Tag Archives: energy

Our Future, Part 3 of 4

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

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

Descent scenarios 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4.  Lifeboats: Civilization Triage
Rapid energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms.
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/31/51/>
In this scenario, supplies of high quality fossil fuels decline rapidly, the economy fails and human contributions to global warming collapse, but lag effects and positive feedbacks in the climate system continue to drive an acceleration of global warming. As of 2007, an increasing number of scientists believe it may already be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. In the Lifeboat scenario the adverse symptoms of the Brown Tech and Earth Steward scenarios combine to force a progressive collapse in most forms of economy and social organization. Local wars, including use of nuclear weapons accelerate collapse in some areas but the failure of national systems of power prevent global warfare. Successive waves of famine and disease breakdown social and economic capacity on a larger scale than the Black Death in medieval Europe leading to a halving of global population in a few decades.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our Future, Part 2 of 4

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

H.  Energy Descent: The Ignored Scenario 
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/20/57/>
Public discussion of energy descent is generally seen as unrealistic, defeatist and politically counterproductive although many activists promoting sustainability strategies privately acknowledge that energy descent maybe inevitable. I want to expand the systems approach to future energy transitions by focusing on the most ignored of the long term scenarios for the following reasons.
_1.   We do not have to believe that a particular scenario is likely before making serious preparations. For example most people have fire insurance on their homes, not because they expect their primary asset to be destroyed by fire but because they recognize the severity of this unlikely event. Similarly, energy descent scenarios,  by their very nature, require more forethought and proactive planning than energy growth or steady state scenarios (to avert catastrophic consequences) .
[Image at left: Amish horse cart outside of SUV’s in auto sales lot, Raleigh North Carolina. 2005. A model for energy descent in more ways than the obvious. The Amish driver is likely to be a farmer, a symbol of the greater number of people who will be involved in food production both domestically and commercially in a future of less energy; in ironic contrast to the Burger King take away food sign in the background.]

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

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

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

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

 A.  Permaculture
Pasted from <http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/21/58/>
Serious and thoughtful responses to energy descent futures over the last 30 years (from both sociological and ecological perspectives) have received limited attention academically.  In affluent countries, movements advocating low energy lifestyles, such as permaculture, have contributed mostly to action and changes at the fringes of society. Permaculture has been stress tested in poor countries and in crisis situations, and as fossil fuel depletion hits levels of
affluence globally, its relevance will likely increase radically.
[Image at right: Melliodora central Victoria 2004. View over poultry deep litter yard, roof runoff garden, olive and fruit trees to house with solar clerestory showing above trees. ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our Future, Part 1 of 4

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

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

FUTURE SCENARIOS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve labeled these:

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

 [Chart above: The Four Energy Futures]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Your minimal emergency electric needs

(Survival Manual/Prepper articles / Your minimal emergency electric needs)

10 Things You Will Miss Most Without Electricity At Home
17 Jul 2013, ModernSurvivalBlog.com, by Ken Jorgustin
Pasted from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/preps/10-things-you-will-miss-most-without-electricity-at-home/#more-28882

electric light

 To go without electricity for a couple of hours is a bad enough experience for most. But imagine the horror if the power were to stay out for days, or weeks…

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.

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’s generation…   In no particular order, food for thought, People will be forced to deal with the loss of use very quickly…

LIGHTS 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?

CELL PHONES 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?

INTERNET AND COMPUTER 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, and our entertainment. Many people won’t know what to do without it.

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

iPODS, STEREO, MUSIC I mention this category due to the observation of so many people walking around with ear-buds attached to their iPod 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.

AIR CONDITIONING, FANS, AND HEAT Many modern buildings will be uninhabitable without it, due to their HVAC design and necessity. We have lived for many decades with the convenience of air-conditioning, and being without it will be a shock. If electricity were to fail in the winter, there will be even more grave consequences.

REFRIGERATOR AND FREEZER This sole appliance is in its own category due to the important role it serves in keeping your food fresh longer and keeping you supplied with food for a time. Your frozen foods will be thawed within 24 hours and will need to be consumed immediately or tossed out. Then what?

KITCHEN APPLIANCES 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?

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

CLOTHES WASHER AND DRYER 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… Some of the categories listed above are really subsets of “Entertainment”. Although entertainment is not part of the survival basics (water, food, shelter, etc.,) it WILL be a major emotional factor for many people. It is a category that most people rely on for daily distraction. When things go “quiet”, it will be jarring for most who have become accustomed to the constant noise of this distraction. They will be forced to deal with the reality of their own life, and may not know what to do. It could result in a rapid escalation of chaos, particularly in densely populated areas as tempers flare while people are forced to deal not only with the loss of the distraction, 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 outlet or constant communication, these people will have a very difficult time coping. Even if cell towers are up for awhile during a power outage, once your cell phone battery drains, that’s it… Silence.

Kitchen. You better start thinking about how you’ll manage without these electrical appliances. Do you have the ability to prepare food? Do you have food that doesn’t require much or any preparation? Think of a power outage in various time periods. While it’s pretty easy to survive a few hours or even a day or two, use your noggin and consider being without electricity for longer. Seriously… how will you survive without it?

I haven’t’ mentioned WATER until now… While this resource is number one 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, they can keep the pumps running. A severe enough disaster however could throw a wrench in the works… use your imagination. This is similar for sewage treatment.

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 how you would survive without it.

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B.  Batteries: How to store them, Myths and Facts
22 July 2013, by Great Northern Prepper.com
Pasted from: http://www.greatnorthernprepper.com/batterry-storage-battery-myths-facts-nicad-vs-nimh-vs-lithium-ion/

Today I want to talk about some myths and facts about storing batteries, how to do it properly so that the batteries you have in your preps will last as long as possible.
First thing is first, before we talk about myths, facts and storage you need to treat your batteries just like your food preps, rotation is the key.  Just like food you need to continually use these batteries in the FIFO (First In First Out) Method, that is use the older batteries first and replace them with newer batteries etc., etc.

What are differences in Batteries?
 Alkaline:  These are the “standard” batteries that we are familiar with, the one time use disposables, however some can be recharged (however this can be chaotic in its results).

NiCad:  Using nickel oxide hydroxide and cadmium, these are rechargeable but newer technologies have made this battery nearly obsolete, however some devices cannot use newer batteries

Nominal Cell Voltage: 1.2v
Cycle durability: 2000 cycles
Charge/Discharge efficiency: 70-90%
Self Discharge rate: 10% per month

 NiMH:  Using Nickel metal Hydride, this battery is similar to the NiCad batter however it offers higher energy density than NiCad, which gives it roughly twice the capacity of the NiCad.  NiCad’s also suffer from what is called “memory” that is the battery will lose capacity when the batteries are recharged after only being partially discharged.  NiMH can also suffer from this but not as sever as NiCad.

  electric eneloopLithium Ion: these batteries produce the same power as NiMH but weigh 20-35% less, they also do NOT suffer from the Memory effect at all.

Nominal Cell Voltage: 3.6/3.7v
Cycle durability: 400-1200 cycles
Charge/Discharge efficiency: 80-90%
Self Discharge rate: 8% @ 69.8 degrees, 15% @ 104 degrees,  31% @ 140 degrees

 Personally I prefer the Sanyo Eneloop NiMH since they seem to have proven to me and through other reviews and studies to be one of the best rechargeables out there.  They are a Low discharge battery that means they lose their charge at a extremely low rate (holding roughly 90% of their power if stored properly).  The Eneloops also charge close to their rate capacities (around 1970mAh – 2000mAh).  Although they are more expensive upfront they last longer and overall are cheaper

electric chargerHowever I would recommend the Power Ex MH-C9000 Wizard One charger which is a “Smart Charger” which analyzes the batteries discharge rate and charges them accordingly to make sure the battery doesn’t suffer from the “memory effect”  these can easily be used with a small solar charger and inverter.

Regardless of what battery charger you get, make sure its a “smart” charger and the maximum charge rate shouldn’t exceed 1/3 the rated capacity of the battery, in the case of the Eneloop (2000mAh) this rate should be 700mAh.  If you can set the chargers discharge rate set it at 100mAh.

STORING BATTERIES:
MYTH: Storing batteries on concrete will “suck” the energy out of it, i.e. it will discharge its stored energy and die.
In the past car batteries were glass jars stored in a wooden case, the moisture on the floor would swell the wood and fracture the glass, so this was true.  Later as plastic cases were used the plastic was still porous and allowed electrical current to conduct through the container to the moist concrete, so thus this was still true.  Today car batteries use a polypropylene which is highly isolative and are not subject to this.  In the end, todays batteries are fine to be stored on concrete, but will still discharge regard of where they are stored, so rotation and use is still the rule of today.

FACT: Storing them in a Freezer/Fridge will make them last longer.
Well this is a mixed message, while energizer and other manufacturers say “not to”, reviews and test show this to be untrue.  Colder temps slow the discharge rate but with Alkaline batteries it is a slightly reduced rate, not really worth the time and space used.  NIMH batteries can see a useful bump in their capacity retention, but with the advent of Low Discharge NIMH batteries it is unneeded.  If YOU DO freeze them make sure you allow them to warm to room temperature before you use it.

electric battery storage

Whats the best way to Store them?
Store your batteries around 59 degrees in a dry area, guess what else you store in a cool dry place– your food preps, so just store your batteries in the same area as them.  It is recommended that every 6 months you discharge them fully and recharge them fully (for NIMH low discharge batteries).

For Lithium Ion Batteries store at room temperature in a dry place and charge to about 20-50%, and charge them about once a year to prevent overdischarge.

Store NiCad at room temperature in a dry location and charge at least once per year to prevent leakage and deterioration of performance.

I keep around 50 NIMH Eneloop AA and around 15 Eneloop AAA batteries, which I rotate through, all year as needed.  I also have some rechargeable D, C and 9 volt batteries as well for batteries and other applications, however I have yet to purchase any solar panels, it is high on my list, but the budget is the budget.  I also keep about 3-4 of those Costco packs of Batteries in the house for use as well.

 

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How to keep cool indoors and out: vests

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ How to keep cool indoors and out: vests)

Think about maintaining your normal body core temperature, whether inside and outdoors during an extended emergency summer power outage.

A.  Keeping Your Cool: cooling vest type
April 2010, mitoaction,
http://www.mitoaction.org/red-tape/keeping-your-cool-cooling-vest-types-sources-financial-assistance

There are a variety of personal cooling systems that are available for purchase, and each style has unique advantages and drawbacks. Here is a brief summary of the three most popular systems:

1.  Evaporative Cooling Vests:
These vests feel like terry cloth but have tiny pockets of highly absorbable beads that can take in water and expand to 6 times their dry size. The vest is soaked in cool water and gently wrung out to remove excess. The vest is placed over a t-shirt and cools by evaporation; the air moves faster next to the water-logged beads, which creates a layer of cool air between the vest and the skin. Evaporative cooling vests are light weight, inexpensive, and there is no need to purchase a second vest to swap; the vest can be re-wet and immediately used again. Evaporative cooling apparel is not limited to vests; headbands, wristbands, floor mats, and even dog vests are available for purchasing. If an evaporative vest is damaged, it can be re-sewn by hand. The function of the vest isn’t seriously compromised if a few beads escape. (The beads are non-toxic, but always check the vest carefully to avoid ingestion by a child.) Evaporative cooling vests are of limited benefit in humid environments and are sometimes not tolerated by individuals with sensitive skin due to the slight dampness of the garment.

 2.  Phase Change Cooling Systems:
This type of vest contains inserts that are activated by placing them in the freezer or a container of ice water, and then the inserts maintain a consistent temperature (usually 53-56 degrees F.) for up to three hours. The inserts can then be re-activated (10 to 20 minutes for activation) and reused. Many people choose to purchase an extra set of inserts and rotate them, so that the vest can be used continuously. The inserts are not exactly ice packs; they do not reach freezing temperatures so they are unlikely to cause damage if left in contact with bare skin. This makes them safe to use with young children or individuals who are unable to feel heat or cold due to neuropathy or communicate discomfort. They are activated when exposed to temperatures above freezing, and need much less time to recharge than an actual frozen ice pack would take. Also, the inserts do not “sweat” when the cold is being transferred to the wearer, so clothing stays dry. Phase change vests can be made to fit wearers of all ages and sizes, custom vests can be made for individuals weighing more or less than the displayed vests are recommended for.

There are drawbacks to purchasing and using phase change vests. The inserts add weight to the vest, from 1 ½ to 2 lbs for children’s vests to 4 lbs or more for 3X or 4X adult sizes. Fortunately, the weight is evenly distributed on the body and is close to the individual’s center of gravity, so the balance issues associated with backpacks or weights shouldn’t be a problem. The cooling vest system is much more expensive than an evaporative vest; you can expect to pay around $200 for a vest and two sets of inserts. The phase change inserts are filled with a viscous fluid and are durable but not indestructible. If an insert is damaged it must be discarded and replaced.

3.  Hybrid Cooling Vests:
This vest combines the benefits of the evaporative as well as phase change vests. The user has the ability to choose between using the evaporative or phase change cooling methods, and can also choose to use both systems simultaneously to complement one another. This type of vest is new to the market, but customers who have purchased hybrid guests have reported high satisfaction rates.

4.  Cold Pack Cooling Vests:
These vests look just like phase change cooling vests, but use actual ice packs that freeze at 32 degrees or in some cases, even colder. These cold packs give the highest level of cooling because the cold packs are the lowest temperature. These vests are effective in extreme humidity and very high temperatures. Extra packs can be added or changed out over time.

There are several drawbacks to cold pack vests. The frozen inserts are generally heavier than phase change inserts, are usually inflexible when frozen, and must be returned to an actual freezer, below 32 degrees farenheight, to be refrozen, which can take several hours. Most frozen packs “sweat” while discharging cold energy, which some individuals may find uncomfortable. Most importantly, ice packs cannot be applied directly to skin and should never be used by individuals who may have impaired sensation, are asleep, or unable to communicate discomfort, as frostbite and serious injury can occur.

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B .  MSolutions Cooling Climate Control Products
http://www.mscooling.com/faq
1.  WHO NEEDS A COOLING VEST?
If work, leisure activities or medical conditions make you uncomfortably hot and/or affect your performance, you could benefit from a Cooling Vest.

2.  WHAT IS HEAT STRESS?
Heat stress occurs when the body’s reaction to the environment causes its core temperature to rise above safe limits. This can result in a racing heart, profuse sweating, dizziness, reduced energy and slowed reaction times. This reduces safety, decreases efficiency and lowers productivity.
What is the difference between the many different types of body cooling systems available?
There are many different cooling products available and the best one for you depends on your personal situation, activity and environment. We recommend you consult your health care professional prior to purchasing a cooling garment or system.

A summary of the systems:

Evaporative
Cooling Power: Low*
Cost: Very Low
(*depending on humidity and outside variables)

Cold packs
Cooling Power: High
Cost: Low to Medium

Phase Change
Cooling Power: Medium
Cost: Medium

Active Cooling
Cooling Power: Very High
Cost: High to Very High

Evaporative Cooling: These products come in an assortment of garments that fit a wide variety of locations on the body. They are soaked in water to charge special polymer materials built into the garments. As the water evaporates (sometimes over several days), the garment provides surface cooling. These systems are typically low cost and light weight.
Advantages: Low cost, light weight works for an extended period of time
Disadvantages: Requires wetting of garment loses effectiveness in higher humidity

Cold pack cooling: These products typically come in vests, neck coolers and wrist coolers. The products work by incorporating cold packs into pockets of the wraps. The cold packs are placed in a freezer or a refrigerator until ready for use and then are placed in pockets designed into the wraps. The packs will stay cold for 2 to 4 hours depending on environmental conditions.
Advantages: Medium cost, no wetting required effective for 2-4 hours, highest cooling capacity works in all environments adjustable cooling with more / less packs extra packs easily carried for extended cooling
Disadvantages: Requires access to freezer / refrigerator requires time for packs to freeze medium weight: 4-5 lbs.

Phase Change Cold Pack Cooling: These products are similar to the cold pack systems only use a phase change polymer in the cold packs or the garment. This technology controls the release of temperature to a specific range through out the cooling cycle. A typical temperature is 58 degree F. Phase change cold packs may be recharged in the freezer, refrigerator or in ice water.
Advantages: Charges in ice water, refrigerator, freezer wetting not required, effective for 2-3 hours provides moderate cooling temperature  works in all environments extra packs easily carried for extended cooling
DisadvantagesHigher cost system, high cost of spare packs Lower cooling efficiency than cold packs medium weight: 5-7 lbs. medium cooling capacity.

Active Cooling: These products typically incorporate a coolant, often ice water, that is circulated from a reservoir by a pump system through channels or tubes embedded in a vest. Often a hood for the head is incorporated into the system also. The temperature of the circulating coolant usually can be adjusted. The system operates on batteries, house or car current. This type of system will provide many hours of cooling before the ice and water needs to be recharged.
AdvantagesMost effective cooling – core body cooling adjustable cooling temperature extended cooling time between recharges no wetting required, works in all environments light weight garments.
Disadvantages: Very high cost system tethered system limits mobility requires ice water reservoir.

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C.  Glacier Tec  Phase Change cooling vest
Pasted from <http://blog.coolvest.com/easy-rider-glacier-tek-coolvest-product-review/>

Original RPCM® Cooling Vest – Tan Khaki
Price: $179.00, get a 10% discount with the special sales code “fjrforum-10”    from <http://www.fjrforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=139799>

I have this vest and it works well, it does keep you cool out doors at temperatures of around 100F while doing light to medium work . I prefer using this,  the “phase change” vest for “in the house” applications when the power is out. It’s dry and doesn’t damped furniture; for for a similar reason, I prefer the evaporative vest, discussed below, for outdoor use.

Product Details:
RPCM® Cooling Vests feature side elastic straps and over-the-shoulder adjustability to fit a wide range of body sizes. RPCM® Cool Vests provide you with the maximum comfort available in the market today. They maintain a cool, constant 59°F/15°C temperature for up to 2½ hours, weigh less than 5 lbs., and recharge in minutes. The RPCM® Cool Vest is extremely durable. It can be easily cleaned in regular laundry. .                                                           

> RPCM® Cool Packs quickly recharge in only 20 minutes in ice water. The packs charge (freeze solid) at a temperature about 50 degrees. There are 3 ways to fully charge the packs. They will be rock solid even using the refrigerator which is my favorite of the 3 ways.
__1) On the road toss them in a plastic bag full of ice for 30 minutes.
__2) Put them in the freezer for 1 hour.
__3) Put them in the refrigerator for 2 hours
> RPCM® Cool Vests are Glacier Tek’s exclusive Patent-Pending technology that uses a unique “green” formula.
> RPCM® contains absolutely no hazardous ingredients or chemicals and is completely non-toxic.
> Vest weigh less than 5 lbs.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Pasted from <http://www.glaciertek.com/RPCM_Cooling_Vest/FAQ.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1>

Q. Is the material in the RPCM® Cooling Vest hazardous?
A. No. The phase change material in the RPCM® Cool Pack is unique among phase change materials used for cooling. It is the only phase change cooling vest on the market which contains no hazardous ingredients or materials. It is also non-toxic, safe, and environmentally friendly. Should the RPCM® Cool Pack become punctured and leak onto your skin, it may be washed off with soap and water.

Q. How many times can the RPCM® Cooling Vest be used?
A. If the RPCM® Cool Packs are not punctured or torn, they can be used indefinitely. Our RPCM Cooling Vest has no shelf life. Some of our cooling packs have been recharged 10,000 times with no measurable change in performance.

Q. Can I store my cooling vest in the freezer?
A. Yes, the RPCM® Cooling Packs can be deep-frozen indefinitely without affecting performance.

Q. How long do RPCM® Cooling Vests take to recharge?
A. Typically 20 minutes in ice water will fully recharge a set of cooling packs, longer in a freezer or refrigerator. They recharge more quickly in ice water because of the conductive method of heat transfer. In a freezer, they chill convectively, which takes longer. They can be stored in a refrigerator or freezer indefinitely without damage or loss of functionality. Recharging in a cold freezer with the door kept shut takes about an hour. In a refrigerator, it can be several hours to overnight, depending on the heat load, how many times the refrigerator is opened, etc.

Q. What are the benefits of RPCM® Cool Packs over ice or frozen gel packs?
A. There are three key benefits:

  1. RPCM® Cool Packs operate at a much more comfortable 59° F (15°C) temperature. That means they can’t cause skin or tissue damage or cause extreme discomfort like ice or frozen gel can do.
  2. RPCM® Cool Packs will be effective for a longer period of time between charges. The reason? The difference in temperature between ambient (surrounding) air and the phase change product is much less than the difference in temperature between ambient air and ice. That means more cooling is absorbed by the body and less is lost to the air.
  3. RPCM® Cool Packs are cooled to a temperature that is usually above the dew point. That means they normally won’t condense or sweat against your body or clothing. Ice and frozen gel packs are below the dew point, so they sweat, making them uncomfortable to wear and adding to the weight of the vest or jacket. Condensation also robs the ice pack of efficiency because condensation creates heat, which is absorbed by the pack, further reducing its efficiency.

Q. How do RPCM® Cooling Vests compare with evaporative-type products?
A. RPCM® Cooling Vests provide much greater efficiency and better performance. Evaporative-type products by design retain water, so are always wet and can grow bacteria. This makes them uncomfortable against your skin. It also means they will grow mildew quickly over time, as they rarely dry out. Further, evaporative-type products can’t operate in high humidity environments (or under protective clothing,) because the atmosphere is already saturated with water, so there is no place for the evaporation to go. RPCM® Cooling Vests, on the other hand, are unaffected by humidity.

Q. Will RPCM® Cooling Vests reduce body core temperature?
A. Our products are worn to help maintain a normal body core temperature. The purpose of phase change cooling technology is to help maintain a comfortable core temperature and prevent that temperature from increasing above normal. It’s our goal to help you avoid heat stress in the first place.

Q. Isn’t water a phase change material?
A. Yes. A phase change occurs whenever matter changes from one form into another. Water can change from a solid (ice) to a liquid, as well as to a vapor. Water changes into a solid at a specific temperature: 32ºF (0°C). But RPCM® Cooling Vest packs change into their solid form at 59º F (15°C). Since water changes into its solid form at a much lower temperature, it loses more of its cooling ability to ambient (surrounding) temperature. It’s also below the dew point, so it causes condensation as it melts. Further, it’s uncomfortable and requires an overnight stay in the freezer to refreeze.

Q. Will RPCM® Cooling Vests cause vasoconstriction?
A. That’s one of the advantages of RPCM® Cooling Vests: They function within a comfortable temperature range that unlikely to promote vasoconstriction of blood vessels, unlike ice or frozen gel which promotes rapid vasoconstriction. This is an important benefit, as non-constricted blood vessels allow your circulatory system to freely move blood throughout your body, then release heat at the skin surface. With ice, the body is fooled into defending itself agains the intense cold. It reacts by constricting the blood vessels near the skin, limiting the body’s natural cooling system. The heart and lungs then have to work harder, expending extra energy in the chest cavity and creating yet more body heat and other risks.

Q. Do RPCM® Cooling Vests come in sizes?
A. No. The RPCM® Cooling Vest is adjustable across a wide range of sizes to enable it to fit many people. Inventories of various sizes are reduced and one vest may be adjusted to fit several people, enabling sharing of the product from person to person. It adjusts over the shoulders and around the waist for a comfortable fit in a wide range of body sizes.

Q. Where can I purchase Glacier Tek Products?
A. Glacier Tek, Inc. wishes to offer you the most expedient service possible, and allows you to choose from several ordering options: Order On-Line, Fill out an Information Sheet, or call us at 800-482-0533 for more information or to locate a distributor near you. Thank you for your interest in Glacier Tek, Inc. and our cooling technology products.

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D.  Tech Deluxe Evaporative Cooling vest
Amazon.com, $49.99
See: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FGD8SA/ref=gno_cart_title_1

[Photo at left] TechNiche Deluxe Hyperkewl Evaporative cooling vest, Large size (40-42),, silver colored exterior, $49.99: High mandarin collar, front pockets, and zipper closure combine to offer the ultimate cooling and sun protection solution.

The evaporative vest works, I have one and prefer it for outdoor use. I’ve tested it doing my afternoon walks at temperatures of about 100F.

HyperKewl™ Evaporative Cooling Fabric is 47% Fluff Pulp, 33% Crosslinked Super Absorbent Polymer Fiber, Sodium Acrylate Coploymer and 20 % Bicomponent Polyolefin Bonding Fiber

EASY TO USE:
1.  Soak garment in cool water for 1-3 minutes
2.  Gently squeeze out excess water
3.  Wear; repeat steps as needed
4.  Hang to dry
5.  Wash in mild, soapy water (as needed)

Improved HyperKewl™ Evaporative Cooling Fabric ((PEF6519) – Helps our Evaporative Cooling products to last longer, and withstand more wear and tear. No gel or beads. This simple and effective technology works by combining water with our HyperKewl™ Fabric to create garments that gradually release water through evaporation to keep you cool and comfortable. Comfortable quilted Oxford nylon outer w/ polymer embedded fabric inner, water repellent nylon liner, and black poly-cotton trim.
Provides 5-10 hours of cooling relief per soaking; lightweight, durable and washable.

* Between use the vests are each hung on a sturdy wide shouldered clothes hanger.

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Everything Won’t Be Alright

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Everything Won’t Be Alright)

Everything Won’t Be Alright
4 September 2012, The Automatic Earth, Ashvin Pandurangi
Pasted from: http://theautomaticearth.com/Earth/everything-isnt-alright.html

“Looking around at those… around me – family, friends, acquaintances and random faces in the crowd of apathy – the level of complacency is so concentrated I can taste it, yet I can’t even describe how bad it tastes. I’m not really talking about the understanding people lack about the numerous predicaments we face as a species – that’s definitely there too… but what I’m talking about is even worse. It’s the assumption that we can just go about our day-to-day lives, doing our day-to-day work, having our day-to-day fun… and humanity will eventually heal itself, no matter how bad the injuries sustained.

This is a cultural phenomenon that has infested the Western world, and refuses to be eradicated. It is where many of us ultimately place our hope and stake our lives, sometimes without even realizing we are doing it. We previously discussed the entertainment enemas that have penetrated modern culture (and the lives of deluded teenagers) in Culturally Programmed Myths of Omnipotence. They have given us the vision that we can always become bigger, “better” and stronger as individuals and nations, evolving towards God-like glory, no matter what obstacles are in our way – all of the stories about superheroes, vampires, werewolves, wizards, robots and aliens – it’s all about the propaganda of pernicious power.

We even see this mentality taking root in academia and scientific research through the field of “transhumanism” (very well portrayed in the documentary, TechnoCalyps). As you can probably guess from the name, transhumanism tells us that we are on the way to becoming something more, something other, than human beings. Forget random mutation and natural selection, the transhumanist says – we can circumvent all of the slow evolutionary nonsense that we only theorized about a century ago. Now we can transform ourselves into a new species over the course of a few decades with the help of modern technology and “intelligent designers”. Just a little bit ironic, don’t you think?

Ironic, yet frighteningly appealing to the broader public. Yet another aspect of this cultural programming is the idea that all troubling stories have a happy ending – that all good things come to those who [sit on their ass and] wait. We have obviously been fed this diet of propaganda by movies and television on a consistent basis over the course of decades. You sit through one and a half hours of action-packed plots with drama, romance, suspense, twists and turns mixed in… and then the whole thing comes together and the heroes prevail in the last 20 minutes. That’s truly how many people view the world now – an epic movie that is approaching its glorious credits, just so the sequel can come out next year.

This virulent mentality is not only quarantined to the mainstream materialistic culture, but is also evident in many alternative spheres of cultural milieu, even penetrating its way into the so-called “Doomer” crowds. Many people who are otherwise extremely pessimistic about the current world-system and its effects on human civilization have found refuge in the idea that we are entering a “New Age” of human existence. It may be initially characterized by pockets of chaos and upheaval, but it will end with a radical spiritual transformation that results from the natural evolution of human consciousness.

The Universe will re-balance itself and bring the blessings of peace and harmony to ALL of its inhabitants – “all” being those who are mentally programmed to properly decode its gifts. There is really nothing “new” about these concepts, though – they borrow many of their underlying tenets from the ancient religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. For example, a prominent prophecy within sects of the latter is the arrival of the Maitreya Buddha at a time when humans have completely lost touch with their true nature as immaterial and interconnected parts of the divine whole (a time like now, perhaps?).

The Maitreya may not be a majority view in “New Age” circles, but it reflects a general mentality that has submerged itself in both the mainstream and alternative streams of modern culture, presenting itself to us in many different forms. There is an entire industry based around the concept of self-help gurus teaching people [much too] simple ways to become “happy, healthy and successful”, no matter what is going on in the world around them. Yet we all know that there is no money to be made from a product that truly helps its patients (customers).

They’re selling us exactly what we want to hear – that the reality of human suffering in the world is not actually as bad as it appears to be; that there is more truth in the fictional movies we have seen than in our real lives. Maybe if we can just find that slick-looking guy in the black leather jacket and cool shades, snatch the red pill and wash it down with a bottle of Absinthe, the truth will be revealed to us and everything will be alright in the end. Or maybe the blue pill will give us a better high…? Either way, I’m here to say that we should be really careful what we wish for, because there is only a razor thin line between the truth and fiction these days.

Most importantly, though, I am here to make clear that no one is immune from the mentality that “everything is alright” or “everything can be alright”, including me. I have my own personal beliefs about how humanity can be preserved and even perfected, and I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with that. What’s wrong is when I forget to remind myself where those beliefs come from and where they are truly leading me. Do they simply make me feel good and comfortable and “enlightened”? Am I simply willing to swallow the red pill because someone slick tells me it will “open my eyes”?

Or is there something more fundamentally true about why I have deep concerns and why I have ultimate hope. What sacrifices are really required of myself and others to reach our maximum human potentials? I believe these are questions we must repeatedly ask ourselves, because the moment we become too comfortable and too uncritical of our beliefs, or the beliefs of others around us, is the moment that we become apathetic and willing to go wherever the world takes us. It is only when we confront the uncomfortable truths of our situation in this world that we will be able to become the best we can possibly be.”

Current News headlines (the list is growing) (Mr. Larry)
The middle class is being destroyed
Private Debt Is Crippling the Economy
Average Credit Card Interest Rates Are Way Too High
Too Big To Fail Banks Get Bigger, American Dream Turns Nightmare
Does shadow banking require regulation?
A Cartel of Big Banks Is Hurting the World Economy By Manipulating Derivatives
JPMorgan’s Big Loss: Why Banks Still Haven’t Learned Their Lesson
Despite a Negative Fund Balance the FDIC is Insuring $6.1T in Deposits
 Gas prices shouldn’t be high, but are: What gives?
France Interior Ministry threatens to expel Muslims
EU Police to Patrol Internet for Political Enemies Opposed to “European Integration”
Hypocrisy Alert: The Obama ‘Royal Family’ Continues Spending Spree with Lavish Vacations
China Challenges Obama’s Asia Pivot With Rapid Military Buildup
Russia, China seal major gas deal, bypass US dollar
Russia’s secret weapon: crashing US economy by collapsing petrodollar

Democracy and the bathroom metaphor
Two people live in an apartment and there are two bathrooms, then both have the freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want, and stay as long as you want, for whatever you need. Everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in the freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, “Aren’t you through yet?” and so on.

The same way democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are the less one individual matters. …………………….Issac Asimov

US Population, no one is talking about it! Could it be the root of our problems? Ya think?
1775 – the founding of our nation, and at about the time the Constitution was written, this country had a population of 2,500,000.
7 September 2012: Now, a mere 237 years later,  we have a population of 313,459,820, which is 125 times larger than in 1775 when our Constitution was drawn up.
We need to stop immigration and reduce the US population about 15% so that there is no unemployment and we are eating within our means. In the coming 20 years or less, when the downside from Peak Oil becomes manifest, that 15% reduction may need be stretched to…..ummmm 47%. Mr. Larry.

The graphic below depicts the power and money flow trickling down through the US and global economy, its pathway into the not to distant future; of course with different named, but substantially similarly sub categories. We all share the common end point, one of deep concern. Mr. Larry.

In the meanwhile, as our train hurdles down the track, while everyone is metaphorically comfortable in their seat watching life pass by, unaware that historically, “global”‘ debt scenarios do not end well for the public at large, you should:
1.  Keep a minimal amount of cash in the bank, keep the balance in a safe place that only your family knows about. (make sure you have a lot of smaller bills, $1, $5, $10 and rolls of change; you might have to pay exact cash for groceries.
2.  Obtain a few hundred ounces of silver coin (Silver Eagles and US pre 1965 silver change). Buy the silver only after you have some cash set aside.
3.  Have a few ounces of gold coin (Gold Eagles), figure that 1 ounce equals a month’s living expenses. Buy gold only after you have the silver coins.
4.  Have  some food (3+ months) in nitrogen packed cans in long term storage, and use bulk rotation in your well stocked cupboards.
5.  Have various household supplies in storage.
6.  Be prepared to protect your home from  invasion. Everyone approaching their mid teens should be part of your home security plan.
[Photo: Smith & Wesson Military & Police 9mm (S&W M&P9) Barrel Length 5″, Capacity 17 + 1]

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EMP: A pie in the sky concept?

(News & Editorial/ EMP: A pie in the sky concept?)

A.  Report: China building EMP weapons for use against U.S. carriers
Pasted from: http://www.china-defense-mashup.com/report-china-building-emp-weapons-for-use-against-us-carriers.html
2011-07-24 (China Military News cited from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jul/21/beijing-develops-radiation-weapons/”>Washington Times and written by Bill Gertz) — China’s military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons that Beijing plans to use against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future conflict over Taiwan, according to an intelligence report made public on Thursday.

Time bomb jpgPortions of a National Ground Intelligence Center study on the lethal effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons revealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “assassin’s mace” arsenal – weapons that allow a technologically inferior China to defeat U.S. military forces.

EMP weapons mimic the gamma-ray pulse caused by a nuclear blast that knocks out all electronics, including computers and automobiles, over wide areas. The phenomenon was discovered in 1962 after an aboveground nuclear test in the Pacific disabled electronics in Hawaii.

The declassified intelligence report, obtained by the private National Security Archive, provides details on China’s EMP weapons and plans for their use. Annual Pentagon reports on China’s military in the past made only passing references to the arms.

“For use against Taiwan, China could detonate at a much lower altitude (30 to 40 kilometers) … to confine the EMP effects to Taiwan and its immediate vicinity and minimize damage to electronics on the mainland,” the report said.

The report, produced in 2005 and once labeled “secret,” stated that Chinese military writings have discussed building low-yield EMP warheads, but “it is not known whether [the Chinese] have actually done so.”

The report said that in addition to EMP weapons, “any low-yield strategic nuclear warhead (or tactical nuclear warheads) could be used with similar effects.”

“The DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile has been mentioned as a platform for the EMP attack against Taiwan,” the report said.

According to the report, China’s electronic weapons are part of what are called “trump card” or “assassin’s mace” weapons that “are based on new technology that has been developed in high secrecy.”

“Trump card would be applicable if the Chinese have developed new low-yield, possibly enhanced, EMP warheads, while assassin’s mace would apply if older warheads are employed,” the report said.

According to the report, China conducted EMP tests on mice, rats, rabbits, dogs and monkeys that produced eye, brain, bone marrow and other organ injuries. It stated that “it is clear the real purpose of the Chinese medical experiments is to learn the potential human effects of exposure to powerful EMP and [high-powered microwave] radiation.”

The tests did not appear designed for “anti-personnel [radio frequency] weapons” because of the limited amounts of radiation used.

However, the report said another explanation is that the Chinese tests may have been research “intended primarily for torturing prisoners,” or the tests may have been conducted to determine safety or shielding standards for military personnel or weapons.

The medical research also appeared useful for China’s military in making sure that EMP weapons used against Taiwan and “any vulnerable U.S. [aircraft carrier] would not push the U.S. across the nuclear-response threshold,” the report said.

[And where else might EMP weapons be use, besides the US Fleet in Asia, our government and military think Washington might become a target, see below. Mr. Larry]

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B.  The Missile Defense Spectator
The Silent Threat
21 Dec 2012, spectator.org, Peter Hannaford
Pasted from: http://spectator.org/articles/34752/silent-threat

emp2 first view

Riots over the Middle East and South Asia get everyone’s attention, but a clear and present danger to the United States homeland exists that virtually no one is talking about and for which we have no defense: missile attack.
A Russian military officials says the recent covert visit of one of their submarines to the Gulf of Mexico proves that they could, without difficulty, launch a missile high over the U.S. that could trigger the explosion of an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) bomb that would shut down virtually all electrical and electronic activity in a large swath of the nation. There would be no radiation, no deaths — “only” economic paralysis and chaos.
Add Iran and North Korea to the list of potential launchers of such a weapon.

While we have worked for months to develop missile defense capabilities in Europe to protect against a possible Iranian attack there, we have only tested such systems from bases in California and Alaska. Nothing is ready to deploy and given the threat of “sequestration” of large amounts of defense funds, that situation is unlikely to change.
While Congress and the Administration stew and stall over the sequestration issue, the danger is both clear and present and there is something we can do to protect the U.S. homeland from such attacks. It is called the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netter Sensor. That mouthful is shortened to JLENS.

The Army developed JLENS to detect, identify, track and engage multiple hostile targets, including low-flying cruise missiles, as well as those launched from submarines and merchant vessels. The threat is that such attacks might involve EMP, chemical or biological weapons.
JLENS is deceptively simple, consisting of two lighter-than-air ships that lift to 10,000 feet (or more) both a fire-control and surveillance radar from where they detect potentially hostile targets at ranges of more than 200 miles. It gives field commanders considerable advance warning of threats. The system was tested successfully last April at the Utah Test and Training Range, destroying a simulated hostile cruise missile with a Patriot missile.

Development of JLENS has involved an investment of $2 billion so far. The next step is to answer requests from combat commands for this system by testing it again in the field to fine-tune it. Congress appropriated $40.3 million for such a test; however, before it could be conducted, the Department of Defense asked Congress to allow these funds to be reprogrammed for other purposes, presumably including budget balancing in the face of sequestration.

Since its creation in the 1950s, the Committee on the Present Danger has focused on the changing nature of threats to the United States. With the potential threat to the U.S. homeland increasing daily, the Committee has written to the Secretary of Defense to urge him to withdraw the request to reprogram the funds so that development of JLENS can proceed. Its cost, in the greater scheme of things, is low when measured against the nature and growth of the threat to our homeland.

.

C.  A Fleet of Blimps Will Soon Serve as a Missile Shield Over Washington
24 Jul 2013, Gizmodo.com, by Adam Clark Estes
Pasted from: http://gizmodo.com/a-fleet-of-blimps-will-soon-serve-as-a-missile-shield-o-885030187

emp2 JLENS blimp

A still-chilling consequence of post-9/11 America is that we remain all too aware of the fact that we could be attacked at any moment. And so with worst case scenarios in mind, the military is constantly upgrading our defense systems in increasingly creative ways. Washington DC is next in line. It’s getting blimps.

To call Raytheon’s JLENS system mere blimps, though, is doing the defense contractor a disservice. These house-sized flying spy fortresses can identify threats on the ground that even the most powerful land-based radar would miss. They can spot and track incoming cruise missiles, mine-laying ships, armed drones, or anything incoming from hundreds of miles away in 360-degrees and react in real-time. Perhaps most impressively, the JLENS system can stay in the air watching over a base or a city for up to 30 days, all day and all night, without needing to be resupplied or refueled. Obviously, this is preferable to the very expensive fleet of five spy plans that it would take to do the same work that the JLENS does with less than half the manpower.

emp2 JLENS system

Sometime in 2014, the Defense Department will deploy a pair of JLENS blimps over the Washington DC to watch over the nation’s capital. At 74-meters long, the aircraft aren’t exactly Goodyear blimp-sized, but they’re not inconspicuous either. The JLENS system is made up of two aerostats: One equipped with a fire control radar that provides targeting data and the other with a surveillance radar that can see in all directions. Floating at 10,000 feet above the ground, the JLENS system will also be able to see all the way out to the Atlantic Ocean.

The JLENS system is already on its way to the Washington DC area after having finished a successful test out in Utah. With over 100 soldiers trained on the system, the Army ran early user testing in a number of different complex scenarios. The next step is to transport the whole outfit to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland where it will undergo an operational evaluation and eventually enter into active duty, so to speak.

It’s unclear exactly when the JLENS system should take flight, but it’s hard to see the downside in the arrangement until then. When all said and done, the Defense Department will be spending up to 700 percent less on the JLENS system than on spy planes, and will ostensibly get better protection. And who knows? They might be able to pitch in some aerial photography for Redskins games.

[OK, so Washington DC has JLENS system protection, what about the rest of us? The following article discusses what personal-social-utility systems you normally depend on to live, that will be affected by an EMP strike on the USA, form the not protected northeast coast, southeast coast,  Gulf coast, or entire west coast. An EEMP attack along any of these coasts would take out power almost half way across the country in a huge circle from the near space nuclear explosion. You won’t see it, you won’t hear it, the power will simply be gone. Mr Larry]

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D.  Rolling to a stop and living in the dark
28 May 2013, P.R.E.P. Personal Readiness Education Programs,  by PREP
Pasted from: http://readygoprep.com/website/rolling-to-a-stop-and-living-in-the-dark/

Recently I saw some controversy about the book “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen. The opinion was that too many people were treating the book as gospel with respect to their prepping for a long-term power outage.EMP2 book

The book details an Electro-magnetic Pulse attack on the United States by an unknown entity. Actually none of the characters knows exactly why the power went out, but everything operated by electricity to include all vehicles and generators just stopped working. In the blink of an eye, everything rolled to a stop, including life, as we knew it.
This is not a book review

Although I regularly recommend the book as a primer to anyone curious or on the fence about prepping. The story does a great job of revealing how people may react when the lights go out, transportation stops, food disappears, medical supplies run out and help isn’t coming.  Is it an extreme example? Maybe, maybe not, depends who you ask. But it is an emotional page-turner that might just draw you in and have you cursing, crying and cheering throughout. Either way, you may find yourself asking some questions about your level of preparedness. And that is a good thing.

So where is the controversy? It’s in our freedom to prepare anyway we wish.  Prepping already gets a bad rap in general by the population at large.  It’s been open season by TV and media for a while now. So why do we in the prepperverse feel the need to down on each other. Without pointing fingers, a couple of the biggest names in survival have criticized those who prefer to be self-reliant in a world without power.

There is every reason to be prepared for a long power outage. First, let’s define what long term may mean to you. An EMP is considered a high impact low frequency event. NASA had a page on its website that warned about the US East coast possibly being without power for 4-7 years after an EMP or severe solar weather event. That page has since been pulled but interestingly; they still have the urban survival page placeholder in the employee area of the site. But aside from an apocalyptic event, let’s consider events that have actually happened? Hurricanes Andrew or Katrina, Sendai Provence Japan after the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear meltdown. There was no power for months in affected areas. These are just a couple of actual examples of a time when 72 hours of supplies wasn’t even close to enough.

If the event is large enough, there may be nowhere to actually go. How about a possible earthquake on the New Madrid fault line that severs critical cross-country infrastructure? Is someone going to flip a breaker and shazaam, we have lights? No, it doesn’t work that way.

As our colleagues stated, there will always be someone to turn the power back on. But how long would a repair take after the grid is catastrophically damaged by Mother nature, physical attack or cyber terrorism?

Electricity is arguably the easiest area of survival to adjust to a life without. We have survived without power as a species until only recently. With that being said, it would be a major adjustment in our way of life until the lights come back on. Take a moment to reflect on how electricity has changed our world and how things would be when all the machines stop working.

In this world where everyone has an opinion and a website, you need to do what you must to extend your survival and comfort in times of crisis. Don’t be swayed by those who speak the loudest but haven’t actually lived what they preach. There may come a day when you are sitting in the dark, cursing, and can’t even tweet @ them that they were wrong and you regret listening to them.

EMP2 power out

So what can you do to mitigate the effects of a life without power?
We at P.R.E.P have taken the less than glamorous approach of actually attempting to identify threats to our safety and survival by performing a hazard analysis in all the areas we feel are important to our everyday life.  One of those areas is electricity.

Take out some paper and ask yourself some questions. Once you have considered the potential problems of living without power, devise some solutions to lessen the impact of such an existence.

Think about short and long-term periods at home, and then consider the impacts of distant places without power to really get a feel for what conditions you may be forced to endure.”

There are seven main areas of survival. How could a power outage affect you in a survival situation? What other problems can you identify?

 Food:

  • Transportation from farmer through the food processing/delivery chain.
  • Refrigeration and preservation
  • Cooking and preparation
  • Will you be able to produce, preserve and prepare foods for safe consumption?

Water:

  • Municipal water systems inoperable
  • Sewers inoperable
  • Fire hydrants/extinguishing may not be available
  • Water quality, not safe to drink without treatment
  • Will you have water for the many needs of survival? Drinking, hygiene, medical, laundry, sanitation of surfaces, flushing, irrigation, animals?

Shelter:

  • Lighting, (candles are a major cause of house fires after a hurricane or power outage)
  • Appliances
  • Warmth
  • Cooling
  • Electric tools
  • Farm housing and animal care
  • Will your physical location be affected? Maintenance?

Safety / Health:

  • Medical machines
  • Drinking/hygiene/medical water quality concerns
  • Sanitation, cleaning/sewage
  • Medical supplies,  pharmaceuticals
  • Access to care
  • Night visibility
  • What medical capabilities will be affected? Short/Long term?
  • Will you need medications?

Security:

  • Security systems may be down
  • Outdoor lighting inoperable
  • Automated systems offline
  • Will the outage affect your physical security plan?

Communication:

  • Computer systems down
  • Communication systems down.  Ham, CB, data, voice, video
  • How will you communicate locally/distantly?

Energy:

  • Fuel may be unavailable for power generation and transportation at all levels
  • Nuclear power offline without cooling systems, even offline, the rods need to be cooled or they will meltdown
  • Grid may be down for extended period without replacement transformers. Power is needed to manufacture  transformers. Some types take months to make and transport
  • Did the event damage your alternate energy equipment or plans?

In this case we will add transportation because it affects all the other areas of survival in some way. If there were an outage that disabled our mechanical way to move great distances, it would effectively shut down the economy on a grand scale, especially in this globalized and interconnected world.

 The Moral of the story:  Feel free to prepare as you see fit. Don’t let others make you feel foolish for thinking outside the box and having a contingency plan. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for help, this is all uncharted territory for a modern society.

Before leaving this post…You should know, it’s not just Washington DC that may be threatened, but our fleet, our allies, the lower 48. If enemy and potential enemy nations are planning to use their nuclear weapons specifically for an EMP attack,  1st World nations are not safe, continent wide destruction of electronic infrastructure could lead to 90% death rate within a year.

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