Tag Archives: depression

Hubbert’s Peak Oil and the Hirsch Report

(Survival Manual/1. Disaster/ Hubbert’s Peak Oil and The Hirsch report)

(The Hubbert peak theory posits that for any given geographical area, from an individual oil-producing region to the planet as a whole, the rate of petroleum production tends to follow a bell-shaped curve. It is one of the primary theories on peak oil.)

I.  BACK IN THE 1950s
they saw it coming, we knew what it meant, it was ignored.

A.   M. King Hubbert – the first to predict an oil peak
In the 1950s the well known U.S. geologist M. King Hubbert was working for Shell Oil. He noted that oil discoveries, graphed over time, tended to follow a bell shape curve. He supposed that the rate of oil production would follow a similar curve, now known as the Hubbert Curve. In 1956 Hubbert predicted that production from the US lower 48 states would peak between 1965 and 1970.
Despite efforts from his employer to pressure him into not making his projections public, the notoriously stubborn Hubbert did so anyway. In any case, most people inside and outside the industry quickly dismissed the predictions. As it happens, the US lower 48 oil production did peak in 1970/1.
In that year, by definition, US oil producers had never produced as much oil, and Hubbert’s predictions were a fading memory. The peak was only acknowledged with the benefit of several years of hindsight.
No oil producing region fits the bell shaped curve exactly because production is dependent on various geological, economic and political factors, but the Hubbert Curve remains a powerful predictive tool.

In retrospect, the U.S. oil peak might be seen as the most significant geopolitical event of the mid to late 20th Century, creating the conditions for the energy crises of the 1970s, leading to far greater U.S. strategic emphasis on controlling foreign sources of oil, and spelling the beginning of the end of the status of the U.S. as the world’s major creditor nation. The U.S. of course, was able to import oil from elsewhere. Mounting debt has allowed life to continue in the U.S. with only minimal interruption so far. When global oil production peaks, the implications will be felt far more widely, and with much more force.

What does peak oil mean for our societies?
Our industrial societies and our financial systems were built on the assumption of continual growth growth based on ever more readily available cheap fossil fuels. Oil in particular is the most convenient and multi-purposed of these fossil fuels. Oil currently accounts for about 41% of the world’s total fossil fuel consumption, 33% of all global fuel consumption, and 95% of global energy used for transportation.
Oil and gas are feed stocks for plastics, paints, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, electronic components, tires and much more.
Oil is so important that the peak will have vast implications across the realms of war and geopolitics, medicine, culture, transport and trade, economic stability and food production. Significantly, for every one joule of food consumed in the United States, around 10 joules of fossil fuel energy have been used to produce it.

B.  The ‘Hirsch Report’
A U.S. Dept. of Energy commissioned study “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management” [PDF] was released in early 2005. Prepared by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), it is known commonly as the Hirsch Report after its primary author Robert L. Hirsch. For many months the report, although available on the website of a Californian High School, remained unacknowledged by the DOE.
The executive summary of the report warns that: as peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking.
A later paper by Hirsch recommends the world urgently begin spending $1 trillion per year in crash programs for at least a decade, preferably two, before peaking. Obviously, nothing like the kind of efforts envisaged have yet begun. Hirsch was not asked to speculate on when the peak was likely to occur.
[In retrospect, the peak ocurred between 2000-2005; by 2011 we have quietly entered the decline phase. Although the West is in a double dip recession, gas prices have only slightly declined. Asian markets are absorbing production. Western commercial petroleum bulk storage is the lowest in years, while production cannot rebuild stocks to capacity. Its slow, its quiet. Who’s upset, yet? -Mr Larry]

C.  The Olduvai Theory
The theory is a proposed way of measuring industrial civilization by a single ratio – world annual energy use to population. The important idea is that, unlike previous civilizations which have risen and fallen to be replaced by others, industrial civilization would be the last because we would have used up all the easily obtainable resources (oil, coal, minerals) which are necessary for a civilization to form.
The theory is defined by the ratio of world energy production (use) and world population. The details are worked out. The theory is easy. It states that the life expectancy of Industrial Civilization is less than or equal to 100 years: 1930–2030.
World energy production per capita from 1945 to 1973 grew at a breakneck speed of 3.45%/year. Next from 1973 to the all-time peak in 1979, it slowed to a sluggish 0.64%/year. Then suddenly – and for the first time in history – energy production per capita took a long-term decline of 0.33%/year from 1979 to 1999. The Olduvai theory explains the 1979 peak and the subsequent decline. More to the point, it says that energy production per capita will fall to its 1930 value by 2030, thus giving Industrial Civilization a lifetime of less than or equal to 100 years.

The chart above is a graphic showing energy usage/population as a curve with various key points defined. These are:
Note 1: (1930) the beginning of Industrial Civilization
Note 2: (1979) all time peak of world energy production per capita
Note 3: (1999) the end of cheap oil
Note 4: (2000) eruption of violence in the Middle East
Note 5: (2006) all-time peak in world oil production
Note 6: (2008) OPEC crossover when more than 50% of oil comes from the OPEC nations
Note 7: (2012) permanent blackouts spread worldwide
Note 8: (2030) world energy production falls to 1930 level
The future dates may vary but it is easy to see how, with the knowledge we have of peak oil, the world could slip into a Medieval or even Stone Age scenario. Even a Dark Ages world would be difficult to sustain with no coal and little wood to burn. We are so dependent on energy that, unless we find some alternatives to hydrocarbon energy generation pretty quickly, we will find ourselves without the time or energy to switch.
.

II.  Predictions

Four Stages of Oil Depletion Through 2020
http://peakoilquestionoftheday.blogspot.com/p/life-after-crash.html
A.  World Oil and Natural Gas Liquids Production & Changes in each stage
Stage 1 (Now to end of 2011): World conventional crude oil and NGL production (CO&NGL) which is currently at 82 mbpd will remain stable with slight decline to 81 mbpd.
Continued economic stagnation with possible weak recovery, continued high unemployment will put little pressure on oil prices; gas prices will be generally stable. Non-OPEC production will begin to all off. Oil at $75 to $90 bbl; Gas at the pump in Dobbs Ferry $2.90 to $3.20.
Stage 2 (2012): Decline will accelerate in 2012 to 80 mbpd. Prices rises will become more pronounced, but still not seen as an emergency.
Global production fall off by end of year gets attention, markets respond with higher prices. Oil at $100 to $120 bbl; Gas at the pump in Dobbs Ferry $3.30 to $3.70. Economy continues to bump along in recession mode.
Stage 3 (2013 to 2015): Decline will be rapid in 2013 – 2015 with world production at 75 mbpd for CO&NGL by end of 2015.
Increasing fall off in production gets serious, news reports start talking about various causes — bad government policy, global conspiracy, return of “Drill, Baby, Drill”. Airlines cut back drastically as air travel becomes expensive. Demand for fuel-efficient cars soars. Government establishes crash programs to conserve, develop alternatives. Economy in terrible shape. By 2015 oil at $150 bbl; Gas at the pump at $6.00 to $10.00.
Stage 4 (2016 to 2020): by 2020 production will be 62 mbpd. Impossible to really estimate what prices will be. Life as we know it will be a memory.
Economy in shambles, oil prices continue higher.
By 2020 oil at $250+ bbl; Gas at the pump, when available, $15+.

B.  What will life be like once oil goes into decline. Here are a few things to expect.
1. Near Term Impact
__a) Continued economic decline with high unemployment. Without oil to fuel manufacturing, transportation, and food production, the only possible result is economic decline. Unemployment will continue to be high until people realize that they have no choice but to work for far less than they ever expected. Many of the unemployed will find work in agriculture as reliance on oil fueled machinery declines.
__b) Stagnant or declining stock market. Economic decline will inevitably impact the stock market and, as a result, the retirement savings of millions of Americans.
__c) Population move to urban areas/decline of suburbs. Who will want to (or be able to) live in a 4,000 square foot home 40 miles or more from work? The value of suburban housing (especially big houses) will decline as people try to get closer to urban centers and mass transit. Expect housing abandonment of the type already seen in California.
__d) Decline in construction, more people living together. As real income declines and construction costs increase, people will not be able to afford the square footage of living space they have become accustomed to. The migration from suburb to urban area, without additional construction, will mean more roommates, boarders, and houses cut up for rental.
__e) Air travel only for the rich. This is a no brainer. The airline industry is already in contraction. It won’t take much higher oil prices to push it over the edge.
__f) International trade declines.
__g) Deterioration of infrastructure as government revenues dry up.
__h) Increases in all prices — especially food and fuel.
__i) International conflict over remaining oil resources.
__j) Attempts by government to retain current lifestyle will fail and cause huge deficits, decline of currency.
__k) Solid waste disposal
2. Longer Term Impact
__a) more long distance transportation.
__b) Life becomes entirely local.
__c) Government breakdown.
__d) Social unrest.
__e) Population decline.
__f) Land becomes the main source of wealth.


 III. 
Preparing for Life in a Peak Oil World

23 January 2011, Oil Price.com, by Gail Tverberg
http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Preparing-for-Life-in-a-Peak-Oil-World.html
“We know that peak oil will be here soon, and we feel like we should be doing something. But what? It is frustrating to know where to start. In this chapter, we will discuss a few ideas about what we as individuals can do.
1.  What will the first few years after peak oil be like? It is hard to know for certain, but a reasonable guess is that the impact will be like a major recession or depression. Many people will be laid off from work.
•  Gasoline is likely to be very expensive ($10 a gallon or more) and may not be available, except in limited quantities after waiting in line for a long time. Fewer goods of all types will be available in stores. Imports from third-world countries are likely to be especially unavailable, because of the impact of the oil shortage on their economies.
[Internet image right: Sanyo Enloop AA rechargeable batteries]
•  Gasoline prices may not rise as high as $10 gallon; the problem may be that at lower prices than $10 gallon, oil prices send the economy into recession. There may actually be a glut of oil supply because of recession or depression, because many cannot afford the high priced oil. For example, state highway departments cannot afford high priced asphalt. This is related to low “energy return on energy invested”. If the goods and services made with oil aren’t great enough to justify its high price, high oil price can be expected to send the economy into recession. Countries that use a lot of oil for purposes other than creating new goods and services are likely to be especially vulnerable to recession.
•  Money may not have the same value as previously–opinion is divided as to whether deflation or rampant inflation will be a problem. Investments, even those previously considered safe, are likely to lose value. Things we take for granted–like bottled water, fast food restaurants, and dry cleaners–may disappear fairly quickly. Electricity may become less reliable, with more frequent outages. Airplane tickets are likely to be extremely expensive, or only available with a special permit based on need.

2.  If a scenario like this is coming, what can a person do now? Here are a few ideas:
• Visit family and friends now, especially those at a distance. This may be more difficult to do in the future.
•  Learn to know your neighbors. It is likely that you will need each other’s help more in the future.
•  If you live by yourself, consider moving in with friends or relatives. In tough times, it is better to have others to rely on. It is also likely to be a lot cheaper.
•  Buy a bicycle that you can use as alternate transportation, if the need arises.
•  Start walking or jogging for exercise. Get yourself in good enough physical condition that you could walk a few miles if you needed to.
•  Take care of your physical health. If you need dental work or new glasses, get them. Don’t put off immunizations and other preventive medicine. These may be more difficult to get, or more expensive, later.
•  Move to a walkable neighborhood. If it seems likely that you will be able to keep your job, move closer to your job.
•  Trade in your car for one with better mileage. If you have a SUV, you can probably sell it at a better price now than in the future. [Internet image right: Mitsubishi or another make of small electric car.]
•  If you have two cars powered by gasoline, consider trading one for a diesel-powered vehicle. That way, if gasoline (or diesel) is not available, you will still have one car you can drive.
•  Make sure that you have at least a two-week supply of food and water, if there is some sort of supply disruption. It is always good to have some extra for an emergency–the likelihood of one arising is greater now.
•  Keep reasonable supplies of things you may need in an emergency–good walking shoes, boots, coats, rain wear, blankets, flashlights and batteries (or wind-up flashlights).
•  Take up hobbies that you will be able to continue in a low energy world, such as gardening, knitting, playing a musical instrument, bird watching, or playing cards with neighbors.
•  Join a local sustainability group or “permaculture” group and start learning about sustainable gardening methods.

3.  Do I need to do more than these things? It really depends on how much worse things get, and how quickly. If major services like electricity and water remain in place for many years, and if gasoline and diesel remain reasonably available, then relatively simple steps will go a long way.
Some steps that might be helpful to add once the crunch comes include:
•  Join a carpool for work, or make arrangements to work at home. If public transportation is available, use it.
•  Cut out unnecessary trips. Eat meals at home. Take your lunch to work. Walk or jog in your neighborhood rather than driving to the gym. Order from the internet or buy from stores you can walk to, rather than driving alone to stores.
•  If you live a distance from shopping, consider forming a neighborhood carpool for grocery and other shopping. Do this for other trips as well, such as attending church. If closer alternatives are available, consider them instead.
•  Plant a garden in your yard. Put in fruit or nut trees. Make a compost pile, and use it in your garden. Put to use what you learned in sustainability or permaculture groups.
•  Meat, particularly beef, is likely to be very expensive. Learn to prepare meals using less meat. Make casseroles like your grandmother’s, making a small amount of meat go a long way. Or make soup using a little meat plus vegetables or beans.
•  Use hand-me-down clothing for younger children. Or have a neighborhood garage sale, and trade clothing with others near you.

4.  Should families continue to have two, three, or four children, as they often do today? With the uncertainties ahead, it would be much better if families were very small–one child, or none at all. The world’s population has grown rapidly in the last 100 years. Part of the reason for growth is the fact that with oil and natural gas, it was possible to grow much more food than in the past. As we lose the use of these fossil fuels, it is likely that we will not be able to produce as much food as in the past, because of reduced ability to irrigate crops, and reduced availability of fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides. In addition, manufactured goods of all types, including clothing and toys, are likely to be less available, with declining fossil fuel supply. Having smaller families will help fit the population to the available resources.
If couples have completed their families, it would probably be worthwhile for them to consider a permanent method of contraception, since birth control may be less available or more expensive.

5.  Are there any reasons why steps such as those outlined in Question 3 might be too little to handle the problem? Besides the decline in oil production, there are a number of other areas of concern. Hopefully, most of these will never happen, or if they do happen, will not occur for several years. If they do happen, greater measures than those outlined in Question 3 are likely to be needed.
•  Collapse of the financial system. Our financial system needs growth to sustain it, so that loans can be paid back with interest. Once peak oil hits, growth will be gone. Economic growth may even be replaced with economic decline. It is not clear our financial system can handle this.
•  Collapse of foreign trade. Many factors may come into play: The cost of transportation will be higher. Airline transport may not be available at all. Fewer goods are likely to be produced by the poorer countries of the world, because of power outages related to high oil prices. Rapid inflation/deflation may make monetary transactions more difficult.
•  Rapid climate change. Recently, scientists have discovered that climate change can take place over a very short period of time–as little as a decade or two. Temperature and precipitation changes may cause crop failures, and may make some areas no longer arable. Sea levels may also rise.
[Image right: Hot water and photovoltiac collectors on the roof of a private residence.]
•  Failure of the electrical grid. The grid tends to be vulnerable to many kinds of problems–including deterioration due to poor maintenance, damage during storms, and attacks in times of civil unrest. Maintenance is currently very poor (grade of D) according to the “Report Card on America’s Infrastructure” by the American Society of Civil Engineers. If we cannot maintain the grid, and upgrade it for the new wind and solar capacity being added, we will all be in the dark.
•  Water shortages. There are several issues–We are drawing down some aquifers at unsustainable rates, and these may be depleted. Climate change may reduce the amount of water available, by melting ice caps and changing storm patterns. City water and sewer systems require considerable energy inputs to continue functioning. If these are not provided, the systems will stop. Finally, systems must also be adequately maintained–something that is neglected currently.
•  Road deterioration. If we don’t have roads, it doesn’t matter whether we have cars. In the future, asphalt (a petroleum product) is expected to become more and more expensive and less available. It is not clear whether recycling asphalt from lesser-used roads will overcome this difficulty.
•  Decline in North American natural gas production. Natural gas is especially used for home heating, making plastics and making fertilizer. It is also used in electrical generation, particularly for extra load capacity when demand is high. Conventional natural gas is declining, and it is not clear that supply from other sources can make up the gap.
We now have shale gas and other unconventional making up the gap, but there are uncertainties how long it will stay with us.
•  Inadequate mineral supplies. A number of minerals are becoming less available, including copper (used in electric wiring), platinum (used in catalytic converters), phosphorous (used in fertilizer).
•  Fighting over available supplies. This could happen at any level. Individuals with inadequate food or gasoline may begin using violence. Or there may be fighting among groups within a nation, or between nations.

6. Are there any reasons for optimism? Yes. We know that people throughout the ages have gotten along successfully with far fewer resources than we have now, and with much less foreign trade. Financial systems have gotten into trouble in the past, and eventually new systems have replaced them. If nothing else, barter works.
We know that among the countries of the world, the United States, Canada, and Russia have reasonably good resource endowments in relation to their populations. They have fairly large amounts of land for crops, moderate rainfall, reasonable amounts of fossil fuels remaining, and populations that are not excessively large.
We also know that Cuba successfully made a transition from high oil usage to much lower oil usage, through the development of local gardens, increased public transit, and bicycles. A movie has been made about the Cuban experience.

7. What should we do, if we want to do more than described in Question 3? Some web sites (such as Life After the Oil Crash and wtdwtshtf.com) advocate moving to a farming area, buying land and hand tools, and learning to farm without fossil fuels. Typically, an individual purchases an existing farmhouse and adds solar panels or a windmill. The web sites generally recommend storing up large supplies of food, clothing, medicine, tools, guns, and ammunition, and learning a wide range of skills. These sites also suggest storing some things (liquor, razor blades, aspirin, etc.) for purposes of barter.
This approach may work for a few people, but it has its drawbacks. Making such a big move is likely to be expensive, and will most likely involve leaving one’s job. The individual will be alone, so security may be a problem. The individual may be dependent on his or her own resources for most things, especially if the farm is in a remote location. If the weather is bad, crops may fail. Living on the edge of a small town may prevent some problems, but such a move would still be a major undertaking.

8. How about Ecovillages? What are they? These are communities dedicated to the idea of sustainable living. These communities were set up in response to many issues facing the world, including global warming, resource depletion, and lifestyles that are not fulfilling. They were generally not formed with peak oil in mind.
Each ecovillage is different. Organizers often buy a large plot of land and lay out a plan for it. Individuals buy into the organization. Homes may be made from sustainable materials, such as bales of straw. Gardening is generally done using “permaculture”- a sustainable organic approach. Individuals may have assigned roles in the community.
The few ecovillages I investigated did not seem to truly be sustainable–they bought much of their food and clothing from outside, and made money by selling tours of their facilities. The ecovilliage approach could theoretically be expanded to provide self-sustaining post-peak oil communities, but would require some work. Some adventuresome readers may want to try this approach.

9. Is there a middle ground? What should people be doing now, if they want to do more than outlined in Questions 2 and 3, but aren’t ready to immerse themselves in a new lifestyle?
As a middle ground, people need to start thinking seriously about how to maintain their own food and water security, and start taking steps in that direction.

a) Food security. We certainly hope our current system of agriculture will continue without interruption, but there is no guarantee of this. Our current method is very productive, but uses huge amounts of energy. If we can keep our current system going, its productivity would likely be higher than that of a large number of individual gardens. The concern is that eventually the current system may break down due to reduced oil supply and need to be supplemented. Vulnerabilities include:
•  Making hybrid seed, and transporting it to farmers
•  Getting diesel fuel to the farmers who need it
•  Transporting food to processing centers by truck
•  Creating processed food in energy-intensive factories
•  Making boxes and other containers for food
•  Transporting processed food to market
[Internet image: Example of a way to grocery shop: Topeak trolley tote folding basket with groceries…also indicating that your home is located nearby a shopping district.]

If diesel fuel is allocated by high price alone, farmers may not be able to afford fuel, and may drop out. Or truck drivers may not be able to get what they need.
It is in our best interest to have a back-up plan. The one most often suggested is growing gardens in our yards–even front yards. Another choice is encouraging local farms, so that transportation is less of an issue. It takes several years to get everything working well (new skills learned, fruit trees to reach maturity), so we need to start early.
One type of crop that is particularly important is grain, since grain provides a lot of calories and stores well. In some parts of the country, potatoes might be a good substitute. It would be good if people started planting grain in gardens in their yards. There is a lot to learn in order to do this, including learning which grains grow well, how much moisture and nutrients the grains need, and how to process them. If the grain that grows well is unfamiliar, like amaranth, there is also a need to learn how to use it in cooking.
Individuals (or local farms) should also begin growing other foods that grow well in their areas, including fruits and nuts, greens of various types, and other more traditional garden crops, including beans. For all types of gardening, non-hybrids seeds (sometimes called heirloom seeds) are probably best for several reasons:
•  It makes storing seeds after harvest possible, and reduces dependence on hybrid seeds.
•  There is less uniformity, so the harvest is spread over a longer period.
•  The reduced uniformity also helps prevent crop failure in years with drought or excessive rain. Some seeds will not grow, but others will. (Hybrids are all or nothing.)
Imported foods are likely to shrink in supply more quickly than other foods. If you live in a country that is dependent on imported foods, you may want to consider moving elsewhere. [Farmers Market sales as seen in the picture above will not feed a community much less a city. Such sales seems to provide some sort of fuzzy safety net. The veggies look  so clean and healthy, but they are not an arithmatic solution (in lbs/person/year), but things could change, as they did in Cuba and North Korea, when the people got hungry. The problem is, following a crisis you have to ‘make do’ throught the next planting season to it harvest before the hopeful crop increase is realized.]

b) Water Security. Here, the largest issue is whether there is likely to be sufficient supply in your area. Another issue is whether there will be sufficient water for your garden, at appropriate times. A third issue is whether there will be disruptions in general, because of poor maintenance or because the process of treating fresh water (and sewage) is energy-intensive.
With respect to sufficient water in your area, if it looks like there is a problem (desert Southwest, for example), relocating now rather than later is probably a good idea. Transporting water is energy intensive, and new efforts at developing energy (like shale oil or more ethanol) are likely to make the water supply situation even worse.
With respect to water for gardening, consider a rainwater catchment system for your roof. Runoff water is saved in barrels, and can be used for irrigation in dry periods.
General disruptions of water supply are more difficult. Keep some bottled water on hand. You may also want to consider a tank for greater storage supply. Rainwater catchment can be used for drinking water, with the correct type of roofing (not asphalt shingles!) and proper treatment, but this is not generally legal in the United States.

10. What kind of investments should I be making? A person’s first priority should be buying at least a little protection for a rainy day – some extra food and water, comfortable clothing, blankets and flashlights. I suggested two weeks’ worth in Question 2. If you have money and space, you may want to buy more.
Paying down debt is probably a good idea, if only for the peace of mind it brings. There are some possible scenarios where debt is not a problem (hyper-inflation but you keep your existing job and get a raise). In many other scenarios (deflation; job lay-offs; rising food and energy prices) debt is likely to be even harder to pay off than it is now.
Land for a garden is probably a good investment, as well as garden tools. You will want to invest in gardening equipment, some books on permaculture, and perhaps some heirloom seeds. You may also want to consider a rainwater catchment system, to collect water from your roof.
You may also want to invest in solar panels for your home. If you want round-the-clock solar energy, you will also need back-up batteries. Buying these is questionable–they tend to be very expensive, require lots of maintenance, and need to be replaced often.
There is a possibility that the financial system will run into difficulty in the not-too-distant future. Some ideas for investments that may protect against this are
• Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). [At 69 years of age I recieve Social Security, its suppose to ‘inflation protected’. With the price of every thng going up at the store, doctor’s office and gas station, we haven’t received a COLA raise in two years. I’m afraid TIPS investors will  conveniently
encounter the same non inflationary ‘protection.-Mr. Larry]
• Bank accounts protected by the FDIC  [Where FDIC means– some of the same folks that brought us here today.]
Gold coins
• Silver coins

If you want to invest in the stock market, we know that there will be more and more drilling done for oil and gas done in the next few years, so companies making drilling equipment are likely to do well. Small independent oil and gas companies may also do well, doing “work-over” business. We know that there are likely to be shortages in some metals in the years ahead (copper, platinum, uranium), so shares in companies mining these types of metals may do well.
Investments in biofuels should be considered with caution. Most ethanol from corn appears to be heavily dependent on subsidies. If it should ever have to compete with other fuels on a level playing ground, it is likely to do poorly.
I would be cautious about buying insurance policies, except for short-term needs such as automobile coverage, homeowners coverage, and term life insurance. If we encounter a period of significant deflation, insurance companies are likely to fail, because bondholders cannot pay their debt. If we run into a period of rapid inflation, the life insurance or long term care coverage you buy may have very little real value when you come to use it.

11.  Should I move to a different location? There are many reasons you might want to consider moving to a different location:
• To find something less expensive. If times are going to be difficult, you do not want to be paying most of your income on a mortgage or rent.
• To be closer to friends or family, in the difficult times ahead.
• To share a house or apartment with friends or family.
• To be closer to work or public transportation.
• To be closer to a type of employment that you believe will have a better chance of continuing in the future.
• To have better fresh water supplies.
• To join a community with similar interests in sustainability.
• To leave a community that you feel may be prone to violence, in time of shortage.

There are disadvantages as well as advantages to moving to a new location. If many others are trying to move at the same time, you may not be welcome in the new community. You will likely not have friends and the support group you would have had in your prior location. Because of these issues, it is probably better to move sooner, rather than later, if you are going to move. If you balance the pluses and the minuses, it may be better to stay where you are.

12.  We hear a lot about various things we can do to be “green”, like buying fluorescent light bulbs. Do these save oil? Most of the “green” ideas you read about save energy of some kind, but not necessarily oil. Even so, they are still a good idea. If there is a shortage of one type of energy, it tends to affect other types of energy as well. Doing “green” things is also helpful from a global warming perspective. Here are some green ideas besides using fluorescent light bulbs:
•  Move to a smaller house or apartment.
•  Insulate your house, and have it professionally sealed to keep out drafts.
•  If any rooms are unused, do not heat and cool them.
•  Keep your house warmer in summer, and cooler in winter.
•  If you no longer need a big refrigerator, buy a smaller one. Be sure it is an “Energy Star” refrigerator.
•  If you have more than one refrigerator, get rid of the extra(s). Refrigerators are a big source of energy use. For parties, use ice in a tub.
•  Separate freezers are also big energy users. Consider doing without.
•  Eat less meat. Also avoid highly processed foods and bottled water. All of these require large amounts of energy for production.
•  Get power strips and turn off appliances that drain energy when not in use.
•  Turn off lights that are not needed.
•  Rewire lights into smaller “banks”, so you do not need to light up the whole basement when all you want is light in a small corner.
•  Get a clothes line, so you do not need to use your clothes dryer.
•  When cooking, use the microwave whenever possible.
•  Reduce air travel to a minimum. Air travel results in a huge number of miles of travel with corresponding fuel use.
•  Recycle whenever you can.
•  Eliminate disposables as much as possible (coffee cups, napkins, plastic bags, etc.)

13. Should we be talking to our local government officials about these problems? Yes! At the local level, there are many changes that would be helpful:
•  Laws permitting people to put up clothes lines in their yards.
•  Laws encouraging gardens to be grown, even in the front yards of homes.
•  Laws permitting multiple occupancy of houses by unrelated individuals.
•  New local public transportation plans, particularly ones that do not require large outlay of funds. For example, a plan that is more like a glorified car pool might work.
•  Allocation of funds to study the best crops to be grown in the area, and the best cultivation methods, if energy supplies are much lower in the future.
•  It would also be helpful to make changes at higher levels of government, but these are beyond the scope of the discussion in this chapter.”
“The phrase, ‘consent of the governed’ has been turned into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. Civil disobedience is the only tool we have left.” —Chris Hedges
.

IV. Where we’ve been, where we are

Peak Oil
The world is rapidly approaching Peak Oil production and will be at an inflection point soon, if not already, after which, real prices will begin a long rise. Price inflection is possible before the next economic recovery, but will certainly come with a recovery, which will then be short lived, because rising energy prices will channel money away from other discretionary expenditures. For the last two years (2009-2010), the USA and Europe have been in recession with lower oil requirements, which have skewered the following 2007 chart by extending the plateau top and pushing the ‘decline in production slope’ (with subsequent increase in prices) into the future another couple years past the original 2007 projection.
Whether we are out of the recession or not by 2015 (within 4 years from now), production declines and the resultant rise in petroleum prices will probably have become an unpleasant factor in our national and personal, financial lives. On Saturday, 4 Sep 2010, FinancialSense.com weekly, ‘News Hour’ podcast, gave leads to the Peak Oil reports listed below. These articles seem to be telling a story, a story which has not yet been shared to any degree with the American people by either the US Government or the news media. Furthermore, there are almost monthly reports being issued by responsible, main stream institutions in Europe, the USA and the Middle East.
As I write, northern Europe is advancing on a program to greatly reduce their fossil fuel dependence; its estimated that in 10 years, by 2020, 20% of Europe’s energy, not just its electricity, will be derived from renewables.
What is happening in the United States? Nothing significant that I’ve heard, seen or read about. Maybe the government is waiting for a Peak Oil–Pearl Harbor type crisis to create a popular mandate for action, as opposed to making plans and choosing an intelligent path while there is time and opportunity to implement and mass test renewable systems.
The energy transition from one type energy to an alternative, historically, only happens about once per century and does so with momentous consequences. We will begin to move away from fossil fuels quite rapidly from here on forward. Business, families and individuals who can adapt to the charge and manage risk will gain an advantage with the shrinking energy pie. [Mr. Larry]

1)  February 2010: UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES) study on peak oil was released: “Business calls for urgent action on ‘oil crunch’ threat to UK economy
London, 10 February, 2010: A group of leading business people today call for urgent action to prepare the UK for Peak Oil. The second report of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES) finds that oil shortages, insecurity of supply and price volatility will destabilize economic, political and social activity, potentially by 2015. This means an end to the era of cheap oil.
•  Taskforce warns Britain is unprepared for significant risk to companies and consumers
•  Poorest to be hit hardest by price rises for travel, food, heating and consumer goods
•  New policies must be priority for whoever wins the General Election
•  Recommended packages include legislation, new technologies and behavior-change incentives
•  Fundamental change in demand patterns triggered by emerging economy countries

2)  March 2010: Telegraph.Co.UK, “Oil reserves ‘exaggerated by one third’
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/7500669/Oil-reserves-exaggerated-by-one-third.html>
The world’s oil reserves have been exaggerated by up to a third, according to Sir David King, the Government’s former chief scientist, who has warned of shortages and price spikes within years.
Published: 9:51PM GMT 22 Mar 2010, by Rowena Mason, City Reporter (Energy)
“The scientists and researchers from Oxford University argue that official figures are inflated because member countries of the oil cartel, OPEC, over-reported reserves in the 1980s when competing for global market share.
Their new research argues that estimates of conventional reserves should be downgraded from 1,150bn to 1,350bn barrels to between 850bn and 900bn barrels and claims that demand may outstrip supply as early as 2014. The researchers claim it is an open secret that OPEC is likely to have inflated its reserves, but that the International Energy Agency (IEA), BP, the Energy Information Administration and World Oil do not take this into account in their statistics.
It’s critically important that reserves have been overstated, and if you take this into account, we’re talking supply not meeting demand in 2014-2015.”
Dr Oliver Inderwildi, who co-wrote the paper with Sir David and Nick Owen for Oxford University’s Smith School, believes radical measures such as switching freight transport to airships could become common in future.
“The belief that alternative fuels such as biofuels could mitigate oil supply shortages and eventually replace fossil fuels is a pie in the sky. Instead of relying on those silver bullet solutions, we have to make better use of the remaining resources by improving efficiency.”

3)  March 2010: A heatingoil.com, Kuwait University and Kuwait Oil Company– Peak Oil report
Kuwaiti Researchers Predict Peak Oil Production in 2014
March 10, 2010,  by Josh Garrett
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/7500669/Oil-reserves-exaggerated-by-one-third.html>
“A new study published in the journal, Energy & Fuels, predicts that world conventional oil production will hit its peak in the year 2014. The study, undertaken by researchers at Kuwait University and Kuwait Oil Company (their chart shown above), looked at oil production in the top 47 oil-producing nations and found that humanity has extracted about 54 percent of total world oil reserves and that conventional oil production will reach its peak of 79 million stock tank barrels per day (an industry term, abbreviated as STB, that refers to the number of barrels of crude oil successfully extracted and “treated”) in about four years.
The study began with the Hubbert forecast model, named for peak oil pioneer M. King Hubbert, who successfully predicted that crude oil production in the US would peak in 1970. Though proven to be a useful tool in predicting peak oil, the Hubbert model has limitations when applied to more complex and diverse oil production methods and measures of the 21st century. The Kuwaiti researchers accounted for those limitations in the study, and also allowed for updates of their findings as new oil production data becomes available.
It should be noted that the study, no matter how sound its methods, reports exclusively on conventional oil (liquid crude that can be extracted from the ground relatively cheaply), and in doing so paints an incomplete picture of world oil supplies and the expected arrival of peak oil production.
(Note: If the study were to include data on unconventional sources such as Canada’s tar sands and oil shale deposits of the American West, the supply figures would grow substantially and the date of peak production would likely be pushed forward by at least a decade or two. However, because the technology and costs associated with extraction of unconventional oil vary widely and face an extremely uncertain future, it is logical that the study excludes unconventional oil figures.)
The more prepared governments and citizens are for any supply declines that could lead to rapid price increases in consumer fuels like heating oil, diesel, and gasoline, the less disruptive those increases will be to our daily lives.”
“Very few metro regions, cities or businesses are prepared for the impact of the global peak oil issue on their economies, or finances, operating budgets and mobility.
Cities, households and the economy will be impacted, as will industries. Some industries will be hurt (agriculture, retail, petrochemicals) and some sectors could be positively impacted (smart growth planners, alternative transportation providers, “smart city” technology providers, alternative fuel producers, mixed-use and infill developers)
Whether it’s bonafide peaking of global oil supplies, or a short- to medium-term “oil crunch,” the initial result will be the same. Rapidly rising gas prices and price instability should become evident by 2013, or even earlier if there are any supply shocks because of natural disasters (hurricanes in Gulf), political events, war and terrorists acts.
The most obvious area of impact of rising oil prices is transportation and mobility. During the gas price rises of 2006-2008, U.S. citizens turned to public transportation in record numbers. Light rail ridership was the biggest winner, as was an old and reliable form of gas-free transportation, the bicycle.
The biggest losers: SUVs (RIP Hummer) and personal automotive use. Across the nation, people substantially reduced their driving for the first time in decades, particularly in metro areas that had other mobility options.”

4)  April 2010: guardian.co.uk, “US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015” by Terry Macalister
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply>
“The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.
The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.
“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day,” says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N. Mattis. It adds: “While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse, and perhaps have serious economic impact on both China and India.”
•  Shortfall could reach 10 million barrels a day, report says
•  Cost of crude oil is predicted to top $100 a barrel

The US military says ‘its views cannot be taken as US government policy’, but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with “an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide out future force developments.”
The warning is the latest in a series from around the world that has turned peak oil – the moment when demand exceeds supply – from a distant threat to a more immediate risk.

Future fuel supplies are of acute importance to the US Army because it is believed to be the biggest single user of petrol in the world. BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, said recently that there was little chance of crude from the carbon-heavy Canadian tar sands being banned in America because the US military like to have local supplies rather than rely on the politically unstable Middle East.
But there are signs that the US Department of Energy might also be changing its stance on peak oil. In a recent interview with French newspaper, Le Monde, Glen Sweetnam, main oil adviser to the Obama administration, admitted that “a chance exists that we may experience a decline” of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 if the investment was not forthcoming.

“It’s surprising to see that the US Army, unlike the US Department of Energy, publicly warns of major oil shortages in the near-term. “The Energy Information Administration (of the Department Of Energy) has been saying for years that Peak Oil was “decades away”. In light of the report from the US Joint Forces Command, is the EIA still confident of its previous highly optimistic conclusions?”
The Joint Operating Environment report paints a bleak picture of what can happen on occasions when there is serious economic upheaval. “One should not forget that the Great Depression spawned a number of totalitarian regimes that sought economic prosperity for their nations by ruthless conquest,” it points out. From

5)  June 2010: Guardian.co.uk, news article posted 11 July 2010, “Lloyd’s adds its voice to dire ‘peak oil’ warnings”, by Terry Macalister
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jul/11/peak-oil-energy-disruption>
“Business underestimating catastrophic consequences of declining oil, says Lloyd’s of London/Chatham House report. One of the City’s most respected institutions has warned of “catastrophic consequences” for businesses that fail to prepare for a world of increasing oil scarcity and a lower carbon economy.
The Lloyd’s insurance market and the highly regarded Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, says Britain needs to be ready for “peak oil” and disrupted energy supplies at a time of soaring fuel demand in China and India, constraints on production caused by the BP oil spill and political moves to cut CO2 to halt global warming.
“Companies which are able to take advantage of this new energy reality will increase both their resilience and competitiveness. Failure to do so could lead to expensive and potentially catastrophic consequences,” says the Lloyd’s and Chatham House report “Sustainable energy security: strategic risks and opportunities for business”.
The insurance market has a major interest in preparedness to counter climate change because of the fear of rising insurance claims related to property damage and business disruption. The review is groundbreaking because it comes from the heart of the City and contains the kind of dire warnings that are more associated with environmental groups or others accused by critics of resorting to hype. It takes a pot shot at the International Energy Agency which has been under fire for apparently under-estimating the threats, noting: “IEA expectations [on crude output] over the last decade have generally gone unmet.”
The report the world is heading for a global oil supply crunch and high prices owing to insufficient investment in oil production plus a rebound in global demand following recession. It repeats warning from Professor Paul Stevens, a former economist from Dundee University, at an earlier Chatham House conference that lack of oil by 2013 could force the price of crude above $200 (£130) a barrel.
It also quotes from a US department of energy report highlighting the economic chaos that would result from declining oil production as global demand continued to rise, recommending a crash programme to overhaul the transport system. “Even before we reach peak oil,” says the Lloyd’s report, “we could witness an oil supply crunch because of increased Asian demand. Major new investment in energy takes 10-15 years from the initial investment to first production, and to date we have not seen the amount of new projects that would supply the projected increase in demand.”
And while the world is gradually moving to new kinds of clean energy technologies the insurance market warns that there could be shortages of earth metals and other raw materials needed to help them thrive. From

6)  August 2010: Spiegal Online International, posted 4 September 2010, “German Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis“, by Stefan Schultz
“A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how “peak oil” might change the global economy. The internal draft document — leaked on the Internet — shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis.
The study is a product of the Future Analysis department of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, a think tank tasked with fixing a direction for the German military. The team of authors, led by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Will, uses sometimes-dramatic language to depict the consequences of an irreversible depletion of raw materials. It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the “total collapse of the markets” and of serious political and economic crises.

The news report from Spiegal Online was specific about their study’s socio-economic findings, pointing out that:
1.  “Shortages in the supply of vital goods could arise as a result, for example in food supplies.
2.  Oil is used directly or indirectly in the production of 95% of all industrial goods.
3.  Price shocks could therefore be seen in almost any industry and throughout all stages of the industrial supply chain.
4.  In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse.…
5.  (Relapse into planned economy) Since virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on oil, peak oil could lead to a partial or complete failure of markets. A conceivable alternative would be government rationing and the allocation of important goods or the setting of production schedules and other short-term coercive measures to replace market-based mechanisms in times of crisis….
6.  (Global chain reaction) A restructuring of oil supplies will not be equally possible in all regions before the onset of peak oil. It is likely that a large number of states will not be in a position to make the necessary investments in time, or with sufficient magnitude.
7.  If there were economic crashes in some regions of the world, Germany could be affected. Germany would not escape the crises of other countries, because it’s so tightly integrated into the global economy….”
8.  The Bundeswehr study also raises fears for the survival of democracy itself. Parts of the population could perceive the upheaval triggered by peak oil “as a general systemic crisis.” This would create “room for ideological and extremist alternatives to existing forms of government….”
.

V.   The economy of extracting the last half of the oil

6th June 2010, MI2G, “Beyond Oil: Beginning of A New Era?”, London, UK
As the marginal cost of extracting oil has risen ever higher, it has been a red rag to the investment bulls seeking a return. Given that the risk profile of extracting that extra barrel of oil has now grown exponentially, this is likely to act as a new deterrent. The risks are rising much faster than previously anticipated as we approach peak oil.
The inertia which has set in amongst governments, businesses and the investment community in regard to preserving the status quo is going to be knocked sideways by the Gulf oil spill and as the costs of the cleanup mount, it will become imperative to invest in cleaner and safer forms of energy. The change in direction will ultimately be driven by a forced change in our collective value system. The end of oil-dependency is likely to mark the end of an era for the globalised western civilization’s model of oil-centric capitalism. If we survive, the age of oil will be followed by an age of recovery, restoration and a return to local generation of power through alternative means. What does the future look like without oil-dependency? Cleaner forms of energy are likely to proliferate. The possibility of a world in balance with natural resources, clean air, clean water, and with the natural environment, is like a shining light at the end of a dark tunnel.
If the problems were only the current recession, we’d muddle through and eventually it would end; if it were a matter of too much personal and national debt, we’d still muddle through, after increasing taxes and fees on everything and decade or so of unusually high inflation; if the problem were only Peak Oil, we’d muddle through, but with a sense of nervous urgency. However, combining, the recession, massive multi levels of debt and Peak oil is going to be taxing (pun intended), economically and socially exhausting.
It appears that global socio-economic systems are working their way deeper into a period of increasing stress. If there were no other major exogenous events to hit humanity over the next 5-10 years, we could probably pull off a global Manhattan type project of converting to renewable resources. An expansion of the ‘renewable energy’ paradigm would fuel manufacturing employment and consumer spending, banks would loan money, and for a short while there would be an economic boom, until the fallout from Peak Oil caught up. Our conversion from Oil to ‘renewables’ will not be fast enough to make up for the coming price hike in petroleum products. Look for the race from oil to renewables to be a ‘diminishing returns’ scenario, the more renewables we adopt, the higher energy prices go. Why? Because the problem is time related, we are starting too late to mitigate the coming Peak Oil price hikes.
So, even with the recession, massive debt and a late start at converting to renewable, we could with higher taxes and prices, come through with the current system intact, but jarred. Under these conditions the global economic system will be tight, there is little if any economic slack as we move forward through the recession toward Peak Oil. If an unexpected calamity arises, that could very well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, resulting in serious, wide ranging population ‘hardships’.
[The term ‘hardships’ can cover a lot of unpleasant ground! Think about it. Name 10 inconveniences that could arise in your life from a national calamity, then throw in 10 unknowns you didn’t expect. Mr. Larry]
 .

VI. Energy: Shell’s future scenarios – Staring into energy’s black hole

6 Jul 2008, Author: Tobias Webb
http://www.climatechangecorp.com/content.asp?ContentID=5937
Shell’s “energy scenarios” see fossil fuels remaining a huge part of the energy mix to 2050. And if Shell is right, what does it mean for the planet’s future?

1.   Scramble scenerio
Under the Scramble scenario, the current and future “flight to coal” as a relatively cheap energy source cannot last forever. According to Bentham, in this scenario, around the mid part of the decade (ca 2014-2016) comes “a triple squeeze” in energy. This is made up of the logistical difficulties of having to move growing volumes of coal around the world. At the same time, conventional oil and gas supplies are likely to plateau because of a lack of investment and for “political issues” (shorthand for oil nationalism or a lack of big oil company interests in major projects).
These two factors could lead to the “demand levers being pulled rapidly”, Bentham said, and knee-jerk reactions by governments, such as reducing car speed limits to save on fuel use, decommissioning inefficient power plants quickly, and changing building regulations. All this, needless to say, is set to make the world a volatile place.
In Shell’s Scramble scenario, second generation (non-food sourced) biofuels will grow rapidly from 2020 onwards. Meanwhile, renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, will see local growth but will not yet be able to compete with conventional energy in size and scale. The economic conditions of the 2020s will encourage further renewables growth, Shell says, and renewable energy will “rebound” by the end of that decade. The flip side will be that only by then will serious action be likely on global carbon prices as climate change related weather events begin to be blamed on a lack of action during the world’s previous dash to coal sources for energy. This rather paints a bleak picture for the future for environmentalists and, indeed, anyone else.

2.  Blueprints scenerio
Shell believes that its Blueprints scenario presents a much more positive picture. While the company does not believe that achieving a global balance of 450ppm of CO2 by 2050 or earlier is remotely feasible, Shell says that global energy demand can be met by less-polluting sources than fossil fuels, and can be reduced significantly by technology, driven by both regulation and collaboration between governments.
Bentham spoke of the “political reality” of climate change as a key driver for this scenario of collaboration on energy use. He cited two key examples: the law passed in California in 2006 which mandated a cap-and-trade carbon emissions trading system by 2012; and the recent attempts by politicians in Australia to distance themselves from their nation’s past recalcitrant attitude to the Kyoto Protocol and carbon dioxide emissions regulation.
The Californian approach has influenced other US states, Bentham said, noting that in the US, climate change is now “a Federal issue”, with both US presidential candidates saying that they take the threat seriously. Bentham said that the C40 group of cities around the world, which is sharing best practices on transport management and infrastructure development across borders, in both developed and developing economies, is another example of an emerging consensus around the need for collaboration to tackle energy and climate concerns.
Developing countries such as China, and their citizens, are also increasingly concerned about environmental issues and this may drive change towards cleaner economies much faster than in the past, Bentham claimed. China has far more UN-approved clean development mechanism greenhouse gas reduction projects than any other nation.

By 2012 to 2015, under the Blueprints scenario, Bentham thinks that we might see “a critical mass of carbon pricing being applied to a critical mass of sectors in a critical mass of countries”. While this rollout is not global, it begins to influence the choices that people are making in investments. This encourages technological progress such as carbon capture and storage by 2020, and vehicle electrification – by 2050 around 40 per cent of all ‘vehicle miles’ are electric under this scenario. National approaches begin to be harmonized, such as around carbon pricing. This encourages energy efficiency and wind power, while helping electric vehicles come to mass market in the 2020s.
CO2 emissions rise, plateau and then fall by around 2050, under Blueprints. Shell believes that there is no one solution to the global energy and climate conundrum, and that, according to Bentham: “Any technology that is going to be deployed at global scale in the next 50 years is already out of the laboratory.” It’s all about policy and incentive choices, he concluded, “the next five years are crucial”.

3. A third scenario: no fossil fuels
So what do others make of Shell’s predictions and dire warnings about the future of climate change and energy? Opinions are mixed.
“Shell is living in la la land,” says Mark Lynas, author of climate disaster bestseller Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet. “They are constructing scenarios where they continue to be relevant as a fossil fuel company.” Lynas points out that the climate crisis is so serious that what he calls the “real world” will not tolerate such a high carbon vision of energy for 2050. “The whole scenario process should be about figuring out realistic outcomes and planning for them, whereas what Shell seems to be doing is deciding what they would most like to happen, and writing it down,” he says, calling Shell’s scenarios a “political exercise”.
Shell’s view that stabilizing global carbon emissions at 450 ppm is unrealistic is “totally irresponsible”, says Lynas. “If we don’t stabilize at way below 450 ppm we’ll see irreversible climate change with several tipping points being crossed as a result,” he argues. “They are obviously saying that the world can go fry and that their profits must come first.” Lynas believes that despite oil company claims that they can innovate around the frameworks set by politicians and prosper in a low-carbon world, the current large energy majors will eventually die off, as newer, hungrier firms replace them with what he calls “disruptive” energy technology.
David Strahan, author of The Last Oil Shock, says Shell’s best case analysis – Blueprints – is a “fairly disastrous scenario, because (by their estimation) coal is getting bigger as we go up to 2050”. Strahan notes that NASA’s Jim Hanson believes that if the planet managed to eliminate the emissions from coal-fired power stations by either closing them or capturing all the carbon, then “we squeak in at around 440 parts per million” of CO2. “What’s interesting about [what] Shell [is] saying [is] that it’s the end of the planet” if they are right, Strahan claims.

The carbon capture dream
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is still largely wishful thinking, Lynas agrees. Right now only a tiny number of pilot projects exist around the world, with none being commercially viable. He is in favor of an upstream cap-and-trade system for carbon, which he says is “much easier to manage than regulating emissions” and should be discussed further. Under upstream trading systems, carbon is measured before consumers can become responsible for emitting it and effectively taxed heavily, creating energy efficiency and renewable energy investment incentives across the board.
While Lynas believes there is sufficient technology to decarbonizes power generation by 2050, he thinks it will have to come from renewable sources, with even nuclear a possibility, rather than from fossil fuels. He estimates that future scenarios should factor in a carbon price of €200-€300 a ton to make renewable energy power generation and transportation a reality by 2050. “We need to eliminate coal from the energy mix,” he says, noting that “nuclear may be a good option for China and India”.
“I think the scenarios are a good way of focusing policy makers’ attention on the progress we need to make,” says King. But she notes soberly that even with the considerable co-operation and technology implementation envisaged in Shell’s more positive Blueprints scenario: “We would not deliver the reductions that the climate science indicates we need. It is a useful reminder of the size of the challenge and the urgency.”

Scary future
A bleak message in many ways, but one that Shell appears increasingly comfortable offering – both as a wake-up call to others and to reassure shareholders of the company’s place in the future, after the firm was rocked in 2004 by a massive reserves accounting scandal and struggles to replace oil reserves.
Perhaps the most alarming two facts to emerge from Shell’s scenario planning are the uncertainty around predictions of future energy supply and the potential, or lack of it, of carbon capture and storage technology. No-one knows exactly when “peak oil” – the moment when more of the planet’s oil is out of the ground than left in it – will be reached and what the ramifications for global economics, unrest and politics will be.
Secondly, while many banks and energy firms say 2020 is the earliest when carbon capture and storage will be rolled out, the technology is still at its earliest stages. Unless massive investment in renewable energy is made over the next five to ten years, and if CCS is unable to decarbonize power generation from fossil fuels relatively quickly and on a commercially viable basis, the world will be short of low-carbon power options.
The fight between industry, with their hopeful ideas of carbon capture and storage technology, and those that want to see the whole planet shifting to renewable energy in the next two decades shows no signs of abating.

The peak oil problem
Shell predicts that global oil production will peak around 2020. But the company neatly side-steps the debate in its scenarios by predicting in both the Scramble and Blueprints scenarios that the decline rate of global production will be virtually negligible up to 2040.
David Strahan is surprised that Shell’s oil peak estimation is now 2020. “I haven’t heard them say that before,” he says. The world has already reached the beginnings of a global oil peak, he argues. “The facts are stark. The amount discovered has been falling for 40 years. For every barrel we find each year, we now guzzle three. Output is already falling in more than 60 of the world’s 98 oil-producing countries. And global oil production has been essentially flat, at just less than 86 million barrels per day, since early 2005. Serious analysts now forecast $200 per barrel.”

Blueprints or Scramble
Strahan believes peak oil is coming even earlier than Shell believes and will have a much faster decline rate in production than the company predicts. “Peak oil is this side of 2020”, he says. “Even if you take the most optimistic future discovery numbers that have any credibility and apply a little bit of common-sense you get a peak in 2017”. His fear is that global production will quickly descend to a 4 per cent annual decline rate sometime after that date. “That is the average decline rate of existing oil production capacity.
All major oil companies are struggling to replace their reserves and increase production, Strahan observes. Many are giving more money back to shareholders than they are spending on exploration and production combined, he claims. “They are basically liquidating themselves. Although the high oil price is giving them high profits for the time being, they are in trouble.”

[Did you understand that last statement (bold, brown text above)? After peak oil production, the rate of decline in oil coming to the market will quickly reach the standard average oil production DECLINE  rate of 4% a year. Every year there will be 4% less available oil in the market to sell, and for you, 4% less to buy.
Question: How can there be “growth” if every year there is 4% less work being done? How can we feed 2% more children born into the world with declining food production, when we already have a great deal of dislocation, warfare and starvation on the African continuent?
Since it takes 10 calories of energy input to produce and place 1 calorie of food on your table, if the energy input is declining so are the numbers of available food calories.
Of course there will be a couple years of belt tightening, which will briefly mitigate the food shortage in richer countries, but then with the energy continually declining 4% a year, the deficiencies add up fast: -4%, -8%, -12%, -16%, -20%….in less than 5 years we’ll be unable to hold back to flood tide of misery sweeping across the world, the country, into our homes. In 10 years there would be 40% less petroleum, in 25 years…..in less than 25 years, its all changed. Before 2034.
However, for now, (sadly said) if we can remain in a global recession for the next couple years that will push forward the ‘peak production’ inflection point a few months, while lower recessionary demand may or may not curtail price increases.
Your vote at the polls will not change this. Writing to elected officials or demonstrating on the street will not change this. The global population has voted, they are becoming increasingly concerned and now that they are becoming poorer, they are arming; some are hungry and many are angry, more are in the streets, but none will change the outcome. We are faced with classic ‘overshoot and collapse’.

In closing, a look back at a chart from the book, The Limits to Growth, © 1972, by the Club of Rome. The ‘limits to growth model’ data run is seen below, where there is a  cascading effect from the decline in (resources) oil production that spreads like falling dominos  across the variables, except death rate. The ‘establishment’ -governement, industry and finance, have found it economically convenient to ignore the concepts discussed by the Club of Rome, they did not heed the warning in Hubbert’s Peak oil or the Hirsch report; time passed and these ‘limiting factors’ have  quietly approached. Today, the leadership are ignoring the ‘peak oil’ reports made by various military, business and academic institutions…. Wake up, Neo!
Mr Larry]


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Filed under Survival Manual, __1. Disaster

Gettin’ by when supplies tighten

(Survival Manual/ 2. Social Issues/ Gettin’ by when supplies tighten)

A.  Report: Farmers Hoarding Food To Protect Against Currency Collapse
29 Apr 2013, SHTFPlan.com, by Mac Slavo
Pasted from: http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/report-farmers-hoarding-food-to-protect-against-currency-collapse_04292013
silo1

Which asset is more secure than money in the bank?
The answer is simple.
It’s the asset that will still have value when the money or the bank collapse.

All over the world, when people have been faced with the prospect of having their savings wiped out or confiscated they have turned to hard assets – physical goods they could hold in their possession and trade if necessary – as protection.

Argentina, a country that is no stranger to economic hard times and hyperinflation, gives us a prime example of what becomes money when the system collapses.

At an inflation rate of 25%, while their currency loses significant purchasing power, Argentines have made a mad rush into gold, silver, and other tangible goods that retain their barterable value.

Like many Greeks, who have headed to the countryside to grow their own food in the midst of complete economic destruction, farmers in Argentina are hoarding the one tangible investment they know will not lose value, no matter what their currency does.

With world food demand on the rise, growers in the Pampas grain belt are filling their silos with soy rather than converting their crops into pesos, a currency that hit a new all-time low in informal trade this week.

Considering Argentina’s high inflation, clocked at about 25 percent by private economists, “money in the bank” is not as secure as storing soybeans next to their fields, many say.
“We are going to hang onto our soy. One can see higher prices ahead,” said Jose Plazibat, a partner with the firm of Bandurria and Plazibat Brothers, which farms more than 3,000 hectares near the town of Chacabuco in Buenos Aires province.

With their currency in meltdown and food demand around the world rising, these farmers understand where real value comes from.
1.  Their food can’t be lost in the stock market.
2.  It’s intrinsic worth cannot be vaporized in a banking collapse.
3. And they do not need to wait for anyone to deliver it to them, as they hold it in their personal possession.

Hoarding commodities – not the paper receipts that represent your ownership, but the actual physical good – is a powerful diversification strategy, and one that is a natural response to times of uncertainty and government run amok:

Argentina is going through the classic stages of economic collapse.

The government seized all pensions. They are destroying everything that gives the people incentive to be a society that emerges from the cooperation of everyone.

When government turns against its own people, even as the USA is currently doing, you end up with deflation insofar as the economy collapses and wages are not available, while hoarding emerges as does barter.
……….source: Martin Armstrong

This strategy of buying commodities at lower prices today to consume at higher prices tomorrow can be implemented on a micro-economic personal scale in your own home. Doing so, especially with health and nutrition considerations, will not only provide you with long-term cost savings as global currencies continue to lose purchasing power, but insulate you against the possibility of a rush for food in the event of an emergency or widespread economic instability.

Whether you choose to stock your long-term food pantry by going to a grocery store, grow your own food in your traditional or aquaponics garden, learn to preserve it yourself, or prefer to do your own food storage packing, the key is to develop a plan and implement it now.

The US dollar isn’t getting any stronger over the next 10 years.
But the rice, beans, wheat, and pasta you stockpile will still have the same exact intrinsic value a decade from now as they do today.

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B.  Bartering Supplies That You Haven’t Thought Of; And Some You Have!
29 Apr 2013, American Preppers Network, by Jalapeno Gal77
Pasted from: http://americanpreppersnetwork.com/2013/04/bartering-supplies-that-you-havent-thought-of-and-some-you-have.html
gettin by tradeWhen I think of bartering supplies my mind automatically goes to a SHTF scenario.  There are a lot of lists out there for such scenes, but ultimately what you choose to barter is up to you.  Many people stock things like silver, gold, cigarettes or alcohol or coffee.  While these can be great items, they are also expensive.

I will admit, stocking up on cigarettes, coffee and alcohol do go against my health and religious beliefs, but it doesn’t stop me from storing it.  I would much rather barter an item that I will never use or need, than to barter precious items I do need.  In the end, what you decide to spend money on is your choice.

 Below is a list of items I feel would make good barter items if, and only if, I have enough extra to get away with it:
• 
Salt:  We store a LOT of salt.  It has multiple purposes and back in the day, people actually used salt as currency because it was considered such a high trade value and hard to find.  Salt can/was used to preserve food and it helps to eliminate the season availability of certain foods and allowed long distance travel.
• Toilet paper:  Take the cardboard out and put them in a large vacuum sealed bag storage bag.
• Kitty litter or dehydrated lime for sanitation or easy clean up of human waste in buckets.  Can you imagine what someone would trade for this?
• Matches/lighters
• Bleach
• Sugar
• Feminine supplies
• Flu/Cold Medicine
• Allergy Medicine
• Antibiotics/ Pain killers / fever reducer
• Bar Soap
• Seeds
• Toothpaste/toothbrushes
• First aid bandages
• Hydrogen peroxide (You could trade this by the cup or half cup.)
• We store small bottles of alcohol for trade.  We also have bigger bottles for refills if they want to bring it back for more.
• Coffee: We vacuum seal coffee in smaller portions with 1-2 coffee filters in each bag of coffee.  We also have 2 percolators to prepare the coffee if the person has no way to do so.
• Cigarettes: We do not store these but many people use them as barter items.
• Pipe Tobacco: Vacuum seal it to keep it fresh longer
• Spices
• Ramon Noodles: Very cheap and if someone is hungry then this would be good trade value.
• Beans: We stock the 15 bean soup because it comes with a spice packet in the soup.  You could trade these by the bag or by the cup depending on the size family they have or if it’s an individual.
• Razors
• Coats/Warm Clothing: We purchase used coats at goodwill and thrift stores.  All different sizes but especially kids coats.  These can be stored in large vacuum sealed storage bags and hardly take up any room.
• Small candles (or wax , wicks and wick tabs for making candles.)
• Chickens: Chickens produce meat and eggs, both of which people will want.
• Fly tape/mouse traps
• Pesticides
• gel, diapers, formula
• Socks/underwear
• Information on growing food or slaughtering animals.  You could print off some easy instructions and place them in binders.
• Fish hooks, weights, fishing line, bait
• Glow sticks
• Laundry soap powder
• Measuring spoons

These are just a few ideas to help you get started.  Notice, I did not put silver or gold on the list.  While this is a great item to have, I believe that if we are in a grid down situation, not many people are going to barter for something they cannot eat or use to stay alive.  Please don’t misunderstand me, it is alright to have these items for yourself, but for bartering, I just don’t feel it will be helpful in that area.

gettin by battery

[Mr. Larry ideas:
_a) If you develop or buy a 12 volt battery bank (several deep cycle 12 volt batteries) and a couple hundred watts of  PV panels (150-300 watts), solar charger,  inverter, and  a battery charger for AAA and AA rechargeable batteries, you would continue to use your personal electronics during a local disaster or SHTF event.
_b) Additionally, if you stock  an extra 50 to 100  AA and AAA Sanyo Enloop batteries, you would be set to operate a local “rent and recharge” battery service, thereby developing a “for food” customer base during a grid down scenario; it would only take recharging the batteries of maybe a half dozen families batteries to provide a significant portion of your “daily bread” or for the accumulation of other barter/trade items/services.]
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C.  40 Items to Barter in a Post-Collapse World
28 Aug 2012, Backdoor Survival.com, by__
Excerpt pasted from: http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/41-items-to-barter/

There are a lot of different opinions as to what items will be best for barter in a post-collapse world where the underground economy may be the only viable economy for the passing of goods and services.  That said, consider this a starting point as you begin to acquire goods for barter.

In no particular order, consider accumulating some of the following items for barter purposes.  And keep in mind that in a post-collapse world, the items do not necessarily have to be new, but simply serviceable.

  • Water purification supplies including purification tabs and filters, household  bleach.
  • Hand tools including hatchets, saws, machetes and general fix-it tools
  • Fire making supplies, including lighters, matches, flint fire steel
  • Sanitary supplies including toilet paper, feminine products and diapers
  • Disposable razors and razor blades
  • Fuel, any and all kinds (gas, diesel, propane, kerosene)
  • Prescription drugs, painkillers, and antibiotics
  • First aid remedies such as cough syrup, cortisone cream, boil-ese, calamine lotion and topical pain relievers
  • Spirits such as bourbon, rum, gin, and vodka
  • Coffee and tea (instant coffee is okay)
  • Solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries
  • Standard Batteries
  • Reading glasses
  • Paracord
  • Bags, including large garbage bags as well as smaller zip-close bags
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Tie Wraps
  • Heavy plastic sheets and tarps
  • Toiletries including toothpaste, dental floss soaps, shampoo (tip: save those small sized toiletries that are provided by hotels and motels)
  • Condoms
  • Latex or Nitrile gloves in a variety of sizes
  • Hard candy
  • Fishing supplies
  • Knives  of various types including fixed blades, kitchen knives, and box cutters.
  • Condiments and Spices
  • Paperback books on a variety of subjects
  • Tobacco and cigarette rolling supplies
  • Amusements such as playing cards, crossword puzzle books, Sudoku
  • Pencils & paper
  • Pepper spray
  • Garden seeds
  • Flashlights
  • Vinegar  and baking soda to use in DIY cleaning supplies
  • Empty spray bottles and squirt bottles
  • Hand pumps for both air and liquids
  • Mylar blankets and tents
  • Hand warmers
  • Sewing  and mending supplies
  • Knitting  or crochet needles and yarn

One thing you will notice that I have not included firearms or ammo and for good reason.  In a post-collapse society, you might not know your barter partners well and may run the risk that they will use these items against you so that they can steal the rest of you stuff.  One person’s opinion, anyway.

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C.  10 Forms of Currency if Paper Money Becomes Useless in Any Crisis.
18 Mar 2013, EmergencyHomesteader.com, by katalystman
Pasted from: http://www.emergencyhomesteader.com/10-forms-of-currency-if-paper-money-becomes-useless-in-any-crisis/

gettin by dollar burns

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gettin by PM & ammo

..gettin by water food.
gettin by seeds medical

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.gettin by liquor light

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gettin  by camping knowledge

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Filed under Survival Manual, __2. Social Issues

Our Future, Part 4 of 4

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 4 of 4)

Section VII  considers reactions to the Energy Descent Scenarios

A.  Global and Local Perspectives
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/32/47/>
The scenarios as described are biased towards looking at the future for the billion or so relatively affluent persons who mostly live in the long industrialized nations mostly of Europe and North America but including Japan, Australia and New Zealand. For many people outside these countries the promise of benefits from global industrial culture are just that; promises. The general history tells of local and self reliant economies and communities decaying or collapsing as they are displaced by monetary economies, media and consumer ideologies. This is a process often associated with migration from rural to urban areas. The debate about the balance of benefits and disadvantages from these changes has been intense for thirty years.

Very few proponents or even critics of conventional economic development are yet considering energy descent scenarios, or the increased vulnerabilities to them which result from this loss of self reliance. Poor people crowded into barrios around super cities completely dependent on meager cash flows to maintain access to food and fuel are less able to provide for themselves when these systems fail. Five months in Latin America has given me cause to think deeply about these vulnerabilities that are already unfolding in many places where, compared to wages, fuel prices are ten times more than what they are in Australia.

It is not just the ability to cope with deprivation but more the pyscho-social capacity to accept life as it happens On the other hand one cannot experience life in many poorer countries without also considering how recent the changes have been. In many places people still know how to grow food and some cases can return to their home villages as soon as economic conditions suggest this will be more rewarding (even if it is only to labor on a relative’s farm) than hustling in the city for a dollar. Even when this is not possible, the sense of how resourceful and flexible people can be in what we might think extreme conditions, is a strength.

It is not just the ability to cope with deprivation but more the pyscho-social capacity to accept life as it happens without fixed expectation that lead to inevitable disappointment. While teaching a course in Mexico I was summarizing the energy descent scenarios session with reference to the house fire insurance analogy, that it was not necessary to believe your house would burn down to have fire insurance. The mostly middle class Mexicans laughed at my analogy because most Mexican homeowners don’t have fire insurance. It is this easy going acceptance of life that may be one of the characteristics that enables Mexicans to weather the storms that are surely coming.

In Australia many generations of steady growing affluence and high expectations have created a psychological and social brittleness.

On the other hand, in Australia and other long affluent countries, many generations of steady growing affluence and high expectations have created a psychological and social brittleness that suggests we may not weather the storms as well as we should. As a teenager I came to the conclusion that Australia was vulnerable to the attractions of fascism if and when social and economic conditions became much tougher. This early insight provided a foundation for the Brown Tech scenario.

In some nations, economic collapse and sustained conflict over the last few decades have simulated some aspects of energy descent. Most of the evidence is not good, with breakdown of law and order, food insecurity, falling life expectancy and mass migration. Russia, Argentina, Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea are examples of relatively affluent and industrialized countries that have experienced sustained conditions analogous to those possible from more general and global energy descent. An increasing amount of research and analysis within the Peak Oil network has focused on these countries to gain greater understanding of the hazards and opportunities of energy descent futures. Most notable is the Cuban experience that is remarkably positive and has provided a great boost to permaculture and other activists trying to show the opportunities from energy descent.

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B.  Cuba: Brown Tech, Green Tech or Earth Steward?
During the crisis of the “Special Period” in the early 1990’s the power of strong central government did not weaken, let alone fail. In some ways the government lead by Fidel Castro represents many of the elements of the Brown Tech world. On the other hand Cuba is not a very large country and can be considered as one bioregion with Havana as its capital so the scale of governance is more akin to that proposed for the Green Tech scenario. Further, many of the strategies for coping with the crisis from urban agriculture to bicycle and public transport are emblematic of the Green Tech scenario. Health and education statistics for Cuba also rule out the more severe conditions associated with Earth Steward, let alone Lifeboat. However while in Cuba in 2007 I became aware of some aspects of the crisis that did give insight into likely conditions in the more extreme scenarios.

During two trips in the countryside I observed extensive growth of Marabou (a spiny leguminous shrub) over large areas that appeared to have been farmland. The rapid spread occurred during the crisis and today cover about 20% of the farmland.  These species were previously common in the landscape mostly as a component of living fences and hedges. When the crisis hit, supplies of grains to feed the industrialized dairy industry collapsed and many of the dairy cows died in the dry season.

My hypothesis is that prior to dying, the cows would have eaten the dry pastures to bare ground and the living fences to sticks. The seeds of the Marabou consumed by the cows pass through in manure so in the succeeding wet season a complete crop of thorn shrubs would have emerged and dominated the recovering pastures. Despite the desperate need for food, the absence of fuel to plow the land for crops or resow pastures, allowed the shrubs to take over the land. This example illustrates how valuable resources can lie idyll in the face of desperate need.

The process of recovering the land from the thicket forests is a slow one even with better economic conditions but it also has produced benefits that are slow to be recognized. Increased carbon sequestration has been substantial and plant diversity and wildlife is increasing as the shrub legumes mature. The soil rejuvenating characteristics of these spiny legume shrubs may be building an asset that will be more valuable to Cuba as global energy descent begins to impact. Two low energy pathways to more productive and sustainable use of the land are possible. One is to use goats to reclaim the land back to pasture. Alternatively, accelerated succession to mixed food forest by selective seeding and planting could create agroforestry systems that continue to increase the woody biomass and food production both from fruit and nuts.

It is significant that both of these changes would require further changes in Cuban eating habits. This is connected to another sobering impression in the otherwise quite positive picture, that Cubans remained reluctant to change their traditional food habits even during the crisis and mostly have gone back to those habits after the crisis. The fact that a diet with less meat and dairy and a greater diversity of tropical vegetables, fruits and nuts could be more easily and sustainably produced will require continued efforts on many fronts and/or a longer cycle of deprivation to shift the deeply entrenched European food culture heritage in this tropical country.

Perhaps more relevant to countries with less government controls over the economy, Argentina provides some interesting examples of revitalization of local economies as central currencies and economies broke down, although most of these stopped once the monetary economy was re-established.

One of the uncertainties that emerges from reflecting on these examples of economic contraction is how different the situation will be when the dominant economic powers experience these problems. While this will create some more general global conditions it will also dramatically reduce the capacity to project power through globalization. Consequently we can expect conditions in local bioregions and nations to increasingly reflect the local resources, economy and culture, and be less driven by remote and global forces. As always this will precipitate new threats but also opportunities.

The next section considers how these scenarios can be both depressing and empowering, and can help us direct our energy towards positive change effectively.

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C.  Depressing and Positive Scenarios
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/48/67/>
Another reaction to the scenarios by some participants on courses is that the Brown Tech scenario seems a depressing but realistic assessment of the situation in many affluent countries while the Green Tech scenario looks more utopian and unrealistic, but one that could be almost be “sold” as a desirable future by Green parties of western democracies.

The argument that the distributed power provided by resurgent rural economies will ameliorate the centralized and inequitable structures that lead to the Brown Tech world may be seen as a weak one, especially for people who are suspicious of the concept that fundamental energy and resources drive economic, social and political systems. Similarly the relative positive nature of Earth Steward compared with Lifeboat is partly predicated on the distributed rather than concentrated nature of resources and wealth (and of course the gift of a relatively benign climate).

We can better shape our responses to each of the scenarios if we recognize the constraining forces that are beyond our control.

It is possible to see some good and bad potentials, depending in part on our philosophical bent, in all four scenarios. Perhaps as an act of faith in human values and maturity, I believe we can better shape our responses to each of the scenarios if as individuals and as communities and nations we recognize the constraining forces that are beyond our control. We can then consider how basic human values and needs can be sustained without wasting resources on projects or objectives that may have little chance of altering the fundamental dynamics of our world.

Of course this reaction can be seen as negative, defeatist or even contributing to the realization of these undesirable scenarios. In the ad hoc internet community of Peak Oil activism that has sprung up the last few years, the divide between the “doomers” and the “optimists” has been a notable one. Since 2005 the worsening evidence on climate change has led to more of the experts in that field moving towards a “doomer” perspective on the climate front. Part of the process of moving beyond this simplistic and mostly counterproductive debate, is to see some of the positive potentials that exist in energy descent scenarios.

Permaculture activism has a long history of being informed by a negative view of the state of the world. But these perspectives drive an optimistic opportunity-based response.

Permaculture activism has a long history of being informed by a negative view of the state of the world. But these perspectives drive an optimistic opportunity-based response that can empower people to creative action and adaption in the face of adversity. The fact that permaculture activists privately and even publicly look forward to some aspects of these scenarios may be seen by some as naive or even immoral. On the other hand, an increasing number of people around the world find permaculture an empowering focus for ethical and practical action.

My recent experience from presenting the Energy Descent scenarios in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Argentina on permaculture courses as well as other gatherings of sustainability professionals, is that they can be very empowering, although I recognize the risk that they still pose, in triggering denial or depression and paralysis.

The next section considers how different regions look likely to tend towards different scenarios.

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D.  Different Scenarios in Different Places
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/46/68/>
Australia and New Zealand provide examples of two very similar affluent countries in the South Pacific that may already be on very different trajectories and that reflect the dynamics of these scenarios. As the previous Prime Minister John Howard, proclaimed, Australia is one of the new energy superpowers. This claim is supported by the fact that Australia is the largest global exporter of coal, one of the largest exporters of gas with the seventh largest reserves, and has the largest reserves of uranium as well as many other minerals.

Australia exhibits the essential conditions for the emergence of the Brown Tech scenario. On the other hand climate change modeling suggests Australia is perhaps the most vulnerable of OECD countries, a vulnerability highlighted by the recent and continuing drought. These are the essential conditions for the emergence of Brown Tech. The “debate” about nuclear power initiated by the Australian government and the rush to build desalination plants and super-pipelines to address the water crisis are emblematic of this trend. The change of federal government to the Labor Party is likely to further concentrate power at the federal level and could lead to a more rapid abandonment of free market capitalism, further entrenching the Brown Tech scenario.

New Zealand looks like a strong candidate for Green Tech. New Zealand on the other hand has very little in the way of minable energy and resources, but, relative to its population, has extremely rich biophysical resources to support agriculture, forestry and renewable energies. The local impacts of climate change are predicted to be much less severe, allowing New Zealand to take advantage of these distributed rural resources. This looks like a strong candidate for Green Tech.

Without going into a detailed analysis of the emerging trends in the Australian and New Zealand economies and politics, it is sufficient to say Australia and New Zealand have been diverging for some time. This suggests that these underlying differences between the energy and resource bases of these two countries may have been contributing to the emerging differences at the political and even the social levels.

The next section looks at how planning for these scenarios occurs at different scales.

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E.  Stepped Energy Descent Pathways Linking the Scenarios
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/51/73/>
As previously mentioned, energy descent may not be a continuous gradual process. Instead it could be characterized by an initial crisis that sets the conditions for a new order that is stable for some time before another crisis leads to further descent. The growth of energy and resultant technological complexity over the last two hundred years has involved varying rates of change, plateaus and even regressions during wars and depressions, but energy descent is likely to be much more variable than energy ascent. This is consistent with our common sense understanding that growth is a more consistent process than decline.

Natural ecosystems tend to maintain homeostasis under stress through the allocation of stored resources. If the conditions continue to deteriorate, then further stress can fracture the homeostasis. If the stress involves a reduction in energy availability, the system may collapse. But total collapse and system disintegration is rare, at least in the short term. More typically a re-stabilization at a lower level of energy processing and organizational complexity occurs. The new homeostasis will typically be stable for some time before declining energy availability precipitates another crisis. This may also be a model for how human societies respond to the crisis of resource and energy decline. It also makes sense that natural disasters, or a crisis such as war, rarely continue for very long but they shape the new state that emerges in their aftermath. If crisis does persist at an intense level for years then psychosocial systems reorganize around the crisis as the new normality.

The following conceptual graph shows these two pathways from Hubbert’s Peak of Oil (and net energy production). The discontinuities are periods of extreme crisis, conflict and/or breakdown. Each scenario represents a homeostasis that tends to be self-maintaining until further stress precipitates a further unraveling.

 ..

F.  Energy Descent Pathways
The red pathway is more extreme after continued growth leads to a precipitous drop through natural disasters, economic depression and/or war. Brown Tech emerges as the new world order allowing recovery and modest growth before further natural disasters/climate change and oil depletion precipitate another discontinuity leading to a Lifeboat world. The green pathway is less extreme with a lower peak and a gentler decline through the first discontinuity to the Green Tech scenario while the descent to Earth Steward is even more continuous driven by on-going depletion and decay of infrastructure from the Hubbert’s Peak and Green Tech worlds.

The chart also shows the relative levels of net energy availability per capita. This is much more speculative than the general concept of the stepwise descent or the relationships between the scenarios, because it depends on many variables. I’ve shown the Brown Tech and Lifeboat scenarios as processing more net energy per capita than the Green Tech and Earth Steward scenarios respectively. A range of factors contribute to this speculative maths, and hide some harsh realities. Depending on how net energy is understood and evaluated, a higher total energy base in Brown Tech may maintain greater organizational and technological complexity but Green Tech may be more energetically efficient at providing real human services.

A harsher discontinuity leading to Brown Tech may produce a higher death rate in the more urbanized populations while more severe controls on births may further reduce populations. The numbers of people the energy base needs to support strongly affects the per capita level so a higher per capita figure may reflect lower birth rates and/or higher death rates rather than a more energy rich society. Alternatively the lower death rate during the gentler discontinuity leading to Green Tech combined with a higher birth rate to tap the more distributed rural resources of the Green Tech world may result in overall higher populations. Although net energy per capita is lower, life may on average be better than in the Brown Tech scenario.

Similarly in the second discontinuity crisis, the death rate increases but more so in the red pathway to the Lifeboat. The lack of community capacity in the midst of massive material salvage opportunities, combine with the lower population, to deliver relatively high net energy per capita even though life is very harsh. The more abundant distributed renewable resources of the Earth Steward scenario leads to a higher birth rate (to tap those resources). Combined with the lower death rate, the higher overall population gives a very low net energy per capita. Efficient communitarian economies and a spiritual rather than material culture may make for higher wellbeing despite limited resources per person.

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G.  Nested Scenarios
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/34/29/>
Yet another way to consider these scenarios is as all emerging simultaneously one nested within the other. The following figure shows the scenarios nested with their associated organizational and energetic scale. This suggests that the four organizational levels represented by the scenarios from the household to the national will all be transformed as global systems weaken and contract but none will fail completely. In a sense this is implicit in each scenario in any case and resolves the difficulty in imagining the Earth Steward and Lifeboat scenarios with a complete absence of city and national level power structures even if their functions and influence are very weak or attenuated away from the centers of power.

In explaining this on the afore mentioned course in Mexico, I suggested that in the Earth Steward and Lifeboat scenarios there could still be a government in Mexico city issuing edicts, but that no one, outside the much reduced city, would hear or take any notice. Like the reaction to my insurance example, my Mexican students laughed and suggested that no one took any notice of the government in Mexico now. This humorous response actually reflects an ongoing process of fragmentation in Mexico where autonomous movements in some regions and drug lords in others already rival the central and state governments in the provision of security, extraction of taxes and provision of services.

It is natural for national governments and large corporations to implement the systems that characterize the Brown Tech scenario. The other reason for considering that aspects of all scenarios will simultaneously emerge in all regions is the structural commitment of each level of governance to systems that can work at their respective levels. It is natural for national governments and large corporations to implement the systems that characterize the Brown Tech scenario because these systems are commensurate with the organizational scale in which they work. Similarly it is natural for city and bioregional (state) governments to implement the somewhat more distributed, diverse and smaller scale systems of the Green Tech scenario. Middle sized business using regional resources and serving regional markets will naturally work to reinforce this scenario.

[Energy Descent Scenarios nested by scale of related system]

 Any planning for Lifeboats is mostly a private activity of people who lack total faith in the stability of our economy and society Following this logic we can see smaller forms of organization (small business and local government) could manage many of the strategies applicable to the Earth Steward scenario while the household or closed community is the natural level of organization to contemplate the Lifeboat scenario. This nested hierarchy of scenarios explains why any planning for Lifeboats is mostly a private activity of people who lack total faith in the stability of our economy and society. Similarly many community activists work towards strategies that level the playing field, develop communitarian cultures and would be potent in an Earth Steward world, just as earnest middle level managers and planners work towards the Green Tech world as the best progressive evolution from what we have. Many of the elite “movers and shakers”, often from long established wealthy families in affluent countries, who move between the upper levels of corporations, governments and global governance organizations, believe the Brown Tech world is the hard reality that must be worked with (although this can hardly be acknowledged publicly).

I think this is one of the most insightful and empowering ways to think about these scenarios because it helps us understand the apparent contradictions between different perspectives and motivations of different groups in society and even contradiction within our own thoughts and behaviors. For example, it is common for people to have private thoughts about the Lifeboats or perhaps Earth Steward futures, while most of people’s public behavior as workers and consumers reinforce Brown Tech or perhaps Green Tech. The private thoughts are often internally critiqued as anti-social or at least naïve, while the public actions are often internally critiqued as driven by powerful outside forces. This nested model can help us better integrate these different aspects of ourselves.

Section VIII – The assumptions of current mainstream sustainability
efforts and  their relevance within the four Energy Descent Scenarios.
  

A.  Relevance of Mainstream Sustainability to Energy Descent
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/47/69/>
Mainstream approaches to sustainability tend to assume stability if not expansion in the energy flows available to humanity even if there are major transitions in the nature of the energy sources. Consequently, continuity of many of the structures underpinning current social and economic systems is assumed.

For example, modern affluent urban life in a society dominated by service economies may be transformed by revolutions in efficiency but will remain the norm for future sustainable society. Further, it is widely assumed that food production and management of biological resources to provide for human needs will remain a minor part of future economies, and that geopolitical stability will allow globalised trade and other global governance regimes to become increasingly effective as instruments to establish sustainable systems.

These are not so different from the business as usual assumptions about constant growth, but they require not only herculean efforts to build a new energy infrastructure before energy becomes too expensive and unreliable, but also massively reducing our greenhouse gas emissions today, if not yesterday.

There is also the small problem of reforming the monetary system away from dependence on perpetual growth without inducing financial collapse. I say “small problem” with irony of course because growth in economic activity is essential to support the debt based currency which is the very foundation of our money and banking system stretching back to the beginnings of capitalism and its economic precursors.

For these reasons I feel the Techno Stability long-term future has even less prospects than the default future of Techno explosion. Maybe this also helps explain the deep resistance and antagonism in the centers of political and economic power to questioning of the logic of growth. Whether it comes from an ecological or sociological perspective questioning economic growth threatens the very basis of our economic system. The lip service to environmental sustainability – so long as it can maintain essential growth – reflects this understanding.

Consequently more idealistic notions of steady state green economics are automatically rejected as throwing the “baby out with the bathwater”. While I have been as critical of the concept of continuous economic growth as most environmentalists and scientists, I also recognize that attempts to avoid the ecological precipice by reducing economic growth could bring down the whole system just as Gorbachev’s Glasnost contributed to the unraveling of the Soviet system. The economic hard liners could be right. There is no way to stop the train of global industrial capitalism (other than by crashing).

[Relevance of Mainstream Sustainability to Energy Descent Scenarios]

Despite these doubts about the logic behind many mainstream approaches to sustainability, they have contributed greatly in spreading new environmental thinking. For example the Natural Step concept64aims to protect biophysical systems by creating closed loop industrial manufacturing through continual improvements in performance. It has been very influential in Scandinavia and has been adopted by some of the more progressive manufacturing corporations. Rapidly rising costs of energy and commodities will reinforce many of the Natural Step strategies but these will also increase the costs of adopting some of the more elaborate environmental technologies that have been used to ensure no contamination of natural or human environments.

Natural Step might work to some degree in the Green Tech world but would seem futile in the Brown Tech, technically and organizationally impractical in the Earth Steward, and meaningless in the Lifeboat. The vast majority of sustainability concepts and strategies to reduce ecological footprint and greenhouse gas emissions could be similarly analyzed as having uncertain relevance at best to energy descent scenarios.

In general, fundamental principles will have more utility than specific strategies and technologies The following table quantifies my view that mainstream approaches to sustainability have quite low relevance to energy descent scenarios. Low scores do not mean that these ideas will completely disappear but that they will tend to shift from their current status as the innovative cutting edge of the economy to reflecting a past era – rather than their objective of becoming the norm within a sustainable society. The table also shows that in general, fundamental principles will have more utility than specific strategies and technologies that are currently being applied as good examples of these concepts.

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B.  Examples of  Relevanced Principles

_1.  Renewable Energy Sources
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/49/70/>
A good example of likely greater relevance of environmental principles when compared with specific strategies and technologies can be seen in relation to future energy sources. In fossil fuelled global industrial systems, energy supply has been generally concentrated in a few big powerful sources. A common principle in sustainability thinking is that a greater diversity of smaller and more distributed power sources will replace current fossil fuel, large hydro and nuclear sources.

The current roll out of wind power and to a lesser extent solar electric are technologies that illustrate this general principle and are widely recognized as central to the Techno Stability future. But energy descent may see growth in these particular energy sources slow or fail while older distributed sources such as wood and small scale hydro could grow rapidly. In a rapidly changing world appropriate design principles provide more guidance than specific strategies and technologies.

_2.  Biodiversity in Natural Resource Management
In the field of natural resource management the general principle of valuing biodiversity is likely to persist to some degree, at least in the Green Tech world, but the examples of vegetation management exclusively focused on local indigenous species, which are common today, will seem very dated as reflecting a world of rising wealth and constant climate.

Arguably, the principle of valuing biodiversity may even grow in strength as the current economic drivers favoring monoculture in agriculture and forestry weaken and are overtaken by viral forms of polyculture better able to use soil and water resources without inputs, and better able to serve mixed local markets. This process will allow the principle of valuing biodiversity to spread from the relative “cultural ghetto” of conservation management in affluent countries, to a more powerful expression of the permaculture version of the principle “Use and Value Diversity”. This very change may be experienced by those wedded to the current dominant views within the field of Conservation Biology as heresy to be resisted.

Energy descent demands that we consider more radical approaches to achieving environmental and social objectives.

[Relevance of Permaculture to Energy Descent Scenarios]

This is just one example of how energy descent scenarios will challenge some cherished beliefs within the environmental movement, while making others natural and obvious. Energy descent demands that we consider more radical approaches to achieving environmental and social objectives.
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_3.  Permaculture Design Principles
Permaculture as an environmental design concept with a long and evolving lineage of action around the world provides one such framework for developing new and reinforcing existing strategies that should be adaptive in energy descent scenarios.

In Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, I explain the importance of design principles as the basis for generating new strategies and techniques in a world of change and uncertainty. The following table shows how permaculture, especially when it is understood through its design principles more so than currently applied strategies, has a closer fit with energy descent scenarios than many other sustainability concepts that have achieved more mainstream acceptance in affluent counties. While the numerical scores compared with those for “Mainstream Sustainability” can be taken with a grain of salt, the broad thrust is clear.

This table may reflect a claim of permaculture’s central relevance to energy descent, but it also suggests an equal challenge to permaculture educators, activists and designers to more effectively use design principles to identify strategies, techniques and working models that are tuned to emerging rather than past conditions.

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_4.  Meta-scenarios of Permaculture
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/50/71/>
Each scenario presents quite different opportunities and challenges including ethical dilemmas for permaculture and related environmental and social activists. The analysis of the relevance of permaculture to the energy descent scenarios makes it possible to imagine meta-scenarios of how permaculture and related activism might influence society in ways different from today. Clearly these meta-scenarios are even more speculative than the energy descent scenarios, but provide a stimulus, especially for young people, to imagine oneself in the
energy descent future.

I imagine that permaculture – by principle and model, if not in name – will become the dominant paradigm in the Earth Steward scenario. I imagine that permaculture – by principle and model, if not in name – will become the dominant paradigm in the Earth Steward scenario. Those with a long track record of achievement will become the natural leaders within new emergent power structures, primarily at the local level, that will be more effective than higher levels of governance and organization. The ethical and design challenges will be those associated with leadership and power. Because “power” at this (and all levels) will be very weak, it will be more characterized by inspiration and wise council than the capacity to make binding decisions. Transparent and collaborative leadership that draws from the whole community and accepts slow evolutionary change and avoids the imposition of ideology is likely to be most effective in conserving resources and continuing to build a nature based culture.

•  In Lifeboats the focus of permaculturists is on provision of basic needs first and maintenance of seed and skills. Permaculture is also highly relevant to survival in the Lifeboat scenario. The focus on provision of basic needs first and maintenance of seed and other genetic resources and skills to salvage and ‘make do’ will all be essential. Those with considerable knowledge, skills and ability to provide for others, as well as having good communication and organization skills in difficult conditions, are likely to become natural leaders of lifeboat households and communities. The ethical and design challenges are less those of broader and collaborative leadership and more those represented by having to decide who to let into the lifeboat without threatening the survival of those already on board. The ability to integrate and defend the group without sentimentality while providing for the community and maintaining knowledge critical to long-term cultural survival, is the task of those able to think beyond everyday survival.

•  In Green Tech, the dominant paradigm is still focused in the economic and technological domains rather than the ecological. In the Green Tech scenario “sustainability” has become the dominant paradigm of more localized city and bioregional governance structures. Permaculture and related concepts have high status and receive resources from government and businesses to help further develop local food production and community economies that can buffer against further energy and ecological crises. For the permaculture activist this is a more familiar condition where there is ongoing, even rapid growth in influence but where the dominant paradigm is still focused in the economic and technological domains rather than the ecological domain as the source of wealth and meaning.

The primary ethical dilemma is that of comfortable co-option by the new sustainability elites, in the context of their heroic successes in avoiding the worst impacts of energy descent. Should permaculture activists quietly accept the status and resources that flow from these sustainability elites and focus on the slow change of society through practical works or should they critique the new elite for not accepting that energy descent will precipitate further crises unless we localize and simplify our economies further? The ability to lead by example and provide clear and persuasive articulation of values and goals beyond the prevailing mainstream lead to progressively more influence as the ongoing realities of energy descent unfold.

•  In the Brown Tech scenario the challenges for permaculture activists are somewhat analogous to those working in some poorer countries today. In the Brown Tech scenario, permaculture remains marginal to the mainstream, although it provides hope and some solutions for the increasing numbers of disenfranchised and alienated who reject, or are rejected, by the systems controlled by powerful central governments. The challenges for permaculture activists are somewhat analogous to those working in some poorer countries today; trying to assist the disadvantaged with simple technologies and solutions while avoiding threats from repressive central power.

Too much structure, organization and prominence could see such activism ruthlessly crushed as a threat to the system. Anarchistic and invisible modes of activism are likely to be more effective. Of course there are also those attempting to use ethical and design principles to reform the system from within (with all the attendant contradictions). Quiet and persistent collaboration between these two levels of activism could see a graceful descent to Earth Stewardship while failure could lead to the Lifeboat as the last option for the salvage of civilization.

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C.  Conclusion
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/37/45/>
This exploration of energy descent scenarios has been an organic one which began with a didactic intention to highlight how large scale energetic and environmental factors shape history more than ideologies and the heroic actions of individuals. But my purpose was to empower those committed to ecological values and social justice to be effective in their quest to create the world we want, rather than just resist the world we don’t want. Finally it has become about telling a story that can help bring that world to life, an apparent contradiction to the premise I began with. Although the primary lesson about the large scale forces that control the course of history may be true for the long periods of stability, during periods of ecological and cultural chaos, small groups of people have been instrumental in those transitions.

In nature, disturbance events (such as fire, flood or drought) or eruptive disturbances from within an ecosystem, such as insect plagues or fungal disease, are often understood as examples of system dysfunction. Alternatively they can be understood as either initiating another succession cycle that brings renewed life or a novel force that deflects the ecosystem in different directions determined by the chance arrival of new species or other factors. The ecosystems that emerge from these periods of disturbance can be quite different from those that preceded them and these changes can be characterised from a systems ecology perspective as either degradation of biophysical resources and productivity, and/or ones involving new evolutionary pathways. The lesson from nature is that evolution of life works in strange ways that cannot be fully predicted.

The historian William Irwin Thompson’s67 interpretation of creation of the world’s “first university” by Pythagoras suggests similar processes at work when civilization finds itself in a cultural dead end or design cul de sac. Pythagoras had been an initiate of the Egyptian mystery schools that were part of a decaying theocracy in the 6th century BC. Pythagoras and his followers secularized some of the hidden and arcane knowledge but his school in Calabria was burnt to the ground in some local political dispute. Pythagoras died a broken man but his followers, the Pythagoreans fled to Greece where they found fertile social conditions for their ideas and values. This was the beginning of the flowering of classical Grecian culture that we recognize as the origins of western civilization. In a similar story Thompson describes how the penniless monks of Lindisfarne converted the British Isles to Christianity in the 6thcentury AD. They had no power but their spiritual message shaped to reflect the Celtic traditions, was transformative in a country in the aftermath of the collapse of the Roman empire and where no one any longer knew the function of Stonehenge. For a couple of generations a form of free anarchic Christianity provided spiritual meaning, but the monastery was burnt to the ground by the Vikings.

Like Pythagoras and the monks of Lindisfarne we live in a world of collapsing culture where we have to choose what is worthwhile at this great turning point in history. We are faced with the mixed pieces of the myriad of broken traditional cultures of the world and the novel and shining bits of unraveling industrial modernity. All of this will end in the dustbin of history. Our task is to choose which pieces of these jigsaw puzzles will be useful in creating an energy descent culture, the boundaries, features and colors of which, we can scarcely imagine. What is worth saving? What are the limits of our capacity? We have little time to decide and act. We must commit to concrete actions and projects. We must stake our claim, not for ourselves but for the future. In committing to our task we should remember the stories of Pythagoras and the monks of Lindisfarne. It is not the project but the living process that will be the measure of our actions.

Let us act as if we are part of nature’s striving for the next evolutionary way to creatively respond to the recurring cycles of energy ascent and descent that characterize human history and the more ancient history of Gaia, the living planet. Imagine that our descendants and our ancestors are watching us.

End of article: (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 4 of 4)

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Our Future, Part 3 of 4

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Our Future, Parts 1-4)

Section V considers the interaction of peak oil and climate change to consider four distinct energy descent scenarios.

Descent scenarios 

A.  Scenario Planning
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/26/40/>
The systems approach to the energy descent future can be taken further by using a scenario planning model that combines two fundamental, and largely independent variables that generate four scenarios, one for each of the quadrants of a conceptual graph. Scenarios in this context are plausible and internally consistent stories about the future that help organizations and individuals to achieve a broad and open-ended adaptability to inherent unpredictability.

In classic corporate scenario planning the two variables might be the growth rate in the wider economy and the regulatory framework that constrains or encourages business. Climate Change and Oil Production Decline are the variables I use as the primary drivers in creating the four energy descent scenarios because I believe these are the strongest forces shaping human destiny over the 21st century and beyond. Consequently they are central to consideration of the energy transition across nations and cultures and in both urban and rural environments.

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B.  Interaction of Peak Oil and Climate Change
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/42/52/>
Although both variables are caused by collective human behaviour and potentially can be ameliorated by human behaviour, they arise from geological and climatic limits beyond human control. The debate over amelioration vs adaption to climate change is often portrayed as a potent moral choice between burning coal and accepting a changed world, or a shift to renewable energy to save nature. The emerging evidence suggests that this choice was one that humanity collectively fudged in the 1980’s.

Similarly the actions necessary to make an orderly transition from oil to other energy sources has been assessed as taking at least two decades. Again society had the evidence from the peaking of US oil production in 1970 but with the return of cheap oil in the 1980’s the energy problem appeared to have simply gone away due to “better” economic policies. Now climate change is accelerating and peak oil is upon us.

As well as having to adapt to both of these new realities, we also grapple with the interactions both positive and negative. The accelerating shift to increased dependence on natural gas is often portrayed as a positive reduction in carbon intensity but this is simply accelerating the depletion of our children’s remaining inheritance of high quality transport fuel. Similarly projects developing tar sands and other low-grade sources of oil massively increase greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps more surprising to some, the huge push in the US and Europe to make biofuels from corn and oil seed crops is increasing land degradation, resource consumption and contributing to driving up the cost of grains and oil seeds. Many authorities are a warning of global famine due to climate and energy crisis factors (including biofuels) coming together. The low ERoEI of biofuels, especially corn-based ethanol, suggest biofuels may be a way to deplete natural gas while degrading agricultural land and starving the world’s poor.

[Chart showing Average Per Capita Energy consumption going forward from Peak Oil]

On the other hand, radical reductions in consumption due to transformative lifestyle change, creative reuse of wastes generated by industrial and consumer systems, and a shift to truly productive work within revitalised home and community economies, show how we can both build local resilience and capacity to adapt to the destructive change at the same time as we make the greatest contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel depletion rates. While this strategy would be most productive and effective in the most affluent countries, it has increasing relevance world-wide.

The reluctance to seriously consider positive reductions in consumption in public debate about climate solutions could be swept away by the unfolding global energy and food crisis. Developing some of the harder and longer term ecological and modest technological adaption’s to ongoing and relentless energy descent will take decades to have widespread impacts (as do all high energy, high-tech centralized approaches) but radical and rapid human behavioral change is possible and even likely (given the right psycho-social conditions). The emerging energy and economic crisis will make these reductions a reality with or without a planned and creative response.

The alternate scenarios I have constructed provide more detail about how the Energy Descent future might evolve over the next few decades rather than the hundreds of the years of the long-term scenarios. As well as combining the effects of slow or rapid oil production decline, and slow or rapid global warming, they cover a very broad spectrum of human possibilities that can be recognized by various symptoms and signs in different places in the world today. They are all energy descent scenarios in that they depict possible futures with progressively declining net energy. This must be understood against the historical background in which energy use per capita globally has been on a bumpy plateau for thirty years after the previous thirty years of rapid growth per capita from the end of World War II. The graph below from the previously mentioned study suggests per worldwide capita energy use may continue to rise to about 1.7 tons of oil equivalent (toe) by 2020 before falling to 0.9 toe by 2050.

However when we use net energy ratios to convert these undifferentiated joules of energy, I believe that we are already into a global decline in net energy per person and will soon be into absolute global net energy decline.

C.  The Four Energy Descent and Climate Scenarios
Four Energy Descent scenarios are considered, each emerging from a combination of either fast of slow oil decline and either mild or severe climate change over the next 10-30 years:
1.  Brown Tech: (slow oil decline, fast climate change)
2.  Green Tech: (slow oil decline, slow climate change)
3.  Earth Steward: (fast oil decline, slow climate change)
4.  Lifeboats: (fast oil decline , fast climate change)

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D.  The Four Global Climate Change & Energy Descent Scenarios
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/27/46/>
While the characterization of the four scenarios is difficult and inevitably speculative, they do provide a framework for considering how Peak Oil and Climate Change could interact to reshape global and local energy resources, settlement patterns, economy and governance. They also provide some insight into what could be effective responses for aware activists to secure their own and family’s future while contributing to society in a positive way. Those responses might include potentially effective policies that could be adopted by relevant forms of government that might be functional in each of these scenarios.
Finally they clarify the relevance of permaculture principles in a world of energy descent and focus our attention on the strengths and weaknesses of various strategies in adapting to the differing scenarios.
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Section VI considers the first scenario, Brown Tech.

1.  Brown Tech: Top Down Constriction
(Slow energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms)
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/28/48/>
The Brown Tech world is one in which the production of oil declines after a peak 2005-2010 at about 2% per annum and the subsequent peak and decline of natural gas is also relatively gentle, but the severity of global warming symptoms is at the extreme end of current mainstream scientific predictions. In this scenario strong, even aggressive, national policies and actions prevail to address both the threats and the opportunities from energy peak and climatic change. The political system could be described as Corporatist or Fascist (which Mussolini described as a merger of state and corporate power).

The tendency in existing systems for massive centralized investment by corporations and governments, give priority to getting more energy out of lower grade non-renewable resources (eg. tar sands, coal and uranium) and biofuels from industrial agriculture and forestry. “Breakthrough” technologies provide the constant promise of a better future but much of the investment in energy harvesting accelerates global warming, at least in the short term.

At the same time the cost of defending or replacing urban infrastructure threatened by storms and future sea level rise consumes more resources, while droughts and chaotic seasonal changes reduce food production from broadacre and small scale agriculture.

Flows of energy from more expensive sources such as tar sands, deep ocean oil, gas to liquids and coal to liquids slow the decline in fuels from crude oil. This transition requires a huge mobilization of the technical and managerial capacity held mostly by global corporations, along with the financial, legal and military security that only sovereign governments can provide. This resource nationalism by government  breaks down free trade and the faith in international markets that underpins the global economy.

By 2007, we had already seen the shift from a buyers to a sellers market for energy cascading through all commodities markets and reshaping geopolitical relations. The profits from both non-renewable resources and large scale industrial agriculture rise on the back of high commodity prices, reversing many of the economic patterns and trends of recent decades. The wealth of farmers and miners as well as corporations and nations in control of these resources increases even as depletion reduces the flows of resources and climate change causes chaos in farming and land management.

The demand for biofuels in affluent countries reduces world food stocks and raises prices to levels that result in famine and chaos in many poor countries unable to sustain subsidies for staple food. In other countries, food riots by the poor force government to pay for escalating subsidies. The wealth left over for education, health etc. collapses. Wars to secure fuel and food increase and refocus public attention on external threats. In richer countries, consumer led economic growth falters or is actively shut down by government policies to focus limited resources on food, fuel and climate security. Some type of global economic depression unfolds from the combined effects of high energy and food prices, superpower contest, resource nationalism and the fragility of the financial system.

Rapid onset of climate change also tends to support centralized nationalist systems for several reasons. First the consequences of chaotic weather, food supply problems, radical land use change and abandonment of marginal land, leads to demands for strong government action to protect people from high food and fuel costs, natural disasters, the consequences of strong action by other nations, and mass migration by displaced people. Rates of urbanization increase as climate change impacts and withdrawal of government supported services in more remote rural regions accelerates.

A decline of the middle class already evident in many western countries accelerates leading to discontent and suppression by government including internment camps either for migrants or homeless people. Strong approaches to population control, even forced sterilization are introduced in some countries.

A series of short but intense international conflicts confirm major shifts in global power balances while accelerating resource depletion. Control of non-renewable fossil fuel and mineral resources remains critical, while the (relative) importance of distributed renewable wealth from agriculture and forestry continues to decline as the climate deteriorates especially in my home country of Australia where greater severity of droughts hit hard. With food supply under threat, fossil fuels and other resources are redirected from personal mobility and consumption to intensive factory farming in greenhouses and other controlled environments, mostly clustered around urban centers and managed by agribusiness corporations.

Desalination and other high energy ways to maintain water supply systems are built at huge cost and further increase demand for energy. The threat of sea level rises leads to large scale urban redevelopment driven by strong government policies. Some very bold initiatives for energy efficient medium density urban development and public transport infrastructure are funded. A key characteristic of this scenario is the sense of divide between the reducing numbers of “haves” dependent on a job in the “system” and the relatively lawless, loose but perhaps communitarian “have nots” with their highly flexible and nomadic subcultures living from the wastes of the “system” and the wilds of nature. Security of the “haves” is a constant issue with gated communities, and apartheid style townships and barrios for the “have nots”. While economic depression and reduction in consumption slow greenhouse gas emissions, the rapid expansion of strategic investment by government in new energy and urban infrastructure more than replaces the reduced private consumption, leading to a positive feedback loop that accelerates global warming.
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[Photo: Left half of picture sprawling slums of  The Poor. Right half (beyond wall) with swimming pool terraced apartments, community pool and tennis courts of The Rich. Many wealthy neighborhoods in Brazil are gated and heavily secured to keep out the poor.  In many cases wealth and absolute poverty are only separated by a thin division as seen in the photograph above.

Pasted from <http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/brazilian-style-living-in-southern-california-%E2%80%93-mls-inventory-creeping-up-section-8-vouchers-for-granite-countertops-and-california-budget-going-mayan-in-2012/>]

While the elites continue to be driven by a commitment to super rationalist beliefs, a sense of hollowness and lack of purpose characterizes the shrinking middle class, while fundamentalist religions and cults plays a stronger role in the lives of the working and unemployed classes partly through genuine reactions to the failures of modern humanism and partly manipulated by the elites to deflect anger and disenchantment. The Brown Tech scenario could be dominant and even more or less socially stable for many decades until ongoing climatic breakdown and reduced net energy return drive a shift to the Lifeboats scenario.

Top down constriction” summaries the essence of this scenario in that national power constricts consumption and focuses resources to maintain the nation state, in the face of deteriorating climate and reduced energy and food supply.
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2.  Green Tech: Distributed Powerdown
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Slow energy decline rates, mild climate change symptoms)
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/29/49/>
The Green Tech scenario is the most benign, in that adverse climate changes are at the low end of projections. Oil and gas production declines slowly as in the Brown Tech future, so the sense of chaos and crisis is more muted without major economic collapse or conflict. This allows resources to flow to a greater diversity of responses at the global, national, city, community and personal level. In some already densely populated poor countries, conditions worsen.

However higher commodity prices allows some poorer producer economies to escape their debt cycle while programs to empower women result in rapid reduction in the birth rate. The gradual reduction in capacity of countries to project power globally due to rising energy costs, increases national security and redirection of resources away from defense and resource capture to resource conservation and technological innovation. The consolidation of the global communication systems maintains global outlooks and understandings if not global economics.

As in the Brown Tech scenario, electrification is a key element in the energy transition but the renewable energy sources of wind, biomass, solar, hydro, tidal, wave etc. grow rapidly developing a more diverse and distributed mix. The relatively benign climate allows a resurgence of rural and regional economies on the back of sustained and growing prices for all natural commodities including feedstock for biofuels.

The principles behind organic agriculture and ecological management and resource allocation become the norm in many farming systems, helping to stabilize agriculture challenged by increasing cost of energy inputs and (albeit mild) climate change.

The accelerating conflict between biofuels and food is stabilized if not resolved by government subsidies to support food supply from agriculture, with biofuels coming mainly from forestry wastes. In many regions with prime agricultural land and small populations, wealthy farmers and agribusiness corporations are the main beneficiaries employing both high technology and cheap labor from migrant workers. In some regions, with poorer and steeper land and more diversified land ownership, smaller scale polyculture systems designed using permaculture principles spread wealth more evenly through local communities.

Continuous contraction affects large sections of the economy but the energy, resource and agriculture sectors along with recycling and retrofit industries experience rapid growth based on high commodity prices that are sustained despite economic recession in the main consuming economies. In some affluent countries, reform of monetary systems lowers the scale of financial collapses and refocuses capital on productive and socially useful innovation and investment.

Information technology continues to yield gains in energy and resource management; from real time pricing and self-healing electrical grids, to internet based ride sharing systems and telecommuting. Conservation yields the greatest gains with major public policies to change personal and organizational behavior. In other countries, especially the USA, the apparent opportunities for continued economic growth, combine with political policies to support a low carbon economy, leading to a renewable energy investment bubble followed by a severe recession.

State and city governments responsible for providing services are able to lead much of the restructuring to more compact cities and towns with increasing public transport infrastructure. Growth in large cities (especially in coastal lowlands) is reversed by public policies ahead of the worst effects of energy cost and global warming, while regional cities, towns and villages see modest growth on a compact urban model that preserves prime agricultural land and develops mixed use neighborhoods with more local work and radically less commuting.

The placing together of many of the more optimistic aspects of energy descent may seem artificial, but there are reasons to believe that the Green Tech scenario will tend towards a more egalitarian structure with the relative shift of power from control of oil wells and mines to control of the productivity of nature via traditional land uses such as agriculture and forestry and more novel renewable technologies.

The inherently distributed nature of these resources will lead to more distributed economic and political power at the level of cities, their hinterlands and organizations focused at this scale. For example, successful large scale farmers who have reduced their dependence of energy intensive inputs through permaculture strategies and organic methods may find new profits in more localized markets with prices sustained by policies that encourage regional self reliance. Any profits beyond farming are likely to be invested into local energy systems that generate more employment and further reduce economic dependence on central governments and large corporations. It is possible that these same processes could lead to highly inequitable, even feudal systems. However the universal focus on more sustainable production and reduced consumption that is not forced by remote and arbitrary central power, has the tendency to foster more egalitarian responses than in the Brown Tech scenario.

The substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that result from this scenario keep climate change impacts to a minimum, thus stabilizing and reinforcing the scenario’s basic characteristics for at least several decades.

The success in radically reducing consumption of resources while sustaining modest growth in some local economies combined with stabilization of the climate, encourages a new “sustainability” elite to consider further changes to consolidate these achievements in the face of ongoing net energy decline. The worse excesses of consumer capitalism are controlled by restriction and reforms of advertising and other dysfunctional forces.

Civic culture strengthens where further transition towards a non-materialistic society combines with the maturation of feminism and environmentalism, and a resurgence in indigenous and traditional cultural values. These trends stabilize the accelerating loss of faith in secular humanism allowing the evolution of more spiritual “cultures of place”. Over time an evolution toward the Earth Steward scenario seems an obvious and natural response to the inexorable decline of non-renewable resources. “Distributed Powerdown” summarizes this scenario by emphasizing both the distributed nature of resources and power, and the planned contraction involved.

At their extremes the Green Tech and Brown Tech scenarios also describe many of the elements that could be expected in the Techno Stability Long Term Scenario where new energy sources manage to replace fossil fuels without the stresses that lead to system wide contraction. The current levels of ecological, economic and socio-political stress are the indirect indicators that we are entering the energy descent scenarios rather than simply a transition from energetic growth to stability. Relative insulation from those stresses and the persistence of faith in the monetary accounting “house of cards” by the upper middle class (if not the global elites) continues the confusion. The lack of understanding of net energy accounting and disagreement amongst the experts on appropriate methods, combined with political pressures from the unfolding crisis lead to energetic descent being mistaken for “business as usual”.

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3.  Earth Steward: Bottom Up Rebuild
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Rapid energy decline rates, mild climate change symptoms)
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/30/50/>
In this scenario the decline in oil production after a peak in total liquids production before 2010 is at the extreme end of authoritative predictions (about 10%) and is followed by an even faster decline in gas production plus a simultaneous peak in coal production. The shock to the world’s fragile financial systems is overwhelming, resulting in severe economic depression and perhaps some further short, sharp resource wars.

This economic collapse and these political stresses, more than the actual shortage of resources, prevents the development of more expensive and large scale non-renewable resources that characterize the Brown Tech scenario or the renewable resources and infrastructure of the Green Tech. International and national communications networks break down.

Electricity grids become non-functional as cost and availability of fuels and spare parts reduce production and lack of paying businesses and customers reduces revenues. International tensions remain but capacity of stronger countries to use military force is constrained by unreliable energy and parts supplies and the strong evidence that war uses more resources than it captures. Global warming is slowed dramatically and reversed by the collapse of the global consumer economy and absence of large scale investment in new energy infrastructure.

There is a radical reduction in mass mobility of both people and goods. The food supply chain is severely affected both on farms and through the distribution system. Energy intensive large scale farming supplying central marketing chains is the worst affected leading to abandonment of even highly productive land. Shortages lead to rationing, black markets, and riots for food and energy.

Increases in crime, malnutrition and disease lead to a rising death rate accelerated in some countries by epidemics and pandemics that have a major impact on social and economic capacity. The collapse in the tax base available to national and state governments reduces their power and even city level restructuring of infrastructure is difficult, but local government retains some degree of effective services, decision making and possibly democracy.

Collapse of larger businesses and the difficulties in maintaining urban infrastructure leads to a hollowing out of the cities. Loss of jobs and houses leads to migration of people out of cities to smaller towns, villages and farms with more robust local economies able to take advantage of the influx of labor. Impacts and demands on local soil, water and forest resources increases, to severe levels in many poor countries as people move out of the cities to harvest fuel, wildlife and restart food production. In long affluent countries, the underuse of local biological resources in the late 20th century provides some buffer against these impacts.

Large numbers of homeless exurbanites form a new underclass lacking even the skills of poverty.

Large numbers of homeless ex-urbanites form a new underclass lacking even the skills of poverty. They provide basic labour in exchange for food and accommodation on farms needing the labour. Surviving structures of power may adapt to impose a more feudal structure based on concentrated control of productive farms and forests and built assets in large farming estates.

Organic and small farmers, close to markets and able to make use of labour and animal power, thrive (to the extent security allows) in a context of relatively benign and slow climate change. An explosion of home businesses based on building and equipment retrofit, maintenance and salvage starts to build a diversified economy. Further afield biofuels from crop waste allow farmers to continue to use machinery while wood and charcoal gasification based on regrowth forest resources near settlements and towns provide an increasing proportion of limited transport fuel. This small business growth in turn provides a new tax base for some form of effective local government. In some places new bioregional governments institute land reform and debt cancellation following collapse of financial institutions and central banks, allowing people to stay on their properties.

Suburban landscapes around smaller cities and regional towns with greater social capital are transformed with a booming and relatively egalitarian society sustained by bio-intensive/permaculture farming and retrofitting and reuse supported by resources from both the immediate rural hinterland and inner urban salvage.

This ruralization of suburban landscape to produce food on all available open space, private and public provides most of the fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy and small livestock products. Local currencies, food, car and fuel co-ops, community supported agriculture all grow rapidly. Informal and household economies provide an increasing proportion of basic needs as corporate and government systems fail to deliver.

Around the larger cities especially in countries where social capital and community capacity is severely eroded, most of these new developments are in gated communities providing the basic needs and security of their residents with trade outside the community being more difficult or dangerous. Outside the gated communities salvage, fuel harvesting and animal husbandry are the main economic activities with trade controlled by gangs and local warlords.

While the impacts on people and local environments of this scenario are severe there is also a cultural and spiritual revolution as people are released from the rat race of addictive behaviours. While the impacts on people and local environments of this scenario are severe, in previously affluent countries at least, there is also a cultural and spiritual revolution as people are released from the rat race of addictive behaviors and begin to experience the gift of resurgent community and the simple abundance of nature to provide for basic needs.

The biggest difference from the Green and Brown Tech scenarios is that the rebuilding and stabilization is no longer based on dreams of sustainability or restoring the old system. Instead people accept that each generation will have to face the challenges of further ongoing simplification and localization of society as the fossil resource base continues to decline. This simplification in the material domain is seen as the opportunity for growth in the spiritual domain. There is a resurgence in leadership by women and a celebration of the feminine in nature and people. “Bottom Up Rebuild” summarises this scenario by emphasizing the new growth from biological and community foundations. In some ways this scenario might be considered as the archetypal one of the Energy Descent future and the one in which permaculture principles and strategies are most powerfully applied.

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4.  Lifeboats: Civilization Triage
Rapid energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms.
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In this scenario, supplies of high quality fossil fuels decline rapidly, the economy fails and human contributions to global warming collapse, but lag effects and positive feedbacks in the climate system continue to drive an acceleration of global warming. As of 2007, an increasing number of scientists believe it may already be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. In the Lifeboat scenario the adverse symptoms of the Brown Tech and Earth Steward scenarios combine to force a progressive collapse in most forms of economy and social organization. Local wars, including use of nuclear weapons accelerate collapse in some areas but the failure of national systems of power prevent global warfare. Successive waves of famine and disease breakdown social and economic capacity on a larger scale than the Black Death in medieval Europe leading to a halving of global population in a few decades.

New forms of oasis agriculture that are low input versions of the Brown Tech intensive systems evolve that stabilize food production as chaotic seasons make traditional field agriculture and horticulture almost impossible. Forest and rangeland hunting and harvesting become the predominant use of resources over large regions supporting nomadic bands. Warrior and gang cults provides meaning in a world of grief and violence, leading to the development of new religions and even languages that attempt to make sense of people’s lives.

Urban areas are largely abandoned and dangerous but remain valuable as quarries for salvaging materials especially metals. Suburban landscapes become ruralized into defensive hamlets making use of salvaged materials, urban storm water and surplus building space for mixed household economies.

The impacts are very patchy with worse effects in high density previously affluent and urbanized countries. In the most remote regions remnants of hunter-gatherer and pioneer farmer cultures are better able to weather the changes. The relative abundance and ongoing availability of high quality metals and other materials make a critical technological distinction from that of ancient traditional hunter gatherer cultures.

Mountain regions, especially with surviving glacier fed rivers allow hydroelectric systems to be maintained and rebuilt on a smaller scale. Nutrient rich glacier fed rivers also sustain intensive irrigated agriculture. In some localities, especially in favorable regions with accessible energy and agricultural resources, communities analogous to the monasteries of the early medieval period provide basic knowledge and skills to their surrounding communities and are thus protected by the locals from the ravages of local warlords and pirates. These communities, mostly in rural and suburban areas, and based on pre-collapse efforts of intentional communities or rich benefactors, pursue the task of saving and condensing knowledge and cultural values for the long dark ages ahead.

“Civilization triage” refers to the processes by which remaining social capacity (beyond meeting immediate basic needs) are focused on conserving technology and culture that could be useful to a future society, once energy descent is stabilized after a precipitous but limited collapse process. This is not the dominant process of the scenario but the most significant in terms of future cultural capacity. The Christian monasteries that saved many of the elements of Greco-Roman culture and later provided the foundations for the Renaissance of Western civilization is one historical example that could serve as a model for understanding how this process might work.

At its extreme, this scenario describes many of the elements of the Collapse Long Term future in which there is a complete breakdown in the lineage of industrial civilization such that future simple societies retain nothing from what we created through industrial civilization. Drawing a distinction between this scenario and total collapse may seem pedantic but the reasons are important. In the Collapse Long Term scenario, any future civilization that could emerge only learns from the lessons of ours via archeology and perhaps long attenuated mythic stories. In the Lifeboat scenario the retention of cultural knowledge of the past combined with a moderately habitable environment allow new civilizations to emerge that build on at least some of the knowledge and lessons from ours.

Three factors may prevent the continuous free fall to a very low global population of hunter gatherers surviving on the fringes of the Arctic of a hotter planet.
_1)  The first is the wild card created by the mixing of the world’s biota, most notable the large numbers of tree and other species that exhibit what foresters call “exotic vigour”. This allows new recombinant ecosystems to stabilize many environments that climate scientists are now saying will become uninhabitable in extreme climate change. The release of critical minerals, most notably phosphorus over the last 200 years into the biosphere may allow these new ecosystems to ultimately achieve biological productivity exceeding that possible from pre-existing systems.
_2)  Secondly the flooding of large areas of coastal lowlands complete with complex reef structures from flooded cities and infrastructure may also create the conditions for highly productive shallow waters and estuaries. These types of ecosystem are some of the most biologically productive ecosystems on the planet.
_3)  Thirdly, the precipitous drop in human numbers and their initial tendency to remain relatively aggregated to make use of the huge resources from industrial salvage materials (and for security) should see very large regions able to recover without harvesting and other impacts from people.

If the knowledge of ecological processes and their creative manipulation using minimal resources are retained and developed in the Lifeboat communities, then survival and resurgence of a more than minimalist culture may allow global human population to be sustained at perhaps half, rather than one tenth, of current levels. More importantly it may be possible to embed the wisdom of the lessons learnt so that unconstrained human growth does not repeat such an intense cycle. Clearly these last thoughts are highly speculative but build from the same linage of permaculture thinking developed over the last thirty years that informs the rest of the scenarios.

Summary of the Four Climate/Energy Descent Scenarios
The following table summarizes the main elements and characteristics of the four scenarios.

Continued in (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 4 of 4)

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Our Future, Part 2 of 4

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Our Future, Parts 1-4)

H.  Energy Descent: The Ignored Scenario 
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Public discussion of energy descent is generally seen as unrealistic, defeatist and politically counterproductive although many activists promoting sustainability strategies privately acknowledge that energy descent maybe inevitable. I want to expand the systems approach to future energy transitions by focusing on the most ignored of the long term scenarios for the following reasons.
_1.   We do not have to believe that a particular scenario is likely before making serious preparations. For example most people have fire insurance on their homes, not because they expect their primary asset to be destroyed by fire but because they recognize the severity of this unlikely event. Similarly, energy descent scenarios,  by their very nature, require more forethought and proactive planning than energy growth or steady state scenarios (to avert catastrophic consequences) .
[Image at left: Amish horse cart outside of SUV’s in auto sales lot, Raleigh North Carolina. 2005. A model for energy descent in more ways than the obvious. The Amish driver is likely to be a farmer, a symbol of the greater number of people who will be involved in food production both domestically and commercially in a future of less energy; in ironic contrast to the Burger King take away food sign in the background.]

_2.  The rapidly accumulating evidence on both climate change and peaking of world oil supply, to name the two most important factors, makes some sort of energy descent increasingly likely despite the deep structural and psychological denial of this evidence.
_3.  The likelihood that permaculture principles and strategies (not necessarily by that name) could inform societal-wide redesign and re-organization in an energy descent future. Since this scenario is the one in which permaculture is naturally at the fore, it is logical for those committed to permaculture to think more deeply about energy descent.

Ecological modeling suggests an energy descent path that could play out over a similar time frame to the industrial ascent era of 250 years. Historical evidence suggests a descent process that could involve a series of crises that provide stepwise transitions between consolidation and stabilization phases that could be more or less stable for decades before another crisis triggers another fall and then another restabilisation.

There is a desperate need to recast energy descent as a positive process that can free people from the strictures and dysfunctions of growth economics and consumer culture. This is now apparent to many people around the world and is far more fundamental than a public relations campaign to paint a black sky blue. It is a necessary process to provide a sense of hope and connection to fundamental human values expressed by every traditional culture throughout human history; that the pursuit of materialism is a false god.

One of the positive aspects of energy descent that is often overlooked is that it is a culture of continuous and novel change over many human generations. Ironically the growth culture of the previous several hundred years provides us with some conceptual and cultural experience at dealing with change that traditional peoples in more stable societies lacked. We are now familiar with continuous change, that we must do something different to our parent’s generation and that our children must do something different again. This may seem a small bright spot when considering the challenges of energy descent but it is a real asset that we must harness if we are to deal with energy descent in the most graceful way possible.
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Section II  Explores the relevance of permaculture design systems to an era of energy descent.

 A.  Permaculture
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Serious and thoughtful responses to energy descent futures over the last 30 years (from both sociological and ecological perspectives) have received limited attention academically.  In affluent countries, movements advocating low energy lifestyles, such as permaculture, have contributed mostly to action and changes at the fringes of society. Permaculture has been stress tested in poor countries and in crisis situations, and as fossil fuel depletion hits levels of
affluence globally, its relevance will likely increase radically.
[Image at right: Melliodora central Victoria 2004. View over poultry deep litter yard, roof runoff garden, olive and fruit trees to house with solar clerestory showing above trees. ]

Permaculture was one of the environmental design concepts to emerge from the 1970’s debate over energy and resource availability and was founded on the assumption that the next energy transition would involve the re-emergence of biological systems as central to economics and society. The vision that informed permaculture design, teaching and action saw relocalized food and renewable energy production, revitalized household and community economies and bioregional political structures establishing a permanent (i.e. sustainable) human culture. The opportunistic use of fossil fuelled wealth and waste to fund the transition was an integral part of the permaculture strategy. I see permaculture design generating more appropriate biological and human capital in ways less demanding of physical resources and with low depreciation rates that are useful to a world of energy descent. In my book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, I explained the title in terms of the Energy Descent future undermining the steady state notions inherent to most thinking about sustainability and even permaculture.

Permaculture has spread around the world but has an extraordinary, perhaps unique role in Australia, as a concept, a collection of design strategies, and as an environmental movement. A definition is included in the Macquarie dictionary and it is almost a household word. As a “brand” it carries a great deal of good will but also much baggage and is generally regarded in policy and planning circles as marginal to mainstream decision making. Some more thoughtful people recognize it as tuned to a world of declining resources that will require adaptive strategies quite different from those being pursued currently.

Permaculture is already contributing to changing Australian suburbs and lifestyle via bottom up and organic processes. Increasing community awareness of environmental issues combined with rises in the cost of energy, water and food are likely to lead to an explosion in permaculture inspired activity in Australian cities, towns and rural landscapes. It is now essential that academics, educators, activists, planners and policy makers understand permaculture as both a factor in the social and physical fabric of Australian society and a conceptual framework for the organic redesign of society and culture for the energy descent future in Australia as well as globally.

Not surprisingly, Permaculture solutions have been more effectively applied in community and agricultural development work in many majority world communities where energy descent has been a reality for many people. While these conditions can be understood in terms of inequitable distribution of resources rather than fundamental limits, they provide models for behavior in response to energy descent. The most dramatic example is the role that permaculture strategies and techniques played in rapidly increasing urban food production as part of a multi pronged strategy to avert famine in Cuba in the early 1990’s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. What is particularly interesting about this model is that Cuba is a middle income country with a long history of industrialized agriculture and an urbanized and dependent population similar to many affluent countries. Today Cubans have life expectancy and other indices of development comparable with the USA while using one seventh the energy and resources.

Permaculture is, intuitively, most relevant to the Energy Descent scenarios in which there is a major decline in the power from non-renewable resources but many of the strategies are synergistic with those focused on appropriate responses to the Techno Stability scenario which demands a degree of relocalization of food supply and other key economies and a shift from centralized to distributed energy sources.

One way to understand permaculture is as a post-modern integration of elements from different traditions and modernity that involves continuous change and evolution.

Sometimes permaculture is understood as simply returning to traditional patterns from the past and is consequently criticized as impractical. While it is true that older, more traditional patterns of resource use and living provide some of the elements and inspiration for permaculture, it is certainly more than this. One way to understand permaculture is as a post-modern integration of elements from different traditions and modernity that involves continuous change and evolution. This builds on the human experience of continuous change rather than static tradition as well as the more recent emergence of design as a new literacy that allows us to effectively and efficiently respond to and redesign our environment and ourselves.

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B.  Climate change and Peak Oil as Fundamental Drivers of Change
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The simultaneous onset of climate change and the peaking of global oil supply represent unprecedented challenges driving this energy transition but historians may look back with the verdict that the efforts at transition were too little too late. The immediacy of the problems undermines many of the options for longer term restructuring around renewable energy and appropriate infrastructure. The systemic interlocking of human/environment systems suggests other apparently independent crises from the psychological to the geopolitical are being drawn together to reinforce an historic inflection point.

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C.  Climate Change
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While Peak Oil has remained a concept at the fringe of public debate and policy, climate change has gathered speed as the key environmental issue demanding attention alongside more traditional concerns about economics and security. The creation of the IPCC in 1988 reflected the scientific consensus in the mid 1980’s that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide was caused by human emissions but the realization that climate change was already happening began to take shape in the 1990’s and by 2007 even political leaders in the USA and Australia (who had become infamous for denying climate change) began to accept it as a reality. It has been the increase in drought and extreme weather events more than increases in average temperatures or subtle ecological changes that have spurred the political and public realization that climate change is already happening. The focus has shifted from impacts on nature to impacts on humanity.

Strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have become almost synonymous with the sustainability concept. New financial instruments such as carbon trading have developed despite the uncertainty about international agreements to underpin and sustain them. Renewable energy sources have grown significantly especially in countries with the most progressive responses to climate change. At the same time geological sequestration of carbon dioxide has been strongly promoted as a way to allow coal-fired power stations to continue to provide the bulk of the world’s electric power without creating climate chaos. The nuclear industry has been recast as an environmental savior. Despite all the focus on the issue, the emissions of greenhouse gases worldwide has continued to parallel economic growth. Consequently the emissions increases have been higher than even the worst case (business as usual) scenarios produced in the earlier reports by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).  

The most recent evidence on climate change is showing that the rate of onset of warming in the Arctic make the IPCC’s fourth report look incompetent in its failure to be alarmist enough. Hansen’s report suggests that the onset of severe impacts from climate change are now inevitable even if there is a huge world wide effort at mitigation. Greenland ice cap melting and sea ice retreat are occurring now far faster than expected. This new evidence has been ignored by the IPCC’s ponderous processes for its reports. James Hansen’s research suggests that sea level rises could be 5 meters by 2100 rather than the 0.5m used in the IPCC’s fourth report. This suggests that the onset of severe impacts from climate change is now inevitable, even if there is a huge world-wide effort at mitigation.

There is also very little evidence that mitigation within the  context of modern affluent society will radically reduce greenhouse gas emission in any case. Most of the increases in efficiency and other  gains through technology have been countered by increases in emissions elsewhere. This may appear to be due to the small scale and spread of these gains but there is a more fundamental problem that is known to systems theorists as the “rebound effect” or the “Jevons’ paradox”. A gain in resource efficiency in one part of a system is immediately used to drive growth in another part. For example, the savings made in reducing Economic recession is the only proven mechanism for a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions house heating costs is typically being spent on something like an overseas holiday by a householder. This suggests that without radical behavioral and organizational change that would threaten the foundations of our growth economy, greenhouse gas emissions along with other environmental impacts will not decline.  Economic recession is the only proven mechanism for a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and may now be the only real hope for maintaining the earth in a habitable state.

Further, most of the proposals for mitigation from Kyoto to the feverish efforts to construct post Kyoto solutions have been framed in ignorance of Peak Oil. As Richard Heinberg has argued recently, proposals to cap carbon emissions annually, and allowing them to be traded, rely on the rights to pollute being scarce relative to the availability of the fuel. Actual scarcity of fuel may make such schemes irrelevant.

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D.  Energy Reserves and Production Peaks
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Most of the comparative discussion about energy resources has focused on “Proven, Probable and Possible Reserves”. These are economic concepts about what can be profitably extracted using current technology and prices. Banks lend massive amounts of money to develop energy projects over long periods with risks of price collapses that can reduce or eliminate profits. The Proven reserves represent assets that can be considered as collateral by the lender. There is a long history of “reserve growth” of Proven reserves. While some of this is due to technology improvement, and more recently price rises, very little is due to finding more oil. Most is simply due to shifting reserves from the Probable to the Proven category driven by reporting policies and regulations.

Nationalization of oil reserves in the 1970’s allowed OPEC countries to report reserve growth with less scrutiny by western banks and in the 1980’s radical revision upward of reserve figures were made without finding any more oil. This hopeless corruption of reserve figures, of arguably the most important set of accounts in the world, was not exposed until the late 1990’s with the work of Campbell and Laherrere beginning the current debate about peak oil. It is still yet to be accepted or acknowledged by governments or intergovernmental agencies such as the International Energy Agency, charged with providing transparent and accurate information on energy resources.

The debate about Peak Oil has also highlighted the confusion in economic and political discourse about the importance of production rates and their potential to keep expanding. This collective myopia on the part of the intelligentsia is all the more stunning because it has been increasing rates of energy production (not reserve growth) that has underpinned economic growth. The orthodox view that healthy reserves, by themselves, can ensure expanding production has been show to be false.

The collective myopia on the part of the intelligentsia is all the more stunning because it has been increasing rates of energy production that has underpinned economic growth.
Similarly, the conventional wisdom that coal reserves are so great that we can expand coal based electricity with or without carbon sequestration, and make liquid fuel from coal is now being widely challenged. As with oil, we see that reserve figures are of dubious reliability and large reserves do not mean that production rates can necessarily increase. The slow rate of increase in oil production from the Canadian tar sands, despite massive investment, heroic logistics (and massive environmental damage) proves that large reserves do not necessarily lead to high production rates. The fact that Canada, overnight, became the nation with the largest oil reserves in the world because it was allowedto classify its tar sands as oil, highlights the arbitrary nature of the reserve concept. It is highly likely that nowhere near enough fossil fuels can be mined fast enough to generate the worst case emission scenarios of the IPCC. It is just unfortunate that climate change seems to be happening at much lower levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide than predicted in those same models.

The evidence on peak oil is gathering so fast that it is now certain that the world has already peaked in the production of cheap (conventional) oil and that the peak production of “crude plus condensate” (the standard measure of oil) may have already passed despite vigorous debunking of peak oil that continues in policy circles and the media. The steady climb in prices for eight years should have been enough to lift production if that were possible. The impacts of peak oil are unfolding all around us in the world but they are being regularly interpreted in the media as caused by more familiar (above ground) factors such as terrorism, oil nationalism, corporate greed or incompetence, speculators, etc. The combination of rolling crises and obfuscation of the issues is leading to confusion and inappropriate responses (from oil wars to biofuels from agricultural crops) that are compounding the problems.

The debate amongst peak oil analysts has now shifted from when, to at what rate, the world will decline. The debate amongst peak oil analysts has now shifted from when, to at what rate, the world will decline after we move off the current plateau in production. The decline rates in the UK and Mexico have provided progressively stronger evidence that the application of modern management and technology in oil production, while delaying peak, ultimately leads to faster decline rates than had been expected (based on past rates of national decline). If these higher decline rates follow through into global decline, then mitigation and adaption strategies, without economic collapse will be very difficult. Given the accelerating consumption of natural gas and coal we should assume peak production of both will quickly follow oil peak.
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Access to oil will likely decrease far more rapidly in importing nations as explored in the next section
Collapsing Oil Exports 
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Another factor is already accelerating the impact of global peak on the importing countries. Almost all of the oil producing countries have rapidly growing economies driven by large oil revenues and in many cases rapidly growing populations. Internal consumption in these countries is ensuring that after peak, the rate of exports declines much faster than production. The two largest producers and exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia are the prime examples.  Global economic growth may continue for some years in oil and resource rich countries, but not in the importing countries that have been used to affluence and continuous economic growth for the longest.
[Image at left: The rising cost of intercontinental shipping costs is threatening to reverse the globalization of manufacturing.]

Alternatively, a constant state of corruption, dysfunction and/or open war, in oil exporting countries can have the effect of enforcing exports in the face of shortages at home. Although this appears counter-intuitive, the failure of functional governance in the national interest combined with a shattered or stunted economy reduces the capacity of the national market to pay for oil and allows foreign oil companies to gain favorable concessions and military protection from corrupt governments. Aspects of this scenario are at work to maintain the flow of oil from Nigeria and Iraq to the USA and other large importers.

Thus, we can see both the collapsing exports, and enforced export scenarios unfolding simultaneously as the major expression of the struggle for declining production. This suggests at the very least, massive shifts in geo-political and economic power over the next few years, even if global growth continues.
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Section III considers one other compounding factor, that of decreasing net energy returns.

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A. 
Net Energy Return
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An even more fundamental issue is that of net energy return. It takes energy to get energy. Fossil fuel resources have been such an abundant source of concentrated energy that the investment of energy we make in exploration, mining, transport and processing has been relatively small. Even when we consider all the energy embodied in equipment and infrastructure, the net energy return or profit has been very high. Adding all the energy and resources needed to train and support all the engineers and other employees in the energy industries still leaves a huge net energy profit which explains why the oil industry has been such a profitable one. However now that we have passed the peak of production of conventional oil,  the net energy yield from new projects tapping the heavy, deep ocean, arctic and small remaining amounts in old oil fields, using advanced recovery methods, is less and less.

This decline in net energy yield results in an increasing proportion of society’s real wealth being devoted to the energy harvesting sectors of the economy, leaving less and less for all other sectors.

Other resources sectors with rapidly increasing demand for energy include mining and metal processing, which currently use about 10% of world energy supply, have an escalating demand as lower quality ore bodies are mined. The implications of declines in Energy Return On Energy Invested (ERoEI) are so shocking that there is much confusion and denial about the concept of net energy.

The idea that biofuels or coal to liquids will simply replace oil and gas the way oil and gas have replaced wood and coal shows an astonishing degree of ignorance of the concept of net energy. When we moved from wood to coal and on to oil, the increase in power available to humanity was not just from the increasing quantity of energy, but from the increasing quality. The quantity is easily measured in joules (heat energy released) but the quality is something scientists are more confused about. It is widely accepted by scientists that energy quality is real and determines the usefulness of energy, but without an agreed way to measure quality, it is largely ignored.

The net energy concept is just beginning to surface in the media and policy circles as a way to assess alternative energy sources and strategies, especially in the debate over corn ethanol in the USA. While different methods of accounting for net energy produce substantially different net energy profit figures, they all show a pattern of higher returns for current and past sources of fossil energy than new ones. Economic power and profit from past development of different energy sources also reflects these general patterns revealed by net energy calculation methods. This suggests they can be used to predict real economic impacts of future energy systems.

The declining net energy yields of our energy resources results in an increasing proportion of society’s real wealth being devoted to the energy harvesting sectors of the economy, leaving less and less for all other sectors.

[The above graph models gross energy availability.  Due to decreasing net energy yields of many of the above resources, actual available energy for society will likely decrease more dramatically.]

The promotion by the US dept of Agriculture of research showing a Energy Return On Energy Invested of 1.6 as a good result, indicates how the understanding of these issues is very poor, even by the scientifically literate. A society based on an energy source of this quality would be constantly investing 62% of its energy back into the energy industry (the 1 in 1.6), leaving only the remaining 38% of the total energy in society for everything else, ie. health, education, culture, food production, law, leisure and so on. Our modern industrial society has been fueled by energy sources with Energy Return on Energy Invested as high as 100 and at least 6 (requiring between 1% and 17% of the wealth created being invested to get the yield)

Ironically conventional economics is blind to this shift because one type of economic transaction is considered as good as another, so growth in the energy sector at the expense of say personal consumption is not seen as indicative of any fundamental problem.

My own tracking of these issues over the last thirty years leads me to the conclusion that the next energy transition is to sources with lower energy production rates and lower net energy yield which in turn will drive changes in human economy and society that are without precedent since the decline and/or collapse of previous complex civilizations such as the Mayans and the Romans.

The most sophisticated method of evaluating net energy, with the longest history of development, is EMergy Accounting developed by Howard Odum and colleagues. It has informed my own development of permaculture principles and strategies over the last 30 years but unfortunately it remains unknown or at best misunderstood in academic and policy circles. EMergy accounting includes ways of measuring energy quality (called “Transformity”). This makes it possible to account for small quantities of very high quality energy in technology and human services that undermine many of the more optimistic assessments of alternative energy sources including biomass, nuclear and solar.

To test the relative impact of net energy compared with declines in energy production rates, I used a recent assessment of global energy production through to 2050 by Paul Chefurka published and discussed on The Oil Drum website. The study was well referenced and its assumptions and methodology were clear. It took account of likely reductions from oil, gas and coal but included reasonably optimistic figures for future production from renewables and nuclear. It shows a peak in total energy production about 2020 followed by a decline to 70% of 2005 production by 2050. This is a very serious reduction given an expected global population of 9 billion. Below are the key production projections and energy mix pie charts from the study.

Using published EMergy accounting studies I multiplied these current and projected global energy sources by their net EMergy yield ratios. This shows that the energy quality of 2050 energy mix will be 58% of the 2005 energy mix. This suggests that declining net energy is a greater factor than projected declines in production. Multiplying these factors together suggests real energetic power available to humanity will be 40% of current yields. This does not allow for the energetic cost of carbon sequestration (still unknown) to ameliorate the otherwise disastrous impacts on the climate of the increased use of coal.

The net energy return from fossil fuels including coal will decline so that  the above calculation of humanity having about 40% of current net energy by 2050 may still be optimistic. Further it does not take account of decline (or increase) in the average net energy return for a particular source. While it is possible that net energy return from newer renewable sources (such as solar and even wind) could conceivably improve with time, it is more likely that they will decline as the embedded fossil energy contribution (to the new energy sources) declines. A new evaluation of the net energy return of gas production in North America using a methodology developed by Cleverland and Costanza suggests net energy return is in the process of a collapse so severe that net energy yield from gas in Canada will effectively fall to almost nothing by 2014 and that similar results apply to US production. This is very different from the official view that claims the USA has 86 years of production at 2004 levels based on production to reserves ratios.
The implications of some of this information is so shocking that the naïve and simplistic idea that we are running out of oil and gas (rather than just peaking in production) may be closer to the truth than even the most pessimistic assessments of peak oil proponents a decade ago.
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Section IV considers briefly some other major factors besides Peak Oil and Climate Change which will determine the future.
Associated issues 


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Many other factors beyond Climate Change and Peak Oil are increasing the stress on global ecosystems and humanity making some form of energetic descent if not collapse, seem inevitable. A few of the more fundamental ones need at least a mention.
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•  Critical materials depletion
Accelerating economic growth and energy extraction over the last decade has greatly increased depletion of other essential non-renewable resources, especially phosphates for food production and non ferrous metals for industry. Almost all the unfolding plans and projects for energy transition beyond oil will place more demand on these depleting resources. For example, the demand for nickel steel alloys required for high pressure natural gas pipelines is pushing up the price of nickel and further depleting the remaining stocks. As lower quality deposits of critical materials are tapped, energy demands for extraction and processing will escalate dramatically and production rates will fall.  The title of Richard Heinberg’s latest book Peak Everything sums up the situation.

•  Water depletion
Water is the most abundant resource used by humanity, but the growing demand, is so vast that the limits once specific to a bioregion, are now being expressed at the global scale. Although I don’t subscribe the view that global water shortage will constrict global growth before or more severely than liquid fuel supplies, the global water crisis is already quite severe. Even if we attribute the most dramatic impacts of droughts directly to climate change, other factors are independently contributing to the water crisis.  The loss of wetlands, perennial vegetation and forests as well as soil humus are all reducing the capacity of catchments and soils to catch and store water between periods of rain, which in turn, escalates demand for irrigation. Increasing affluence is directly and indirectly increasing water consumption especially through intensive livestock husbandry dependent on irrigated fodder crops. The extraction of ground water beyond recharge rates, including huge reserves laid down after the last ice age, makes many water resources as depletable as fossil fuels, giving rise to the term “fossil water”. Finally, the decline in water quality is increasing death and illness from water borne diseases, demand for expensive water filtration and treatment as well as bottled water supplies.

•  Food supply
The unfolding global food crisis can be largely attributed to the manifold interactions and knock on effects of energy costs and climate change including droughts and bad seasons, biofuel demand and escalating costs of (energy intensive) fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation.  Other factors exacerbating the crisis include rising affluence increasing demand especially for beef and cotton, past low prices destroying farming as a livelihood and failure of the land reform agenda in most countries. Fixing these secondary factors is technically possible, but seems unlikely. But there is also evidence that agriculture is running up against fundamental yield limits for our main crops that, despite all the promises, genetic engineering has failed to break through. Widespread application of organic methods and permaculture design, especially when applied to small scale systems could reduce the impact of the crisis but this will not be simple or quick.

•  Population Pressures
The continued growth in human numbers is now pushing well beyond that which could be sustainably supported without fossil fuels. Although affluence, conflict and other human created factors are multiplying the impact of population, there are structural factors that make the large and growing human population more important than it might otherwise be.  The total size of the human population, its density of settlement in cities and the constant interchange of microbes due to travel and trade are all powerful factors increasing the likelihood of new and old diseases creating pandemics on an unprecedented scale.

•  Financial Instability
The accelerating growth and concentration of debt and financial assets especially in the housing and derivatives markets is destabilizing the global economy. The virtual impossibility that future growth in the real economy could ever be large enough to justify those debts and assets suggests a major and enduring economic contraction in the near future. Alternatively we may see the financial crisis in the USA trigger a collapse similar to that which happened in the Soviet Union. If China, India, Russia and other growing economies survive relatively unscathed,  completely new global power and economic systems could emerge quite quickly.

•  Psychosocial limits to affluence
The psychosocial limits of affluent consumer culture suggest that multi generational mass affluence may burn itself out in a few generations, through dysfunctional behavior, addictions and depression. While the “Roaring 20s” in affluent countries gave some examples of the excesses of affluence that were swept away by the Great Depression and Second World War, the three generations of affluence since then have stimulated lifestyles and behaviors that are amplifying unsustainable resource consumption to new heights. The onset of severe psychosocial dysfunction in the long affluent western world could be as powerful a force as the financial system instability.

•  Species extinction
The accelerating rate of species extinctions suggests humans have initiated a wave of extinctions on the scale of the asteroid that is believed to be the cause of the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Apart from the ethical and psychological issues involved, it is hard to predict how, and when this will result in major adverse impacts on humanity other than to recognize that it is eroding the genetic base that we will increasingly depend on in the future, as well as increasing ecological instability that is undermining our ability to produce food.

Despite the severity of these and other associated problems I see climate change and peak oil as the most fundamental ones for the following reasons:
1. They both are inevitable consequences of the accelerating use of fossil fuels, the undeniable primary factor in creating the explosion of human numbers, cultural complexity and impacts on nature.
2. They both appear to be generating immediate and severe threats to humanity
3. They both show a long term pattern of accelerating intensity
4. They both contribute directly or indirectly to the impact of the other serious problems threatening humanity and nature.

To suggest that the next energy transition will fall well short of the past patterns of human collective expectations is a gross understatement. My quick overview of evidence around the most critical issues suggests we need to refocus our assumptions about the future around energy descent while developing the psycho-social and eco-technical capacity to respond to the range of possible scenarios that we could face.
While continued efforts to better understand the rate of onset of climate change and the decline in oil production is very useful, an equally important task is to understand how these factors will combine to create differing futures.

Continued in (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 3  of 4)

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Our Future, Part 1 of 4

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/ Our Future, Part 1-4)

The Future according to Robert Crumb” Whole Earth Review,
Winter 1988

FUTURE SCENARIOS

Future Scenarios
Introduction: <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/12/26/>
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A.  The Energetic Foundations of Human History
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/13/27/>
By David Holmgren, co-originator of the permaculture concept
Seethe  book: Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change [Paperback], Amazon.com $9.40.

The broad processes of human history can be understood using an ecological framework that recognizes primary energy sources as the strongest factors determining the general structure of human economy, politics and culture. The transition from a hunter-gatherer way of life to that of settled agriculture made possible the expansion of human numbers, denser settlement patterns and surplus resources. Those surplus resources were the foundations for what we call civilization including the development of more advanced technologies, cities, social class structures, standing armies and written language. Archaeology records a series of civilizations that rose and fell as they depleted their bioregional resource base. Archaeology records a series of civilizations that rose and fell as they depleted their bioregional resource base. Lower density simple agrarian and hunter-gatherer cultures took over the territory of collapsed civilizations and allowed the resources of forests, soils and water to regenerate. That in turn, gave rise to new cycles of growth in cultural complexity.

In the European renaissance, the medieval systems that evolved from the remnants of the Roman empire were reinfused with knowledge and culture from the Islamic and Asian civilizations and grew into competing nation states. A combination of the demands of internal growth and warfare between nations almost exhausted the carrying capacity of Europe. As this ecological crisis deepened in the 14th and 15th centuries, European exploration in search of new resources carried the “diseases of crowding” around the world. In the Americas up to 90 percent of many populations died, leaving vast resources to plunder. Starting with the repatriation of precious metals and seeds of valuable crop plants such as corn and potatoes, European nations soon moved on to building empires powered by slavery that allowed them to exploit and colonize the new lands well stocked with timber, animals and fertile soils, all rejuvenating in the wake of the collapse of indigenous populations.

As industrialization spread oil quickly surpassed coal as the most valuable energy source, and accelerated the jump in human population. European population, culture (especially capitalism) and technology grew strong enough to then tap vast stocks of novel energy that were useless to previous simpler societies. European coal fuelled the Industrial Revolution while food and other basic commodities from colonies helped solve the limits to food production in Europe. As industrialization spread in North America and later in Russia, oil quickly surpassed coal as the most valuable energy source, and accelerated the jump in human population from 1 billion in 1800 to 2 billion in 1930 and now over 6 billion in one lifetime. This massive growth in human carrying capacity has been made possible by the consumption of vast stocks of non-renewable resources (in addition to expanding demand on the renewable biological resources of the planet). Rapid rates of urbanization and migration, technology change, increasing affluence and disparity of wealth as well as unprecedented conflicts between global and regional powers have accompanied this transition.  The history of the 20th century makes more sense when interpreted primarily as the struggle for control of oil rather than the clash of ideologies.1  In emphasizing the primacy of energy resources I am not saying that the great struggles between ideologies have not been important in shaping history, especially Capitalism and Socialism. But most teaching and understanding of history under-estimates the importance of energetic, ecological and economic factors.

The fact that conflict has increased as available resources have expanded is hard to explain using conventional thinking. One way to understand this is using older moral concepts about more power leading to greater moral degradation. Another equally useful way to understand this is using ecological thinking. When resources are minimal and very diffuse, energy spent by one human group, tribe or nation to capture those resources can be greater than what is gained. As resources become more concentrated (by grain agriculture and more dramatically by tapping fossil fuels), the resources captured through diplomacy, trade and even war are often much greater than the effort expended.

The final phase in the fossil fuel saga is playing out now as the transition from oil to natural gas and lower quality oil resources accelerates, with massive new infrastructure developments around the world as well as increasing tension and active conflicts over resources. We can only hope that nations and humanity as a whole learns quickly that using resources to capture resources will yield less return and incur escalating costs and risks in a world of depleting and diffuse energy.
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B.  The Next Energy Transition
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/15/30/>
Quite early in the exploitation of fossil resources the debate began about what happens after their exhaustion, but it has remained mostly academic. The post WWII period of sustained growth, affluence and freedom from the adverse effects of war had the effect of entrenching the faith in human power and the inexorable arrow of progress that would lead to more of whatever we desired. Consideration of external limits or cultural constraints on individualistic affluence remained at the fringe. Throughout most of the 20th century, a range of energy sources (from nuclear to solar) have been proposed as providing the next “free” energy source that will replace fossil fuels.

In so called developing countries, the power of the dominant globalist culture both as a model to emulate and a mode of exploitation to resist, preoccupied most thinkers, leaders and activists. The key issue was how to get a share of the cake, not the limits to the size of the cake.

But the super accelerated growth in energy per person of the post WWII era came to an end with the energy crisis of 1973, when OPEC countries moved to exert their power through oil supply and price. The publication of the seminal Limits To Growth report in 1972 had defined the problem and the consequences by modeling how a range of limits would constrain industrial society in the early 21st century. After the second oil shock in 1979 the debate about the next energy transition intensified, but by 1983 a series of factors pushed energy supply off the agenda. Economic contraction not seen since the Depression of the 1930’s had reduced demand and consequently prices for energy and natural resources. In affluent countries conversion from oil to gas and nuclear for electricity generation reduced demand for oil. Energy efficiency gains in vehicles and industry further reduced demand. Most importantly, the new super giant oil fields in the North Sea and Alaska reduced Western dependence on OPEC and depressed the price of oil. All other primary commodity prices followed the downward trend set by oil because cheap energy could be used to substitute for other needed commodities.

The economies of the affluent countries were further boosted by two important changes. The shift from Keynesian to Friedmanite free market economic policies reduced regulatory impediments to business and enlisted public wealth for new private profits. At the same time, the Third World debt crisis in developing countries triggered by collapsing commodity prices didn’t slow the flow of interest repayments into the coffers of western banks. In line with the new free market ideology, Structural Adjustment Packages from the IMF and World Bank provided more loans (and debt) on the condition that developing countries slash education, health and other public services, to conserve funds for repayments.

The scientific consensus about Global Warming in the late 80’s and early 90’s renewed the focus on reducing fossil fuel use. Not to conserve resources, which were widely thought to be abundant, but to reduce carbon dioxide additions to the atmosphere. But with energy prices low due to a glut of oil, the main action was an acceleration in the shift to gas as a cheap and relatively “clean” fuel.

Half a century earlier in 1956, the startling predictions by eminent petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert that oil production in the USA, the world’s largest producer, would peak in 1970, had almost destroyed Hubbert’s career and reputation.  Ironically the controversy within the oil industry over Hubbert’s methodology and predictions was not known the authors of the Limits To Growth Report and was not part of the 1970’s public debate over limits of resources.  It was nearly a decade, at the depth of the greatest economic recession since the 1930’s, before the industry would acknowledge that the 48 lower states of the US had in fact peaked and declined despite the greatest drilling program in history.  Hubbert has also made a more approximate estimate of a global peak early in the 21st century.

In the mid 1990’s the work of independent and retire petroleum geologists who were colleagues of Hubbert reviewed his original predictions using new information and evidence, triggering the debate about peak oil that grew and spread along with the internet in the last years of the millennium.  But with the cost of oil as low as $10/barrel, the gurus of economics and oil supply quoted in the mainstream media thought that oil was on the way to becoming worthless and redundant through glut and technological advances. The delusions of cheap energy were widespread.  Ironically, many environmentalists concerned about the mounting evidence of, and inaction of governments about climate change, put their faith in the “hydrogen economy” powered by clean renewable technologies to save us from polluting the planet to death.
[Image at right: Freeway in Raileigh, North Carolina at peak hour, 2005. The classic symbol of automobile dependence in the USA where personal mobility in private automotives consumes about 60% of total oil production and imports.]

While energy and consequently food costs in affluent countries remained the lowest in human history, the evidence for energy descent rather than ascent made little impact, outside the counterculture.  Since 2004 the rising cost of energy, and now food, is focusing the attention of leaders and the masses to the questions of sustainability not seen since the energy crises of the 1970’s.

The research, activism and awareness of energy and climate issues provide a context for the growing debate about the ecological, economic and social sustainability of everything from agriculture to human settlement patterns and even fundamental human values and beliefs. There is a huge body of evidence that the next energy transition will not follow the pattern of recent centuries to more concentrated and powerful sources.

But the likelihood that this transition will be to one of less energy is such an anathema to the psycho-social foundations and power elites of modern societies that it is constantly misinterpreted, ignored, covered up or derided. Instead we see geopolitical maneuvering around energy resources, including proxy and real wars to control dwindling reserves and policy gymnastics to somehow make reducing carbon emissions, the new engine of economic growth.
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 C.  Energy Futures
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/38/33/>
There is still much debate about the basic nature of the current energy transition, driven most notably by climate change and peak oil. Most of that debate focuses on the immediate future of the next few decades, though I think it is essential to first see these changes on a larger temporal scale of centuries if not millennia. I have set the scene by characterizing the debate about the future as primarily one about whether energy available to human systems will rise or fall. These are outlined in the next section, Four Energy Futures.
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D.  Four Energy Futures
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/16/31/>
Four broad energy scenarios provide a framework for considering the wide spectrum of culturally imagined, and ecologically likely, futures over the next century or more.

I’ve labeled these:

  • Techno-explosion,
  • Techno-stability,
  • Energy Descent and
  • Collapse

 [Chart above: The Four Energy Futures]

Techno-explosion depends on new, large and concentrated energy sources that will allow the continual growth in material wealth and human power over environmental constraints, as well as population growth. This scenario is generally associated with space travel to colonize other planets.

Techno-stability depends on a seamless conversion from material growth based on depleting energy, to a steady state in consumption of resources and population (if not economic activity), all based on novel use of renewable energies and technologies that can maintain if not improve the quality of services available from current systems. While this clearly involves massive change in almost all aspects of society, the implication is that once sustainable systems are set in place, a steady state sustainable society with much less change will prevail. Photovoltaic technology directly capturing solar energy is a suitable icon or symbol of this scenario.

Energy Descent involves a reduction of economic activity, complexity and population in some way as fossil fuels are depleted. The increasing reliance on renewable resources of lower energy density will, over time, change the structure of society to reflect many of the basic design rules, if not details, of pre-industrial societies. This suggests a ruralization of settlement and economy, with less consumption of energy and resources and a progressive decline in human populations. Biological resources and their sustainable management will become progressively more important as fossil fuels and technological power declines. In many regions, forests will regain their traditional status as symbols of wealth. Thus the tree is a suitable icon of this scenario. Energy Descent (like Techno-explosion) is a scenario dominated by change, but that change might not be continuous or gradual. Instead it could be characterized by a series of steady states punctuated by crises (or mini collapses) that destroy some aspects of Industrial culture.

Collapse suggests a failure of the whole range of interlocked systems that maintain and support industrial society, as high quality fossil fuels are depleted and/or climate change radically damages the ecological support systems. This collapse would be fast and more or less continuous without the destabilizations possible in Energy Descent. It would inevitably involve a major “die-off” of human population and a loss of the knowledge and infrastructure necessary for industrial civilization, if not more severe scenarios including human extinction along with much of the planet’s biodiversity.
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E.  Views of the Future
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/17/32/>
The views of academics and commentators about the future are colored by their beliefs about the degree to which human systems are the product of our innate “brilliance” that is independent from nature’s constraints, or alternatively, beholden to biophysical deterministic forces. Those with plans and actions to shape the future (especially current power elites) tend to focus on scenarios where they see options for effective influence.

Over the last 60 years we have seen substantial achievements as well as many dreams and promises towards the Techno Explosion future that might free us from the constraints of energetic laws or at least those of a finite planet. This belief in perpetual growth has survived the scorn of mathematicians explaining how constant exponential growth even at low rates leads to explosion, literally. This belief in perpetual growth has survived the scorn of mathematicians explaining how constant exponential growth even at low rates leads to explosion, literally. The term “negative growth” used by economists to describe economic contraction shows that anything other than growth is unthinkable. The dream of infinite growth from free energy and colonizing space have not been realised7despite the novel and substantial contributions of computers and information technology towards this goal.

The unstated assumptions of “business as usual”
At a more pragmatic and immediate scale, the reasons for the faith in future growth are rarely articulated but can be summarized by a few common assumptions that seem to lie behind most public documents and discussion of the future. These do not represent specific or even recognized views of particular academics, corporate leaders or politicians but more society wide assumptions that are generally left unstated.
•  Global extraction rates of important non-renewable commodities will continue to rise.
•  There will be no peaks and declines other than through high energy substitution such as the historical transitions from wood to coal and from coal to oil.
•  Economic activity, globalization and increases in technological complexity will continue to grow.
•  The geopolitical order that established the USA as the dominant superpower may evolve and change but will not be subject to any precipitous collapse such as happened to the Soviet Union.
•  Climate change will be marginal or slow in its impacts on human systems, such that adaption will not necessitate changes in the basic organization of society.
•  Household and community economies and social capacity will continue to shrink in both their scope and importance to society.

Being more transparent about our assumptions becomes essential in times of turbulent change and historical transition. All of these assumptions are based on projections of past trends extending back over a human lifetime and drawing more broadly on patterns that can be traced to the origins of industrial civilization and capitalism in Europe hundreds of years ago. Simply exposing these assumptions makes it clear how weak the foundations are for any planned response to the issue of energy transitions. Being more transparent about our assumptions becomes essential in times of turbulent change and historical transition if our aim is to empower personal and community action.

Mainstream approaches to sustainability assume that the Techno Stability long term future is inevitable. Since the environmental awareness and energy crises of the 1970s, we have had a parallel stream of thinking and modest achievements towards the Techno Stability future that, in theory, is compatible with the limits of a finite planet. The principles and strategies of mainstream approaches to sustainability assume that the Techno Stability long term future is inevitable in some form, even if we go through some crises along the way. The focus is on how to make that transition from growth based on fossil energies to a steady state based on largely novel renewable sources.

The tricky issue of dependence of the financial systems on continuous economic growth has been largely ignored or side-stepped by the assumption that the economy maybe able to keep growing without using more and more materials and energy. The explosion of economic activity based on financial services and information technology in the dominant economies during the early 90’s gave some credibility to this concept of the “weightless economy”, although it is now clear that globalization simply shifted the consumption of resources to other countries to support this growth in the service economies.

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F.  Human capital
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/18/55/>
Much faith in both growth and steady state scenarios rests on the observation that human ingenuity, technology, markets and social capital are at least as important in shaping history as raw energy and resources. The stunning power and spread of computers and information technology into all sectors of industrial society is seen as much a product of human capital as it is of natural capital. The rise of the service economy promised continued economic growth without using more energy and materials. But these service economies and the human capital that helped create them were themselves created through the flows of energy and resources. For example, mass education, and especially mass tertiary education, is a very expensive investment in technical capacity and social capital that has been possible because of economic wealth from the extraction of cheap fossil energy and non-renewable resources.

Mass education has been possible because of the extraction of cheap fossil energy.

In pre-industrial societies it was not possible to have so many potential workers outside the productive economies of agriculture and manufacturing, or to build the educational infrastructure necessary for mass education. Human capital, in the form of mass education, the media, democracy and other characteristics of industrial culture has greatly expanded the apparent power of human rather than ecological factors in determining our future. While these new forms of wealth are clearly important, they are in reality “stores” of high quality embodied fossil energy. Like more material forms of wealth, they depreciate over time and must be used and renewed to remain useful.

Much of the technological and economic innovation since the oil shocks of the 1970’s can be attributed to society’s capacity to draw on this human capital and, by further cycles of reinvestment, further build human capital. Several factors suggest the continuous growth in human capital and capacity is an illusion.
_1.  Firstly, much of this growth is in forms that are increasingly dysfunctional. For example the increasingly sedentary lifestyle created by the computer and other innovation is requiring escalating expenditure in the health care system and in the health and fitness industry to compensate for lifestyles that are incompatible with human biology.
_2.  Secondly, much of the economic growth since the energy crises of the 1970’s has come through economical rationalist policies such as privatization. Many academics and social commentators have identified how much of the apparent economic growth has come at the cost of decline in many social indicators of well-being. We can think of this growth as being driven as much from mining (rather than maintaining) social capital as it has from mining the earth. For example, the privatization of many electricity and other utilities has resulted in the loss of detailed knowledge about the maintenance of infrastructure, while maintenance budgets have been cut to the bone.  Gains in productivity and efficiency have been achieved at the cost of resilience and long term capacity.

One of the characteristics of a robust, enduring and mature civilization is the capacity to consider the longer term, aim for desirable but achievable futures, but have fall-back strategies and insurance policies to deal with surprise and uncertainty.  Given the globalised nature of culture, knowledge and wealth, our industrial civilization should have been able to devote resources to serious redesign strategies at the technological, infrastructural, organizational, cultural and personal levels which are able to respond to the potentials of all four long term scenarios.  Instead we see remarkably short term behavior and a cavalier disregard of the fate of future generations. While this is often explained as “human nature” of fallible individuals, this explanation should not apply to institutions such as corporations let alone governments. History and systems theory suggest that powerful and long lived human institutions should embody longer term cultural wisdom and capacity.

We can interpret the short sighted nature of information and decision making in our largest organizational structures as one of the many signs of cultural decay, reflecting the fact that our stocks of human capital may be declining just as our stock of natural capital is. Applying the concept of resource depletion to that of social capital in both affluent and poor countries over the last 40 years is more than metaphorical. This depletion suggests these less material forms of wealth may be subject to the same laws of energy and entropy that govern the natural capital of the earth, air and water.

Consequently, we should be skeptical of the notion that innovation in technology and organization is a continuously expanding human resource that we can rely on to solve ever more complex challenges. This is not to say that given the right conditions humanity cannot rise to the energy transition challenge we face. However the conditions that could harness that human capacity are unlikely to include the continuation of endless economic growth, maintenance of current world power structures and the idolizing of consumption. A smooth conversion to a steady state economy running on renewable energy without massive geopolitical and economic crises is unlikely. In fact an increasing number of commentators recognize that we are already in the crisis that has been unfolding since the turn of the millennium.

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G.  Collapse
<http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/19/56/>
For a minority of intellectuals and ordinary citizens, unimpressed by the likelihood of Techno Explosion or Techno Stability, the logical future seems to be some kind crisis leading to implosion and the collapse of civilization. The old adage “what goes up must come down” still has some truth but several factors lead to people jumping to the conclusion that the Collapse scenario is inevitable without thinking about the possibilities of Descent.

Several factors lead to people jumping to the conclusion that the Collapse scenario is inevitable without thinking about the possibilities of Descent. Firstly there is a long tradition of millennialism in Judeo-Christian culture which periodically leads to predictions of the “end of the world as we know it” based on the idea that our current world is fundamentally flawed in some way. The simplicity and mostly incorrect nature of these past predictions suggest caution when considering current predictions of doom. The fable of the “boy who cried wolf” is sometimes cited to suggest current concerns are also false alarms. But this history also has the effect of inoculating society against considering the evidence. Exposure to a small dose of millennialism leads to resistance to the effects of larger doses. Ironically, the point of the fable is that the threat of the wolf is real but that no one takes any notice because of past false alarms.

Ironically the point of the “boy who cried wolf” fable is that the threat of the wolf is real but that no one takes any notice because of past false alarms. Another factor reinforcing this tendency of some to believe in Collapse is the rapid rate of recent cultural change and the very short term perspective of modern people despite the huge increase in knowledge about the distant past.  Life in cities and suburbs, surrounded by technology and sustained by reliable income and debt is “normal” for many people in affluent counties, even though these features only emerged in the latter half of the 20th century. If future change were to sweep away this way of life, many people would see this as “the end of civilization” even if these changes were quite modest from an historical perspective. For example, a return to the conditions of the Great Depression is clearly not “the end of civilization”  but the idea that any downturn from the current peak of affluence represents  “the end of civilization”, is quite widely assumed. Perhaps this reflects the egocentric nature of modern mentality where we consider our own survival and well being as being more important than was perhaps felt by past generations. It may also be interpreted as an intuitive recognition that this peak of affluence, like peak oil, is a fundamental turning point that will break the illusion of the, more or less, continuous arrow of growth and progress into the distant future.

There is substantial evidence that current, let alone projected human populations cannot be sustained without fossil fuels. The concept of overshoot in animal carrying capacity has been used by population ecologists to model past and potential future collapses in human populations.There is substantial evidence that current, let alone projected human populations cannot be sustained without fossil fuels. Historical evidence from the Black Death and other pandemics show that societies can survive significant die-off in human numbers even if they do go through great setbacks and changes as a result. Because human systems are now global in scope and integration, the more limited regional collapse of economies and civilizations in the past is not necessarily a model of the scale, intensity and likely recovery from any global collapse. Also these societies were less complex with less specialisation of critical functions. It is possible that loss of critical numbers of engineers, technologists, medical specialists or even large scale farmers in a pandemic could cause modern industrial society to collapse very rapidly.

…but the best documented historical case, that of the Roman empire, suggests a more gradual and less complete decline process. The consideration of collapse has been strongly influenced by some ecological historians such as Catton, Diamond and Tainter. While Catton emphasizes the concept of overshoot leading to severe collapse, Diamond emphasizes the aspect of societal myopia leading to unnecessary collapse. Tainter provides a systemic view of how failure of energy capture strategies leads to decline in complexity that can play out over centuries. In turn, the conditions for ordinary people may actually improve when the resources devoted maintaining societal complexity are freed for meeting more basic needs. While all these perspectives and understanding are useful, I think the all-encompassing use of the term collapse is too broad a definition and inconsistent with our normal understanding of the term as a rapid and complete process. Historical examples of relatively complete and/or sudden civilizational collapse from the Minoans in the eastern Mediterranean to Mayans in Mexico are potential models for what could happen to global industrial civilization. The best documented historical case, that of the Roman empire and Greco-Roman civilization more broadly, suggests a more gradual and less complete decline process.

I don’t want to underplay the possibility of a total and relatively fast global collapse of complex societies that we recognize as civilization. I think this is a substantial risk but the total collapse scenario tends to lead to fatalistic acceptance or alternatively, naïve notions of individual or family survivalist preparations. Similarly, the Collapse scenario is so shocking that it reinforces the rejection by the majority of even thinking about the future, thus increasing the likelihood of very severe energy descent, if not total collapse. Perhaps a majority of people think civilizational collapse is inevitable but think or hope that it won’t happen in their lifetime. A more realistic assessment of the possibilities and adaptive responses to the Collapse long term scenario is only possible after a deep and nuanced understanding of the diverse possibilities and likelihoods of the Energy Descent long term scenario.

Continued in (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Our Future, Part 2 of 4)

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Human Carrying Capacity

(Survival manual/2. Social Issues/Human carrying capacity)

I     Our numbers
II    Overpopulation and peak oil: The perfect storm
III   The effects of overpopulation on the environment
IV    Population Concerns in the United States
VI    Our food  and water needs
VII  North  America’s Ogallala aquifer
VIII World  fish stocks over-exploited
IX    The State of the World’s Food and Soil

I.  Our numbers

Approximately 6.6 billion humans now inhabit the Earth. By comparison, there are about 20 million mallard ducks and, among a multitude of threatened and endangered species, perhaps 100,000 gorillas, 50,000 polar bears, and less than 10,000 tigers, 2,000 giant pandas and 200 California condors. Notably, the human population has grown nearly ten-fold over the past three centuries and has increased by a factor of four in the last century. This monumental historical development has profoundly changed the relationship of our species to its natural support systems and has greatly intensified our environmental impact.[Photo left: Feb. 2011, Smog on main street of Linfen, China. Dense populations and heavy industrial zones produce the most smog in an area. About 4% of deaths in the United States can be attributed to air pollution according to the Environmental Science Engineering Program at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Photo right: Fresh Kills Landfill, Staten Island, NY. At 4.6 square miles and 225 feet high, it’s the largest manmade structure in the world; a 53 year accumulation of local, household garbage.]

A. Current demographic trends
Until recently, the growth of our numbers  was slow and variable. A pronounced expansion began with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, about two centuries ago. Whereas tens of thousands of years passed before our species reached the one billion mark, around 1800 AD, it took only 130, 33, 15, 13 and 12 years to add each succeeding billion. This accelerating rate of increase is what is meant by the term population explosion. Around year 1970, population growth reached a maximal rate of about 2% per year—perhaps a thousand times faster than growth in prehistoric times. The annual increment has since dropped from 2.0 to 1.1% (or, as demographers prefer, to 11 per thousand), and it is still going down. The greatest annual increment in population, about 90 million individuals, occurred in 1995, while our numbers grew by only around 76 million in 2004. Nevertheless, this cohort is comparable to adding the population of Germany to the planet each year.

Excluding migration, the rate of change of the number of individuals in a population is the difference between birth rate and death rate. The explosion in human population thus reflects the excess of births over deaths fostered by the Industrial Revolution. Until about two centuries ago, birth rates and death rates were both high. Because these two rates were about equal in magnitude, the population grew slowly and unevenly.
For example, human numbers grew at roughly 0.25% per year in 1700 C.E. Soon thereafter, as discussed below, institutional and technical advances caused death rates to fall in one nation after another around the globe. But because birth rates remained high, population growth rates soared, an unintended consequence of the alleviation of human hardship in the modern era.

Why birth rates have declined
Children are naturally loved and valued for themselves. But, especially in traditional (i.e., pre-modern) settings, children are also economic assets: a ready source of capital and security when alternatives are out of reach. Sons are of particular value, since it is they who typically inherit both the family plot and the responsibility for caring for aging parents. For practical reasons, daughters are often less desired: they may be regarded as not as productive and as likely to marry and move on, often with a costly dowry payment. Thus, time-honored wisdom might suggest an investment strategy of having, say, eight offspring. A parent can then expect four sons, one or two of whom will hopefully survive childhood and be there to serve with devotion in the distant future. Such views become institutionalized in cultural norms and shared practices.

While it is possible for a woman to bear as many as 15 children in her lifetime, this is rare. Rather, parents universally chose to limit family size because too many children present costs in excess of benefits.
Pasted from
<http://www.eoearth.org/article/Human_population_explosion?topic=54245&gt;

B. Human Overpopulation
Overpopulation is a condition where an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth. Steve Jones, head of the biology department at University College London, has said, “Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be, according to the rules of the animal kingdom, and we have agriculture to thank for that. Without farming, the world population would probably have reached half a million by now.” The world’s population has significantly increased in the last 50 years, mainly due to medical advancements and substantial increases in agricultural productivity.

[A parabolic rise in an environmental factor as shown above, should be considered the same a wall. A barrier. Consider the time scales. It has only taken a few generations of steam and petroleum energy exploitation to bring about an explosion in population. Our bodies survive to grow and reproduce on a short time scale cycle of 20-25 years. Long term human organizing activities such as   infrastructure, government, culture and religion are following the population explosion, each in its own slower operative time frame. All are approaching ‘the wall’.
A sustained decrease in the energy supply, namely, peak oil and the back side down slope, will be occurring as each of mankind’s organizing structures impact the wall.  The result will be Infrastructure scaled back and in decay; Governmental changes come next, within a couple of years from now;  Cultural disruptions  will occur as we have to extend our personal time scales from todays ‘immediate gratification’ to thinking in terms of ‘next month’ and ‘next year’. Religious organizations should survive largely unchanged, albeit with a more fundamentalist bent. Religion is the longest human tradition and changes very slowly, the crises will be largely ‘resolved’ in the lower Cultural time frame level. Mr Larry]

The recent rapid increase in human population over the past two centuries has raised concerns that humans are beginning to overpopulate the Earth, and that the planet may not be able to sustain present or larger numbers of inhabitants. The population has been growing continuously since the end of the Black Death, around the year 1400; at the beginning of the 19th century, it had reached roughly 1,000,000,000 (1 billion). Increases in life expectancy and resource availability during the industrial and green revolutions led to rapid population growth on a worldwide level. By 1960, the world population had reached 3 billion; it doubled to 6 billion over the next four decades. As of 2009, the estimated annual growth rate was 1.10%, down from a peak of 2.2% in 1963, and the world population stood at roughly 6.7 billion. Current projections show a steady decline in the population growth rate, with the population expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the year 2040 and 2050.

The scientific consensus is that the current population expansion and accompanying increase in usage of resources is linked to threats to the ecosystem. The InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth, which was ratified by 58 member national academies in 1994, called the growth in human numbers “unprecedented”, and stated that many environmental problems, such as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and pollution, were aggravated by the population expansion. At the time, the world population stood at 5.5 billion, and optimistic scenarios predicted a peak of 7.8 billion by 2050, a number that current estimates show will be reached around 2022.
Pasted from http://www.zaxtor.net/HOPI.htm

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II. Overpopulation and peak oil: The perfect storm
18 January 2008, Napa Valley Register, By Jim Lydecker
Pasted from:  http://peakoil.blogspot.com/2008/01/overpopulation-and-peak-oil-perfect.html
Americans have recently become aware of converging crises that can end life as we know it, though experts have been warning us for many years. (TEOTWAWKI =The End Of The World As We know It)

For example, many economists have been warning for decades of the severe consequences resulting from runaway national debt and an imbalance of trade.
And the current mortgage/liquidity crisis was first discussed in the early ‘90s by a number of financial experts.

Global warming, a phenomenon universally accepted as fact within the past five years, was first discussed by the Swedes in the 19th century. Several papers published at Stockholm University warned of global warning with the advent of the industrial age.

For a variety of reasons, humans usually don’t react to problems until they become a crises. All these crises are semi-connected, where one will trigger one or more of the others. However, there are two crises marching toward us now, shoulder-to-shoulder, that will trigger every other, both large and small. At best, they will end our industrial civilization. At worst, they may depopulate most of our species. These two comrades-in-arms, overpopulation and peak oil, are of such complex magnitude, no amount of financial or scientific commitment may stop them. They are creating the perfect storm of which there may be no survival.

The ever-quickening rise in oil prices partly attributed to the ever-weakening dollar. However, oil prices would still be increasing as demand outstrips supply. The slide down peak oil is unstoppable.

Most want to believe oil is limitless. The fact of the matter is it’s a finite resource, a geological gift of nature, half of which we’ve run through in less than 150 years. You only have to look as far as the mature, collapsing fields as the North Sea, Mexico’s Cantarell, Alaska’s North Slope, Russia’s Caspian and various Middle Eastern countries to know we are in deep trouble. In December’s OPEC meetings, it was made public that they were supplying 15 percent less than two years ago despite pumping as fast as they can. The massive Saudi field, Ghawar — by far the world’s largest — has only been able to maintain its five-million-barrel-a-day output by injecting nine million barrels of sea water daily. It’s said as goes Ghawar, so goes Saudi Arabia.

No substance is more interwoven into life as oil. Most of us see it as gasoline and believe more fuel-efficient autos will save the day. This is a fallacy as cars take much oil to manufacture, so if we replace all gas guzzlers with fuel-efficient vehicles, it will make matters worse. And using grain-produced
ethanol is proving to be a mistake. Agriculture is one of the most oil-intensive industries and the more we grow, the quicker we use oil up.

Oil is necessary for drugs and pharmaceuticals, energy, fertilizers and pesticides, chemical production and everything plastic. With the advent of oil came a revolution in medicine, agriculture (where 2 percent of the population now feeds the rest of us, while it was the opposite in 1850), transportation,
information, machinery and industrial production. Never before has life changed so much and oil was directly responsible for this modernization.

If peak oil is the sharpshooter with modern industrial civilization in its crosshairs, overpopulation is the hangman with the noose around our necks.

In 1850, the world population lingered at 1 billion; in America it was 23 million.
The world population is now closing in on 7 billion while here it nears 310 million. It was oil, and its cousin natural gas, that allowed the population to grow to unprecedented proportions as quickly as it did. As oil is depleted, it’s correct to assume the population will decrease proportionately.

In 1974, the government released a study (NSSM 200) that concluded the world population needed to be decreased drastically for humans to survive after peak oil without dire consequences. This was followed by the Carter administration’s  ‘Global 2000’ document that said an immediate goal of less than 2 billion worldwide is necessary. Others suggest a world of no more than 500 million is more realistic.

Knowing so much about a near future of mass migration, epidemics, famines, society collapse and die-offs of biblical proportions, one should ask: Why are we not making population and oil conservation the primary issues? I always wonder why towns are proud welcoming in the first-born of the year when, in the overall scope of things, having a baby is the most selfish thing a person can do. Why encourage our species to breed ourselves toward extinction?

Energy and population are the two subjects you never hear politicians discuss. Columnists, on the left and right, have recently written how it is only OK to talk about conserving oil and decreasing population until it’s too late.
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III.  The effects of overpopulation on the environment
31 January 2008, www.helium.com, by Aidan Luce
Around the world, as populations grow, deficiencies in available freshwater supplies are starting to take their toll on already fragile economies, particularly those in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where Tony Allan of SOAS in London insists “water demand began to exceed supply in the early 1970s for the region. Some countries have faced deficits since the 1950s”.

Each person needs to have 1.8 cubic yards (365 gallons) of good quality water to drink each year in order to be considered water sufficient. The amount they require for domestic use depends on the technological level at which they live, for example someone living in rural Africa can get by with about 4 cubic yards per year, whilst someone in Europe uses about 100 cubic yards per year. These numbers are small, however in comparison to the amount of water needed to produce the food an individual consumes – and where that food is produced has a lot to do with how much water is needed to produce it. An example for you: Wheat grown in temperate latitudes requires about 1 cubic yard of water per 2-1/4 lbs of crop produced, most of it sourced from rainfall; wheat grown in drier climates like the MENA region requires 3 to 5 yards of water per 2-1/4 pounds of crop produced and 99.9% of it is sourced through irrigation and is extracted from rivers and aquifers.

The water required to produce these crops is known as virtual water. Meat products require even more virtual water to produce, because in addition to the water the animals consume, they are more often than not fed on cereals, which themselves have a virtual water content. (Allan 1998)

It is with this in mind that many water scarce countries have since the 1970’s been sourcing much of their staple foods from outside their countries. This end to their food sovereignty is not something which they like to publicize, but it is happening nonetheless. Jordan import 88% of their foodstuffs, Israel 80% and Palestine 65%. (Shuval 2005)These countries and many others throughout the
middle east are becoming increasingly dependent on water rich countries to supply the food they require to keep their population fed.

The US and the EU export 40 million tons of grain to the MENA region every year, using 40 billion tons of virtual water this is the amount of water flowing down the Nile into Egypt for agriculture every year. The word rival comes from the Latin root rivus, which literally means to share a river. The concept of rivalry is intrinsically tied to the competition for water security.
Pasted from <http://www.helium.com/items/831909-the-effects-of-overpopulation-on-the-environment&gt;

__A. Planet could be ‘unrecognizable’ by 2050, experts say
A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an “unrecognizable” world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.

The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, “with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia,” said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council .

To feed all those mouths, “we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000,” said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

“By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable” if current trends continue, Clay said.

The swelling population will exacerbate problems, such as resource depletion , said John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University. But incomes are also expected to rise over the next 40 years — tripling globally and quintupling in developing nations — and add more strain to global food supplies.

People tend to move up the food chain as their incomes rise, consuming more meat than they might have when they made less money, the experts said. It takes around seven pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, and around three to four pounds of grain to produce a pound of cheese or eggs, experts told AFP.

“More people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet,” Clay told AFP, urging scientists and governments to start making changes now to how food is produced.
Pasted from <http://www.zaxtor.net/HOPI.htm>

__B. Population and environment, a complex relationship
Between 1960 and 1999, Earth’s population doubled from three billion to six billion people. In many ways, this reflected good news for humanity: child mortality rates plummeted, life expectancy increased, and people were on average healthier and better nourished than at any time in history. However, during the same period, changes in the global environment began to accelerate: pollution heightened, resource depletion continued, and the threat of rising sea levels increased. Does the simultaneous occurrence of population growth and environmental decline over the past century indicate that more people translate into greater environmental degradation?

In The Environmental Implications of Population Dynamics, Lori Hunter synthesizes current knowledge about the influence of population dynamics on the environment. Specifically, her report examines the following:
•  The relationship between demographic factors– population size, distribution, and composition–and environmental change.
•  The mediating factors that influence this relationship: technological, institutional, policy, and cultural forces.
•  Two specific aspects of environmental change affected by population dynamics: climate change and land-use change.
•  Implications for policy and further research.

Hunter concludes that population dynamics have important environmental implications but that the sheer size of population represents only one important variable in this complex relationship. Other demographic dynamics, including changes in population flows and densities, can also pose challenging environmental problems.
1)  Environmental Implications of Specific  Population Factors
According to recent United Nations estimates, global population is increasing by  approximately 80 million–the size of Germany–each year.
Although fertility rates have declined in most areas of the world, population growth continues to be fueled by high levels of fertility, particularly in Asia and Africa.
In numerous Middle Eastern and African nations, the average number of children a woman would be expected to have given current fertility levels remains above 6.0–for example, 6.4 in Saudi Arabia, 6.7 in Yemen, 6.9 in Uganda, and as high as 7.5 in Niger. Even in areas where fertility rates have declined to near replacement levels (2.1 children per couple), population continues to grow because of “population momentum,” which occurs when a high proportion of the population is young.
2)  Population Size
No simple relationship exists between population size and environmental change. However, as global population continues to grow, limits on such global resources as arable land, potable water, forests, and fisheries have come into sharper focus. In the second half of the twentieth century, decreasing farmland contributed to growing concern of the limits to global food production. Assuming constant rates of production, per capita land requirements for food production will near the limits of arable land over the course of the twenty-first century. Likewise, continued population growth occurs in the context of an accelerating demand for water: Global water consumption rose six fold between 1900 and 1995, more than double the rate of population growth.
3)   Land Use
Fulfilling the resource requirements of a growing population ultimately requires some form of land-use change–to provide for the expansion of food production through forest clearing, to intensify production on already cultivated land, or to develop the infrastructure necessary to support increasing human numbers. During the past three centuries, the amount of Earth’s cultivated land has grown by more than 450 percent, increasing from 2.65 million square kilometers to 15 million square kilometers.

A related process, deforestation, is also critically apparent: A net decline in forest cover of 180 million acres took place during the 15-year interval 1980 to ­1995, although changes in forest cover vary greatly across regions. Whereas developing countries experienced a net loss of 200 million acres, developed countries actually experienced a net increase, of 20 million acres (see chart).

[Chart left: Forest Area in 1995 Compared with 1980. SOURCE: Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), The State of the World’s Forests, 1999, Rome, Italy: FAO, 1998.  NOTE: Data exclude the countries of the former Soviet Union.]

These types of land-use changes have several ecological impacts. Converting land to agricultural use can lead to soil erosion, and the chemicals often used in fertilizers can also degrade soil. Deforestation is also associated with soil erosion and can lessen the ability of soil to hold water, thereby increasing the frequency and severity of floods. Human-induced changes in land use often result in habitat fragmentation and loss, the primary cause of species decline.
In fact, if current rates of forest clearing continue, one-quarter of all species on Earth could be lost within the next 50 years.

4)      Global Climate Change
Recent years have been among the warmest on record. Research suggests that temperatures have been influenced by growing concentrations of greenhouse gases, which absorb solar radiation and warm the
atmosphere. Research also suggests that many changes in atmospheric gas are human-induced. The demographic influence appears primarily in three areas.

    • First, contributions related to industrial production and energy consumption lead to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use;
    • Second, land-use changes, such as deforestation, affect the exchange of carbon dioxide between the Earth and the atmosphere; and
    • Third, some agricultural processes, such as paddy-rice cultivation and livestock production, are responsible for greenhouse gas releases into the atmosphere, especially methane.

According to one estimate, population growth will account for 35 percent of the global increase in CO2 emissions between 1985 and 2100 and 48 percent of the increase in developing nations during that period. As such, both attention to demographic issues and the development of sustainable production and consumption processes are central responses to the processes involved in global warming.
Pasted from <http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5045/index1.html&gt;

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IV.  Population Concerns in the United States

A.  Population
At the present growth rate of 1.1% per year, the United States’ population will double to about 560 million in about the next 60 years, if current immigration and related trends continue.  Each year over 3 million people are added to the U.S. population.
•  Over 70% of the United States’ annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida and New York) results from immigration.
•  Every person leaves an “ecological footprint” on the Earth — that amount of land which, assuming it is endowed with an average amount of resources, is necessary to sustain one human being indefinitely.  The average American’s ecological footprint is about 25 acres, an area far greater than that taken up by one’s residence and place of school or work and other places where he or she is.  Those 25 additional acres supply the average American with food, fiber, and other resources, as well as capacity for waste assimilation and disposal. (The average footprint of everyone in the world is about 7 acres.)

B.  Land & Food production
One acre of natural habitat or farmland is converted to built-up space or highway for each person added to the U.S. population.
•  More than 99.3% of the U.S. food comes from land, while less than 0.5% comes from aquatic systems.
•  Of the nearly 470 million acres of arable land that are now in cultivation in the U.S., more than 1 million acres are lost from cultivation each year due to urbanization, multiplying transportation networks, and industrial expansion.  In addition, about 2 million acres of prime cropland are lost annually by erosion, salinization, and water logging.
  Iowa has lost 1/2 of its fertile topsoil after farming there for about 100 years.  Their topsoil is being lost about 30 times faster than sustainability.
•  If present population growth and other trends continue, over the next 60 years, both degradation and urbanization will diminish our arable land base of 470 million acres by 120 million acres.
•  Only 0.6 acres of arable land per person will be available in 2050, whereas more than 1.2 acres per person are needed to provide a divers diet (currently 1.6 acres of arable land are available).
•  A doubling of the American population will accelerate the need for food.  For every 1% increase in food demand, the price at the farm gate increases 4.5%.

C.     Food Exports & Oil Imports
•  Currently the U.S. earns $40 billion per year as the largest food exporter in the world.  About 60% of the oil used in the U.S. is imported at a cost of $75 billion per year.  About 400 gallons of oil equivalents are expended to feed each American, about 17% of all energy used, each year.
•  If present trends in population growth, domestic food consumption, and topsoil loss continue, the U.S. food exports (and the income from them) will cease by 2030.
•  Fossil energy use in the U.S. has increased from 20 to as much as 1,000-fold in just four decades.
•  Currently, 92% of U.S. energy needs are provided by finite fossil fuels, with 6% of the total energy used for agricultural production.
•  Renewable energy sources, like hydropower and biomass, provide 8% of the U.S. energy and are increasing very slowly.
•  Approaching 2050, most of the oil and natural gas in the United States will be exhausted, and world supplies will be ever closer to depletion.
•  A renewable energy source, solar energy, would require the use of about 20% of the U.S. land area (about 450 million acres) to support a system that would supply only 1/2 of all current energy consumption, and the U.S. oil and gas reserves will have nearly run out by 2050, leaving us with environmentally problematic coal, or nuclear energy.  The advantage of the land space required for solar is that the solar can be above the ground, allowing for multiple use of the land space, such as grazing, agriculture, and warehousing.

D.   Energy
Fossil energy use in the U.S. has increased from 20 to as much as 1,000-fold in just four decades.
•  Currently, 92% of U.S. energy needs are provided by finite fossil fuels, with 6% of the total energy used for agricultural production.
•  Renewable energy sources, like hydropower and biomass, provide 8% of the U.S. energy and are increasing very slowly.
•  Approaching 2050, most of the oil and natural gas in the United States will be exhausted, and world supplies will be ever closer to depletion.
•  A renewable energy source, solar energy, would require the use of about 20% of the U.S. land area (about 450 million acres) to support a system that would supply only 1/2 of all current energy consumption, and the U.S. oil and gas reserves will have nearly run out by 2050, leaving us with environmentally problematic coal, or nuclear energy.  The advantage of the land space required for solar is that the solar can be above the ground, allowing for multiple use of the land space, such as grazing, agriculture, and warehousing.

E.   Water
Water is essential for all life, including productive agriculture. Agriculture consumes about 85% of all fresh water consumed by Americans. In the West, water shortages are increasing.
•  Rainfall is used directly by crops, is stored in diverse water bodies and in underground aquifers.  Groundwater provides 31% of the water used in U.S. agriculture.  Groundwater is being depleted 25% in excess of recharge rates.
•  Even if water management were to be substantially improved, by 2060 the 560 million Americans will have only 700 gallons/day/capita, considered a minimum for all human needs.
This assumes even distribution, which is not the case — much of our population and agricultural production is in arid and semi-arid regions.
•  Almost every house that can afford one now owns some type of water filter. Water quality is decreasing, as are our sources of potable water, due to development, salinity, and pollution.
Pasted from <http://www.enviroalternatives.com/popfacts.html&gt;

€ The ‘bathroom metaphor’”
http://malthusia.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=213
If two people live in an apartment, and  they had two bathrooms then they both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want, stay as long as you want, for whatever you need, and everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the constitution.
But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, then no matter how much every person believes in the freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person; you have to bang on the door, “aren’t you through yet?”, and so on.
Kasanov concluded with one of the most profound observations I’ve seen in years, he says, in the same way, “…democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive over population. Convenience and decency cannot survive over population. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only decline it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people, there are the less one individual matters. And so, central to the things that we must do is to recognize that population growth is the immediate cause of all our resource and environmental crisis”.
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V.  Consequences of peak oil
There are indications that peak oil is either imminent or even may have passed a few years ago. Although the consequences won’t be immediate after the peak, on the long-term they will be dire. We will discuss what the possible solutions to peak oil are in a moment but first, what are we talking about? Let’s start by a few facts:
•  There is only a limited amount of oil on the planet – because the planet is round.
•  The world’s first commercial oil well was drilled in Poland in 1853, and global production reached 4 million barrels a year in the 1860s (one barrel is about 42 gallons).
•  Today’s production hovers just above 70 million barrels a day.
•  2005 was an all-time high at 73.72 million barrels a day. Production is nearly flat since.
•  The Industrial Revolution brought a better understanding of how to use energy and allowed global population to increase ten times compared to what has been constant over millennia. It is  quite clear that our population would never have reached this level without access to all the cheap energy sources we currently have.
•  Our industry, food system and economy have become wholly dependent on cheap fuel.
•  India and China demand for oil is set to quadruple by 2030.
•  Some 64 million barrel per day of additional gross capacity – the equivalent of almost six times the daily output of Saudi Arabia today – needs to be brought on stream between now and 2030 (World Energy Outlook 2008)
•  So if the amount of oil we have is limited, if our demand is growing exponentially and  if production has been stationary for 5 years, how much oil have we left?
•  First we have to realize there aren’t any massive oil field discoveries those days. It is estimated that the peak of oil production lags behind the peak of oil field discoveries by 30 to 40 years depending on the urgency with which new fields are brought on-line. The graph below shows the rate of discoveries of
conventional oil field:

I’d like to stop a moment to let this sink in and consider what actually depends on oil.
•  Most of our transportation: cars, planes, boat, trucks.
•  Commercial shipment: bringing food to the supermarket, shipping building material, most of the industry.
•  Tires: It takes 3.6 billion gallons of crude oil to produce tires for all of the cars in the U.S. and 7 gallons of crude to produce one tire; therefore, should we all switch to electric cars we would still have a problem.
•  Mining equipment, farming and forestry equipment. The energy density of any commercially available battery makes it very heavy to move around and therefore a poor replacement of liquid fuels.
•  Most plastics. Plastics are everywhere. Look around you, starting by your computer and your phone, and the chips inside of them, and then try to imagine a world without plastics.
•  Many pesticides are derived from petroleum. Fertilizers are derived from natural gas, which ultimately will be confronted to the same issue.
•  Motor’s lubricating oil.
•  Asphalt.
•  Our entire food production and distribution network is heavily dependent on oil and fossil fuels. It is estimated that for every calories you eat, 10 calories of fossil fuels (mainly from oil and gas) is being used.
There is no need to panic: we have only consumed half of the amount of oil there is on the planet. However, there is clearly a case to seriously rethink our way of life.

Oil availability and social implications–Past & Future
The effect of energy decline on population will completely overwhelm the underlying reductions in carrying capacity. Those ecological effects will be gradually revealed as our aggregate supplies
decline, and will add to the population-reducing effects to energy loss.

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VI.  Our food and  water needs
The basic need of humans is food. We need food to have energy to perform vital body functions, to reproduce, to work and to have fun. The unit of energy used by dietitians is the Calorie (or kilocalorie), that is, 4200 joules of energy, enough to raise the temperature of one kg of water by one degree Celsius.

The energy need of a typical adult is 2500 Calories per day. Children and elderly need less than that. That brings the average to 2000 Calories per day for all.

The caloric values must come 55% – 60% from carbohydrates, 12% – 15% from proteins and 33% – 25% fats. The variation based on climate, culture and personal preferences. For our calculation we take the most recommended 60% from carbohydrates, 12% from protein and 28% from fats. It must be kept in mind that this is an attempt to summarize highly complex and variable data into a meaningful format. There are hundreds if not thousands of food items available for human use, which particular item one uses depends a lot on one’s religion, culture, climate, personal preference etc.
Food productivity differs a lot on the basis of geographical location.
•  Most people live on a diet based on one or more of the following staples: rice, wheat, maize (corn), millet, sorghum, roots and tubers (potatoes, cassava, yams and taro), and animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and fish.
•  Roots and tubers are important staples for over 1 billion  people in the developing world. They account for roughly 40 percent of the food eaten by half the population of sub-Saharan  Africa. They are high in carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin C, but low in protein.
•  Ranked in order of their annual production, the world’s 15 most important food crops are: sugar cane, wheat, rice, corn (maize), white potatoes, sugar beets, barley, sweet potatoes, cassava, soybeans, wine grapes, tomatoes, bananas, legumes (beans and peas), and oranges.
•  Nine of the most important animal species include: cattle, horse, ass, pig, sheep, buffalo, goat, chicken and duck.

A.   A scheme of balanced daily  diet

Pounds of food needed/ person/ year for a balanced diet. Avg.  global food output lbs/acre/yr before
the petroleum intensive Green Revolution began (pre ca 1940)
Square yards Land Needed/person for a balanced  diet
Pounds/year Lbs/acre/yr
(2.2lbs/kg)
Yds2/person
Grains & Cereals 220 880 1200
Milk 220 (26 gal) 440 See pasture
Fruits 220 1760 469131
Vegetables 55
Meat (goat, horses, sheep) 55 220 See pasture
Oil 27.5 (~3 gal) 440 300
Sugar 27.5 440 300
Dry Fruits / Eggs 27.5 440 300
Spices 27.5 440 300
Pasture NA NA 1200
Other (coffee, cotton, tea, wool) NA NA 600
4800 sq. yds. overall=1
acre

Notes:

  • Land Needed/ capita =4800 square yards = about 1 acre per person. There are  4840 square yards /acre.
  • It is estimated that egg production in pounds would be at least twice that of chicken meat per acre. That is because of the savings in energy when eggs are used directly in the diet, which would otherwise be used by the chicken in its life time-hatching, growing up and gaining weight up to age of a few weeks before slaughter.
  • Land needed for vegetables is so little (55 vegetables needed/1760 lbs per acre*4200 = 131 sq. yds.=1180 sq ft=a plot 12 ft x 100 ft long) that a side crop along with grains/cereals can be grown for that. That’s the traditional Chinese method of having a crop of vegetables along with rice. A nitrogen-fixing crop is needed anyways as a side crop on land where grains/cereals are grown to maintain soil fertility.
  • A quarter acre dedicated to pasture grows 440 lbs of fodder per year. The total fodder requirement for milk and meat is 880 lbs., 4.4 lbs of fodder is converted to 2.2 lbs of milk and 17.6 lbs of fodder converts to 2.2 lbs of goat/camel/horse meat. The other 440 lbs of fodder comes from crop-residue, leaves etc from grain/cereals, fruits and vegetables. 220 lbs of grains/cereals leave 352 lbs fodder, 220 lbs fruits leave 440 lbs fodder, 110 lbs of miscellaneous (oil, sugar, spices and dry fruits) leaves 176 lbs of fodder. Assuming it would have half of the caloric values left when finally consumed by animals that is equivalent of 440 lbs of fodder.
  • Conversion factors: 1 kg=2.2 lbs, 1 m2=1.2 yd2, 1 ft3=7.48 gal water, 3.79 liters=1 gallon, 1yd3=202 gal water, 1 acre =4840 yd2=43,560 ft2, 1 hectare = 2.47 acres.

A simplified division of land is as follows:

Farm (for grains/cereals) 1/4 acre per person, (100 ft x 100 ft)
Pasture (for growing fodder) 1/4 acre per person, (100 ft x 100 ft)
Orchard (for growing fruits) 1/8 acre per person, (50 ft x 100 ft)
Farm (for tea, cotton, wool) 1/8 acre per person, (50 ft x 100 ft)
Oil (for vegetable oil) 1/16 acre per person, (50 ft x 50 ft)
Sugar (honey or sugar cane) 1/16 acre per person, (50 ft x 50 ft)
Dry fruits 1/16 acre per person, (50 ft x 50 ft)
Spices 1/16 acre per person, (50 ft x 50 ft)

B.  Water
Water is another important factor in farm productivity. A land rich in organic material and minerals is of no use without a supply of water. The primary source of water is rain falling directly on land. Secondary sources like canals are also used to increase productivity. Finally tertiary sources like wells and tube wells are used which to some degree recycles the water already used at the farm.

A 10 inch rain fall on one acre provides 1000 tons of water. For a summer crop, at least in my part of world 80% of rain falls during the monsoon, right when the crop needs it. So 800 cubic meters of water
directly from rain is enough to grow the food per person per acre using these water requirements, assuming 20% loss of water at the farm due to evaporation and soil absorption before being used by plants. The calculation includes water needed for world average use of 7.7 lb  cotton, 2.4 lb coffee and 1.1 lb tea per capita per year.
Pasted from <http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/3090&gt;

C.   Water Footprint
A ‘water footprint’ is quite simply the volume of water used. At the individual level, this is expressed in gallons.
But at the national level, this becomes complex – The water footprint of a nation is equal to the use of domestic water resources, minus the virtual water export flows, plus the virtual water import flows.

The total ‘water footprint’ of a nation is a useful indicator of a nation’s call on the global water resources. The water footprint of a nation is related to dietary habits of people. High consumption of meat brings along a large water footprint. Also the more food originates from irrigated land, the larger is the water footprint. Finally, nations in warm climate zones have relatively high water consumption for their domestic food production resulting in a larger water footprint. At an individual level, it is useful to show the footprint as a function of food diet and consumption patterns.
•  1 cup of coffee needs 37 gal of water.
•  1 qt of milk needs 264 gal of water.
•  It takes 5 liters of water to make 1 liter of bottled water.
•  1 lbs of wheat needs 162 gal of water.
•  1 lbs of rice needs 359 gal of water.
•  1 lbs maize needs 62 gal of water.
•  The production of 1 lbs of beef requires 2,638 gal of water.
•  The water footprint of China is about 930 cubic yards per year per capita. Only about 3% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China.
•  Japan with a footprint of 1,320 cubic yards per year per capita, has about 60% of its total water footprint outside the borders of the country.
•  The USA water footprint is 3,120 cubic yards per year per capita.
•  The average American Individual uses 100 to 175 gallons of water per day.
•  The average African Family uses 5 gallons per day.
•  A human adult requires 1.81 cubic yards drinking water per year=365 gallons or 1 gallon per day, another gallon per person per day is required for minimal sanitation and household use.
Source: UNESCO-IHE – Water Footprint

Virtual Water
Virtual water is the amount of water that is embedded in food or other products needed for its production. Trade in virtual water allows water scarce countries to import high water consuming products while exporting low water consuming products and in this way making water available for other purposes.

For example, the virtual water content (in yds3 water/ton product) for potatoes is 192 (cu yards water to produce 1 ton potatoes). Others examples: maize=1,080; milk=1,080; wheat=1,620; soybean=2,760; rice=3,600; poultry=3,360; eggs=5,640; cheese=6,360; pork=7,080; and beef=19,200.
Behind that morning cup of coffee is 37 gallons of water used to grow, produce, package and ship the beans.

Sustainable human carrying capacity?
Assuming that we can sustainably use 40% of world’s food production for our use leaving the rest for all other species, we can have food for 6 billion people on this planet if our population is distributed evenly, but. since it is not, long-term human population support ranges from 2 billion to 4 billion. Taking the average 3 billion as sustainable, this is roughly the population of the world at the end of the World War II.

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VII.   North America’s  Ogallala aquifer
America’s breadbasket is facing an environmental crisis of unimaginable proportions and most Americans have absolutely no idea what is happening.  The water that is used to irrigate much of America’s Great Plains comes from a massive underground lake known as the Ogallala Aquifer, which.   is being drained at an alarming rate, and that means that the Great Plains could soon turn into the Great American Desert.  If that happens, American could very well see a devastating repeat of the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

The Ogallala geological formation of the American Midwest is home one of the most vital water sources for American agriculture—the High Plains aquifer.  Commonly referred to as the Ogallala aquifer, it covers an area of 174,000 square miles across eight states and holds over 978 trillion gallons of fresh water.  The aquifer currently supplies approximately 30% of the nation’s irrigation water, whereby it sustains 15% of the domestic corn and wheat crops as well as 25% of the cotton crop.  Since ground water mining of the aquifer accelerated in the last century, the water table has dropped 10-50 feet  in-depth in most regions, with several recorded drops of over 100 feet.

Shown as the shaded region in the figure above.   The quality and depth of the Ogallala groundwater is rapidly declining as water is pumped from its reservoirs far faster than fresh water can replace it.

The Ogallala aquifer was virtually untouched until the 1910s, but the post-depression wartime government of the 1940s readily subsidized irrigation projects drawing from the aquifer as drilling technology improved.  The dry grassland states of the central United States were quickly developed into major crop producing regions.  As of 1980, “20% of the irrigated land in the United States overlay the Ogallala, 30% of the irrigation ground water in the United States was being pumped from it, and 40% of the grain-fed beef cattle slaughtered in the United States were being fattened in the six states of the High Plains.”   This extreme reliance on the Ogallala aquifer has taken a dramatic toll on the ground water supply, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

One of the most critical sites is in the Texas High Plains, where roughly ten times as much water is being pumped out of the aquifer as is being replaced by rainfall.

The Ogallala aquifer is being used today to supply residential and agricultural communities across eight Midwestern states.  For nearly 80 years the nation’s breadbasket has been irrigated from Ogallala groundwater—a practice so unsustainable it severely threatens an aquifer that had flourished for over a
million years.  Farmlands are already shrinking on some portions of the Ogallala that have been mined of water.  As the water table continues to plummet the High Plains will have to take drastic measures, whether communities import costly water or abandon the most profitable farming in the nation.
Either way the decision has to be made soon because the aquifer that once held enough water to cover the entire United States under 1.5 feet of water is rapidly running out.

A.  The Ogallala aquifer running dry: U.S. farmers fear return of the dust bowl
It’s the largest underground freshwater supply in the world, stretching from South Dakota all the way to Texas. It’s underneath most of Nebraska’s farmlands, and it provides crucial water resources for farming in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and even New Mexico. It’s called the Ogallala Aquifer, and it is being pumped dry.

Without the Ogallala Aquifer, America’s heartland food production collapses. No water means no irrigation for the corn, wheat, alfalfa and other crops grown across these states to feed people and animals. And each year, the Ogallala Aquifer drops another few inches as it is literally being sucked dry by the tens of thousands of agricultural wells that tap into it across the heartland of America.

The problem with its use is that the aquifer isn’t being recharged in any significant way from rainfall or rivers. This is so-called “fossil water” because once you use it, it’s gone. And it’s disappearing now faster than ever.

In some regions along the aquifer, the water level has dropped so far that it has effectively disappeared — places like Happy, Texas, where a once-booming agricultural town has collapsed to a population of 595. All the wells drilled there in the 1950’s tapped into the Ogallala Aquifer and seemed to provide abundant water at the time. But today the wells have all run dry.

There used to be 50,000 head of cattle, now there’s 1,000,” says Kay Horner in a Telegraph report (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/83…). “Grazed them on wheat, but the feed lots took all the water so we can’t grow wheat. Now the feed lots can’t get local steers so they bring in cheap unwanted milking calves from California and turn them into burger if they can’t make them veal. It
doesn’t make much sense. We’re heading back to the Dust Bowl.”

The reality is that the Great Plains have not always been a great agricultural area. Way back in 1823, a U.S. government surveyor named Stephen Long was mapping out the Great Plains, and he was quite unimpressed by what he saw.  In fact, his geographer wrote the following in a report about the
expedition….

“I do not hesitate in giving the opinion that it is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and of course, uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence.”

Well, thanks to irrigation, the Great Plains are not only “habitable”, but that region is currently one of the great breadbaskets of the world.  What Long’s mapping expedition referred to as “The Great American Desert” has been turned into an agricultural wonder thanks to an expanse of green circles defined by the reach of central pivot irrigation systems. But all of that is changing as the Ogallala Aquifer rapidly becomes depleted

 B.  Water Now More Valuable Than Oil? Savvy Investors and Successful Companies are Turning Water Into Gold,
By Larry West, About.com Guide
The most valuable commodity in the world today, and likely to remain so for much of this century, is not oil, not natural gas, not even some type of renewable energy. It’s water—clean, safe, fresh water.

__Follow the Money
When you want to spot emerging trends, always follow the money. Today, many of the world’s leading investors and most successful companies are making big bets on water. Do a little research, and it’s easy to see why. There simply isn’t enough freshwater to go around, and the situation is expected to get worse before it gets better.

According to Bloomberg News, the worldwide scarcity of usable water worldwide already has made water more valuable than oil. The Bloomberg World Water Index, which tracks 11 utilities, has returned 35 percent to investors every year since 2003, compared with 29 percent for oil and gas stocks and 10 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

“There is only one direction for water prices at the moment, and that’s up,” said Hans Peter Portner, who manages a $2.9 billion US Water Fund at Pictet Asset Management in Geneva, according to a report by Bloomberg News. The value of the fund increased 26 percent in 2005, and Portner expects water to provide 8 percent annual returns through 2020.

__Freshwater Becoming More Scarce
The United Nations estimates that by 2050 more than two billion people in 48 countries will lack sufficient water.
Approximately 97 percent to 98 percent of the water on planet Earth is saltwater (the estimates vary slightly depending on the source). Much of the remaining freshwater is frozen in glaciers or the polar ice caps. Lakes, rivers and groundwater account for about 1 percent of the world’s potentially usable
freshwater.

If global warming continues to melt glaciers in the polar regions, as expected, the supply of freshwater may actually decrease. First, freshwater from the melting glaciers will mingle with saltwater in the oceans and become too salty to drink. Second, the increased ocean volume will cause sea levels to rise,
contaminating freshwater sources along coastal regions with seawater.

Complicating matters even further is that 95 percent of the world’s cities continue to dump raw sewage into rivers and other freshwater supplies, making them unsafe for human consumption.

__The Need for Freshwater is Increasing Rapidly
Yet, while freshwater supplies are at best static, and at worst decreasing, the world’s population is growing rapidly. The United Nations estimates that the world population—approximately 6.5 billion in 2006—will grow to 9.4 billion by 2050.

The cost of water is usually set by government agencies and local regulators. Water isn’t traded on commodity exchanges, but many utilities stocks are publicly traded. Meanwhile, investments in companies that provide desalinization, and other processes and technologies that may increase the world’s supply of freshwater, are growing rapidly.

C.  Tap Water in 42 States Contaminated by Chemicals: EWG Tap Water Probe Reveals 141 Unregulated Chemicals Flowing into U.S. Homes
About.com Guide, By Larry West,
Public water supplies in 42 U.S. states are contaminated with 141 unregulated chemicals for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never established safety standards, according to an investigation by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

__Tainted Tap Water Used by Millions of Americans
Another 119 regulated chemicals—a total of 260 contaminants altogether—were found by the
environmental group in a two-and-a-half-year analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests. The tests, which are required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, were conducted at nearly 40,000 utilities that supply water to 231 million people.

 __Pollution Threatens Tap Water Quality
 According to a report by the EWG, the top 10 states with the most contaminants in their drinking water were California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Illinois—in that order.  EWG said the biggest sources of contaminants were agriculture, industry and pollution from sprawl and urban  runoff.

__Utilities Need More Enforceable Standards for Tap Water
EWG’s analysis also found that almost all U.S. water utilities comply fully with enforceable health standards once they are developed. The problem, according to the environmental group, is the EPA’s failure to establish enforceable health standards and monitoring requirements for many tap water contaminants.  [Photo above: Royal Berkey water filter]

Our analysis clearly demonstrates the need for greater protection of the nation’s tap water supplies, and for increased health protections from a number of pollutants that are commonly found but currently unregulated.” said Jane Houlihan, vice president for science at EWG, in a prepared statement. “Utilities routinely go beyond what is required to protect consumers from these contaminants, but they need more money for testing, and for protection of vital source waters.”

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VIII. 
World fish stocks over-exploited
Feb. 1, 2011, UNITED NATIONS
Global consumption of fish is at a record high, a report says, leaving world fish stocks depleted from over-exploitation.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says fish consumption reached an average  of 37 pounds per person and fisheries and aquaculture supplied the world with about 145 million tons in 2009. That amounts to about 16 percent of humanity’s animal protein intake, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Thirty-two percent of the fish stocks monitored by the FAO were depleted or in the process of recovering from over-exploitation, the U.N. report said. Most stocks of the Top 10 commercial species, comprising almost a third of global catches, were fully exploited, the U.N. report said.
“That there has been no improvement in the status of stocks is a matter of great concern,” Richard Grainger, a FAO senior fish expert, says. “The percentage of over-exploitation needs to go down, although at least we seem to reaching a plateau.” Fish continued to be the most-traded food commodity, worth $102 billion in 2008, the U.N. report found.

Overall, fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of an estimated 540 million people, or 8% of the world population. People have never eaten as much fish and more people than ever are employed in or depend on the sector.

All stocks of currently fished, wild seafood species are projected to collapse by 2048 according to a study published in the November 3 issue of The Journal Science. The four-year analysis by an international group of ecologists and economists shows the marine biodiversity loss is reducing its resilience due to overfishing, pollution, and other stresses like climate change.
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[Photo left: Florida Keys, same spot: Change in the typical catch between,ca. 1956 to 2007.]

In the paper, Impact of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services, an international team of ecologists and economists studied the role marine biodiversity plays in maintaining ecosystem services, which are those goods and functions that are essential for the growing human population.

“Worm and colleagues provided the first comprehensive assessment of the state of ecosystem services provided by the biodiversity of the world’s oceans to humanity,” said Science International Managing Editor Andrew Sugden. “At this point,” Worm said, “29 percent of fish and seafood species have collapsed — that is their catch has declined by 90 percent. It is a very clear trend, and it is accelerating.

Seafood has become a growing part of Americans’ diet in recent years. Consumption totaled 16.6 pounds per person in 2004, the most recent data available, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That compares with 15.2 pounds in 2000.

Joshua Reichert, head of the private Pew Charitable Trusts’ environment program, pointed out that worldwide fishing provides $80 billion in revenue and 200 million people depend on it for their livelihoods. For more than 1 billion people, many of whom are poor, fish is their main source of protein, he said.
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IX.      The State of the World’s Food and Soil
 •  “Ninety percent of the world’s food is derived from just 15 plant and 8 animal species.”
“Biodiversity – and especially the maintenance of wild relatives of domesticated species – is essential to sustainable agriculture.”1
 •  75% of the genetic diversity of crop plants has been lost in the past century.

[Chart above: While the amount of irrigated agricultural land increased 98% during the 41 years from 1961 to  2002, the human population doubled from 3.08 billion to 6.2 billion, the effect has been to essentially reduce the amount arable land per person by 45%.]

“In 1960, when the world population numbered reached 3 billion, approximately 1.25 acres of cropland per capita was available, the minimum area considered essential for the production of a diverse, healthy, nutritious diet of plant and animal products like that enjoyed widely in the United States and
Europe.”3

  • Increases in grain production brought about by irrigation and synthetic fertilizer-pesticide inputs have peaked and begun declining. As consumption surpasses production, the world’s stocks of stored grain have been falling relative to each year’s use. When supply can no longer meet demand, free market price competition may starve the poor.
  • “Nitrogen production requires a large and affordable supply of natural gas.” 5
  • “Natural gas is a key feedstock (up to 90 percent of the total costs) in the manufacturing of nitrogen fertilizer for which there is no practical substitute… Nitrogen fertilizer prices tend to increase when gas prices increase.” 4

“10 kcalories (kilogram-calories or ‘large calories’) of exosomatic energy are spent in the U.S. food system per calorie of food eaten by the consumer. Put another way, the US food system consumes ten times more energy than it provides to society in food energy.” 6

Definition:exosomatic energy, as contrasted with endosomatic energy (bodily metabolism), is the useful energy throughput outside the human body.
In the above example, the exosomatic energy is the energy used to drive the farm inputs (plant, fertilize, pest-herbacide and harvest), processing, packaging, and transportation.

[Chart upper left: Fertilizer consumption is increasing worldwide- to maintain and maximize soil productivity. Chart uper right: Grain production has peaked and is declining, meanwhile consumption/demand continues to climb, the shortfall is being made up grain stockpiles which have dropped 75% and are still declining.]

Grain production has peaked and is declining, meanwhile consumption/demand continues to climb, the shortfall is being made up grain stockpiles which have dropped 75% and are still declining.

Who’s eating what and where?
• 
About 2 billion hectares of soil, equivalent to 15% of the Earth’s land area (an area larger than the United States and Mexico combined), have been degraded through human activities.
•  “Over the past 40 years, approximately 30% of the world’s cropland has become unproductive.”2
•  “During the past 40 years nearly one-third of the world’s cropland (1.5 billion hectares) has been abandoned because of soil erosion and degradation.” 7
•  “About 2 million hectares of rain fed and irrigated agricultural lands are lost to production every year due to severe land degradation, among other factors.” 8
•  “It takes approximately 500 years to replace 25 millimeters (1 inch) of topsoil lost to erosion. The minimal soil depth for agricultural production is 150 millimeters. From this perspective, productive fertile soil is a nonrenewable, endangered ecosystem.” 3,9

Food and Soil text sources:
1.  World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, “A Framework for Action on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management”
2.  “Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy”, Pimentel and Giampietro, Nov. 1994
3.  “Soil as an Endangered Ecosystem”, David Pimental, Bioscience; Nov 2000
4.  US GAO report: “Natural Gas: Domestic Nitrogen Fertilizer Production Depends on Natural Gas Availability and Prices”, Oct. 2003, www.gao.gov/new.items/d031148.pdf
5. The Fertilizer Institute, www.tfi.org/Statistics/index.asp
6.  “The Tightening Conflict: Population, Energy Use, and the Ecology of Agriculture”, Pimentel and Giampietro, 1994, http://dieoff.org/page69.htm
7.  “Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy, Pimentel and Giampietro, Nov. 1994
8.  World Bank: “Land Resources Management”, lnweb18.worldbank.org/ESSD/ardext.nsf/
11ByDocName/
9.  “Population Growth and the Environment: Planetary Stewardship”, Pimental, Dec 98, http://egj.lib.uidaho.edu/egj09/piment1.html
10.  UN World Water Development, www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/index.shtml
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Population Growth Escalates Food Prices
Summer 2008, By The Social Contract press
Food shortages have plagued mankind over millennia. But twentieth century agronomists came up with ways to keep food production on a pace with population growth in most places. Cheap food became a given in post-World War II America. In 1960, Americans spent 17.5 percent of their income on food; in 2006, spending on food fell to 9.9 percent. Alas, the bonanza only encouraged dietary imprudence. As Michael Pollan points out in a new book, In Defense of Food: An  Eater’s Manifesto, the modern American diet of refined white flour, polished rice, soy and corn oil, corn sweeteners and corn-fed animal fats means that “an American born in 2000 has a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes in his lifetime.” Obesity in America is pandemic, too — a result of what one nutritionist calls “a national experiment in mainlining of glucose.”

Astonishingly, the U.S. is a net food importer. About 40 percent of our fruit comes from overseas.
Ten percent of our red meat is imported, often from as far away as New Zealand and Australia.
While we import luxury foods, much of the rest of the world must scramble to find basic food supplies. The cereal import bill for the neediest countries is expected to increase by one-third for the second year in a row. The World Food Program (WFP) hopes to feed 73 million people this year, but high prices may lead to reduced rations or fewer people helped. According to the WFP, “hunger’s global hotspots” in February included Afghanistan, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Iraq, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Flood, drought, civil war, and harsh winters were blamed.

How many Americans can U.S. agriculture support in the future? Right now, we have an ample diet and are still able to export nearly one-fifth of our grain production. But Lindsay Grant, in a pamphlet published by Negative Population Growth, Inc., warns that if production and per capita consumption stay where they are, and U.S. population continues to grow at the present rate, “we will be consuming all the grain we produce in less than two decades, and running a deficit in agricultural trade; from then on, we will face mounting shortages.” Satellite maps are said to show that Earth is rapidly running out of fertile land.

The end of cheap food was delayed for half a century by the “Green Revolution.” [started ca 1940] It involves planting mono-cultures of hybrid plant varieties and by applying large amounts of inorganic fertilizer, irrigation water, and pesticides. Using these technologies, global grain harvest has tripled since 1961, while world population doubled. In the U.S., average corn yields climbed to 153 bushels per acre, from just 26.5 million in 1932. (A cost of expanded yields has been a decline in nutritional quality.)

The researchers also used past land-use data to create maps showing how agriculture has spread over the centuries. In 1700, for example, just 7 percent of the world’s land was used for farming.

Figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations suggest that total farmland increased by 12.4 million acres (5 million hectares) annually between 1992 and 2002.

World Population Growth
Year   Population
1             200 million
1000       275 million
1500       450 million
1650       500 million
1750         700 million
1804      1 billion
1850      1.2 billion              [Globally supportable human population
1900      1.6 billion              estimated at 1.2 to 1.6 billion.]
1927      2 billion
1950       2.55 billion
1955      2.8 billion
1960      3 billion
1965      3.3 billion
1970      3.7 billion
1975      4 billion
1980     4.5 billion
1985      4.85 billion
1990      5.3 billion
1995      5.7 billion
1999      6 billion
2006      6.5 billion
2009      6.8 billion
2012      7 billion      [A return to sustainability seems to indicate a 77%
2027      8 billion         reduction in the human population numbers –
2044      9 billion         with 23% remaining, after – the oil decline?! ] 
2050      9.2 billion                                       8-|    (gulp!!)

“The satellite data tells us where cultivation is occurring with good spatial accuracy, while the census data is able to tell us what is being grown there. The maps suggest that an area roughly the size of South America is used for crop production, while even more land—7.9 to 8.9 billion acres (3.2 to 3.6 billion hectares)—is being used to raise livestock.

Connecting the dots, contemplating the future- Mr. Larry
‘The world’s  population was 3.3 billion in 1965, it is now nearly 7 billion, it has doubled  in 34 years. During this time, we have doubled the amount of land under irrigation, while seriously draining the Ogallala aquifer, are losing snow fields and mountain glaciers that have traditionally fed rivers for irrigation on old world continents, we have only a couple of decades before the world’s fisheries have all collapsed to 10% of their former size and have become unproductive, we have by 2011 reached peak oil and will hence forth be experiencing a decline in all things petroleum with an increase in real prices, less fertilizer will be used and grain production will decline faster, the soil will be ‘mined’ faster’and its quality diminish at a faster rate, grain stocks will be reduced to near zero, with harder economic times everywhere, the quality of our drinking water will continue to erode. Currently, with 7 billion people in need of food, we have an area roughly the size of South America used for crop production and the area size equivalent to most of North America used to raise livestock. Where do the continents come from to feed the next doubling of the population, for 14 billion people? Clearly, we have reached a plateau in overall food production. Within this decade, as previously hospitable environmental systems are diminished, our dependant human population will have a ‘numbers’ adjustment.

Prognosis: A less satisfactory life style will be experienced globally, everyone will be taking a step backward toward ‘less’, there will be increasingly ‘harder times’, there will be war over resources, and pestilence will follow. The human population has been, growing explosively for a century due to technologies- all based on fossil oil, now with peak oil it’s becoming apparent that we are numerically out of balance with our resource base. The possibility of an ‘overshoot’ during the coming oil/population decline makes all social matters worse. Gosh…what kind of world will we be navigating into if, during the next 50, 100 or 150 years we collapsed back to an 1850 to 1900 population level of 1.2 to 1.6 billion people?
Yet, how can it be otherwise?’

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Filed under __2. Social Issues

Bartering your supplies

(Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Bartering your supplies)

A.  When the supply line is broken
Bartering is an effective way to get goods and services and basically cut out the middle man. In really hard times, we would be looking to increase these exchanges and find ways to get things done, to feed, clothe and whatever else would be needed- without spending cash.
In a “worst case” economic situation or extreme hyperinflation, bartering goods and services could become an essential family survival strategy.  Having pre-stocked  raw material and manufactured goods that would become scarce will put you in a position to barter for those things you need and don’t have.

•  Crisis Duration
During a short-term crisis that isolates people from goods & services, bartering will probably be done with cash for goods or by simple exchanges of food items.  If you are sure the crisis will be short-lived you can consider providing goods at very low barter cost to assist those in great need.  This will create a tremendous amount of local good will for you during and after the crisis.
Long duration crisis will be evident by a collapse of the national economy that affects production, storage and transportation of goods.  Consider the various natural phases of a long-term crisis when deciding what skills to learn and what goods to pre-stock in preparation.  What will become scarce?
What will people need during each phase?  What goods should be held back for the next phases? What essential material can be refurbished and repaired using low-tech methods and tools?  What geographic specific goods and services will be needed?  As an evaluation example: there will not be much survival demand for a wood stove fabrication capability in Southern Florida.

•  Value of Goods
The value of your trade goods will be determined by essential need and perceived scarcity.  The value of goods will also change over the duration of the crisis as needs, conditions and availability change.
•  Early Phases
Early on there will be some goods that disappear quickly, some will be essential while others will soon become the new luxury items.  When was the last time you considered a bar of soap a luxury or even a necessity that you had to ration?  As bartering becomes more prevalent after the big crunch, you will have to be able to decide, what to barter and when.

•  Alternate Options
When some goods will become scarce or not available, there may be viable alternatives to replace them.  When toilet paper disappears, newspaper will be in demand.  Homemade soap will soon replace dwindling stock of mass-produced soap – homemade disinfectant soap will be the most valuable.  With no electrical power, being able to make candles and candle lanterns can be a money-making skill. As time passes, there will be less and less pre-crisis manufactured consumable goods. Tools and other non-consumables will break and wear out.
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B.  Top 12 Barter Goods for WTSHTF
1.  Water Purification Supplies – Does this really need an explanation?
2.  Prescription Medications – Yes, this is a difficult one to stock up on, but if you come across them in the post-apocalyptic world – SNAG ‘EM. What do you think you could trade a bottle of nitro pills for with someone who has a heart condition? If you require prescription medications I would strongly advise you consult with your physician about obtaining a few month’s extra supplies.
3.  Fuel – We’re talking all types: gas, diesel, propane, firewood, etc. Can you have too much? No, so you’ll likely keep it for yourself, but if you DID need something that you hadn’t already acquired, fuel will be a great commodity for bartering.
4.  Guns –Yes, they’re expensive, but there are MANY people out there who are averse to owning a gun, but once TEOTWAWKI hits, their minds will quickly change. They’re expensive, yes, but to someone that’s unarmed, a single-shot shotgun and a box of shells will be worth its weight in gold.
5.  Ammo– America is the most heavily armed nation in the world, but I seriously question how many people actually maintain an adequate supply of ammunition for those guns. Think about it, how many people do you know that go out and buy a few boxes of shells before hunting season starts?  They don’t have an adequate supply should SHTF. You can have all the guns in the world, but if you can’t load them with bullets – they’re useless. Stock up on common calibers (.22, 9mm, .45, .223, 12 gauge and .308) and you’ll find yourself in high demand with people who need rounds. Now, the flip side of this is do you really want to give away ammunition that might be used against you? You’ll have to decide this depending on the exact SHTF circumstances.
6.  Survival Books – Books with good information will be huge. They’re EMP-proof and don’t require electricity to run (unlike the pc you’re using). I advise you to at least print and save the pages of this Survival Manual.
7.  Batteries – Stock as many as you can use while rotating stock and staying within the recommended life span. A better idea is to stock a few crank radios and flashlights.
8.  Soap, Bleach and Cleaning Agents – Your local grocery store won’t be open. These items are critical for maintaining health and hygiene.
9.  Cast Iron Cookware – People that run out of fuel will be cooking over an open fire – situations that call for cast iron. Settlers used it for a reason.
10.  Survival Seeds – This would be for the pro-longed SHTF situation. Their value will be infinite.
11.  Garden and Hand Tools – Those left alive will suddenly become gardeners and carpenters, whether they like it or not.
12.  Canning Supplies – How will people survive the non-growing season without these?

Some items I’d like to cover that are not included above:
•   Silver and Gold Coins – A lot of people advocate purchasing these for bartering purposes, but their value is entirely dependent on the situation. If you’re lost in the desert for 14 days, would you rather have a gallon of water or 4 bars of gold? Precisely my point. When the cataclysm hits people WILL NOT look for silver and gold coins, they’ll be looking for the items mentioned above.
•   Booze – Yes, alcoholics will do flips and twists for it when they run dry, but what will your typical alcoholic have to offer in trade? Think about it. While I would appreciate a stiff shot of Jack Daniels post-Doomsday, I wouldn’t waste my time stocking up on it for bartering purposes. That being said, if you do drink, and you have a pantry stocked with food, it’d certainly be worthwhile to add the booze of your choice to the shelves and rotate stock. Remember: Shop in your pantry for dinner, shop at the store for your pantry.
•   Toilet Paper –Don’t waste valuable storage space to stock amounts much beyond your typical household needs.
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C.  Internet Blog respondents list what they feel would be important barter items.
Blogger 1:  My wife and I have been talking about things you can not go a day without. 1. toilet paper, 2. hand and bath soap, 3. tooth paste and brush. That is just a beginning. I think the next time we go to the BOL [bug out location] We will have to stock up on these items. I’m thinking a case or half case of each.

Blogger 2:  -Ammo  -Pedialyte  -Canned Goats Milk of Baby Formula -Dried Beans and Rice. This is a big no brainer, because you can have so many portions in such a small area of storage. But it could also be a form of currency if neighbors or others are starving. Start a little black market with dried goods. Only carry small amounts so if your life is threatened -Pain Relievers, and other medicines. I think a small stockpile of medicines is a MUST have if not just for personal use, but for the ability to make amazing personal benefit from it -Fire wood  -Shoes or Boots.

Blogger 3:  I was thinking of the following items: Sweeteners (sugar, honey, molasses, etc…), BIC lighters, vegetable  seeds, OTC medicines, duct tape.

Blogger 4:  In a crisis of months duration, with supply disruptions many people would probably desire the simple things that remind them of being human and civil that currently take for granted.
– I believe toiletries, especially soap, will be highly desirable. When I go shopping, I especially like buying extra tooth-brushes/paste, mineral oil, alcohol (isopropyl), hydrogen-peroxide.
– Coffee. Bean or ground.

Blogger 5:  I like batteries as a barter item. A few common types, but mostly the expensive lithium-ion variety. NiCd, NiMH, Alkaline and old-style carbon-Zn batteries all only have a shelf life of a few years. Lithium batteries last 10 yrs or more. Solar battery chargers are another interesting item, although they’re a little big (charging batteries could be an interesting service to provide). Flashlights, too, esp. the modern compact extra-bright variety. – it wouldn’t hurt to have a few hundred to a thousand candles stashed away, if there is an EMP candles will be in great demand. Matches might also be good.

Blogger 6:  Bathroom products such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant would be good for trade. Toilet paper will be high up there too. All cheap stuff to get today and last a long time. I can’t help but think that keeping an extra bicycle or two around would be worth their weight in gold.

Blogger 7:  90% silver is popular with the SHTF crowd. Makes good barter material. Can’t trade a K’rand for a bag of apples. But a 90% dime will be worth about $7.25 if silver goes to $100.  So make sure your PM is in small denominations if you intend to barter with it. My ‘survival mentor’ says…”to prepare for the unthinkable one must first think the unthinkable”.

Blogger 8: I would have to go with salt, that’s right plain old salt. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in areas with no/or sporadic electrical services, and have witnessed people getting around this by using salt to preserve extra food, and it takes A LOT of salt. Sugar would be a hot item as well.

Blogger 9: Here is a list of worthy additions to a “barter list”:
Seeds: general garden  Bottled water  Food of any kind – especially those in cans and jars, in small quantities
Alcohol  Matches  Candles
Batteries: primarily AA, AAA, 9 volt  Flashlights  Blankets
Radio  Condoms  First aid kits
Soap Tooth brush  Toothpaste
Water containers  Water filters or any kind  Propane
Mess kits/cookware  Tools of any kind – especially those most common (hammers, saws, hand drills, screwdrivers, etc.)  Nails and screws
Toilet paper  Aluminum foil  Rope/cord/string
Small notebooks, wooden pencils/ink pens Clothes pins
Fishing line and hooks/lures  Bug spray/insect repellent  Duct tape
Tarps  Bleach  First aid kits & supplies
Knives & sharpening stones/supplies  Ammunition (be careful with this one)  Razors for shaving
Clothing of  any kind – especially socks/underwear  Work gloves  Coffee/Tea/Flavored drink mixes
SPAM – I know its in the food category– great barter  item  Cigarettes/Cigars  Gardening tools
Canning jars and supplies  Fire starting supplies – including fire-steels, magnesium, etc.  Spices
Something else to consider – bartering does not always have to involve some-”thing”. In many cases skills can be bartered as well. If you know how to get a garden going and another person can repair a roof – just do a swap and work things out. Maybe someone has some fuel that they will give you if you can fix their vehicle. After TSHTF the bartering of materials and skills may very well become the only method of commerce – as money may be worthless.
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D.  Top Post-Collapse Barter Items And Trade Skills
June 10th, 2011, Alt Market, Brandon Smith
Pasted from: http://www.shtfplan.com/emergency-preparedness/top-post-collapse-barter-items-and-trade-skills_06102011

The concept of private barter and alternative economies has been so far removed from our daily existence here in America that the very idea of participating in commerce without the use of dollars or without the inclusion of corporate chains seems almost outlandish to many people. However, the fact remains that up until very recently (perhaps the last three to four decades) barter and independent trade was commonplace in this country. Without it, many families could not have survived.
Whether we like it or not, such economic methods will be making a return very soon, especially in the face of a plunging dollar, inflating wholesale prices, erratic investment markets, and unsustainable national debts. It is inevitable; financial collapse of the mainstream system ALWAYS leads to secondary markets and individual barter. We can wait until we are already in the midst of collapse and weighted with desperation before we take action to better our circumstances, or, we can prepare now for what we already know is coming.

 In today’s “modern” globalist economy, we have relied upon centralized and highly manipulated trade, forced interdependency, senseless and undisciplined consumption, endless debt creation, welfare addiction, and the erosion of quality, as a means to sustain a system that ultimately is DESIGNED to erode our freedoms not to mention our ability to effectively take care of ourselves. We have been infantized by our financial environment. In the near future, those who wish to live beyond a meager staple of government handouts (if any are even given) will be required to make a 180 degree reversal from their current lifestyle of dependency and immediate gratification towards one of self-sufficiency, personal entrepreneurship, quality trade, and a mindset of necessity, rather than unfounded excess.
This means that each and every one of us will not only be driven to form barter networks outside the designated confines of the mainstream, we will have to become active producers within those networks. Each and every one of us will need to discover practical goods and skills that will be in high demand regardless of economic conditions. Being that our society has all but forgotten how this kind of trade works, let’s examine a short list of items as well as proficiencies that are sure to be highly sought after as the collapse progresses…

Top Priority Goods
To be sure, this list is a summary of items that will have high value during and after a breakdown scenario. I welcome readers to post their own ideas for trade goods below this article. The following is merely a framework which you can use to get started, and was compiled using actual accounts of post collapse trade from the Great Depression, to Bosnia, to Argentina, to Greece, etc. These are items and skills that people were literally begging for after financial catastrophe occurred in numerous separate events.
Water Filtration: Stock up on water filters. Learn how water filtration works. Even make your own water filters using cloth, activated charcoal, and colloidal silver. Everyone will want to trade with you if you have extra filtration on hand. During economic breakdowns, especially in countries like Argentina, and Bosnia, which had more modern, city based populations, the first thing to disappear was clean water. Always. In some cases, the tap water still runs, but is filled with impurities, and needs to be boiled. Boiling does not remove bad tastes or smells, however, and clean filtered water will be in demand.

Seeds: Non-GMO seeds are a currency unto themselves. They can last for years if stored properly, and everyone will want them, even if they don’t have land to plant them. Get enough for yourself, and then purchase twice as much for trade.

Fresh Produce: Ever heard of scurvy? Probably. Ever had scurvy? Probably not. Believe me, you don’t want to have it. Your body essentially begins to fall apart slowly, and the result is an ugly boil and sore filled complexion, the loss of teeth and hair, and the eventual failure of internal organs. Don’t think you can live on beef jerky and canned beans for months on end. You need fresh vegetables and fruits, and the vitamins they supply. Anyone with a well-managed garden and a few fruit trees is going to do very well in barter. Vitamin supplements would also be a practical investment.

Long Shelf Life Foods: This one should be obvious, but you may be surprised how many preppers, even though aware of the danger in the economy, do not have ample stored foods.The rationalizations abound, but usually, you are dealing with a person who has a heavy hunting background, and believes he will be able to procure whatever food he wants whenever he wants with his trusty bolt-action rifle and a few hours in the woods. Don’t fall into this foolish trap. Thousands if not millions of other hungry, destitute people will likely have the same idea, combing the forest for deer, only running into (and perhaps shooting at) each other. In every single account of modern economic collapse I have read, the people involved kick themselves brutally for not stocking more food that didn’t require refrigeration. Even those that were moderately prepared stated that they wished they had stored twice as much as they did.
Sealed food kits would be highly valued trade items, as long as they contained necessities like grains (wheat or rice store well), salt (the human body will not function without salt), honey or maple syrup (the body needs sugars), and powdered milk, peanut butter, or any other foods with fat content (the body needs fats). Prepackaged freeze-dried foods are more expensive to stock, but they are, of course, easy to trade.

Food Producing Animals: Chickens are great for eating, but they also produce eggs. Cows and Goats can be slaughtered, but they also produce milk. Sheep can be easily herded towards your dinner plate, but they also produce wool. Rabbits make a good stew, but they also produce lots of other rabbits. In terms of barter, these animals will be life savers, as well as a solid source of trade income. Dual purpose livestock are really where it’s at for those who have even an acre of land, and many of them (except cattle) tend to feed themselves easily if left to wander your property. You can trade eggs, milk, wool, etc, that they produce. Not to mention, fetch serious value for trading the animal itself.

Solar Power: Solar power is so overlooked by most barter organizations and survivalists in general that it’s astonishing. If every home in America had at least two large solar panels on the roof, I would not be half as worried about collapse as I am today. My suspicion is that many ‘preppers’ believe that after a breakdown, we will all return to some kind of Agrarian pre-electric age where everything is lit with oil lamps. This is silly. If I have my LED lamp with rechargeable batteries, I’m certainly not going to rely on less effective burning lamps that depend on a finite fuel supply. And, I’m certainly not going to give up the advantages of night vision, radio communications, or refrigeration if I can help it. The key is to ensure that you have a continuous means of diverting electricity to these goods. This already exists in the form of solar power.
Depending on your budget, you can purchase solar panels that can be folded and carried with you for charging batteries, or, you can purchase entire arrays and battery banks that run your whole house. Those without electricity WILL want electricity, and solar is an excellent barter item. Wind generators, as well as water driven generators (as used often in Bosnia) are also a consideration. People that have the knowledge to set up these systems for others will not have trouble finding trading partners.

Firewood: Even with solar power, home heating will become a major concern for every household during and after a breakdown. If you can avoid running your battery bank out on inefficient space heaters, you will. The best way to do this is with a wood stove, or a fireplace. Those without any electricity will scour their immediate areas for loose wood, then move on to chopping down random trees for fuel. This is one of the few instances, ironically, that those in urban environments would have an advantage, being that dry wood for burning is literally everywhere in the city. During the Great Depression, families would often sneak into abandoned homes and apartment buildings to dismantle sticks of furniture, or even the walls, to use as firewood.
A small, well insulated home can be heated with as little as two cords of wood every winter. Larger drafty homes require as much as twenty cords per winter. A “cord’ of wood is a stack of split timber around four feet wide, four feet high, and eight feet long. This wood is “aged”, or dried for at least a year after being cut, so that it burns cleaner, and creates much more heat than freshly felled timber. When the general public begins to rediscover the need for aged cord wood, those with timberland will have a prized commodity on their hands for barter.
A disciplined cutting routine would be essential. Only cutting enough timber (of the right maturity) to create a decent supply while not erasing the whole forest for a single year of profit. Those traders with the correct knowledge will do very well in a barter economy.

Gasoline And Oil: This is a tough one, because its hard to predict how much petroleum the U.S. will be able to import or produce on its own during a collapse, and its very difficult to store for long periods of time. If you hear news that the wars in the Middle East have expanded even further, or that OPEC is decoupling from the dollar, you might want to run to the nearest station and fill as many storage cans as possible, along with a little bit of added ‘gas saver’ which helps keep it stable longer. Initially, people will be dueling to the death for gas and oil. I have little doubt. After the price hits $15, $30, $60 a gallon due to hyperinflation, and a little time passes, I think people will begin finding ways to live without it, or they will reduce its use to emergency tasks.
Desire for gas will always be there, especially in agricultural areas where one tractor could help sow the seeds that feed an entire town. But beyond storage, I would suggest learning ways to distill your own corn ethanol and alcohol based fuels. This is where the real barter potential is.

Silver And Gold: I placed precious metals in the middle of this list for a reason. Concerns in a collapse situation will be varied, and the manner in which a derailment progresses will also determine the order of needs in a barter community. In a Mad Max scenario where there is little to no community, or the construction of any semblance of economy is impossible; sure, gold and silver will not be very high on most people’s lists. Has this ever happened in recorded history? No. Gold and silver have remained common currencies for thousands of years despite any catastrophe. This is why I have to laugh at those people who undercut precious metals or claim that because you “can’t eat them” they will not be important. In Argentina, in the midst of complete meltdown and monetary chaos, when people were shooting each other in the streets for food on a daily basis, gold and silver became king, and still are.
Barter networks that have formed in Argentina love to trade for anything made out of gold or silver, because precious metals are the only tangible form of currency in existence there. Being able to trade goods is fantastic, but sometimes, you may not have what another person wants.Do you go out to find someone who does, trade with them, then, try to find the guy who turned you down? No. If you have any meaningful localized commerce in place, then you should also have a common medium of exchange, and precious metals are the only thing that safely fits the mold, because they cannot be artificially reproduced or fabricated. Their rarity and their longevity make them the perfect method of common trade. Even if the worst of the worst occurs, rebuilding will result in the immediate resurgence of trade, and the immediate need of a new currency. Gold and silver will come back, as it always has, and always will. Every potential barter network should be including gold, silver, and maybe copper, on its list of accepted alternative currencies, and the values of said metals should be weighed by the inherent supply and demand of the community. The “official” market value ( which is very manipulated) should only be used as a loose guide.

Firearms And Ammo: Another obvious one. The problem is, the selection of calibers is so varied within the U.S. that stocking anything that will be needed by everyone is very difficult. The only recourse is to stick with common military calibers, such as 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, .223, 7.62 by 39, 7.62 by 51 (.308), 12 gauge, .410, and 20 gauge shotgun shells, and the ever pervasive .22. Stocking these calibers will result in a much greater chance of trade.
I can think of no instance of societal disintegration that did not lead to horrible violence. In places where firearms are outlawed, the carnage is always much worse. Criminals easily get their hands on weapons, while law-abiding citizens are left defenseless. Governments take liberties with the people, while the populace cowers. Accounts of torture, rape, murder, and genocide, are abundant in the face of hard economic times. EVERYONE should be armed, and as reality sets in, even those who clamored to outlaw guns will be clamoring to get one.
Of course, laws today very strictly regulate our ability to barter firearms, but post collapse, no one will care much.
Ammo reloading will be a useful skill in light of the fact that homemade manufacture of ammo is very difficult. The nationwide ammo supply will dwindle very quickly, except for those pockets of people who smartly stockpile for trade.

Body Armor: That’s right. Any kind of body armor is as good as gold in a collapse environment.People in countries across the world wish they had it, and would trade almost anything for it.When you live in a place where a random gun shot (a minute by minute occurrence in many countries), from a criminal’s weapon, or more likely a police or military weapon, could bounce off the curb or through your car windshield, and into your chest, you begin to respect the necessity of Kevlar. The fact that body armor is relatively cheap and is easily obtained in the U.S. should be taken advantage of by barter networks. This advantage may not exist in a couple of years.

Tazers And Pepper Spray: Easy to purchase and stockpile here in America. Better than nothing when facing armed attackers. Disables without death (in most cases), and easier on the conscience. Trades well.

Various Tools: A garden hoe may be a novelty item to most suburbanites and city dwellers now, but soon, it will be a mainstay tool. If you have extra, they will come to you for barter. I’m not going to list every tool in existence here, but I suggest using common sense. What tools do you see being required for daily use? What would YOU need post collapse?

Pesticides: I’m big on organic food and healthy eating, but if my life is on the line, I’m spraying my crops down with whatever poison I can find. Unless you have years of experience with natural pest deterrence methods, then I suggest you do the same, especially in that first year of calamity. A hoard of locusts could annihilate your crop within a day given the chance, and should be dealt with using the most powerful means available.
Cockroach and rat poisons will also be huge sellers, guaranteed. Vermin thrive in unkempt human environments, whether in the country or the city, and with them comes disease.Diseases you thought had disappeared off the face of the Earth, like bubonic plague or small pox, will make a comeback in cities, where streets of death and sewage act like enormous Petri dishes (remember New Orleans after Katrina? Imagine if that had never been cleaned up).
Stock pesticides, even if they offend your environmental sensibilities. You’ll use them, trust me.And, people will trade whatever they can for them.

Warm Clothing: The world is awash in textiles and clothing. Using clothes as your primary means of trade is not necessarily the best plan. However, most of the clothes made around the world are very poor quality, and are not designed for harsh environments. Clothes made specifically for harsh cold or rough wear are harder to some by, and are often very expensive.This is where you would want to focus your investments.
Gortex, for instance, could give you incredible bartering potential. Wool socks are a rarity (how many people do you know with more than two pairs of wool socks?). Water resistant and water proof jackets and overcoats, boots, well made hiking shoes, and waterproofing chemicals and sprays will be needed within trade networks. The ability to make these items, or repair them, will also be valued.

Medicines: This is another difficult item to procure, mainly because doing so often gets you flagged as a possible drug dealer. Certain items aren’t too hard to come by and store, though, and could be life saving barter material in the future. Antibiotics are handed out like candy by doctors today, so storing any extra you have away for trade may be a good strategy. Painkillers are another medical miracle that doctors seem to sprinkle out of helicopters without a second thought. With the risk of injury increasing one hundred fold after a financial tsunami, I suspect even mere aspirin would put a smile on the face of any barter networker.
Eventually, natural medicines and herbs are going to have to move to the forefront, as industry medicines begin to disappear, or become so expensive they are unobtainable. Stocking such herbs and vitamins would be smart, for protecting oneself, not to mention, its savvy business sense.

Toiletries: Yes, yes, we all hear about how great toilet paper will be as a barter item, and how preppers plan to demand cows, trucks, and beach-front property, in return for packages of the silken quilty-soft huggable rolls of goodness. I don’t disagree that it will be highly desired at first. People don’t change their habits that quickly. But let’s face it; toilet paper is a luxury item in a post collapse environment, not a necessity. People are going to eventually go back to older methods of hygiene, like using strips of washable cloth. It might sound gross to us now, but hey, did you think we were going to start using poison ivy and pinecones?
Stock toilet paper, but don’t treat it as a priority. Focus more on cleaning items like soap, toothpaste, and bleach, as well as chemicals that cause human waste to quickly biodegrade.Staying clean is VERY important, because the alternative is catching a nasty bacterial infection that may kill you, when in more peaceful and comfortable times, it may have just given you slightly irritating intestinal distress. The rest of the country will come around to this way of thinking in short order, and many people will come to you for the cleaning goods you stockpiled.

Specialty Items: There are many circumstances that are hard to predict, circumstances that could severely affect barter markets and what items come into demand. For example; a nuclear event, as is in progress in Japan, could just as easily strike the U.S. There are 104 nuclear power plants in the U.S., not to mention the threat of a small nuclear attack (or false flag). The market for goods such as potassium iodide pills and Geiger counters would explode (potassium iodide suppliers were inundated with orders from around the world after Fukushima). How many people do you know with a Geiger counter? I’m one of the few I know with one, and I know preppers across the country! In the wake of a fallout situation, knowing what is contaminated with radiation and what isn’t, knowing if it’s even safe to go outside, is imperative. Having an extra Geiger counter could help you barter your way into any number of goods.
A biological event might bring medical grade particulate masks to the top of people’s lists, as well as disinfectants and even hazmat suits. It’s an ugly thing to imagine, but for those who plan to engage in independent trade, it’s a likelihood that must be considered.

Top Priority Skills
Provided below is a brief list of skills which have served people well in various economic downturns, and will do the same for you in this country. Keep in mind that almost any skill that other people cannot do well has potential for trade, but some skills are more sought after than others. In my research, it is those people who are able to produce their own goods as well as effectively repair existing goods that have the greatest potential for survival in a barter market. Next, are those people who have specific abilities that are difficult to learn and who have the knack for teaching those abilities to others. If you do not have any of these skills, or perhaps only one, then it would be wise to begin learning at least one more now. Keep in mind that competition will very much exist in a barter economy, so knowing as many skills as possible increases your chances of success:
Mechanic, Engine Repair
Welding
Blacksmithing
Firearms Repair, Ammo Reloading
Construction
Architect, Home Reinforcement
Agriculture, Farming Expertise, Seed Saving, Animal Care
Bee Keeping
Doctor, Medical Assistant
Veterinarian
Well Construction, Water Table Expertise
Engineer, Community Planning, Manufacturing, Electrical
Firearms Proficiency, Security, Self Defense Planning
Martial Arts Training
Wild Foods Expert
Hunting
Chemist
Sewing, Textiles
Soap Making, Candle Making, Hygiene Products
Small Appliance Repair
Electronics Repair
HAM Radio Expert
Homeschooling, Tutoring
Again, there are definitely many more trades of value that could be learned. This list is only to help you on your way to self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship in an Alternative Market. Unfortunately, too many Americans have absolutely no skills worth bartering in a post collapse world.

Bringing Back The American Tradesman
Barter networking is a powerful tool for countering the effects of depression, hyperinflation, stagflation, globalization, and beyond. But, networks require that participants actually have necessary goods and services to trade. In only half a century or less, American culture has been sterilized of nearly all its private trade skills. We have lost our desire to produce, and have been relegated to the dregs of a retail nightmare society dependent entirely on consumption and debt. This is going to change, one way, or another.
We can change on our own, or we can wait until fear and desperation force us to make hard choices. I would rather forgo the desperation and the painful fall into the gutter. It makes little sense.
The bottom line is, if you wish to survive after the destruction of the mainstream system that has babied us for so long, you must be able to either make a necessary product, repair a necessary product, or teach a necessary skill. A limited few have the capital required to stockpile enough barter goods or gold and silver to live indefinitely. The American Tradesman must return in full force, not only for the sake of self-preservation, but also for the sake of our heritage at large. Without strong, independent, and self-sufficient people, this country will cease to be.

E.  Trading during an emergency
Know what you need and what’s available: During a “trade-day” gathering, take time to walk around to see what goods others are offering and their relative abundance.  Never make an impulsive buy.  Have a list of what you need for your group and what you may want for future barter as essential goods become more and more scarce.  The longer a crisis lasts, the more people will be bartering for the essentials of life, like food, replacement clothing, salt and sugar, etc.  Consider looking for worn-out items for low-cost that you can restore by repairing (a specific skill) and then resell at a higher price later.
•  On-Display: Don’t keep more than one or two items of a particular kind in view.  Let people make the assumption that there is a very limited quantity.  After selling a “rare” item, you can evaluate whether or not to let the buyer know you have “a few more” for sale.  Having just a few of a kind items for barter may make your “store” look bare, so be prepared to display other things even if you don’t think they will sell.  People are psychologically drawn to seller areas that seem well stocked with all types of goods.
•  Buying: Absent a controlling government for a means of correcting fraud or redressing a trade that was misrepresented the phrase “buyer beware” is even more important. Be very sure you have evaluated and examined all the goods before you accept the trade.  The top layer of a barrel of apples may be fine, but what is the condition of the bottom layer?
•  Contracts:  For high value or large volume exchanges or for situations where goods are to be delivered or picked up, be sure to prepare a short contract that spells out exactly what each party will receive and for what and when. As a minimum, describe the goods, their amount and condition and delivery or pickup date. Never throw way these contracts as they will be the only evidence of ownership you have. Try to ensure buyer-seller goods are exchanged at the same time. Don’t pay for goods and receive only a promise to deliver later unless you know and fully trust the person with who you are doing business.
•  3rd Party Exchanges:  Be on the lookout to buy goods that you know someone else wants. Keep note of what others are looking for that they can’t find.  Being able to acquire these goods and then bartering them for more than you bought them will increase your “goods-wealth”.
•  Beware Bait & Switch:  Don’t assume the goods you receive from behind the curtain or from under the table will be the same quality of the goods you see on display.  Provide payment only after you have examined the exact specific goods you will receive. Check expiration dates on canned and other packaged perishable goods.  Check for wear and damage on all goods.
•  Selling: Consider giving a good initial deal. Give good initial barter value to a new trader and he will return.  It’s also a means to start a good will word of mouth campaign as well as build a positive reputation.
•  First & Last  Offer:  Let the buyer be first to set a price.  They may be willing to give more than you expected.  If you don’t like the price, tell them how scarce and necessary the item is.  This will psychologically reinforce the buyers initial interest in the item.  A poker face is helpful.  If you have to make a first offer, make it higher than what you expect you can get but not unreasonable higher.  A counter-offer will probably be made by the potential buyer.  Options:
Add more goods for a sweetener or remove some to meet the needs of the buyer.  When a potential buyer exhibits an “I can do without it” attitude, you need to decide if you can live with a lower offer or just need to let them walk away.  Never leave a bartering situation with less than you arrived.
o Evaluation of goods by buyers:  Be sure to mention any major faults with your trade goods.  Allow potential buyers to evaluate the minor obvious deficiencies on their own.  If a piece of equipment does not work, say so.  Of course there is no need to tell a buyer about all the rust that they can see for themselves.  A non-functional piece of equipment might be very valuable to someone who needs replacement parts.

F.  Security
Make sure you leave adequate security back home when your group goes to trade days or you may find it stripped to the bone when you get back.
•  Assess trade day area threats: Remember, this is a time of crisis and there are bad and desperate people about. If trade day organizers do not provide perimeter and walk-about security, you need to evaluate how many of your group needs to be at your trade area and how many should move about together during shopping tasks.
•  There may be a need for everyone in your group to be carrying a visible sidearm in a holster to discourage theft and assault. But don’t act as a perceived threat to others.  Be hyper-aware of activities and people around you.  Do not go off with someone alone so they can “show you something”.
•  After making a deal: Once a bargain is made, be sure to quickly close the deal by making the actual exchange.  Take your new purchases back to your group’s area and keep them undercover and under guard.  Trade days will attract thieves.
•  Prevent post-trade day theft: Be on guard for people loitering around your barter area.  They may be “casing the joint”.  Keep all your trade goods inside your roped off trade area and establish a “no goods” zone of more than an arm’s length inside your rope barrier. Don’t be chatty about where you live or the number of people or conditions at your living area. Don’t wear your best clothes to trade days.  Be clean and neat and polite. Strike a balance between appearing not too needy and not to well-off.
•  Make your defense visible: During travel to and from trade days is the time to let your firearms be seen.  Thieves and “highwaymen” will prey upon the least aware and least defended.
•  Beware “Security” services: There may emerge in your area, groups that have only muscle and weapons who offer security services for “guarding” homes and travelers to and from trade days.  These same people may also be engaged in shake-downs, extortion and other scheme of intimidation.

G.  Price gouging
Congress Tells FTC to Define Price Gouging
May 6, 2006,  Washington Post Staff Writer, By Steven Mufson
“In a recent blog entry, Edward Lotterman, an economist who writes a column for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, wrote that anyone trying to define price gouging should consider the following examples: “Paying $12 for two thin slices of cold greasy pizza and two small Cokes in an airport departure concourse; my neighbors selling a house for eight times what they had paid for it years ago; Twin Cities apartments renting for $150 more per month than a year ago; me charging $200 per hour as a consulting expert in a legal case when I get less than $50 per hour teaching at Metro State University.”
Traditionally, the FTC has played a key role in investigating price-fixing or manipulation, offenses that usually involve collusion between two or more players in a market who conspire to reduce competition so they can increase prices. There are many people who allege that major oil companies have engaged in such a plot by limiting output by oil refineries. Schmidt said the FTC was conducting “a very serious substantial investigation that is examining whether there has been unlawful gasoline price manipulation.”
But price gouging is something that usually involves one company or outlet taking advantage of temporary market conditions to charge an exorbitant price. As gasoline prices are going up by the day, many people think that’s what’s going on now.
In a competitive market, that wouldn’t be possible — at least not for long. Consumers would go to some other seller, demand for the price gouger would dry up and he would cut his prices.
Though the FTC has in the past avoided coming up with a definition for price gouging, many state governments and attorneys general have defined it. Usually the definitions are limited to pricing actions taken during emergencies or catastrophes, such as hurricanes. In Florida, the attorney general’s Web site explains that Florida law “compares the price of the commodity or service to the average price charged over the 30-day period prior to the declared state of emergency. If there is a ‘gross disparity’ between the prior price and the current charge then it is price gouging.”
But what’s a “gross disparity”? “Gross disparity would be determined by a jury of Floridians,” said Charlie Crist, Florida attorney general and a Republican candidate for governor. “I don’t think it would be too hard to give it some significant definition in the mind of a juror who would probably be very upset with someone trying to take advantage of a catastrophe.”

Exactly, what is price gouging?
Price gouging statutes seek to stem opportunistic behavior, which is designed to take advantage of an unforeseen opportunity to charge a monopoly price by threatening to withhold output. It is often defined as a 10 to 25 percent increase over prices during the month before an emergency. One state defines “unconscionable price” as an amount charged, which either represents a “gross disparity” or “grossly exceeds” the average price available for these items and services in the same area 30 days immediately before a declaration of a state of emergency.
The term is similar to profiteering but can be distinguished by being short-term and localized, and by a restriction to essentials such as food, clothing, shelter, medicine and equipment needed to preserve life, limb and property. In jurisdictions where there is no such crime, the term may still be used to pressure firms to refrain from such behavior.
The term is not in widespread use in mainstream economic theory, but is sometimes used to refer to practices of a coercive monopoly which raises prices above the market rate that would otherwise prevail in a competitive environment. Alternatively, it may refer to suppliers’ benefiting to excess from a short-term change in the demand curve.
In the United States, laws against price gouging have been held constitutional as a valid exercise of the police power to preserve order during an emergency, and may be combined with anti-hoarding measures. Exceptions are prescribed for price increases that can be justified in terms of increased cost of supply, transportation or storage.
As a criminal offense, Florida’s law is reasonably typical. Price gouging may be charged when a supplier of essential goods or services sharply raises the prices asked in anticipation of or during a civil emergency, or when it cancels or dishonors contracts in order to take advantage of an increase in prices related to such an emergency. The model case is a retailer who increases the price of existing stocks of milk and bread when a hurricane is imminent. It is a defense to show that the price increase mostly reflects increased costs, such as running an emergency generator, or hazard pay for workers.

The true value of higher prices during an emergency
•  A thought experiment: A massive pipe ruptures, tap water grows undrinkable, and consumers rush to buy bottled water from the only two vendors who sell it. Vendor A, not wanting to annoy the governor and attorney general, leaves the price of his water unchanged at 69 cents a bottle. Vendor B, who is more interested in doing business than truckling to politicians, more than quadruples his price to $2.99.
•  You don’t need an economics textbook to know what happens next.
•  Customers descend on Vendor A in droves, loading up on his 69-cent water. Within hours his entire stock has been cleaned out, and subsequent customers are turned away empty-handed. At Vendor B’s, on the other hand, sales of water are slower and there is a lot of grumbling about the high price. But even late-arriving customers are able to buy the water they need — and almost no one buys more than he truly needs.
•  When demand intensifies, prices rise. And as prices rise, suppliers work harder to meet demand. The same Globe story that reported yesterday on Coakley’s “price-gouging’’ statement reported as well on the lengths to which bottlers and retailers were going to get more water into customers’ hands. From <http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2010/05/04/whats_wrong_with_price_gouging/>

Signal value of rising prices during an emergency
•  Water 60c/bottle rises to 2.99/bottle. (400%)
•  Typical 10-30KW Generator rent rises for $45/day to $85/day in winter power outage. (88%)
•  Generators sales price climb from $500 to $900 in wake of Hurricane. (80%)
•  Sheets of plywood rise from $18 to $60 with the approach of a hurricane. (233%)

Rising prices don’t just serve as a rationing mechanism, they also serve as a signaling mechanism.  Rising prices for generators in Dade County send a signal that Dade County needs generators – and that there’s a hefty profit to be made in getting them there.  The $900 price tag thus serves as a signal for people to buy generators for $500 in North Carolina and bring them to where they’re needed.  As more people do this, the supply of generators in Florida moves closer to demand, the price of those generators moves down, and a new equilibrium is approximated.  The lesson: price gouging is not just a static event, it’s part of a larger dynamic market process.
When a hurricane is coming, all the plywood will still be sold, but for more. It isn’t really “above the market” however, because markets change, and the “market price” is naturally higher when demand increases, as it does before a storm. But all that plywood will still be sold in any case, and will be covering windows and protecting houses somewhere.
What the higher price does, though, is more than just put more money in the retailer’s account. It does something else that benefits us all. Higher prices allocate the plywood to better uses.

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F.   Stockpiling vs hoarding
Hoarding vs. Stocking Up, by Deborah in the UP,
Pasted from: http://survivalweekly.com/?page_id=784
When the pioneers began their trek west, they took with them, supplies, food, clothing, animals.. All the things they felt they would need to make the journey. When they got where they felt was far enough, they stopped and set up shop. This was likely somewhere near a town, but not like we know it today. If they were 30 miles from town, (a trip that would take us 30 minutes) it would take them 2-3 days to get there, and the same getting back. Obviously, that trip wasn’t made very often, and certainly not for a loaf of bread or a quart of milk. That milk was gotten from the cow or goat, and bread was baked, from scratch, most often from a sourdough starter.
A food source was THE most important item on the schedule. Land needed to be cleared for a family garden and pasture fenced for the animals. That garden was all important, and meant life or death to the family. The woman’s role was very important for the homestead. While the man/husband/father toiled with the land, kept track of the animals and kept the family safe, a difficult job to say the least, the woman/wife/mother was expected to provide meals, the life sustaining essence. Where did those meals come from? The garden of course! And while the summer may have been bountiful, the winter could be very lean.. if the family/woman didn’t PREPARE. It was expected of the female to can (a different and difficult process back then), preserve, dry, smoke, salt, whatever process fit the food, just so it could be eaten during the time of lean. There needed to be a winter food source for the farm animals too.. or they would die.. The husband/father was the hunter, and the sons as they grew, but the kill needed to be extended as long as possible, by preserving the meat for later consumption. All of this needed to be done to get the family from one growing season to the next. A year. This was standard! This was normal! This is the way things were!
Granted, those trips to town were rare, but they were necessary for certain items: sugar, salt, bolts of cloth for clothing, maybe even new shoes for a growing child. Necessary too to bring barter items in, for exchange. Many times families did without, that was the way of life… but they made do! As long as they were fed, their world would go on. Having a good, healthy pantry full of food, was normal, desired, strived for, admired.
What has changed?

Today, if someone had a year’s worth of food, to get them from one growing season to the next, … they would be called crazy, hoarders, fringe… looked down upon, feared, ridiculed. … survivalists!! Today, those 30 mile trips to town are often made daily!
What has changed? Society perception.

Today, it isn’t the family garden that provides a secure food source, it’s the local grocery store! How dare we question the availability of the next shipment! Therefore we should all have only a week of food on hand… why? Otherwise we would be Hoarders!
From Wikipedia: Hoarding as a human behavior falls in to two main categories. One type of hoarding is triggered as a response to perceived or predicted shortages of specific goods. Hoarding behavior may be a common response to fear, whether fear of imminent society-wide danger or simple fear of a shortage of some good. Civil unrest or natural disaster may lead people to collect foodstuffs, water, gasoline, and other essentials which they believe, rightly or wrongly, will soon be in short supply.
Unlike hoarding immediately before or in the wake of a crisis, hoarding a resource while its supply is abundant can actually alleviate future shortages because those who stockpile in this manner will not contribute to future demand when supplies are reduced.
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G.  Anti hoarding laws are vague and simple to implement
Pasted from: http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=122032.0
•  State Legislation’s Role in Anti-Hoarding
Most states have chosen to enact their own anti-hoarding laws. That means some states may not have such laws, others do and not all are uniform. However, uniformity of state law is something governors are striving for under the Interstate Compact Agreement. The Compact Agreements, much like Executive Orders for the president, really don’t require voters’ input. They are law if the legislature doesn’t object, much like Congress that has 30 days to object to an EO before it becomes law.
At times of “declared emergencies”, each governor cedes (gives over) authority of his/her state to the federal government. When a governor declares it for his state, he becomes the delegated representative of the federal government according to an Interstate Compact Agreement.
Bottom line, even though federal legislation does not directly address anti-hoarding, goods can be seized if national circumstances are felt to warrant it whether or not amounts stored are deemed excessive in your state’s eyes.

•  Hawaii As A Specific Example of Anti-Hoarding
For Hawaii, this information will be found in Title 10 under “Public Safety”. It is located after legislation on militias, state guard troops, etc. Then you find the jewel… In Hawaii you are considered a “hoarder” if you have more than one week’s provisions on hand BUT you have to dig to uncover this information. Here is a specific example:

“HAWAII REVISED STATUTES REVISED 1997, Title 10:
(1) Prevention of *hoarding, waste, etc. To the extent necessary to prevent hoarding, waste, or destruction of materials, supplies, commodities, accommodations, facilities, and services, to effectuate equitable distribution thereof, or to establish priorities therein as the public welfare may require, to investigate, and any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, to regulate or prohibit, by means of licensing, rationing, or otherwise, the storage, transportation, use, possession, maintenance, furnishing, sale, or distribution thereof, and any business or any transaction related thereto.”
In the actual Title document for Hawaii, you will not find the specifics for what length of time constitutes “hoarding” nor an amount. Instead, you must look at the committee notes which describes it as the opinion that one week’s supplies per person is considered adequate food provisions. It is not spelled out what those provisions shall consist of or how much is considered “adequate” until you get to the committee notes.
You will probably have to “dig” for the committee notes as well. Lynn Shaffer, our legislative interpreter, explains committee notes this way. “When the legislature agrees that a law or statute is needed to effect certain governmental goals to prohibit or encourage civilians to respond in a particular way, that statute has attached to it (you will see it printed in the law books) what is called “committee notes.” The courts, when making a determination of how the statute is to be interpreted and applied to the case before it, looks to “legislative intent” or what was recorded in the committee’s notes when the bill was meandering its way through the legislative process.”

•  OK, so If I ‘hoard’, then what?
Again using Hawaii’s Titles as an example, any items in excess of what legislation has deemed appropriate to store (in Hawaii’s case any amount over 1 week) is subject to forfeiture and may be confiscated, ordered destroyed or may be redistributed for public use. See exact text below:
“128-28 Forfeitures. The forfeiture of any property unlawfully possessed, pursuant to paragraph (2) of section 128-8, may be adjudged upon conviction of the offender found to be unlawfully in possession of the same, where no person other than the offender is entitled to notice and hearing with respect to the forfeiture, or the forfeiture may be enforced by an appropriate civil proceeding brought in the name of the State. The district courts and circuit courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction of the civil proceedings. Any property forfeited as provided in this section may be ordered destroyed, or may be ordered delivered for public use to such agency as shall be designated by the governor or the governor’s representative, or may be ordered sold, wholly or partially, for the account of the State. [L 1951, c 268, pt of 2; RL 1955, 359-25; HRS 128- 28; am imp L 1984, c 90, 1]”
http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=122032.0

•  Where do Anti-Hoarding Laws come in?
These ideas of anti-hoarding legislation may have stemmed from two areas of confusion:
First is from Executive Orders in place dating back to 1939 which Clinton has grouped together under one order, EO #12919 released on June 6, 1994. The following EOs all fall under EO#12919:
10995–Federal seizure of all communications media in the US;
10997–Federal seizure of all-electric power, fuels, minerals, public and private;
10998–Federal seizure of all food supplies and resources, public and private and all farms and equipment;
10999–Federal seizure of all means of transportation, including cars, trucks, or vehicles of any kind and total control over all highways, seaports and water ways;
11000–Federal seizure of American people for work forces under federal supervision, including the splitting up of families if the government so desires;
11001–Federal seizure of all health, education and welfare facilities, both public and private;
11002–Empowers the Postmaster General to register every single person in the US
11003–Federal seizure of all airports and aircraft;
11004–Federal seizure of all housing and finances and authority to establish forced relocation. Authority to designate areas to be abandoned as “unsafe,” establish new locations for populations, relocate communities, build new housing with public funds;
11005–Seizure of all railroads, inland waterways and storage facilities, both public and private;
11051–Provides FEMA complete authorization to put above orders into effect in times of increased international tension of economic or financial crisis (FEMA will be in control in case of “National Emergency”).
(http://www.millennium-ark.net/News_Files/Exec.Orders/EOs.html)

What has changed? The world has changed. Where once it was expected for a family to provide for itself, now, if they do, it could be taken from them, legally…to provide for those who did not.

Public attitude regarding stockpiling vs hoarding
•  It’s not hoarding! Hoarding is taking more than your share when resources are scarce. In times of plenty, we STOCKPILE to minimize our need for resources when they ARE scarce… Remember – stockpile good, hoarding bad!
•  I agree with the term “stockpile” not hoarding.
•  We survivalists aren’t hoarding, we’re just food collectors. Myself I collect hard red winter wheat……… and a little bit of cocoa powder as well LOL
•  Hoarding is a word with big time negative connotations. Purchasing all the wheat in town during SHTF and charging 3x what you paid (if selling at all) would be hoarding but going to the local big box tomorrow and getting a hundred points of rice would not be hoarding.
•  Stockpiling the basics for your own use is “hoarding”, stockpiling so you can make absurd profits is known as “price gouging”, which is illegal in some states after the TSHTF has happened. In a TEOTWAWKI, price gouging could very well be punishable by facing a firing squad.
•  If I save all my money and put it in the bank is that hoarding or being frugal with my resources? If I invest in things that turn a profit down the road i.e. food stuffs, or commodities, wouldn’t that be considered a wise investment? Perception is always the determining factor.

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Filed under __2. Social Issues

Lessons from the Great Depression & modern Prepper terminology

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Lessons from the Great Depression & Modern prepper terminology)

A. The Most Often Forgotten Survival Preparations
31 July 2012, SHTFplan.com, by Brandon Smith
http://www.shtfplan.com/emergency-preparedness/the-most-often-forgotten-survival-preparations_07312012
depression1

I think it’s safe to say with some conviction that in the year of 2012 the concept of survival prepping is NOT an alien one to most Americans. When National Geographic decides there is a viable market for a prepper TV show (no matter how misrepresentative of true preppers it may be), when Walmart starts stocking shelves with long term emergency food storage kits, when survivalism in general becomes one of the few growing business markets in the midst of an otherwise disintegrating economy; you know that the methodology has gone “mainstream”. There is a noticeable and expanding concern amongst Americans that we are, indeed, on the verge of something new and unfortunate.

Is it the big bad hoodoo of the soon to expire Mayan Calendar? For a few, maybe, but for the majority of us, no. That jazz is a carnival sideshow designed to make the prepping culture appear ridiculous. We don’t need to believe in magical prophecies to know that there is a catastrophic road ahead; all we have to do is look at the stark realities of our current circumstances. It does not take much awareness anymore to notice looming fiscal volatility, social unrest, the potential for unrestrained war, and the totalitarian boldness of our government. I’ll take the wrath of Quetzalcoatl any day over the manure storm that is approaching us currently.

With some estimating a count of 3 million prepper families and growing in the U.S., the motto of “beans, bullets, and band-aids” is finding a home amongst legions. However, being closely involved in the survivalist movement during the past six years and speaking with literally thousands of preppers, it has become clear to me that we still have a long journey ahead of us before we can claim true efficiency and mastery.

Sadly, having a stockpile of food, weapons, and some slick tactical gear is not enough to ensure a high likelihood of survival, at least not in any of the social collapses that have occurred in the past century around the world. It’s a start, but only just…

There are a number of detrimental weakness to the survivalist movement and considerable holes in prepper knowledge that must be addressed now while we have the time and relative safety to do so. The greatest threat to the common survivalist is not economic collapse, roving bandits, Blackwater mercenaries, or predator drones; those dangers are a piece of cake compared to the threat of an overblown ego, which will get a man killed faster than the most sophisticated smart bomb. If we cannot accept that there is always more to learn, and room to improve, we have been defeated before we have begun.

The following is just a short list of the many areas in which there is obvious and acute inadequacy in the movement overall…

Secondary Retreat Locations
Never put all your eggs in one basket. I hear a lot of tough talk from some survivalists who claim they would rather die than leave their property. Of course, I suspect they will see the error in this brand of bravado when the legitimate chance of death actually arises. There is no harm whatsoever in having a backup plan. I’m not sure any survivalist who doesn’t is really a survivalist. Stand your ground when necessary, but don’t let pure pride and stupidity prevent you from living to fight again another day.

Physical Fitness And Health
You may be the Tom Berenger-like master sniper of your particular county, but if you can’t run a hundred yards with your rifle rig without going into coronary thrombosis, then you aren’t going to live long during a collapse scenario. Even those preppers who have age as an excuse…don’t really have an excuse. I personally know survivalists and homesteaders in their 60’s and 70’s who could physically outmatch numerous other preppers of the same age or younger without much effort. The difference? They make a concerted effort to take care of their health.

Sometimes certain wise-cracks made by the insipid yuppies of our modern era against suvivalists are true, and we should take serious note when this occurs. The primary insult being that many of us are far too fat to outrun or outfight a paper sack, let alone a determined opponent. I have, to be honest, seen chest beating antics from more than a few clinically obese “preppers” that were truly embarrassing. On the bright side, this does not have to be a permanent hindrance to our success.

The solution is simple: Eat less. Eat healthier. Exercise more.

A person who has attained a high level of physical fitness has done more than prove his prowess. He has also proven he has the will and the passion to pursue a directed goal and achieve it, regardless of difficulty. This is where the adults are separated from the children in this world. Are you willing to endure extreme difficulty to win something of legitimate value? Do you have the self discipline to forgo certain luxuries and comforts to gain long term advantages? Or, would you rather take the path of least resistance and certain doom? Personal health is no joke for the survivalist.

Community Building And Networking
Organization is not the strongest suit of the survivalist movement for a number of reasons. The first being that our paranoia completely impedes our ability to work with others. Now, to be clear, it is not paranoia if they are really out to get you, and with multiple leaked documents like the MIAC Report, the Virginia Fusion Center Report, and the DHS reports on “right wing extremism”, it is not as if our concerns are unfounded. However, the movement needs to realize that the primary object of labeling us as “extremists” and categorizing us as potential threats to national security is to create crippling fear. Their main goal is to condition preppers to censor themselves, and to stifle their own organizational efforts.

Solid community, even open formation of community, is necessary for countless reasons. The more we isolate ourselves from one another now, the more alone and vulnerable we will be tomorrow. Calls for “OPSEC” should be embraced to a point, but they can also become an excuse for laziness and inaction. No prepper who goes it alone during crisis is going to come out unscathed, if they come out alive at all. This is the great forgotten lesson of survival, from the Depression and Weimar Germany, to Argentina and Bosnia; those persons and families who were isolated simply did not make it. The wide spectrum of skill sets and supplies needed to establish a survival foundation are far too many for any single prepper to attain.

The logical fallacy that usually prevents survival networking is the argument that if you are a bigger group, you are a bigger target. This thinking shows a lack of prioritization. During a social or economic collapse, EVERYONE is a target. National chaos does not make distinctions between those who never shared their survivalist tendencies and those who did. The DHS might, but they are not the biggest threat to the common prepper. The most dangerous environment for the prepper, no matter what the circumstances may be, is one in which he has no support.

If you do not have ample neighbors and friends on board with the prepper lifestyle, and who can be counted on in an emergency, then you are not ready, nor are your chances very good. Period.

Barter Markets And Trade Skills
At Alt-Market we relentlessly promote the idea of decentralized trade markets because, to be frank, they are going to spring up one day soon whether the IRS, the DOJ, or the Federal Reserve likes it or not. The crisis in the EU has proven my position on the inevitability of the barter dynamic conclusively. These private trade networks are becoming the new foundation for countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain, and it should be noted that the financial instabilities in America far outweigh any of the problem in those places. If we know that economic danger is on the horizon, and we know that barter markets will be the immediate result, then why not build them now, instead of waiting and scrambling after disaster strikes?

Any survivalist that does not know who he will be trading for essential supplies, and who does not know what skills he will use to garner those supplies, is in for a world of hurt.

Overlooked But Vital Items
There is a saying in the survival movement: You’re never done prepping. I absolutely agree. Unless you are a millionaire with a highly organized brain, there will always be some other piece of equipment that you’ll discover you need down the line. That said, there are some things every prepper should have, but many, from my observations, do not. I have also heard every excuse imaginable and some unimaginable when such people are presented with the recommendation that they obtain these items, lack of money being the usual suspect.

Yes, many of us are broke, or feel broke, these days Invariably, though, when most survivalists examine their financial situation carefully, they will discover a host of peripheral expenses that are unnecessary or outright extravagant. I once had a would-be survivalist make the argument that he could not afford a year’s supply of food, then admit that he had just went on a Carnival Cruise to the Caribbean. This is an extreme example, but it illustrates a common hang up. Now is not the time for people to live beyond their means, or to shrug off their preps so that they can have a new La-Z-Boy, cable TV, an internet gaming account, a high priced vacation, a six day a week stockpile of beer (hey, cut back a day, guys! Try it out and see how it fits) etc. Times are changing, and they will definitely change without us if we are not careful.

There is always a way to get the preps you need, if you are motivated enough to make it happen. Here are a few items that seem to escape from people’s lists:

Extra Survival Clothing:
Clothing is a real pain for a lot of survivalists because it is one prep that they must absolutely purchase doubles and triples of. Good durable shoes, pants, even socks, can get expensive. Base layer clothing like Smart Wool sometimes costs in the range of $100 or more for a single set. Take the pain, bite the bullet, and get the absolute best clothing you can find in multiples. It may have to last you quite a long time without replacement, especially the artificial fabrics. Imagine having to wear the same vapor producing sweat drenched crusty duds day in and day out while sharing a retreat location with some less than amused buddies. They may end up coming after you before the looters do.

Body Armor:
This stuff is going to be at a premium in the near future. I have already seen price spikes in good body armor in the days after the Aurora Theater shootings. Why? Because the fear is that the establishment will move to try to ban said gear in response, causing a rush to purchase. That fear is not misplaced. Plus, I would imagine a bullet to the gut, whether accidental or intentional, is not an event to celebrate with a rootbeer float. Believe it or not, body armor rigs that include rifle plates are extremely sparse amongst preppers right now, and this simply can’t continue.

Gas Masks And Filters:
Not long ago I wrote about the revolutions and rebellions that took place in Russia after the formation of the Soviet Union against the abuses of communism. At that time, the more successful the rebellion, the more apt the Soviets were to dump chemical weapons over entire towns, mountains, and valleys, to erase the problem. Never expect that a tyrannical government is going to fight fair. In fact, expect that they won’t. Even if you don’t foresee such an event taking place in the U.S., it is imperative that every person owns not just a gas mask, but extra filters as well. Plan on dealing with multiple incidences in which your air will be unsafe to breath.

NBC Alert Items:
How many preppers do you know with a Geiger Counter? I know three, out of the hundreds I speak with regularly. This is not a good sign. If the Fukushima disaster has taught us anything, it is that radiological threats are not just relegated to the realm of nuclear bombs. Every community should have several Geiger Counter devices handy, along with chemical warfare strips which change color when exposed to an offending airborne agent. Remember the panic buying that ensued in Japan for these kinds of goods after the reactor meltdown? Don’t overlook radioactivity. Knowing what has been hit by concentrated fallout and what hasn’t is a tremendous advantage.

Thermal Countermeasures:
A box of road flares, IR flashlights, and IR floodlights, should be in every survivalists home. With the advent of predator drones armed with night vision and thermal vision, as well as numerous other nasty weapons platforms, the need for countermeasures that create false thermal signatures to confuse an attacker with this kind of technology is a must.

Extra First Aid Supplies:
During a collapse, you become the hospital, and no amount of Obamacare is going to help you. Almost every prepper has a first aid kit, but few have one that will really last through a prolonged crisis. Collapse brings with it all kinds of injuries and sicknesses we never think of facing in our current atmosphere, with more frequency than I believe many would like to admit possible. A sterile bandage may be as sought after and as rare as a warm shower in the near future, so stock an ample supply.

Solar Panels:
I am astonished at how many preppers still do not have any solar power capability today. It’s FREE off grid power, for god’s sake! Pay the initial costs, and at least buy a system that is capable of charging and running batteries and essential electronics that will aid you in your survival.

Greenhouse:
When discussing the idea of relocation, I sometimes hear the assertion that places like Montana are terrible for growing food (usually from people who have never lived in Montana). In fact, a survival garden could be grown almost anywhere, regardless of region or climate, if you use the right methods. One of the best methods is the use of a greenhouse, which many preppers do not have. Set aside your preconceptions of what gardening is, and do what works. Even in winter, some plants can be grown in a greenhouse environment to provide you and your family with precious vitamin rich food. Just build it.

Raw Building Materials:
Do you have a stockpile of lumber and nails? What about raw iron and steel? Sealants to repel pests and maintain your home? Bags of concrete to reinforce a new addition? Think about how much you will need to build after the final shoe drops. Probably a lot more than you have ever built in your life…

No Room For Error
Time is running short, and if we are to succeed as a movement, we must be ready to hold a candle to ourselves, admit where we are lacking, and fix the problem while we have the luxury to do so. Ultimately, the most important and most ignored aspect of prepping is our own mindset. Do we have the correct sense of urgency, and are we acting on it? Have we prepared ourselves psychologically for the difficulties ahead? Are we ready to make sacrifices for survival and victory? Will we have what it takes at our core to see this thing through? At this very moment, many do not. But, they have the potential to rise to the occasion. The decision is theirs to make…

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B. Prepper Lessons from the Great Depression
Why it’s so important to create a deep larder
This article by HappyPreppers.com
Pasted from: http://www.happypreppers.com/Depression.html

Preppers are optimistic for the best of times, and yet they know that our fragile society can quickly cause the worst of times as with the Great Depression in the decade following October 1929. What lessons can preppers learn to prepare for the next economic collapse? The Great Depression certainly caused an economic collapse; however people did not starve during the Great Depression! There was never an interruption with the food supply other in that people changed their eating habits. They did more with less. They ate all the food on their plate. They also grew their own food and raised animals. Some accepted the charity support of penny restaurants in which patrons paid a small portion of the actual food costs.

What are the prepper lessons?
Here is a summary of lessons from the Great Depression:

1.  Most people did with less. Food was actually ample during the Great Depression. While times were tough, most people just made do with lesser quality foods, such as lower quality meats. Soups and stews made up most of the meals, because it could stretch! Casseroles stretched the budget, too. As an example of brands that thrived during the Great Depression:

  • Crisco was a less expensive option to butter.
  • Oscar Meyer Weiners replaced finer sausages.
  • Maxwell House Sanka coffee replaced more expensive whole bean coffees.
  • Heinz Ketchup was used as the base for a simple tomato soup.
  • Underwood Deviled Ham substituted fresh lunch meat.
  • Carnation evaporated milk substituted fresh milk.

    depression foods

 2.  People grew their own food. The exception being the dust bowl states (Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and parts of Texas). This was 100,000,000 acres of land barren, which forced farm families to flee, mostly from Oklahoma. While today, big farms and machines work the fields, back in the day, a farmer fed an average of eight families with his crops. People got by also got by with food grown in their own gardens and they canned foods for the Winter. While the economy collapsed, the food on the farms were for the most part unaffected.

3. Penny restaurants fed the proud. Penny restaurants popped up as a way to feed unemployed families who were too proud to accept charity. People paid pennies for meals that were subsidized by charitable organizations.

4. Soup kitchens fed the rest. Soup kitchens fed many people, the way charitable organizations and food banks feed people today. Chefs could make soup with whatever was available, including produce grown in charity gardens. Soup was a convenient, one pot meal that could be served with bread. Plus, it was easier to clean up than other more elaborate meals.Happy Preppers don’t rely on the public food supply. They know panic buying can strip store shelves in a few short hours. Anyone who lived through Hurricane Katrina can attest to this. But why is this so? The culprit is just-in-time inventory: a cost effective management practice established in the 1970s borrowed from the Japanese. In concept, just-in-time inventory saves on warehouse space and other expenses, and it generally provides less risk and less capital, but requires more infrastructure. Mind you this is a corporate benefit; it actually puts the general public at risk!

What’s different about the food supply today?
Happy Preppers don’t rely on the public food supply. They know panic buying can strip store shelves in a few short hours. Anyone who lived through Hurricane Katrina can attest to this. But why is this so? The culprit is just-in-time inventory: a cost effective management practice established in the 1970s borrowed from the Japanese. In concept, just-in-time inventory saves on warehouse space and other expenses, and it generally provides less risk and less capital, but requires more infrastructure. Mind you this is a corporate benefit; it actually puts the general public at risk!

Why is just in time inventory dangerous?
In the good old days, grocery stores stocked back rooms with inventory of canned and dry goods, and they replenished the shelves as needed from this stock. In other words, there was more food in the back. That was back in the day.. Unfortunately, supermarkets today have virtually no back room warehouse. Managers order twice weekly. Merchandise comes off the pallet and directly onto store shelves, quickly and efficiently. What you see is what you get.   Trucks may be unable to deliver food for many reasons:

•  Natural causes. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes always create local food shortages, albeit temporary. Droughts and dust-bowl storms of the 1930s contributed to the Great Depression and disrupted the food supply.
•  Economic Collapse. In a hyper inflation scenario, gas might be too cost prohibitive to distribute foods.’
•  Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). In an Electro Magnetic Pulse or nuclear catastrophe, vehicles will be unable to start as the electrical components would be fried.
•  Rationing. The government could halt production for any number of reasons, including issuing wartime rations, or to ration gas.
•  Pandemic. In a pandemic situation, truck drivers and the people who stock the shelves may not want to risk their lives getting exposed. Or worse yet, they may be dead and unable to continue.

The list could go on. All you need to know is that it’s wise to create a deep larder of food in case the food distribution chain suffers a disruption.

Planning food supplies for a catastrophe, not just a disaster Preppers know the difference between a disaster and a catastrophe. It’s not a matter of semantics, because there is a fundamental and important difference, which will affect the food supply strategy of a Prepper.

You see, a disaster is a local occurrence, such as a hurricane or an earthquake, which affects a region. Disasters have the support of various agencies that come in to mobilize and support victims.
A catastrophe is a much grander problem by scale. Most notably, a catastrophe is outside the scope of ability for government to mitigate and charitable organizations to respond. In a true catastrophe, it’s every man, woman and child for himself.
In short, planning for a disaster means having food supplies that will last a couple of weeks; while planning for a catastrophe means food and supplies should last a year or more. Newbies should first plan for a disaster and then move towards being as prepared as possible for a catastrophic event. Happy Preppers have a vast knowledge of long term food storage, considering their stockpiling a sort of self funded and secured food insurance plan.

Happy Preppers are not panic shoppers;  they actively plan food needs for a catastrophic event ensuring adequate supplies at a fair price. They start with their short term food storage needs (mostly foods that are shelf stable including an excess of canned foods that people normally stock in their pantry. Then they have a second storage system filled with freeze dried foods for their long term needs, including foods in #10 cans, dehydrated foods, buckets of foods packed in gamma lids. Extreme Prepper’s plan for self sustenance by farming food at home and foraging for food.

Weird facts about the Great Depression…
1.  Women Preppers: take a lesson from the Great Depression. After the collapse of the economy, families began splitting up. Nearly 1.5 million husbands of the Great Depression left their families leaving the women and children to fend for themselves!
2.  What did people miss most during the Great Depression? As one Prepper’s grandmother put it… “nails, garden seeds, wire, string, sewing supplies, clothes pins, bleach, disinfectant, and vanilla.” What will you add to the list? Take one day to write down everything you use from your toothbrush to a pencil to ear swabs or chocolate. What will you miss the most? That’s the stuff you should hoard too.
3.  What did people eat During the Great Depression?
Meals during the great depression included:

Foods the debuted during Great Depression, include:
_ Bisquick
_ Good Humor ice cream bars
_ Kraft macaroni and cheese
_ Krispy Kreme doughnuts
_ Kool-Aid
_ Toll House chocolate chips
_ Ritz Crackers
_ Spam 

Even though food was ample, after the Depression, many people began conserving and stockpiling food and money for times of uncertainty. Sugar was a premium item!
Preppers today take comfort in stockpiling food and water, the way the people did just after the Great Depression, taking lessons from the past.

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C. Prepping Terms and Acronyms You Should Know
SurvivalistPrepper, by Dale
Pasted from: http://survivalistprepper.net/prepping-terms-acronyms-know/

Ok, here’s the situation:

“It’s TEOTWAWKI and the SHTF because of a HEMP which caused an OTGE. So you call your EOTWBFL and tell them “Grab you BOB and put it in your BOV we need to GOOD and get to our BOL! And get over here ASAP before the golden horde gets to your front door and your SOL. And don’t forget to BYOW and MRS’s because if not YOYO”

Did you get all that?

There are quite a few prepping terms and acronyms you should know and that we see all the time, not to mention all the OMG’s and LOL’s we have to learn these days if we want to understand our teenagers. It seems like everywhere you go you and read an article you see the basic SHTF, BOB’s and EMP’s but but it seems like I come across something new all the time and say “what is that!?” Like EOWBFL… Not sure what that is? keep reading.

Some people hate these acronyms and some people use these acronyms all the time, regardless of where you stand the more you read, the more you will see these.

Now I’m not going to go through every acronym and term you will hear because honestly I can’t think of them all right now. But I am going to go over some of the terms you are most likely to hear as you begin to educate yourself about preparedness.

I also have a PDF at the end f this post for you to download that has a complete list. But keep in mind, I did my best putting together this list, and I’m sure there are more out there, and I’m sure there are even some that I haven’t heard of.

So let’s dive into this list so hopefully when you are reading an article you don’t have to stop and look up what TEOTWAWKI.

TEOTWAWKI is an acronym for the end of the world as we know it. This doesn’t necessarily mean doomsday or Armageddon it’s something that would not kill us, but change the way we need to live our lives. For kids TEOTWAWKI could be losing their cell phones, and unfortunately this could be the same for some adults.

When I think of TEOTWAWKI I think of having to survive without power, water, heat stuff like that.

TEOTWAWKI is synonymous with SHTF (Sh*t Hits the Fan) or WTSHTF (When the Sh*t Hits the Fan) and if you don’t prepare you might need to GOOD – (Get out Of Dodge) or you could be SOL – Sh*t out of luck.

A few others will see are BOB, BIB, BOV and BOL these all involve Bugging Out.
You have a BOB which is a bug out bag
You have a BIB which is a bug in bag
You have a BOV which is a bug out vehicle
And a BOL which is a bug out location.

Why would you need to bug out? Good question. If you live in an urban area you are more likely to be surrounded by the GOLDEN HOARD which is basically swarms of people that are flipping out and want what you have and coming towards a town near you. The GOLDEN HORDE is made up of the POLLYANNA or SHEEPLE, these people blindly follow the masses and are in denial about world events

Or it could be because of an economic collapse that causes FIAT CURRENCY to become worthless and you need to own some JUNK SILVER (1964 or earlier silver coins)

An EMP (electromagnetic pulse) could also cause an economic collapse because it would cause a GDE (Grid Down Event) or an OTGE (Off the Grid Event) An EMP could be caused by a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) from the sun or a CARRINGTON EVENT (caused by a large Coronal Mass Ejection)  or even a HEMP (High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse) because an unfriendly neighbor launched a missile at us.

But don’t worry, if you have a FARADAY CAGE (Used to shield electronics from an EMP) your iPad will still work…although the internet will probably be down.

All of this could cause our government to enact MARTIAL LAW because WROL (Without Rule of Law) the GOLDEN HORDE and the POLLYANNA’S would be after our LONG TERM FOOD STORAGE and we don’t want to be in their LOS (Line of Sight)

You don’t want to bug out with just the cloths on your back and it’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to have BOB or a 72 HOUR BAG ready to go. You might use an ALICE backpack as your BOB which can also come with an ALICE frame. ALICE packs were created by the military To Reduce the load of the Infantry Combat Soldier and distribute weight more evenly.

The ALICE pack has been superseded by the MOLLE system (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) {pronounced molly} by the armed forces and some preppers as well.

The MOLLE system is modular because of the use of the PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) and allows you to add storage space. You might not want to use an ALICE frame for your BIB because a bug in bag is for getting from where you are to your BIL (bug in location) where your BOB is. These could be stored in your car or taken with you when you leave home. I personally choose the MOLLE system but the choice is yours. Price might play a role in this as well.

Along with medical supplies, water, weapons and survival gear you might want to have some MRE’s (meals Ready To Eat) or some C-Ration (Combat ration) to eat along the way, but try to avoid food from Monsanto because it is made from GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)

So, FWIW (For What It’s Worth) if the SHTF because of an EMP or an OTGE  well basically YOYO (You’re On Your Own) and you won’t be able to depend on FEMA (Federal Emergency Management System) or ARC (American Red Cross) for your safety. You need to take your survival in your own hands and have a BOB or an INCH (I’m Never Coming Home Kit) that you can put in your BOV to get to your BOL or ISOLATED RETREAT (A BOL but better) It might be a good idea to get a HAM RADIO license or have a crank radio JIC (Just in Case) you have no other way of communicating with the people around you.

And if were in a GDE you might want to have some FIAT CURRENCY or some JUNK SILVER because you won’t be able to get money from the ATM (automated Teller Machine) and you might not have the money in your account that you thought you had.

Long list right, honestly this probably doesn’t even cover all of the terms and acronyms you will hear, but it gives you a good idea and a good starting point so you don’t have to Google every term and acronym you come across while your reading articles and learning about preparedness.

Oh yeah, an EOTWBFL is a term that a member of the Facebook group coined. It means end of the world buddy for life…I had no idea until he told me.

Here is a video I put together for the free intro to prepping course I am putting together at the Survivalist Prepper Academy. If you are just getting started in prepping head over and have a look. (This article is a transcript of the video)

YouTubeYou tube video: “Prepping Terms and Acronyms You Should Know”:

 

 

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Filed under Prepper articles, Survival Manual

Food during a nuclear or volcanic winter

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Food during a nuclear or volcanic winter)

food v2]

A. Scientists Map Food Security, Self-Provision of Major Cities
12 Dec. 2013, ScienceDaily, by the University of Copenhagen.
Pasted from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212100055.htm

Wealthy capital cities vary greatly in their dependence on the global food market. The Australian capital Canberra produces the majority of its most common food in its regional hinterland, while Tokyo primarily ensures its food security through import. The Copenhagen hinterland produces less than half of the consumption of the most common foods. For the first time, researchers have mapped the food systems of capital cities, an essential insight for future food security if population growth, climate change and political instability will affect the open market. Several partners in the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) are behind the study.

“The three major cities in our study achieve food security by different degrees of self-provision and national and global market trade. It is important to understand such food flows in order to relate it to the energy challenge and the risk of national political unrest caused by food shortages and its effect on the open food trade,” says Professor Dr. John R. Porter from the University of Copenhagen, who is leading author on the study recently published online in the journal Global Food Security.
John R. Porter is also the main lead author of the forthcoming report from the IPCC Working Group 2 on food production systems and food security, which will be released following governments’ review, in March 2014.Higher farmland yields have influenced the cities self-provisioning over the past 40 years, but overall the ability of cities to feed themselves is unlikely to keep pace with increasing population, the research shows.

 Self-provisioning does not increase in line with population growth
Particularly in the capitals of Australia and Japan, where the population has increased tremendously over the past 40 years, the self-provision has declined; in Canberra from 150 to 90 percent and in Tokyo from 41 to 27 percent.
This is despite the increase in yield of agricultural land per hectare. Copenhagen on the other hand, has increased its self-provision slightly from 34 to 45 percent because its population has remained fairly constant.
“When the local capacity to supply a city declines, it becomes more dependent on the global market. As an example, Japan imported wheat from 600,000 hectares of foreign farmland to meet the demand of their capital and surrounding region in 2005. This means that large cities should now start to invest in urban agriculture especially if climate change has large effects on food production and other parts of the food chain in the future,” says John R Porter.
The study has exclusively focused on the historical and current production and not considered whether changes in land management practices can increase productivity further or whether consumers are willing to limit their intake to local seasonally available goods. It did not include citizen-based production from allotments, urban gardens etc.

Food v winter1

Scientific debate on food security and urbanization
More than half the human population lives in or near cities. That has increased global food transportation which makes up 15 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions.Both food security and urbanization is on the program for next year’s major international conference on sustainability hosted by the IARU partnership. John Porter is organizing the session on global challenges and sustainable solutions related to food security.
“The congress will be an important event to discuss new insight in global food security and the different challenges faced by rural and urban populations. Also, we get a unique chance to stimulate the discussion with input from expertise of other disciplines, such as economy, biodiversity and health.”

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B.  Feeding Yourself Through a Nuclear, Impact, or Volcanic Winter
18 January 2013, Schemabyte.com, by scemabyte author (see website)
Pasted from: http://schemabyte.com/feeding-yourself-through-a-nuclear-impact-or-volcanic-winter/

The primary orientation of prepper gardens is disaster scenarios. Disaster scenarios such as volcanic winters, however, involve a reduction of sunlight and heat that would reduce the efficiency of gardens, if not outright destroy them. We should keep winter crops in our stockpiles and have the skills to fall back to mushroom and insect farming, should it come to that.

1816 was the “Year Without a Summer” when volcanic and solar activity combined to create freezing temperatures that caused widespread crop failures. By Giorgiogp2 (Own work)

Artificial Winters
There’s a number of ways how enough particulate matter could be injected into the atmosphere to reduce the global temperature and block out sunlight, thus affecting plant life and our crops.These kinds of things don’t necessarily have to be regional. They could impact the entire planet. If the event’s small enough, you could just pack your seed stores and hit the trail. But if it’s a big one, there’s probably nowhere to go where you’ll be much more effective than where you are.
If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m not trying to cause you to react to these threats in a fear-based way. Instead, I’m suggesting that we ensure we have the proper supplies and skills to react to them – that we prep.

In no particular order:
1. A severe volcanic eruption could create a volcanic winter. Major volcanic eruptions frequently occur; check out the timetable on wikipedia.org. 1816 was the Year Without a Summer caused by a combination of volcanic and solar activity, resulting in a severe food shortage.
2. A series of nuclear explosions could theoretically create a nuclear winter. The ash and dust in this scenario would get lifted into the stratosphere, where rain couldn’t wash it down. One of the hypotheses over on Wikipedia holds that temperatures would become colder than the Little Ice Age and would last for more than a decade from a small exchange of nuclear weapons. Per that hypothesis, a large exchange would make agriculture completely impossible.
3. The impact of a sizable asteroid or comet on earth could create an impact winter. Per that Wikipedia article, one study showed there’s a 1 in 10,000 chance a sizable rock could hit us in the next century.

TOPSHOTS-INDONESIA-VOLCANO

Three Possible Approaches to Nuclear, Impact, and Volcanic Winters
There’s three possible solutions I see for resolving this scenario.You could:
1. Wait it out. If your food stores are big enough, just bunker down and there you have it. This is ideal because it minimizes the variables, of course, if you have enough supplies.
2. Generate artificial light. If you have an alternative energy source and a hell of a lot of plant lights, you could play space station.
3. Adapt your farming.

I don’t like the first two options for the same reason, although you should certainly have some supplies to implement them as possible.

1. When your entire plan relies on stored food or technology, then your entire focus becomes protecting and rationing those resources.
2. Sufficient food or alternative energy for either proposition directly impacts your mobility and is situation dependent.
3. Significant investment is required up-front for both of those solutions, and investing in that way could mean you’re not preparing for other disaster circumstances.

After your supplies fail, only an alternative way of farming will keep you alive.

Winter Crops with Low Light Requirements
Hopefully, an artificial winter wouldn’t totally block out the light. Instead, the atmosphere would just filter out much of the sunlight. While still disastrous for most crops, there’s some that don’t need as much light and heat. The problem is that edible plants that grow well in really low light aren’t, generally speaking, the same plants that grow in cold temperatures. Even when there’s a bit of overlap, plants that grow in very low light have very low nutrition. Light is, after all, their food.Nevertheless, I’m with you on this. If there’s some light coming on down, let’s bust out our winter crops and go year-round with them.

Per organicgardening.about.com, your best bet for vegetables in the shade are:

  1. Beans
  2. Beets
  3. Broccoli
  4. Brussel Sprouts
  5. Cauliflower
  6. Leafy Greens like collards, mustard greens, spinach, and kale
  7. Peas
  8. Radishes
  9. Salad Greens like leaf lettuce, arugula, endive, and cress.
  10. Swiss Chard

Per forums.gardenweb.com, garden.lovetoknow.com, guardian.co.uk, and telegraph.co.uk, some good winter crops might be:

  1. Asparagus
  2. Beets
  3. Broad Beans
  4. Brussel Sprouts
  5. Cabbage – spring cabbage
  6. Collards
  7. Cauliflower
  8. Garlic
  9. Lettuce – lambs & winter lettuce
  10. Leeks
  11. Kale
  12. Onions, Spring Onions, Shallots
  13. Peas – english & sweet
  14. Radish
  15. Rhubarb
  16. Spinach
  17. Turnip

But that’s way optimistic. For my money, I’m sticking with the southernstates.com zone 7 recommendations.

  1. Beets
  2. Broccoli
  3. Carrots
  4. Kale
  5. Lettuce
  6. Peas
  7. Spinach

Combine that with the shady vegetable list above, you’re left with beets, broccoli, lettuce, peas, and spinach. Good thing those are all tasty. Feel free to correct me (on either recommended vegetables for low heat + low light or on the tastiness opinion) in the comments. Something else to keep in mind XS29L on survivalistboards.com‘s excellent advice of focusing on sprouting; sprouts don’t require light and, even though it’s not sustainable forever, it’s a lot better than just relying on your dried and canned stores if the skies darken.

Mushrooms 
In a “true” nuclear or volcanic winter, traditional agriculture would become completely impossible. Without greens to feed animals, farming for the most part would be annihilated until the stratosphere cleared enough to let some sunlight back in. But the trees could live on for decades because of their sugar stores and slow metabolisms. They wouldn’t produce much, if anything, but they’d still be there. That’s good, we can feed mushrooms with wood.

If you want to play Darwin, read the list of edible fungi on wikipedia.org. What we’re really talking about here, though, is mushrooms and truffles. Perhaps there’s a species of yeast that could grow on bark and the two together would be quite tasty, but if you go sucking on something like that I don’t want to know about it.

The easiest way to grow mushrooms (and the only way if you aren’t good at identifying them) is to buy a mushroom-growing kit from a company like mushbox. Making sure you pick an edible one, of course, you then take the fruited mushrooms off to a dark corner and continue to feed them substrate – and they continue to produce. Some mushrooms need light to propagate, so you need to verify that before proceeding, but the light requirements for those species that do need it is insignificant compared to plants. White, crimini, and portobello (which are just large crimini) mushrooms need complete darkness, so those are winners on that score.
Since stable mushroom colonies don’t keep producing in the winter outside and might even die if it gets too cold, the plan is to grow them indoors. Makes it easier, anyway, because they have to be kept humid as well as warm (misted once or twice a day). Since heat rises, logically the best place for your mushroom farm is going to be as high up in your house as you can go, keeping in mind that the attic might be out of the question unless you have good air circulation there. If there’s some sunlight, you could consider the greenhouse in a shady area too.
The substrate you feed the mushrooms depends on the type of the mushroom you’re growing. Check out the Mushroom Shack product page for a description of the various choices available to you like straw, logs, sawdust, compost, paper & cardboard, and other organic materials. Per ehow.com, the classic white button mushroom prefers compost. While I understand portobello is more sensitive and difficult than white mushrooms, be aware that most of the online descriptions are targeted toward professional growers. Once you get the colony going, you should be able to just feed them things like wood chips and other discards, mostly just focusing on not introducing competing fungi.

Don’t Forget the Crawlies
As long as you’re out scrounging in the wet and dark for wood to feed your mushrooms, pick up some of the other rotted stuff for your mealworms, termites, and other micro-livestock that can earn off a living off the other crap you’ll be able to find. You actually give them the worst of what you scrounge up and save the good stuff for the mushrooms.

This list of wood-attacking insects could actually be a menu for us someday.  (http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/insectid/wood-attk.php)
I won’t go too deeply into this since I just put out a post titled “Micro-Livestock: Why More Preppers Should Consider Farming Insects”, but insects are a perfect candidate for the wintry world after nuclear blasts, a meteor impact, or a large volcanic eruption.
Certainly, you can look to feed those insects to chickens or fish if you want to move further up the animal chain. And certainly, hunt and fish while it lasts.
But if it’s a long winter, and it very well could be, you can thank me for that delicious termite and mushroom stew. Save some for me.

Byte: The Scenario

  1. A change falls upon the land from a volcanic eruption, the skies darken, and the crops fail.
  2. Live off stored food and sprouted grains, expanding insect and mushroom farming capacity.
  3. Turn on the space station in your basement as you near stockpile emptying, powering your grow lights with energy from a wind turbine, modified exercise bike, or whatever else your prepper ingenuity has prepared.
  4. Revert to insects, whatever you still have that can live off bugs, and mushrooms after the stockpiles empty and the technologies fail. Talk about your Atkins diet.
  5. Survive to the day when the sky lightens and winter crops will succeed.

Resources & More Reading
Nuclear Winter – wikipedia.org
Volcanic Winter – wikipedia.org
Impact Winter – wikipedia.org
Year Without a Summer – wikipedia.org
Timetable of major worldwide volcanic eruptions – wikipedia.org
Which edible plant requires the least amount of sunlight to grow? – survivalistboards.com
Top 10 vegetables to grow over winter – telegraph.co.uk
Ten Vegetables You Can Grow Without Full Sun – organicgardening.about.com
Fresh vegetables in winter – forums.gardenweb.com
How to grow winter veg – guardian.co.uk
Best Producing Winter Vegetable Garden – garden.lovetoknow.com
Planting Fall and Winter Vegetables, Good For Nutrition and Good For Your Pocket – southernstates.com
Top 10 Vegetables to Grow Over Winter – thompson-morgan.com
Winter Garden Crops – greenhousecatalog.com
Vegetables to grow in winter: a how-to guide – permaculture.co.uk
How to Grow Truffles Indoors – ehow.com
If The Sun Went Out, How Long Would Life On Earth Survive? – popsci.com
How to Grow Edible Mushrooms in Your Backyard – tobuildagarden.com
Grow mushrooms indoors with a kit – oregonlive.com
How to Grow Portobello Mushroomshttp://growyourownmushrooms.net/
How to Grow Mushrooms in Coffee Grounds – ehow.com
Types of mushroom Substrates – mushroomshack.com
What Is the Natural Habitat for Mealworms? – ehow.com
Darkling Beetle/Mealworm Information
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food v winter ash
.C.  What’s it like during an ashfall?
Excerpts pasted from: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/ash/ashfall.htmlWhen ash begins to fall during daylight hours, the sky will turn increasingly hazy and “dusty” and sometimes a pale yellow color. The falling ash may become so dense that daylight turns to murky gray or even an “intense blackness” such that “it is impossible to see your hand when held up close to the eye.” Loud thunder and lightning and the strong smell of sulfur often occurs during an ash fall. Furthermore, rain may accompany the ash and turn the tiny particles into a slurry of slippery mud. Most people also describe an intense quietness, except for thunder that may accompany the ash fall, giving a “deadness” to the normal sounds of life.During a heavy ash fall and for several days after, normal community and business services are typically severely limited or completely unavailable. Transportation systems are likely to be shut down or restricted—roads may be impassable or purposefully blocked, airports temporarily closed. People will be stranded away from home. Electrical power may be intermittently unavailable when conditions favor

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