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Emergency Tent Living, Part 3 of 4

(Survival Manual/ 4. Shelter Issues/ Emergency Tent Living, Part 3 of 4)

Living off-grid in a tent

A.  Why we’re living in a tent – in winter
10 February 2012, The Guardian, by Patrick Barkham
Pasted from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/11/family-living-in-tent

tent2 cookingWhy on earth would Matt and Lily Gibson give up their house and take their baby daughter to live in a tent in the countryside? Patrick Barkham finds out…

The stove has to be topped up with logs every two hours to keep the tent warm.
A white frost clings to the fields and the mud on the farm is frozen hard. In a secluded paddock behind the stone farmhouse stands a small bell tent, a curl of smoke rising from the metal flue poking out of the canvas. The temperature dropped to -7C the previous evening but inside the tent it is surprisingly warm, which is just as well because since the middle of January this octagonal dwelling, 5m wide and mounted on old pallets above the mud, has been the home of Lily and Matt Gibson and their nine-month-old daughter, Louise.

As unpaid bills mounted, and the couple struggled to pay £625-a-month rent for a dilapidated house, they made a drastic decision: they believed they would be better off, and happier, trying to survive in a tent. When their tenancy agreement expired on 15 January, they pitched a tent they had bought for £370, borrowed from Lily’s mother, on a farm in the west country.

“The mud and rain may be depressing, but the cold is scary,” admits Lily. “But we’re glad we’ve done this, even though it is frightening sometimes thinking about our responsibility for Louise and how we must keep her warm.”

The wood burning stove inside the tent is their life. Everything is focused on keeping the fire burning. Every two hours at night, Matt must get up to feed it more logs. So far, it is working. It may be freezing outside but under a single layer of canvas, the couple have created a snug and idyllic-looking – if minuscule – home. The tent smells of wood smoke and a delicious beef and vegetable broth is bubbling on the stove.

Matt was working in retail, spending wages on an expensive commute to a nearby city, and Lily, a freelance graphic designer, had stopped work when Louise was born. “Matt wasn’t getting home until 7pm and we still couldn’t afford to live properly,” says Lily. “We paid all our rent but we weren’t ever going out. We weren’t buying new clothes. We didn’t even get our hair cut. We’d occasionally get a coffee with friends in the town, but we were living very frugally. There was no way we could save at all and we wanted to do something for Louise’s future. We tried to be positive and we wanted her to have a happy home, but it was really quite depressing.”

Then they chanced on a press cutting about Simon Dale, who built his own eco-home for £3,000. This inspired them to take the first steps in their dream of buying a plot of land and building a low-impact home on it. “For me it was also inspired by the Occupy movements across the world,” adds Lily. “I don’t know what they might achieve but they have shifted consciousness in some way.” Previously, she assumed that “if we could not afford our rent it was because we were not budgeting properly. The Occupy movement made me see it wasn’t my fault – that it was the system that was not working.”

Matt and Lily began by finding a farmer, a friend of a friend, who generously allowed them to pitch the tent on his land. Matt has quit his job but the couple are not claiming unemployment or housing benefit – Matt does farm work between cutting wood for their stove. It may sound romantic but the challenges of living simply under canvas are daunting.

“A lot of people would go mad in a tent at this time of year. People could find a million and one things to burst into tears about,” says Lily. This morning, she hung her one warm jumper on the stove flue to warm up for a minute, got distracted by Louise and singed the jumper. “You definitely need a sense of humour and you can’t be vain – you’re just going to get upset by the mud or lack of running water.”

Inside the tent are nice rugs, plants and homely trinkets the couple have picked up on their travels. “It’s got that nomad feel to it, which I love,” says Matt. It has been a steep learning curve, however. Because the sides slope inwards there is far less space than they anticipated – no furniture can be allowed to touch the canvas or the rain will come in. They have been flooded already, and after they failed to secure the stove flue, it blew down in a gale. It is now firmly screwed in place.

To begin with, they lived off tinned food heated on the stove top. “We were sat there for three hours wondering why things wouldn’t come to the boil,” says Lily. Since then, she has mastered slow cooking – Turkish meatballs with rice, pot-roasted chicken with roast potatoes and even omelet’s in tin foil – while Matt has learned how the type and size of log can radically alter the stove’s heating power. Although he is doing less paid labor now, he says his days seems fuller. “There are not enough hours in the day now.”

Washing is done with a Wonderwash, a hand-cranked machine Lily imported from the US for £80. Clothes are cleaned with six jugs of hot water and two minutes of vigorous cranking, followed by 30 seconds of cranking in cold water to rinse. As the tent is a temporary measure, they borrow the downstairs loo at the farm and pay to have an occasional shower and charge their phone. “There is more drudgery, like hand-sweeping the floor, but it is more liberating and empowering as well,” says Lily. “The simpler things are, the less alienated you feel from your own life – the more in control you are.”

They have had to learn to prioritize certain jobs in the precious daylight hours. After dark, they light the tent with candles. There is no television, although Lily gets the internet on her phone. “We like talking, we sit around the fire and I sing to Louise a lot,” she says. “We haven’t felt bored, not for a moment. We don’t miss having loads of TV channels showing things we don’t want to watch anyway.”

As they explain how they are coping with living in a tent, Lily and Matt are clear that their priority is Louise. They are meticulous about sterilizing her bottles and ensuring that she is never cold. She and Matt may exchange nervous glances when the wind howls outside, but Louise loves it. For her, it seems that the tent is a secure home, where she can be physically and emotionally close to her parents. “So far she seems to be flourishing health-wise,” smiles Lily. “She is very happy, alert and engaged with what’s going on.” Their concerns about Louise are assuaged by the knowledge that, in the worst-case scenario, they can seek a warm refuge in the farmhouse, as they were forced to on the night a storm destroyed their stove flue.

Their parents have been very supportive – “They get concerned when it’s cold and ring to check we are OK,” says Lily. What would they say to people who would see them as reckless for living with a small child in a tent in midwinter? “What we’re doing might seem irresponsible,” says Lily, “but if we stayed where we were with unaffordable rent we would have ended up in so much debt that we wouldn’t have been able to feed Louise properly or get her warm clothes. It was terrifying. We would have been very depressed and therefore not able to produce a positive home environment for her and we would have ended up more dependent on benefits as well. We’re trying to stand on our own two feet.”

Living in a tent places them at the mercy of the elements, but Matt and Lily feel they have taken control of their own lives. By staying temporarily in the tent, they hope to save up to buy a piece of land on which they can build their own eco-home, a roundhouse with straw bale insulation. They are not just surviving: they are learning off-grid living skills they hope to teach to other families who want to live in a simpler, more sustainable way. Ideally they want to build their eco-home this summer but so far have been too busy keeping warm to find land. They admit their hope of buying a secluded half-acre on a south-facing slope, with a stream, for a few thousand pounds is probably unrealistic.

They may have chosen to live like this but, like other hard-pressed families, Matt and Lily have found that economic pressures made their old way of life intolerable. They believe more working families will be forced to live like they do, as rents and bills rise and first-time buyers are permanently priced out of the housing market. The government, however, seems unwilling to help people like Matt and Lily to help themselves. To get planning permission for a low-impact house on rural land requires navigating an impenetrable planning maze.

Lily would like to see reforms to encourage more self-built, low-impact housing. “There should be assistance to help people do this, not obstacles,” she says.

The reality of life in a tent in the middle of a British winter is far from bucolic but there are unimagined benefits. Sustained by their dreams of a self-built home, Matt and Lily are determined to accentuate the positives. Lily has noticed how well Louise sleeps at night in the tent. In fact, they all sleep much better than they did. On clear nights, the moonlight shines through the canvas and they hear the hoot of owls and the barking of foxes. Are they woken by the cockerel in the morning? “There are about 15 of them, which Louise loves,” says Matt.

“I love the sound of rain on the canvas, the candle light and the wood smoke. I like everything being simplified,” adds Lily. “It might be a cliché to talk about being in harmony with or close to nature but an element of that is very true.”

[Note: How do you heat the tents during a cold winter?
Answer: We recommend using space heaters, propane heaters, or a centrally ventilated heating system (easily run in through a deck vent). We DO NOT recommend using open flame to heat the tent. Canvas is a fabric material, and even though we do have customers who do use open flame in their tents and we’ve never encountered a problem, you are more prone to fire accidents if you use fire.
(Pasted from: http://www.exclusivetents.com/faq.htm#platform) Mr. Larry]

B.  Living Off-Grid in a Tent
March 2011, By Bob Wells
Pasted from: http://cheapgreenrvliving.com/Tent_Living.html

[The following example of tent living is provided just to show what one can do, its not the life style I would suggest for long term tent living, being way too Spartan for my comfort. Kudos to “Desert Rat” for setting up a generator-deep cycle battery-inverter- power system. On a higher initial budget this operation would have been better with a larger tent, more amenities and solar power. There is a lesson to learn in the life stories people tell, this story speaks to the possibilities of Internet connectivity while in a remote or possibly, regional “grid down” situation. Mr. Larry]
tent2 eureka cu canyon 12

[Looks like the Eureka Copper Canyon 12 (12′ x 14′) Mr. Larry]

No matter how small a house or apartment you live in, it is hard on the environment. First, the huge amount of material required to build a house has to be produced, at an enormous price to the planet. The raw materials (ores, minerals, wood and oil) have to be extracted from the earth, transported to  be processed, be processed, then transported again to wholesalers, then transported to retailers, then transported to the job site. You read that last sentence really quickly, but it represents a great deal of damage and pollution to the planet. Once the house is built and you move in, you must buy furniture and lots of “stuff ” to fill it.
All of those things do more damage to the earth. The house has to be heated and cooled to make it comfortable. You can’t sit in the dark, so the house needs lots of lights to keep it bright. For cooking you need a stove/oven refrigerator and dishwasher. You can’t possibly stay clean without hot water, so you need a 50 gallon hot water heater. The lawn and landscaping has to be watered, mowed and tended to. All of those utilities require huge amounts of pollution to produce electricity, bring you water, and process your sewage. One more way houses damage the earth: a long commute to and from work. Nearly all of us have to work, and the majority of us work in cities. So five days a week you drive to and from work in your car, often crawling along in miserable  traffic.

Contrast all of that to a friend of mine I will call Desert Rat. I met Desert Rat in the desert of the Southwest where he was busy working from his tent. He was sick of the rat race so he decided to chuck it all and move to the desert. He was fortunate that he could work from home via the Internet. He didn’t know for sure where he was going, he just knew he wasn’t going to be living in a city any longer. He had heard about dispersed camping on BLM desert land and National Forests, so he decided to give that a try. He had a plan, in the winter he would live in the warm desert and in the summer he would move up to the cool National Forests. Since nearly all BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and National Forest land has a 14 day stay limit, he knew that all he had to do was carry 14 days worth of supplies, and then he had to move anyway.

He got a Verizon data card and cell phone so he could work from anywhere. His pattern is that he goes out to a place where he gets a good Verizon signal (which is an amazing number of places) sits up camp and stays there for 14 days without starting his car again until the 14 days are up and he is out of supplies, then he breaks camp, gets supplies and moves on to the next camp spot. He gets the seclusion he needs and does just about the absolute minimum damage to the earth that a human can do in the twenty-first century.
Everything he has is as small, light and fold-able as he could find in order to fit it in his small economy car.
tent2 coleman white gas and gasoline stores
When he was preparing for his new life, he decided that essentially, he was going on an extended camping trip (for many years he hoped), so he went to an outdoor store and outfitted himself. He needed something to live in, so he bought a large, high-quality tent made by Eureka. It is a great tent! In the two months we camped together we had several storms blow through that brought winds well over 50 mph. The tent weathered them like a champ! He needed to
cook so he bought a Coleman 2-burner, dual fuel stove. He got it instead of a propane stove because he was already carrying gas for his Yamaha generator and he didn’t want to have to carry a second fuel.

He needed consistent power in the middle of nowhere, so he bought a Yamaha Generator which (along with the Honda) is famous for its reliability, quiet running and low gas consumption. I found it interesting that he set it up on a 5 gallon bucket to keep dust and dirt from coming in through the air filter when running. I thought that was a very good idea. He carries 10 gallons of gas which easily lasts the 14 days for running the generator and cooking.

He has deep cycle batteries he leaves on the floor-board of his car since they are too heavy to be carrying around.  He runs an extension cord from the generator to a battery charger in the car which charges the batteries. From the batteries he runs cables into the tent. In the picture below, top- right, we see the inverter and cords that run the many electrical items he uses for work.
tent2 interior power & inverter
In the picture above, lower- left, we see his office. Having a comfortable chair is important, so he bought a good folding recliner. A portable table holds his laptop and he uses five gallon buckets for tables.

His bed doesn’t look like much but, he has the highest quality self-inflating sleeping pad that Thermorest makes which is very comfortable. He is a cold sleeper so he has two sleeping bags so he can sleep inside both of them when it is cold, or just one when it is warmer. The desert can be surprisingly cold at night!

His tent is 12×14 feet and over 6 feet tall. That is a huge amount of room for one person, and would be more than enough  for a couple as well. He finds it very comfortable.

He carries a total of ten gallons of water in his two Coleman five gallon jugs. That’s enough for 14 days as long as he is conservative in its use.  Notice the spigot which makes getting water out and washing/rinsing easy. [If you plan to use a small utility trailer to carry your gear, I recommend increasing the water supply by bringing a 30 gallon potable water drum. The extra 250 lbs./30 gallons of water will keep you clean, bathed, keep your porta-pottie flushing, wash your dishes and laundry, as well as keeping your mornings coffee pot filled– without “cutting corners”. Mr. Larry]

All in all, it is a wonderful life! There is something magical about the desert that starts to get in your heart and changes you. Inevitably the strain and constant stress of city-living starts to fall away and a peace and contentment take its place. Desert Rat wasn’t sure if he would like his new life, but it has far exceeded his expectations. Already, he can’t imagine going back to his old life in the city.

It wasn’t his primary purpose, but a side effect of living this way is that it is one of the greenest, most environmentally friendly ways you can possibly life. He is completely off-grid except for the small amount of gas he uses to cook and for the generator. And that is much more than offset by the fact that he no longer commutes to work. In fact he only drives once every 14 days and that is in an economy car.
He is a true minimalist with nothing more than it takes to survive. His entertainment and joy come from nature.

tent2 alt solar additions

[Above, solar panel photos added by Mr. Larry, a recommended addition or alternative to the aforementioned generator.]

YouTubeC.  See the 5:04 video, “Off Grid: The tent in pictures,” at YouTube, click-or paste the following link:


YouTubeD.  See  the 4: 47 video, “Off Grid: The ultimate bug out location,” at YouTube, click or paste the following link:

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Filed under Survival Manual, __4. Shelter Issues

Experiences in living without electricity

(Survival Manual/5. Energy/ Experiences in living without electricity)

Tempers flare over 6 days of Connecticut power outages
4 Nov 2011,  Associated Press, By Michael Melia

Hartford, Conn. (AP) — Tempers are snapping as fast as the snow-laden branches that brought down power wires across the Northeast last weekend, with close to 300,000 Connecticut customers still in the dark and the state’s biggest utility warning them not to threaten or harass repair crews.
Angry residents left without heat as temperatures drop to near freezing overnight have been lashing out at Connecticut Light & Power: accosting repair crews, making profane criticisms online and suing. In Simsbury, a hard-hit suburban town of about 25,000 residents, National Guard troops deployed to clear debris have been providing security outside a utility office building.
At a shelter at Simsbury High School, resident Stacy Niezabitowski, 53, said Friday she would love to yell at someone from Connecticut Light & Power but hadn’t seen any of its workers.

“Everybody is looking for someplace to vent – not a scapegoat, just someplace to vent your anger so somebody will listen and do something,” said Niezabitowski, who was having lunch at the shelter with her 21-year-old daughter. “Nobody is doing anything.”
The October nor’easter knocked out power to more than 3 million homes and business across the Northeast, including 830,000 in Connecticut, where outages now exceed those of all other states combined. Connecticut Light & Power has blamed the extent of the devastation partly on overgrown trees in the state, where it says some homeowners and municipalities have resisted the pruning of limbs for reasons including aesthetics.

The company called the snowstorm and resulting power outages “a historic event” and said it was focused on getting almost all power back on by Sunday night. [Note what should already be obvious, ‘historic events’ happen, that’s why you should be prepared. Mr Larry]
For some residents still dealing with outages, no excuse is acceptable.

In Avon, a Farmington Valley town where 85 percent of customers were still without power on Friday, town manager Brandon Robertson said he faulted CL&P for an “absolutely unacceptable and completely avoidable” situation. He said the high school that is being used as an emergency shelter was still running on a generator. Although public works crews had cleared most of the town roads, he said, more than 25 still were blocked as they waited for CL&P crews to clear power lines.

“Our residents are angry. We’re angry,” he said. “It’s just really shocking.”
The person who has taken the brunt of the public scorn is CL&P’s president and chief operating officer, Jeffrey D. Butler. He has been appearing with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at daily news briefings, but he was left to face a grilling by the media on his own Thursday night when the governor left the room after criticizing the slow pace of power restoration.

Butler said he was sorry so many residents have been left without power for so long during the chilly nights. He said Friday that his own house in the Farmington Valley has been without power since a generator failed, and he urged customers to remember the extent of the damage. [Basically, if it’s much more than the average storm, the public may have to fend for themselves. Mr Larry]
“People need to keep in perspective the magnitude of damage,” he said.

The outages have driven thousands of people into shelters in New England and have led to several deaths, including eight in Connecticut.
In North Brookfield, Mass., an 86-year-old woman was found dead Thursday in her unheated home, and her 59-year-old son was taken to a hospital with symptoms of hypothermia, subnormal body temperature. The local fire chief said it was unfortunate they had not reached out to authorities or neighbors for help.

In New Jersey, authorities said fumes from a gasoline-powered generator are believed to have caused the deaths of an elderly couple discovered hours before electricity was restored to their home in rural Milford, near Pennsylvania, on Thursday evening.
For many without power, the past week has been a blur of moving between friends’ homes or hotel rooms with occasional visits to their own houses to feed pets and check, in vain, for electricity.

Glastonbury resident Alison Takahashi, 17, said she has bunked with friends and, for a few nights, with her parents in a hotel 45 minutes away, the only opening they could find after the storm. She said her brother, a high school freshman, also has moved like a nomad between friends’ homes all week, heading to the next when he worried he’d started wearing out his welcome.

“The cellphones are our life lines right now,” said Takahashi, a Glastonbury High School senior. “It’s the only way to know where everybody is, and if you forget your charger and your phone is dead, you can’t reach anybody.”
Some Connecticut residents have vented their frustration through dark humor on the Internet, turning to social media websites to ridicule the utility – often with profanity. One person tweeted: “Really (pound)CL&P? A hamster on a wheel would be a better power source.”

A few particularly irate power customers have taken their anger out on utility crews.
CL&P spokeswoman Janine Saunders said some hostile customers have approached the crews, but she declined to provide details. A police officer posted outside the utility’s office building in Simsbury along with a National Guard soldier said line crews had been threatened and they wanted to make sure people could complain without letting things get out of hand.

The utility urged the public via Twitter not to harass or threaten the line workers.
Saunders said the utility understands what people are going through and has stressed to customer service employees that they need to be empathetic.
“If people want to vent, call us, see us on Facebook,” she said. “We’re doing our best to try to respond to people and answer questions in those medium. But let the folks out in the field do their job.”

In Massachusetts, where tens of thousands of customers were still without power, the National Grid said in a statement that there have been “only a couple isolated incidents” and that most customers have been thanking crews for their work: “They are demonstrating their appreciation by bringing crews coffee and food.”

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked state utility regulators on Friday to conduct a formal investigation into how the state’s major power companies prepared for and responded to the outages.
In Connecticut, CL&P has promised to restore power to 99 percent of its 1.2 million customers by Sunday night. Butler, the president, said more than 1,740 crews were working and the utility was prioritizing schools and polling sites for elections on Tuesday. [Prioritize schools and polling sites ahead of homes?]

Simsbury resident Chris Gauthier, 47, said he was frustrated the power lines weren’t maintained better before the storm, but he said he was too busy to worry about who to blame. Every day, he wakes up before the rest of his family to start a fire in his den’s fireplace. He and neighbors were clearing a dozen fallen trees around his house with hand saws Friday as National Guard troops removed debris from the street.
“I have better things to do than dwelling on who’s to blame and stuff like that,” he said. “There are trees to clear and these guys (his three children) to feed and keep warm.”

First Selectman Mary Glassman, of Simsbury, said many homes are still not reachable by car because of downed trees and power cables, and officials are concerned for the residents’ safety as people in cold houses resort to driving across power lines to seek shelter elsewhere.
“We’re concerned people are getting to their wits’ end,” she said.

Some business owners already were planning to pursue compensation from CL&P for their losses.
In Canton, Asylum Hair Salon owner Scott Simmons filed a negligence lawsuit against the utility to make up for $1,000 in lost business from Saturday to Wednesday. He said other businesses owners who still don’t have power are taking a much bigger hit.
“I just think it was completely mishandled,” Simmons said of CL&P’s response to the outages.
A CL&P spokeswoman declined to comment on Simmons’ claims.

B.  Life Without Electricity in a Semi-Tropical Climate
May 13, 2011 , Lynn M.

We are preppers. I love reading the prep/survival books. There’s so much information out there and so many people involved in prepping now, there’s just no reason to not do it! We learned from experience that you can never be over prepared. Since 2004 I’ve learned how to store food for the long-term, how to filter water (okay, I’ll give credit to my Berkey on that one), I’ve learned about bug out bags and how to build a fire with a flint, but what I learned the most from was living for more than two weeks without electricity after hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma. Even though we were only thinking hurricane preparedness then, we were still leaps and bounds beyond most of our neighbors.

The obvious things that one can’t miss are non perishable food and water. You’d be surprised how many people wait until a hurricane warning to stock up on these basics. Once a hurricane is within 3 days of hitting, the stores get crazy and empty out. Shopping during that time is no longer an option for us, we’re prepared far in advance. The only food I can see getting right before a storm is bread (although we stock up and freeze bread when it’s on sale) and fresh fruits and veggies. When a warning is issued water is the first to go, then canned soups, tuna, Spam, etc. Let me tell you folks, eating soup when its 98 degrees with 98 percent humidity is not appetizing. We have to think about what we’d normally eat and work with that. I stock up on canned meats and fruits and veggies. We have an extra freezer stocked with meat. Unfortunately, during Hurricane Frances the storm lingered for 3 days over our area. We could not run the generator during the storm. The power went out immediately and all of our meat was lost by the time the storm passed. So stocking up the fridge and freezer’s a great idea but in the end you could lose it all. We regularly eat tortillas of all kinds, so I have a stock of masa and a tortilla press. Tortillas can be cooked on a skillet over a grill in no time at all. Speaking of the grill, we have at least four ways of cooking outside and only two of those require gas. We have many propane tanks (I’m not even going to tell you how many, it’s almost embarrassing!). But we also have a charcoal grill and a fire pit, with wood stocked up for fuel if needed. The wood needs to be covered or brought in during a storm so it doesn’t get soaked or blown away.

So food and water, obvious, but how to live without electricity? Well folks, that’s where the rubber meets the road. The everyday little things soon become a chore. Take brushing your teeth for instance. When no water comes out of the faucet it’s a little more complicated. Not only is there no running water, but because we are on city sewer (and remember, no electricity) only minimal waste can go down the drain. Basically because whatever you put down the drain could potentially come back into the home once the power goes back on. This happened to several neighbors, but not us. The water that we store is not just for drinking. After a storm we take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it, halfway or so, cover it and put it on the back porch. This is where we get water to brush our teeth and wash ourselves. All the dirty water is poured into a corner of the yard.

We did allow for toileting inside but only flushing when necessary. Again water is needed for flushing and you can see our supply dwindling as I type. Washing not only ourselves but dishes also needed to be done outside. We set up a table and again a 5 gallon bucket of water for our outdoor wash area. We used a lot of paper and plastic but some things still needed to be cleaned (pans, pots, etc). Whenever possible I used just cold water, soap and bleach, but with very grimy stuff we’d boil water on the grill and wash dishes in that. I added bleach to every wash load just to keep the germs minimal. That’s just breakfast folks. Now, I’m going to admit, after a few days my husband hooked the generator up to the water pump and we were able to bathe and have water from the outside faucet but it’s very hard water, normally used for irrigation only. It’s not potable but can be used for bathing and washing. Again, it had to be done outside which was fine because we actually have an outside shower. Only cold water though. We were able to have a little warm water by hooking up a hose to the faucet and laying it on the roof. The heat from the sun warmed what was in the hose. It was good for a quick shower and I do mean quick.

A normal day was extremely hot and humid, we were inundated with biting flies and mosquitoes and we were typically dirty and very tired. Having decent screens on the windows was crucial as they were open all of the time. Bug spray helped but it made us feel dirty and grimy. I was not up on hand washing clothes at that time and the laundry pile was a nightmare. If I have to go through it again I would do things differently. I’d have two 5-gallon buckets, one for washing, one for rinsing and a hand washer. They look something like a plunger and are sufficient for hand washing shorts, underwear and tank tops. I’d also re-wear whatever possible so not to create so many dirty clothes. Now you may be wondering why we didn’t just hook up the generator to help take the edge off of the misery. We actually had the generator hooked up most of the time. It ran the fridge/freezer and a window air conditioner at night. Generators are great but they’re expensive to run and it’s important to be of the mindset that you may be entirely without electricity. Even the gas stations took several weeks to get up and running.

Being that the inside of the house was miserable, we spent a lot of time on our porch. It’s actually more of a deck, with privacy fencing surrounding us but no roof. My genius husband rigged a shade screen from material we had stored. That worked for giving us a shady area in which to clean and eat but it didn’t help with the bugs. I now have two mosquito nets stored away. If we have to do this again my husband can surely hang those to give us a protected area.

In the end we made it. My neighbors made fun of me when I washed our dishes outside but when the power came back on sewage didn’t back up into our house. We both missed a lot of work but managed to feed our family of four (my husband, myself, young teen daughter and a handicapped adult) and keep us clean and entertained. We played games at night before it got too dark. Bedtime came early. I put cute bandanas in our hair to keep it back and my daughter loved that. We put stickers on ourselves so as we tanned up (in the sun much more than usual) we had silly designs all over. We had a stash of special snack foods and kept our spirits up by joking around and not taking everything so seriously. When the power came back on after the first storm we had been over two weeks living primitively. I have to admit, I cried.

C.  How do you live without electricity
Issue 73 Jan/Feb 2002, By Anita Evangelista
It’s going to happen. Sooner or later, the power will go off, and you won’t know when (or if) it will come back on. This doesn’t have to be the work of evil-doers, either. It could be a sudden ice storm that brings down the power lines. It could result from other severe weather such as a tornado or hurricane, or from a disruption caused by faulty power company equipment, or even something as simple as a tree branch falling on your own personal segment of the grid. The effect is the same: everything electrical in your home stops working.

For most modern Americans, the loss of power means the complete loss of normalcy. Their lifestyle is so dependent upon the grid’s constancy that they do not know how to function without it. How do you cook a meal if your gas stove has an electric ignition? How do your children find their way to the bathroom at night if the light switches don’t work? How do you keep warm if your wood heat is moved through ducts by an electric fan? What do you do with a freezer full of expensive meat? How do you find out what is happening in your area with the TV and radio silent? What will you drink if your water comes from a system dependent on electrical pumps?

These are questions that both the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency are asking people to seriously consider. Both of these agencies have suggested that preparations for three days without power are prudent commonsense actions that all Americans should now undertake.

We’ll look at these issues in the broad context of living without access to the grid, whether you’ve chosen to separate from it or whether the choice is made for you by outside forces. What you can do now to mitigate your difficulties if the power goes off in the future, and what you can do then to help keep your situation under control, will be the focus of this article.

Remember, too, that an important principle in all preparations is that you maintain as much “normalcy” in your lifestyle as possible. For example, if television is part of your relaxation and unwinding process, don’t assume you can easily do without it. The closer you can keep your daily routines to “the norm” for your family, the more easily you can deal with power outages.

There are five primary areas that are easily disrupted if the power goes off. Each of these is critical to daily survival, as well, so when making preparations for emergencies keep these in mind. In order of importance, they are: light, water, cooking, heating/cooling, and communication.

Light:  While living on our Ozark farm without the grid, we spent some time rising with the sun and going to bed when the sun set. This would probably have been a pretty healthy way to live, if everyone else in the world did the same thing. Our children’s bathroom needs didn’t stop when the sun went down, our neighbors figured that nighttime visits weren’t out of the ordinary, and those midnight raids on the pantry for crackers and peanut butter turned into fumble-fests. Sometimes the barking of our livestock guardian dogs meant strange predators were too close for comfort, somewhere in the countryside darkness. Light is the most important item on our Big Five list because without light we are not able to efficiently carry on the other activities of daily living.

The most simple and familiar form of emergency lighting is a flashlight. Do you have one that you could find in the dark, right now? If so, congratulations. You are among a very small percentage of Americans. Better yet if you have one for each member of your family, with fresh batteries, plus three extra sets of batteries for each flashlight. That should be your minimum “safe” number. Store your flashlight where you can quickly reach it in the dark night—under the mattress of your bed, for example. Each child old enough to walk should also have his or her own flashlight, and be taught how to use it.

Flashlights range in price from the 79 cent cheapie to the fancy multi-function $80 special. Consider a small 2-AA battery flashlight with a halogen bulb. These cost about $4-5 each, give an excellent clear white light, and are easily portable in a pocket or purse. Additionally, when we discuss communications later in the article, the most common battery used in these devices is also the AA, so your life will be simplified if you stick primarily to one type of battery and don’t have to buy various odd sizes for different needs.

Batteries wear out rapidly if your flashlights are used continuously: figure two changes per week of regular use. Alkaline batteries last longer, give a more powerful light, but cost more than regular batteries. Most rechargeable batteries are suitable for flashlights, but should be recharged when the light begins to dim a little. Don’t let them get completely drained. This means you would need several sets of rechargables for each flashlight (some would be recharging while you use the others).

Recharging can be done by means of a charger plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter outlet. These DC-powered rechargers can be found at auto supply stores and at Radio Shack for about $30 or less. Solar rechargers work slower but produce the same results for about $30.

Candles are available, slightly used, at garage sales and thrift stores (5 cents to 10 cents each or less), and some outlet stores like Big Lots have new candles for 25 cents. We have a cardboard box weighing 35 pounds that is filled with various sizes and shapes of candles. This would be about a year’s supply for my family. We’ve acquired them gradually, every time we found them inexpensively. They never go bad! Candles are easy to use and familiar. Most of us can adjust to using candles easily. The light is soft and wavering. You’ll need at least three candles if you hope to read by the light. If you have small children or indoor pets, care must be taken where you place them. Metal candle holders that hang on walls are probably the safest. Remember to place a heat proof plate underneath the holder to catch drippings. Save your wax drippings, too, to make more candles later.

Oil (kerosene) lamps produce a steadier light than candles. Department store oil lamps cost about $10 each and come in attractive styles. Lamp oil is about $3 per liter. A typical lamp will burn one to two cups of oil per night, so you would use about two liters each week per lamp. The light from these lamps is not quite adequate to read by unless it is placed very close, and the light does waver a little. A single lamp can provide enough light in a room so that you don’t bump into furniture, but two or three may be needed to provide good functional light. As with candles, if you have children, these lamps need to be placed securely and out of reach. The smell of burning oil (kerosene) can get heavy in a closed room so keep ventilation open. Keep an extra set of wicks ($2) and chimneys ($3) in case of breakage.

The Cadillac of oil lamps is the Aladdin Lamp. These run from $60 up to several hundred each. The light given off is as good as a 60-watt bulb, clear, and unwavering. You can read or do needlepoint by the light of one lamp. These burn the same oil or kerosene as typical lamps, but because they burn hotter, there is much less odor. Position these lamps so that they cannot accidentally be overturned, and so that the intense heat coming from the chimney won’t ignite something. Purchase an additional “mantle” (the light-giving portion of the lamp – $3), and chimney ($15), as backups.

Solar powered lamps ($80-$120) are typically small fluorescents, and can be run off of battery systems. It may take more than one day of bright sunlight to recharge these lamps, so you may need several—one to use, while others are recharging. The light is white and clear, good for area-lighting, and rather difficult to read by. Have extra fluorescent bulbs on hand, too.

Water: If you live in a town or city, the loss of power to homes and businesses probably will not immediately affect your water pressure, but it could affect the purification process or allow reverse seepage of contaminants into the lines. If, instead, your water comes from an electrically-powered home water pump, your water stops flowing the moment the power does. Either way, with the loss of power comes the loss of water (or, at least, clean water). Water that is free of bacteria and contaminants is so crucial to our survival that it should be a special concern in your preparations.

The easiest way to guarantee quality water is to store it right now. The important question is: how much? Both Red Cross and FEMA suggest a minimum of one gallon per day per person. This is an absolute minimum, and covers only your real drinking and cooking needs; bathing is out of the question.

The typical American currently uses around 70 gallons a day, taking a nice long hot shower, flushing the toilet several times, washing a load of laundry, letting the water run while brushing teeth, and for cooking and drinking. In a short-term emergency situation, only drinking and cooking water is crucial, but if that short-term incident drags out to weeks or months, daily consumption would rise to include bathing and clothes washing. And this presumes that the family has prepared a sanitary “outhouse,” so flushing isn’t needed. In that case, 5-10 gallons per day per person would be a more reasonable amount, with a weekly communal bath becoming the routine.

One to three-gallon jugs, direct from the supermarket, run about 60 cents to $2; these store easily under cabinets and counters. A few tucked into the freezer will help keep things cold if the power goes off. You can also store water inexpensively in large, covered plastic trash cans; they hold 36 to 55 gallons each. Refresh the water every two weeks, so it will be ready in case the power goes off. Kiddie swimming pools—a 12-foot wide, 36-inch deep pool holds 2500 gallons and costs about $250—also make excellent above-ground holding tanks. Buy a pool cover, as well, to keep bugs out.

Farm supply stores often sell “water tanks” made of heavy grade plastic. These can be partially buried underground to keep water cooler and less susceptible to mold and bacteria. These run about $1 per gallon of holding capacity, so a 350-gallon tank new will cost $350. Plan to filter and purify the water before use.

Collecting water can be done by hand with 5-gallon plastic buckets if you live near a river or stream (it must be filtered and purified before use). You can also divert rainwater off your roof, through the rain gutters and downspouts into plastic trash cans. If you live in the Midwest, Northwest, or East Coast, rainfall is adequate to make this your primary backup water source. West Coast, high desert, and mountain areas, though, won’t have sufficient rainfall to make this a reliable source.

A drilled well with an electric pump can be retrofitted with a plastic hand-pump for about $400 – $600. These systems sit side-by-side with your electric pump down the same well-shaft, and can be put to use any time the power is off. Typical delivery is about 2 gallons per minute, and pumping strength varies from 11 to 20 pounds—a good but not exhausting workout.

Water can be purified inexpensively. Fifteen drops of bleach (plain unscented) per gallon of water costs less than 1 penny, and ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide (3%) per gallon will also destroy bacteria. Twenty minutes of a hard, rolling boil will, too. Bleach is effective against both cholera and typhoid and has kept American water supplies safe for decades. The chlorine taste can be easily removed with a charcoal filter system (such as Brita Pitcher or Pur brands for home use, about $30).

British Berkefeld water filters, along with various other brands, are more expensive ($150-$250), but can filter and purify water indefinitely. Both eliminate bacteria, contaminants, and off-flavors. We’ve used a “Big Berkey” for four or five years, and it is a very reliable gravity-fed system. When shopping for filters, if they only offer “better taste” they won’t protect you from bacterial contaminants.

Noah Water System’s travel companion will work great in case of a power outage, or your water supply becomes undrinkable. The Trekker is a portable water purification unit. With the Trekker you can get water from any river, lake, or pond. It’s small enough to carry like a briefcase.

Cooking:  A person can survive indefinitely opening cold cans of beans for meals, but it wouldn’t be a very satisfying existence. In times of crisis, a hot meal goes a long way toward soothing the day’s troubles. The simplest way to heat a meal is the Boy Scout method: a couple of bricks or rocks set around a small outdoor fire, with the bean can propped over the flames. It’s low cost, and it works. However, the cook doesn’t have much control over the outcome.

Outdoor cooking of all kinds, including grilling and barbecuing, all work during emergency situations, provided you have the charcoal or wood (and matches!) needed to get the heat going. These are familiar methods, too, so family members don’t have to make a huge leap to accept these foods. It’s difficult to cook much more than meats and a few firm vegetables over open heat like this, though. Also, never use these devices in a confined space, as they emit carbon monoxide.

Campfire” cooking can lend itself to some baking, if you also have a cast iron Dutch Oven—a large, heavy, cast iron covered pot. Place a well-kneaded pound of bread dough into a heavily-greased or oiled Dutch Oven and put the cover in position. Make a hole or pot-sized well in the ash near the fire, and line this with glowing coals. Put about an inch of ash over the coals, and place the Dutch Oven into this. Now, pile about an inch of hot ash around the oven and cover with glowing coals, then another layer of ash to keep the heat in. Uncover and check your bread in about 35 minutes, it should be done.

Propane and butane camp stoves are so much like ordinary home stoves that there is no difference in the cooking results. Portable RV 2-burner propane stoves are often available used—mine cost $5 at a garage sale—and can even do pressure canning because the heat is consistent and reliable. A typical 20 pound propane cylinder, the kind used for barbeques, costs around $50 new, and a propane fillup is about $12. This will last for nearly a month of daily use. You’ll also need a feeder hose and pressure regulator for the stove, which can be prepared by your propane dealer for $20 or so.

Butane stoves are also portable and run off of a cylinder of the same kind of butane that is used in cigarette lighters. These stoves are $80-90 new, and cylinders are $5 and last for 8 hours of cooking.

General camp stoves (around $65 at department stores) operate on “stove fuel” (basically, propane in a small 1-pound cylinder – $3). A cylinder lasts for around 8 hours of cooking. You can also find camp stoves that will cook off of unleaded gasoline, and there are some that are “multi-fuel,” using either kerosene or gasoline—handy in case of a shortage of one fuel or the other. Use outdoors or on a covered porch to prevent carbon monoxide buildup in your home.

Solar cooking is another option, if you have plenty of unobstructed sunlight and someone who is willing to adjust the cooker to face the sun every half hour or so. A solar oven need be no more fancy than a set of nested cardboard boxes painted flat black on the inside with tempura colors, a sheet of window glass, and some aluminum foil glued to cardboard panels. Total cost for this, if you can scrounge leftover glass and cardboard, is about $1.

A solar oven design made with cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, and a piece of window glass. Interior of the box is flat black paint.

Place your food in a covered lightweight pan inside the box, prop it so the entire interior is exposed to the sunlight (about a 45-degree angle), cover with the sheet of glass (and tape the glass so it won’t slide), then prop the aluminum foil panels so that they reflect more sunlight down into the box. Move the box every 30 minutes so it maintains an even temperature. It will get hot fast, easily up to 325 degrees, and hold the heat as long as it faces the sun. Remember to use potholders when removing your foods! Our first solar oven had a black plastic trash bag as a heat-absorbing inner surface; it worked superbly until the plastic actually melted.
[I bought a Global Sun Oven with Thermometer for about $250. It’s a very efficient oven, cooking chicken and loaves of bread in the same amount of time as the kitchen stove’s oven. Google ‘Global Sun Oven’ or bring it up in Amazon.com; the manufacturer has a video showing its use. Mr Larry]

Keeping foods cool if the power goes out can be as simple as looking for shade, even under a tree. Some Ozarkers have partially buried old broken freezers in the shade of backyard trees, storing grains and winter vegetables inside. During the winter, your parked car will stay at the same temperature as the outside air—below freezing on those cold nights—so you can store frozen goods there safely. During the daylight hours, the car interior will heat up, though, if it’s in the sun. Park it in the shade of the house, or cover the windows and roof with a blanket to keep the interior cool.

Kerosene refrigerator/freezers are alternative appliances that will continue to function with the power off because they are “powered” by kerosene. Their cooling and freezing capacity is exactly the same as a regular refrigerator, and they come in the same colors. Typically, they are a little smaller than conventional ‘fridges and cost up to $1500, but they’ll last for decades with care.

Portable battery-powered refrigerators that keep your foods 40-degrees cooler than outside temperatures are available at most department store sporting-goods sections ($90). These run off of both DC and AC power, so they can be plugged into your car battery through the cigarette lighter outlet or into a solar power system.

What about that freezer full of expensive meat if the power goes off? First step is to cover the freezer with blankets to help retain the cold. Then, find dry ice (if everyone else in your town hasn’t already bought out the supply). Blanket coverings will keep a full freezer frozen for two days, and the addition of dry ice will prolong that to three or four days.

If power stays off, it’s time to eat and time to can the meat remaining. Canning low-acid foods like meat calls for a pressure canner ($90), canning jars ($6 for 12), a source of consistent heat (like a propane RV stove), and some skill. In considering your time requirements, it took me two days of steady canning to put a 230-pound pig into jars. Each quart jar holds 3 pounds of meat.

Heating and cooling: It’s a funny thing that even though we know winter is coming, we put off cutting our wood until after the first really cold night has chilled the house below comfort levels. But with the instability in the world today, it is sensible, and reasonable, to prepare well in advance of season changes. Putting in supplies a year ahead of time is a traditional farm practice, and it gives a cushion of safety against uncertain conditions.

Woodstove heating is more common, and comfortable to use, than it was two decades ago. New wood heaters run from $100 to several thousands, depending on materials, craftsmanship, and beauty. Better stoves hold heat longer and may have interior baffles that let you use less wood to produce more heat. Even so, the most basic metal-drum-turned-stove also works to heat a room or a house.

Heating a 3-bedroom home that is moderately insulated will use about 8-12 cords of wood throughout the winter. The size of a cord  is  about 8′ x 8′ x 2′, roughly a pickup truck bed loaded even with the top of the sides. Prices will vary between $65 per cord to $150, depending on the region and type of wood. Hardwoods, such as oak and walnut, and fruitwoods like apple and pear, burn better and longer than softwoods like poplar. Don’t use resinous woods, such as the pines, cedars, and spruces for the main heating—only as firestarters—because they burn too hot and fast and generate creosote. Better home insulation and better quality hardwoods will decrease the amount of wood you need to use.

If you plan to secure and cut your own firewood, be willing to acquire a good-quality chainsaw—any that cost below $200 will only give you grief. Keep an extra chain on hand. Use safety precautions, too: wear ear and eye protectors, heavy gloves, and don’t chainsaw alone. Cutting your own wood will decrease your heating costs significantly, but increase your labor. It typically takes us a full week of constant work to put up a winter’s worth of wood.

Woodstoves require heat-proof surfaces surrounding them, an insulated chimney pipe (about $90 per 3-foot section), and some building skills in order to install. Installation costs can equal or surpass the cost of the stove itself. Chimneys need to be thoroughly cleaned of the black crusty buildup, creosote, at least twice each year (and more often if you use the stove continuously).

Propane heaters that don’t need venting to outdoors are a relatively new product. A plain one ($200) can be mounted on the wall in the home’s main room, or more fancy models that look like built-in fireplaces complete with fake logs ($450) are available. You will need a propane tank, regulator, and appropriate copper lines, but these will all be installed by your propane company for a small charge. Propane has varied widely in cost from year to year, but typically runs around $0.95 to $1.30 per gallon.

Kerosene heaters ($120) are freestanding units that burn kerosene in a way that is something like a lamp—it uses a wick system and flames to provide heat. These are best used in areas that can be easily ventilated, because of the potential for buildup of carbon monoxide. Kerosene has a strong odor, as well. Kerosene costs about $1 per gallon or less (in quantity).

Solar heat can be “grabbed” anytime the light from the sun hits your house. Even in the dead of winter, the south-facing walls will feel noticeably warmer than the shaded north-facing ones. You can “store” the sun’s heat in any surface. Ceramic floor tiles, for instance, are excellent at retaining heat. So will a flat-black painted covered plastic trash can filled with water. If these surfaces are exposed to sunlight, say, indoors next to a south-facing window, they will absorb heat during the day. At night, with the window curtains closed, the surface will release heat slowly and steadily into the house.

One of the most efficient ways to heat is something else we have forgotten in the past 50 years—close off rooms that are not being used. If doors aren’t available, you can hang curtains in doorways (or even tack up a blanket, in a pinch), and keep your heat restricted to the room you are actually in. In an emergency situation, you can curtain up a room and set up a tent-like “den” for the family to snuggle in under blankets. Body heat alone will keep the den’s interior comfortable.

A “shepherd” or “camp” stove offered by Cabela’s catalog. It has a detachable shelf on the right, detachable five-gallon hot water tank on the left, and an oven sitting above the stove body. The whole thing breaks down and is portable. It cooks very nicely, too. Costs about $500 for all components, excluding stove pipes, and it can be bought piecemeal. The light in the upper left-hand photo is a lit oil lamp, placed to give light when using the stove.

Cooling a residence during a hot summer requires just as much thought and advance planning as winter heating does. Battery and solar-powered fans help keep air moving, windows can be shaded by fast-growing vines and pole beans, and—planning way ahead—fast-growing trees like poplars can be planted on the house’s south side to shade the yard.

In areas where wind blows routinely in the summer, you can soak a sheet, ring it out, and hang it in front of a breezy window. The air passing through the window is cooled as it moves against the wet sheet, and helps to cool the house. Remember that heat rises, so make it easy for too-hot air to escape from the attic and upper floors by opening windows and vents.

Communications: In a time of distress, keeping in contact with family and knowing about local and national situations is important to maintaining both continuity and confidence. In general, telephone systems are on a different system than the electrical power grid, but they can be disrupted if there are earth movements or as the result of terrorist activities.

During the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, we kept informed about the damages by watching a 4-inch black and white TV set (bought used for $25) that was plugged into our car battery through the cigarette lighter. At night, we heard reports from the BBC via a 4-AA battery-powered shortwave radio ($70 from Radio Shack). I consider these two devices—shortwave and TV—the required minimum communication/ information devices during a crisis, especially if the phone system is down.

Satellite internet hookups, using a battery-powered laptop, could be an excellent communication tool, both for accessing news and for staying in touch with friends and colleagues by email.

Citizens Band (CB) radios are excellent tools, as well. These portable devices can be carried with you into the field and used to stay in contact with neighbors and family when you are away from the house. Basic models run $60—you’ll need at least two—and ones with greater ranges and features are more costly. They’ll run on 6 to 8 (or more) AA batteries.

“Family Radios” are FM-band devices that have a short-range, about ¼ mile ($60 for a pair). These are handy for keeping family in contact during outings, when traveling in a caravan, or when one member needs to go out to the barn during a storm. They run on 2 AA batteries.

Keeping things normal: Even though circumstances may change in the world, we can choose how we wish to react. We can live in a state of helpless anxiety—or control what we can. We can control our responses, in part, by maintaining as much normalcy in our lives as possible.

If your family relaxes in the evenings with a video, plan to continue doing that. Acquire a battery-powered TV/VCR combination, and make sure you have enough power sources to keep that going for at least two weeks. (If things get dicey, you can wean off the system in two weeks.) A cassette player or CD player with external speakers can provide relaxation and entertainment, and they run off of AA batteries as well.

Children have difficulty adjusting to sudden changes in their environment, so if you expect them to play board games if the power goes out, they should be comfortable with board games now. Keep routines consistent, arising at the usual time in the morning and going to bed as you have in the past. Prepare familiar meals with foods everyone enjoys. Have “fun foods” and goodies on hand. Remember to reach out to your neighbors and older folks who live nearby, and provide extras to help them, as well.
Use the knowledge you’ve gained, and your experience with non-electric living, to make your neighborhood a more secure and adaptable place.

D.  How To Survive Without Electricity after Doomsday 2012?
22 July 2009, blog.2012pro.com , by Gerard Le Flamand

How to survive in a situation when some major crisis occurs and leave everybody without electricity for months or even years?
The electricity has only been a common household item in the last 50 or so years. Before that, people have survived for ages – so a lack of electricity for any duration of time is something that can be overcome. But for most modern Americans, the loss of power means the complete loss of normalcy. Their lifestyle is so dependent upon the grid’s constancy that they do not know how to function without it. How do you cook a meal if your gas stove has an electric ignition? How do you keep warm if your wood heat is moved through ducts by an electric fan? What do you do with a freezer full of expensive meat? How do you find out what is happening in your area with the TV and radio silent? What will you drink if your water comes from a system dependent on electrical pumps?

These are questions that both the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency are asking people to seriously consider.

There are five primary areas that are easily disrupted if the power goes off. Each of these is critical to daily survival, as well, so when making preparations for emergencies keep these in mind. In order of importance, they are: light, water, cooking, heating/cooling, and communication.

Lighting: It wasn’t too long ago that people were active during the day and simply went to sleep when the sun went down. Candlelight dinners were the norm. So candles or oil lamps and matches are one option. Stock up on oil and have enough candles to get you through the catastrophic event. However they are limited in quantity. After doomsday in 2012 you probably will need to learn how to make candles or lamps by yourself from the natural products.

Another option is to purchase a couple of solar or mechanically powered torches. For example, solar-powered lamps. They are typically small fluorescents, and can be run off of battery systems. It may take more than one day of bright sunlight to recharge these lamps, so you may need several—one to use, while others are recharging. The light is white and clear, good for area-lighting, and rather difficult to read by. Have extra fluorescent bulbs on hand, too.

Water: If you have a rainwater tank, no electricity means that pumps would not work to bring the water to your tap. Sure, having a generator would be handy for a few days, or as long as you have fuel. The easiest way to guarantee quality water is to store it. The important question is: how much? Both Red Cross and FEMA suggest a minimum of one gallon per day per person. This is an absolute minimum, and covers only your real drinking and cooking needs; bathing is out of the question. Another question is: how to get fresh water then the storage is empty? You will need to find a source of water (it must be filtered and purified before use).

Cooking:  You could quite easily cook a meal using a little portable gas stove – either a barbecue style apparatus. But you’d obviously need gas. Outdoor cooking of all kinds, including grilling and barbecuing, all work during surviving situations, provided you have the charcoal or wood (and matches!) needed to get the heat going. Never use these devices in a confined space, as they emit carbon monoxide!

Not having electricity brings the added difficulty of food storage. The old-time refrigerator is a round hole three feet deep. Dig it in your yard (or special place in your bunker) line it with plastic and place a hard cover over it. This hole will keep food from spoiling due to its lower temperature. Most foods would have to be non-perishable, pantry items. For meats you could salt and dry them (also the life important skills after doomsday 2012 ). You could plant some fruit trees and grow your own vegetables (& herbs).

Heating and cooling: All of the heaters obviously need fuel. It can be woodstoves, propane heaters, kerosene heaters…
One of the most efficient ways to heat is something else we have forgotten in the past 50 years—close off rooms that are not being used. You can minimize the heat lost in the closed room (or bunker) so you actually wouldn’t use that much fuel on heating.

Solar heat can be “grabbed” anytime the light from the sun hits your house. Even in the dead of winter, the south-facing walls will feel noticeably warmer than the shaded north-facing ones. You can “store” the sun’s heat in any surface. Ceramic floor tiles, for instance, are excellent at retaining heat. So will a flat-black painted covered plastic trash can filled with water. If these surfaces are exposed to sunlight, say, indoors next to a south-facing window, they will absorb heat during the day. At night, with the window curtains closed, the surface will release heat slowly and steadily into the house.

Communications:  It would be very hard to maintain the communication between a large numbers of people simultaneously without electricity after doomsday of 2012. Communication relates to our phones, cell phones, televisions and the internet. Radios would be the primary source of communication, as they were before television. There are some radios that you can buy which rely on solar or mechanically generated power to operate.

(End of post)

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Filed under Survival Manual, __5. Energy

How to keep warm at home

(Survival Manual/Prepper articles/ How to keep warm at home)

A.  Ice Storm Survival Preparedness
Posted on 14 December 2012, ModernSurvivalBlog.com, Submitted by: Ken Jorgustin (MSB)
Pasted from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/weather-preparedness/ice-storm-survival-preparedness/

warmathome ice storm
An Ice Storm is a unique weather phenomenon that immediately paralyzes a region, much more so than a major snow storm. An ice storm is so debilitating that you risk your survival and life simply by walking out your front door.

Just prior to nearly any forecast of a major storm, people rush out to the grocery stores, which quickly run out of lots of food and supplies. How does this happen? Its pretty simple really… just think about your own habit of going to the grocery store… you probably go on the same day of the week, right? Let’s say you normally go Friday, someone else goes Saturday, yet another always goes on Tuesday, etc. When a storm is forecast, people disregard their normal schedule and many of them run out to the store during the same day just before the storm. Bingo… the store shelves go empty. The lesson is to NOT have to run out – keep enough at home to begin with. Not only that, but an ice storm will completely prohibit you from running that errand as soon as the fist liquid begins to freeze into ice.

EXPECT more dumb decisions. As it is, a certain percentage of people make dumb decisions, but for some reason just prior and during a storm, there are more of them making poor choices. There will be more accidents (automobile and otherwise). People rushing around, nearly panicked. Out for themselves. It’s really quite amazing to witness. So the best advice is to stay out of their way, and better yet, stay at home!

If you are stuck at home for days with the rest of your family, it will become increasingly likely that you will all get bored or stressed out. Think ahead of time for things to do. Have books to read. Games to play. Projects to accomplish. Be extra nice so as to reduce the possible stress around everyone.

Ice will quickly bring traffic to a crawl or complete halt. Cars may become abandoned and roads completely impassible. Even though you may have a 4×4, keep TIRE CHAINS in your vehicle. A 4-wheel drive will do no good on ice, just like a 2-wheel drive vehicle. Chains however will add biting grip to your tires (even 2-wheel drive vehicles) and may be the difference to get you home. They are easy to get… just ‘size’ them according to the tire model/size that you have. Oh, and once you get them, be sure and familiarize yourself with putting them on one time in your driveway, when the weather is nice, so you know how to do it!

One major danger and risk is that the power often goes out during an ice storm. The weight of the build-up of ice on the power lines and tree branches is enormous (more than you may think). Once a critical point is reached, these lines and limbs will start crashing down. Even worse is that it will be nearly impossible for repair crews to do their job until AFTER an ice storm. This means that you may be without power for a LONG TIME.

During the winter, being without power is an entirely different deal than a summertime power outage. Even a relatively short term power outage in the winter can be deadly. Your home will likely lose its ability to heat. Pipes may freeze. You may freeze. It is crucial to consider an alternative method for keeping warm. Safe portable indoor heaters are available. Of course a wood stove is a no-brainer.

Remember this, whereas during a power outage resulting from a snow storm may allow you to drive to another location which has heat or power, during an ice storm you will NOT be able to safely travel. This makes it all the more important to have a means of keeping warm in your home during a power outage.

Plus, there are all of the other aspects that go with getting along without power…

For your vehicle, keep tire chains, tow strap, salt/sand, shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, a safe gas can, extra gloves, extra hat, blanket, 72-hour kit with food (or at least some power bars, etc.), road flares, LED flashlight, car charger for cell phone, and whatever else you think may be good to have just in case…

A few additional preparedness items for home include LED flashlights, extra batteries, solar battery charger, portable battery powered AM/FM Shortwave radio, a weather radio, a safe indoor cooking stove, enough food, some stored water in case municipal tap water pumps go dead, generator, extra fuel in safe gas cans, car charger for your cell phone, and most important of all… enough hot chocolate!

If you have large trees or limbs over or near your home or roof, be very aware of this. A falling tree can easily slice into a house and kill you. Consider trimming large limbs that may be a risk. At the very least, I would not sleep or spend much time in a room underneath such a danger zone.

Conserve the power on your cell phone. Shut it off except for when you are going to use it. Cell towers are often repaired well before the power comes back on, so bear that in mind.

If you are ‘out’ and you hear a forecast of icing, do your best to get where you are going to go, BEFORE the event. Your ears should perk up when you hear the word, ICE.
Be prepared.


B. How to Winterize Your Home
15 Dec 2012, The Ready Store,
Pasted from: http://www.thereadystore.com/diy/5657/how-to-winterize-your-home?utm_source=rne_mon_20121217&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=monday&utm_content=main

Previously, we talked about what you could do to prepare for a power outage during the winter. But how can do you winterize your home to be ready for the snow and cold weather?

Here are a few points to consider as the winter weather descends upon us. Check out these points and then add your insights below. Your tips could save people money and time as they prepare.

Reverse the fan
One thing that most people don’t think about is reversing the ceiling fan. Hot air rises and you’ll want to make sure that the warm air that is collecting around your ceiling is being pushed back down into the room to heat everyone.

Clean the gutters
The last thing you’ll want to do in the middle of the winter is climb up on your frozen roof on a cold ladder and take out soggy and frozen leaves from your gutters. Cleaning your gutters allows cold water to quickly get off your roof and not collect.

Besides making sure that your house is well insulated, make sure that there aren’t any large cracks or leaks in your home. Those cracks can let hot air out and drain your heating bill.

You’ll also want to make sure that the seal around your windows and doors is tight. Many people even consider putting bubble wrap or other clear plastics around their window during the winter to allow light to come in and cold air out. You can even sew your own door draft stopper.

Planting a windbreakers
This probably isn’t something that you can do quickly or easily but you should consider planting evergreen trees close to your home. This keeps a buffer of tree between your house and the cold wind outside. The evergreen trees will also force cold winds up and around your house.

Programmable gadgets
One new trend is consumers who are installing timers on their heating systems or water heaters in order to only run during certain times of the day. This allows you to only heat when you need it – saving you money!

Shut the door
Many times it’s just more efficient not to heat a room. If there is a storage room that you aren’t using – just close the vent and the door. That allows you to focus your heating on the rooms that you use on a regular basis. You’ll have to make sure that without the vents open the room doesn’t get too cold that you have a busted pipe.

Use your large appliances
When it gets cold outside, clean the house. The heat that the washer, dryer, dishwasher, oven and other appliances put off will heat your home when it’s cold. That means you’ll want to make sure that your appliances are in working order.

Make sure you have an auto emergency kit
While you’re out and about during the winter time, make sure that you have the proper equipment in your car. That means having jumper cables, food, water and other items that will be necessary if your car breaks down in a winter storm.


C.  How to Stay Warm with Less Heat
4 Dec 2012, TheOrganicPrepper.ca, by Daisy Luther
Posted from: http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/how-to-stay-warm-with-less-heat-2-12042012

warmathome cold day

I live in an older house.  It’s not too fancy, but it features things like wood heat, an independent water supply and a million dollar view with a frugal price tag.   In the Northern winter, however, I notice exactly how drafty and chilly our little house is!  The breeze off the lake also increases the nip in the air.  With an older wood stove as our only source of heat, the rooms more distant from the stove move from chilly to downright COLD.

From a prepping point of view, using less heat allows you to extend your fuel supply. If you are totally without heat, greater measures would need to be taken than the ones listed here.  For some SHTF heating ideas, this article has some fantastic and inexpensive tips.

I rent so it isn’t feasible to insulate or replace the windows and wood stove with more efficient models. So, in the interest of non-tech solutions, here are a few ways that we keep warmer without plugging in the electric space heaters.

warmathome dress warm Keep your wrists and ankles covered.  Wear shirts with sleeves long enough to keep your wrists covered and long socks that keep your ankles covered.  You lose a great deal of heat from those two areas.

Get some long-johns.  Wearing long underwear beneath your jeans or PJ’s will work like insulation to keep your body heat in.  I like the silky kind sold by discount stores like Wal-mart for indoor use, rather than the sturdier outdoor type sold by ski shops.

Wear slippers.  You want to select house shoes with a solid bottom rather than the slipper sock type.  This forms a barrier between your feet and the cold floor.  We keep a basket of inexpensive slippers in varying sizes by the door for visitors because it makes such a big difference.  Going around in your stocking feet on a cold floor is a certain way to be chilled right through.

Get up and get moving.  It goes without saying that physical activity will increase your body temperature.  If you’re cold, get up and clean something, dance with your kids, play tug-of-war with the dog, or do a chore.  I often bring in a few loads of wood to get my blood flowing and get warmed up.

Pile on the blankets. If you’re going to be sitting down, have some layered blankets available.  Our reading area has polar fleece blankets which we top with fluffy comforters for a cozy place to relax.

warmathome sleep warm

Use a hot water bottle.  If you’re just sitting around try placing a hot water bottle (carefully wrapped to avoid burns) under the blankets with you.

Use rice bags.  If you don’t have the readymade ones, you can simply place dry rice in a clean sock.  Heat this in the microwave, if you use one, for about a minute, or place in a 100 degree oven, watching carefully, for about 10 minutes.  I keep some rice bags in a large ceramic crock beside the wood stove so they are constantly warm.  You can put your feet on them or tuck them under the blankets on your lap.

warmathome warm room

Insulate using items you have.  A friend recommended lining the interior walls with bookcases or hanging decorative quilts and blankets on the walls to add an extra layer of insulation. It definitely makes a difference because it keeps heat in and cold air out. If you look at pictures of old castles you will see lovely tapestry wall-hangings – this was to help insulate the stone walls, which absorbed the cold and released it into the space.

Layer your windows.  Our house has large lovely picture windows for enjoying the view.  However, they’re single pane and it’s hard to enjoy the view if your teeth are chattering.  We took the rather drastic step of basically closing off all the windows but one in each room for the winter.  We insulated by placing draft blockers at the bottom in the window sill (I just used rolled up polar fleece – I’m not much of a sew-er.)  This was topped by a heavy blanket, taking care to overlap the wall and window edges with it.  Over that, we hung thermal curtains that remain closed.

 Get a rug.  If you have hardwood, tile or laminate flooring, an area rug is a must.  Like the blankets on the walls, this is another layer of insulation between you and the great outdoors.  We have no basement so our floor is very chilly.  A rug in the living room protects our feet from the chill.

Wear a scarf.  No, not like a big heavy wool scarf that you’d wear outdoors – just a small, lightweight one that won’t get in your way and annoy you.  This serves two purposes.  First, it covers a bit more exposed skin. Secondly, it keeps body heat from escaping out the neck of your shirt.

Burn candles.  Especially in a smaller space, a burning candle can raise the temperature a couple of degrees.

Cuddle.  Share your body heat under the blankets when you’re watching movies or reading a book.

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With electric power– Without electric power

A. 10 Things People Will Miss Most Without Electricity At Home
22 July 2014, Modern Survival Blog, by Ken Jorgustin
Pasted from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/preps/10-things-you-will-miss-most-without-electricity-at-home/#more-28882

With electric meter

To go without electricity for a couple of hours is a bad enough experience for most, but imagine the horror if the power grid were to stay down for days, or even weeks!

Can you imagine the unthinkable and challenge yourself to consider life without electricity for 1-year or more (e.g. SHTF after an EMP cluster)?

The resulting shock to today’s modern man (and woman) would not only be an emotional jolt, but could quickly turn into a life threatening reality for those who have not prepared for such an occurrence. It could be life threatening even for those who have prepared!

Without electricity (even for a short time), these ten things will be high on the list for most people; the things that will be missed the most based on the modern lifestyle of today. 

The most basic of luxury that electricity provides is our light at night, and even during the day. How long will your batteries last in your flashlights? Then what? Do you have a plan for that?

Most of today’s communications revolve around our cell phones / smart phones. They are the lifeblood of our social networks and the primary means of communicating with our family and friends. How will you cope without that ability to communicate?

This category should almost go without saying… it is probably the most relied upon resource in our modern lives today. It is crucial to our communications, our finances, our economy, and our entertainment. Many people won’t know what to do without it.

The average adult watches 4 hours of television a day while the typical child watches 6 hours TV per day including their video-games. It will be a shock to the (emotional) system without this distraction.

I mention this category due to the observation of so many people walking around with ear-buds attached to their iPod (and other) devices while listening to their music. There will be no recharging these little entertainment devices. Like television, music is a major part of the background (and foreground) entertainment for many people.

Many modern buildings will be completely uninhabitable without it, due to modern day HVAC design into large multi-story buildings. We have lived for many decades with the convenience of air-conditioning, and being without it will be a shock. Not sure how many could survive without it these days. If electricity were to fail in the winter, there will be even more grave consequences!

This appliance is in its own category due to the important role it serves in keeping your food fresh longer and the ability to keep you supplied with fresh food for a time. Without electricity your frozen foods will be thawed within 24 hours and will need to be consumed immediately or tossed out. Then what?

How will you handle first thing in the morning without a cup of coffee brewed in your electric coffee pot? Think about ALL of your kitchen appliances that run on electricity and how you would manage without them. No dishwasher? No appliances to assist?

The majority of people rely on an electric stove, oven or microwave for cooking their food. Let that sink in a moment…

Keeping our clothes clean is something that we completely take for granted. It would not take long for this situation to become unhealthy.

Observations and considerations…
Entertainment. Some of the categories listed above are really subsets of “Entertainment”. It WILL be a major emotional factor for many people when they lose it because most people rely on it for daily distraction. When things go “quiet”, it will be jarring for most who have become accustomed to the constant ‘noise’. They will be forced to deal with the reality of their own life and circumstances, and may not know what to do. It could even result in a rapid escalation of social chaos, particularly in densely populated areas as tempers flare while people are forced to deal not only with the loss of their distractions, but they will be forced to deal with survival itself.

Communications. My observations of the world we live in today reveal that many people, if not most, always seem to be on a cell phone talking with someone else – everywhere they go. In the car, in the store, at home, on the street, at work… It seems to reflect an insecurity of sorts. The need to be in constant contact with their circle of friends. Without this emotional support structure of constant communication, these people will have a very difficult time coping (with real life). Even if cell towers are up for awhile during a power outage, when your cell phone battery drains, that’s it… Silence.

Kitchen. You better start thinking about how you’ll manage without your electrical appliances – your stove – your microwave – your refrigerator and freezer – even if only for a week. Do you have the ability to put food on the table without them? Do you have food that doesn’t require cooking? Do you have any food at all? Think of a power outage or grid-down scenario in terms of various lengths of time. While it’s pretty easy to survive a few hours or even a day or two, start thinking about a week or more – and what you would do.

Water. While this resource is pretty much #1 for survival, during short term power outages you will not lose your water pressure. This will only become a critical issue if electricity is lost for a significant period of time. All water municipalities have power generators for their pumps, and so long as they can get fuel for their water pumps, they can keep the water flowing. A severe enough disaster however could throw a wrench in the works. This is similar for sewage treatment. A long-term outage will prove disastrous in the water and sewer category.

Hopefully these thoughts have given you something to think about. If you are inclined to become better prepared for such things, spend a day keeping track of everything that you do and see how many of those activities involve the requirement of electricity. Then imagine life without it. Figure out ways to survive without it.

with electric tube vs solid state


B. Off the Grid – Solar Power, part 1
3 August 2012, Prepping To Survive, by Mike
Pasted from; http://preppingtosurvive.com/2012/08/03/off-the-grid-solar-power-part-1/

The following article has been contributed by a fellow prepper named Mike. It has been published with permission of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of PreppingToSurvive.com.

“So, what happens if and when the grid goes down for an extended period of time? Aside from the aggravation of not being able to determine what is happening through traditional media channels, for the Average Joe, his problems have only just begun. Our dependency to the grid doesn’t just stop at lack of electricity in our homes to power our appliances or an inability to charge our cell phones; it is much broader and affects every aspect of our lives”.

Oh how true that statement is; most people could not survive a day without computers, refrigeration, cell phones and TV. Most people have never had to live off the grid unless they were primitive camping; and even then it was probably only for a weekend. But for some of us people planning to use our yachts as a refuge for when the SHTF, using solar is already being practiced. Some of us have already taken the steps necessary to keep the power flowing; we have built our own power grid. We have tested it in the actual real world environment and have been using it when we are away from the dock for pleasure, so we know the application and technology works.

Solar panels have been successfully used since the mid 1950s, originally used in manned space exploration. They have been dropping in price since about 2004 when their popularity really took off. And now with the Green movement afoot, solar panels are as popular as ever. After evaluating my yacht’s energy consumption, it was obvious that we must make some changes to be able to survive during and after the SHTF. So a couple years ago, I set out to research them and determine how to buy and install one; boy was I was in for a shock.

with electric pv1

You can find many retail suppliers online that will sell you a solar panel but nowhere could I find a detailed description of how to determine what to buy and how to install it; much less aboard a yacht. So these articles were born as I made my way through the process; thus was a truly a learn-as-you-go article. If you are thinking about installing one at your home versus on a boat, the principles are still the same.

 What is a Solar Panel and How Do They Work?
Solar panels are in theory any panel that uses the sun’s thermal energy to produce electricity. A solar panel can be described as a photovoltaic panel, the term used in the industry, for panels designed to produce electricity from the rays of the sun. Despite the category of solar panel being discussed, almost all solar panels are flat. This is because the face of the panel needs to be at a 90 degree angle from the sun’s rays for the most favorable angle to absorb the sun’s rays.

Solar panels are able to take in energy from the sun through an array of solar cells on their surface. Much like how a plant is able to soak up energy from the sun for photosynthesis, solar cells perform in a comparable manner. As the sun’s rays hit the solar cells on a photovoltaic panel, the power is transferred to a silicon semiconductor. The power is then changed into (dc) direct current electricity and then passed through connecting wires to finally enter a storage battery.

with electric a panelTypical 150 watt solar panel

 Types of Solar Panels
Types of panels most normally used in boating applications have either multicrystalline or amorphous thin-film cells. Multicrystalline panels are the oldest technology available and also the most powerful. When sized appropriately and matched to suitable batteries, these are the panels to use for operating large loads such as refrigeration.

Amorphous thin film solar panels are only about 50% as effective as multicrystalline panels, but can be bought in flexible forms so they can roll or fold, or correspond to the shape of a yacht cabin top or bimini. They don’t normally have enough output for significant energy replenishment, but can be used to trickle charge a battery bank.


 C.  Off the Grid – Solar Power, part 2
7 August 2012, Prepping To Survive, by Mike
Pasted from: http://preppingtosurvive.com/2012/08/07/off-the-grid-solar-power-part-2/

The following article has been contributed by a fellow prepper named Mike. It has been published with permission of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of PreppingToSurvive.com.

This article is the second in a three-part series on off-grid survival using solar power. In the first installment, I talked about how solar power works and the types of solar panels available. In this article, I’ll share with you how to calculate how much energy you’ll need to support your home or boat. In the third and final post, I’ll share how to mount and wire your new panels.

with electric pv2

 How Much Power Do Solar Cells Make?
Generally, we measure solar panels by wattage and that is how we buy them. You can buy solar panels for boats as small as 10 watts to as large as 200 watts or even larger. But it is easier to understand when we convert watts to amperage.

We arrive at these values by multiplying the number of hours the panel spends in full sun (usually defined as 8 per day in Florida) times the panel’s wattage.
For a 195 watt solar panel the output would be 195 x 8 hrs = 1,560 watts/day. Taking it step further, 1,560 watts/12 volts = 130 amps per day.
Keep in mind that solar panels produce DC power which means that you will need a deep cycle battery bank to hold the charge. Batteries are rated by the amp hours they hold.

 So what is Needed in a Solar Panel Setup?
Obviously one or more solar panels are necessary to make the system work. In addition, you will need:

  • a large bank of deep cycle batteries, the bigger the bank the better
  • an inverter, choose between pure sin or modified (to be discussed in another article)
  • a controller and
  • proper wiring and fuses to wire the parts together.

with electric 500 Ahr battery bank

Energy Consumption – A
My guiding principle on how many panels to buy is simple; buy as many panels as your budget and mounting location will allow. You cannot have too many. But you should complete an energy audit to make sure you are buying enough for your needs.

Example, if you have 3 interior lights that draw 2 amps each and you leave them on for 4 hours per day, your consumption would be 3 x 2 x 4 = 24 AH/Day.

You can generally find the amp load for appliances on a label inside a door etc.

 Electrical Loads

Amps Hours AH/Day
House Lighting
Total Amp Hours


Inverter Loads – B
An inverter is a device that coverts battery DC power to household AC power; without an inverter, unlike on a yacht, your solar panel will have little value if used at a home. But with an inverter you can use your hair dryer.

Inverter loads use DC power but they are powering AC appliances and equipment. If you need to convert watts to amps use (12watts/12 volts = 1amp).

Amps Hours AH/Day
Hair Dryer
Total Amp Hours
Calculate your total daily energy consumption AH/per day

 Solar Energy Production – C
Alternative sources of power such as solar panels can replace the amp/hrs drawn from the batteries. But like the energy budget that calculated your usage you will also need to calculate your re-supply of amp hours. Remember the formula – (12 watts/12 volts = 1 amp). But keep in mind, the formula is only a gage; absolute accuracy can only be where the panel output is constant and a solar panel may at times operate inefficiently due to shading by clouds.

Watts Amps X – Hours Sun Exposure = – AH/Day
Solar Panel 1
Solar Panel 2
Total Amp Hours Production

 Solar Panel Needs
Compare the daily energy consumption in AH/Day to the solar energy production. Your solar energy production ( C ) should be greater than the consumption ( A, B ). If not, select a larger wattage panel and recalculate. Always purchase more solar panel output than you will think you will need; some planners recommend at least 30% in excess.

We bought our panel from Sun Electronics in Miami, http://www.sunelec.com as they had the best pricing I could find anywhere online. But remember, panels must be shipped via freight as they are heavily packed to reduce the chance of damage so be sure to calculate those costs in your purchase.

(Survival Manual/ prepper Articles/With electric power–Without electric power)

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After peak oil

(Survival manual/2. Social issues/After peak oil)

1.  Peak Oil facts
2. When the lights go out
3. Depletion of key resources
4. Peak oil info and strategies
5. Urban vs. Rural Sustainability
6. Cities, Peak Oil and Sustainability
7. Surviving Peak Oil, The Economic Meltdown and A Possible New Great Depression

Oil is the fuel that enabled the growth of modern civilization, and all industrialized countries now rely on it to an extraordinary extent.
Oil provides 40 percent of all primary energy, and 90 percent of our transportation energy.
It is furthermore critical to industrial agriculture, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, much of the clothing industry, and a vast array of others.
The physical and chemical versatility of oil, combined with its high energy density, are such that no other known energy source can serve as a full or even adequate substitute. In short, oil is the lifeblood of the industrial world.

Once peak oil hits, economic growth will  be gone. Our financial system needs growth to sustain it, so that loans can be paid back with interest. What has been economic growth may be replaced with economic  decline.

1.  Peak Oil Facts & What They Mean to You

Pasted from <http://www.energytrove.com/peak-oil-facts.html>
The peak oil facts are undisputed despite the raging debate over when it will actually occur. This page summarizes peak oil theory, facts and what it all means to you…
•  Undisputed facts about peak oil
•  Peak oil: taking the facts one step further
•  Projections about peak oil’s timing
•  Boiling it all down & next steps

Undisputed Peak Oil Facts
There are widely opposing viewpoints about peak oil. When will it happen? How much oil is left? How will renewable energy reduce its demand? What will be the impact to the national and global economy?

Before you can consider these questions, their implications and what they mean to you, you must first establish a foundation of the undisputed peak oil facts accepted by all viewpoints…

Fact #1 of 11 Peak Oil Facts:
Oil is a nonrenewable resource, which means that it can’t be reproduced for use by humans (it is made over millions of years). In other words, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Fact #2: Peak oil occurs and can be confirmed when the rate at which oil is taken from the ground worldwide hits its high point and starts to decline.

Fact #3: There are a finite number of oil reserves on the planet. Regardless of technological advancements that allow us to find and extract what’s there, eventually existing reserves will be depleted and there will be no more oil to find.

Fact  #4: All individual oil fields (and therefore all nations’ and the planet’s oil production) inevitably peak, decline and are depleted. For example, the United States reached peak oil production in the 1970’s which has been in decline ever since.

Fact #5: One or both of two things must occur after peak oil is reached and the decline in oil production continues:
•  The price of oil will go up
•  The demand for oil will go down

__Peak Oil Facts In Context: Canadian Tar Sands
Canada has about 178 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (2nd only to Saudi Arabia), over 95% of which are in the form of oil sand deposits. If it could be easily extracted, it would still only add about another 5- 1/2 years to the world’s oil supply at the current rate of consumption. However…
The amount of oil able to be extracted per day from tar sands: About 3.5 million barrels or roughly 4% of the world’s daily consumption

__Environmental impact of tar sand oil extraction:
•  By 2012, the Canadian tar sands operations are expected to  use as much gas as is needed to heat all of the homes in Canada.
•  Extracting oil from tar sands causes as much as 3 times the greenhouse gas pollution as a regular barrel of oil.
•  Canadian tar sands production methods do not comply with many U.S. environmental laws.
In either  case, all but the wealthiest individuals must reduce their dependence on oil as the price increases.

Fact  #6: Our current prevailing culture is utterly dependent on oil.Oil makes the modern world tick… not only does it fuel our cars, trucks, trains, boats and planes but it is used to produce the materials they are made up of.

It’s also extensively used during every step of the food process up to the point that the food enters your mouth… oil’s products are used to plant seeds, fertilize crops, kill bugs and weeds, harvest crops (which are also fed to the animals we eat) and to preserve, package, ship and refrigerate our food. Fully one-fifth of the United States’ oil consumption is used to produce and transport our food.

Oil is also used directly or indirectly to create the utensils, plates, pots, pans, counters, stoves, dinner tables and chairs that we use when cooking and eating…not to mention part of the electricity used to cook our food and to keep the lights on while we eat.
Rather use candles? Most are made of paraffin wax which is made from refined oil.
Countless oil-derived products are used in our everyday lives. See some common examples in the table above:

Fact  #7: Demand for oil is overtaking the speed at which we can produce it, regardless of peak oil’s timing, which will ultimately prevent oil prices from falling.
If demand continues on the same long-term trajectory — which appears to be the case outside of intermittent fluctuations caused by economic factors — there is no end in sight to rising oil prices.
The 2008 “Great Recession” caused a reduction in the demand of oil which caused its price to drop, but oil’s price must resume its increases for two main reasons:
1)  As illustrated in Fact #6 above and Fact #8 below, oil is used in too many aspects of our lives for us to reduce our consumption past a certain point and there is not enough energy available from alternative sources to make up for a significant shortfall.
2)  If oil’s demand drops for a long enough period of time, either production will slow down and bring prices back in line or production will continue at its current pace thus getting us closer to depleting the world’s oil (and therefore reducing oil’s supply which will eventually bringing its price back up). At best, reduction in the demand of oil would only serve to push back the timing of peak oil.
For a case in point about our world’s unquenchable and growing thirst for oil, consider that the United States and its 311 million citizens currently consume about 25% of the world’s oil and increase their demand every year.

__Chinese Oil Flow
China, the most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion citizens, currently consumes 9% of the world’s oil. It is increasing its oil consumption at a rate of 7.5% per year, 7 times faster than the U.S.
According to the International Energy Agency, by 2030 world energy demand will be 40% higher than it was in 2007: “Price volatility will continue, but the days of cheap energy are over.”

The United States Joint Forces Command concludes, “Assuming the most optimistic scenario for improved petroleum production through enhanced recovery means, the development of non-conventional oils (such as oil shales or tar sands) and new discoveries, petroleum production will be hard pressed to meet the expected future demand of 118 million barrels per day.”

__Peak Oil Facts In Context: New Oil Discoveries
The 10 largest oil discoveries from 2000 – 2010 combined (including Brazil’s 2010 discoveries) amount to about 48 billion barrels.
•  The world’s 2010 oil consumption per day was 87.4 million barrels
•  Number of days these combined discoveries will last at current rate of consumption: 549 (about 1.5 years)
In a typical economic scenario, when a  price point gets too high consumers simply shift their buying over to another good or service. But what happens when our infrastructure, products and services
don’t have a viable replacement?

Fact  #8: On the global scale, renewable energy sources and non-conventional oil will come nowhere close to offsetting our dependence on oil through 2030 and beyond.
According to United States Joint Forces Command, even taking into account all other available energy sources, oil will still need to satisfy the majority of our energy needs through 2030.
ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the world, agrees: “80% of global energy needs through 2030 will continue to be met by oil, natural gas and coal.”

Fact #9: Everyone will eventually be forced to reduce their consumption of oil and its byproducts. Whether oil price increases make it unaffordable or government policy requires less consumption, as oil production continues to decline every single person will be affected at some point.

__Energy Per Barrel: Pros & Cons
One barrel of oil is equivalent to about 25,000 hours of human labor. Assuming weekends off, no vacation time and a 40 hour work week, that’s equivalent to over 12 years of work from one person.
That much work packed into one barrel of oil has enabled humans to accomplish amazing feats, ultimately allowing us to grow our global population 575% since 1857 when the first large oil refinery was built. That’s a growth of 5.8 billion people over the last 150 years compared to 1.2 billion over the previous 2,000. What happens as that amazing energy source starts to go away?

Fact  #10: Those people that have permanently adopted the use of less oil-dependent products, services, forms of energy and lifestyles will be less affected as the availability of oil declines and its price increases.

Fact  #11:  On the individual level, reducing dependence on oil is affordable and requires only minor changes to lifestyle. There are hundreds of ways to reduce your dependence on oil and the other finitely-available fossil fuels, many of which are either completely free or very affordable.
For example, replacing just one incandescent light bulb with an energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulb and always turning it off when it’s not in use can save up to $75 or more per year (this is after taking the higher cost of the fluorescent bulb into account). And that’s just the very tip of the energy-saving, oil-dependence-reducing iceberg.

More on what can be done on the individual level in a moment. First, let’s discuss how these peak oil facts will affect the oil-dependent…

Taking the Peak Oil Facts One Step Further & What it Means to You
As  illustrated above, oil is intimately connected to almost every aspect our culture. So what happens when the price of oil increases? History has shown the following three effects:

1)  Inflation goes up proportionately. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), “inflation, measured by the rate of change in the consumer price index (CPI), tracks movements in the world oil price.”
What this means to you: A little inflation is a good thing. By encouraging people to outpace it, low inflation (as opposed to 0% inflation or deflation) leads to additional investing and borrowing thereby creating jobs, additional spending and an improved economy.
But rising inflation is bad for several reasons. In general, it means that the money you earn today (or saved in the past) will not buy you as much tomorrow… especially if your employer’s pay raises don’t keep up. For example, a 5% pay raise alongside 2% inflation means that you’ll be able to buy 3% more stuff with your money than you could previously. But that same 5% pay raise alongside 10% inflation has the opposite effect: a reduced standard of living.
It’s also bad news for retirement accounts since higher inflation makes it more difficult for your investments to outpace it, ultimately leaving you with a difficult decision: make riskier investments in an attempt to outpace higher inflation or remain in safer investments and watch your money lose value.
Higher inflation also leads to higher interest rates which makes borrowing money more expensive.

2)  The price of oil-dependent goods and services increases. Not surprisingly, when the cost of a good or service’s underlying expenses go up, the price of those goods and services must go up as well.
What this means to you: Every oil-dependent product or service that you currently use will go up in price. In general, the more oil that a product or service uses, the more dramatic its price increase will be.
For example, the price of corn keeps pace with the price of oil since so much oil is used in its production and because ethanol, an alternative energy source, is made from corn. Organic crops, on the other hand, use much less oil and are therefore less affected.

3)  Recession occurs. The DoE also points out that since the 1970s there have been “dramatic changes in GDP growth as the world oil price has undergone dramatic change.”11 More explicitly, as the price of oil and inflation (CPI’s rate of increase) go up, the economy goes down.
What this means to you: Recessions cause obvious hardships… unemployment rises, employer pay falls or remains stagnant, housing prices fall and inflation becomes more painful.

To recap what we’ve established so far…

1)  Oil will eventually run out. As it does, the price will continue to go up.
2) If demand outpaces supply before oil runs out, the price will go up in a similar fashion since oil is unique in its energy-producing capacity and because…
3) On a global scale, oil will be still be required to provide as much as 80% of our energy needs by 2030; there will not be enough power available from alternative sources to reduce our projected dependence on oil much below this.
4) On an individual scale, reducing oil dependence is relatively easy and affordable.
Before getting into ways to reduce our individual oil dependence, the next question should be obvious: when will peak oil – or the time when demand outstrips supply – occur? In other words, how much time do we have?

Boiling down the Peak Oil Facts & Next Steps
Oil is going away eventually for all of us – either because we’ll use it all up or because it will become too expensive as its demand outstrips its supply.

Rising oil prices will cause a severe and compounding downward spiral in a world that is dramatically underprepared with alternative energy sources; The inevitable oil-induced inflation increases, the higher cost of oil-dependent goods and services and an ongoing recession that is in lock-step with rising oil prices will eat away at more and more of our paychecks and savings.

When evaluating predictions from the US and international governments to the largest oil companies to organizations specifically focused on analyzing the data, it appears that if the scales have not tipped already, at the latest they will have by the time our babies are out of college.

This all may come as a shock. (Why hasn’t the media at-large assembled and communicated the research and opinions? Why isn’t the government acting more aggressively on the opinions of the organizations that they themselves have charged with compiling the research?)

Regardless of who’s right about the timing or how quickly the data will make its way into the minds of the masses, the peak oil facts should leave you asking three important questions first over all others:
1) When (not if) oil peaks or its demand outstrips its supply, how will the rising cost of oil affect you and your family?
2) What is the worst thing that can happen by beginning a transition to a less oil- and fossil-fuel-dependent lifestyle? (Here’s part of the answer: it will permanently reduce your expenses, freeing your money up for use elsewhere)
c) What can you do now to begin the transition?
Fortunately, the transition –- and where it leads — is neither all that bad nor expensive.
Pasted from <http://www.energytrove.com/peak-oil-facts.html>

First, about 2008-2010, global oil use per capita (purple bell curve on bottom) is seen just beginning to decline from its peak plateau. It’s use per capita declines at a rate of about 20% per decade so that in 50-60 years there is very little being used

Coal quickly peaks after oil and by 2025, it too is in decline.

The Human population has exploded as a result of the energy bonanza provided by petroleum and coal and their generation of electricity, resource extraction and transportation. The population numbers steeply declines when the free lunch diminishes.

2.  When the Lights Go Out

When the Lights Go Out
10 January 2010, by Peter Goodchild

When fossil fuels begin to vanish, the first sign of the times will not be made of cardboard and propped up in front of an empty gas pump. The sign will be the flickering bulb in the ceiling, because electricity is always the weakest link in the synergistic triad that includes fossil fuels and metals.

When the lights go out, so does everything else. The house or apartment will be largely non-functioning. Not only will there be darkness throughout the dwelling between sunset and sunrise, but all the sockets in the wall will be useless. The “four major appliances,” stove, refrigerator, washer, and drier, will be nothing more than large white objects taking up space, so there will be no means of cooking food or preserving it, and no means of doing laundry. There will be no heating or air-conditioning, because these are either controlled by electricity or entirely powered by it. For the same reason, there will be no plumbing, so clean water will not be coming into the house, and waste water will not be leaving it.

And that is only one’s own habitation. The entire country will be affected, the whole world will be affected. Computers will cease to operate, and computers have insinuated themselves into almost every device we use. There will be no long-distance communication: no telephones, no Internet, no transmission of data from anywhere to anywhere.

Money will largely cease to exist, because there will be no electronic means of sending or receiving it, and no way of balancing accounts. In fact money nowadays is not reckoned as coins or bills, but as data on a screen, and the data will no longer be there. All bank accounts will cease to exist.

Modern medicine will vanish. Doctors will have almost no means of taking care of their patients. Hospitals will be burdened with the sick and dying, and there will be no means of taking care of them. There will not even be a means of removing and burying the dead.

The police will be immobilized, because they will have no means of sending or receiving information. Since police forces anywhere have only enough personnel to deal with normal crises, it will not take long for officers to realize that they are powerless to do anything, but stay home and protect their own families.

For anyone, it will be impossible to jump into a car and get help, because cars require gasoline, and the gas pumps are run by electricity. In any case, the oil wells and the refineries will have ceased operation. The biggest “vicious circle” will have taken place: no electricity means no fossil fuels, and no fossil fuels means no electricity.

For a while, people will try to get by with emergency devices and equipment. Backup generators can save lives for a while, but those generators are not meant to be running for more than a few weeks, because they themselves require fuel. On a more primitive level there will be battery-powered devices, and even simple oil lamps and candles, but these will not last very long.

“When the lights go out” is mainly a synecdoche, of course, because the incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs in a house will not be the major concern: in the daylight hours, one does not need light bulbs. But the flickering of bulbs will nevertheless act as an early-warning system, the canary in the coal mine. During a severe storm, it is the flickering of light bulbs that indicates that it is time to get to whatever emergency supplies have been put aside: bottled water, canned food, and in winter warm clothing. The unsolved problem, however, may be that the concept of “emergency” is usually regarded in terms of a short period of time. There is always the spoken or silent refrain of “until the authorities arrive.” But those authorities will be waiting for other authorities to arrive, and so on ad absurdum.

On a more optimistic note, nevertheless, it must be said that there is a great deal that can be done. Of all the resources one can accumulate, the most important are those that are stored inside one’s own head: knowledge, skills, wisdom. “Knowledge” is perhaps not the right word, though, because to have read or heard a particular fact does not automatically grant the ability to deal with particular issues.

Even more important than mere “knowledge” is practice. For example, I used to read a great many books on vegetable gardening, but when I owned and ran a market garden for several years I was constantly mumbling, “Why isn’t this information in the books?” And there were several answers to that question. In the first place, the books were badly written. Secondly, it is not the overall principles that count, but the minutiae. Thirdly, those particulars often cannot be put into writing or even into speech: “I can’t explain it, I can only show you” is an expression I often heard. A good gardener knows a thousand tiny tricks that lead to success, and it is those particulars that matter, not the general statement that one does not sprinkle seed in a snowstorm.

The skills needed for country living are rarely the same as those needed in the city, although anyone who has built up experience in what the books call “home repair and improvement” will be ahead of those whose knowledge consists of more ethereal matters. Hunting and fishing are not taught in academia.

When I say, “When the lights go out, so does everything else,” I mean “everything in the city.” What matters is not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Living in the city will certainly be a case of the wrong place at the wrong time. There will be no food and no water, and no mans of dealing with the victims of famine and disease. When there is an inkling that the light bulbs everywhere are about to fail, the answer is to be well outside the city limits. One should either be living in the country or at least have some property in the country and a well-tested means of getting there.

Even a plan of that sort, however, involves a few caveats. “Property” in the modern world is nothing more than a convenient legal fiction. If a gang of outlaws moves in next door, or even if there is a single oppressive neighbor to be dealt with, then the whole concept of “property” can vanish into thin air. I have known several cases in which people gave up house and land because they could not deal with troublemakers. What will it be like when the troublemakers are doing something more unpleasant than a little trespassing? So it is good to own property, but it is better to realize that ownership, in the modern sense of the word, might be nothing more than a scrap of paper.

Getting out of the city means knowing the roads ― not the main highways, but the back roads. In an emergency of any duration, the main roads become jammed, partly because of the volume of traffic but also because of accidents. In more severe situations, vehicles will even be abandoned, either because they are out of gas or because the passengers have discovered that it is quicker to walk. Knowing the back roads, and even knowing alternative routes among those back roads, means freedom of choice in one’s movements.

The last matter is that of community. As mentioned above, the concept of property can be illusive, but there is more to consider in the question of who lives in the general area. Neighbors who take pleasure in noisy dogs, loud radios, or heavy drinking can make proximity unpleasant nowadays, but such people may not prevail in the kind of “natural selection” that will take place, where common decency will be everyone’s concern. In any case, the greatest blessing of the post-petroleum age will be the demise of all-terrain vehicles, electronic amplifiers, and the other technological marvels with which people now ruin one another’s enjoyment of “cottage country.”

Even then, the trouble of having a neighbor may be less than the trouble of not having one. It has often been said, correctly, that in reality the loner will not survive. If such a person is the hero of a Hollywood movie, it is only for the sake of a story, for the vicarious excitement of defying the odds. No one can stay awake for a month, cradled in a corner with a gun. Without a family, a band, a tribe, there will be no means of distributing the tasks to be done.

It is not reasonable to expect a perfect neighborhood. Within the happiest band of jungle-dwellers there is gossip, discontent, jealousy, manipulation. Troubles and troublemakers can be dealt with in such a way that the community itself does not fall apart. In a primitive community, ostracism, for example, can be an effective means of resolving a problem. A community leader who lacks what we now call “managerial skills” can be replaced by one who does a better job. It is largely a myth to say that country people are nicer than city people; in any setting, neighbors are merely human, with common desires and antipathies and fears. What is important is not to wish for angelic neighbors but to have enough daily contact with them to anticipate how they will respond in a difficult situation.

When the lights go out, so does everything else, but that is not entirely true for those who are far from the city. Living out in the country when the lights go out means getting a better look at the stars.

3.  Depletion of Key Resources

Depletion of Key Resources: Facts at Your Fingertips
27 January 2010, by Peter Goodchild

The author presents a definitive essay. Learn why,
•  “Those who expect to get by with ‘victory gardens’ are unaware of the arithmetic involved.”
•  “There are already too many people to be supported by non-mechanized agriculture.”
•  “To meet the world’s present energy needs by using solar power, then, we would need… a machine the size of France. The production and maintenance of this array would require vast quantities of hydrocarbons, metals, and other materials — a self-defeating process. Solar power will therefore do little to solve the world’s energy problems.”
•  “In a milieu of social chaos, what are the chances that the oil industry will be using extremely advanced technology to extract the last drops of oil? “

 Modern industrial society is based on a triad of hydrocarbons, metals, and electricity.
The three are intricately connected; each is accessible only if the other two are present. Electricity, for example, can be generated on a global scale only with hydrocarbons. The same dependence on hydrocarbons is true of metals; in fact the better types of ore are now becoming depleted, while those that remain can be processed only with modern machinery and require more hydrocarbons for smelting. In turn, without metals and electricity there would be no means of extracting and processing hydrocarbons. Of the three members of the triad, electricity is the most fragile, and its failure serves as an early warning of trouble with the other two.

Often the interactions of this triad are hiding in plain sight. Global production of steel, for example, requires 420 million tons of coke (from coal) annually, as well as other hydrocarbons adding up to an equivalent of another 100 million tons. To maintain industrial society, the production of steel cannot be curtailed: there are no “green” materials for the construction of skyscrapers, large bridges, automobiles, machinery, or tools. But the interconnections among fossil fuels, metals, and electricity are innumerable.

As each of the three members of the triad threatens to break down, we are looking at a society that is far more primitive than the one to which we have been accustomed.

The ascent and descent of oil production are those of the famous promontory known as Hubbert’s curve. The back side of the mountain probably does not greatly resemble the front. It is likely that the descent will be rather steep, again because of synergistic factors. As oil declines, more energy and money must be devoted to getting the less-accessible and lower-quality oil out of the ground. In turn, as more energy and money are devoted to oil production, the production of metals and electricity becomes more difficult. One problem feeds on another. The issue can also be described in terms of sheer money: when oil production costs about 4.5 percent of the economy, the latter begins a downward spiral.

There is a final piece of ill luck that occurs after the peak. When individual countries such as the USA begin to run out of domestic oil, depletion can be mitigated by the importation of oil from other countries, so the descent is not as troublesome as it might have been. When the entire planet begins to run out of oil, however, there will be nowhere to turn in order to make up the difference. We cannot get oil from outer space.

Global Energy per Capita
Global consumption of energy for the year 2005 was about 500 exajoules (EJ), most of which was supplied by fossil fuels. This annual consumption of energy can also be expressed in terms of billion barrels of oil equivalent. What is more important in terms of the effects on daily human life, though, is not consumption in an absolute sense, but consumption per capita, which reached what Richard C. Duncan calls a “rough plateau” in 1979.

Use of electricity worldwide rose by 70 percent from 1990 to 2008 [1]. This means an increase per capita of 41 percent. Since global energy per capita is not increasing significantly, there may come a point at which there is insufficient energy to prevent widespread brownouts and rolling blackouts [6, 7].

Fossil Fuels
The entire world’s economy is based on oil and other fossil fuels. These provide fuel, lubricants, asphalt, paint, plastics, fertilizer, and many other products. In 1850, before commercial production began, there were about 2 trillion barrels of oil in the ground. By about the year 2010, half of that oil had been
consumed, so about 1 trillion barrels remain. At the moment about 30 billion barrels of oil are consumed annually, and that is probably close to the maximum that will ever be possible. By the year 2030, some analysts say, oil production will be down to about half of that amount. [Editor’s note: we must consider the factor of oil-industry inflexibility to contract and to maintain extraction if collapse has already hit the economy.]

A vast amount of debate has gone on about “peak oil,” the date at which the world’s annual oil production will reach (or did reach) its maximum and will begin (or did begin) to decline. The exact numbers are unobtainable, mainly because oil-producing countries give rather inexact figures on their remaining supplies. The situation can perhaps be summarized by saying that many studies have been done, and that the consensus is that the peak is somewhere between the years 2000 and 2020. Within that period, a middle date seems rather more likely. Among the many who have contributed to that debate are Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Colin J. Campbell, Jean Laherrère, Dale Allen Pfeiffer, and Matthew R. Simmons, and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil has done its own appraisals.

The quest for the date of peak oil is somewhat of a red herring. In terms of daily life, what is more important is not peak oil in the absolute sense, but peak oil per capita. The date of the latter was 1979, when there were 5.5 barrels of oil per person annually, as opposed to 4.5 in 2007. This per-capita date of 1979 for oil consumption is the same as that noted above for per-capita consumption of energy in general.

Coal and natural gas are also disappearing. Coal will be available for a while after oil is gone, although previous reports of its abundance in the US were highly exaggerated. Coal is highly polluting and cannot be used as a fuel for most forms of transportation. Natural gas is not easily transported, and it is not suitable for most equipment.

Solar Power
The world’s deserts have an area of 36 million km2, and the solar energy they receive annually is 300,000 EJ, which at a typical 11-percent electrical-conversion rate would result in 33,000 EJ.

(EJ=exajoule;  1 EJ = 1018 joules.
Electrically, one joule is the work required to produce one watt of electric power for one second. Mechanically , one joule is the energy expended in applying a force of one newton through a distance of one meter.  [The United  States uses  roughly 94 exojoules per year, so 1 exojoule is about 1% of the US energy needs.]

As noted above, annual global energy consumption in 2005 was approximately 500 EJ. To meet the world’s present energy needs by using solar power, then, we would need  an array (or an equivalent number of smaller ones) with a size of 500/33,000 x 36 million km2, which is about 550,000 km2 — a machine the size of France. The production and maintenance of this array would require vast quantities of hydrocarbons, metals, and other materials — a self-defeating process. Solar power will therefore do little to solve the world’s energy problems.

Minerals Other than Petroleum
Depletion of other minerals on a global scale is somewhat difficult to determine, partly because recycling complicates the issues, partly because trade goes on in all directions, and partly because one material can sometimes be replaced by another. Figures from the US Geological Survey indicate that within the US most types of minerals and other nonrenewable resources are well past their peak dates of production. Besides oil, these include bauxite (peaking in 1943), copper (1998), iron ore (1951),
magnesium (1966), phosphate rock (1980), potash (1967), rare earth metals (1984), tin (1945), titanium (1964), and zinc (1969). The depletion of these resources continues swiftly in spite of recycling.

In the past it was iron ores such as natural hematite (Fe2O3) that were being mined. For thousands of years, also, tools were produced by melting down bog iron, mainly goethite, FeO(OH), in clay cylinders only a meter or so in height. Modern mining must rely more heavily on taconite, a flint-like ore containing less than 30 percent magnetite and hematite.

Iron ore of the sort that can be processed with primitive equipment is becoming scarce, in other words, and only the less-tractable forms such as taconite will be available when the oil-powered machinery has disappeared — a chicken-and-egg problem. To put it more bluntly: with the types of iron ore used in the past, a fair proportion of the human race would have been able to survive; in the post-industrial world, with only taconite, it will not.

Annual world production of grain per capita peaked in 1984 at 342 kg. For years production has not met demand, so carryover stocks must fill the gap, now leaving less than 2 months’ supply as a buffer.
Rising temperatures and falling water tables are causing havoc in grain harvests everywhere, but the biggest dent is caused by the bio-fuel industry, which is growing at over 20 percent per year. In 2007, 88 million tons of US corn, a quarter of the entire US harvest, was turned into automotive fuel.

The production rate of fresh water is declining everywhere. According to the UN’s Global Environment Outlook 4, “by 2025, about 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under conditions of water stress ― the threshold for meeting the water requirements for agriculture, industry, domestic purposes, energy and the environment. . . .”

Arable Land
[While reading this section, remember that 1 acre is about the area as a football field and that 2.5 acres is the area of 1 hectare]
With “low technology,” i.e. technology that does not use fossil fuels, crop yields diminish considerably. The production of so-called field or grain corn (maize) without irrigation or mechanized agriculture is only about 2,000 kilograms per hectare (10,000 m2), about a third of the yield that a farmer would get with modern machinery and chemical fertilizer.

Yields for corn provide a handy baseline for other studies of population and food supply. More specifically, corn is one of the most useful grains for supporting human life; the native people of the Americas lived on it for thousands of years. Corn is high-yielding and needs little in the way of equipment, and the more ancient varieties are largely trouble-free in terms of diseases, pests, and soil depletion.

[A hard-working (i.e. farming) adult burns about 2 million kilocalories (“calories”) per year. The food energy from a2.5 acres of corn is about 7 million kilocalories. Under primitive conditions, then, 2.5 acres of corn would support only 3 or 4 people. [2.5 acre or about an area about 208 ft x 520 ft – lfp]

Even those figures are rather idealistic. We are assuming that people will follow a largely vegetarian diet; if not, they will need even more land. We also need to allow for fallow land, cover crops, and green manure, for inevitable inequities in distribution, and for other uses of the land. On a global scale a far more realistic ratio would be 2 people to each 2.5 acres of arable land. [Or about 1 person/1.25 acre just for food]

The average American house lot is about 900 square yards, i.e. less than a tenth of a hectare, including the land the house is sitting on. Those who expect to get by with “victory gardens” are unaware of the arithmetic involved.

In the entire world there are 15,749,300 square yards of arable land. This is 11 percent of the world’s total land area. The present world population is about 6,900,000,000. Dividing the figure for population by that for arable land, we see that there are 438 people per km2 of arable land. On a smaller scale that means about 4 people per hectare. Less than a third of the world’s 200-odd countries are actually within that ratio.
In other words, there are already too many people to be supported by non-mechanized agriculture. [Currently, with fossil fuels, fertilizer and mechanized farming, there are globally, 4 people receiving food from each hectare arable land. Without fossil fuel inputs, ie no gas/oil, no fertilizer, and without modern farm mechanization, global arable land will only support 2 people/hectare – lfp]

The UK, for example, has a population-to-arable ratio of slightly more than 10 people per hectare (2.5 acres or 2.5 football fields]. What exactly is going to happen to the 8 people who will not fit onto the hectare? But many countries have far worse ratios.

The world’s population grew from about 1.6 billion in 1900, to about 2.5 in 1950, to about 6.1 billion in 2000 and in  Nov 2011 has become 7 billion. It has often been said that without fossil fuels the population must drop to about 2 or 3 billion. The above figures on arable land indicate that in terms of agriculture alone we would be able to accommodate only about half the present number of people.

Another calculation about future population can be made by looking more closely at Hubbert’s curve. The rapid increase in population over the last hundred years is not merely coincident with the rapid increase in oil production. It is the latter that has actually allowed the former: that is to say, oil has been the main source of energy within industrial society. It is only with abundant oil that a large population is possible. It was industrialization, improved agriculture, improved medicine, the expansion of humanity into the Americas, and so on, that first created the modern rise in population, but it was oil in particular that made it possible for human population to grow as fast as it has been doing. It is not only fossil fuels that form a bell curve: there is also a bell curve for human population.

Of course, this calculation of population on the basis of oil is largely the converse of the calculation on the basis of arable land, since in industrial society the amount of farm production is mainly a reflection of the amount of available oil.

If we look further into the future, we see an even smaller number for human population, still using previous ratios of oil to population as the basis for our figures. But the world a hundred years from now might not be a mirror image of the world of a hundred years in the past. The general depletion of resources could cause such damage to the structure of society that government, education, and intricate division of labor no longer exist. In a milieu of social chaos, what are the chances that the oil industry will be using extremely advanced technology to extract the last drops of oil? Even then we have not factored in war, epidemics, and other aspects of social breakdown. The figure of 1 to 3 billion may be wildly optimistic.

Looking Forward
A great deal of silliness goes on in the name of preparing for the future. Global collapse should not been seen in terms of middle-class country elegance. At present there are no “transition towns” that acquire food, clothing, or shelter without large quantities of fossil fuels somewhere in the background. The post-oil world will be much grimmer than most people imagine, and that is partly because they are not looking at the big picture. Hydrocarbons are the entire substructure of modern society. The usual concept of “transition towns” evades the sheer enormity of the problems.

Whatever a “transition” polity might be, it most certainly will not be a city or town. Those who are living at the end of all the bell curves will prosper only if they are far from anything resembling an urban or suburban area. It has always been possible for small rural communities to live close to the land, somewhat avoiding the use of fossil fuels, metals, and electricity, but modern large centers of population are founded on the premise of an abundance of all three. Urban areas, in fact, will be experiencing the worst of each form of depletion described above.

In view of the general unpopularity of family-planning policies, it can only be said euphemistically that nature will decide the outcome. Even if his words owe as much to observation of the stages of collapse as to divine inspiration, it is St. John’s ‘Four Horsemen’ of war, famine, plague, and death who will characterize the future of the industrial world. Nor can we expect people to be overly concerned about good manners: although there are too many variables for civil strife to be entirely predictable, if we look at accounts of large-scale disasters of the past, ranging from the financial to the meteorological, we can see that there is a point at which the looting and lynching begin. The survivors of industrial society will have to distance themselves from the carnage.

The need for a successful community to be far removed from urban areas is also a matter of access to the natural resources that will remain. With primitive technology, it takes a great deal of land to support human life. What may look like a long stretch of empty wilderness is certainly not empty to the people who are out there picking blueberries or catching fish. That emptiness is not a prerogative or luxury of the summer vacationer. It is an essential ratio of the human world to the non-human.

4.  Peak Oil Info and Strategies

Peak Oil Info and Strategies
The world is not running out of oil itself, but rather its ability to produce high-quality cheap and economically extractable oil on demand. After more than fifty years of research and analysis on the subject by the most widely respected & rational scientists, it is now clear that the rate at which world oil producers can extract oil is reaching the maximum level possible. This is what is meant by Peak Oil. With great effort and expenditure, the current level of oil production can possibly be maintained for a few more years, but beyond that oil production must begin a permanent & irreversible decline. The Stone Age did not end because of the lack of stones, and the Oil Age won’t end because of lack of oil. The issue is lack of further growth, followed by gradual, then steep decline. Dr King Hubbert correctly predicted peaking of USA oil production in the 1970’s on this basis.

We have taken our lifestyles and the cheap & abundant supply of oil all for granted. We expect the pumps will run to supply us with fuel to drive our SUV’s to run around town, work and school and we cannot accept an alternate future. But when oil becomes more scarce, it is very likely that these pumps will be the first to run dry, because they are at the end of the supply chain. But implications will be much worse than that.

It is not a question if but when the world economy will be confronted with a major shock that will stunt economic growth, increase inflation, and potentially destabilize the Middle East. It will make the Great Second Depression look like a dress rehearsal and may change the world as we know it today.

It is a coming crisis that few understand, but with far reaching implications. Nations will fight over the remaining oil. Without hydrocarbons, this planet can only produce enough food to sustain a population of 2.5 billion. The current world population is in excess of 7 billion and growing (UN projection: 7.3 billion by 2050). In the US, without industrial agriculture, it is estimated that only 2/3’s of the current population can be fed (D. Preiffer). Fossil fuels effectively temporarily raised the carrying capacity of the earth.
__A.  Peak Oil Imminent
While there is no agreement yet on the exact date that world oil production will peak, the degree of consensus among them is quite remarkable. Out of 21 studies, the statistical mean date is 2013 (excluding some of the biased oil company estimates), suggesting that the world may be facing shortfalls much sooner than expected.
Recently, CNN and Britain’s Independent also point out the reality of Peak Oil, acknowledging that world oil and gas reserves are as much as 80% less than predicted.

__B. The fallacy of Alternatives
The public, business leaders and politicians are all under the false assumption that oil depletion is a straightforward engineering problem of exactly the kind that technology and human ingenuity have so successfully solved before. Technology itself has become a kind of supernatural force, although in reality it is just the hardware and programming for running that fuel, and governed by the basic laws of physics and thermodynamics. Much of our existing technology simply won’t work without an abundant underlying fossil fuel base. In addition, physicist Jonathan Huebner has concluded in The History of Science and Technology that the rate of innovation in the US peaked in 1873, and the current rate of innovation is about the same as it was in 1600.
According to Huebner, by 2024 it will have slumped to the same level as it was in the Dark Ages. Hence, without sufficient innovation and a comfortable surplus of fossil fuels, we may simply lack the tools to move forward.

With this energy base dwindling, there is simply not enough time to replace a fluid so cheap, abundant and versatile. It is rich in energy, easy to use, store, and transport. Nothing has the bang for the buck of oil, and nothing can replace it in time – either separately or in combination. Wind, waves and other renewables are all pretty marginal and also take a lot of energy to construct and require a petroleum platform to work off.
•  Natural gas is a diminishing resource as well and cannot satisfy the growing demand for energy. US Gas supplies were so low in 2003 after a harsh winter that to preserve life and property supplies were close to being cut off to manufacturers, electric plants and lastly homes.
•  Ethanol has a net energy value of zero (not accounting for soil and water damage and other costs due to unsustainable agricultural practices) – it is subsidized as a boon to agribusiness and would have a negligible effect (Prindle, ACEEE).
•  Solar energy produces marginal net energy, but are still decades away at best from being a viable substitute given the recent rate of progress in efficiency and costs (averaging about five percent a year) and is nowhere ready to meet the world’s energy needs. More importantly, solar photovoltaic cells (PVC) are built from hydrocarbon feed stocks and therefore require excess resources. It is estimated that a global solar energy system would take a century to build and would consume a major portion of world iron production (Foreign Affairs, Rhodes).
•  The widespread belief that hydrogen is going to save the day is a good example of how delusional people have become. Hydrogen fuel cells are not an energy source at all, but are more properly termed a form of energy storage. Free hydrogen does not exist on this planet. It requires more energy to break a hydrogen bond than will ever be garnered from that free hydrogen. The current source of hydrogen is natural gas – that is, a hydrocarbon. In the envisioned system of solar PVC & hydrogen fuel cells, every major component of the system, from the PVC to the fuel cells themselves will require hydrocarbon energy and feedstocks. The oil age will never be replaced by a hydrogen fuel-cell economy.
•  Coal is abundant, but its net energy profile is poor compared to oil and its conversion process to synthetic fuels is very inefficient. Coal would have to be mined at much higher rates to replace declining oil field. In addition, coal production is extremely harmful to the environment. One large coal burning electric plant releases enough radioactive material in a year to build two atomic bombs, apart from emitting more greenhouse gases than any other fuels.  Coal is implicated in mercury pollution that causes 60.000 cases of brain damage in newborn children every year in the USA. Resorting to coal would be a very big step backwards and what we may face then may be more like the Dim Ages. More importantly,  coal is distributed very unevenly with the top three countries (China, USA, USSR) possessing almost 70% of total. Much of the current oil and gas supply is in low-population countries, such as Saudi Arabia, that cannot possibly use all of the production for themselves. They are hence quite willing, indeed eager, to sell it to other countries. When oil and gas are gone, and only coal remains, and the few (large-population) countries that possess it need all of it for their own populations, it will be
interesting to see how much is offered for sale to other countries.
•  Obtaining usable oil from tar sands requires huge amounts of energy, as it has to be mined and washed with super hot water. From an energy balance, it takes the equivalence of two barrels of oil to produce three, which is still positive but poor in terms of energy economics. In the early days of conventional oil, this ratio used to be one to thirty.
•  Nuclear power plants are simply too expensive and take ten years to build, relying on a fossil fuel platform for all stages of construction, maintenance, and extracting & processing nuclear fuels. Additionally, uranium is also a rare and finite source with its own production peak. Since 2006, the uranium price has already more than doubled.
•  Nuclear fusion is the kind of energy that the world needs. However, mastering it has been 25 years away for the past 50 years, and still is…

Fossil fuels allowed us to operate highly complex systems at gigantic scales. Renewables are simply incompatible in this context and the new fuels and technologies required would simply take a lot more time to develop than available and require access to abundant supplies of cheap fossil fuels, putting the industrial adventure out of business.

In a recent interview with The Times, Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer calls for a “reality check” and warns that the world’s energy crisis cannot be solved by renewables. “Contrary to public perceptions, renewable energy is not the silver bullet that will soon solve all our problems. Just when energy demand is surging, many of the world’s conventional oilfields are going into decline. The world is blinding itself to the reality of its energy problems, ignoring the scale of growth in demand from developing countries and
placing too much faith in renewable sources of power”, according to van der Veer.

Nobody knows exactly what will happen. We have never seen a situation like this where the excesses have been so extreme. It is difficult to see how it will resolve itself. What is terrifying is that when you get excesses this bad you get results you can’t expect.

Highlights of what to expect:
•  Oil extraction from wells will be physically unable to meet global demand
•  Alternative energy sources will fall far short of compensating for expected shortages of oil. There is simply not enough time to convert over to them and all require an underlying fossil fuel platform.
•  Disruptions to transportation and the economy are expected as the global decline of petroleum begins.
•  Gradual, permanent cut-off of fuel for transport and for industrial machinery. Global trade will greatly
•  Food shortages; agrobusinesses would not be able to operate without the supporting fossil fuels
•  Resource scarcity; most products depend on fossil fuels
•  Reduction of virtually all business and government activity and very serious unemployment
•  Social unrest
•  Resource wars

Dr. Smalley, in the February 2005 issue of Discover magazine gave the following prognosis as a result of the energy shortage brought on by peak oil and the fact that the world cannot produce oil as fast as the world’s growing economies demand it: “There will be inflation as billions of people compete for insufficient resources. There will be famine. There will be terrorism and war.”

__C.  Rising Oil Prices
The inexorable tightening of supply is destabilizing oil markets, which now exhibit extreme price responses to the smallest of disturbances. Higher oil prices are hurting economies by increasing the cost of consumer goods while simultaneously reducing disposable income. Sharply rising oil prices have always preceded economic recession and plummeting stocks.

Analysts predict that market-based panic will drive prices skyward. And as supplies can no longer slack daily world demand, the market will become paralyzed at prices too high for the wheels of economy and even daily living in ‘advanced’ societies”. No region in the world would be able to rely on distant energy supplies and they would have to fall back on their own resources.

One economic aspect of oil is that its demand is very price inelastic in the short term, meaning that it would require a large price increase to cause a significant reduction in demand. Prices at the pumps in the USA have almost doubled in recent times, yet gas-guzzling Hummers and other SUV’s are still purchased like there is no tomorrow. Industry experts say massive effects on behavior will only happen if supplies are disrupted or prices hit $5-a-gallon.

Another complication is that in the more developed countries the services industry has replaced much of their traditional oil dependent industries. This is why I don’t believe that the oil prices will stop at $100 a barrel, like some financial experts predict. In the short term, they would probably have to increase in excess of 300% or so to have the desired effect. This uptrend would then eventually be (temporarily) interrupted by slowing economic growth and from efforts of conservation.

Rising energy prices would spur overall price increases, causing inflation. Energy costs will then become an increasingly bigger part of the economy, and the same % increase in oil prices that once had a negligible economic effect will suddenly be significant. At the same time, higher prices will cause a fall in demand and a stagnating economy. This is called ‘stagflation’ and is exactly what happened during the 1973 oil crisis.

Debt in many countries like the USA and the United Kingdom are at record levels, and strong economic growth then becomes essential. Falling home prices would threaten the foundations of those economies. Therefore, efforts to curb inflation by raising interest rates would hit house prices, which in a leveraged economy would cause a devastating downward spiral, pulling down businesses, consumers and banks. Policymakers will therefore be powerless to fight inflation that will then soon become widespread. Prices of food and manufactured goods will shoot up.

The world will first enter a recession followed by a very deep Depression that may well be greater than the 1930’s Great Depression. Stock markets may plunge, businesses will go bankrupt and huge job losses will follow. Eventually, economic growth will cease or continue only in a few places at the expense of other places. The economic stress among almost all nations, advanced and developing, rich and poor will be considerable and is certain to lead to increasingly desperate competition for diminishing supplies of oil. The world will become a larger place again with less and less globalism.

Resource Wars
Many countries have become heavily reliant on Middle Eastern oil, and the geopolitical stakes of conflicts in this region have risen to all-time highs.

Indeed, the worst case scenarios are terrifying: genocide on a scale never before seen, as control of the remaining oil divides along racial, ethnic and national boundaries. Even the best-case scenarios, all of which require unprecedented levels of international cooperation, political courage and public participation, offer grim life-and-death choices. (Richard Heinberg)

So far, only the United States have ventured into the Middle East. But what is to stop China from continuing into Iran, Iraq and even Saudi Arabia as China will be energy starved in the foreseeable future. A military contest over oil could eventually spread war from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, and it could leave the oil production infrastructure of many countries severely damaged in the process. Such a conflict may be the Third World War.

Some Latin American countries may find themselves combatants in their own oil wars. Australia and New Zealand may fall victim to desperate Chinese adventuring or to anarchy emanating from Southeast Asia.

Social Chaos & Dark Ages
The European fuel protests of 2000 were an excellent example of what will happen when we are deprived of our the fuel powering our artificial lives. The implications of just this minor shortage
caused by blockades of fuel depots was tremendous. Naturally, there were huge lines at petrol stations to refuel, but there was also panic buying at the shops. Some ran out of bread and milk. Postal collections were suspended on Sundays to conserve fuel. Farm animals were threatened with starvation because
the feed was unable to be delivered. Schools closed down and hospitals cancelled all but emergency operations. And all this from two and a half weeks. Similar events happened in the USA during the 1973 Oil Embargo.

The impending fuel crisis will be permanent though and the trucks will no longer pull into the Wal-Marts or supermarkets. The freighters bringing cheap and disposable household products from China will have no fuel. There will be fuel in many places, but hoarding and uncertainty will trigger outages, violence, and chaos. For only a short time will the police and military be able to maintain order, if at all.”

When worldwide oil production starts to decline considerably, countries will be competing aggressively for fossil fuels as  difficulties will start with even keeping electricity plants running.

The blackouts that hit the eastern USA and Canada in August 2003, and the lesser failure that hit London’s Underground system shortly afterwards shows the how totally dependent we are on electricity power and the dramatic effects that its absence causes.

Reduced food supplies will also comprise immune systems and set up refugee camps will lead to diseases. New strains of the age-old human enemies such as tuberculosis, malaria, cholera and others will be on hand while vaccines will be ineffective and out of reach.

It may come as a surprise to many that the world’s industrial food supply system is one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels. Vast amounts of oil and gas are used as raw materials and energy in the manufacture of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides and as cheap and readily available energy at all stages of food production. Fossil fuels are also essential in the construction and the repair of equipment and infrastructure needed to facilitate this industry, including farm machinery, processing facilities, storage, ships, trucks and roads. Just consider that currently agriculture accounts for 17% of the US annual energy budget.

Industrial, ‘green revolution’-style agriculture is particularly energy intensive. Every calorie of food produced today requires between 10-16 calories of hydrocarbon energy (from planting, irrigation, feeding and harvesting, through to processing, distribution and packaging). This style of agriculture increased world grain production by 250%, and was almost entirely attributable to fossil fuel input.

Food  production will become a problem of extreme urgency
Modern agriculture is merely a way of converting petroleum into food. Without energy, food supplies decrease and the current world population of 7 billion has no hope whatsoever of sustaining itself at current levels.

It has been estimated that, without hydrocarbons to provide energy, fertilizers and pesticides, agriculture could not support a population greater than two billion. This reduction would take us back to pre-20th century levels but the disruption to society and its infrastructure would probably mean a reversion to pre-industrial revolution.

The example of North Korea shows us what happens to agriculture when oil products are removed. After the Korean war, it had developed a modern farming system depending on machinery and oil-based fertilizers. After the Soviet Union fell, Communist aid to the country stopped and they were unable to purchase oil and supplies. Without oil, farm machinery was sitting idle and large proportions of the people had to return to the agriculture. Unfortunately the soil had been drained of nutrients over the
years and, without fertilizers, it was unable to produce the same output as before. Crop yields fell by 60% over the period 1989-1998. US congressmen and others who have visited North Korea tell stories of people eating grass and bark. Other reports talk of soldiers who are nothing more than skin and bones.
Throughout the country, there is starvation to rival the worst found in Africa.
 Chronic malnutrition has reached the point where many of the effects are irreversible. Unless it can get access to oil and fertilizers again, the population will decline until it reaches a sustainable level and civilization will be faced with the delicate task of determining who survives. The history of North-Korea (DPRK) demonstrates how an energy crisis in an industrialized nation can lead to complete systemic breakdown.

Mitigation Strategies?
Peak Oil represents a unique challenge and unlike 1973, peaking won’t be brief but permanent. The inescapable conclusion is that the scale and complexity of the problems that must be resolved to avert a permanent crisis are enormous and almost inconceivable. More than a decade will be required, under the most favorable circumstances, for the collective contributions of substitutes to produce meaningful results. Understanding Net Energy is crucial. Optimists may argue that technology, the market, brilliant scientists, and comprehensive government programs are going to hold things together. However, with an acute lack of awareness, time, knowledge, capital, energy, political will, and international collaboration, it is difficult to see how business can continue as usual. This is a startling conclusion, but it would be the most logical and likely outcome of a process that has been building for decades. Addictions are hard to shake…
You cannot solve this world’s problems with the same thinking that created them,” Albert Einstein

“You must not only be able to survive the crash, but continue afterward”
“… it’s easier to put off dealing with problems that seem just too complicated and unpleasant to fix now (because of human nature).”

September 27, 2010, Fortune.., by Becky Quick
The experts and politicians have no plan B to fall back on. On a global scale Peak Oil is a problem without a solution. No amount of savings will help us if there is no more oil to purchase. We need to
start planning for alternative sources of energy now. If we wait until we are given no other option, it could be chaos.

It is extremely difficult to gather and process the enormous amount of information available and figure out what to do about it. Is it not a problem with an immediate solution or as some say, a condition without a remedy. You must not only be able to survive the crash, but continue afterward.

We must shortly choose a new path, or one will be forced upon us.

In the short time available, attempts to make collective changes are most likely to fail. Energy expert Simmons says that once energy peaks, the shock will be greater than anyone could imagine, while there is no solution to the problem other than to pray.

However, on the level of the individual/family there is much that can be done at relatively low cost to not only prepare for an economic crash, but to leapfrog past it to a post oil paradigm. While the present infrastructure continues to function you still have vast resources disposable that are only a click away.  Once a crisis begins, it may be too late.

There is probably no cluster of solutions which do not involve some major changes in lifestyles, especially for the global affluent. Peak Oil presents the potential for quite catastrophic upheavals, but also some more hopeful possibilities, a chance to address many underlying societal problems, and the opportunity return to simpler, healthier and more community oriented lifestyles.

Hope for the best, Prepare for the worst, and Accept whatever comes.
The majority of the preparation (perhaps as much as 2/3) is mental  preparation. Acceptance of a new future is crucial and knowledge about Peak Oil will give you a new perspective on life and the future and will serve as an excellent guidance when making important decisions in areas such as careers, real estate and retirement, even absent a well defined ‘plan B’.
•  Protection of your wealth is a crucial step, and having many of your assets hedged against inflation, in my opinion, is never going to hurt you, even if a peak oil crisis fails to materialize in the short or medium term future. Purchasing power will most likely have a positive impact on survival chances during a crisis.
•  If you think the crisis is going to be severe, if you can afford it, it would be a good idea to plan some sort of safe haven, at least 200 miles or so from any major city / metropolitan area.

I am fairly pessimistic about the feasibility (especially long-term) of isolated retreats. It is going to involved extensive, informed planning tailored to the precise needs of the people who will use it. The problems that you must resolve in making such an arrangement viable are enormous and most likely unachievable. Land ownership laws may become meaningless in a post-oil world.
•  It is useless to be well prepared if you are in the wrong place to start with. Some countries around the globe will without doubt suffer much more than others as a result of a Peak Oil crisis. The odds of eventually being discovered are not negligible and will go up as a function of general population density. And then, once you have been discovered, the chances of you becoming a target of jealous & needy thieves, mobs or organized gangs much depend on how relatively well-off a country is as a whole during a global crisis. As an example there is the story about a village in India during a famine. After a while, the starving villagers noticed that some villagers did not seem to be as starving as the rest of them. The end result was that the well off who had stored food were killed and the food stolen. [Killed by the ‘Zombies’- Mr Larry] You may be better off ill-prepared, but in the right place than vice-versa. There are going to be some countries that may remain relatively immune, based on their geographic position and potential degree of self-sufficiency, where ambient chances of survival are relatively higher. This is why the focus of my research & planning is on individual countries.
•  When considering strategic relocation and you want to also take into account climate change, an excellent and very recent source of information on average predicted temperature changes is the BBC site that ran an experiment involving millions of computers from around the world. In its conclusions, countries like New Zealand will be relatively unaffected, while other areas like Asia and Central America will be greatly affected.
•  You can never be sure what will happen, and it is extremely difficult to cross that mental barrier to jump into action. Any life impacting decision you make, you must be able to live with until the crisis unfolds, even if this is still a decade away.

__D.  History As A Guide To Survival….
For a year, five experts ditched theory for practice, running a Welsh farm using 17th Century methods. What lessons for modern living did they learn? The BBC series Tales from the Green Valley follows historians and archaeologists as they recreate farm life from the age of the Stuarts. They wear the clothes, eat the food and use the tools, skills and technology of the 1620s.

It was a time when daily life was a hard grind, intimately connected with the physical environment where routines were dictated by the weather and the seasons. A far cry from today’s experience of the countryside, which for many involves a bracing walk ahead of a pub lunch.

While few would choose to live a 17th Century lifestyle, the participants found they picked up some valuable tips for modern life.
•  Know thy neighbor’s. Today it’s possible to live alone, without knowing anyone within a 20-mile radius (the same goes for townies). That was simply not possible in the past – not only did the neighbors provide social contact, people shared labor, specialist skills and produce. “And women were judged on good neighborliness,” says historian Ruth Goodman. “If you were willing to help others – particularly during and after childbirth – then others would be more prepared to help you in times of need.”
•  Share the load. It was nigh on impossible to run a 1620s farm single-handedly, and the family – either blood relatives, or a farmer, his wife and hired help – had to be multi-skilled. Labor, too, was
often divided along gender lines, but at busy periods, such as harvest time, it was all hands on deck.
•  Fewer creature comforts have some benefits. No electricity meant once daylight faded, work stopped in favor of conversation, music-making and knitting. And no carpets meant fewer dust mites,
which are linked to asthma and allergies. “They scattered herbs on the floor which released scent when trodden on – this drove out flies and other insects,” says Ms Goodman.
•  Eat seasonally. Today it’s because of “food miles” and the inferior quality of forced products. In the 1620s, it was because foods were only available at certain times of year – and not just fruit and veg. Mutton, for instance, was in abundance in spring, soon after shearing time. This was because a sheep’s wool quality plunges after eight years – thus animals of that age were killed after their final fleece was
•  Tasty food comes in small batches. Today farmers’ markets are a tourist attraction and many delight in regional specialties. For these producers play to the strengths of their ingredients, unlike, for instance, the makers of mass-produced cheese. This has to taste the same year-round, despite seasonal variations in milk quality. “So high-quality milk in the spring is downgraded so the finished product is consistent throughout the year,” says Ms Goodman.
•  Reuse and recycle. Today we throw away vast mountains of packaging, food, garden waste and other materials. In 1620s, there was a use for everything, with tattered bed linens made into fire-lighters and animal fat into soap. Even human waste had uses. Faeces was a fertiliser, and urine was stored to make ammonia to remove laundry stains.
•  Dress for practicalities. Today fashion and social convention dictate our wardrobes. While polar fleeces and high-performance tramping boots may be all the rage when going rural, the wardrobe of 400 years ago proved more comfortable. “While the crew shivered in their modern garb, we never felt the cold in just two layers – a linen shirt and woolen doublet,” says archaeologist Alex Langlands.
Breeches meant no wet and muddy trouser legs, and staying covered up – rather than stripping off in the heat – prevented bites, stings, sunburn and scratches.
•  Corsets, not bras. “By that I don’t mean Victorian corseting,” says Ms Goodman. “Corsets support your back as well as your chest, and don’t leave red welts on your skin like bra elastic does. They made it hard to breath walking up hills, but I get short of breath doing that anyway. And most people feel sexy in a corset.”
•  Biodiversity protects against unforeseen calamity. While the developed world no longer counts the cost of crop failure in starvation and mass migration – the result of Ireland’s Great Potato Famine in 1845 – the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis decimated farms up and down the country as animals, the farmers’ livelihoods, were put to death. The 1620s farm had grains, fruit and vegetables, and a range of animals – if one failed, alternatives were available.
•  Reliance on any one thing leaves you vulnerable. Hence the country ground to a halt during the petrol blockades of 2000, and a shortage of coal during 1978-9’s Winter of Discontent caused electricity shortages. On the 1620s farm, when oxen used to plough fields fell ill, the implements were reshaped and horses did the job instead.
•  No pesticides means a richer variety of birds, butterflies and other insects, many of which feast on pests – a result as desirable for the gardener as the farmer. And the hedgerow and fields of wild flowers of the past are today making a comeback, as these provide habitats for these creatures and allow edible plants to flourish.


5.  Urban vs. Rural Sustainability

Urban vs. Rural Sustainability
Published Dec 25 2004 by Permaculture  Activist
by Toby Hemenway
“Over ten years ago my wife and I moved to the country. One of our many reasons for leaving the city was to finally pursue the dream of self-reliance: to create a permaculture homestead that would trim our resource use and let us tap in more fully to nature’s abundance. And in the back of my mind was the quietly nibbling worry that someday the overconsumption party would end—the oil would run out, and things might get ugly. I wanted to be settled where we could be less dependent on the fossil fuel umbilicus when the cord finally snapped.

We went a good way toward making that dream come true. The red clay of our former clearcut turned, in places, to chocolate loam, though I noticed that even as our trees matured I still seemed to be needing more wood chips from the electric company or manure from a stable two miles away. From the garden flowed a steady procession of fruit and vegetables, but I confess I tried to ignore how much well-water we were pumping once our rain catchment ran dry partway through Southern Oregon’s four-month dry season.

We became involved in the local community: Master Gardeners, an environmental group, town meetings. Although we were busy in regional life in the beginning, eventually I found I preferred to drive the hour to see friends in progressive-minded Eugene than fight the pro-logging consciousness that permeated our county. Over the years my few local friends fell away as I became more drawn to the mind-set of those in Eugene, and as the local economics made it necessary for me to be away for weeks to teach and do design work. We were on good speaking terms with all our neighbors, but never found much common ground with them. Local parties began with watery beer and often ended in drunken fights, and neither was to our taste.

Slowly a mild paranoia set in. I started to wonder whether, if the Big Crash came, I was really in the right place. We had the best garden for miles around, and everyone knew it. If law broke down, wasn’t there more than a chance that my next door neighbor, a gun-selling meth dealer and felon, might just shoot me for all that food? How about the right-wing fundamentalists past him, who shot Stellar’s jays for fun and clear cut their land when they suspected spotted owls lived there? Or the two feuding families beyond them—one had fired a pistol during an argument, and neither would give way when their cars met on the road. I began to sense the outlines of a pattern that replicated one in society at large. We have the technical means to feed, clothe, and house all humanity. But legions starve because we have not learned to tolerate and support one another. People’s real problems are not technical, they are social and political. Down in Douglas County, I’d solved most of the technical problems for our own personal survival, but the social hurdles to true security were staring me in the face.

Our isolation also meant we were burning a lot of gas. A simple drive for groceries was a 40-minute round trip. Fortunately we both worked at home and had no children, so we could go for days without using the car. But the odometer was whirling to higher numbers than it ever had in the city. A couple of families had moved off our hill because they were exhausted by two to four round trips each day down our steep, potholed gravel road to work, school, soccer practice, music lessons, and shopping.

We cherished our decade-plus in the country, but eventually the realities began to pile up. There wasn’t a local market for the work we did. Community events left us saddened by the gulf between our way of life and theirs. And we were still tethered to the fossil-fuel beast, just by a much longer lifeline of wire, pipe, and pavement. That the beast looked smaller by being farther away no longer fooled us.

There was a positive side, too. We had achieved what we’d set out to do: to make sense of our lives, find the work we loved, and grow into ourselves. The portents now spoke clearly. It was time to return to where the people were, and to be in the thick of things once more.

So we have moved to Portland, and into the heart of town. We love it. The first of many good omens was the bio-diesel Mercedes across the street sporting a Kucinich sticker. And it’s a pleasure to be within walking distance of a bookstore, good coffee, and Ben and Jerry’s.

During the first few days in the city I would stand on the back porch, eyeing our yard with permaculture dreams in my head. The sole tree is a sprawling European prune plum. Other than that, the yard is a blank slate, dominated by a brick patio, a lawn, and an old dog run. And it’s small. I wondered how I would I fit all my favorite fruit trees in that tiny space.

The answer soon came. The plum tree straddles the fence we share with our neighbor Johnny, who has lived next door for 55 years. One day, on opposite sides of the fence, Johnny and I were gathering a small fraction of the branch-bending loads of plums when he called out, “Do you like figs?” I said I did, and soon a tub of black mission figs wobbled over the fence toward me.

We kept returning the basin to Johnny, but it found its way back almost immediately, full of figs. “You weren’t here in time for the apricots I’ve got,” Johnny told us, “But next year you’ll get your fill of them.”

As the buckets of plums began to fill up the yard, I tried to unload some on Theressa across the street. “Oh, no,” she said, “I’ve got my own tree. But when the Granny Smith’s come on, you’d better help me with them. And next year’s peaches will knock you out.”

When I met our neighbor Will, he begged me to take some of the pears that were plopping onto his yard. The American chestnuts up the street are bearing heavily, although the Asian community is all over them each morning before I wake up. I’ve cracked a few of the local walnuts, and they’re pretty good. And yesterday I discovered a nearby strawberry tree dotted with creamy mild fruit.

This informal assessment of local resources has revised my mental landscape design. I don’t need to grow all my favorite trees, only the ones that my neighbors lack (I’m thinking Asian pears, persimmons, and some early and storage apples). My neighbor’s yards are my Zones Two and Three. [Ed’s note: a common feature of permaculture design is the zoning of a property up into areas, numbered one through to five or so, relating to proximity to the house and levels of required maintainence. -AF ] Plus, Stacey and Troy on the next block have persuaded the owner of a vacant lot to let eight families create a community garden on the site. A local tree service will soon be dumping chips there for sheet mulch, and next year we’ll be awash in food.

The Big Rural Footprint
I had always assumed that cities would be the worst place to be in bad times. I’m revising my opinion. Granted, Portland is an exceptional city. (Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone!) But I can’t help comparing this neighborhood to our old one. There, we were twelve families on two miles of road, driveways hundreds of feet long, all served by long runs of phone and electric wire, individual septic systems and wells, each commuting long distances. And with political and social views so divergent that feuds, gossip, and awkward conversations about safe topics were the norm.

In the city, an equal group of twelve families use 10% of the road, wire, and pipe needed in my old neighborhood. Many neighbors bus or bike to work, or at worst, drive single-digit mileages. And our social and political views are close enough that I am fairly confident we can work in mutual support if times get tough.

This is not the place to go deeply into the question of whether cities are more sustainable than contemporary American country life, but at each point where I delve into the issues, I find suggestions that urbanites have a smaller ecological footprint per capita.

Over the last two decades, millions of people have moved out of cities. Many of them are people of modest means, driven out by the high costs of urban life. Unfortunately, they have brought their city ways with them. Our neighbors in the country all clear cut their land and planted acres of grass. Many built enormous houses, since low interest rates made more square footage affordable. Some put up
glaring streetlights in their front yards. They bought boats, ATVs, RVs, and other gas-guzzling toys. Unlike earlier self-reliant country folk, these are simply city people with really big yards. And there are millions of them.

Sociologists Jane Jacobs and Lewis Mumford have each noted that during the Depression and other hard times, urban residents have generally fared better than ruralites. The causes mainly boil down to market forces and simple physics. Since most of the population lives in or near cities, when goods are scarce the greater demand, density, and economic power in the cities directs resources to them. Shipping hubs are mostly in cities, so trucks are emptied before they get out of town.

In the Depression, farmers initially had the advantage of being able to feed themselves. But they soon ran out of other supplies: coal to run forges to fix machinery, fertilizer, medicine, clothing, and almost every other non-food item. Without those, they couldn’t grow food. Farmers who could still do business with cities survived. Those too remote or obstinate blew away with the Kansas dust.

Survival Skills
Today the situation for farmers has worsened. Few farmers grow their own food. Agribusiness has made them utterly dependent on chemicals and other shipped-in products. The main lack of cities compared to farms is food-growing, but farms lack nearly everything else—and most of that comes from cities. Setting aside for the moment the all-important issue of social and political cohesion, for cities to survive a peak-oil crash, the critical necessity is for them to learn to grow food. For country people to survive, inhabitants will need to provide nearly every single other essential good for themselves. And since many country people are simply transplanted urbanites lacking gardening or other land skills, but having the isolation that makes social cohesion unnecessary to learn (for now), their survival is even more doubtful. If catastrophe comes, the cities may be unpleasant, but I fear the countryside may be far worse off.

One important tenet of permaculture is to design for disaster. While giving a talk on the wildfire that destroyed his cabin at the Lama Foundation, Santa Fe designer Ben Haggard was asked what his biggest lesson was. “Plan for disaster,” he said. “Whatever is the likely catastrophe at your site, count on
it happening. Because sooner or later, it will.”

A technique displayed in good design that also happens to be a way to deter disaster is to meet destructive forces with mechanisms or attitudes that transform them into productive, or at worst, harmless energies. When this machinery of transformation is missing, even seemingly mild events wreak havoc. A gentle rain falling on bare ground will quickly sluice away topsoil and wash downhill in gullies. If instead plants carpet that same patch of earth, the rain becomes not an erosive force, but life-giving moisture whose energy is damped and welcomed by the vegetation. Instead of gullying, the water is held by the plants, stored over a longer time for them and for the animals that feed on or live among the vegetation. This is one of nature’s secrets: knowing how to create structures and systems that convert gales to refreshing breezes, change baking sun into sugars and living tissue.

What nature doesn’t do, and humans attempt so often, is to treat large forces as enemies to be vanquished and destroyed. This summer, as hurricanes repeatedly battered the Caribbean, ridiculous proposals appeared in letters-to-the-editor columns: Let’s build giant fans on the Florida coast
to blow away the storms. Pour oil over the Atlantic to smooth out the waves. And (inevitably), why can’t we toss a few nukes into those pesky hurricanes? (Whether it’s replacing the Panama canal or toppling Saddam, someone always seems to propose atomic bombs.)

Sector Acceptance
The conceptual tool offered by permaculture in these cases is to view large forces as sector energies: influences from off the site that are beyond the control of the designer. We deal with sector energies by designing systems or placing elements to deflect, absorb, or harvest these forces, or allow them to pass unhindered. This is nature’s way as well, and how she does it offers, as usual, some profound lessons.

As ecosystems mature, biomass and complexity increase. Ecologist Ramon Margalef, in his landmark 1963 paper, “On Certain Unifying Principles in Ecology” (American Naturalist 97:357-374), suggests we think of biomass as “a keeper of organization, something that is proportional to the influence that an   actual ecosystem can exert on future events.” In other words, we can think of biomass, complexity, and the other indicators of maturity as measures not only of the resilience of a system, but as a form of wisdom. That’s because as ecosystems mature, the aftermath of environmental tumult such as storm or
drought depends more on the richness of the ecosystem than on the nature of the disturbance. A drought that withers a weed lot doesn’t faze an old-growth forest—the forest has learned what to do with drought. It has grown structures, cycles, and patterns that convert nearly any outside influence into more  forest, and that protect key cycles during bad times. It has become wise.

Nature uses two principal tools to achieve this  protection from catastrophe.

1)  The first is diversity in space—in size, shape, physical pattern, and composition. If all the pieces of a system are at the same physical scale—all the same size, or the same genetic makeup, for example—a disturbance occurring at that scale will wipe out the whole system. Diversity in scale brings protection. When a hurricane hits a trailer park, the trailers blow away, but the bacteria, mice, and other elements of very different size escape damage. A plague of cats, on the other hand, strikes at the scale of the mice, leaving the trailers and bacteria unscathed. Mature ecosystems have enough diversity in space that any catastrophe may knock out the pieces living at that particular scale but will almost never destroy the whole landscape.

2)  The second protective tool of mature ecosystems is diversity in time—in rate, frequency, and schedule. Understory shrubs often leaf out earlier in spring than canopy trees, which lets the shrubs grab enough light to build plenty of leaves. Then when the trees grow leaves, the shrubs have the photosynthetic area to gather ample light in the dappled shade. Another classic example of diversity in time is the hatching cycle of locusts. Timed to emerge at intervals of years having prime numbers such as 13 and 17, they frustrate the predators whose more regular breeding period requires their food to arrive  more predictably.

Permaculture designers use similar approaches to design for disaster. Instead of using concrete embankments and other brute-force tactics to resist flood, we place fences that can lie down, reed-like as rushing waters advance and then can be easily set up afterward. Rather than gouging enormous barren firebreaks into their hillside, Lama Foundation stacks roads, swales, and plantings together in
a multiply functioning firebreak. When monsoon downpours arrive in Tucson, instead of standing by as flooding street runoff pours down sewers, Brad Lancaster harvests the water with cleverly placed curb cuts that lead to mulched food-tree basins. All these examples are detailed in Permaculture Activist #54 (November, 2004).

By observing nature’s wisdom, permaculturists follow nature’s lead and use patterning, succession, edge, and cyclic opportunities to convert large pulses of energy into smooth generators of structure, harvest, and nutrient flow. Permaculture design inquires into the nature of some of these “large pulses” and shows how they can teach us to use their energy, aikido-like, to benefit ourselves and the larger ecosystem.”

6.   Cities, peak oil, and sustainability

Cities, peak oil, and sustainability
Energy Bulletin, Published Dec 25 2004, by Permaculture Activist by Toby Hemenway
In  mid-August I drove to a party in the country outside of Portland, Oregon. Twenty miles of freeway took me to a two-lane road that wound ten miles up steep forested hills and down through remote valleys. As the roads grew narrower and less traveled, I began to wonder how, if gas hits $5 or $10 a
gallon, people and supplies will reach these isolated spots. What kind of post-oil vehicle will climb this hilly, winding road that quite literally goes nowhere—a converted truck run on home-made biodigested methane? Then, after I arrived at the secluded acreage, I questioned whether my hosts could really supply most of their own needs, just the two of them and their kids.

I think these isolated places will disappear the way that Roman outposts in Britain and Gaul did during the empire’s decline.

In a recent issue of this magazine (Permaculture Activist 54 p. 2, “Designing Beyond Disaster”) I wrote that when I moved to the country 11 years ago, I assumed that rural people use fewer resources than urbanites, but now that I’m back in the city I can see that isn’t true. That article [“Urban vs. Rural Sustainability.”-immediately above this article-lfp] has generated more response than any other I’ve written, and has been reprinted around the Web many times, often with some furious comments. Obviously, a lot of people are thinking about the same topics. I’d like to re-visit the subject, respond to some of the commentary, elaborate on my reasoning, and describe some new thoughts on the subject.

First, a clarification on word usage. When I speak of rural, I generally mean places where people live on acreage outside of towns, with most services too far to walk to. Small towns decreasingly can be called rural, as their takeover by chain stores, engulfment by sprawl, and reliance on non-local goods renders many indistinguishable from suburbs.

•  I’m not a believer in the Peak Oil “end of the world” scenario, where decreasing oil production somehow mutates into the sudden, permanent shutoff of urban water supplies, and contented suburbanites are transformed overnight into looting gangs. Yes, fossil fuels surely will become much more expensive in the next decades, and scarce soon after. I don’t doubt that several tipping points will be broached along the way, with rapid and unexpected changes cascading through society. But civilization won’t end. People have repeatedly predicted the apocalypse: in millennial 1000, again in 1666 (the number of the beast), and many times between and since. Is our memory so short that we have forgotten the foolishness around Y2k? Or are we so wedded to the delicious notion of our annihilation that we grasp at any possibility? Why do we hunger so for our own extinction?

•  Neither the mega-cities nor the survivalist’s bunker will be viable in a post-oil future. The places with the best chance of surviving an oil peak will be cities of less than a million people, ranging down to well-placed smaller cities and towns. Cities of a million or so existed before fossil fuels—ancient Rome proper held roughly a million people—thus they are clearly possible in a limited-oil era.

Scale works to the advantage of sensibly sized cities. For example, Portland’s 500,000 people are served by two sewage treatment plants that use about 2000 miles of pipe to reach every home. Building this cost in the low hundreds of millions of dollars (exact figures don’t exist). Compare this to the sewage system for 500,000 rural people. That’s roughly 125,000 septic tanks, each with 300 or more feet of drain-field pipe, plus trenching and drain rock for all. A septic system costs about $10,000 to build, so the cost of 125,000 of them is $1.25 billion, several times that of the urban system, and the ruralites need 7000 miles of pipe compared to Portland’s 2000 miles. Of course, composting toilets and graywater systems would obviate the need for both of those unsustainable, resource-intensive methods of waste treatment, but I’m talking about what exists right now. Virtually any service system—electricity, fuel, food—follows the same brutal mathematics of scale. A dispersed population requires more resources to serve it—and to connect it together—than a concentrated one. That fact cannot be gotten around.

•  One of the most common responses to the Peak Oil panic is, “We’re planning on moving to the country with our friends and producing everything we need.” Let me burst that bubble: Back-to-the-landers have been pursuing this dream for 40 years now, and I don’t know of a single homesteader or community that has achieved it. Even the Amish shop in town. When I moved to the country, I became rapidly disabused of the idea of growing even half my own food. I like doing one or two other things during my day. During my life…” [Having ‘been there and done that’ myself, with 27 years experience on 29 acres of rural MN acreage, I agree. Mr. Larry]

7.  Surviving Peak Oil, The Economic Meltdown and A Possible New Great Depression.

Surviving Peak Oil, The Economic Meltdown and A Possible New Great Depression: Hypothetical Scenarios and Crazy Ideas For a Crazy New World.
The following survival strategies are for the possibility a post peak oil  world that is truly in chaos. No one knows if we will see such a scenario come to pass and I hope that they won’t.  As a self described “survivalist” and a Red Cross Volunteer who has spent time at the epicenter of category 5 hurricanes,  I have firsthand knowledge of what you need to stay alive. You need: 1) clean water, 2) food, 3) shelter, 4) medicines and 5) communications, basically in that order and last but not least, 6) a good plan.

If you are one of the lucky ones and can afford to keep your home during the current financial crisis or an even worse one that could happen, what kind of neighborhood will your home be located in? Already, in the early stages of the mortgage meltdown some of our suburbs are turning into suburban slums as the homeless and criminals occupy foreclosed homes and mosquitoes breed in abandoned swimming pools. There are nearly 12 million U.S. homeowners who owe more on their homes than those homes are worth and many people are walking away, bad credit be damned because they can now rent for a fraction of what they were paying the bank.  For those who choose to hang on to their homes it will be a challenge to keep that home safe as the crime rate increases.

 Strategy # 1: Standing Your Ground In The City
If you are able to hold onto your home and can find work in the area where you live then your home will become your fortress against the increasingly dangerous urban world around you. Residents of “bad neighborhoods” such as parts of East Los Angeles already have experience in protecting their castles against invaders. But for those of us accustomed to living in “nice” neighborhoods the learning curve will be steep.

a) You can start by spending some of the money you might have left on security bars for your windows, shotgun, and a fence for your yard. By this time property associations will be bankrupt and won’t be able to enforce rules so make your fence as high as possible. You’ll be building the fence to keep thieves out and a dog in. Dog food is an added expense but a good watchdog can be worth their weight in gold.
b) See the book, The Secure Home for more ideas on how to protect your property.
c) You’ll need a backup source of power since the power grid will become increasingly unreliable  and power may only be available for certain hours of the day. A tri fuel generator that runs on natural gas, propane and gasoline is a good choice. So is a diesel generator since you can store barrels of diesel more safely than gasoline. Ideally a large propane tank, in an area away from thieves, is the best way to go. You can run a tri-fuel generator several days straight on a 150 gallon propane tank. You will need at least 5000 watts of power to run your appliances.
d) A more lasting solution is to invest in a solar power system of at least 500 watts for battery charging and to power an inverter to run small appliances. If you can afford a larger backup solar power system of at least 3KW, with multiple deep cycle batteries now is the time to buy one before prices skyrocket. An Air Marine wind generator can provide additional power when the sun is not shining.
e) A wood stove can burn waste wood and lumber  to keep your home warm in winter. Choose one that has a cooking surface. You will need  a flue cleaning kit to clean your smokestack regularly when burning anything other than clean firewood.
f) For water you can divert your gutters into a 1000 gallon or larger fiberglass tank and use a solar panel and RV type demand pump to pressure up your plumbing if city water is interrupted. Broken water mains will be a frequent problem as cities go bankrupt and can’t afford to pay for repair crews.
g) If your yard is big enough you will want to replace much of your existing lawn with food producing
plants including fruit trees.
There are many varieties  of greens such as mustard, collard and kale that grow in marginal soil and shade. You can plant pinto beans, straight from the pantry to produce green beans in spring and summer. Choose hardy varieties of plants such as hybrid tomatoes that are resistant to blight and fungus.  Plant the eyes of russet potatoes in deep flower beds or stacked up tires filled with soil. You can kill pests with diluted dishwashing soap and by picking them off by hand. It is unlikely that you will be able to produce enough food on your own city lot to feed your family but your garden will fill in when other sources are scarce. You can also trade for different varieties of vegetables with your neighbors.
h) Since food supplies will be disrupted having a good supply of food on hand is a must. Buy canned
staples such as corned beef, evaporated milk, brown rice and beans and keep them in airtight containers such as Rubbermaid trash cans. Rust is the enemy of canned food so add dehydration packets which are available at boating supply stores. Keep a stock of dehydrated and freeze dried food for more long term storage. One good tasting brand is made by a company called Mountain House. Also keep a good supply of multivitamins to supply the nutrients you may be missing. Body-builder’s protein powder made from soy or whey also keeps well.
i) Skills like sewing will be needed again to mend items. Get a good quality sewing machine, a supply of thread and spare parts for it.
j) You’ll need a source of news and  it is unlikely you will be able to afford or even get cable at this point.  A simple solar powered radio may become your entertainment center. A small portable TV that operates on 12 volts can be operated from your solar battery bank.
k) You may not be able to afford medical care. Keep a good supply of  broad spectrum antibiotics such
 as Cipro and pain killers. You may want to consider stocking up on essential prescription medicines that you need but do so with caution and always store medicines in a cool dry place sealed in airtight containers.

Communications Gear For Survival
It is unlikely that you will be able to afford cell phone service in a severe depression if it is even available. Instead you can utilize long range handheld radios to keep in touch with  family around your neighborhood. There is a new type, that blows away the previous GRMS/FRS radios and gives about the same range. It is called  a 900MHz FHSS 2-Way Radio and it uses a new type of frequency hopping to provide up to a billion privacy codes so your transmissions are just between you and the other party.

High power SSB CB and ham radios can reach out for thirty miles under the right conditions and using “skip” or bouncing the signal off the atmosphere can talk around the world. Unlike some peak oil “doomers” I don’t see high tech going away in the near term.
There are enough garage inventors out there to scavenge and come up with all kinds of technology to fill in the gaps when the grid goes down as we have seen in third world countries.

In Thailand  entrepreneurs pedal around neighborhoods with solar powered Wi-Fi.  As in India, neighbors may also agree to set up and share a single secure wireless connection across several  city blocks with long range wi-fi antennas. Internet telephony services like Skype may replace traditional phones as land based networks become increasingly unreliable. There are now handheld phones that allow you to talk on the Skype network for free with any open WiFi connection in the world. Read more about how to set up a free internet connection with super long range WiFi antennas and boosters:

Someday you may have to decide to either hit the road or stand your ground.

Should you start buying guns? Should you start a neighborhood watch organization or patrol? Should you put in a garden for extra food or buy emergency rations? What about the infrastructure? Will power keep flowing down the lines with no money to fix our upgrade our electrical grid? Should you put in an auxiliary power supply such as solar panels or a generator? Maybe you should just pack up and hit the road.

Strategy #2: Going Mobile, Mad Max Style
For each of us our personal survival strategy may be different. For some it may mean leaving the home behind and taking to the road to find a less violent place to take shelter or an area where work can still be found. An RV, travel trailer or even a large tent  might become your new residence as they have become for so many evicted homeowners recently. For those who choose the mobile path traveling smart and light are essential.

You’ll want a good supply of freeze dried food or MRE’s, tools, a  multi – fuel generator for power and some communications gear such as a ham radio or CB in your vehicle for emergencies. You’ll also want a number of water storage containers and a pump system for filling from streams. You will need a good water purifier to deal with contaminated sources.   You will need a means of buying food so you will want a hiding place in your vehicle or RV for cash and small denominations of silver and gold coins in case the dollar becomes worthless.  A versatile gun that can also be used for hunting, such as a shotgun is a must . You’ll want a good supply of ammunition. Just remember to keep that gun in a safe place, both from thieves and your kids.

“Here’s your burger sir, that’ll be two twelve gauge shells and five 22 calibers please”. It is very possible that ammunition will become a currency itself so carry a large supply of the most commonly used sizes including 12 gauge shotgun shells and 22 caliber bullets.  The barter system may replace currency for most transactions. Items such as disposable razors, cigarettes and hand tools will be good for trading for gas and food. Sticking with a group of like minded people will be good insurance against trouble. This means finding safe RV parks and campgrounds where law and order still prevails. You’ll need good neighbors to watch your things while you leave to find work, if there is any.

For those without a car you’ll need a good frame backpack and everything you need to survive in miniature. Weight is your enemy so choose lightweight tents, sleeping bags, water purifiers and take along freeze dried food and MRE’s to live on. Carry your cash, silver and gold in a money belt or shoe hiding place. You’ll want to avoid crime ridden cities and find shelter and camping in safe campgrounds or on farms where you can find work. Setting up camp near a body of water has advantages for bathing and catching fish.  Since you may be crossing many jurisdictions carrying a pistol may not be wise. Consider large pepper spray – dye spray containers instead. You’ll need a lightweight crank or solar powered radio for news and if traveling with family a couple of GMRS radios to keep in touch with each other plus a solar battery charger. Consider a high power SSB CB radio for long range communication.

There are other options. A small sailboat is one of them. A self contained sailboat can provide shelter and mobility without the use of fuel. It can allow for movement to areas where there is work and safety along the vast Intercoastal Highway and navigable rivers as well as a way to leave the U.S. if necessary. There are many books that have been written about self-sufficient living aboard sailboats. In a post peak oil world sailboats may be one of the only affordable means of covering long distances. A fuel efficient motorcycle is another. The same packing strategy for backpacking applies to traveling by bike. Carry spare motorcycle parts, tire tubes, a good toolkit and extra gas.

Strategy #3: Rural Survival
If you are lucky enough to own your own farm you will be in the best position of all for survival in a post peak or post economic meltdown world. You will be able to produce not only enough food to supply yourself but also for trade. Since the supply chain will be disrupted and parts hard to find you will want to have spares of everything and the means to can and store your own food. Farmers will undoubtedly form closer alliances with other nearby farmers and cooperative groups  for tasks like  firefighting and crop harvesting. Home canning and self sufficiency skills as described in the aforementioned books apply both to urban dwellers and rural residents.   It will be essential for small farmers to re-learn the  ways and the wisdom of the old timers  before they pass on, such as growing crops without expensive chemical fertilizers.

Take The Middle Path, Be Prepared In The Early Stages Of The Crisis
I have met quite a few other individuals who call themselves “survivalists” in the hurricane ravaged areas where I have volunteered with the American Red Cross.  Although it is never a good idea to try to ride out a hurricane, the ones that made it had electricity, water, food and medicine plus communication gear such as CB or Ham Radio. Unlike the common image of survivalists as gun toting hoarders, these individuals often became excellent volunteers, helping their less prepared neighbors and beginning the rebuilding of their community.

A total economic meltdown caused either by peak oil or something else will bring out both the best and the worse in people. I’d like to think that most will choose to work to keep their community intact but those who are inclined to take advantage by looting and stealing instead of cooperating will do so.  I believe, cynically perhaps, that many of our citizens would react differently than they did in the Great Depression of the 1930’s because now many of us see having certain possessions and lifestyles as a right and therefore any means of getting them is justified.

I think that we would seem like a spoiled nation to those people of the 1930’s if they could have looked into the future and seen us now and the excessive energy wasting lifestyle that we take for granted. Once this is ripped away from us how will Americans react and who will they blame? Surely not ourselves. When the full blown crash comes there will be calls for more government bailouts or even wars to punish whoever caused us such hardship. Few will realize that it was living beyond our means and failing to have a plan of energy self sufficiency behind it all.

The current economic situation could go either way. There are many signs that point to it getting worse and all it will take is some type of unpredicted event to send the economy spiraling downward toward total collapse. The best thing to do right now is to prepare for the worst case scenario that could happen. Tailor your personal survival plan to either one of staying put or going mobile, based on your home ownership situation. You may want to prepare on both fronts, by having a ready pack of supplies in case you are forced to leave and at the same time preparing your home for a long term crisis.

Start by preparing your home to be a safe place when outside support systems fail. If you can afford to add things like solar backup power and rainwater collection now is the time to do it, not when it is too late. Invest in things that make your home more energy efficient and vehicles that use less fuel.  Stock up on freeze dried food and MRE’s now before they become unavailable or extremely expensive and have things like home medical kits and supplies already in place. In case paper money becomes worthless you should keep a savings of small denomination gold and silver coins in a good hiding place to buy food with.

Whether our nation turns a corner and is able to establish a renewable energy future and avoid a severe peak oil crash remains to be seen. Yet investing in home energy efficiency and more efficient vehicles is a win-win way of preparing. Having a stockpile of food and supplies is a cheap peace of mind insurance policy, regardless of how things turn out.
Ultimately it all comes down to preparedness and keeping one step ahead of the tide. Those who make fun of your survivalist ways will be the ones coming to you for help when the poop hits the fan.

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Introducing the Solar Oven

(Survival Manual/ Food & Water/ The solar oven)


[My Global Sun Oven: Set up in the yard, currently cooking a whole chicken, bakes excellent home-made bread, boils corn, makes stews…Mr. Larry]

A.  Benefits of solar cooking
Pasted from: http://www.sunoven.com/sun-cooking-usa/why-use-it/benefits-of-solar-cooking
•  Cook for free:  Bakes, Boils or Steams Any Kind of Food with the Power of the Sun – No Fuel Needed!
•   No learning curve: Create your favorite recipes as you feast upon natural sun baked treats!
•  Just like your home oven: Reaches Temperatures of 360° to 400° F!
•  Totally Safe – No Danger of Fire – Never Burn Dinner Again!
•  Versatile – Easy-to-use, Portable as a Small Suitcase!
•  Satisfaction GuaranteeIf you are not completely satisfied with your SUN OVEN® you may return it within 30 days of the date you receive it and you will receive a refund. [Offer from the Sun Oven website]

Cooking in a SUN OVEN® is easy, fun, natural, and nutritious, while helping the environment. SUN OVENS® are ideal for everyday use in your back yard, at picnics, while camping, or in the event of a power failure. They can help keep your house cool in the summer by keeping the heat from cooking outside.

Even though it is called an oven, food can be baked, boiled, and steamed at cooking temperatures of 360° F to 400° F. There is no movement of air in a SUN OVEN®, allowing food to stay moist and tender and flavorful. Sun-baked roasts are tastier and more succulent, and sun-baked bread has unparalleled taste and texture. The aroma of food sunning itself in a SUN OVEN® is sure to please your senses.

Temperatures in a SUN OVEN® rise slowly and evenly, allowing complex carbohydrates time to break down into simple sugars, emanating subtle natural flavors. The even temperature of the SUN OVEN® prevents burning, so you do not need to stir your food while it is cooking.

There are two ways to cook in a SUN OVEN®. If you refocus the oven to follow the sun every 25 to 30 minutes, cooking times and methods will be very similar to cooking with a conventional stove or oven. Or a SUN OVEN® can be used for slow cooking, much like a crock-pot. You can prepare your dinner, put it in the SUN OVEN®, point the oven where the sun will be approximately halfway through the time you will be gone. Leave, and come home to a tasty, slow-cooked dinner. If you run late, there is no need to worry; the SUN OVEN® will keep your food warm, moist, and fresh for hours.

My unit was purchased from Amazon.com
Global Sun Oven – Solar Cooker by SUN OVENS International, Inc.
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
Price: $259.00 (no tax)

VIDEO LINKS: (Page with 10 brief videos showing the use of a Sun Oven:


YOUTUBE (Jack Spirko of “The Survival Podcast” cooking a roast on the Global Sun Oven)


Explanation of the Global Solar Sun Oven’s Function: 
•  The Global Sun Oven® will quickly reach temperatures of 360 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit!!!
•  When the Global Sun Oven is focused in the sun, the interior of the oven is heated by the sun’s energy.
•  Panels of polished metal flare out above the oven and direct the suns rays into the oven chamber where the heat is trapped, much like the heat captured when windows of a car are closed.
•  The black surfaces on the inside of the oven capture and transform the sun’s energy into a radiant energy wave length that cannot escape the oven chamber.
•  Direct and reflected sunlight enters the oven chamber through the glass door. It then turns to heat energy when it is absorbed by the black inner-shell and the levelator device.
•  The light energy absorbed by both the dark surface, and thick steel walls of the The Global Sun Oven Roasting Pot, [or other dark pots], and the oven’s dark interior is converted into longer wavelengths of radiant heat energy. Most of this longer-wavelength radiant energy cannot pass back out through the glass, ensuring more efficient cooking.
•  Food will not stick or burn… because the      solar heat is radiated throughout the cooking oven and does not come from a single direct source; no hot spots created by harsh burners or heating elements.
•  Food does not even have to be stirred – PLUS the Sun Oven is an excellent tool for boiling water. Cooking times are about fifteen minutes longer than with conventional ovens.
•  The oven will generally reach its maximum temperature as it is being preheated. The temperature drops slightly when food is placed in the chamber.
•  Note: The Sun Oven works even in subzero air temperatures, as long as the sun is out, the oven will capture the sun’s energy and cook as if it were a tropical day. The oven will heat up quicker on clear, low humidity days.
•  The Global Sun Oven is equipped with a built-in levelator device, an inner shelf that pivots to always keep food level and avoid spills while the oven is being refocused. The levelator is easily removed to make cleaning easier – or expand the baking area!
•  The four mirror finished anodized aluminum reflecting panels fold in and are easily secured with a heavy-duty strap. Convenient suitcase style handle allows for hassle-free handling – rugger construction,compact size, and low weight make transport or storage a breeze!

 Product Benefits:
• Perfect for crock pot style cooking while busy or at work
• Superior cooking; virtually every food tastes much better!!!
• Captures the nutritional benefits of all natural cooking
• Bake breads, casserole, etc – without heating up kitchen!
• Facilitates enhanced cooking worldwide – from ice fishermen in Minnesota baking their catch on a frozen lake, to desert dwellers in Kuwait baking lamb – from women in rain forests of Africa who can’t find wood to cook with – to deer hunters in North America who love moist venison – Sun Oven cooks!

 Product Features:
• Cooks with the power of the Sun – no fuel needed!
• Uses source of power that never fails – the energy of sun
• Cooks any foods – no special recipes are required
• Reaches temperatures of 360 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
• Levelator inner shelf pivots to always keep food level
• Levelator easily removed to expand the baking area
Built in leveling leg on back allows for easy sun tracking
• Rugged construction – built for years of trouble-free use
Strong plastic case – both durable and easy to clean
Outer shell made of a highly durable ABS plastic
• Reflexo specular finish reflectors plus tempered glass door
Reflectors made with mirror finished anodized aluminum –  will not oxidize, rust, or corrode
• Black inner shell is formed from aluminum coated with non-toxic, high temperature powder coating
• Coating is baked on and does not emit any toxic fumes – like other industrial paints or coatings
• Oven interior is double-walled and lined with thick batt of non-toxic fiberglass insulation
• Gasket that seals the oven chamber is made from patented material specifically designed to withstand UV radiation
• Gasket forms an air-tight seal to hold heat in while preventing out-gassing from building up in the oven’s chamber
• Stained wooden bezel made of milled kiln dried hardwood
• Reflecting panels fold in and are easily secured with strap
• Carry it anywhere – as portable as a small suitcase!
• Convenient suitcase-like handle – weighs only 21 pounds!!!

OPTIONAL: Black Graniteware, oval-shaped roasting pot; 3 Quart, This black ceramic-coated, all steel roaster is perfect for use in The Global Sun Oven®. The 3 quart size is ideal for most meals using solar cooking, and fits precisely inside The Global Sun Oven with maximum use of interior oven space. Roasting Pot dimensions: 9 3/4 x 5 3/4.

B.  Emergency Food Preparedness by using a Solar Oven

When natural disasters or unforeseen events occur, you know that being physically prepared for an emergency with backups and reserves of food, water, power and shelter is usually the difference between security and peace of mind, or uncertainty and possible tragedy.
We realize of course that conditions within any locale at any given time may not be favorable for using a solar cooker.
Stormy, cloudy and violent weather will most surely make it difficult, even impossible to use a solar oven. But, as everyone knows, these conditions will not always be present; in fact they are usually very short in duration.
The resultant effects of events such as; power outages, tornadoes, storms and such usually leave many hundreds and thousands without the basic necessities that are so common and vital to our customary standard of living; these usually include power, clean water, shelter, food and medical care.
A solar-powered oven can address several of these emergency needs in varying ways and with great results.
•  Clean Water, a most vital resource, can become contaminated through a variety of disruptions or compromises to the culinary water system in a city or town of any size and sickness can result because of it. Boiling water to remove the impurities is the best and most common way for individuals faced with such conditions, but not always are there means available to do this. Without electricity or other fuel sources it would be impossible to obtain the heat levels necessary to boil water. But with a solar cooker you can easily purify enough water to meet the drinking needs of the average family. In fact is, it is not even necessary to bring the water to a complete boil since you can sterilize the water by merely pasteurizing it, thus increasing the amounts of water that can be purified in a day.
•  A solar oven can also be used to sterilize other items as well, such as medical instruments and cooking utensils. In some third world countries where there are epidemics of grain infestation, solar cookers have been used for sterilization of various grain staples.
•  A solar Parabolic Cooker can be used to pressure cook as well as do pressure canning and even run a solar water distiller with the right parts and equipment customized to a parabolic cooker.
•  Solar ovens can be used for such needs as warming or drying clothing articles, drying fruit and vegetables (at ventilated lower temps) melting wax for candles, beekeeping wax melting. And a solar parabolic cooker can be used for warming the body and hands in cold weather as well as warming/heating pipes for air and water heating.
•  The foremost reason for including a solar cooker amongst your emergency supplies is of course; to be able to cook your food when there are no other means available of doing so.

*VIDEO LINK (16 videos: a variety of solar ovens and their uses):



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Tracking the continued, “quiet” breakdown at Fukushima

comentator2A. Tepco fails to halt toxic water inflow at Fukushima No. 1 trenches
22 Nov 2014, The Japan Times News
Pasted from: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/22/national/tepco-fails-to-halt-toxic-water-inflow-at-fukushima-no-1-trenches/#.VHGDLYl0zmg

Kyodo: Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted failure Friday in its bid to halt the flow of toxic water into underground tunnels alongside the ocean at the Fukushima No. 1 plant and said that it will try using a specially developed cement instead.

Some 11,000 tons of highly radioactive water have accumulated in the tunnels, trenches dug to house pipes and cables that are connected to the reactor 2 and 3 turbine buildings of the wrecked facility, according to Tepco.

There are fears that this toxic buildup, which is being caused by the jury-rigged cooling system and groundwater seepage in the reactor basements, could pour into the Pacific, which is already being polluted by other radioactive leaks. Groundwater is entering the complex at 400 tons a day. (400 tons of water = 96,523 gallons a day –Mr. Larry)

Extracting the toxic water is a critical step in Tepco’s plan to build a huge underground ice wall around the four destroyed reactors to keep groundwater out.

Initially, Tepco sought to freeze the water in a section of tunnel connected to the No. 2 reactor building. This was intended to stop the inflow and allow the accumulated water to be pumped out. The utility said it took additional measures that also failed.

On Friday, Tepco proposed a new technique for the tunnels: injection of a cement filler especially developed for the task while pumping out as much of the accumulated water as possible.

Under the new method, however, it would be difficult to drain all of this water and some of it would be left behind, endangering plant workers, Tepco acknowledged.

Nevertheless, a Nuclear Regulation Authority panel of experts green-lighted the new strategy at a recent meeting. Some of the experts argued that Tepco should stick to the original plan and draw out all of the water. Others said giving up on it may hamper the construction of the ice wall.

Mr. Larry note: A standard 30 ft by 50 ft in-ground swimming pool, 4 ft deep in the shallows to 8-9 ft in the deep end, holds 56,200 to 62,500 gallons water. Rather than actually solving the radioactive pollution and environmental poisoning at the damaged and leaking Fukushima reactor site, highly radioactive water is accumulating at the rate  of about 1-1/2 large swimming pools per day, 7 days a week with no end in sight.

fukushima pool

On a 7 x 365day basis, the volume of 1.5  large swimming pools or  a 90,000 gallon storage tank of highly radioactive ground water is accumulating on the Pacific coast of Japan and this is not first class public news? Mr. Larry.


B. Worst Spill in 6 Months Is Reported at Fukushima
20 Feb 2014, The New York Times, By Martin Fackler
Pasted from: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/world/asia/worst-spill-in-6-months-at-fukushima.html?_r=0

TOKYO — About 100 tons of highly radioactive water leaked from one of the hundreds of storage tanks at the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator said Thursday, calling the leak the worst spill at the plant in six months.

The operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said the leak, discovered on Wednesday and stopped on Thursday, happened far enough from the plant’s waterfront that none of the radioactive water was likely to reach the Pacific Ocean, as has happened during some previous spills. Still, the leak was an uncomfortable reminder of the many mishaps that have plagued the containment and cleanup efforts at the plant, as well as the hundreds of tons of contaminated groundwater that still flow unchecked into the Pacific every day.

The company, known as Tepco, said it had traced the latest leak to a pair of valves that were left open by mistake.

The leaked water was among the most severely contaminated that Tepco has reported in the aftermath of the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, when damage caused by an earthquake and a tsunami led to meltdowns in three of the plant’s reactors. Each liter (quart) of the water contained, on average, 230 million becquerels of particles giving off beta radiation, the company said. About half of the particles were likely to be strontium 90, which is readily taken up by the human body in the same way that calcium is, and can cause bone cancer and leukemia.

That means the water was about 3.8 million times as contaminated with strontium 90 as the maximum allowed under Japan’s safety standards for drinking water. It also showed levels much more radioactive than a worrisome groundwater reading that Tepco announced earlier this month. That reading — five million becquerels of strontium 90 per liter — which was detected at a location closer to the ocean than the latest spill, prompted criticism of Tepco because the company waited five months to report it publicly.

Critics have assailed the company since the accident, saying that it has been slow to acknowledge problems at the stricken plant and that it has disclosed too little information about the conditions inside. Even so, the [Japanese] government has left the company largely in charge of the cleanup work there.

Tepco has struggled to deal with the hundreds of tons of groundwater seeping each day into the plant’s damaged reactor buildings, where it is contaminated by the melted nuclear reactor cores. To keep the radioactive water from running into the Pacific, the company must pump it out of the reactor buildings and store it in rows of huge tanks it has erected on the plant’s grounds.

So far, Tepco said, about 340,000 tons of water have accumulated in the tanks, enough to fill more than 135 Olympic-size swimming pools. A ton of water is equivalent to about 240 gallons.


 C.  Pentagon Agency Admits It Began Stockpiling Potassium Iodide Due to Fukushima
11 Jan 2014 , by EUTimes, reprinted from Kit DanielsInfowars.com
Pasted from: http://www.eutimes.net/2014/01/pentagon-agency-admits-it-began-stockpiling-potassium-iodide-due-to-fukushima/

fusushima KI

“The recent earthquake in Japan in March of 2011 and the resultant nuclear crisis has renewed interest in” potassium iodide, the Defense Logistics Agency said in a solicitation.

Radiation leaks from nuclear plant “renewed interest” in iodide, agency said in 2012.

A federal bid notice reveals that a Pentagon agency began stockpiling potassium iodide in 2012 due to its concerns over the Fukushima nuclear crisis, shedding light on why the Dept. of Health and Human Services is now ordering 14 million doses of iodide.

The Defense Logistics Agency posted a solicitation on FedBizOpps in 2012 asking contractors for 75,000 packages of potassium iodide tablets because the “recent earthquake in Japan in March of 2011 and the resultant nuclear crisis has renewed interest in this item.”

“The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency has submitted a MILSTRIP (Military Standard Requisitioning and Issue Procedures) for this item to ensure that critical operational forces are protected in the event of nuclear fallout,” the solicitation added.

Potassium iodide keeps radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland and therefore it is commonly taken in the event of a severe nuclear emergency, such as the current Fukushima crisis.

As Paul Joseph Watson reported on Jan. 1, HHS ordered an unprecedented 14 million doses of potassium iodide for delivery next month.

A government source later told Anthony Gucciardi that this purchase is bizarre given the massive amount requested on such a short notice.

Although HHS did not list a reason for its order, the DLA’s open admission reveals that it is highly likely that the health department is also stocking up on potassium iodide due to Fukushima.

But why would HHS wait until now?

Because several oceanographers concluded last August that the radioactive plume from the Fukushima disaster will reach the U.S. coast early this year.

Additionally, another major earthquake hitting the already delicate nuclear plant could force tens of millions to evacuate Japan.

Yet unlike the Pentagon agency, the health department has been silent on its preparation for such a crisis.

When Gucciardi called the procurement office for HHS about the iodide purchase, the representative denied that HHS was stockpiling potassium iodide for any particular reason.
“Do you have any concerns about Fukushima?” Gucciardi asked.
“I have no idea about any of that… there’s no hidden agenda here,” the representative responded.

But given the DLA’s open proclamation that it is in fact stockpiling potassium iodide because of the radiation leaks from Fukushima, it appears that the health representative’s denial is as weak as the duct tape repair work made to the crippled nuclear plant.

fukushima duct taped

 Duct tape on control rod system pipes (upper left). Notice the rust on the supports and bolts above the tape. Besides the earthquake and tsunami,Tepco had a management and maintenance issue. Tepco’s culture and level of social-economic “responsibility” apparently has not changed. Its politically expedient for politicians, globally, to accept the status quo; fingers and blame can be pointed else where when plutonium 90 contaminates broad areas of mainland Japan and the waters of the Pacific ocean on a large scale. Then folks, we’ll find it was not Tepco, but an act of God that brough golbale radiation problems, God made the support hangers rust and caused the control rod system pipes to be duck taped rather than repaired too (smile). When the SHTF, Listen for political statements, partial quotes from the future: “What did we know”, “What could we have done?” , “They told us it was under control”. “In a act of God….”, “Questions are being asked.” 


D. Big quake near Fukushima would ‘decimate Japan, lead to US West Coast evacuation’
7 November 2013, InfoWars.com, by RT.com
Pasted from: http://www.infowars.com/big-quake-near-fukushima-would-decimate-japan-lead-to-us-west-coast-evacuation/

The stricken nuclear plant at Fukushima in northern Japan is in such a delicate condition that a future earthquake could trigger a disaster that would decimate Japan and affect the entire West Coast of North America, a prominent scientist has warned.

Speaking at a symposium on water ecology at the University of Alberta in Canada, prominent Japanese-Canadian scientist David Suzuki said that the Japanese government had been “lying through its teeth” about the true extent of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

He attributed the cover-up to the Japanese government’s collusion with the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that administers the plant.

“Fukushima is the most terrifying situation that I can imagine,” Suzuki said, adding that another earthquake could trigger a potentially catastrophic, nuclear disaster.

“The fourth [reactor] has been so badly damaged that the fear is if there’s another earthquake of a 7 or above then that building will go and all hell breaks loose,” he said, adding that the chances of an earthquake measuring 7 or above in Japan over the next three years were over 95 percent.

“If the fourth [reactor] goes under an earthquake and those rods are exposed, then it’s bye, bye, Japan and everybody on the west coast of North America should be evacuated. And if that isn’t terrifying, I don’t know what is,” Suzuki said.

‘Too proud’
Addressing the Japanese government’s attempts to bring the crisis under control, Suzuki said the scientists charged with the plant’s safety “don’t know what to do.”

“The thing we need is to let a group of international experts go in with complete freedom to do what they suggest,” Suzuki said, adding that the only thing impeding this was the “pride” of the Japanese government that was refusing to admit this was necessary.

Suzuki referred to the current scheme of freezing the soil around the reactor to prevent radioactive leaks as “cockamany.”

TEPCO has accepted the US government’s help in undertaking the risky cleanup operation of the Fukushima site. Teams of experts will begin the removal of fuel rods from the fourth reactor in mid-November in a decommissioning process that is likely to take decades. One wrong move in the delicate operation could result in horrific quantities of radiation being released into the atmosphere or trigger a massive explosion.

Dr. Helen Caldicott described the risks of removing the rods to RT as “terribly serious” because of the danger of releasing a large amount of radiation.

“Two rods could touch each other in this process which has been done before and there could be a fission reaction and a very large release of radiation.”

Suzuki, a prominent environmental campaigner and scientist from the University of British Columbia, whose television science programs and books have gained a wide international audience, has been very vocal in his criticisms of Japan in its handling of the disaster.

Despite his prominence in Canada, Suzuki has been criticized in the past by the media for double standards and his credentials as a scientist have been queried. While his television programs encourage society to consume less fossil fuel and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, Suzuki reportedly lives in one of Vancouver’s most exclusive areas and has faced criticism over his globetrotting airplane travel.

However, with regard to the current situation at Fukushima, a number of scientists have echoed Suzuki’s concerns. Nuclear technology historian Robert Jacobs told RT that there could easily be more destruction at the plant’s fourth reactor.

“If this building were to collapse, which could happen, it would spill these spent nuclear fuel rods all over the ground which would make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics impossible and could threaten all kinds of health problems throughout northern Japan and Tokyo itself,” Jacobs said.

fukushima babelA vision of things to come? Technologically speaking, nuclear power is a modern Tower of Babel (by Pieter Bruegel the Elder-1563). The realization that mankind occasionally over steps his bounds is not new, it surfaces with the growth of large cities and attendant  innovation,  it is the blow off phase of civilization. Mr. Larry


(News & Editorial/Tracking the continued, “quiet” breakdown at Fukushima)

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