21. Grill
22.  Solar oven
23.  Beef jerky
24.  Vinegar, white and cider
25.  Olive oil in cans
26.  Wall-mounted first-aid kit
27.   Canned staples: rice, dried carrots, dried onions
28. Powdered milk and eggs
29. Laundry detergent
30. The Douglas family
31. Heirloom seed bank
32. Bleach
33. Pasta
34. Dehydrated mashed potatoes
35. More assorted staples
36. Miscellaneous canned goods
37. Stackable containers of canned food
38. Powdered hot chocolate
39. GeneratorNot pictured: juice, apple and grape; fortified water; hand sanitizer; laundry bucket; jars of bouillon; canned apple-pie filling; filtered-water bottles.
40. Propane burner
41. Water filter
42. Hand warmers
43. Surgical masks
44. Empty Mason jars for canning
45. Jars of roasted peppers
46. Rifle, shotgun and pistol
47. Buckets of honey
48. Cans of sardines
49. Foldout tent
50. 5-gallon gas cans
51. Solar panels
52. Plastic hose

suburban2

B. Survival In A Big City After Disaster
12 November 2014, Modern Survival Blog, by Ken Jorgustin
Pasted from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/systemic-risk/survival-in-a-big-city-after-disaster/

The issue of survival in a big city following a major disaster is a serious one. In 1800, only 3 % of the world’s population lived in cities. Today, about half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and in developed countries up to 70 % or more live in larger cities. New York and Los Angeles are among the top 10 most populous cities in the world. There are 30 MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) within the United States which have 2 million people or more.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hopefully nothing… however don’t count on it. A microcosm of what could go wrong already happened years ago in New Orleans. Remember Katrina? What about Hurricane Sandy not that long ago in the heavily populated Mid Atlantic region of the Northeast? Does anyone remember the LA riots? What about Ferguson MO?

There are all sorts of natural or man-made events which could spell disaster for the big cities.

What about this one… There are approximately 50 percent of Americans who get some sort of government benefits and there are 82 million households on Medicaid. The amount of people on SNAP (food stamps) has nearly doubled since 2006. And this is only from 2011 Census data. There’s little doubt the numbers are even worse today. How many of these people live in the cities or metropolitan areas? I would suggest that the majority do.

What happens if government assistance is reduced via a financial collapse, or perhaps by a devalued dollar through price inflation – which buys less product? What happens if EBT cards stop working or are ‘worth’ much less than before? I will tell you what happens… The dependent class will revolt.

Without going further down that rabbit hole (I digress), let’s think about survival in the big cities. Let’s face it. There are lots of you who live in the cities or heavily populated MSAs.

When considering one’s preparedness and/or how to survive in the city after a disaster – the thought processes, the plans, and the resulting actions will depend (very much) on the circumstances that one is preparing for. In other words, how bad of a disaster scenario and how long might it go on. These are judgment calls which are made during the event and are preconceived “what if” scenarios based on your own risk tolerance.

The first thing that many people will think to do (following a disaster while living in the city) is to simply ‘bug out’, get-out-of-dodge, leave the city to greener pastures. The problem is, many people really do not have another realistic place to go than where they are now. Unless you truly have a willing friend who lives away from the city, then you will need to think about Plan B. Besides, who’s to say that you could even get out of the city during certain disasters? For an obvious short-term localized disaster you could certainly try to get out and stay in a hotel somewhere out of the region. Traffic will certainly be snarled.

Plan B is to face the very real possibility that you will be stuck right there where you are now. In the city. This is a very bad situation for some disaster circumstances, however for other scenarios it is survivable. Much depends on initial severity as well as the expected length of time in which you will be adversely affected.

If any of the city infrastructure is severely damaged, you will probably be facing a relatively long time to recovery and some very serious problems. If the water and/or sewage is affected, then you are in big trouble. This could be the result of physical damage (e.g. a major earthquake, attack, etc..) or it could be the result of regional (or wider) power outage. If it’s the later, then you will need to understand the cause of the power outage so that you can reasonably determine the expected length of time until it’s re-established (very important to discover and know). A battery powered portable radio is an essential item to get news and information about the disaster.

A major electrical grid power outage could be caused by storm damage. Ice storms are particularly notorious for this, as well ask hurricanes which wreak wide spread damage. Often these types of weather related outages will be resolved within days or weeks because the power company brings in multitudes of crews from other regions to help with the repairs.

On the other hand if the power outage has been caused by a worse enemy, such as a ‘Carrington Event’ solar flare & CME, or by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack, then this could be a life-ending event for many millions. How will you know? Some or all things ‘electronic’ may not be operational (fried). An entirely different approach must be taken to survive this. But that’s another subject.

Having said that, I believe that the biggest (general) factors to survival in the city is:
– the condition of the electrical grid
– the condition of the infrastructure
– the condition of the distribution networks which bring food & supplies
– the condition of the chaos and your security

For starters, while considering how to prepare for disaster while living in the city, figure out how you will survive based on the four previously mentioned factors. Since most (typical?) disasters are relatively short lived (hours, days, maybe a week or two), then the foremost important thing to do is determine what you will need (in your city apartment or home) to survive without these things. In other words, you’re on your own (completely) for a day or two, maybe a week, or maybe even two.

We’re talking about some of the basics such as water, food, sanitation, keeping warm (during the winter) or keeping cool (summer), and your personal security. Although depending on exactly where you live, your personal security should not (generally) be an issue at first, given a short term disaster. Just keep in mind that when it begins to go on past day-3, then there will be increasingly desperate unprepared people – at which time security will become an increasing issue.

Water
Water can easily be procured and stored. Figure at least 1 gallon of water per day per person. More is (always) better in this regard. You can stock up on cases of water bottles and/or fill up some water storage containers. Get yourself a quality drinking water filter. Most people forget the water when thinking about preparedness. If you’re reading this, there’s no excuse now…

Food
Store some foods which do not require cooking (important). Remember, you can safely eat grocery store canned foods without cooking (even though you’re used to heating them up first). Don’t forget the manual can opener. There is literally no excuse for anyone not to have enough food storage to survive several weeks.

Sanitation
Imagine the scenario without running water. Consider keeping a quantity of ‘wet wipes’ or some such disposable cleaning wipes for hands or other duties. Know that you can flush a toilet without running water. If the power is out for long, this could become a big problem in the city if their generators are not working (or run out of fuel). Pumps are required to water to your faucets and to move sewage – which might ‘back up’ into buildings. Don’t laugh but a 5 gallon bucket (or your existing empty toilet) lined with a heavy duty trash bag (use kitty litter to pour over afterwards) is better than nothing. You could then tie and dispose of used bags somewhere outdoors (although it will be another difficult issue in the city).

Heating & Air Conditioning (Shelter)
A big issue for survival in the city following a disaster is the potential lack of HVAC (heating and air conditioning). Air (or lack thereof). Most apartment buildings (and large buildings in general) are designed to produce a climate controlled environment (which requires electricity). Many buildings do not even have windows which can be opened. Even if they do, it won’t be enough during the summer to prevent a virtual ‘cooker’ in such a building. And if during the winter, you will need to find a way to stay warm without the HVAC system (safely). Mostly, this means wearing warm winter clothes, jackets, hats, gloves, thermals, and having a cold weather sleeping bag. You can survive this way without heat – so long as you have adequate clothes and protection (shelter).

Personal Security
Your personal security will potentially be at risk in the city if the disaster looms long. Face it – most people are not prepared whatsoever for disaster. These people will be ‘screwed’ in a moderate or long term event. Coupled with the dangers of desperate people doing desperate things will be the city gangs of thugs who will take advantage of the chaos. Avoid confrontation by being prepared ahead of time and staying home while you secure your own perimeter and go about the task of survival. For anywhere it is legal, I suggest owning a firearm. Learn how to use it at the range (most people who’ve never shot a firearm before are surprised at how much fun it is when they finally do ). The longer the disaster scenario plays out in the city, the more dangerous it will become for you. Know this and prepare for it accordingly.

Apart from water, food, shelter, security, there are countless other considerations and supplies which will help during a time of disaster. Browse this site (http://modernsurvivalblog.com) and others for lists and ideas. Some of the ideas are obvious ‘no-brainers’ such as a flashlight and extra batteries, while other ideas may really help you in other less obvious ways…

In conclusion, let me say this… during a complete collapse of society and/or SHTF, the cities will not survive. Today’s ‘Just In Time’ distribution will collapse and leave the cities as wastelands of descending chaos. When the trucks stop, it’s over. IF you sense that the disaster is leading towards complete collapse, then I would do everything in my power to get out of there.

By the way, the top 30 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in the United States are as follows:
1. New York
2. Los Angeles
3. Chicago
4. Dallas-Fort Worth
5. Houston
6. Philadelphia
7. Washington
8. Miami
9. Atlanta
10. Boston
11. San Francisco
12. Riverside
13. Phoenix
14. Detroit
15. Seattle
16. Minneapolis-St.Paul
17. San Diego
18. Tampa-St.Petersburg
19. St. Louis 20. Baltimore
21. Denver
22. Pittsburgh
23. Charlotte
24. Portland OR
25. San Antonio
26. Orlando
27. Sacramento
28. Cincinnati
29. Cleveland
30. Kansas City

(Prepper articles/ Readiness in suburbs and city)

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How volcanoes like Tambora and Laki can affect our ecology

(News & Editorial)

The threat of volcanic activity and occasional eruptions seem to be in the news a lot recently, making one wonder, ‘If volcanoes erupt every year, as they always have and always will, what’s the big deal?’
Answer: 1) All volcanoes have not been created equally, 2) never have so many humans been so dependent on such relatively small warehouse storage and, 3)  just in time deliveries; 4) never has so much of our world’s population lived concentrated in a dependant city environment, while at the same time, 5) without knowledge of the past, feeling safe and secure in their numbers and looking to their governments to cover any ‘eventuality’.
Let’s step back for a moment to get a feel for the truly prodigious natural forces, capabilities  and  health estimates of a volcano affecting modern civilization.
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Volcanic eruptions undo all climate change measures
Tuesday 5th July 2011, 6:03AM BST.
http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2011/07/05/letter-volcanic-eruptions-undo-all-climate-change-measures/#ixzz1REa3j74b
“Letter: The volcanic eruption in Iceland, since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just four days, negated every single effort we humans have made in the past five years to control carbon dioxide emissions on our planet.
Of course you know about this gas we are trying to suppress – it’s that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow, and to synthesize into oxygen for all animal life.
The volcanic ash has erased every effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon.
And there are about 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this gas every day.
I don’t really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in its entire time on earth.
Should I mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keep happening, despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change?
I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the bushfire season across the western USA and Australia this year alone [2011] will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years.”

What have been the truely ‘super eruptions? I don’t mean the smoke and ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano that affected European air service, nor the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa, nor the global cooling event brought by ‘popular’ Mt. Tambora, nor even the Minoan eruption and deluge brought by Mt. Santorini.
The seven ‘big ‘uns’ include:
1)  Mt Toba, Indonesia, erupted 74,000 years ago (with a volcanic crater measuring  a whopping 62 miles by 21 miles). Obviously not the cartoon image of a cinder cone mountain with a little hole in the top.
2)  beautiful Yellowstone (super volcano) National Park, whos caldera (volcanic crater) measures  34 miles by 44 miles
3)  Long Valley, and
4)  Valles Calderas in the United States
5)  Taupo Volcano, North Island, New Zealand;
6)  Aira Caldera, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyūshū, Japan;
7)  and the Siberian Traps in Russia.
The Siberian Traps are the point of discussion in the next article. This massive eruptive event spanned the Permian-Triassic boundary, about 250 million years ago, and is cited as a possible cause of the Permian-Triassic extinction event. This extinction event, also called the “Great Dying”, affected all life on Earth, and is estimated to have killed 90% of species living at the time. Life on land took 30 million years to recover from the environmental disruptions which may have been caused by the eruption of the Siberian Traps. Super volcanoes erupt very rarely, so are not the main theme of this article compilation.
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The cause of Earth’s largest environmental catastrophe
14-Sep-2011, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, F. Ossing
<ossing@gfz-potsdam.de> and  <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-09/haog-tco091311.php>
“Siberian traps and their relation to the mass extinction 250 million years ago
The eruption of giant masses of magma in Siberia 250 million years ago led to the Permo-Triassic mass extinction when more than 90 % of all species became extinct. An international team including geodynamic modelers from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences together with geochemists from the J. Fourier University of Grenoble, the Max Plank Institute in Mainz, and Vernadsky-, Schmidt- and Sobolev-Institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences report on a new idea with respect to the origin of the Siberian eruptions and their relation to the mass extinction in the recent issue of Nature (15.09.2011, vol. 477, p. 312-316).
Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) are huge accumulations of volcanic rock at the Earth’s surface. Within short geological time spans of often less than one million years their eruptions cover areas of several hundred thousand square kilometres with up to 4 kilometers thick lava flows. [Above right: Location of the Siberian Traps volcanoes and their lava flow.]

The Siberian Traps are considered the largest continental LIP.
A widely accepted idea is that LIPs originate through melting within thermal mantle plumes, a term applied to giant mushroom-shaped volumes of plastic mantle material that rise from the base of the mantle to the lithosphere, the Earth’s rigid outer shell. The high buoyancy of purely thermal mantle plumes, however, should cause kilometer-scale uplift of the lithosphere above the plume head, but such uplift is not always present. Moreover, estimates of magmatic degassing from many LIPs are considered insufficient to trigger climatic crises. The team of scientists presents a numerical model and new geochemical data with which unresolved questions can now be answered.
They suggest that the Siberian mantle plume contained a large fraction of about 15 percent of recycled oceanic crust; i.e. the crust that had long before been subducted into the deep mantle and then, through the hot mantle plume, brought back to the Earth’s lithosphere. This recycled oceanic crust was present in the plume as eclogite, a very dense rock which made the hot mantle plume less buoyant. For this reason the impingement of the plume caused negligible uplift of the lithosphere. The recycled crustal material melts at much lower temperatures than the normal mantle material peridotite, and therefore the plume generated exceptionally large amounts of magmas and was able to destroy the thick Siberian lithosphere thermally, chemically and mechanically during a very short period of only a few hundred thousand years. During this process, the recycled crust, being exceptionally rich in volatiles such as CO2 and halogens, degassed and liberated gases that passed through the Earth crust into the atmosphere to trigger the mass extinction. The model predicts that the mass extinction should have occurred before the main magmatic eruptions. Though based on sparse available data, this prediction seems to be valid for many LIPs.”
[Stephan V. Sobolev, Alexander V. Sobolev, Dmitry V. Kuzmin et al., Linking mantle plumes, large igneous provinces and environmental catastrophes, Nature, vol. 477, p. 312-316, 2011]”

Our personal concern is with the near term potential eruption of either a single large volcano, or a hand full of middle size volcanoes. Any combination of which can act in concert to lower Earth’s average surface temperature a few degrees affecting our: ‘comfort (energy costs/energy availability), crops (food supply), economy (global trade> national economy > corporation/company > your family income) and social peace (international – war, neighborhood – crime ).
The terms: “average surface temperature, comfort, crops, economy, and social peace are part of our ecology, a feed back loop and each with its own small loops.
When the planet’s surface temperature is lowered,  every thing else become unstable and moves away from its long term norm. Readjustments take time and bring about hurt and hardship, it’s Natures Way. Think of it like bopping one side of a spider web and seeing the whole web shake. Everything is connected across the spider web, same as in our ecology, in our activities, in our happiness and in our well being.
What could a fairly large volcanic eruption in the northwern hemisphere do? Lets look at the next article, Future Iceland Eruptions Could Be Deadly for Europe.

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Future Iceland Eruptions Could Be Deadly for Europe
September 19, 2011, ScienceNow, By Sid Perkins
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/09/laki-volcano-iceland-eruption-model/
“What if one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recent history happened today? A new study suggests that a blast akin to one that devastated Iceland in the 1780s would waft noxious gases southwestward and kill tens of thousands of people in Europe. And in a modern world that is intimately connected by air traffic and international trade, economic activity across much of Europe, including the production and import of food, could plummet.
From June of 1783 until February of 1784, the Laki volcano in south-central Iceland erupted. Although the event didn’t produce large amounts of volcanic ash, it did spew an estimated 122 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide gas into the sky — a volume slightly higher than human industrial activity today produces in the course of a year, says Anja Schmidt, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

Historical records suggest that in the 2 years after the Laki eruption, approximately 10,000 Icelanders died — about one-fifth of the population — along with nearly three-quarters of the island’s livestock. Parish records in England reveal that in the summer of 1783, when the event began, death rates were between 10 percent and 20 percent above normal. The Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy reported episodes of decreased visibility, respiratory difficulties, and increased mortality associated with the eruption. According to one study, an estimated 23,000 people died from exposure to the volcanic aerosols in Britain alone. But elsewhere in Europe, it’s difficult to separate deaths triggered by the air pollution from those caused by starvation or disease, which were prominent causes of death at the time.
To assess how such an eruption might affect the densely populated Europe of today, Schmidt and her colleagues plugged a few numbers into a computer simulation. They used weather models to estimate where sulfur dioxide emissions from an 8-month-long eruption that commenced in June would end up. They also estimated the resulting increases in the concentrations of airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers across, the size of aerosols that are most easily drawn into human lungs and that cause cardiopulmonary distress. Then, they used modern medical data to estimate how many people those aerosols would kill.
In the first 3 months after the hypothetical eruption began, the average aerosol concentration over Europe would increase by 120 percent, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The number of days during the eruption in which aerosol concentrations exceed air-quality standards would rise to 74, when a normal period that length typically includes only 38. Not surprisingly, the air would become thickest with dangerous particles in areas downwind of the eruption, such as Iceland and northwestern Europe, where aerosol concentrations would more than triple. But aerosol concentrations in southern Europe would also increase dramatically, rising by 60 percent.

[The redder, the deader. An 8-month-long eruption of an Icelandic volcano could send emissions of noxious sulfur dioxide over Europe, significantly boosting cardiopulmonary death rates during the following year in southwestern England, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.
Credit: A. Schmidt, PNAS Early Edition (2011)]

In the year after the hypothetical eruption commences, the increased air pollution swept from Iceland to Europe would cause massive amounts of heart and lung disease, killing an estimated 142,000 people. Fewer than half that number of Europeans die from seasonal flu each year.
At least four Laki-sized eruptions have occurred in Iceland in the past 1,150 years, Schmidt and her colleagues say. So the new figures are cause for concern.
The team “has done a good job of showing where volcanic aerosols would end up, and the human health response to such aerosols is well understood,” says Brian Toon, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “This is all very solid science.”
Icelandic volcanoes shut down European air traffic for more than a week in April 2010 and for several days in May of this year. But those eruptions are tiny compared with a Laki-sized eruption, which could ground airplanes for 6 months or more, says Alan Robock, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Such an event would have a huge impact on crop yields and, by affecting shipping and air traffic, would also affect Europeans’ ability to import food, he notes. It could even have a dramatic effect on daily life, he says. “If there are sulfur dioxide clouds over Europe, people with respiratory problems can’t do much about it except stay indoors.”
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History’s deadliest volcano comes back to life in Indonesia, sparking panic among villagers
September 19, 2011, Associated Press,  Contributers: Robin McDowell and Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, and Sarah DiLorenzo in Paris.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/historys-deadliest-volcano-comes-back-to-life-in-indonesia-sparking-panic-among-villagers/2011/09/19/gIQA3WDheK_story.html
“Bold farmers routinely ignore orders to evacuate the slopes of live volcanos in Indonesia, but those on Tambora took no chances when history’s deadliest mountain rumbled ominously this month, Sept., 2011. Villagers like Hasanuddin Sanusi have heard since they were young how the mountain they call home once blew apart in the largest eruption ever recorded — an 1815 event widely forgotten outside their region — killing 90,000 people and blackening skies on the other side of the globe. So, the 45-year-old farmer didn’t wait to hear what experts had to say when Mount Tambora started being rocked by a steady stream of quakes. He grabbed his wife and four young children, packed his belongings and raced down its quivering slopes. “It was like a horror story, growing up,” said Hasanuddin, who joined hundreds of others in refusing to return to their mountainside villages for several days despite assurances they were safe.
“A dragon sleeping inside the crater, that’s what we thought. If we made him angry — were disrespectful to nature, say — he’d wake up spitting flames, destroying all of mankind.”

The April 1815 eruption of Tambora left a crater 7 miles) wide and half a mile deep, spewing an estimated 400 million tons of sulfuric gases into the atmosphere and leading to “the year without summer” in the U.S. and Europe.
It was 10 times more powerful than Indonesia’s much better-known Krakatoa blast of 1883 — history’s second deadliest. But it doesn’t share the same international renown, because the only way news spread across the oceans at the time was by slowboat, said Tambora researcher Indyo Pratomo. In contrast, Krakatoa’s eruption occurred just as the telegraph became popular, turning it into the first truly global news event.

…Little was known about Tambora’s global impact until the 1980s, when Greenland ice core samples — which can be read much like tree rings — revealed an astonishing concentration of sulfur at the layer dating back to 1816, said geologist Jelle de Boer, co-author of “Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Major Eruption.”
Gases had combined with water vapor to form fine droplets of acid that remained for years in the atmosphere, circling the earth and reflecting some of the solar radiation back into space.
Temperatures worldwide plummetted, causing crops to fail and leading to massive starvation.
Farmers on the northeastern coast of the U.S. reported snow well into July.
In France, grape harvests were decimated. Daniel Lawton of the wine brokerage Tastet-Lawton said a note in his company’s files remarks that 1816 was a “detestable year” and yielded only a quarter of the crop planted.
Soon after the ice core findings, scientists started studying Tambora in earnest…”
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If an Icelandic volcano erupts, would tragic history repeat?
21 Sep 2011, ars technica, By Scott K. Johnson
http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2011/09/if-iceland-volcano-erupts-would-tragic-history-repeat.ars
Beginning in 1783, Iceland endured an eight-month-long volcanic eruption that left a seemingly endless haze covering the landscape. The dry fog of microscopic aerosol particles, mostly sulfur oxides, caused the deaths of fully 20 percent of Iceland’s population, along with 75 percent of their livestock.
The effects of the eruption at Laki were not limited to Iceland. In the Netherlands, trees dropped their leaves in June, as if signaling a very early autumn. The number of deaths recorded in England that year was 10-20 percent above average. Reports of deaths and health problems came from as far away as Italy.
The mouthful that was Eyjafjallajökull reminded us in 2010 that volcanoes can easily bring air travel to a grinding halt, but what would happen if an eruption on the scale of Laki occurred today?

[Image right: April 20th, 2010 Smoke and ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano make their way across the landscape in Iceland.]

To estimate the direct impact on human health, a group of researchers first used an atmospheric aerosol model to simulate the eruption of Laki under a range of present-day atmospheric conditions. By doing so, they were able to calculate the resulting concentrations of aerosols over Iceland and continental Europe. They found that average concentrations across Europe would rise to more than double the background average over the first three months of the eruption. The highest concentrations, occurring in northern Europe, would reach more than triple background levels.
Over the course of the eruption, the models estimated that atmospheric aerosol levels would exceed the World Health Organization’s air quality standard for over a month in Europe, and almost 6 months in Iceland.
From there, the researchers used medical studies of the impact of particulate matter to estimate the number of direct fatalities. They found that, in the year of the eruption, volcanic aerosols would cause 50,000 to 230,000 deaths. While that’s certainly a terrible loss of life, it’s actually a significantly smaller percentage of the population than died during the 1783 eruption.

There have been four “Laki-like” eruptions in Iceland over the past 1,150 years—some bigger, some smaller—which means this is not just an academic exercise. It’s a scenario that we could very well encounter in the near future.”

We don’t want to credit a ‘popular volcano’ future eruptions with its past. Tambora’s next eruption could be very small, Laki could erupt and in a few days become quiet. There are plenty of volcanoes in just Iceland who’s past are known and who’s reawakening may surprise us, for example Hekla and Katla. 

.Remember, it’s not just that one very large eruption that can bring global harvests down, but several large volcanoes, or an unusual number of medium size eruptions, or as with Laki, one smaller, long running eruption can do the same.
Comparing climate altering eruptions to – ‘making change for a dollar’. You can pull a dollar bill out of your wallet, or from change in your pocket, select two half dollars, or a half dollar and two quarters, etc. It’s the cumulative amount of  volcanic aerosols and dust being pumped into the upper and lower atmosphere that bring about the temperature change,  shortened growing season, economic, social and negative health effects.

For more specific information, see my posts in in the Categories:
Survival Manual/1. Disaster/Volcanic winter  and
Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Checklist, 100 things that disappear first
Survival Manual/3. Food and Water/Developing a survival food list
Survival Manual/7. Warehouse/Last minute shopping list

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What’s a solar flare?

Aug. 16, 2011, Geek.com, by Jennifer Bergen
www.geek.com/articles/geek-cetera/whats-a-solar-flare-nasa-explains-20110816/

There has been a lot of talk about solar flares the past few weeks. For those of you who are not space nerds, the term solar flare may be unfamiliar to you. It sounds like a terrifying phenomenon that would send giant balls of fire hurling down to earth, but that’s not necessarily the case. NASA has created a handy video putting solar flares into terms anyone can understand and eliminating the paranoia that a ball of fire will rain down on Earth and end all life as we know it.

So, what the heck is a solar flare? NASA says that flares are basically explosions on the surface of the Sun that can last minutes to hours in length. Flares are the result of powerful magnetic fields in and around the sun reconnecting. For the most part, these connections usually happen around active regions where there’s a strong magnetic field. These regions are most often seen as sun spots. Every 11 years, the sun reaches its maximum activity and the solar flares become bigger and more common.

Flares are classified in a similar way to the Richter scale for earthquakes where each letter represents a ten-fold increase in energy output. The smallest flares are B-class, then C, then M, and the largest are classified as X-class. Each letter has a scale of one to nine, so an X9 is an extremely powerful flare, whereas a B1 is not much to write home about. Also an X-class flare is 10 times an M and 100 times a C. Since X9 is technically the largest classification, flares can go above an X9.

Just last week we saw an X6.9-class flare, but the most powerful flare ever to be recorded happened in 2003 and was so powerful that it overloaded the sensors that were measuring it, making it an out-of-category event that had never been seen or experienced before, an X45. The flare wasn’t directly pointed at Earth, but there were some pretty awesome Northern Lights seen a few days later.

A powerful solar flare, like the 2003 flare, can create long-lasting radiation storms. This can harm satellites and can also give anyone flying in a plane near the poles a small dose of radiation. X-flares can also cause worldwide blackouts and can create global transmission problems.

NASA and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, monitor the Sun and can now see the Sun from every side and from many different wavelengths. This allows scientists to predict space weather events like flares and then warn governments and companies in advance if a solar flare’s radiation may be likely to affect the country.

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