Jul 172012
 

Yesterday, I came across something this is very important.  The ramifications of this are incredibly serious.

In this article, North American Forests: When the Colors of the Trees Change, massive amounts of North American forests are being wiped out by the bark beetle.  Due to warm winter temperatures, winter survival rates of larvae shot from just 20% to over 80%, causing a massive population explosion. More beetles means more trees attacked and killed.

By 2010, over 30 billion trees have been killed. Logging operations to combat the infestation has resulted in even more tree loss, including many healthy ones.  In British Columbia alone, over 18.1 million hectares are considered contaminated by 2012. In the lower 48, hundreds of millions of tree are already dead and dying. Western forests are at risk of being virtually wiped out.

But it gets worse then this.

Trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This balance is now threatened:

Ahead of us we have the possible destruction of forests, vital in maintaining oxygen levels necessary for life, in the control of carbon dioxide, and in water cycle balances. Notably, the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere has dropped from 35 to 21 percent from prehistoric times to now, and the carbon dioxide has increased in part by the human growth pollution in cities with high oxygen levels, which often comprises only 15 percent of total air. So at this rate it is obvious that in these cities we will render the “air” unbreathable. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a botanist, says, “the abuse of forests and pollution of the oceans has caused them to produce only half the oxygen (they produced) 10,000 years ago.”** We must also consider that in the last 30 years this process has accelerated the deterioration or the collapse of almost all living systems.

This paragraph really stuck out, so I began to research the facts.  Are cities really losing their oxygen?

Yes.

Dangerously low levels of oxygen are now being reported in cities around the world.  Increased carbon dioxide levels are displacing oxygen in the atmosphere. Continue reading »

Jun 142010
 

Nearly £7billion was wiped off the value of BP yesterday amid growing fears that its crucial dividend payout to shareholders will be suspended.

The shares fell 9.3 per cent, with City analysts warning that they will fall even lower in the coming weeks.

Since the oil rig explosion in April, the market capitalisation of the company has almost halved, losing about £55billion in value.  BP Hit For 7 Billion (pounds)

That’s $81 billion in dollars since the explosion.  If their total assets were $235 billion, BP is headed for bankruptcy, fast.

This means bailout cries will be getting louder and louder (soon).  There are already estimates of economic and environmental damage in the $1 Trillion range.

If they keep finding more of these (two so far), maybe they could refine them down to power the prison where some of the BP execs are going:

1 Ton Tarball Found south of Perdido Pass, Florida, June 11, 2010

Personally, I could give a shit about BP. No company on Earth is “too big to fail”, nor should they receive any bailouts, especially one that has actively covered up its crimes, censored the news, banned coverage, threatened employees and journalists and created the worst global disaster in modern human history.

One person told me that they should take the responsible parties and shove a pipe down their throats and another one up their ass and pump them full of crude oil as just punishment. That is after all, what has happened to most of the wildlife down in the Gulf.

This satellite shot from June 12th doesn’t begin to show the millions and millions of dead fish, whales, dolphins, sharks, birds, crabs, crustaceans and countless other life forms that died, choking to death on thick gobs of oil.

We are destroying our oceans.  I’ve written on this many times now, but be SURE you check out Desdemona Despair’s (current) links:

Researchers Find A Sea Of Garbage In North Atlantic

Surprisingly Large Amount Of Microplastics In The Environment

Efforts To Repel Gulf Spill Described As ‘Chaotic’

Scientists locate 23-mile long oil plume off Florida’s Gulf Coast

Oil spill spreads bitter disappointment in Barataria Bay — “˜Booming has not been effective”¦there’s more oil inside the booms than outside’

Most oil-struck birds, marine life die alone and uncounted

Jun 052009
 

Much food doom news, sent in by Lonewolf.  This is a worthy read, on how our food ‘revolution’ is actually making things much worse:

“The green revolution has brought us only downfall,” says Jarnail Singh, a retired schoolteacher in Jajjal village. “It ruined our soil, our environment, our water table. Used to be we had fairs in villages where people would come together and have fun. Now we gather in medical centers. The government has sacrificed the people of Punjab for grain.”  The Global Food Crisis – National Geographic

May 312008
 

[This is a fictional interview entry, written to answer some interview requests I’ve received. In the past year, I’ve had about five requests I think from different media outlets. I have turned them all down as a matter of routine. I do not grant interviews anymore, because I’ve little interest in the limelight and certainly don’t trust the media. Much of the following is a compendium of what is already written on this blog]

Q: You are involved in selling storable foods and writing your blog. Is there anything else you are involved with?
A: Trying to stay alive, just like you.

Q: How long have you been in the food business?
A: Thirteen years Twenty one years.

Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Over twenty years. I still make the same spelling mistakes I made then. There was an old forum I maintained for a few years, a couple of books and many contributions to other websites were written under a pseudonym.

Q: Why do you write? I’ve heard you are controversial.
A: I suppose I am. I’m not a pushover. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I do expect people to think. I don’t think that is asking too much, although for some people it is.

Q: Tell me about your blog.
A: My purpose for writing these words and this blog in its entirety, is to express what I believe to be true, what I have learned and why I think this is all important to all of you.

This blog is not about me and it is the reason why I am just Survival Acres or more commonly known as “Admin”. This blog is about you and your world and what is happening to your world. It is also about what we might or might not be able to do about what is happening to the world.

Q: What is your experience?
A: My experience is drawn from the same world you live in, but it is unlike your experience, at least I am pretty sure of that. Nobody lives in the same shoes as another and we each experience different things in different ways. Our relationship to that experience and its meaning, interpretation and understanding is also unique to each and every one of us.

My experience is probably unique. My perspectives on life, living, future are also unique. Perhaps it would be better or more accurate to say “uncommon”. I am not about popularity or fame. I do not care for these things because they are shallow and vain. I disdain popularity and attention, because they hide the message and promote the messenger who is often something other then he seems. Who is the man who can retain his integrity (if he has any) when he has made a platform for himself? Not many.

Q: That’s an interesting perspective. What is your level of involvement in the world?
A: I will not vote in the next (s)election. This is my protest. Some say that voting is the highest form of democracy. I disagree. I believe that protesting is the highest form of exercising democracy.

I do not believe that the next (s)election will make any difference at all. Nor do I believe that my vote makes any difference at all. I do not believe in any of the political processes of this nation anymore. If I did, I would probably vote, despite the deplorable candidates we are offered because I would not know any different.

I believe that by not voting I am withdrawing my consent to be governed by a government that does not care about what I think. Withdrawing my consent is far more important to me then voting is. I am not so naive to believe that my protest will make any difference. It won’t. Neither will your vote.

I do know what will make a difference, but we’re not ready for that yet in this country. I have no particular confidence that we will be ready any time soon either but I am planning ahead and preparing for that day. If not me, then somebody else will use my preparations.

Q: What do you think is going to happen?
A: Our civilization is going to collapse. I know this is true because this is what happens to all societies that destroy their resource base. There are experts who can tell you this. One man’s expert is usually another man’s enemy, so this isn’t a popular or well liked opinion.

Our devolution has been underway for some time. I inherited it just like you did. I don’t want to keep it alive anymore because it is choking the life out of everything. I don’t need an expert to tell me that. You don’t either. Continue reading »

Feb 172008
 

Vaughn sent me a bunch of links, we’re sinking fast. Faster then most seem willing to admit:

The economic train wreck of the world keeps piling up and it’s now a full blown barrage to the point where I can’t keep up this week. I think that few people can anymore.

Here’s a sampling of what is now a ‘drop in the bucket’ of financial doom;

U.S. SINKS DEEPER… …TAKING CANADA WITH IT…

Trade deficit drops 6.9% for December, more than expected

(U.S.) Dollar Has Biggest Weekly Loss in 2008 on Signs Growth Slowing

NY governor warns of ‘financial tsunami

Struggling Citigroup hedge fund bars withdrawals -WSJ

more

Repo lots overflow with reclaimed cars

Countrywide says foreclosure rate at new record

Bernanke’s State of the Economy Speech: “You are all Dead Ducks”

Banks to ask government to take bad loan risk: report

New Trouble in Auction-Rate Securities

Depression(?) risk might force U.S. to buy assets

OPEC May Drop Dollar for Euro
Insight: The next crisis will be over food

And from Pat: Foodmakers squeezed by costs, strapped consumers

Let’s see, they’re confiscating houses and cars by the freight load, check.  The bankrupt US government may “buy” stocks to avoid a depression, check.  Real food prices are far higher then what I just posted, check.  Downside risk to (unending) growth has increased, check.

Just connect the dots….

(Editor’s translation) “Discount everything I’ve said here today if the economy blows up—as I fully-expect it will—from decades of regulatory neglect and the myriad multi-trillion dollar Ponzi-schemes which have put the entire financial system at risk of a major heart attack”.

Bernanke’s candor is admirable, but it is little relief for the people who will have to soldier-on through the hard times ahead. Perhaps, next time he could spare us all the lengthly oratory and just forward a brief cablegram to Congress saying something like this:

“We are deeply sorry, but we have totally fu**ed up your economy with our monetary hanky-panky. You are all in very deep Doo-doo. Prepare for the worst.”

our sincerest regrets,

the Fed

Jun 172007
 

There’s a great article on lifeboat communities over at the Archdruid Report –

It was a grand experiment but, on the whole, a failed one, and the root cause of its failure is instructive. Of the many thousands of young communards who headed back to the land, vanishingly few of them had the least idea how much sheer hard work it takes to grow one’s own food and provide the other necessities of life by one’s own efforts, and not many more had even the most basic skills needed to tackle that technically complex and demanding task. A little pottering around in garden beds with a copy of a half-read book in one hand won’t do the trick. Idyllic fantasies of living the good life in the lap of nature thus collided head on with the hard reality that life in a fossil-fueled industrial economy really is much easier than subsistence farming in Third World conditions. Caught in this collision, most of the communes of the Sixties either figured out how to batten off the larger society through welfare, drug dealing, or some other sideline, or simply let out a few bubbles and sank once the first bright rush of idealistic enthusiasm wore off.

The same challenge faces potential lifeboat communities in a world perched unsteadily on the brink of peak oil. Anyone who wants to pursue rural self-sufficiency needs to check their desire for a modern American lifestyle at the door, and embrace a standard of living fairly close to that of a Third World peasant. Given competent training, rigorous practice, and a high tolerance for hard physical labor day in and day out, a group of healthy adults can keep themselves and their dependents adequately fed, clothed, housed, and equipped with necessary tools, with a little left over for barter or sale; for thousands of years this has been the standard human lifestyle over most of the world, and once the brief era of fossil-fueled extravagance we call modern industrial civilization is over, it will likely be the standard human lifestyle once again. Compared to the relative ease, comfort, opportunity and abundance of a modern middle-class lifestyle, though, the lot of a subsistence farmer is fairly hard going. Where Are the Lifeboat Communities?

These are my exact thoughts and concerns that I have expressed. I have seriously thought about building just such a community and inviting others to join in on the “fun”. This is what the EcoVillage forum was all about. But I concluded several things after talking with others and doing my own investigations:

a) the lack of local connections makes such communities difficult to sustain;
b) lack of adequate funding, localized economy and job (income stream) opportunities is often a cause of the failure;
c) unrealized and unrealistic expectations;
d) almost all communities ultimately fail.

There are slackers and there are workers. There are doers and there are talkers. I’m personally inclined to do both, but I’ve worked around others who did one or the other. I don’t mind the talkers, but the non-workers and slackers are useless to me and everyone else and can be emotionally and financially draining.

The article also concludes with the same conclusions I reached: a lack of motivation. The existence of this problem permeates our entire society right now. Asking people to give up their comfortable lives willingly is like asking for the Moon. Expecting them to do this is like asking for Mars. And so frustration, resentment and disillusionment set in. Implosion follows and the community is shattered.

There are many other factors which I’ve outlined in Ecovillages and in some past commentary. But the reality is, without community, we’re not going to survive. I can see no other way around this. And despite my deepest objections and concerns, I think we have to realize this.

My tone is a bit negative for a reason: I’ve been personally involved in community building for several years. And it didn’t work then and I suspect it won’t work now. We’re not “there” yet – that place that says we will set aside our difference and our objections to those around us and work together to make survivable lifeboats.

Right now, we believe ourselves to still have both the time and the space to try and ready ourselves on our own. Even I’m guilty of this, but deep down inside, I think this is crazy. But not crazy enough to try community again. Not yet. I’ve yet to find one that I deem to be fully aware, awake and prepared to do what it’s going to take. Perhaps one exists, but they’re not known to me.

But none of this changes anything. Community still remains the best answer for a post-peak world. Our task is to figure out how to make it work and where it can work. It is my belief that the how side of the question is the hardest. Not just growing food and the physical labor required, but the people side of the question. How to live together like humans once did. How to interact and resolve problems together. How to have a tribal form of internal government instead of a democracy.

Democracy as we know it today won’t work. Don’t think I’m knocking democracy, that’s not the focus of this post. But a democracy as it operates today in a community that is living at a subsistence level will not work. As they say, “a democracy is two wolves and a lamb discussing what’s for lunch”. And that situation will be far more real then anyone realizes. It’s not hard to image a severe food shortage and poor crops. A democracy would rule according to the hunger in everyone’s stomach. And the food would be eaten in short order based on that decision, imperiling everyone.

Democracies don’t work in crisis situations. This is why crisis management teams are not democratic. When they are (think about Hurricane Katrina for example) they fail miserably. Peak and post-peak world are a global crisis. Firm, decisive decision making and clear lines of authority will be absolutely essential. A tribal government will work far better as the community decisions are based upon the survival of the tribe. A chief, elders and advisor’s or whatever title floats your boat will be required.

Most ecovillages are based on the consensus decisions making model. That might work in a pre-collapse world, I doubt if it will work in a post collapse world. This is one of the things I discovered in my investigations into the community solution. There are many others, such as the lack of planning, long range forecasting and community protection. Essentially, what I found was the ecovillages were planning for our world to basically remain as it is today with a general peace (depending on where you live of course), available energy, and economic exchange, even outside employment, and a democratic sense of overall benevolence. I doubt that any of these structures will exist in a post-peak world. Certainly not in their present form.

The ecovillages then, were found to be incomplete and inadequate models to base a community upon. For my purposes at least. They had many admirable qualities and emphasized recycling, conservation and ecology, growing your own food, community participation, sharing of land and resources, respect for each other and the land and many other things. But I fear that all of this is going to be severely threatened in the years to come as competition for resources becomes quite acute.

All of these things are desirable, but more is needed. A tribe has a stronger focus on the survival of the tribe. What I’d like to see is an entire town, a community take on the tribal model. But I think we are many years away from something like that ever happening. And I realize that the tribal model may well be unsuitable for a community or town, tribes were small for a reason.

I’ve written before that “suffering will be required” when I’ve discussed our general reluctance to change our beliefs, our living habits and our expectations. I still find this to be very true, until we suffer through the loss of any of these things, we are going to tenaciously hold onto what we have. Our electricity, our fast food, our personal cars, our inefficient houses, our high levels of consumption. We are unable to learn the lesson yet that our world is diminishing faster and faster everyday. We still have an abundance and a high level of comfort. Until they are gone, we will deny to the end that they can be lived without.

It takes a lot of personal discipline and fortitude to embrace a life of self-denial in the face of a world of abundance. This is no different then the priest who does not marry, or the Amish who refuses to drive or use electricity. Discipline is necessary, usually but not always bound up in a faith (religion) that embraces such self-discipline. You find these individuals and tiny communities scattered all over the world, embracing a life of poverty, self-denial and rigid discipline.

Such concepts are alien to our general way of thinking. Why live like a pauper when you can live in comfort? But the cost of such a comfortable life is never fully accounted. We overlook, conveniently I might add, our waste, our pollution and the cost of such a life and how it impacts our health, our time and our mental state of being. But if you’re willing to sit down and truly assess this modern life, it’s becomes easier and easier to expel those unnecessary things that this world offers.

This is a process that I suspect many will be forced to follow, as they discover that they can no longer afford to drive if they wish to eat, or that they cannot buy a house, ever because it’s going to forever be unaffordable. This is a type of suffering, and “endurance” which must be undergone and even embraced in order to truly internalize the lifestyle changes that will be necessary.

This is the exact opposite of course of what the world teaches us, that we can “have it all” if we but try and work hard and put in our “time” and persevere. The question of whether we need it all or even want it all never even comes up. Of course it doesn’t, this is the world’s “religion”, to embrace everything as being available and obtainable if you but try to reach for it.

And it’s a lie. It’s always been a lie and it will always be a lie. Not only because it’s not possible for everyone to “have it all”, but because it’s morally wrong. The horrible side effects of a planet full of people seeking to have it all is all around us and one of the very reasons it’s now all falling apart. We can’t have it all and we shouldn’t have it all. It’s a damnable lie that has led to the downfall of our world and civilization.

A community and it’s inhabitants would eventually come to understand this. Many of the ancients tribal cultural already had developed this knowledge and put it into practice in their day to to day living. They lived within their environmental constraints instead of trying to constantly master them and overcome them. Western civilization did not understand this concept and considered their lives to be barbaric and alien, and they set about destroying these civilizations with a vengeance.

The irony of course, should be obvious. It turns out that it is OUR civilization that is both barbaric and alien to life itself. Sure, we “have it all”, but we have too much, we’ve demanded too much, we’ve taken too much and we’ve put back nothing except pollution, waste, sludge, slag and garbage. How much “better” is that?

A lifeboat community will need to realize this. Many “survival communities” still don’t and are focused on self-preservation and the status quo. They seek to survive the collapse so that they can “rebuild civilization” (into their image of course). If you find such a community – RUN THE OTHER WAY. They will offer you nothing but death in the end.

I speak from personal experience. I think they are death traps and will ensnare and overcome their members quickly. They will rend each other to pieces before it is all over. They are not built upon mutual trust, understanding and respect, which must extend to more then just fellow humans, but to the survival of the land and resources themselves.

What is needed is a new ethic and a renewed respect for all things living. It’s the only way we can stop all this self-destructive behavior we exhibit and practice. Lacking that, we will not survive the collapse.

We must become very conscious of our actions and how they affect everything else. What we buy from Wal-Mart for example, has consequences, as much (or even more so) then what chemicals we may carelessly dump on the ground.

Lifeboat communities may indeed be “islands”, but they would not be adrift. They would be a part of something that is global in size, conscious and responsible for the actions, thoughts and deeds. Many practice such things, but this needs to evolve even further. Communities would need and depend on other communities, just as much or even more so then we all depend upon our entire society to provide us with our sustenance to live. This will not change.

Isolated communities will have a very hard time of it. Eventually, stuff breaks, people get sick, supplies run out, crops fail or disaster strikes. Then what? Communities that have not built reliable, trusted networks with other communities will be prone to failure and collapse. They’ll either be on their own or distrusted, or both. They’ll be seen as part of the general problems (and there will be many, many of these) instead of part of the solution. The lack of cooperation and communication will be grounds for distrust, resentment and even hostilities.

I really doubt any community could survive long on their own. This doesn’t work now when we live in relative peace and abundance. Look around – where do you see a community entirely self-sufficient and capable of indefinitely meeting it’s own needs? There are outside inputs of food, energy, fuel, transportation, supplies and economic exchange. Even the ancients practiced these things, knowing that others had needs that they required. Our future communities will be no different if they are to survive.

I’d like to ask some informal questions of the blog readers if I may: how many of you have considered community and the lifestyle changes this would require of you? When (if) are you prepared to make these adjustments?

I do not think time is on our side. I see just the opposite. I see the need for community right now so that all the issues and problems and self-sacrifices and adjustments can be made while there is still enough slack in the system to recover from any mistakes. But I don’t see this being done, which is exactly what the linked essay above says too.

I see little real evidence the communities, towns, cities and villages are making the switch. I strongly suspect that they are going to wait until the last minute, or until it’s too late and then suffer through some really horrendous times and adjustments. And worse, I think this is going to cause a large loss of life, one that is so large it will stagger the mind.

How about you? Is there any evidence in your area that the switch over to a post-peak world is occurring, or even on track?

Not here. Not at all. And it’s definitely got me concerned because its a threat to my own survival and every one I know.

Feb 202007
 

Another man-made attempt to “improve” upon nature (and dispose of those pesky tires) proves to be an ecological disaster.

“We’ve literally dumped millions of tires in our oceans,” said Jack Sobel, a senior Ocean Conservancy scientist. “I believe that people who were behind the artificial tire reef promotions actually were well intentioned and thought they were doing the right thing. In hindsight, we now realize that we made a mistake.”

I don’t understand this kind of thinking (by anyone, experts or not). Artificial reefs, created from toxic wastes, haphazardly dumped into the ocean were supposed to improve things?

The long term practice of using the world’s ocean as a dumping grounds has been disastrous. Sewage sludge, radioactive waste, biological agents, medical waste, toxins, plastics, petroleum, garbage, coal, slag, limestone, iron, steel, concrete, construction aggregate and ship wastes, are among some of the highly toxic human byproducts dumped in the world’s oceans. There are also scuttled ships, satellites and space stations being dumped into the oceans.

Though deep-sea dumping is banned, ocean dumping continues in a myriad of ways. Runoff from coastal cities has created some rather floating large trash heaps twice the size of Texas, previously documented on this blog. The long term affects are of course, already showing with massively declining oceanic ecosystems around the entire globe.  There is not a single body of water on the planet that is not in decline.
The inability to effectively face the human quotient in this cycle of marine / fisheries death is the reason why the world’s oceans are in such serious decline. Over 12,000 beaches are now quarantined in the United States alone due to contaminents from pollution. That should be sending a strong signal that our oceans are in serious peril, but the toxic dumping continues.

“Not only does the waste flow into the ocean but it also encourages algal blooms to clog up the waterways causing meadows of seagrass, kelp beds and entire ecosystems to die. A zone without any life remaining is referred to as a dead zone and can be the size of entire states like in coastal zones of Texas and Louisiana. All major bays and estuaries now have dead zones from pollution run-off. Often, pollutants like mercury, PCBs and pesticides are found in seafood meant for the dinner table and cause birth defects, cancer and neurological problems€”especially in infants.” Ocean Dumping Grounds

Industrialized civilization, modern agriculture and animal production is entirely responsible for our polluted oceans, which are quite literally, dying before our very eyes. The continued and collective denial of the human affects on planetary ecosystems, climate change and the world’s oceans will ultimately mean our self-imposed destruction as a species.

The natural systems of the world were once more then adequate to provide for human needs, but not any longer.  Eventually, in the not too distant future, humans will die out because of planetary ecocide.  A slow death of a thousand self-inflicted cuts because of our arrogant refusal to live within the natural limits of the environment.

Feb 152007
 

Since the Future Prep series of articles is becoming longer and longer, here is an index to the general topics covered and where to find them. You should read the entire article to understand the context.

Future Prep I – First Steps on What To Do

Future Prep II – Forming Survival Groups

Future Prep III – Tyranny In America and What Your Really Facing

Future Prep IV – Essentials of Survival

Future Prep V – Shelter, Security, Relationships

Future Prep VI – Bugging Out

(more to come)

Sep 282006
 

Shelter

Modern home design has advanced in recent years to include super-efficient energy saving features. While this is really good, the cost of such a home is above astronomical. You will need high efficiency, but you don’t need a mortgage that drowns you in a sea of debt.

A better way is to build you own home. Many people who don’t think they can do this are surprised at how affordable and easy it can be. I’m a strong advocate of earth sheltered designs, using a combination of natural building materials. These homes offer the lowest cost alternatives to box houses and are much more personable and efficient and will last much longer.

You don’t have to do all the building yourself. There are plenty of people around who will work fairly cheaply and can assist you with all the heavy labor portions. It’s still far cheaper to hire this work out then to contract out an entire stick-built house project, or buy one pre-built. Another thing to keep in mind should you be flush with cash – simpler is better. Not putting all of your money into shelter or what is already proving to be a depressed real estate market is good advice.

When considering shelter, you will need to consider adequate storage requirements. Most homes are not designed with storage in mind anymore, although they offer large square footage. Empty space is energy inefficient and is not desirable. You’re going to need plenty of storage space. Supplies, gear, clothing, food and preparations areas (for processing garden and animals) all require a certain amount of space. Good home designs utilize basements, but these are not always possible. Earth sheltered homes don’t usually have basements, already being sunken into the earth fully or partly.

Really cool storage space “shelves” can be built right into earth sheltered designs (and straw bale designs), affording plenty of storage space right into the existing walls. Desirable are walk-in pantries allowing easy access to food stuffs. Inside “root storage” facilities are advantageous for energy efficiency and convenience.

Earth sheltered designs offer passive solar heating, thermal mass, non-combustible, custom design, low profile, natural building materials, energy efficiency and the best security of all designs. Ground temperatures remain constant year round at about 4 ft. down, heat pumps and cold air exchangers can be utilized to take advantage of this natural feature (if you have electricity, otherwise, design for convection / thermal exchange).

Earth sheltered homes also are aesthetically pleasing and low profile, blending in with their environment best over all other designs. They can also be modified for expansion with a little planning and forethought. Additional rooms can be added on as needed, blending into the overall design.

When considering shelter, actual site location is very important. One of the distinct advantages of doing it yourself allows you to situate the home on the best possible location given the terrain and land features, solar angles and existing vegetation.

Deciduous trees naturally lose their leaves in the winter, allow much needed solar energy at this time of year to help warm your home, while protecting against the summer sun. Roof systems can be designed to collect rainwater for recycling into gardens and animal watering. It’s very possible to build rain catchment systems that can meet your yearly water needs from the square footage your roof offers.

Earth shelters offer the best defensive shelters, similar to bomb shelters. Thick walls, low-profile designs and difficult forced entry (generally limited to windows and doors) make earth shelters “safe”, as safe as most housing designs tend to be. They are also highly fireproof, earthquake proof and even tornado proof. Designs utilized must take into account natural runoff and potentially unstable ground.

Earth shelters need not be “dark, dank caves” of mold and mildew, but can be bright, sunny airy environments that take best of advantage of the natural lay of the land, sunlight, passive heating and cooling and be aesthetically pleasing. Best of all, they can be cheap to build, although they are labor intensive. This is the only real drawback, but considering their actual advantages over stick-homes, this is well worthwhile, even if you have to hire out the hard work.

Security

Collapse will create serious security concerns for individuals, families and entire communities. The potential for marauding bandits, corrupt “officials” and even military attacks are very real. Security can be broken down into personal security and home / community security.

Personal security will need to be maintained at all times, even while in a “safe” community. Of course, this is true today – most people lock their doors, cars and don’t carry lots of cash or valuables. Collapse will bring out a great many desperate people who will have failed to prepare adequately, or at all, and they won’t think twice about taking whatever it is that they need.

There is NO adequate protection for this unfortunate outcome. Vigilance, preparation and training is self-defense with and without weapons are extremely worthwhile and highly recommended, but having to be “on guard” 24/7 is very tiring and nobody can do it all the time. Even so, preparation is your best defense.

Weapons training, marksmanship practice and combat training are essential. Learning how to keep your head when under extreme stress and make instant and judicial decisions will help keep you and yours alive. There are a number of good schools that teach these skills, if you can go, do so now. Then practice what they have taught you, refining your response time and “muscle memory” to react quickly and decisively. You can be sure that any would-be thief or assassin won’t hesitate – you had better not either.

Training should including hand-to-hand combat, pistol and rifle training and marksmanship skills and drills. Not just punching paper, but combat techniques, rapid reloading and defensive drills against multiple aggressors. The confidence and skill you gain will help you in innumerable ways.

Such training can be highly beneficial to a community, where your best options for defense really lies. Individual homesteaders and independent survivalists are easy pickings for a marksman, who can eliminate you from a thousand yards or more. That’s 3/4 of a mile away, perfectly possible with today’s civilian weapons. A .50 caliber rifle can penetrate almost any defensive barrier or barricade, except several feet of solid earth, rock or concrete. .50 calibers are capable of 2000+ yards.

It’s unlikely that you’ll have to worry about .50 caliber rifles, but the point is clear – you may well run up against highly skilled, trained soldiers or ex-soldiers or skilled civilians. Your best defense is your own training and preparation.

There is safety in numbers – provided you can trust everyone else. Collapse will bring out the worst in people, and in some situations, the very best. You will quickly find out what everyone is made of and if they have the right stuff when they are put under extreme stress. The same can be said for you. This is where discipline and training come into play, and preparation. If you are suddenly subjected to a unknown, inexperienced situation, you may not respond properly, nor will anybody else.

Run through various “scenarios” when considering your defensive options. You won’t think up enough of them – the “enemy” will.

Your weakest link is your weakest “member”, be it yourself, your kids or your neighbor. Anybody can be turned, compromised, kidnapped, or betrayed. The only real defense against this is training and discipline. You must not ignore these facts, because the enemy, whosoever they may turn out to be, will find the weakness.

Situational awareness is paramount. Understand and know what is going on around you. Loud music, drinking, drugs or any other distractions will make you vulnerable. So will simple carelessness or “blind trust”. Collapse will cause people to “seek the advantage” in all kinds of situations, because they are desperate, hungry, hurt or greedy. Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.

Security also includes community security. Food supplies, fuel, families, children and even access routes may need to be watched and / or defended if necessary. I fully envision communities posting guards to keep an eye on things (community police force) if necessary. Moreover, I fully expect a tyrannical police state to abuse it’s “privilege” and to take advantage of communities and individuals. This is a logical extension of the State-sponsored tyranny we are already experiencing now.

Some of this will have to be tolerated – some of it will not. Your best defense is to “know your enemy” (read Sun Tzu, The Art of War).

The patriot movement in America contains some highly trained individuals who will be potential assets, with some being downright dangerous. This is unfortunate, but ideologies sometimes override common sense. People somehow forget that we are all in this mess together, going through the exact same trials and tribulations, with the same fears, same needs and same desires. Most of us just want to be left alone, but this is predicated on some basic assumptions, which are no longer proving to be true. The world is changing very rapidly for the worse and what we’ve long taken for granted is no longer true. The opportunity to simply live your life in peace is rapidly dwindling away. It will be tooth and claw when the oil runs out, the food runs out, the water runs out and the planet heats up to unbearable levels in some areas. On top of that, the police-state apparatus will be increasing it’s reach and tyranny exponentially as documented on this blog.

Banding together in community is your best defense. You cannot do this alone. Outsiders will be distrusted, lack respect, lack awareness of community needs and operations and be “untried”. Communities will be forced to deal with many outsiders as immigration and mass migration occur. Communities should make plans for this as soon as possible. Not everyone is going to be your friend. That would be nice, but that is not the real world.

Relationships

Trust is paramount. Personal security and community security will depend on trust. Trust only comes from experience. It isn’t what people say that matters, it’s what people do. That’s your yardstick, the rule by which you measure folks by. That goes for family, children, neighbors, long time friends. Betrayal is difficult to accept and deadly in certain situations.

Trust can only be built up and experienced over time. Collapse will force some extreme situations on everyone, and “instant relationships” will be forged that may or may not be reliable. Best if you can work out the trust issues now (which is why early relocation is so important). Get situated, integrated and involved in the community. Get known so you can build the trust that is needed and vice versa. You have to learn to trust other people who will quite literally, hold your life in their hands. These things take time.

Nordic Thora pointed out something that I’ve learned a lot from. The lack of “localness” is one of the primary reasons groups fail. Groups formed from distant parts lack local connections, which eventually shows itself in numerous ways. Lack of social structure, local income, connections to the community, connections to the land, investment in the future stability of the group or community, etc., groups more often then not “implode” from these “lacks”. They also implode because of family, pets, religion, ideology, work ethic, slothfulness, ignorance, belligerence and arrogance (sounds like the seven deadly sins to me).

Groups form “best” when there is personal involvement and investment. Not just financial (important), but time, labor, commitment and dedication. Buying your way into a survival community may work for some, for a while (what happens when your money becomes worthless?), but without your actual participation, you will be quickly isolated among your riches and distrusted. Maybe even destroyed. You need to become involved on a daily basis if possible. Contribute to the group / community and you will be valued as an asset instead of an ass. Offer nothing and you will be rejected.

I covered many of these points under the ecovillage sections on this blog and why I ultimately rejected the general “design” approach of ecovillages. Ecovillages are great in principle, but lack certain aspects of practicality. The relationship part of ecovillages are fine as far as they go, but they do not go far enough (in my opinon). Moreover, ecovillages fail to take into account some very serious aspects of collapse, including defense, the local community needs and requirements and mass migration. Essentially, this is why I’ve come to embrace the community solution, which is broader based, and much more similar to what we already have today without joining a bunch of villagers.

Don’t get me wrong – I approve of the ecovillage concept, but I don’t approve of the non-practical aspects I’ve read about. Collapse will be survival with no reliable existing support structure, and a survival approach with sustainability is what is needed. Communities offer this best.

Within your “core” relationship group (family, friends or survival group), getting everyone “on board” isn’t easy (at all). Consider yourself blessed if everyone IS on board (and stays that way). Dissension, disillusionment and disgust are pretty common. Just keep plugging away, there’s not much else you can really do. Time and events will prove you right and if not, then it won’t matter anyway. Some people will simply refuse to face reality, even when they’re being tortured or their situation has completely turned. There is nothing you can do for them. You will need to stay focused as best you can. Not everyone is going to make it. In fact, exceedingly few will over the next 50 years. Estimates run as low as 30% or lower survival rate. Some estimates are 5 out of 6 people will die violently, or starve, within the next generation.

Sep 262006
 

There is some action occurring to respond to global warming – Senator James Inhofe, Chairman of the Sentate Environment and Public Works Committee denies global warming.

This is how some of our esteemed leaders are going to save humanity, by junk science, distortions of fact and continuing the business-as-usual approach. This moron quotes “ancient science” from a 100 years ago when climatalogy was in an infant stage.

Over 275 California cities have now independently embraced the reduced-emissions required in the Kyoto Treaty. Realizing the stupid federal government is woefully inept and beholden to big business while continue this suicide course of planetary destruction, some legislators aren’t waiting around anymore for federal leadership, while others like Inhofe are desperately trying to continue the profit cycle of slash-and-burn.

Global temperature highest in millennia

Global warming fear lights fire under Congress

Update – Global Warming Washing Away Entire Villages