What are YOU Changing (*if anything), Individually, Locally, Nationally, etc?

Last week we asked a rhetorical question if you knew what would happen in the future, what changes would you make in your behaviour, lifestyle, activism, etc., if any. As a follow up, please share (briefly) what you are doing to adapt or mitigate the economic/energy/environmental changes on the horizon. If you are doing nothing, please share the reason(s) why. (There are no right answers, or at least not ones we will know are right until well into the future).

I recognized right after seeing the endgame that becoming a teacher of preparation would probably be the best way to get prepared myself, while making a difference for others. So that's what I've done/am doing.

I bought a Flex-fuel Car. My next step will be the "Still."

deleted double post

Is your comment intended in jest?

I lived in Brazil in the 1980's when 100% ethanol fuel powered vehicles were introduced there and I owned a few of them. At the time my father built a small still powered by LNG (which was readily available because it is commonly used for cooking) and we used local fruits to make a mash for distilling.

We did this on a very small scale mostly for the purpose of testing the concept. Based on that experience I find it highly doubtful that most people would be capable of producing their own ethanol for the purposes of fueling a lawnmower let alone sufficient fuel for their transportation needs.

In any case, I would suggest to others thinking about following such a path that they first build the still and produce some good schnapps. After drinking it with your friends you probably won't want to be putting it into your fuel tank...it would be a real waste.

As for what I myself am doing, I'm continuing to educate myself and am actively seeking like minded people in my local community to build my social network. It's all about the Butcher, the Baker and the Candle stick maker and maybe a CNC machinist or two. I'm also building a little test aquaponics systems so I'm learning about efficient pumps, ecosystems and biofiltration.


In a conversation with Julian Darley, he mentioned that his experiments with making ethanol were far from satisfactory, too. I didn't ask what the exact problems were, though. What did you find during your experimentation?


The main issue we had was scaling things up to quantities required for keeping the car's fuel tank full. It's one thing to produce a few liters of moonshine quite another to produce 40 or 50 liters of pure ethanol in your kitchen from fermented tropical fruit every week. Also it was a lot easier to just buy the finished product at the local gas station. It certainly wasn't cost effective to produce it at home. We just did it to see if we could.

After drinking it with your friends you probably won't want to be putting it into your fuel tank...it would be a real waste.

Along those lines, it would probably be more efficient to barter for manual labor with schnapps than pouring it into a lawnmower or tractor engine.

sixty pounds of bananas or sweet potatoes will make a gallon to a gallon and a half of E100. It just depends what you're using it for.

Hmmm...that's quite a bit of mass.

@FMagyar: thanks. I suspected it was a scale thing.

I am working with others on starting a transition initiative here in the Twin cities in Minnesota. If you are suffering from peak oil blues, skip the prozaic, and get together with a group of people intent on solving the problem. It lifts the soul!

I also am working to advance our understanding of what is happening with EROI and oil and gas as we go over the peak. I want to work with those people who do want to see a bit further into the future and try to map as soft a landing as is possible.

And I am trying to lower my carbon foot print a bit at a time. Learning to cook vegetarian. Giving up air travel. Live in a small apartment, etc. "10 times less stuff that lasts 10 times as long" is a motto I picked up from a web presentation somewhere and I am trying to make that a reality.

If TWASWKI ends in a worst case way my good freind is a Master Gardener and general handyman. I would hook up with him to help whatever HE does.

More optimistically I can do pretty much any construction job. Not an expert in anything, but give me time and I'll figure it out. I allready had over $2000 worth of construction tools. Just bought an $1800.00 cordless tool set= 15 Makita tools. I want to be ready to DO work and having tools makes me more valuable than grunt labor. I could NOT compete directly with a specialist; but I would be an excellant handyman/remodeller assistant type.

My income is mostly SSDI currently. The tools are for if SSDI payments drastically lose value due to hyperinflation or second Great Depression that Automatic Earth talks about happens. I would like to get a more fuel efficient vehicle but all I can afford that is an improvement is a used Aveo or a motorcycle; I get 30 MPG currently.

Also I do intend to get set up with an emergency preparedness kit, but I figure I would not need it for at least 5 years...I expect the Archdruids slow decline not a fast crash.

For one thing, I don't own a car, and don't plan on getting one - public transport is good enough in London. Also, I try to use as little electricity as possible. All my lamps have energy efficient bulbs, I never have more than one lamp on at a time, I don't have a TV - basically the only thing on in my apartment is my laptop, and that's on power saver configuration. If only I could persuade my landlord to invest into energy efficient white goods: the water heater, fridge, (gas) stove and washing machine are all pretty old.

Edit: Also trying to cut down on my meat consumption. Going from ~100g per day to ~50g per day, replacing every other meat based meal with beans or lentils. And shifted from buying bottled water to using a water filter at home. Trying to buy local fruit and vegetables as much as possible.

implemented my lifestyle sometime ago

same sort of situation... live in shared house no heating insulation only,

no car.

"A" standard efficiency appliances throughout even though all were sourced from discarded appliances left on the street (Hackney culture) cooker refrigerator and washing machine are all tatted from the road!

cycle any journey under 100 mile. In practice necessary journeys over 10 miles are rare. I ride 75 miles recreationally 1-2 times a week hardly use public transport

major energy vice is shared broadband and TV .

thinking of cutting down meat and cereal consumption.

preach softly to the unconverted

provide free cycle maintenance to my immediate community (in the street I live)

Hey, that sounds exactly like my former life! Only I lived in a Hackney squat filled with pretty ecologically-minded people.

I eat a 'freegan' diet (animal products only when from the waste stream - i.e. supermarket bins), and use bicycle for trips up to (so far) 4,500 km - that's self-supported cycle-touring of course :-)

For now I'm living in a small permaculture community in France.

Hey, that sounds ALMOST exactly like my former life!

when i was younger and raced bicycles on the continent i lived the smackney life in the winter and spent the summer on a aspirational "self sufficient" commune in france...

in practice we couldn't feed ourselves.. mainly lack of expertise and manpower. we supplemented our lifestyle with small scale trading with the ex-pat community and money reserves saved from winters working messenger despatch.

can permaculture really provide greater yields than traditional farming/horticulture?

Greater yields per area of land, yes. Takes a lot more labour, though.

But in a fossil fuel-constrained future, if we've failed to adapt in with renewables and the like, there'll be a lot of people without work and wanting to do something productive, anyway.

You are mixing permaculture with biointensive farming. Permaculture is not labor intensive at all.

It's much more labour-intensive than sitting in a tractor spraying fertiliser/pesticide/herbicide according to a calendar schedule.

I happen to do a bit of food growing using permaculture principles. It's a labour-intensive process. Much of the "labour" is just observing and thinking, but it's time and effort nonetheless.

There's a reason "organic" food costs more in shops. More labour was involved in producing it than the other stuff. If less labour were involved, then organic food would be cheaper and would dominate the market.

Permaculture is food growing with minimum human labor. Permaculture mainly produces on trees. In one documentary the person reports 50 workdays / year and that is mainly harvesting.

I suspect from the wide range of statements made about natural/organic farming of various types that the definitions and knowledge are all over the place.

That is, I wonder of Holmgren, Fukuoka, Mollison, et al. would think what some folks think they are doing is actually what they would consider natural farming/permaculture.

Not picking on you, Kiashu, but just as a reference, you said you do quite a bit of permaculture gardening/farming. Well, isn't the essence of permaculture that it is systemic? Doesn't it have to be all or a large part of your whole system to be considered permaculture? And, if you're really doing some form of natural farming, but not permaculture, perhaps that's why you think it requires so much labor input?

I'm not saying you are not doing permaculture. I am wondering if we aren't at times talking oranges and tangerines.


The variance in descriptions comes basically from the fact that some people watch breathless documentaries, and some people get their hands dirty.

There's also confusion between "growing your own" and "growing for profit". To grow some of your own food is not difficult. But if you add up the hours spent and price those hours at whatever your full-time job's rate is, unless you have a really shitty job you'll find your food bill is pretty high for those things you grow. You see then that your labour is less productive in hours spent vs kilograms harvested compared to a conventional farmer, warehouse and market all together.

If it was your spare time and hobby and you enjoyed, then naturally you price those hours spent doing it at less than $0 an hour (ie you would pay to do it, rather than expect to be paid). If it's producing food for others at profit, the equations become different.

Just think of it this way. The bloke mentioned "50 days a year, mainly harvesting" as his work for the food. That's about 25% of the working days in a year, or equivalent to 25% of income. Most Westerners spend 10-15% of their income on food. So we immediately see that it's more labour-intensive.

Wild claims are made for all approaches to doing things, whether in a garden or a factory or a classroom or whatever. When you actually get your hands dirty doing things, you find these wild claims don't really stand up.

Permaculture is a philosophy of design of gardens, housing and so on. The philosophy is that we should work with natural processes rather than against them.

For example, if you're in a low-rainfall area and want to grow things, you may decide to put in bores to an aquifer and some water pumps; this is working against natural processes, which is why it takes a lot of energy. Alternately, you might decide to dig a few swales where the limited rainfall can collect and be stored; this is working with natural processes (digging a bit and then letting gravity do the rest), which is why takes little energy.

This can be a process of literally years.

What it comes down to is that unless you're going to live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, to produce anything you must spend either effort (labour) or resources on it. If we drop one we have to increase the other.

For example, the guy on the tractor is getting rid of effort, so he must consume more resources (fuel, etc) to make up for that. On the other hand, someone with pasture may decide to reduce resources (artificial fertiliser, resowing the grass each year, alternating with clover to build soil nitrogen) and so must spend effort over a number of years to get the right mix of grasses and legumes so that the pasture is self-sustaining.

The biggest part of the "labour" in permaculture is simply observing things. For example, in my own yard I have two Japanese maples. They are less than two metres from each-other, but one is thriving, and the other dying. Why? Well, one is against a wall and sheltered from direct sun, the other is in the open. In southern Australia we've had a hot summer. The wall shaded the tree, while the bricks behind it released their heat overnight. Below the tree were a few plants which shaded the soil and kept it moist. So the shaded wall gave the tree an even temperature without heavy sunlight, and the soil was kept moist. The other tree just copped the full sun then froze at night and the soil dried up.

But it took two months for me to be able to see this happen. I had to observe and think. Now combine that with a whole field of plants, seeing how they combine to help or hinder each-other, how the soil over here is good for this plant, but the soil a metre away kills it, and so on.

Likewise when at one site I had heavy clay soil, and wanted to turn it into the "light friable loam" we always see in gardening tv shows. I had to plant legumes to break it up and add nitrogen, make and dig in compost to add organic matter, and so on. This was working with nature, and so it took effort (labour). I could just have bought some soil and fertiliser and a rototiller instead (resources).

The permaculture-designed garden will often produce very little in the first year or two, until the observations come in and can be related to each-other, and you can figure out which natural processes you can tap into to get you what you want. After that production will pick up and yield/ha exceed conventional systems.

If you've an hour and generous broadband, you may be interested in the BBC documentary A Farm for the Future. There you'll see that the soil can be enormously productive with little or no fossil fuel inputs, but it takes years of work and observation to achieve this.

Less fossil fuels means more labour. But I don't think this is a bad thing. In the West where obesity threatens people's happiness and lives, walking or cycling instead of driving is good, not bad. When food is overly-processed and makes us sick, growing some of our own is good, not bad. When millions are unemployed and miserable, having them employed growing things would be good, not bad.

As others commented, tree crops are a form of perma-culture. Here on the Alabama Gulf Coast I have pecan trees in my yard. They only require a minimal fertilizing and picking up the harvest. Yield is about 50 pounds per tree. It is not possible to grow certain plants under pecan trees because the trees excrete juglone, a natural herbicide.

I recently planted two varieties of short season bananas that mature around the first frost, which is mid November. Yield is about 40 pounds per tree. Tress require frequent fertilizing and trimming once in fall. Trimming and removing excess or old stalks is quick and easy, probably taking about 10 minutes per tree.

I also grow loquats, figs, satsumas, kumquats and blueberries. Again, not much work.

All of this on an acre of land, with room left for a vegetable garden, a lawn and a subtropical flower garden. The tree crops are the easy part. Cutting the lawn is by far the most time consuming part.

I realised almost 8 years ago that in legislating the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) the UK government had created the first entirely "open" corporate entity, thereby making redundant conventional Debt and Equity finance.

The LLP (and its close US cousin the LLC) is a classic case of unintended consequences. It led me to an entirely new networked market model, along the Market 3.0 lines I outlined 7 years ago and have been developing since as a framework for Peer to Peer Finance

Interesting Idea also parallel with some ideas by Umair Haque:


Finding investment capital in the first place - other than recycled government credit or borrowing it from a shyster - might be the biggest hurdle. Nobody has any money - except loans. So many economists haven't figured out who won or lost the last war:

From Lee Ohanion via Greg Mankiw:


Hoover did it!
UCLA economist Lee Ohanian sends me a paper called "What - or Who - Started the Great Depression?" with the following conclusion:

The defining characteristic of the Great Depression is a substantial and chronic excess supply of labor, with employment well below normal, and real wages in key industrial sectors well above normal. A successful theory of the Depression must explain not only why the labor market failed to clear, but why monetary forces apparently had such large and protracted effects. This paper proposes such a theory, based on President Hoover’s program that offered industrial firms protection from unions in return for paying high wages. Firms deeply feared unions at this time, reflecting a growing union wage premium and a sea change in economic policy, including policies advanced and supported by Hoover, that significantly fostered unionization and enhanced their bargaining power. Consequently, there was an incentive for firms to follow Hoover’s program of paying moderately higher real wages to avoid even higher wages and lower profits that would come from unionization.

I conclude that the Depression is the consequence of government programs and policies, including those of Hoover, that increased labor’s ability to raise wages above their competitive levels. The Depression would have been much less severe in the absence of Hoover’s program. Similarly, given Hoover’s program, the Depression would have been much less severe if monetary policy had responded to keep the price level from falling, which raised real wages. This analysis also provides a theory for why low nominal spending - what some economists refer to as deficient aggregate demand - generated such a large depression in the 1930s, but not in the early 1920s, which was a period of comparable deflation and monetary contraction, but when firms cut nominal wages considerably.

Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt shared similar goals of fostering industrial collusion and increasing real wages and raising labor’s bargaining power. Hoover accomplished these goals during a period of deflation by inducing industry to maintain nominal wages, and by promoting and signing legislation that facilitated union organization and that increased wages above competitive levels, including the Davis-Bacon Act and the Norris-Lagaurdia Act. Roosevelt accomplished these goals with the NIRA and the Wagner Act, both of which raised wages well above competitive levels while increasing industrial collusion.

The 1930s would have been a better economic decade had government policy promoted competition in product and labor markets, rather than adopting policies that extended monopoly in product markets, and that set wages above competitive levels which prevented labor markets from clearing.

I'm not going to add anything because I am only allowed one rant per week on Oil Drum!

The 1930’s Great Depression will never be understood unless one looks at what was happening in the technical/industrial supply side rather than in the politics and macroeconomics of the day.

The period from the 1920s through the Great depression saw the most significant revolution in the way people live and work in history: electrification, internal combustion powered transportation, mechanized agriculture and chemical fertilizers.

One of the best sources for the technical revolution is a series of papers by R. U. Ayres, one of which is:

This is also discussed by V. Smil in Energy at the Crossroads.

The electrification of factories did away with the old central steam engine powered line-shaft drives with belts from the line-shafts powering individual pieces of equipment. Electric motors were not only several times more efficient form fuel to end use, but also allowed automation. The savings in manpower and energy from this change were enormous and led to a dramatic lowering of the cost of goods.

The newly affordable appliances freed many women from housework, as well as many men from cutting firewood. (In my grandmother’s day Monday was laundry or wash day).

Tractors began replacing horses and mules, not only saving labor of working with and feeding work animals but also freeing up farmland.
Chemical fertilizers greatly improved crop yields, and saved Europe from starvation.

These technologies were tremendously disruptive to the labor force. No doubt a lot of non-electrified factories that were needed throughout WW1 and the 1920’s boom were shut after 1929, their workforces never being needed again.

It took a great period of time before people rebuilt savings from the debt incurred to pay for all of the new gadgets of the day, such as refrigerators, automobiles, small kitchen appliances, radios and household telephones.

Thanks for the link, I have only scanned it but it looks extremely interesting.

To my mind there are technical and economic upheavals going on right now. Perhaps not as profound as during the Great Depression but still important IMO.

The internet is behind a lot of it. Newspapers are rapidly becoming obsolete with bankruptcies and layoffs. Advertising is changing rapidly too. Even television is going to suffer as more people get high speed internet. It is now possible using You Tube and other web resources to come up with your own nightly add free entertainment. I do it all the time.

This is a big change since there is no longer a widely shared media experience at least among the internet savvy. I can hardly stand to watch television anymore with its force fed programming. We can now have entertainment and news that we select ourselves. This a big change.

Not only that, news gathering is now decentralized in that anyone can post things that they think are newsworthy. It happens everyday on TOD and other sites.

There are also big changes in agriculture that are labor saving and cost saving. Genetically modified crops have dramatically reduced tilling thereby reducing the need for as much labor and farm equipment. And the rise of hog and chicken factories also reduce the need for labor and save on grain transportation costs. So does ethanol production since it uses corn locally thereby reducing the need for long distance truck/train personnel as well as fuel and trucks.

And then there is the big one: globalization. While this is not for the most part a technical innovation except for the part the internet plays it, it nonetheless has a dramatic affect on the labor market as labor now has to compete with the world supply. The internet enables some services to be performed by Indian labor. And it enables rapid communications of business transactions around the world so that goods can be produced wherever labor is cheapest.

And globalization brings foreign competitors to our market which then makes our producers adapt or die. That is what is going on with the domestic car manufacturers at the moment. All these are not the exact same changes that happened during the Great Depression, but the effects are similar IMO.

Globalisation was indeed a technological event. The blame usually is landed on the standardized shipping container - but you could just as much blame shrinkwrap film and the forklift truck.

If everything was handballed at both ends of the journey, there would be a lot less international junk shipped.

Mankiw is a "market fundamentalist", so acknowledging the obvious fact that booms, bubbles, and busts are natural characteristics of "free" markets is not permissible in his belief system. So all recessions must be attributed to government action by definition, because the holy "efficient" market (by definition) could not be responsible.
It makes for some interesting intellectual tangles, but Ockham's razor has a much simpler explanation. The tendency for unregulated markets to lead to wealth concentration and monopoly is another "truth that must not be spoken" for market fundamentalists.

There should be a Newton's Law of Economists:

"To every theory there is an equal and opposite counter-theory."

So, everyone lost their jobs because a few people got better wages than they deserved?

I would find that hard to believe, but now that I think of it -- there are some people on Wall Street who are getting more than their fair share, and plenty of other people who are losing their jobs.

Maybe there's something to the theory after all.

Sold our house on a cul-de-sac and rented a townhouse 3 miles from work (part of moving from East coast to West to take a job). Cut back to one car, I commute every day by bicycle. We are a two minute walk from Safeway, next to a Caltrain station and lots of stores. Even though there isn't enough room to grow any food to speak of, I am composting all our kitchen scraps, pizza boxes, and kitty litter (pelletized newspaper with feces removed). Only place I drive on a regular basis is PetSmart. There's a really good vegetable market (the Milk Pail) across the street from Safeway. About as good as it gets in the suburbs.

My next preparation for the downslope is learning how to keep bees. This will cut mead making cost down to almost zero. I was at the provincial bee keepers association meeting on Wednsday. I will go to visit one of the members next week to have a look at his hives and I am booked in for a basic bee keeping course for next January.

I keep bees - this is my third season. Beekeeping is made somewhat more difficult due to the proliferation of various diseases - I practice organic methods, but it is not really "free", since the chance of losing your colony is pretty high, and you may often be replacing bees and equipment.
You should definitely try and learn how to make your own equipment, and find a good, local supplier of package bees and queens that is looking into breeding for resistance, rather than using medications.

I have always lived frugally. However, when oil prices spiked last summer, I lowered my maximum highway speed from 70 to 60 m.p.h. to save gas (I drive a 2002 Prius). Even though oil and gasoline prices have declined, I continue to drive on the highway at the lower speed.

My girlfriend and others have expressed annoyance at my "slow" speed, but I think they understand. I don't know anyone else who has cut her or his speed to save gasoline.

Can you see the mileage improvement? How does the Prius do at those ranges?

Also, how is the car aging overall?


I'm (obviously) not David Levner, but I have a now 2 year old Prius and it is the most reliable vehicle I have ever ever owned. Ever. The second most reliable was my old '87 Toyota Tercel that died in 1996 with 266k mi on it.

I don't drive the Prius that much, really - Mrs Studebaker does... her previous vehicle was an Audi A4 1.8T. It averaged about 27mpg - mostly highway driving, not bad - and it was Very Fast...

She's been playing around with minor hypermiling techniques and has been able to keep the summertime total average mileage well north of 43 mpg. We moved to Canada and have noticed the cold takes its toll, and the average went down to 40.4. Oddly, we found it gets better overall mileage when driven on the highway steadily at moderately high speeds. For a while she had that kind of commute and was averaging 42 mpg without even trying.

My daughter wanted to go to a Special School, which out is in the middle of Canadian Suburban Nowhere, so I bought an older (2002) used Honda Civic. It's a school bus for her. Otherwise I take the subway. I anticipate selling it when she gets into high school and gets embarrassed of having Daddy Drive Her To School. Recently dumped $870 of repair into that damn thing so I'm not too happy with my Honda right now...

So, in two years, the Honda goes away. YAY! We bought a house last year, so I'm in the middle of home repairs to improve efficiency.

In a list of no particular order:

1. replace incandescent bulbs with CFL as needed.
2. Building internal double pane storm windows for next winter.
3. Starting a garden in the backyard - starting with carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, simple stuff.
4. insulating the basement and the "back room" (not insulated for reasons I cannot fathom)
5. put a food pantry into the cold part of the basement
6. Get some heavy drapes for the windows
6a. Get a Sunfrost fridge. How to get it into Canada is another question...
7. Experiment with the following technique: Literally shutting off the house at the mains at night. Use an alarm clock that runs off small rechargeable batteries. Kick on the mains in the morning.

That's the short term plan.


I driver slower when traffic is light. During rush hour, I still go with the flow.

Thirty years ago I realized that the only way America was going to get serious about renewable energy was to use up the fossil fuels as fast as possible. Until recently I haven't had to do much to help that process along. Now I'm doing my bit. We have a big diesel tractor, a pick-up, and two cars. One of the cars is a Honda though which gets pretty good milage so I'm thinking I need a bigger truck.

2006 Prius pulse/glide driver who does not drive over the speed limit, overall 49mpg,
much to the chagrin of any passengers.
Solar thermal panels installed last year.
Vegetarian now for 18 months. Both daughters now vegetarian.
Teaching my children about a more contemporary, post-newtonian world perspective.
Compost, germinating organic seeds now for a 20 x 10' veg. garden.
Cleared invasives and reseeded woodland area in backyard ravine.
Removing turf and adding rain barrels this summer.
Modifying residence for better passive solar gain, attic to R50.
Reduced stat to 62F nighttime, 67F daytime.
Do not use ice maker any longer, fill own trays (old recipe).
Hope to add a greenhouse and PV array by fall.
Using the local library more frequently.
Picking up trash along the walkway every week.
Traded hours of self-fulfilling sermons to work in a non-denominational food pantry.
Need to prepare more, apprentice for gardening and cooking!

- Never had children, largely for "footprint" reasons (Made that decision after reading the original "Limits to Growth" in the 70's).
- Never owned a car. I do however drive a scooter that gets about 70 mpg and I put about 4,000 miles per year on that. (our region has crappy public transit)
- Have no debt
- Have a "generalist" skill set. During my life I've worked as: a soldier (medic and infantry officer), software designer, home renovator (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, trim, glazing, tile etc.) photographer, and have just finished training as a Medical Lab Tech. Have most of the tools for these where practical / legal.
- Buy my veggies from a local organic family farm "CSA". Know something about gardening, just not enough practice to get good at it and no land right now, but have scouted locations for urban gorilla gardening and hunting.
- Serve as a volunteer on the board of a local environmental group that is working on projects in my community http://www.environmenthamilton.org/ as well as other grass roots groups of related concerns.
- Am prepared for emergency short duration failure of municipal infrastructure (power, water, food distribution etc)
- Do the obvious household green things (cfl's, composting etc)
- Am doing my best to stay informed and build a local social network of like minded folks with "mutual aid" in mind.

I feel that these measures are not nearly enough for what I expect is coming, but at this point seem to be about the limit of my resources.

We will be moving this summer from our 2300 sq. ft. house in the suburbs of Birmingham to a 600 sq. ft. apartment in the pole barn on our farm. We will be learning to become subsistence farmers. We are blogging about all the stupid mistakes we're making (and we've already made some doozies!) on http://letthesunwork.com/blog/.

Your blog is great, keep up the good work Lee & Amanda.

Best of luck with the reforestation project.

Briefly I've been working to help arrange PV installations on Town buildings. Our Public Library will be installing a 17+Kw array this spring, which should help offset ~25% of its electric usage. Next is a similar sized array for our fire station later this year, and then another later on for our Senior Center.

Another big Alt Energy Town project in development is arranging for one to three 1.5 Mw wind turbines to be built here on town land. Here is the outer Cape Cod of MA which has some of the best land based wind potential on the east coast.

All this is a part and parcel of larger FF energy loss transition yet to be fully publicly recognized. Must be something in the air but there are plans afoot by many locals to grow more food here -- individually and via community gardening.

Individually, I am upgrading my home energy efficiency and self-sufficiency plans, which includes another PV array, slate roofing and insulation, more gardening (planted 25 fruit trees last year). I accept that none of this may matter given some of the grave overshoot issues we face, but I am fairly content doing what I can to prepare for possible success and well-being in the future here in what I consider to be a resilient and caring community.

So far, I have started hoarding those brass dollar coins. There is a vending machine at work that takes $5 bills and dispenses the brass coins as change. So I have a couple hundred of them sitting around, but I don't stuff them in the mattress. Too lumpy.

I have made a couple trips here and there to shop for crashstead land, but haven't made a purchase decision yet. My spouse has yet to be convinced that it will get much worse than it is right now. And I struggle with that 'future discount' myself ... what to do, what to do?

So the bottom line is, I'm probably f*ck3d.

Cycle to work every day and cut meat consumption to near zero.

What I did was something I started about 3 years ago. I paid off most all of my debts. My land and my residence. I only have two small debts and either I could default on with no consequences if it came to that.

My wife had left of her own accord saying she did not want to live on a farm and that freed me to go even further. This means no endless shopping trips. No TV. No going out to eat all the time.

I have been raising gardens for the last 25 yrs on this place. Now I do so far more rigorously and without chemical inputs. I save almost all of my seed for the next seasons plantings.

I grow only heirloom and open pollen crops. I can almost everything I need for the rest of the year and winter. I now freeze some but am going to be using a root cellar instead. The rest I dry to low enough moisture to keep easily. I have a lot of corn and wheat in the kernels and I have owned a hand or motorized steel burr mill to grind most anything with. Primarily my stored corn and wheat.

I use very little electricity. I heat with wood and lots of times cook with it. I use maybe one 30 lb tank of propane per year for my fish cooker.

I am going to order two woodgas stoves and also build a Pompeii style outdoor wood fired oven.Already ordered the plans and have the basic materials on site.

I intend to never buy another vehicle. I have an old pickup, a jeep and a motorcycle as well as a small trail bike.

I just picked up two boats for fishing. We eat a lot of fish here and I intend to supplement my other stores with possibly canning fish.

I go to many auctions to get cheap but well built tools and such. Most all Made In America.... I buy no Chinese items.I go to a lot of yard sales and do the same. This stuff is incredibly cheap.

I bulk buy the rest at Sam's Clubs.

I live in only 900 sq ft.

I am planting more and more berry plants such as blueberry and blackberry.

I never mow but just a tiny piece of my yard area. The rest will be edible plantings.

My future will include a horse. Maybe two for draft and riding purposes. Perhaps a single horse buggy as well.

I have quite a bit of ham gear and have been a licensed operator for maybe 45 years. I will use this for communications when we powerdown.

Airdale-forgot my blacksmithing gear plus I have most all the FoxFire series of books, I lack a few of the later ones.

Cheers, Just had a small libation in your honor. (Evan Williams). Spent the day spreading compost and moving some small plants from the cold frame to toughen them up for planting. Watch them motorcycles. They will take all the bark off you. Horses ain't fit for nothing but dog food cans. The human hand is the most effective tool ever invented for working in the garden. Boats? Remember, if it floats, flies,, or fu.k.. you are better off renting it. Owned 5 several years ago, but gave them all to my children, and nephews. While I don't know you, I bet our wives know each other, since they are always at the mall somewhere. Enjoy this spring, we may not have many more.


Think about including some Aronia berry (chokeberry) in your berry plantings. For my area (45th parallel) the Viking variety is the hardiest. It makes great wine, has medicinal uses, high anti-oxidants, tastey and a nice looking plant.

I loaded up my family, sold our house in the Minneapolis area, and moved to a farm on the tallgrass prairie. We bought a farm and are working our way to some degree of self-reliance- installed a Central Boiler (we burn standing dead wood from our degraded 10 acre forest and are replanting), garden, eggs, chickens, putting 80 acres of row crop land into pasture, moving towards grass fed livestock, some small grain crops. I'm grateful we moved here a little more than 1 year ago (this will be our 2nd growing season) because the learning curve is STEEP. And also, working with our community on steps towards sustainability-- like planting a fruit tree at the home of every child in our elementary school.

We'll be getting draft/riding horses this year and I'm begging for a cow. My husband, a former dairy farmer into his late 20's, says "no way!" on the cow-- that's a 365 day committment and he likes his occasional Blues Fest.

I'm putting up as much food as I can and made good headway this year-- probably about 30% of our food. Also, I'm following Sharon Astyk and building up some food reserves- she's a most positive role model.

I'm concerned about access to water and will be buying a hand pump (for a 190 foot well!) and hope to make steps towards reviving the cistern just a few feet off the back of my house. I opened the wooden lid on the cistern and was stunned to see this CAVERNOUS 100 year old cement room just under my dining room window. Now.... how to make it work again? It's been gutted.

I've found NO technical expertise on how to restore a cistern or even use a cistern. This is one area of knowledge we have lost in the pastt 40-50 years. Most home around here still have the cistern just beside the house. And yet... no one knows anything about them.

So much to do and who knows how much time???


Seems you are doing all the right things. Wish I had a milk cow for I drink a lot of milk, which I have to buy. My neighbor has a decent herd of mixed cattle. WTSHTF I intend to borrow,beg or steal one that is not dry and go from there.

We used to have a cistern. Caught water off the metal roof.

I think you are going to have to pump it out and someone get down there and check it out. Perhaps one has to seal the sides with some type of mortar?

I once watched some guys dig a cistern. They used a rope and pulley system to do it. No other power. How they did the sides I have no idea.
But they are nice to have. It seems to me that whatever type of biological life lives in it one becomes accustomed to it.

Remember this though. Draw up a bucket full. We used a one or two gallon metal bucket and then set it on the table just inside the porch next to the kitchen. We kept a dipper near it and a wash basin.

As you came in to eat you dipped maybe two dippers full to the washbasin and washed your hands then threw that outside from the nearby porch. You also then would carefully dip some water to drink but never stir it up and alway don't drink all the dipper full but throw the last ,say inch or so, out the door on into a handy bucket.
Never use the last bit of the water bucket either.

To this day I seldom drink the dregs of anything. And one doesn't want to be closely examining those dregs IMO. Nor keep looking down in the cistern for what might be down there. Just don't drink from the bottom of that cistern. Let the bucket turn itself over and never let out any more rope, then pull it when full out of the cistern.

You also need a good well fitted well cover. From the ground up. You need a slope back from the cistern so groundwater doesn't flow in. We usually concreted the base and built a wooden top with a cover. The gutter from the roof was nearby but we never put it in til a good rain had cleaned it out. I suppose some screening and a filter of some kind would be good. We didn't have that though.

And when the cistern ran low and not enough rain to catch then a guy would haul a load from town. To this day many many residents in the outlying rural areas near Lexington ,Ky still use cisterns. I lived there and had city water but most had cisterns and almost zero wells for the limestone under it and the chances of hitting sulphur or a dry hole were often so most did not have wells.

I guess a water test would be in order.

You know it might be a high water table you have which would mean a hand dug well. Those occur when you have a water table that comes high enough. Might try a 'water dowser' to check that out.

My neighbor here can 'dowse' graves with very good precision. Also where old fences used to be. I once tried to dowse water and had some success. Back in Missouri where springs were everywhere. I couldn't find my own underground water lines though, that I set myself.


Unless you drink several gallons of milk a day, or have at least a half-dozen neighbours who will buy milk from you, skip the cow and get a dairy goat.

Compared to a dairy cow, a dairy goat will produce about a half-gallon of milk a day, consumes a very modest amount of hay, and requires much less space. One can heft a goat into the back of a truck (or station wagon) and physically control it with little risk of injury. Cows, on the other hand, demand a lot more infrastructure and come with a potential for injury that is hard to ignore. Goats generally produce two or three kids per pregnancy compared to a cow's one. This means you can quickly scale up your herd if you so desire, giving you great flexibility compared to cattle. Those kids can also be quickly grown out to produce a lot of meat. But goats do require pretty tight and/or electric fencing compared to cattle and the down-side of goats' smaller size is that they have to be better protected from cold. Goats have a more outgoing and curious personality than cattle, which can be both good and bad, but generally makes them a lot of fun.

Both dairy cows and goats can be put to work as draft animals, making them a three-purpose animal. For a market gardener a cow or trio of goats could provide all the "horsepower" needed to work five acres of plots. In my opinion, this fact is too often over-looked.

I've found NO technical expertise on how to restore a cistern or even use a cistern. This is one area of knowledge we have lost in the pastt 40-50 years. Most home around here still have the cistern just beside the house. And yet... no one knows anything about them.

Look for books on "harvesting rainwater". That is where you will find the information on building, maintaining and repairing cisterns.
I have a couple of good books on harvesting rainwater, but they are at another location right now. Do a search at Amazon.com for "harvesting rainwater" and you will see LOTS of books with the information that you arre seeking.

I'm concerned about access to water and will be buying a hand pump (for a 190 foot well!) [...]

I don't think that's going to work out for you very well. If its a suction pump the water will come up the pipe about 33 feet and thats it. What kind of pump are you looking at?

As a child we had about a 60 ft well with standard 6" casing but no electric pump. We used a long skinny bucket similar to this and a windlass. No matter what you do its going to be work moving water from 190 feet down by hand, about 1500 ft lbs to move a gallon.

When deep well pumping by hand the pump guts are at the bottom of the well, not at the top as with a shallow well pump, which, as you say is depth limited (based on atmospheric air pressure).

A rigid rod inside the drop pipe connects the pump at the bottom to the pump handle at the top and a one way valve (the "foot valve") at the bottom stops the water from draining back down the drop pipe between strokes.

more info here:

I still don't think that will be very practical at that depth. The pump rod at Lehman's is 7/16", 190 feet of that is going to weigh about 390 pounds. 190 feet of 1.25 inch drop pipe is going to have about 400 pounds of water working against you when it is full too. Sure there's some lever advantage with the handle, but I just don't see it working well enough to be useful for a person of only average strength.

This verbage is right below the features comparison chart at their site,

"Depth" means distance to water, not depth to cylinder. Any pump works past its "ideal" limit but not very well. For example, our cylinder ratings require 40 lb downward pressure on handle, about what an average male can do. However, we have one customer hand pumping from 200’D. The only limit is your strength

The 40 lb pressure is what's required by the cylinder, you have to lift the pump rod too. May be doable, but I think few people will be able to pump their daily needs from that depth with a hand pump.

I personally think a windlass made from a good size car wheel would be better than a hand pump with a well that deep. Maybe a larger bucket and a treadwheel if you need to get lots of water.

The pump rod at Lehman's is 7/16", 190 feet of that is going to weigh about 390 pounds. 190 feet of 1.25 inch drop pipe is going to have about 400 pounds of water working against you when it is full too.

Assuming the weight of the pump rod + drop pipe full of water = 800 lbs I'd be tempted to try something like this:

Construct a "teeter totter" with the frame that carries the fulcrum high enough to be several feet (as many as necessary) above the top of the above ground portion of the well pump.

Attach a chain from the underside of one end of the teeter totter to the top of the pump rod.

Have 2 counterweights each of which can be attached to the other end of the teeter totter and exert about 400 lbs each of down force.

Attach 1 weight and start pumping to prime the pump i.e. to fill the drop pipe. The job will be almost effortless at first since the first weight is counterbalancing the weight of the pump rod, and will get progressivly harder as the drop pipe fills.

When water starts to flow from the spigot stop and attach the second weight. Pumping now becomes very easy again since the water column in the drop pipe is counterbalanced also. You can keep it rigged this way as long as the foot valve holds prime.

Would look a little queer but I don't see why it would not work, its really just a "pumpjack" / "Donkey pump" but without the rotary drive

That is a fantastic idea!! Why not make it precisely like a pumpjuck with a hand crank drive? That would give you a precise stroke. I saw a couple of models for windmill use there at Lehman's with the pump rod sticking out the top of the pump. One of those would be suitable for such a setup. You could forgo attaching a chain to the pump handle and attach the pump rod to a horsehead on a walking beam.

I saw a couple of models for windmill use there at Lehman's with the pump rod sticking out the top of the pump. One of those would be suitable for such a setup. You could forgo attaching a chain to the pump handle and attach the pump rod to a horsehead on a walking beam.

Thats what I was meaning, note I said attach the pump rod NOT the pump handle to the teeter totter

Wow! Thank you for the great and thoughtful suggestions on cisterns and well pumps.

I've been looking at the Buffalo Pumps which are designed for wells that are up to 300 ft deep. The testimonials look good and I'm willing to give it a try.

The State will accept a hand pump as "sealing" the well (cost about $800) compared to the cost of sealing the well with cement and a well professional of a few grand. So I'm killing two birds with one stone (meeting state regulations for well sealing) and having the "potential" of deep drawn well water.

By the way... this deep well water is delicious-- having a subtle earthly taste and comes up icy cold. I love the taste of it...

Thank you!

John's idea of a pumpjack is fascinating, if you pursue it ask around on some forums, there are some maths to work out to make it work optimally. I see one faulty assumption in my math, the pump rod is inside the pipe so the column of water is going to weigh less than what I figured (neighborhood of 20-25 percent, you need to subtract the weight of water displaced by the rod). Depth to water vs depth of well is another consideration, as is the radius of curvature of the horsehead (the horsehead is important, simply attaching the pump rod to the end of a beam will stress the pump rod because the beam end is moving along an arc, the radius of curvature for the horsehead will be to the fulcrum, I think, you want the force applied to the pump rod to be perfectly vertical).

You may want to counterbalance the weight of the rod only, the idea is to capture the energy of the rod falling on the downstroke and use that captured energy on the upstroke. The water column doesn't contribute to the downstroke (if it did you would lose pumping effort, I think). Bottom line is that it takes a good bit of effort to pump useful amounts of water from a depth that deep, John's idea would apply your efforts to moving water instead of moving a heavy pump rod in addition to the water. Be a good time for an oil engineer that's familiar with the physics of pumpjacks to chime in on the details.

Yes you sure did. Mea Culpa, I should read more slowly.


Most traditional methods of preserving fish have been either dehydration/salting, or pickling. I know that tuna and salmon are sold commercially canned; I don't know how well home canning would work on fish - including freshwater varieties - generally. You might just try a small experimental batch first.

Another option though: when I visited Jefferson's Montecello, I saw where they had dug a very deep, very small pond; I suppose it was probably lined with rocks, and maybe even spring fed. The fish they caught down by the stream would be transferred to this pond to be kept alive until they needed to eat them. Then they would just use a small net to scoop them up. I don't know if your state's fish & game wardens would approve, but if times get hard enough they might not be around anyway.

WNC, On my original farm I had 4 ponds. The largest I stocked and fed the cat fish. Later I sorta got tired of that so just let them fend for themselves but I only had to walk there and could catch a few anytime we wanted to fry some up. I also stocked crappie but they overbred and became small.

Now I just go down to a private lake that my neighbor owns. Its pretty big and a natural lake. Full of cypress and some very nice fishing.

Sometimes we built a wooden box and put the catch in there and let it stay underwater until needed. There are some homebuilt boat docks that have such a contraption built on them. Mostly private around here else the city folks would come out and ruin it all.

Bad enough with them hauling ATVs out and tearing everything up.


Airdale is likely familiar already with my plans, but I'm replying under him, as he seems the most likely to get around "off-grid" as any I've found on the net.

I'm completely off-grid, although I'm still dependent on help from those on the grid until I've completed my house.
Doing now:
Solar and wind for power generation, not on the grid at all
Dual-sport motorbike for efficient transportation
Started a garden to learn basic gardening skills
6 month food supply and emergency water filtration abilities
Severe cutbacks in energy usage. I adapt to how much power is generated.

In the works:
Roof water catchment for storage in 5,000 gallon cistern with ozone generation for sanitation and precipitation of dissolved items in water
Solar evacuated tubes for heating of water for showers/etc and also for radiant heating

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)


'Pears to me your purty fer along. (I like to write the vernacular around 'chere'....and speak it right smart too, at least when I am with civilized folks(like here)! I think it might anger some of the cornucopians a tad so I don't do it too much.

So purty fer along as I can see. I know you started taking all this very seriously about the same time that I did.

Now to gardening and if your have never done much then you are on a very sharp learning curve. The 'dirt' will teach you but slowly.
Wonders if the full out Ruth Stout method or the bare dirt(dust mulch) method is best. So I go for something inbetween and try to use the best of both.

My idea is simple. Vetch. Hairy vetch at that. Excellent nitrogen source. The vines fall down on their own when the time is right and are not that hardy that one can't easily jerk them out of the ground for they are a very tender plant. I love to see the vetch growing 'volunteer' here on my place. I got some right by the back porch and will let it run wild and free.

Then when that in the nearby field dies I will spread it on my garden. Sorta like 'pea vine hay'. I try to save the little hard seeds when I can. They will stay in the soil for ever it seems and sprout as the times are right. Maybe years for thats how long ago it was that tobacco was grown on this land. More than I can remember. Yet they seeds stayed. And when I got the place there was one field so full of it I couldn't walk thru it, couldn't bush hog it, couldn't sickle bar it for it just tangled and tangled. Yet the soil under it was a tremendous black very rich soil. What I later sowed for horse pasture was remarkably vigorous.

Might take a look at vetch. They used to plant Crown Vetch along the highway right of ways but seems they has fallen out of favor. Too bad for you never had to mow it...so maybe the DOTs needed jobs for mowers and sprayed it down.


Howdy All,

I've been at this for a while. I've got a bit done, but much more is waiting. I live in a small (600 square feet) log cabin built of hand peeled pine logs. I heat with a wood stove. The wood comes from the mountain in back of my place and is primarily pinon, cedar, some pine, and occasional aspen. My water comes from a well out back (365 feet deep) but, there is a fresh water spring that I could use if needed. I don't care about electricity and am fine with oil lamps at night (I remain connected to the power grid). I planted an Apple Orchard with a single Plum Tree 12 years ago and now have plenty of apples in the fall. The soil for my garden is finally up to snuff and my garden is quite productive, although what I can grow is limited because of the severe climate here. Beans, Turnips, Potatoes, Corn (sometimes), Squash (sometimes), Onions, Kales, and Spinach do just fine. Tomatoes and Peppers are almost impossible. I have goats that I milk and own a fine buck for breeding. I've learned to make cheese and enjoy a regular diet of homemade yogurt. My meat comes from local beef, lamb, or pork. I still depend upon a freezer but hope to build a smokehouse this year. I also hope to build a root celler. A small stream runs through my place and it is full of large Brown and Rainbow Trout. I have two good mules, and a two year old John I'll start this spring. I also own a good saddle horse. My chickens are productive throughout the year and I always have eggs for myself and for barter. I've got a bunch of geese that I can have over for dinner if I choose. My Blacksmith's Shop finally has a roof over it although there is much I don't know about Blacksmithing. I've been experimenting with growing my hay without any inputs other than manure. So far so good. I cut my hay once last year and had enough to get me through the winter time. I just finished fencing a small pasture for some doggie lambs. I'm quite content eating sheep.

I've learned some skills as a metal worker and I make money with my work. I braid rawhide items and also earn money from that. I have good skills with Mules and Horses and at one time in my life I was guite a good Packer (still know all of the knots and hitches). I've thought of a freight business if things get bad, bringing necessary items into my area by pack string.

Recently I purchased a bicycle. My intent is to use it for short trips to town for my mail and to visit with friends. I rode a bicycle years ago and enjoyed it and it turns out I still do.

Best from the Fremont

PS My buddy has a blog that shows some of life out here. The address is redrockrosie.blogspot.com There are some nice pictures and some entertaining writing. Take a look if you'd like.

I checked his website. I agree about the trouble with ATVs. They are prone to damage farm equipment around here. Some got in my friends combine and stuck it in the mud a few years back.

When they get caught they bristle up at you until your take out your cell phone and call the sheriff.

I ride a trail bike but never get off the used roads. Got my buddy one too and use it to check crops thereby keeping larger vehicles from compacting the soil.

Yet ATVs are usually most always 4 wheels and very large wheels while ours are very small, like bike tires and have almost no appreciable weight. We don't try to chug up sand hills and destroy them in the process either or create gullies.

Airdale-pray with the angels, drink in the morning and destroy nothing that is good

Well I think Fremont 'wins'. Although I feel green there is fossil fuel and/or environmental degradation underlying all of it. I grow food, but it's a hobby and I am anybody's for a bar of full fat non-organic chocolate. I cycle or train to work but I choose to live 15 miles away when I could work next door. I get 50mpg from my car but I guess I use it for discretionary journeys. I recycle but I probably don't reduce or reuse. I have a log fire but sometimes it's easier to flick on the boiler. I keep chickens but have no idea where the chook food comes from. Aren't most of us here just a greener shade of brown?

"...a greener shade of brown". Yes, we are all of various shades of green, shading to brown. I'm fortunate and blessed to have been born in the American West, a landscape I have loved from the beginning. I've seen it change greatly in my lifetime; there are many more people here now and their impact is everywhere I look. The mountains and deserts that once were exclusively mine I now share, sometimes unwillingly with those who don't value the land as I do. I try to leave a small footprint, but, if you looked at the photos in the blog I referenced, did you see the Dodge 1 ton truck? It's a leftover from when I owned a cow herd, but, even without the cows, I keep it because it is quite necessary out here in the weeds. The road I live on would destroy most vehicles; it isn't paved and is very, very rocky. I've welded my muffler back on four times! So, I keep the truck and it certainly isn't green. I can make up some difference with the bicycle.

In reading the above posts I'm impressed that many are doing what they can. Some more, and some not quite so much, but, there is awareness and that's important. Again, I've been blessed to be where I am and I wonder why I've been so lucky in my life. Best wishes from the Fremont

I commute the 80 odd KM to uni every day via bus and kick-along scooter.
I'm doing teacher training as i think it is a depression safe job and puts me in a position to be a part of the solution not the problem once the Govt. wakes up more to a need for a different form of economy and society.
I have a vege garden that supplies about 1/5-2/5 of our vege needs and can, jam, chutney and brew using fruit from our orchard.
I have diverse knowledge and skills that would be considered archaic by most, but i think will see a resurgence. I collect books and tools associated with most of these skills.
I participate in my neighborhood and share the knowledge i have, the seeds i have and the fruits of my labors, introducing people to barter.
Energy saving bulbs in almost all my lights and am on tank water. Slow cook several meals per week and only about 2-3 meal have meat.
Educate and assist people where i can and dissociate from those who wont listen. I believe in a "long crash" scenario of energy descent. many don't, i pity their cognitive dissonance.

teacher training [.....] to be a part of the solution not the problem once the Govt. wakes up

Has any govt. ever been known to wake up to unwelcome realities?
I think you'll find that the Govt. will only wake up to find it no longer exists. As I said to the deaf ears of our city council, they need to implement a policy that all council personnel are within walking/cycling distance, else they will find that a petrol shortage quickly reduces their organisation to non-existence for the simple reason that the personnel can't get to their workplaces.
In such circumstances, teaching, let alone teacher training is likely to look too second/third derivative, and that actually having the taught/unteachable knowledge/skills will be the more life-critical thing.

I took the Marin Stagecoach to Stinson Beach and went surf fishing. Fish for dinner tonight.
I no longer have a car, and the garden is doing well.

Just got through watching the movie Shane. Great movie. A cursory reading of the initial comments of this post is depressing. Lots of existential angst out there. Remember, yesterday is just a memory. Tomorrow is just a dream. Now is the only reality.

Nice to be old, cause while I have done many of the things already mentioned I am sitting on my back porch watching a beautiful sunset and the cardinals making their last visit at the bird feeders. Please do not let this shit prevent your enjoyment of this life. It is rather nice after all.

Unfortunately, pushing 70, i no longer have the energy to do many of the things which will be required. Good health will be the most important factor if TSHTF. Nothing is as valuable as youth. Keep doing what you are doing. Most likely is won't be enough, but life as a human is pretty good trip. Some plays are 5 acts, others only 2. But, what a ride!

Yup, a person's youth and good health will be the most valuable thing in the future, along with social connections. Along those lines, I'd say take care of any health issues, like elective surgery, right now while we still have a bloated healthcare system to take care of them.

On the other hand, younger people are liable to be (yet more) severely lacking in "outdated" low-tech experience, and congenitally addicted to a world of instant electronic entertainment, communication, heating and feeding, and thus find themselves all the more disoriented by any catastrophic changes.
Something that few, especially young, people have any significant experience of is adversity. Approx no-one decides to become a hands-on expert in adversity, and those who have much of it tend to be wanting in intelligence or wisdom. Fate just happens to have decided a course of a lifetime of adversity for myself (life ruined by 40+ years of dental mercury poisoning). Re which as I agree with Orlov, many negatives will become positives and vice versa.
Many (including young) who initially have health will very soon lose it once they get stressed to hell by the many shocks.

We have cut our electrical use over the past 3 years by 70%. Our Feb usage was 110 kwh. We went to one car about 18 months ago, which gets complicated for two professionals living 10 miles out of town. We have also cut our propane use by 48% over the past year. We have done workshops on cutting energy use. Each season we are trying to increase what food we can grow and work at buying locally produced food. We have heated with wood for 28 years so we aren't putting ancient carbon in the atmosphere. I also work as a sustainability and serve on the board of a local energy service non-profit. Still much to do.

I retired, moved to the country, and started growing vegetables. My living expenses are now a small fraction of what they were three years ago, and I'm debt free.

I say that we cannot ask for change unless we change ourselves. And so: Reduce, reuse, recycle. Usually people just do the last one, but the first and second are important, too.

  • buy electrical power from other sources preferring in order: wind, geothermal, solar, hydroelectric, landfill gas or natural gas, waste burning, bagasse. Don't even think about nuclear or coal.
  • use cool drinks and fans not airconditioning, jumpers and hot drinks not heating, hang washing out to dry, change to CFLs and pull plugs out on appliances not in use
  • Don't fly in aircraft at all.
  • bye-bye cars: for a journey under 5km, walk. Under 15km, bike. Over that, public transport.
  • consume mainly fresh fruit and vegies, grains and legumes, avoid processed containerised food
  • reduce meat consumption to under 12kg/year (0.25kg/week)
  • for consumer goods, borrow rather than buy, secondhand rather than new
  • if available, use coppiced wood for heating/cooking, otherwise use that wind powered electricity, or if that's not available, use natural gas
  • plant trees – don't pay someone else, plant them where you can watch them and know they'll be cared for.

Using this list, we've reduced our carbon dioxide emissions contribution to about one-quarter the Aussie average, which happens to be the world average. We've still a long way to go - we still have a car, for example, it's just that we use it one-quarter the Aussie average - but we're living a decent life with much lower impact.

It's also much lower fossil fuel consumption. So if fuel prices leap up, we don't care much, because we're not using much. We've been living in frugal comfort, so if forced to live in frugal comfort later on, well we won't notice.

Also with much lower bills. So much for the "but we can't afford to!" not demolish the environment.

Aside from that, in each season I write to my local, state and federal representatives - and in election seasons, to other candidates, too. To get their attention I'll congratulate them on something they recently did or said (even if it was just to get elected) and then say my one thing. Just one thing - if you say ten things they reply to one and ignore the other nine uncomfortable questions/comments.

And then I blog and write and talk in a way which annoys and challenges people, to get them thinking about their own lifestyles and whether they bother engaging as citizens in a democracy, or are so lazy and useless they lay about passively like people at gunpoint in some dictatorship.

  • Acquired a bike (free) and a bike trailer (Craigslist bargain) that I use to pick up my son from school each day
  • Have expanded my garden each year and am learning more about agriculture
  • Have started planting only organic seeds that can be saved harvest after harvest
  • Started planting more and more trees: avocadoes, dates, oranges, lemons, etc.
  • Stocked up on canned goods, dried beans and rice, and regularly pick up extras when there's a sale
  • Have done the same for my favorite wine : )
  • Begun assembling information from the Net on everything I might need to know -- agriculture, hunting, wild food foraging, water purification, first aid, solar power, etc. -- and posted it online so others can also print it out as I am
  • Assembled my "bug-out bucket" with essentials like medicines, toilet paper, toothpaste
  • Read, read, read

I live in the Florida Keys 25 miles from Key West, but have still managed to start a vegetable garden in planters on my 60x 100foot lot. I have a friend with a bigger yard also interested in doing the same. And my coconut trees will soon I hope, be joined by a few varieties of tropical fruit trees, key lime, tangerine, mango and pomegranite among them. I have a rainwater cistern system that feeds my entire (very small) house in addition to the aqueduct. We are investigating switching to solar water heat and a pilot-light free stove to reduce propane consumption to almost nothing. We have increased insulation on the house, put heat reflective film on windows and we are actively reducing our electrical consumption compared to the same months last year just by turning stuff off all the time. We are learning to fish for food , its a pastime neither my wife nor I have ever enjoyed for sport. We have built an outside fireplace for winter evenings "sittin' outdoors round the ole campfire((!)" which we can also use for cooking if we have to. We have normal hurricane preparedness supplies,which include a small gasoline generator with fuel, jugs of water in case our cistern gets damaged and vacuum dried long life food enough for several weeks. We have tested the transit system to get to work (I am a civilian police employee and she has tenure as a teacher) and at a cost of an hour's extra travel time each way it works well. We bicycle locally, ride a motorcycle and scooter most of the time and excercise daily to try to maintain decent health.
We enjoy life and try not to worry excessively. We got out of the stock market a while back and have no credit card debt and can still afford to sevice our excessively large mortgage. Key West as a whole has some foreclosures but house prices remain absurdly high. Hotels and restaurants report decent income this winter even though they had had fears of a total melt down. Jobs are impossible to find so people with good jobs are, at last, learning to stick with them. Despite hurricanme threats I'd rather be here than anywhere else. Its a tight community and we've had weather related disasters without social disintegration in the past. And the sunsets are still as good as a movie most evenings...

We set a floor for energy prices at $4.00/gallon. Every time we get gas, have heating fuel or propane delivered we take the difference and place that money in a savings account. Our thoughts were; "if we were able to manage this summer with high fuel cost, we should take advantage of this window of low energy prices". The money that we save is used to purchase energy saving things for the house. We are installing a tankless hot water heater with the money we have saved from the first quarter of this year.

Brilliant!! The same thing should be done a national level. Set a floor for energy prices and place the taxes in a fund for energy conservation/carbon free energy. Of course we have a fund for social security and we have seen how that turned out.

please consider writing a guest post on this topic. this is an idea that many could latch onto - at a minimum it would allow people to think/realize that low prices for finite commodities may not be permanent and all the peripheral issues this raises - at maximum it creates grass roots energy revenue neutral 100% individually focused tax that goes directly into conservation/efficiency/renewable flow type savings. Also a good example of using our rational minds to overcome the needs of the moment..

I am trying sprouting seeds and beans in my kitchen. Just rinse them twice a day. Many things can be sprouted -- suit yourself. Economical and you get very nutritious and fresh food. Use in salads, stir-fry, soups, etc. Practically grow while you watch!

- I joined the green party and have contributed to policies on biofuels & peak oil.
- Bring peak oil up in any discussions on the economy, environment & energy.
- Write peak oil related submissions to MPs and government inquiries on transport, energy and the environment.
- Read TOD regularly for new ideas and diverse perspectives on the economy and environment.

Lifestyle & Behaviour
- Cycle 5 km to and from university every weekday.
- Shop locally within walking distance of my home.
- Use public transport to get into the city.
- Use rail for long distance travel.
- Own a second hand 2007 Fiat Bravo diesel which I only use once or twice a month.
- Own 2 rainwater tanks.
- Experiment with growing food (potatoes & corn work very well for me).
- Compost vegetable waste.
- Purchase 100% Renewable electricity.
- Switching to energy/water efficient appliances as they need replacing.

In early 2005, I bought a Prius which I plan on driving until it turns into a pile of rust (and I'll work at keeping that at bay as long as possible). I check my tire pressure every week and keep them properly inflated and rotate them every 5000 miles so that they will last as long as possible. I never run with the AC on unless the car has been sitting out in the sun and it is over 90 degrees outside, and then sometimes if it is a short trip I still won't turn it on. The interstate speeds where I live are 75, but I drive at 65. On two lanes roads with a 65 posted limit I drive 55. When it is hot, I do run with the AC on the highway since in my experience I actually get better mileage than driving with the windows partially down.

I make a list of the things I have to do and run all my errands (groceries, bank, post office, etc.) once a week in one single trip (unless something comes up unexpectedly). In the summer I run most of my errands on my bicycle unless I'm going to have something heavy to carry.

I've changed all my light bulbs over to compact fluorescent, and on the two standard fluorescent fixtures in my house that have tube-type lamps I replaced the ballasts with electronic and replaced the lamps with the highest efficiency T-8 lamps I could find. I use "task lighting" for the most part, and never leave lights on in rooms I'm not in. I don't like the fact that fluorescent lamps have mercury in them and that our community has no way to deal with dead ones other than putting them in the landfill, but I'm not sure what the alternative is.

When my refrigerator died, I replaced it with the most efficient one I could find. When my water heater died, I replaced it with the most efficient I could find.

I keep my furnace filters changed and clean and installed an electronic set-back thermostat. Nighttime in the fall, winter and spring (cold northern climate) it sets to 60 at night and since I work from home, I have it set to 65 during the day and wear "sweats" around the house. In the summer I only use the AC on the warmest days and then I set the thermostat to 82 degrees and wear shorts and t-shirts. My house is older and has metal ducting, so I've insulated all the ducts in the crawl space and also insulated between the floor joists. I have 16" of blown-in insulation in the attic.

All of my faucets and the shower head are ultra low flow. My toilet uses 1 gallon per flush. When I take a bath, I keep a bucket under the tub faucet till the water warms up and then use that water to flush the toilet and water plants.

This post is very timely, as yesterday I attended the Sustainable Population of Australia conference in Adelaide, and asked the question - what can we do as individuals to help effect greater change in our society to adapt to the combined effects of peak oil and peak resources in general, climate change and population overshoot?

Great to read some of the actions being taken by individuals to effect and assist with behavioural change and adaptacion to our rapidly changing future. We are all interdependant, no matter how self-sufficient we try to make ourselves. Even the most hardcore survivalist needs human company!

So, what am I doing?
I left Barcelona over a year ago where I had been living and working for over 5 years, and moved back to Australia, and what I had learnt via the Oil Drum and Energy Bulletin contributed largely to my life changing decision. I miss Barcelona dreadfully, but I know that me and my son will be in a better, more resiliant position here in Adelaide.

*I have rented a small apartment 10 mins bike ride to Uni.
*I don't have a car. I ride everywhere on my Xtracycle.
*I am vegetarian, nearly vegan.
*I buy food as locally sourced as possible, and as much of it organically grown that I can get my hands on.
*I have run a 6 week audit on my domestic water use, measuring every litre, literally! This was a great tool for raising my awareness on water consumption.
*I recycle all of my household water, except the dishwashing water at the moment (about 10litres every few days) and drinking water. Later when I have urine collection set up (and a garden to put it on), I will be able to say I am recycling my drinking water too! All the bath and shower water is used to flush the toilet (only the brown stuff). Eventually I will compost solid human waste too. The bath/shower water is also used for soaking laundry (specifically my son's "accidents" and night nappies - he is only 3), washing hands and teeth, and watering plants.
*My garden is yet to be established. I have only been in this place 2 months, and there is only 18 m2 of back yard (half concreted) and 9m2 of front carport. I am collecting containers, mostly hard rubbish off the neighbourhood streets, ready to set up an intensive food growing system. I don't expect to produce enough to feed me and my son in the initial years, but it will be a learning process.
*I don't buy anything new, except my new computer and phone, as the previous ones were no longer functional. And textbooks for uni - people tend not to sell on their education textbooks, as they are so useful as a practising teacher. And my winter cycling clothes, and underwear. General clothes, household items, toys, books, stereo, furniture, etc etc are sourced from op shops, garage sales, the street, etc.
*I don't fly. I don't expect to travel overseas anymore, and in future I will only take the train to Melbourne or Sydney.
*I recycle 95% of my household waste. I have a worm farm, and will set up compost bins shortly. All plastics, paper, tins, etc are washed and recycled for craft projects, storage containers, etc.
*I have CFL's in all my light fittings, and avoid turning things on unnecessarily. I turned everything off at the wall. I am collecting old fashioned handworked appliances for my kitchen, and using candles more often, and natural light as much as possible.
*I avoid using airconditioning, and use passive measures for heat and cooling. I will purchase weatherstripping for my apartment's doors.
*I don't shower every day. It's not that bad! :-)
* I wash my clothes at a laundromat, so the same washing machines service many more people, and the machine is a commercial grade model that is built to be much more durable than normal household machines. This means I have met some great people at the local organic coffee shop while my washing is going through!
*I line dry - we all do, in Australia!

BUT..... despite my satisfaction in all the changes I have made, my biggest concern is the communitiy I am living in. HOW do I bring about change in my community?
*I talk to people... but pick my subjects carefully, and TRY to be tactful. People get defensive very easily, or simply dismissive.
*I try to model sustainable behaviour, and practise what I preach.
*I go to public lectures, meet people who are already switched onto this stuff.
* I have done a Permaculture Design Certificate, and become part of that community in SA
* I have attended a Transition Town meeting in my part of Adelaide.
* I have met with and written to my Members of Parliament, and other representatives. And will continue to do so.
* I have taken part in street demonstrations.
*I am changing careers (I was a musician - still am, but no longer working professionally) to become a primary school teacher, so I can work with young people in an environment that I hope will be pro-actively interested in their future, and educating them how to prepare themselves for our future.

But still I feel it's not enough!!!!!

I am so inspired to read what other people are doing.

*I am learning how to be optimistic, and make good use of my personal energy (physical, mental, emotional) in the face of such overwhelming challenges.

keep up the good work everyone,
cheers, Sophia


To do more, educate your community about the potential of electricity production from the Atmospheric Vortex Engine (http://vortexengine.ca) which can be powered by extracting heat from the relatively warm waters of either Spencer's Gulf or St. Vincent's Gulf.

Not only can the AVE produce abundant electricity from this source, the residual moisture injected into the troposphere, will flow easterly to the Murray-Darling headwaters increasing cloud cover and rainfall in the area, which eventually flows westerly, bringing more fresh water to SA.

Additionally, by phasing out coal plants in your area and replacing them with AVE's, the rain-suppressing effects of their plumes can be eliminated.

Contact atmospheric scientists in your area to get them involved, and you might even consider inviting the inventor of the AVE, Louis M. Michaud (Sarnia, Ontario, CANADA) to your area to give a presentation (contact at http://vortexengine.ca)

So far as I can determine, the AVE is science-fantasy, a variant on the perpetual motion machine. But I don't have time to get into a discussion thereof and this isn't strictly the place!

Hello Sophia,

I am also in Adelaide, which I figure is not a bad spot for energy decent, except that most of our energy and food gets shipped or trucked in. I have decided to sit it out in a suburb. Things I am doing:

* Converted a small petrol car to an EV, and am encouraging others to do the same by writing magazine articles, and just showing everyone we can (they are fascinated). On Saturday I took my State and Federal MPs for a drive in the EV - I figure that will have more of an impact than 100 letters.

* Halved my home energy bills. Now with the addition of solar hot water and solar PV it's down to about one quarter. I haven't had an electricity bill a 1 year, and gas is just a few hundred $/year.

* Got out of debt, shares, and real estate investments and into gold and cash about 1 year before the current fun and games started. You guys are to thank - I was nervous about Peak Oil causing a crash but the same principles helped prepare for the GFC.

* Messing with aquaponics and growing food at home, rainwater tank for backup water and the garden.

* talking quietly about PO to the unconverted but in terms others can understand - like advocating the financial benefits of better insulation, solar and gas PV, EVs, and low debt, and problems with high fuel prices.

* taking other steps to lower our expenses, for example sending my kids to nearby public schools rather than driving them all over town at peak hour to a $15k/year private school. I work from home (part time) so can supplement their education myself if I need to. Better I think than the norm around here which is both parents working 9-6 to pay for private schooling, gadgets, and a big mortgage.

* Ride our bikes a lot, and generally live a slower, more relaxed life that is not dominated by accumulating more wealth.

You know even in a healthy economy/non PO world these are great steps - e.g. our energy savings lower our cost of living and are like an extra tax free income that grows every years as energy costs rise. Being debt free with no energy or fuel bills (we drive the EV 90% of the time) living means we can live on a very low income - creating many other options for your life.

BTW Sophia (and anyone else in Adelaide) - we doing a "community" EV conversion over a 1 week period starting 23rd April - contact me off list if you would like to pop in and check it out (or even hold a spanner and help out).



Good work David!

Is your EV a converted Getz from Dixon Beatie and his Vic. business partner?

Which suburb are you in? I am in Magill.

Are you aware of BOSA - Beyond Oil South Australia? A great mob, and we are working on more ideas for community activism/awareness.

Let's get in touch - I am really new to posting/commenting, despite being a lurker since early 2007, so I don't know how to contact you "off list" !

cheers, Sophia

Most of us will not live to a ripe old age.

I read the Gospel according to Thomas to find a higher reality.

On the other hand, I have baught a rugged yacht and intend winning the land grab in Antartica.
I have grand children.

We are doing the following:

  • we live in a small townhouse which is well designed. Proper use of awnings (warming in winter, shade in summer), open plan with cross ventilation, CFL & some LED lights
  • we buy things to last and we rarely buy much anyway
  • recycle everything we can (hopefully our council actually recycles it)
  • we buy 'green' power from the utility company (we're considering solar but it is not that simple...)
  • we collect rainwater in tanks to water the garden & clean with
  • we catch public transport when we can, but when we can't...
  • we have small diesel hatchback that runs on recycled cooking oil (turned into B100 biodiesel) and a smart fortwo (petrol)
  • we are not having children
  • we are part of a food co-op (locally sourced seasonal vegetables & fruits with money going to the farmers, not big companies)
  • we eat very little meat but when we do it is as ethical as we can find
  • I try an educate as many people as I can without sounding like a doomsayer or preacher... it is hard sometimes.
  • we have a worm farm for composting food scraps

    That's all I can think of so far!



  • in Vermont, retired, we've taken the following measures.
    We insulated the attic massively, ditto all accesible other spaces like under eaves etc. Changed all windows to double-glazed. Caulked all over. Use Blinds as extra window insulation when not needing the light. Smaller wattage Compact Flourescents everywhere.
    Wear long underware. Turn down thermostat to 55F at nite.
    Put a good-woodstove where a fireplace had been....use it for bringing the house back to 60-65 range in morning.. Learned to make furniture with (mostly beautiful old) hand-tools.
    Share one car for the two of us... a prius, for when it's necessary, otherwise we walk or take free local Bus whenever possible. Will be getting bikes when weather gets better.
    I'm 72 and not in the greatest shape yet physically, but that's next project. We eat more local-grown veggies and try to maintain 100mile diet except for citrus. Wife has devised many lo-energy cooking techniques. No Dishwasher. Wash clothes in efficient frontloader with cold water only ..... works great.
    Take the train when travelling to NYC for to go to the opera ...( Am-fu--ing-Always-Late-Track ) to try to support a rebirth of rail.
    Got into the what's the hurry mental-attitude.
    Write s--t-loads of letters bugging the politicos and papers ( yes including VT's. ) about energy, $$$-thefts, antiwar, antifascism etc...... Encourage and Support Second Vermont Republic. NO TV.
    No daily propaganda-rag newspapers..... no National-Polluted-Radio.
    Lots of meditation. No alcohol.
    Trying to learn to like people more; more compassion, less anger and resentment.
    Relay eye-opener stuff from Kunstler etc to a small list of "innocents".???n AC ammeter and measured all my computer stuff etc Grouped loads for easy switching-off of wall-wart ac adapters when not actually in use. Bought low-temp ( < 32F ) thermostat-switch for running crudely super-insulated micro-wood-shop at 40F minimum on winter nites.
    Pay a little for the premium all-green-electricity from Green Mountain Power. Buy carbon credits for flights, yearly total car miles etc.
    Still not very close to our share of the world's goods, I'm afraid.

    ught a

    I'm not trying to mitigate the economic changes, or the energy ones. I do try to blog in ways to provoke more thought on the environmental ones and I volunteered to observe and report my area's ecology to some scientists studying the matter.

    The economic changes, most of the bad ones I can't change or affect directly, and all of the good ones I'm trying to encourage, celebrate, etc. I'm part of the new agriculture movement. And I'm a major supporter of alternative fuels/energy/technologies.

    I'm a blogger. I participate in what comes to my attention and encourage others to do the same. Petitions, protests, promoting new ideas...I do whatever I can. For the most part, I'm trying to make my life an example of what I believe in.

    But wait, there's more!

    * 100% Green Power (from wind farms in SA)
    *plan to turn the refridgerator off during winter, and make a cool box system for next summer
    *no debts
    *take very good care of my health and son's health
    *building up home medicine chest, have done first aid course, building up knowledge of herbal and home medicine (Where There is No Doctor is on my reading list)
    *building up pantry of longterm food storage - dried foods and grains, tinned food, etc
    * will be setting up rain water harvesting and rain tank. It's a challenge in a rental apartment where I have no roof of my own, and very little backyard, but I reckon I can put in a temporary roof of about 8m2, and harvest about 3000L a year, enough for our drinking/cooking needs.
    * I am not having any more children. One is enough! Between me and my son's father, and my boyfriend and his children's mother (4 adults) we have 3 children. No more!

    I haven't done a whole lot compared to other people here.

    - I try to minimize my driving. Take the motorcycle for trips around town, bicycle for trips around the neighborhood. The motorcycle isn't really that green. Gas mileage is the same as a Prius, but it's high maintenance and takes a lot of spare parts to keep running compared to a car. I'd imagine the bicycle would be the same if I started putting serious miles on it too.

    - I'm getting out to meet other environmental and progressive activists in real life, and I'm spreading the word. There's still lots of cornucopians or peak-oil-unaware people out there. For a start, try looking for a Greendrinks near you. If nothing else, social connections will be all we have to fall back on.

    - I rent a small apartment close to work, and I'm debt-free. If I get laid off, I'll probably give it a month and move back with the family. No sense burning up savings on rent. The climate is pretty mild, but winter nights in the bedroom are still 55deg because my rental has such bad passive heating. The electric heaters are too small to help, so I just bundle up with blankets or sleep in the living room where at least it's 60deg.

    Somehow I have felt since I was a teenager (I'm in my 40's now) that the start of civilization collapse would occur in my lifetime. I didn't know how or when, but there were no shortages of possibilities. I thought perhaps I'd be watching from a rocking chair in my 80's, but that seems unlikely now...

    First of all - it doesn't depress me. I have accepted this for a long time. Life is precious, and we need to enjoy its beauty and wonder. Also, there are benefits to the end of an unsustainable process (such as reducing ecological damage, over the long term). I have effectively followed a path akin to the "theory of anyway" (there is a nice posting about this on Sharon Astyk's site). That is, we should be making lifestyle changes and doing things that are appropriate anyways, whether crisis is in the near or longer term. I also believe one should focus on what one can do for oneself to be prepared, and not on fears of what other people may do - you can control your own actions and future, but not what others might do.

    My wife and I work at home. I believe that one should live close to work. And if you don't like where you live, change your work. We have only ever had one car, and use public transit and bicycle when possible. We try to do things locally (e.g. local coffee house for music with neighbors instead of a show in town).

    I chose a career to help us manage our natural resources more equitably and sustainably. I combined natural resource management with computer science, and build simulation models to project future forest conditions. Most of my work is with land-use planning, endangered species recovery assessment, sustainable resource management, etc. While this career won't likely be of use post-peak, it can (and has) helped foster decisions to reduce negative human impacts on forest ecosystems. We should keep in mind that surviving the transition to the post-industrial society means more than just humans.

    I spent three years until the end of 2008 as a local councillor in our small municipality. Local government is very important, and the level most accessible to residents. People should get involved. In my view, learning about community governance is a very important skill. During my term, we had many contentious issues to deal with (development pressure for golf courses and monster houses, ground water management, park aquisition). I initiated the formation of a Sustainability Task Force. I am now the chair of this task force, and plan to place peak oil on the agenda, and make some recommendations for council and the region (e.g. to form a peak oil task force, like in Portland and elsewhere).

    My wife and I have been collecting hand tools for many years, for woodworking, kitchen, washing, etc. We recently "upgraded" our grain grinder to a heavy duty model (that can be attached to cycle power). Once you eat fresh rolled oats, you won't go back. We heat with wood (but I must admit cutting wood without a chainsaw gives me the shivers - literally since I think I would produce a lot less firewood).

    My wife is into spinning and weaving (and gardening). She has recently been buying fresh goat milk from a friend, and making very nice cheese (white, feta; next we need a cheese press...).

    The importance of being able to grow your own food didn't occur to us 10 years ago when we bought our current home. We have a garden in which we can grow some food, but our property doesn't have arable land. So we decided to buy a small farm to which we plan to move in a few months (after fixing it up over the summer). This farm is also close to my brother (who lives on another small farm). I can still work at home (which I will reduce to 50%) and we will start growing food (including a small flock of sheep primarily for wool and milk). The farm is off the grid, so electric power must come from solar, wind or microhyro. Once there, we plan to track and reduce our dependencies and vulnerabilities (and separate needs from wants).

    My main worry is about how much suffering (human and non-human) may occur during the future transition, and I often think about friends and family who live in a dream world. This is one reason we chose to have no children. Our energies will go to set up our homestead, which we see as a lifeboat. If needed, we expect to "adopt" some friends, family and children who didn't have the opportunity or foresight to prepare, but are willing to adapt in a time of need, or who are unable to take care of themselves. It's not enough for us to just take care of ourselves, if we can help at least some loved ones avoid some suffering (despite their inability or unwillingness to open their eyes). The small farm we bought has some potential to expand garden space.

    Kind of a long post, but we all weave our own unique paths through life.




    Raise you a 5...

    1) Living simply in a tiny apartment that costs next to nothing.
    2) Driving a Volkswagen TDI.
    3) Trying to buy only quality things that will last, and things that will be productive (tools, etc).
    4) Applying to sustainable energy engineering masters degree programs, looking toward those most practical/hands-on.
    5) Steering career away from integrated audio/video control systems toward integrated energy management systems.
    6) Staying near Washington DC for now, where there's still a ton of dough floating around.
    7) Being scared as hell about the fact that we need to start having kids soon (bio clock).
    8) Making more/better friends.
    9) Conserving liquid assets.
    10) Not paying too much attention to the news!

    How do you like the TDI? I am considering a Jetta TDI to replace my old Marquis.

    I haven't driven the new engine yet on the 2009, but my 2002 Golf TDI is awesome. Right now, with my studded tires and Calgary winters, I get just under 5L/100km, and last summer in good conditions I could get down below 4L/100km. It's a little comforting to know that in the jerry cans in storage, I've got ~1500km to drive, plus another 1000km if the tank is full.

    111,000 Miles on mine.

    Love it.

    small stuff breaks.... crappy plastic knobs. The "oh shit" handle on the passenger side.

    The turbo fell intake fell off about 3 years ago, but was still under warrantee and they fixed it no problem. (This is something I probably could have fixed on my own as it was pretty obvious what the damage was)

    The glow plug harness died a year after that. Another warrantee fix. Likely that will be fixed by your model year as the repair guy said he had seen alot of that and likely there would be a recall.

    The engine itself? still going strong. over 45mpg every fill up (and I've got the wagon)

    You can put a TON of stuff in the wagon. I constantly amaze myself.

    Along with a land partner bought 9 acres near Volcano, HI on which I'm working to create a sustainable food garden. Lots of challenges. People asked, “Why up there where it's wet and cold?” Estimate my location is good for climate change up to 10 degrees F and loss of 50% of rainfall. Have to build up soil from thin mineral deficient layer over lava and keep out wild pigs. For cash, depending on Social Security. Don't think they'll cancel that, just let it inflate away. Agree with WT: deflation for holders of assets (for a while), inflation for those who have to spend for food, transportation, health care. A safe (as any) place for my kids to retreat to if needed. Tried for several years earlier to find an "eco-village" to join. Lots of talk, no one serious.

    Do you know Jay? If not already on your radar, check out sensible simplicity based in Fern Forest HI.

    Had some correspondence earlier when his thing was "seasteading". Feel the need to get my own trip together before reaching out to network. Otherwise, networking takes over. 3-Squared (name of our project) is actually in the west-most portion of Fern Forest. Rains like Fern Forest, temperature like Volcano.

    I think the main effort I have undertaken is to look for ways to retrofit our household systems with simple, usually locally available materials. But I also extend these notions into somewhat farfetched versions, just to see when they sometimes reach into a valuable nook.

    Here's a doozy of a notion from yesterday's notebook..

    I just found another 'full-length' mirror on the street yesterday. I think I have 8/10 of them now, and eagerly await the chance to build them into a Parabolic Tracking Rig (12 to 24 of these mirrors would probably be the number I'd build the rig for) .. While daydreamily toying with the ways to lay such a contraption out, I was reading an account of detoxifying oneself by using a Sauna to sweat off built up junk in your fat cells.. In a Homeric drawl, I murmered 'Sauna..' and started sketching my 'Solar Hacienda', which would be comprised of a Big Tracking Collector which faced a semicircle row of outbuildings, each built for a task using that solar power, and contributing to the life of the Homestead/Compound/Business. A Wood-curing shack, a Bakery, a Sauna, Water Heating, a Syrup Still (or water distillery, Coffee Roaster or other such heat-process), a Stirling Engine or similar Boiler Setup, a Compost Digester. etc, etc.

    The tracking would be managed by a simple Microcontroller or Basic PC, and might even comprise a couple or a few collectors (which could also be moved/aimed by hand or offspring if needed) and could move it's focus from one 'client building' to another, depending on the projects at hand. Many of the possible draws on this heat may only need periodic bursts (along with super-insulation to maintain a required temp, like baking, composting or firewood-curing, and could call for their moment in the spotlight as necessary.. while others would always be there to take whatever you could throw at it, like water heating.

    Clearly, such an involved setup is somewhat outlandish.. But I can still see ways that a large family or a small residential community might have intermittent needs for power like this, so I add a drawing and some notes to the 'Solar Heat Folder', having given it about as much attention as a decent Crossword Puzzle.. but this puzzle is much more intriquing to me! These folders are jammed with a range of these, from dead-simple to wacked-out(but fun).

    (I have also just been reviewing an even crazier notion of having Wide, Tracked Mirror towers at the corners of a soundstage in some sunny state, offering beams of sunlight into contained sections of the set to be redirected and used as needed by numerous mounted mirrors, diffusers and lenses, etc. Totally wacky.. but hey, it would work! ..should work)

    I have practical things I design and make, too.. but I've already spouted about them a lot! GET OUTSIDE THE BOX!


    Dropped out of commercial IT work and started studying Classical Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, herbs, tuina body manipulation) about 2.5 years ago, and have begun to learn about the cultivation of medicinal herbs.

    Previously (as a hobby) spent "free" time over a decade building in strawbale, cob, and earthships - particular attention paid to passive solar, rocket-stove heating/cooking, and air conditioning using natural air flow. Also built compost toilets and reed-bed and biodigester waste disposal systems, and had a little exposure to solar PV and small wind generator systems.

    Hope to take possession of a 35 foot engineless sailboat in about 2-3 weeks. This will then get the PV and possibly windgenny treatment, and a little later the composting head and rocket stove.

    Still need to get time in to learn about forest gardening - problematic in downtown LA (now) and on a boat (soon)...

    Thank you Nate for your post,

    US Energy Secretary, Dr.Steven Chu said recently in the New York Times: "If we don’t spend this money wisely and invest in new technology that addresses these challenges, we will have failed the country. We will have failed the world.”
    I agree therewith. Particularly, we have to get real progress in petroleum exploration. What are we doing in exploration now? One commercial discovery in four wildcats, isn’t it? Why?
    There is a new technology for oil/gas detection providing above three discoveries in four wildcats. See: http://www.binaryseismoem.weebly.com .
    With new technology (patented invention US 7,330,790) we could make up to three times more oil and gas discoveries than when using conventional technology. And the fact that new technology won’t need more investments is also very important. I disclosed the technology, designed it and successfully tested in the Barents and the Black Seas as well as in the Gulf of Mexico.
    I will be happy to help any company to implement my technology. But petroleum industry (top geologists etc) ignores the technology because it will clear real company resources before investors. It is reality.
    What is your advice?

    A. Berg, Ph.D.
    San Jacinto, CA

    I'm mostly a lurker ... but can somebody get this up as a guest post? I'd be interested.

    geolog is always pushing his so called technolgy, usually off topic which is why it is generally ignored on TOD


    For my part, this pitch has been made a few times, and is essentially an advertisement at this point. I'm sure you are trying to offer it with the best intentions of getting us out of this mess, but with the ring of a commercial venture, it appears less a matter of 'Energy discussion' than self-promotion, which is not what I'm here to be subjected to.

    I'm also fairly ambivalent about putting so much effort into attempted discovery of more FF's at this point, what with our pollution and CO2 issues, and then the clearly thorny discovery downslope we've been on for 45 years.

    Even with completely civil language, such repetition of your pitch has also gotten to feel a bit belligerent in its monotone and apparent disconnect from the conversation at hand.

    Bob Fiske

    I offer the technology for free

    Thanks for the clarification.

    I do believe I've even heard you mention that in some way in your previous statements, but I suppose I am so used to ads that say 'Free' this or that, and yet turn out not to be free at all, that I don't quite believe them.

    Understand, I really am not saying this to accuse you of lying or misleading, I don't think you are, but just to help express how your posts have appeared to me. We have had a number of posters who are trying to promote something concrete that they have been developing, (J-Pods, for example) and once they have had the initial introduction of their idea, maybe some conversation of it.. the recurring mention becomes a challenge to the flow of many of these discussions. I don't know if this is fair or not, but I do have a distinct sense that such a recurring mention feels like an off-topic intrusion into another kind of conversation.

    It could be that there is an aversion to jumping from theoretical discussions into working together to develop big plans.. and yet people on this thread and others have been very welcome (that is, I'VE welcomed hearing about) describing the development of personal solutions, community programs, and various business opportunities (like the Pelamis wave-generator).

    I suspect that your focus on discovery is met with a great deal of skepticism.. but I'd have to hear what the Oilmen and women on the site think of that. For me, it's like trying to keep steering the Titanic after the berg has already been struck.. and yet, this boat is still sliding forward and burning oil (jumping metaphors a bit).. so maybe it's an important nuance to someone, to the remaining (OilCo) crew that are onboard trying to keep the ship stable and lights on as we get to the boats.

    (That example is a bit dire for my views, but it was easiest to write)
    Bob Fiske

    Bob, thank you,

    Human civilisation has already been struck by OilCo: low oil extraction from reservoirs, low exploration success rate etc.
    But everything is not so bad. There are big world resources and new technologies to find and recover it.
    I am sorry, but I would remind you something from TOD philosophy:

    “It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it.”
    —Upton Sinclair

    "Salary" can be change for you to world-view.


    I guess what is difficult for me to understand is just how much Oil you believe is really both discoverable and economically producible at this point, after the continual decline in discovery since 1964(ish), despite additions of North Sea, Alaska, Kashagan(?), Cantarell, etc ..

    That would be another of the fairly common precepts at TOD. Yet that is for others to argue, for me it's less of a worldview than a factoid that I can merely parrot from others here who back it up.


    You are right: there is the continual decline in discoveriy since 1964. But it is the result of bad exploration technology (one discovery in four wildcats). If you triple discovery every year picture is not too bad.


    Colin Campbell has said that it is almost zero likelihood of any future significant ff finds. I fail to see why some new discovery tech would make much difference to this. Discovering how to live without the stuff is more to the point.

    Dr. Euan Mearns on November 28, 2006 (The Oil Drum) wrote:
    “However, even armed with this understanding, companies would still drill lots of dry holes - normally the result of one of these 5 factors failing. For example, seal failure, no reservoir etc. The bottom line is that oil and gas is hard to find – even with todays array of technology”. One commercial discovery in four wildcats, isn’t it? Why does 75% drilling efforts waste? Drilling of huge number of dry exploration holes hurts the world climate, as well as world economy, significantly.
    There is a new technology for oil/gas detection providing above three discoveries in four wildcats.

    What I am doing to adapt, mitigate, etc.

    (1) Today I planted lettuce, spinach, peas, cabbage, beets. It is supposed to snow tonight and be cold for most of the next week, but these seeds are MEN, they will come up.
    (2) OK, the real thing I planted today was hope. All the SH*T going on and Amerka's cluelessness and refusal to change our "non-negotiable way of life" really gets me down.
    (3) Did a bit to help catalyze and a bit more to help promote this fantastic Peak Oil speaker who is lecturing in Madison on April 15th.
    (4) Heat entirely with salvage wood - except for electric heater in bathroom. We got used to <50 F this winter.
    (5) Drive very little, ever since I figured out Hey! It wasn't about WMD! Walk and bike in my village, bike to nearby communities in most cases. Almost all my biking is to get somewhere, not for recreation.
    (6) Work with local sustainability, conservation, transit advocates. Currently busy helping to promote regional transportation authority.
    (7) Buy 50% renewable electricity, installed lots of CFLs, turn off lights after wife and kids...but still our usage sucks.
    (8) Make lots of connections with people who are thinking and working towards low-impact sustainabile way of life.
    (9) Read lots of stuff, mainly online, learn what I can. Listen to podcasts like KunstlerKast and C Realm.
    (10) Blog, write stuff, some of which gets posted here at TOD.

    My wife and I designed and built a very energy efficient house maximizing passive solar heating and using the mass effect of thick and well insulated concrete walls to keep the heat in winter and freshness in summer.Our prehistoric ancestors used caves to find heat in winter and cooler air in summer.Our electricity bills are very low for a northern climate.
    We also started gardening and growing food and we plan to grow our garden every year while our gardening skills will continue to grow.
    We also work only 2 miles from home keeping commuting costs very low.
    Finally we live a frugal lifestyle investing more in intangible wealth than material wealth.

    Adapting my eco-ninja skillset to attempt minimizing the destruction associated with the human resource/population bottleneck at large scale. De-emphasizing personal survival as an end in itself. Goal to improve biodiversity and human status 1000 years hence, relative to the way it would roll out without my actions.

    It is readily aparent that there is no consensus of our energy reality, nor any regarding what to do- if anything.

    I understand that material culture needs abundant energy to maintain, and am of the opinion that we will not have abundant energy ever again.
    I equate a lower standard of living with being poorer and as one who opted for voluntary simplicity - I know my lifestyle is materially poor.

    I have part time work and acroft - we grow almost all of our own food, are off the grid with a minimalistic solar set up for a 60 litre fridge and 12 volt lights.

    What we have lost in material culture we have more than made up for it through being closer to nature and appreciating the flow of life, love and (en)light(enment).

    hardcore.. do you access the web from home?

    * Liquididated all the highly leveraged investments in 2006/7 just before TSHTF
    * Paid off the mortgage
    * Fought with my investment adviser and won, to cash out my superannuation (retirment savings in Oz) from stock market to cash in Nov 2007. Got it into a self managed fund now so nobody touches it but me. This alone probably saved me from losing about 40 -50% of it. I put it into gold which is showing about 30% profit so far.
    * Bought 18 month old car for half the price of a new one of the same model. Decided against the European diesel as cost of purchase and running it would have ended up four times the cost of the car I bought.
    * Also bought a bike at the same time and use it for all local trips.
    * Each member of the family including the 18 month old can now go on bicycle outings
    * I now have a personal petrol budget of $10 per week which gets me about 100 Kms (only needed 36 this week Sunday to Sunday)
    * Got a worm farm
    * converted some of the garden to veggies with goal of providing at least one home grown meal per day
    * allowed the lawn to die (sort of of had to as we have water restrictions) and will convert the front yard to food crops
    * Just replaced the low voltage downlights with CFL downlights. (only had 4 in our house anyway)
    * joined local government energy advisory committee
    * Applied for and been accepted to university to study Sustainable Energy Management. Start next semester.
    * established a company that is developing re-usable, relocatable lightweight housing that is designed for dis-assembly. The idea is that you only live in the house you need and it can grow and shrink to accomodate changing family circumstances. Focus is on re-useable components not just recycling, low cost and passive energy design.
    * the biggest change has been the opening of my mind to living differntly from BAU and withdrawing from chasing the $$ as the prime focus of life.

    Nowhere near sustainable yet but at least facing the right direction now even if I fell like I've only just lifted my foot for the first step.

    Gold is only valuable to those who have land first....

    I agree. That's why I paid off the mortgage first...

    The superannuation rules in Australia are pretty strict. A super fund can't borrow and it cannot be invested in personal housing or business. You can buy an income producing property but the fund has to pay cash for it. You can only spend the money after age 65 and there are limits to how much you take out as a lump sum. The governemnt forces workers employers to pay 9% of there income into superannuation so it's not like I have a great deal of choice to spend this money on other things. If it's going to be invested on my behalf, it might as well be in something tangible like gold that at least I can grab and go if I need to.

    As far as access to land goes, I live in a regional town in southern Australia that is surrounded by farmland. Within the town there is plenty of unused land and various recreational reserves which hardly get used by the car loving citizenry. Our local council is just starting along the sustainability path and implemented a program looking at Energy, Water, Business, Culture, Human Resources, Plants and Animals and Land and Landscapes. Although Food was left out, I have met with the team leader and suggested that Food is a vital area that needs its own champions. High on the list will be community gardens, farmers markets, water security for food production, food processing capacity, food miles etc etc. I am putting my efforts into community scaled food production as I beleive it is ultimatley more achievable and sustainable than some of the survivalist strategies promulgated here. You cna't live on a life boat forever!

    I'm not doing anything to change my lifestyle, the main reason being that I already live what is by American standards an extremely frugal and low energy lifestyle (although by one calculation still twice the world average ecological footprint).

    I'm not doing anything to adapt either, the main reason being that nothing in my home city of Seattle has changed all that much. Yet.

    I have occasionally entertained the thought of getting more involved in peak-oil prep and re-localization efforts, but I have not followed through, the main reason being that for now I'm content to sit in front of a computer.

    The main thing that I've done in the four years since I first learned about peak-oil is educating myself on the subject of ecological overshoot. One of my favorite activities has been to sit in the fabulous reading room of the local Uni and peruse the classic titles of overshoot and collapse by Catton, Odum, Tainter, Meadows, Forrester, et. al:


    Many a pleasant afternoon has been spent in that room having my mind blown by the enormity of our ecological predicament.


    I'm actively trying to use oil while the prices are still acceptable. For instance, I'm flying far on vacations with my family, so my kids get these important inputs before travelling gets too expensive. If I prioritized that enough, I'd also have "fun" cars, but those I have are pretty frugal, actually. I do commute 90 kilometers each day, though.

    The only mitigation activity I'm engaged in is trying to raise acceptance for nuclear power, which as far as I can see is the thing that will power human civilisation. We need to fast track breeder/thorium research and build, build and build.

    I offer my moral support until we re-discover cold fusion.
    ITER be damned.

    I pursue several tracks:

    • limiting my footprint (500 sq. ft well insulated apartment, commuting by public transport, small efficient car, preferring vegan foods etc.)
    • taking care of my health (exercising, resolving neglected issues)
    • preparing psychologically (reading The Archdruid Report, being with friends)
    • educating myself (The Humanure Handbook, permaculture literature etc.)
    • pursuing a green-IT job
    • saving & investing into collapse-proof assets (things whose value doesn't depend on sophisticated social and economic structures)
    • developing some low-tech skills (food preservation, mechanical repairs)

    Most of these efforts progress agonizingly slowly, for a variety of reasons:

    1. Real Life responsibilities (career & family) interfere in a major way. My ability and willingness to resign from those responsibilities is limited.
    2. I still see a wide array of possible futures with mutually incompatible preparation strategies, and I haven't yet chosen a particular one to follow. It would make sense to prepare for the worst I can imagine but...
    3. There are futures I would rather not deal with. As soon as surviving comes down to regularly shooting at people in self-defence, I'm out of the game and I recognize that. My attitude here may change should I ever happen to have kids.

    Just my $0.02.

    I second reading the Archdruid report. John M Greer is very savy and writes extreamly eloquently.
    Secular essays. very down to earth.

    I am fitting out our cellar as our “escape to the mountains” retreat. The cellar is 1300 ft^2 with SSW facing walkout end with 10 meter^2 of good glass. The other 3 cellar walls are below grade. I had a few scrounged truckloads of 3” industrial foam insulation when I was building so the external 8’ concrete cellar walls are covered with it. Internal walls are now also studded with R15 fiberglass. Ceiling will be R30 fiberglass. The floor has the 3” insulation buried and radiant tubing. I estimate that the only wintertime heat needed will be provided by cooking, the south facing windows and hopefully some homemade low cost, low delta temperature solar collectors feeding the concrete floor via the radiant tubing.

    We are at an 8000 degree day location with a lot of wintertime wind on our west facing exposed location. The cellar stays in the low 70s in the summer and my only concern is dehumidification. We have a summer 5 degree cooling advantage at our 1600 foot altitude. I hope more folks explore the environmental magic of living underground. Now I only have to convince my wife.

    I believe future electric might get spotty so I want to explore a noon time way of living. Generate enough electricity at peak sun to cover all the necessities like a warm meal, showers, freezer and water pumping. Capacitively store enough energy to keep a few LEDs on at night. Storage batteries will only last a few years while PV panels are probably good for 50 if you have a few spares.

    I’m going to raised beds in the garden as we were underwater all of last summer. I hope this isn’t the future or I will need permanent drains. I am on a hillside. The soil is fertile but very heavy glacial clays with a little gravel and sand. I try to work in a trailer load of cow stuff every year. I’ve put away 500 lbs of 10-10-10 in case things get to where I really need to raise corn and such. 40 lbs were $21 the last I checked at the local h. depot (21 miles). I’m adding another 50’ row of asparagus as soon as the mud goes away.

    I’m going to cold frames for spring plant starting and early/late greens. I just received Eliot Coleman’s new book on 12 month gardening and I recommend it. “The Winter Harvest Handbook” is slanted to commercial farmers but good info for the home gardener to extend your growing season with simple techniques. Remember to stash away some polycarbonate green house panels. They are expensive but great for cold frames (strong > snow) and regular green house plastic for hoop houses might last only 5 years.

    Heading for the cellar, best to all - Berkshire

    Nice going Berkshire, and some good thinking. When I moved to maine in the 80's recession, I moved my family of 4 into a 24' x 24' foundation. Like yours, full sized windows on the south side and a walkout door on the south east corner, door opening was below ground but I built a retaining wall , to move the slope out. Cook a baked potatoe and we were toasty as heck, and this is a northern maine winter.

    Here's the chuckle part, try as we might think of everything sometimes even with great time spent we miss the obvious. The inside door opened inward, as you would expect, and I added an exterior, heavy storm door, that opened out. Big mistake. We had a big noreaster roar through, blowing, drifting snow, high winds, almost 2 feet total. Bitter windchill.

    Woke up the morning after the storm feeling very well rested and looked at the clock, it was noon and pitch dark. The snow had completely covered the south windows. Went to open the door, and you may have guessed it, so much snow drifted in I could not open it. Thankfully we have great neighbors and we got shoveld out from the outside.

    I've got a great pic of a snow covered glade in Maine with the only thing showing in the snow is about 2 ft of chimney.

    So Berkshire, either have 2 exits, maybe even a roof hatch. Plan for an outside air intake as well. That I had, 4" pvc pipe underneath the foundation, that went up, to feed air to the woodstove. Other than that it might have been very serious.

    Anyway thought you'd enjoy that, I still laugh about it.

    Don in Maine

    Decided in 2004 that the coming impact of economic depression, energy descent and climate change would be so severe that radical action was needed to survive it. Sold my business, home, everything in the UK and left for France in 2005 (the UK is probably the worst place to be, along with Australia IMO).

    Bought an old farm house with 12 acres which I'm slowly turning into a traditional style small farm (mixed crops, animals and orchard). Situated in a small village of about 100 people. Good communications (road, rail, canal, river), 10 miles from the nearest town (Paris only 2 hours away), nuclear supplied electricity, cut my own wood for heating, good security and France being strongly socialist, good social security safety net and health service. Good climate and rainfall, plus a conservative and traditionally mind population.

    My philosophy is to reduce (as much as practical) my dependency on the inputs from the failing global system and maintain a sustainable existence irrespective of the level of collapse. Those who are reliant upon BAU are the ones who are going to go down when the system collapses. The level of integration and dependency upon the system indicates the level of vulnerability to its failure (ie. paid employment needed to keep a home and feed oneself = high vulnerability).

    Hey Burgundy,

    As an Asussie, I'm curious as to why you think Australia will be one o fthe worst places to be?

    Hi Termoil, when I was looking at different countries as possible places to move to, this was my thumbnail review of Australia:

    Financially; Australia has a resource based economy which will obviously be hit badly during a depression. Even during benign times the natural development of village, town, city networks have been difficult and depression will probably send them into terminal decline. People will be forced to move into increasingly crowded urban conurbations which offer economic viability, but increasing insecurity (especially food).

    Energy; Australia is a large, hot continent and therefore it requires a lot of energy to do just about anything (especially resource extraction). Rising energy costs or scarcity will make life difficult.

    But mainly because of Climate Change; the Australian ecosystem is so fragile that it could only support a very low population of indigenous inhabitants (both animal and human) prior to Western colonisation. Even today, most of Australia is uninhabited and uninhabitable; attempts to alter this have generally lead to ecological disaster and failure. Climate Change will likely make this existing state of affairs much worse and even more extreme.

    And as a UKian I am wondering why you reckon the UK among the worst (and so much worse than France). Well I myself can guess that the UK has made itself particularly dependent on the corporatised-globalised-commercialised system, with not only doomed cities but also "villages" that are utterly oil-dependent.
    I find myself stuck as a mercury-poisoned tenant of a flat near the centre of Birmingham, and am looking out for the inevitable time when I will have to flee from here to somewhere with fewer hungry mouths to feed. I'd leave right now for a small remote-ish community if I had the money to. As things stand, the cost of living is vastly lower in this city location (walking to Tescos etc) than in a usefully remote rural location where there'd be no rooms to rent anyway. Ha'h, at least I've just "taken possession" of a nice secluded garden just along here, which is owned by the council so there's no danger they'll be paying any attention to it in my remaining months/years here.

    - Designed and built a passive solar house
    - Installed PV array
    - Purchased a hybrid car. though primarily telecommute and carpool to work, with cycling to community destinations
    - Practice a conservation lifestyle (electricity consumption, fewer trips, recycling, etc)
    - Engage in home gardening and extensive fruit/nut tree edible landscaping
    - Helped form an active local sustainability group in the county
    - Contribute articles on 'The Oil Drum'
    - Write my elected officials on all levels to encourage transitional thinking

    I feel fairly sure about what will happen in the future but I do not know the timing.
    And what is going on is way to complex to realy understand, I were for instance sure there would be economical woes and I know that economical trends are very noicy with wild swings but I did not predict that a large part of the global finanical system would do something close to a collective suicide.

    Following resource flows and thinking about what can be done with them serves me well as a general model for manny issues. The tough part is understanding human relations and what motivates action or blocking of actions. And the realy tough part is to personally become relevant to these issues to get opportunities to do something constructive.

    I have had some success but I need to do more. Unfortunately it is way more complex to understand the social systems I live in and the people I interact with and perhaps more important the people I should interact with then the fairly easy technological stuff.

    Regarding life style it would be great to earn more money, consume some more and be able to invest in constructive enterprises. I have especially been looking forward to buying a small new car and consume more culture. But it feels too uncertain right now to buy a small car and I am starting to the detest the major media companies due to what they are managing to do to the EU legal system. Guess I will chip in more to the webcomics and buy second hand DVD:s to not directy feed leeches that threathens to make life miserable by undermining free speech and free communications. And two years ago I planned to travel to USA to see the great country while it were at its best and perhaps see a space shutte launch but I did not dare burn the cash I had and now it seems more important to pay of debt and find small constructive investments.

    There are constructive things I should do with low risk and probable gain and I get what I think is good advice from some people but it is hard to stay on the easy path. I made a detour into resource issues a few years ago that were bad for my CV but good for understanding what happens in the world and it is very tempting to burn time on ToD and other relevant fora, read books and then get absolutely nothing out of it but a sense of being less lost in a very intresting epoch.

    Rambling into the ether... One of the things I wonder about is why so many people what to communicate and even shout out to the world and be known while on the same time be inkognito.

    Cashed pension out late 2007, switched to SIPP. Now buying up power utility equities, big oil, nuclear, eco power, banks etc, ready for the next bubble.

    In the process of purchasing 4 hectares of land near Berlin, which we'll hopefully be able to build a house on and move our herd of llamas to. Though that depends on Deutsche Bürokratie, which they seem very fond of, and unfortunately on credit.

    About ten years ago we moved from inner-city Cork to a village [pop. 500] in Languedoc. We were never materialistic and prefer dinner-parties to restaurants, books to movie-going etc. - no life-style change really. We've made good friends here. Our undergrad daughter does the grape-harvest with our closest French friends. I co-purchase tools with him, and help out as they switch to organic wine-growing.
    We have had a kitchen-garden [potager] for several years, and I doubled it this winter - also adding a peach, apricot and cherry, to the olive, quince and fig. I have moved to permaculture-type deep-beds, with a drop-by-drop watering system, gravity-fed from a renovated cistern, from well-water, and rain-barrels. We still use mains water.

    The main house was built in 1860 - we open it for the summer guests [our www.ArtHoliday.com business] and with large cellars underneath, it stays cool naturally. There's no heating, apart from fireplaces - so it stays shut all winter. Our own small cook's house heats passively with winter sun plus a small wood stove. Old vines get uprooted all the time - collecting them is one of my winter jobs when there's little money coming in. I've just been given a 60 ft.pine that fell in a storm, by our vigneron friends. That's next winter sorted. We still need a mix of bottled gas/parafin/electric on particularly cold days.

    We run a tiny '87 Peugeot 205 diesel- we do about 40km per week, to the weekly market [local produce] & exploring prehistoric sites. We like hyper-driving [illegal coasting in neutral]. We have bikes and canoes, and we go hill-walking. We pick wild edibles: chestnuts, cherries, figs, crab-apples, blackberries, almonds. I'll be 60 next year, have no pension and nothing to 'retire' from.

    The Languedoc benefits from strong winds. Hugh Piggott of www.scoraigwind.com runs his Axial-flux turbine building class nearby every summer - this winter I shall build one and be partly off-grid next year.

    Compost production is my other main winter job. In a region largely devoid of working animals, getting manure was a problem - until yesterday. On a walk out of the village we met a retired bank official who had built a back-yard farm: goats, sheep, ducks, geese, chickens and a donkey. He has vines and fruit-trees - but no potager. So I'll be swapping manure for vegetables from now on. He likes to give his surplus animals to good homes. So add building a duck-pond and chicken coop to my winter-list. Plus turning the cellar into a mushroom factory . . . and building a greenhouse . . . and starting a wormery . . . and a snail farm. Hmmm . . . 'escargots in garlic butter' anyone?

    NB For a free meal - probably vegetarian - and a bed for the night : the password is 'oildrum'.
    Richard [DefCon 1] & Mary [catabolic collapse]

    Mom was a back-to-the-lander. I have been putting those skills to work making my nuclear family less dependent on buying (neither a buyer nor seller be) our most immediate needs. This has included adding a lot of skills, doing some education and a lot of soil building. This year will be the first big test.

    I have forgone some more lucrative job opportunities the last few years to gain a reputation and job that I (hope) will weather a good ways into a long descent.

    The first thing I did was buy a 45mpg diesel Golf.

    This is my first post.

    I´m 19 years old and was born and raised in northern Canada. I first started reading about climate change and peak oil about 3 years ago. After finishing high school, I spent a year in university towards a major in Economics, while working two jobs at the same time. After the first year, I quit with university and decided to visit ecovillages throughout French Canada and Europe. I´ve been gone from home now for almost a year and have visited 4 ecovillages/communes in total and am currently volunteering at a collective in northern Denmark. I´ve been in Denmark for roughly 6 months now and have managed to learn a decent amount of Danish while here (I also speak French).

    I plan on spending the next year working in Copenhagen before returning to an ecovillage in Quebec and building a small cabin. I´ve bought several books on Cob House Construction and basic permaculture principles and have been learning as much as possible along the way.

    I´ve read Catton, I´ve listened to Heinberg, I read the Oil Drum on a daily basis and I can only conclude that what I´m doing is the most rational response to peak oil and climage change that I can make.

    I´m lucky that I am young with no debt and free from any major obligations. The only problem remains convincing my suburban parents that it is okay that their oldest son is deciding to build a cabin at an ecohamlet in rural Quebec.

    Just wondering what you all think.


    I think I envy you.

    Even if all the predictions are wrong, and somehow we continue to bumble along without great drama in this fantasy BAU over the next decades, I can't think of anything you are doing that would be cause for regret.

    Does a Cob house look workable for Quebec climate? I'm in Maine, and have wondered if that was a technique to consider. Knowing myself, I'll probably build out of discarded Motherboards or some such lunacy.. well, probably glass.. who knows?

    Sounds like fun! Don't forget, once you pay the Dane-Geld, you never get rid of the Dane! But who'd want to?

    Cob should be OK in a wet climate - you just gotta give it a good "hat 'n boots" - drystone (or similar) wall to above knee height at the bottom, and a roof with decently overhanging eaves at the top.

    I was part of a team that built one in Snowdonia, North Wales - and there are plenty in the UK that have been around 200+ years.


    I agree with Airdale. What one refuses to experience in a positive way, they will experience in a negative way. You have answered the call to adventure, which means there is no security, no rules. My only advice is add some Joseph Campbell and H. T. Odum to your reading list and ask your father to listen carefully to the Cat Stevens song, "Father and Son." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jek6iP6AuAQ



    I've also followed your adventure over at peakoil.com. In terms of a cob house in rural Quebec, my concern would be with the amount of energy loss in such a cool/cold climate. Ideally, building a Passive House would shield you from high energy costs, even if it was modest in size due to higher costs. Still want a cob house? Then be liberal with the insulation;

    A good solution in a cold climate is:

    *Passive solar:
    Large south/south south east facing glazed area, with the light falling on to a thermal mass floor or wall inside.

    *Cob to the south east and any unglazed south elevations, where it can absorb heat from the sun directly. Or use cob internally and strawbale externally. Cob is much more sculptural, so use it if appearance is an issue.

    *Strawbale to the west and north (goes up nice and quickly too...), with cob or wood post and beam loadbearing sections if you don't trust strawbale for this role.

    *Rocket stove heat source with the flue run through the thermal mass floor (I would run it further back than the section getting winter sun) and also through thermal mass benches and internal walls. You can get up to about 40 feet of horizontal flue.

    EDIT: the link posted above by Will Stewart was written by my mentor in cob building. His book "Hand-Sculpted House" is essential if you want to go this route. Also recommended is his book on rocket stoves.

    *Build it SMALL! The minimum size you need for the job.

    If you can be bothered, you can thermally tie the whole structure to the earth, using cob all the way around the perimeter - but you need to build walls at least 3 feet thick. This strategy is used in earthships, and in many northern European old-time crofts (eg Black Houses).

    Many good points. On passive solar, the window size is determined by a number of factors, and oversizing equatorial-facing windows is the most frequent mistake in passive solar construction, especially in cold, northerly climates.

    See the Passive Solar Design Series here on TOD.

    re. window sizing:

    I personally like big, solid, insulated shutters in colder climes - should have made the point in the original posting. Close off the glazed areas once the heat drop...

    Yes, though finding good insulated shutters for large windows can be tricky, unless one makes them themselves. There are other tricks, of course; I'm using Hunter triple honeycomb shades with notches cut in them on the sides for side trim pieces that stop the side leakage they're notorious for.

    The changes in my life have been dramatic. My former life was on the CT shoreline in a mc'mansion, with a daily five hour commute to NYC (albeit, mostly by train). My life was highly consumptive, frentic, and completely out of balance. I recognized something was wrong, and gradually came to understand peak oil as one manifestion of our non-sustainable consumption of resources. I also recognized that I was among the worst offenders, and committed to changing my lifesyle dramatically, a process that is still in progress. Changes to date:

    * Left CT and moved to VT for a new start.
    * Became a master gardener
    * Became a quasi-vegetarian. Still eat small portions of free range meat a couple of times a week.
    * Learned to cook, bake, and preserve foods.
    * We grow most of our own food, and buy in bulk what we cannot grow.
    * Bought a small farm in Hinesburg, VT, and began selling organic vegetables to the local markets. We currenty participate in 2 farmer's markets, and sell to a few local green grocers and restaurants.

    Our business model assumes that fossil fuels will be available in the future, but very expensive. We have an f350 dump/plow truck, 30hp kubota tractor, grillo walk behind tractor, and a large variety of hand tools. Though fuel is currently inexpensive, we treat it like liquid gold. If a job can reasonably be accomplished with hand tools, we do it. Machines are utilized only when there is no practical alternatives for a farm of our size...turning compost piles, establishing new fields, compost runs, etc. We burned +/- 45 gallons of diesel last season running our farm operation. My primary vehicle is my bike, or alternatively a 150cc scooter for longer trips.



    What I'm doing:


    I actually have three gardens: a number of raised beds at home (and I've recently cut down a tree that was casting too much shade on these, and that will now allow me to expand by more than 100%); a container garden on my deck at home (best exposure to full sun, this is where I grow my fruiting plants - tomatoes, peppers, egplants, cukes, summer squash - and herbs, and I'm doubling my number of containers this year as well); and a plot at our community garden (where I grow most of my root crops and winter squash - stuff I don't need to tend to every day). Since I am one of the more experienced gardeners, I often give advice to the others at the community garden.

    I am going to try to organize a bulk seed buy next season amongst the community gardeners and anyone else interested; this will be the first step toward eventually contracting with various people who can commit to raising OP seeds for us locally.

    I am in conversations with the college where my wife teaches about establishing another community garden on property that the college owns, for use by college students, faculty & staff & their families.

    I've also planted a total of 8 fruit trees and 20 berry shrubs or vines aroudn my house, plus a half-dozen rhubarb plants.

    I've gotten into beekeeping. My first hive made it through the winter and is now building up nicely. I've got a nuc on order and am building my second hive now. I'm active in our local beekeepers club.

    I do some canning each summer, and will be ramping up further this summer. Also plan to create some in-ground storage pits for winter storage of root vegetables. Need to build a solar dehydrator next, hope to eventually get SunDanzer freezer & PV panel. I'm involved with the community garden in efforts to set up a community canning kitchen so that we have a place to teach food preservation techniques, and that people who don't have the proper equipment can share.

    Bake my own bread, make my own yogurt. Need to get a good grain mill and stock up on whole grains, and need to get into cheese making. We eat almost all our meals at home, cooked mostly from scratch. For whatever I don't grow myself, I try to buy locally if possible, organic when I can and if it especially matters, and especially try to avoid factory-farmed meat, eggs and dairy.


    I have been walking to work for about a year now; that'f probably my biggest energy saver.

    We haven't been able to get rid of a car, but we're driving our old, smallish, relatively fuel efficient ones ('90 Honda , '95 Subaru) until they drop. I've encouraged the municipal government where I work to buy a GEM NEV; hope to get one of my own some day.

    I've replaced almost all the lightbulbs in the house with CFLs, and the refrigerator was replaced with an energy star model a couple of years ago. We've installed storm doors, and I've been working on caulking and weatherstripping the building envelope. Most of our windows are double-glazed, I've got a couple left that I need to replace; I also install that heat-shrink plastic film over the interior side of most windows in the winter; some day I need to fabricate storm windows to install on the exterior side.

    Our water heater and furnace are both propane fired, and are high-efficiency models. We use a programable thermostat on the heater, and keep it as cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer than most people around here would. I've also got a small wood stove which I use mostly for backup/emergency heat right now; I'm in the process of accululating enough wood so that we could make it through a winter just using the wood stove if need be. I am hoping to be able to invest in solar water and space heating in a few years.


    We're living on less than half of our take-home pay, with the rest dedicated to rapid debt liquidation. Making fast progress, but still have a ways to go. Makes it hard to scrounge up the money for energy projects, though.

    I am boycotting commercial banks, having become royally pi$$ed off at them, and exclusively patronize my credit union. I've just gotten myself appointed to its volunteer council.

    Our retirement funds were not heavilly invested in the stock market, but I have now pulled entirely out of equities. Again, it is partly a matter of being pi$$ed off at corporate managements, and partly due to a lack of confidence in any prospects for long term economic growth.





    Sold our beautiful but silly 70's hippy small acres to a high-flyer and moved to our local small town, cutting back on crazy driving. Paid all debts. Bought some more tools. Got myself an agency for Cargo bikes. Started to write a book on Peak oil and climate change and then realised others had done it better, read The Oil Drum, Kunstler, David Holmgren, Dmitri Orlov, Sharon Astyk, the Archdruid, Global Geurrillas, Mish, Automatic Earth, Steve Keen, Chris Martenson et al. Started commenting prolifically. Contacted by ABC Radio National wanting to make radio doco about an individual's response to Peak Oil.

    Held a public meeting to raise awareness, got involved with local government initiatives to improve public transport, also started more involvement with an advisory role with local government. Latest scheme is to incubate small businesses in the area to build economic resilience. Started a blog. Radio documentary came out two weeks ago Australia wide, soon to be broadcast on BBC World Service. Effect??? Lots of hits on blog. A bit more credibility locally which is helping politically.

    Lots of balls in the air, struggling to survive in small business (nursery, garden maintenance, exhibit design and construction) in the face of the downturn. Not many local hits on the blog but my sons are reading it and discussing it with me which is gratifying.

    I'm sort of stuck in the small kids (7 and 10 years) and job in the city problem. Waiting till they get past high school means too late to get a farm, live off land before a total systemic crash due to PO, etc. in next ca. 5 years presumably. Land in the city is expensive, house with 500 m²/ 1/8 acre or 1000 m²/ 1/4 acre, etc. for a big garden somewhere in transport(bikes, public transport) distance to schools and work possibility would be ok. I figure I have passed the pure internet phase but before I get into doing something radical a life phase change has to hit, job loss, etc. where a decision is forced on me and I can have an excuse to pull up roots and get a place where gardening and alterantive energy or similar is possible when problems arise(now in small energy efficient rental apartment). Hopefully we find something before hyperinflation / currency reform takes all our savings. Perhaps deflation/bankruptcies will allow better deals on property.

    Changes to adapt to the new oncoming world?
    Well I joined the local co-op and bought some bulk grains. I'm making Bug Out Tubes for friends full of these grains and sproutable/growable foodstuffs, and writing directions on how to use the cans (tubes) for sprouting, cooking, and making hobo stoves and heat tubes.
    I just bought a semi-inexpensive 3-panel 45W solar array to play and experiment with. I discovered that just one of the panels is enough to power my solar/mechanical grain grinder, which, in combination with the solar box oven will allow nearly off-grid baking. Considering building some of these for local folks who want to establish their own neighborhood food sharing/baking groups.
    Getting ready to take some of my simple winebox solar rice cookers to Earth Day festival this year, to try to turn people on to how easy it is to cook solar. And how inexpensive and practical.
    Started garden last week, and of course we had snow on the ground the very next morning. Decided this year to grow the garden for the seeds, rather than the produce. We can still get produce at the store, but seeds are priceless.
    Trying to post on other doomer sites about the silliness of buying PV systems to power your freezer, because aftter it all collapses, and you've eaten that month's supply of meat, where you gonna restock it? IMHO it is more efficient to buy instead a whole gob of dried and storable foods (grains, beans, etc.) and have a lot of extra money to play with for other survival tools.
    Getting ready to finally get two new tires for my trusty moped after 7 years of use. It is still saving me about $600 a month over the cost of a new car, and has long since paid for itself. At 100 mpg it's hard to beat, tho' I'd love an electric motor kit for my bicycle.
    Planning on pulling out the 1-meter parabolic mirror this summer and doing some stir-fry in the parks, and feed some of the homeless who are living down by the river. Maybe bake some solar bread also. Hope to get others involved. Also would like to show folks how to make parabolics, and maybe with some scrap mirror we could actually build a usable one.
    Going to finally finish my beer can solar air heater, and then show others how to make their own. Total cost of first one (excluding the beer) was about $60, and it should pay for itself after a season or so of use.
    Probably not going to finish reading "The Road", because it is so horribly creepy, and will instead spend time trying to catalogue my tool and survival books so that hopefully we can start a local lending library of life-skill books here and share information.
    Am going to push hard to make noise about legalizing hemp which our founding fathers grew profitably, and, among its myriad other uses, is supposedly a direct biodiesel replacement, as well as a fresh source of edible oils.
    Am still waiting for my first two batches of home made wine to cure, and I will read about distilling -- even tho' it is highly illegal to do, and can land you in the pokey, at least it is important to have knowledge of it, IMO.
    And of course I will still read TOD, and try to get through the lengthy posts of whether Darwin was right or not, and try to glean out the nuggets of survival value which are often found here.
    Thank you, and please leave you message after the beep.

    we asked a rhetorical question if you knew what would happen in the future, what changes would you make in your behaviour.

    Nate, what kind of a rhetorical question is that (I missed it at it's time)? If I knew what would happen in the future I guess I would change my bets to the winning horses at the track. I guess that is not what you are driving at is it? So from what I figure may happen in the future I have been doing work for the local community gardening with the self serving unneighbourly attitude that the more people able to garden for themselves will mean that there will be that many more not raiding my garden when the horseman 'famine' this way comes.

    I have also been trying to show the value of humour as a survival tool to members of the AE.

    Basically, I am peddling as fast as I can on all fronts; personally, locally and nationally.

    I will post more details *IF* I have time.

    Best Hopes,


    Personally, moved to very low VMT area in city# and minimizing car use (getting building supplies is a major residual use, I figured out how to carry 10' lengths in my old M-B 240D). Goal was 60 gallons in 2008, used 74.x gallons

    Minimized electricity, goal 3,000 kWh in 2008, used 3,523 kWh in 2008.

    Now in process of renovating, and then buying, a house at 1500 Camp. Retrofit for energy efficiency (and durability). This presents issues in a historic district. Also small yard, plant only edibles. Current plans are to rent out "two rooms".


    # New Orleans has going for it, unlimited fresh water, low energy transfer point for North America (major port, barges N and E-W, six of seven Class I railroads, local cuisine well adapted to local produce (and what came in 1800s). Minimal heating needs, one can survive winter with zero heat here (LOTS of sweat required in summer w/o air conditioning, but generations lived without). In a quick crash, grain elevators hold enough grain for a generation locally. Rice grown in quantity very nearby, fishing (including oysters & crawfish), and growing local farmers market. I live 7 blocks from a dairy and a bakery. Major energy production nearby offshore and decent amount nearby on-shore. Louisiana and Alaska are last oil exporting states (I heard Oklahoma fell into net oil importer recently, I would like conformation on this statistic).

    Here in small town in Montana:
    -Quit my real job. The wife brings home all the money, while I spend my time downsizing and getting ready.
    -Heating is a major concern. Am superinsulating a 100yo house. A key point is a "thermal bunker", which is a region of the house insulated well enough that it requires no heat other than metabolic. I designed all the plumbing so it is readily drainable if it ever comes to letting the rest of the house get that cold.
    -I currently heat with nat gas. Solar isn't practical in my cloudy climate. Am looking into a Finnish (masonry) wood stove.
    -Am rototilling most of the rest of the lawn this year to expand the garden to the maximum of my city lot. Broccoli in the front yard this summer, and a whole flock of chickens in the back. Investigating methods of extending our short growing season (Ironically, this has been made much easier by the climate warming which has occurred over the last 30 yrs of my time here.)
    -Doing all the other usual, obvious stuff.
    -Trying to alert others, while still not being a total pain in the ass, which is sometimes a fine line.

    * Mostly just researching. We live in an apartment and can do no practical changes to the apartment. Also, are in process to move to the US, so makes no sense to even try.

    * Because of the baby, use more lights and water than we'd like. Can't figure out how to change that much till he's a little older.

    * We drive an LPG vehicle, but not often.

    * Stopped eating beef. Very little pork these days.

    * Can't use CFL's; I'm one of those that is sensitive to them. But we do except for the light we most commonly use.

    * Looking for land/farm/intentional community/transition town...something... as a place to take up residence back in the US. Preferred, at this time, is land in a land trust with family, friends, like-mindeds to build a little CSA/ecovillage.

    * If we buy land, intend to build a natural, passive solar, highly efficient off-grid home.

    * Plan to use P/NF/BioI methods to be food self-sufficient.

    * May get certified in P/NF for our own edification and to train others, both for the good of the global civilization and for income.

    * Apply verbal (type-written) two-by-fours to virtual heads of deniers often.

    * Have a crappy blog written mostly for family and friends that I don't post enough on to make useful to anyone.

    * Grew veggies on the balcony last year. Still have three avacado seedlings and a red pepper bush going. Two lettuce and one sesame plant coming up from seeds from last year. Not planting this year because we must move in July and, again, are in process to move to the US.


    Can't use CFL'

    Consider buying one Ott-Lites (Lowe's carries them here). $5 & $6 each (15 watt = 60 watts & 25 watts = 100 watts). Best light quality of any CFL, but a bit lower lumens/watt.

    Best hopes,


    Raised bed gardening
    Planted Fruit trees
    Built multiple grape trellis' and started vines
    Actively managing the hardwoods on my 10 acre parcel
    Increased the houses insulation
    Diversified out of US dollars (trying to get my sister to to the same)
    -Gold bullion
    -Silver Bullion
    -Canadian Oil/gas Royalty Trusts
    -Farm Tools
    Successfully talked some friends into gardening.

    I started a very long time ago with a vasectomy, the study of conservation and recycling as it related to medical care and by living within my means. Also worked with ZPG and Planned Parenthood. However I was never inclined to give up things I enjoyed such as hot showers, travel and relatively heavy safe cars. At the moment I an considering one of the new Volkswagon Jetta Diesel Sedans. Any opinions about this new low emission engine?

    Being disabled gives me a slightly different ability to do things.

    I am relatively sedentary but do get out of the house when I can.

    I bought a recumbent trike last year in an effort to get some exercise. So far I am getting some but my condition is degenerative and over time I may lose that ability. I fight through the pain to get out and ride.

    We live in a small town house about 10 minutes from the beach. We currently do not have any PV panels or solar hot water or any other devices to help reduce our usage. What we do have is the ability to reduce our usage by unplugging electrical devices that drain power even when the device is shut off.

    The HOA here does not allow some of these things but I am doing research in an effort to push these through. Solar panels, artificial turf, that kind of thing. If things get bad enough I feel like it will get easier.

    We cut our water usage as much as possible as the local Mayor has issued a water rationing plan along with a rate hike so the local population is up in arms over it despite the same local government approving thousands of new housing units inside the city.

    Basically we limit our usage. Hand watering the lawn instead of sprinklers. No car washing. I personally shower every two days. It's not that I do not like to, just that because I lie in bed much of the time I do not generate much perspiration. I do have ideas on how to reuse or recycle but being limited physically is a severe drawback in this regard.

    I do turn in my neighbors that water the gutters and the street with their sprinklers. The people who either don't have a clue that they are doing it or do not care. The HOA picks on them and the city has enacted a new "Whistle blower" type of program to report wasters. I know I make them angry but we take alot of care to conserve and feel that if I need to them they do. It would be different if they were simply spraying a little bit on the street. Some of these people cause a river going down the gutters! Every day !

    We own two cars but will be getting rid of both and soon get into either a hybrid or plug in car. We just don't go far enough to justify a full gasoline powered car any more.

    Don't have anywhere to grow anything and do not have any water or food stored. If TSHTF then we are screwed. All I have to fall back on is my arsenal and stock of reloading supplies.

    Realized that I am a dead man walking. Purchased last April (before I found TOD) new home on small lot in rural university town. House is far too large for one person (unsaleable even at huge loss) and cannot even get son and nephew to read anything on Peak Oil, let alone move here. Have food and water for a year, but without support group, it will be taken from me when TSHTF. This area is well insulated from what has hit the economy, but job losses are starting. Every effort to get Peak Oil into conversation fails. Have electric bike and am trying to hook up with farmers/gardeners w/o success. Did super insulate, have installed zone for upstairs and plan to get enough plywood to board up windows to reduce heat loss. Turn on hot water heater twice a week - amazing how long it will keep water warm. Local homeowners association prohibits chickens and wood stoves. Am trying to think of disguise for wood stove vent pipe - any suggestions? Am trying to learn how to garden and hope to be sucessful with "three sisters this summer". Figure great salvage business when college goes belly up for lack of students (20,000 off campus housing units) and hope that lab equipment will permit manufacturing of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. Trying to get "in" with university. Otherwise, extremely depressed.

    Try playing with rocket stoves (particularly the downdraft variants) - the smoke undergoes combustion in the burn tunnel and if you trap the heat from the flue in thermal mass there are no visible fumes or heat shimmer from the stack...Just a thought...

    If you are in a university town, you should have no probs finding lodgers. You might even be able to offer a deal where they help with garden or remodeling house into multiple rental units in exchange for reduced or free rent. Even in scenarios where the university shuts down, it is quite likely that not ALL the students will leave - some will be stranded there, some will like the place and figure that's as good a place to be as any. Ideally, you try to identify these in advance and build a relationship so that they will become a more or less permanent resident in your home. Finding someone who has a variety of good practical skills and good prospects of being employable locally is essential.

    Those are some great thoughts, WNC. There's a lot of energy in young people, and a desire to belong, to learn and to do good work. I know that's not everyone's experience. I think it's there in almost everyone, it's just covered by a lot of unhealthy topsoil, which sometimes must be laboriously removed.

    Sometimes, If you don't have family around, it's quite possible to make one or join one.


    All I need is a reindeer, and the Grinch looked around;
    But since reindeer were scarce there were none to be found.
    Did that stop the old Grinch? NO! The Grinch simply said,
    "If I can't find a reindeer, I'll MAKE one instead!"
    So he called his dog max and he took some black thread,
    and he tied a big horn to the top of his head ..

    Dr. Suess

    Irre - extremely depressed? Consider that at least you have a clue of what is coming unlike so many. Look for ways to build on that huge positive. I've noticed lots of comments about inability to sell the peak concept. I believe that often has a lot to do with being untrained in persuasive tech. You have to engage your victims with sequences of key questions, engage them as though they are thinking reasoning evidential beings (even though they aren't!). And avoid lecturing until they start asking questions?

    Airdale, Jokuhl, Rube, the advice is reassuring.

    I hope I have enough time to get back to Quebec and get things in montion. I´ve spoken with the folks at the ecovillage and they´d be glad to have me back and wouldn´t mind if I built a cabin (cob or otherwise) if I so wished.

    I will likely only have between 12,000-20,000 CDN dollars to work with so I will have to work with my money wisely.

    Many thanks,

    As a boy growing up in the 70's, I used to dream of someday having my home powered by the sun. Reading science magazine articles about solar cells, even as a boy I realized how cool it would be to generate my own power.

    That day became a reality for me in August 2007.

    Here's what I've done so far:

    1) paid off all debts (including mortgage and car loan)
    2) put solar PV on my house
    3) replaced old heat pump with a geothermal heat pump
    4) got a front-loading washing machine. They're great because they spin more water out of the clothes, taking less time in the dryer.
    5) CFL bulbs in most fixtures

    People thought I was nuts for paying off a low-interest mortgage and buying solar PV, when I could have put that money in money market mutual funds and/or IRA. Who's laughing now? My house is mine. They still owe on their house, and their IRA is worth about half of what they've put into it. And my electric bills average $45 per month, while theirs are over $200.

    What I plan to do next:

    6) my next car will be a plug-in hybrid, that I can recharge from my solar panels
    7) add extra insulation and solar window screens to my house. I'm still stuck at trying to decide which is better for the attic: icynene foam, radiant barrier, or just more cellulose loose-fill.
    8) invest in renewable energy stocks that I choose. I'm an electrical engineer, so I have a good knowledge of how this stuff works. I think I can separate the sound stuff from the snake oil better than any investment banker.

    I don't think we are in for doomsday. IMO a lot of the Obama administration actions will be good for renewable energy. But unfortunately there are still too many close-minded backward-looking tongues wagging, saying stupid stuff like "cut taxes, cut regulation, let the free markets decide, Obama is a socialist, we don't want to be like Europe, and let's drill, drill, drill". So it will be a rough ride getting to where we need to be. I think a new golden age with an economy centered around sustainable energy supply is possible. That is the future I dream of now.

    I sold my townhouse in the summer of 2005 and have been renting a townhouse for four years now. My wife drives a Honda Civic, but only has 20,000 miles on it in five years. I bought a used Lexus in 2005 because I only drive 7000 miles per year and couldn't justify a hybrid. We live within walking distance of three grocery stores, several restaurants, etc. We don't have a lawn, but only a deeply-shaded back yard in which nothing grows. (Since I rent, limited ability or incentive to do long-term modifications on the property.) I've been writing and speaking to my professional community as well as to ASPO, and have created financial planning models that start from the premise of a resource-constrained future. We've bought some kerosine lamps for the expected rolling blackouts.

    I've been offering my services to various clients and asking that they make a donation to a local food bank in lieu of payment. For example, this week I replaced five hundred and fifty-six halogen PAR38 lamps with 512 integrated ballast ceramic metal halide PARs (45 per cent more light at one-third the wattage). I'm contractually obligated to destroy the old lamps, but just over three hundred of these lamps are halogen IRs that are roughly 25 per cent more energy efficient that the standard halogens this retailer uses elsewhere. I've made arrangements to swap the halogen IRs for their high wattage counterparts at other locations within the metro area, sending the latter to the dump; this, in turn, will save the retailer an additional $2,300.00/year on their utility costs. I will perform this second swap at no charge and, in exchange, the retailer will donate an equal number of 13-watt CFLs to the food bank; assuming each of these CFLs replaces a 60-watt incandescent, this could potentially save a further 182,000 kWh over the life of these lamps (324 lamps x 0.047 kW x 12,000 hours).


    Two years ago we bought a 5 acre farm with artisian 130 degree geothermal water and spring water. We are working towards being off-grid, and growing our own food. We helped to start a local food distribution co-op that links local food to local people. We are actively studying and integrating Permaculture Principles into our lives.

    Done or in progress:
    - collecting glass jars for food preservation
    - switched to wood for heating (low-tech mass stove), very low consumption and 18 hours of heating with one fire
    - wood stockpile for 2 years (if necessary can last 4-5 years)
    - sleeping bags for all family members
    - collecting all cardboard paper (to light the fire in the stove)
    - shutters on all windows for security / insolation
    - larger garden (I can expand up to 300-600 m2)
    - compost pile
    - started learning intensive gardening techniques (Jevons, permaculture)
    - saving money instead of spending on useless crap
    - no debt (never had much, I always had a distrust for banks and any authority)
    - smaller car
    - planted 30 fruit trees on nearby street
    - planted 10 fruit trees in garden, plus fruit shrubs as well
    - food stockpile
    - we have a well and a nearby stream for water
    - stockpiling usable used stuff (baby and children clothes, toys, strollers, clothes) - might come in handy for our children / grandchildren.
    - trying to make as much money as I can

    - 200-500W of PV panels and LED lighting
    - security foil on windows
    - print out lots of stuff about sustainability
    - silt (for drink/sterilizer/fuel)
    - stockpile high value food: tea, coffee, (cigarettes?) for trade and own use
    - greenhouse
    - solar oven
    - solar air heater

    For anybody not familiar with them, Lindsay Publications produce some interesting technical publications - examples "build a two-cylinder sterling engine", "secrets of lead-acid batteries", "log cabins", build a solar cell that really works", tan your hide", the drill press" and "milling machine" (build your own), "lathe making for amateurs", and "the impoverished radio experimenter" series - to name just a few.

    - Quit my job in advertising; it was pretty much mostly evil. Didn't get another job. Don't plan to.
    - Eat fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, but no animals, 'ceptin' the occasional fish.
    - Avoided debt; saved $$ instead of engaging in (too much) nihilistic revelry in Chicago (left that place, too)
    - Working on novel to attract good minds to myself (my project: finding my tribe - I know they are out there somewhere!)
    - When I get back to the US from Iceland next month, going to a farm/intentional community in NC to learn natural building/permaculture/organic farming w/ a cool dude who has been gracious to offer me a place to live and learn (people with farms - continue to be gracious; thanks!); hope one day to have my own farm (insert wistful sigh ... Oh, to be a symbiont...)
    - Also when I get back from Iceland, will not fly anymore (airplanes are awesome; will enjoy telling my grandkids about them one day)
    - Don't own a car; took public transport everywhere in Chicago; walk everywhere in Iceland; will bike in NC, I think
    - Theopoeticizing along ecological lines; hope to accidentally morph into an eco-spiritual guru one day, so that WTSHTF, I may have some positive and groovy wisdom to share with people who are scared and need ideas
    - Running in the fjord & doing pushups 6 days / week -- to be strong and useful for people who own land, whilst I don't; also to catch the eye of a lovely, organic-gardenin' lass out there (building a new civilization out of the burning heaps of the old is a project one would prefer to do with a companion ... but we American guys, we all have a little Hemingway in us, too, ain't that right, Airdale?)


    Thats right O.

    Why don't you post on TOD more often. I don't recall seeing any posts from you. Good luck in NC. I lived there back in the early 80s and went back briefly but the Raleigh area left me feeling wasted and had become unrecognizable. I did stop as always at Asheville's Farmers Market. A place to behold and got me some of that great Sourwood Honey...the kind you pay $12 a quart for. The real stuff and not the corn syrup.

    I notice, for whats it worth, that those who do the most to be sustainable, in general, do not post here by and large.

    And the corollary is that most who are prolific posters on TOD are not ,again mostly, into posting here that they what they are doing in that regard.

    Is there something to be gleaned from that observation I wonder?
    And aplogies to WNC and a few other regular posters on TOD who ARE doing something.

    By something, I mean more than switching light bulbs and such. I mean real down in the dirt sustainable lifestyles. Not just green talk.
    Doing real work in the community is not just green talk.

    Airdale-know I will get some flak for that statement,so be it

    Thanks, Airdale. I'm looking forward to heading back to NC. Raleigh is a mess - don't blame you for feeling wasted there; Chapel Hill (where I went to school) was more my style, and Asheville is pretty (love those mountains). Next time I'm up there I'll get some of that Sourwood Honey.

    I've only posted a couple times before - I mostly just read TOD for a year, maybe year and a half, and figured I might as well start interacting a bit, when I feel (probably erroneously) that I can contribute something. I've enjoyed your posts.

    I'm pondering the point you've raised about there being a correlation between living a high-intensity sustainable lifestyle and not posting much, and vice versa. I have no basis of comparison myself, so I'm looking forward to seeing if anyone else picks up that idea and runs with it. In the meantime, though, I can imagine that one day, I'll be having so much fun playing outside (aka growing things, catching rainwater, using sunlight in interesting ways, etc) and playing with friends (aka being involved in real, sustainability-minded community) that I'll almost even forget the computer exists ... on a macroscopic scale, I think perhaps intense communication occurs only in times of crisis (tower of babel comes to mind) ... maybe there'll be a time when we don't need the intarweb anymore ... ... aren't we all kind of using it now because we're in crisis-mode and need info, and hence, if we're not in crisis-mode, we don't need to use it anymore, perhaps? (think that's sort of related to what you're saying). it's late in Iceland & I'm incoherent.

    peace and permaculture,

    I'm going to be moving to NC by the end of the year where I'll have no community and only my skills and some money. I know, it's a great PO strategy, but my partner is going to school there and we can't pass up the opportunity for that kind of education. All I know so far is I'm going to grow a heck of a lot more than I do in Alberta. Do you guys have any suggestions for places to go, people to learn from, etc?

    I'm a 'little' concerned that I'll move and be jobless, landless, and all my skills will be irrelevant. But, I'm willing to bet the ground isn't still frozen in Durham.

    I can tell you a bit about NC.

    It has three different regions and each has it own qualities or lack of.

    First is the western mountainous region. A great place to live for the views and just for the hell of living in the mountains. You can go to valley then to mountain top and have much variety.This is where Asheville resides as well as the monster Black Mountain. A long upgrade/downgrade pull.

    Then next comes the Piedmont.This is the transistion area between the seacoast and the mountains. This is where Raleigh is. Some is rolling. Some is flatish. Its very beautiful with lots of pine trees.

    Next is the coastal region.A lot of sand in the soil. Hog farming had taken over a lot of it but I hear they have now moved to other places, like here in Ky. which I despise.

    The coast is great. We used to drive lots of time from Raleigh to Morehead City just for seafood at Sanitary Fishmarket. I always loved the coast. Laying on the beach and eating seafood.

    For sustainable living? Best to ask WNC. He lives there now.
    I would shun the big cities and outlying areas of them.
    I think myself I would like to be in the mountains in a sheltered valley next to a good running stream or creek. I hate flat land.
    I live on rolling land. But I live near a huge amount of water. Lakes and rivers.

    Good luck. BTW the locals there can be hard to get to know. Takes time but I am sure most would leave a body alone.

    You said Durham so that means Duke. A great campus.


    Best of luck in NC, chemist!
    You might consider finding a place to live in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, rather than Durham - I'm with Airdale, in that I'd avoid the bigger cities. Duke's campus is beautiful, but the rest of Durham is kind of a drag - gangs, sprawl, ugly buildings, etc. Also, the lovely hippies down in Chapel Hill/Carrboro are real into organic food, farmers' markets, sustainability, biking, the whole bit - my guess is you'd have an easier time finding community there (hang out @ Weaver St - artists, thinkers, dreamers, gardeners galore.) Lotta people are PO-aware down there (in my skewed perception, probably.) Four years ago, they were already offering classes on PO at UNC (I took one from Dr Robert Daniels - definitely get up with him sometime; he is a brilliant anthropologist - understands Gregory Bateson at a high level.) The (free) Roberson Scholars bus goes from the UNC campus to Duke, so your partner could potentially use it to commute, if y'all live in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area.
    Just some ideas ... I'm sure Durham, like anywhere else, is salvageable ;)
    Oh - the other great thing about CH is the buses are free (until UNC runs out of money, prob.)
    Also - there is plenty of forest around (seemed like it, anyway; I've been in Chicago/Iceland, where there are no trees, so my basis of comparison is flawed.)
    Man, I love Chapel Hill ... take this all with a grain of salt, for I see it thru nostalgic glasses ...
    In any case, shoot me a line when you're in the area, if you want to talk PO - I'll be not far away in Pittsboro by the time you're there.

    I'm in the mountains, most of what I know about the Piedmont, and especially the RTP (Research Triangle Park - Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill) area, is 2nd hand, but I have had a number of business trips there.

    My impression is that there are a variety of peak oil awareness & sustainability oriented groups active in the area, your best bet is to seek those out first.

    A basic issue you'll have to settle is whether the RTP area is just going to be a temporary base camp while you search for a more permanent location, or if that is where you are going to put down your roots.

    I would think carefully before committing to settle in the RTP area permanently. The entire area has become strangled with suburban sprawl; I don't know how they are going to manage the descent and transition to sustainability. Maybe the groups there that are thinking about these things can give you a more positive outlook, but if I were you, I'd want to be sold on that before making a permanent committment. If you do go this route, I'd research anything I can find on urban or suburban transition & sustainability; there's quite a bit of material out there. Given a choice, I'd say try to settle in or near Chapel Hill if you are definitely staying in the RTP. It is the smallest and most progressive of the three cities, and UNC is likely to be kept on financial life support by the state government for just about as long as there continues to be a functioning state government.

    If you decide to make the RTP a temporary base camp, though, then you have more options. I would strongly advise against settling anywhere in the eastern part of the state; most of it will eventually be underwater; much of it already was during Floyd a decade ago, and that is likely to repeat with increasing frequency. If you stay away from the urban areas, the Piedmont has fairly good agricultural potential, and a long growing season. A lot of former mill towns where the mill has closed and gone to China, and properties can now be picked up pretty cheap. Integrating yourself into the local community can be a challenge, though. One of the small college towns might be a better bet, as these tend to at least have some faculty families that came from elsewhere, along with a lot of the students; the locals are at least used to there being outsiders in their community.

    I can tell you more about the mountains. I, like everyone else here, love being in the mountains; it really is a great place to live. It can also be a tough place to make a living, so be careful about relocating here without already having a job in hand, if you need a job to support yourself. It is a really good place for self-employed crasftspeople, tradespeople, freelancers, etc. There are a great variety of sustainability-oriented groups and activities going on; the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project is a good place to start. There are a number of schools in our area that teach handcrafts and old-time homesteading skills. Our growing season is shorter than the Piedmont, but still quite a bit longer than Alberta, and our winters are certainly milder; our summers are cooler than the Piedmont, too. At least when it comes to the main cities (Asheville, Hendersonville, Brevard, Waynesville, etc.) and the small towns "on the beaten path" (I40 corridor), integrating into the local community need not be a problem; outsiders have been moving in here almost continuously for over 100 years now. Once you get "off the beaten path" and into the really remote backwoods areas, though, that is a different matter; there are some of those places where you might find it very hard to integrate into the local community. There are a number of "intentional communities" around, if that is what you want to get into. As far as energy outlook goes, I feel that WNC is best positioned amongst the three NC regions. We've got huge forest lands, some developed hydro (TVA dams) and quite a lot of undeveloped potential for micro-hydro, huge potential for wind power (if the need becomes great enough to convince the State and the local NIMBYs to allow WTs on some ridgetops), and we're far enough south to have pretty good solar potential, too. There is a local company that makes biodiesel, and it is widely available in the area. Biogas is being generated from several local landfills. One of the biggest negatives right now is that we don't have a direct passenger rail connection. NCDOT has had plans on the books for years now, but the money never gets committed. Hopefully, that will change someday soon.

    Brasstown,NC has some very good schools.Like a very good one on blacksmithing, or used to.

    They had others but I wasn't too familiar with them. I learned most of my early blacksmithing skills from a guy I met at the State Fair in Raleigh. He asked me to come behind the counter where they were hammering out all kinds of things.

    Showed me a few tricks and handed me a hammer and some iron. I was soon making some rudimentary dinner triangles,pokers and so forth.

    Around that area back then were some good fellas smithing out of their garages and barns and very happy to apprentice someone like me. I had some anvils and forges of my own and so I starting learning at that point then in Lexington, Ky I attended some ABANA events and learned some real skillsets. But I was before that able to cold shoe a horse using store anvils and a anvil and went to a hands on shoeing class in Missouri.

    All in all I love to smith and am slowing getting back to it when I can and find another forge. I have all the rest right now but a good forge is very hard to come across.

    Arts and crafts are very big in North Carolina once your away from the yuppies there.

    Airdale-smithing is going to be really in demand later after we powerdown

    When you say a good forge, quite what do you mean by a bad forge? Can't one make one? Thanks.

    Have created the "NOSH" Fund to invest in stocks likely to do very well in the years ahead (with understanding that ultimatley I will have to cash out b4 the whole stinking pile collapses...)

    Will invest proceeds in something more sustainable for myself and family.


    We actually took steps towards environmental change many years ago, when we moved up to a 1,000 feet in elevation. We didn't seek out that specific elevation, but I did feel it would be a hedge against rising sea levels, which will become a huge problem at some point in the not too distant future. I actually see 2015-2020 as the time period in which large scale melting of the ice caps will occur, with mass migration inland occurring. We are now considering getting a 2nd home down the street as a hedge against this future. We are 2 hours from Sacramento, CA, and when that valley floods, or (as a default) the Baby Boom simply retires, we figure homes in our area will be worth a whole lot more. In fact, I'm figuring we will sell both and retire on the proceeds.

    As far as transport goes, we both have gasoline powered vehicles that are paid for, and so we are biding our time to see what technology replaces them as peak oil applies pricing pressure to support either electric, hydrogen or both. I'm willing to wait until some tech. clarifies itself as a viable alternative. At minimum the next vehicles would be hybrids.

    Regarding the economy, we're slowly compiling food stuffs for long term storage, and storing seeds for planting in a post peak oil - Kunstler type society. Again I'm figuring that to occur in the 2015-2020 time period.

    That's only 6-11 years hence, so I think anyone predicting a rapidly changing World should be moving in a direction they feel will help insure their comfortable survival.

    I personally see environmental, energy and economics all responding in concert to cause a bottleneck with which only a certain percentage of the worlds population will survive. What percentage that might be is not something I can possible estimate, except to know that once the bottleneck hits real hard, only those that planned ahead will avoid the worst of it. On the other side of that bottleneck will be a whole new start for humankind in about 2025?

    Well, I had a key campfire post a few weeks ago so I won't go through it again. I really believe that one crucial aspect is to change psychologically. It's far easier to have an OMG moment when things aren't in a crisis.


    Energyefficiency bettered in my house (wood stove, windows). Bought electrical bikes and a biketrailer. Stored food and other essentials. Bought gold and silver, sold mutual funds. Smaller car.


    Aside from not replacing my car which recently croaked, (we're down to one vehicle) we've changed nothing, and will change nothing. We'll continue doing what we've done for the last 22 years: cut our firewood, milk our cows, raise our pigs, cut our hay, and raise our vegetables using manure and mulch: dirt farming (not 'organic', a term which has become anathema to us).

    No technological upgrades: I have three jobs and am still broke all the time. Luckily, we live on someone else's property and maintain the place in exchange for rent.

    None of us can predict the future, and frankly, I care little about it anymore. No one is "prepared" because no one knows what's going to happen. I had considered upgrading our firearms, but if it gets so bad that you have to shoot your neighbors I want no part of this world. 50 years is a full life.

    Over recent years I have tried to prepare for a full range of scenarios. I suspect that we will move through scenarios that range from benign to severe. Preparing only for the worst (i.e. moving to a bunker filled with tinned food and shotgun shells) tends to stop you from taking advantage of the situation when things aren’t so bad. I need to be able to take advantage of the more benign scenarios while preparing for the possible severe scenarios. My planning required that I take actions that allowed me to stay flexible, and respond to each scenario as it arose.

    So four years ago I moved my family into our newly built house. I couldn’t find a house that met my requirements, so I built it. To some degree we lucked out, but the luck involved about 18 months of searching. The new-built house:

    - Is twenty minutes walk from a train line, then a 40 minute train ride to work in the city.
    - Is at the edge of suburbia beside farmland (goats, cows, chickens and salad vegetables all within 30 minutes walk).
    Has very fertile soil (I have planted 30 fruit trees and 3 vegetable gardens)
    - Is 10 minutes walk from a stream with flocks of ducks and warrens of rabbits (firearm legislation in my country is very restrictive, but I have a license and was able to buy some appropriate firearms).
    - Is beside a small park at the absolute end of a quiet court.
    - Has a 5-star energy rating, which I have improved by beefing up insulation and embedding 20 tons of water (20,000 litres of water tanks) into the thermal mass.
    - Is over 20 meters above sea level (about 68 ft) and about 8 km from the current shore line.
    - Is large enough to support my family and my children’s families when/if required.
    - Could go completely off-grid if necessary (though we would not be as comfortable).
    - Has a workshop with hand tools and a small generator to run the power tools. The generator has enough fuel in storage to run for about 100 hours. I also have a small solar panel and an inverter – enough to run a power tool for perhaps an hour a day. One corner of the workshop is devoled to fermenting fruits to make ciders and wines.

    Yes, that’s right; I built a “McMansion” in the outer suburbs – consciously, deliberately, and knowingly.

    “Why” I hear you ask? Well, who knows when we will be able to build 5-star energy rated houses again? So I built the modern equivalent of an Anglo-Saxon longhouse, with 7 bedroom/living areas clustered around a very large central living-area/food-preparation/dining-area equipped with small, modular tables which can be joined to create a table big enough for 16 people.

    I want my children and my grandchildren to have a place to live, should they need it. I want them close to the opportunities of a city but also near food production.

    If we want food from nearby farms we need something to trade. So I planted fruit (there is little fruit planted in the area, so fruit and the alcohols derived from fruit should be tradeable) and I stocked a workshop with tools and the ability to make alcohol.

    I won’t go into all the other things I have done – let’s take it as read that I have the usual things.... Gardening, composting, 6 months of food, hand-cranked radios and flashlights, rechargeable batteries, solar rechargers for the batteries, backup cooking and heating, and backups for my backups.

    Will it be enough? Maybe not. Because I have something else – a mortgage on the house. It was a gamble. In 2005, when I planned my actions, my scenarios all assumed a mild economic downturn (at least in my country – severe in the US) in around 2009-2010 followed by a Peak Oil date around 2015-2020, with Climate Change issues kicking in around 2030. All these assumptions now appear optimistic.

    If the downturn occurs too quickly, there is a chance that I will lose my job, and then lose it all. I have always been a gambler, and I usually win – I hope I win this one. I need to be employed until 2015 to pay for it all! When I decided to take that gamble, I'm not sure that I really believed it was a gamble.

    This raises an interesting issue. The psychological impact associated with watching events play out and realising that this is not a scenario....this is Real Life. While I was planning, I viewed this situation as a scenario – something that we would hopefully avoid. Step by step the benign scenarios have vaporized and we seem hell-bent on living some of my worst-case scenarios. There is a certain psychological dislocation associated with seeing this happen and realising that the worst really could happen if we don’t get our act together soon.

    Your house sounds really cool. Got any pictures?

    It is not as cool as it sounds. It is a very standard looking McMansion with a big, open-plan central living area. Only minor changes to the standard plan for the house were necessary.

    Coming off the central living/cooking/eating area we have 4 bedrooms and 3 large living areas that can be turned into large bedrooms (currently they are a library, a home theatre, and a formal dining room). The house also has the mandatory 2 bathrooms/toilets and a large double car garage (workshop) with internal access to the house. This is pretty standard for a bloated McMansion - just choose a design that supports conversion into an extended-family house.

    The only unusual features are:
    - Fruit trees vegetable gardens.
    - A massive modular table in the open-plan living area.

    Well, I started my preparations by leaving the US a few years ago. Recently, we bought a small farm in a sunny part of New Zealand where we are designing a passive solar house. We are currently taking huge advantage of the lull in oil prices by doing energy intensive things like earthworks and dams; those things become impossible if it comes down to using a hand shovel. I hope to get my house built and some of my permaculture plantings in before the next big oil crunch. I view my choices as a "no regrets" option: it should be survivable in all but the worst case, but I have not given up much of real happiness value should all the doom not happen.

    sold large house; renting smaller, but still too large. Have planted four raised beds. Planted 10 container fruit trees. Plan to do much more in the way of practical purchases, alternative lights, water filter, etc. Wish for like-minded people and wish I knew where to buy a small piece of land away from large city.

    Do you think one should look for land farther north? Or in rural Texas?

    > my wife and I sold our homes in Sacramento and relocated to Eugene OR in 2006 in anticipation of PO etc.

    > replaced our six-cylinder Toyota truck with a 3-cylinder Geo Metro that gets 50+ mpg.

    > since 2006, my wife has acquired her permaculture certificate and master gardener and master food preserver certification. I've got my master recycler certificate and beekeeper training.

    > we are raising as much food as we can on our .4/acre lot, have chickens and bees. We are now selling eggs to our neighbors.

    > installed both solar water heating and solar PV on our home.

    > got elected to our neighboard association.

    > we have two roomates in our home, which reduces our carbon footprint and helps offset utility costs plus provides a nice cash flow.

    > established a reserve of dried food in 5 gallon food grade tubs.

    > purchased a shotgun. Not that we feel particularly threatened at this moment, just getting some insurance.

    > network with our neighbors and the local permaculture/food security/climcate change groups.

    > we're planning on adding a food preparation/preservation room to our house. Will have a loft and be suitable for habitation.

    > have other projects underway, including solar food dryer and converting a decorative fish pond into a producing fish pond.

    [My first post...have learned a lot from lurking for quite a while]

    Location: I moved to Bangkok, Thailand many years ago; this has reduced my carbon footprint in a multitude of ways, none of which involved any significant sacrifices on my part. It has made possible many of the changes to my lifestyle, a few of which are listed below:

    Transportation: No car or motorcycle; ride a bicycle to the main street of our townhouse community, from there we have a choice of half a dozen modes of public transport. Travel outside the city is by CNG powered taxi, owned by a friend , and always shared with 6-7 other friends.

    Household energy use: Electric bill averages $25/month year round. No air conditioner use [only fans], no heat use [don't even have a heater!] , showers are always cold water [not a problem in Bkk], $6/year for a propane tank for cooking, city water is free [gov't program encourages conservation, we allways use less than the minimum charge for a townhouse]. bottled water is $0,30 per 17 liter jug [free delivery to our doorstep].

    Food: Haven't purchased frozen food in years, with the one exception of ice cream ;) . I visit the harbor wet market several times a week, where every imaginable vegetable, fruit, meat that is in the region is available at ridiculously cheap prices. I can fill a large backpack with fresh picked veggies and fruit for an average of $2 to $2.50. Currently, it's an unproductive use of our time to grow our own food now....this might change in the future, especially if we move to my partner''s village. Most everything we eat is prepared fresh, with a minimum of packaged ingredients.

    Education: Studiously reading the fine articles on The Oil Drum, of course. My partner is completing a business degree this year. I invest in energy stocks and other commodity related stocks, etf's . My planning for the future involves profitting from the coming shortages and concurrent rising prices, rather than being a victim.

    Community: supporting the expansion of my partner's family home in a remote village far from Bkk. Upgrading the windmill driven water supply tower 15 meters from the family compound. We're planting lots of fruit trees on recently acquired adjacent land. For the future, I'm planning on stockpiling hand tools, larger farm equipment for village use, as well as a village electricity generating system dependent of the "grid". A big advantage of living in a Thai village is that there is already a strong community bond, widespread knowledge and use of traditional farming techniques, living skills, low impact methods , etc. Maybe I'll go into some of the detail in later posts, if it's of interest to anyone.

    I'm still learning and discovering new ways to modify my own lifestyle nearly every week, and I'm sure I'll find some of them here at The Oil Drum!

    I've started meditating. That's the only important really important change I believe I have made. All my other changes, like reducing my carbon footprint, aren't going to do anything. Under that logic the best thing for me to do would be kill myself and take out as many other people beforehand, especially in the developed world, and especially children, as they have longer lives left with which to deplete resources. But of course none of us would do that. It's immoral. Yet we think that by driving less we are doing the world a good thing. We should not kid ourselves. We are in a heap of a mess and while we should of course try to live on less, we should not be so arrogant to think we are helping the world by doing so. We should be humble as we make sacrifices.


    What am I doing? Following the evidence.

    The evidence is, of course, that we're past peak.

    The evidence is, of course, that AGW is going to be far worse than we ever imagined.

    The evidence is, of course, that most people are talkers and not do-ers and that we'll catch both of these tsunami's square in the face, as there simply isn't the will to make the needed changes in lifestyle that might be capable of offsetting these issues. Yammer Yammer. I'd love to see a real movement not of bean counters writing clever essays into the intricacies of peak oil, but perhaps what the fuck you're doing about changing your life to face it. It's important, vastly more heroic, and what we really need. It will be a lot less fun than this kind of forum, however, as the posts will be--damn, I'm tired, as I spent the whole day mulching and planting chick peas. One will have less time on-line, for sure.

    I'm about one thing and one thing only at this point. Building Arks. I've ceased to be a ecologist. Now I'm a survivalist. There's a place for a Noah or two out there.

    Oh, the guy in Fern Forest should get a hold of me. I can hook you up. . .it's important.

    Seasteading is still happening, and is alive and well. I live in the Pacific now, on one of the most pristine islands, and well, the need for the boat is a little diminished. The boat is here, but to finish it I need to grow the rig for the hull that's built in the front yard. . .its coming along, sick Hawaiian Hirose bamboo. I need 40 footers and that's a year out. It's a lot cheaper than carbon fiber and I've got sweet potatoes to plant anyway.

    Here's my list:

    (1) I've become Vegan.
    (2) I learned bicycle mechanics, and now regularly rebuild old bikes.
    (3) I'm pursuing my Master Gardener's certificate.
    (4) I'm attempting to convert every usable square inch of my backyard into a vegatable/fruit garden.
    (5) I make a point to buy 1 bulk staple (e.g., 50 lbs of beans, 50 lbs of rice or quinoa, etc..) item every month.
    (6) I make it a policy to never drive to work (use either Bike or Bus).

    What I'd like to be doing... that's a much longer list. ;-)


    The heart of the question was "As a follow up, please share (briefly) what you are doing to adapt or mitigate the economic/energy/environmental changes on the horizon" if I understood it correctly. After 3 years as a registered member here on TOD, and years of being a student of the world energy system and situation, and in my young adulthood being prone to extremely terrible feelings of foreboding concerning the future (which was then the 1980's and 90's, I have decided there is only one possible course of action I can take in my life that will make a difference for me personally and also assist the world in helping to bring balance to the world in a small but positive way:

    I am shopping for a Porsche Cayman.

    This seems to be the most useful thing I can do for (a)myself (b)the economy(c)morale(d)the energy situation(e)the economic situation(f) the international economic recovery effort, and(g)the environmental situation.

    In explaining my choice, let me first tell you that I think the Cayman is a great work of art. It is aesthetically beautiful. In an age when cars look like what one critic called "giant angry kitchen appliances", the Cayman is artistic, restrained, a bit feminine in certain ways, and representative of the heritage of the great postwar performance cars, the German ones in particular, and the “modernist” aesthetic" that has created the look and feel of the world we live in (like all great art, hated to the point of vengeance by some, loved to the point of obsession by others).

    The Cayman is also a technical masterpiece, being as clean in relation to emissions and carbon release as many so called "green cars" and extremely fuel efficient when considering it's level of performance, capable of 30 miles per gallon, which would be a nice improvement over my now ancient Mercedes 190E.

    Given the fact that if every American stopped driving COMPLETELY for the rest of their lives beginning tomorrow it would have no noticable effect on global warming or on Peak oil if you accept the conclusions of the experts in these respective fields such as Dr. Hanson, Dr. Colin Campbell, or Ken Deffeyes, or Euan Mearns, or Matthew Simmons as being essentially correct (and I take it most people on TOD do accept their conclusions as essentially correct), then it follows that I am doing no noticable damage to the world fuel future or to the climate in giving up an old, dirty and thirsty used car to buy a work of art.

    If we consider the Cayman as work of art and not as transportation, then we must consider the ecological burden of this item in comparison to other works of art. Most paintings and sculpture of high art quality require climate controlled storage, security devices and when bought or sold must be transported in expensive and consumptiive transportation. The Cayman is almost certainly no more consumptive as an art item than a Monet painting or a Henry Moore sculpture or a mobile by Alexander Calder, yet these are never mentioned as "waste" by the energy concerned folks I hear. A pedigree live animal such as a show dog or horse or polo pony is surely more consumptive.

    Buying the Cayman will also be good for the economy, as there will be taxes involved, and if the car is bought new I would be able to assist our European trading partners in providing employment and export sales. Given that the European economy is actually in worse shape than the U.S. due to the recession and unemployment (even in good years for Europe unemployment runs as high as ours currently is), I would feel like a true patron of Western culture and international co-operation.

    Now in truth an art item such as the Cayman is going to consume very little fuel. Given it's efficiency and the fact that I would not want to pile miles on such a beautiful work of art, it would only be driven as special entertainment and on very special occasions.

    There are two final reasons I am shopping for such a work of art (and starting to watch for some other great postwar designs to go on sale:

    (a)Morale: Just as in the darkest ages of wars and depressions, patrons of the arts tried to find the resources to preserve and promote the saving of great art and culture. I am an admitted patron of the modern technological age. I feel it is imperative for the citizens of the world, especially the young, to see the kind of artistic and technological excellence the human mind is capable of when talent and resources are grouped together to acheive great things (a hallmark of the modernist age, from skyscrapers to autos to the moon landing).

    With so much propaganda now pointing out (correctly so in many cases) the utter lack of competence and disgraceful conduct of so many "leaders" in the world of business, finance and government, it is of extreme importance to show our young and our population at large that art, achievement and the desire to be more than rutting animals will always matter. Without ACHIEVEMENT and EXCELLENCE at the things we attempt to do, whatever they may be, the rest really does not matter much anway does it?

    Lastly, economics. The current economy is priced down about as much as it is going to be for some time. Even if energy production worldwide dropped a full quarter (which it has shown no signs of doing), and the death rate continues unabbatted (as it will surely do)it will still take another two decades for the world economy to match the discounting in the markets of the world.

    The OECD nations are, beginning now, going to have fewer wealthy, fewer old men and women, fewer large suburban homes, more vacation properties available, all the art, goods and collectables of the richest generation in world history will be coming on the block. New items being manufactured will be competing with a flood of much more beautiful and interesting items from prior eras of design in the market for homes, resort clubs and memberships, furniture, automobiles, yachts, motorcycles jewelry and watches, etc (the list is endless) so prices are cheap and going to get cheaper.

    You see, the nations in greatest danger of collapse are the manufacturing nations, and the U.S. has made the correct choice in spending the last 3 decades working to move away from heavy manufacturing. We aleady have built all the "stuff" we need, and the newly built third world junk we are now buying cannot hope to compete against the great age of postwar design (hint: Don't bank on China, o.k.?). Prices for newly built works of art such as the Caymen will only go down, because most people simply miss such a rarity as an item built today that is of great design.

    So, on an all around basis, I can really do no better for myself, my world, and the pursuit of artistic achievement than boost my morale and foster excellence by keeping my eyes open for a nice Porsche Cayman, preferably in a great primary color such as black or white, that really shows off it's great automotive heritage and artistic design.

    Just call me the last great patron of the arts in a declining age.
    Why not? There are worse roles in life.


    Very Clever!

    Just think, in the time you spent wanking around writing that essay, I could have had your help planting 200 trees.

    "Just think, in the time you spent wanking around writing that essay, I could have had your help planting 200 trees."

    I don't know if I could have got many planted in that amount of time, Jay, I write very fast.

    By the way, just so everyone knows, there was more than a touch of irony intended in the post, but also a great deal of seriousness intended to. There is a lot of "pissing in the sea" going on out there, that is to say actions being taken and recommended that in the long haul will matter not a nought, but are pretty much for appearance sake. Friend I know just took up gardening, a great "ecological" action right? You should the beauty of a gas tiller he just bought, he's proud as a new daddy of that thing...


    Listened to Women Korean poets recite, attended an art opening, and had a glass of wine while listening to a punk accordion player do Irish tunes.
    It was a great day!

    My thought on this post, summed up by an old zen saying, before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment chop wood, carry water.

    I chop wood and carry water. Actions speak louder than words.

    Peace upon you all.

    Don in Maine.

    For my family PO changed everything.Seven years ago,as we became PO aware,we began to formulate a plan.We sold
    property,we,sold my wife's business,our daughter and grand daughters sold thier home,and we moved 3000 miles to SW Canada.
    We were looking for a temperate climate,sufficient water resources,and a community that valued arts and education.
    I can't tell you it hasn't been a struggle,but I wouldn't change a thing.We have:
    1)consolidated three generations into one home
    2)eliminated one auto
    3)replaced much driving with walking,cycling and busing
    4)begun gardening and planning for an aquaponic greenhouse
    5)continued to evaluate everything we do in terms of energy consumed
    Our new home is within walking distance(1 mi)of almost every need.The children walk to school,all of us walk to the grocery,library,hardware,doctor,post office,etc.We are all trying to develope subsistance skills that were common several generations back.
    We are 20 monthes into our new life,still adjusting,figuring out budgetary constraints,but feel we have found a good place to be for the post peak oil world.

    Best TOD thread ever! Can we please have more like this.

    Really inspiring to see what people are doing, and my wish is that all will enjoy the fruits of their preparations.

    I live in Washington D.C. and have a relatively large back yard. Before the District forbade it, I cut down enough trees to give the yard nearly enough (wish I'd cut down a couple more trees) light to garden. I recently put up a 6' fence (there already was a 40" chain link fence, and now there is a 4' gap between the two) to keep out the deer. I use mosquito netting to cover the blueberries and strawberries to keep the birds and squirrels from eating them.

    I've switched from gas to electric tiller, lawn mower, and leaf blower/mulcher. I have a compost bin, worm farm and --soon-- two rain barrels.

    Although the back yard is only about 70' x 70' in size, I have both perennial and annual flowers (aesthetics as well as to attract bees and birds); two super dwarf peach trees; one pear that doesn't need cross-fertilization, one fig tree, many raspberry and a couple thornless blackberry bushes; strawberries; blueberries; and two 8' x 12' raised beds. Lettuce, spinach, onions, garlic, and rhubarb are growing nicely; asparagas will be up soon.

    I'll never grow enough to be self-sufficient, but I will grow quite a bit and it will be pesticide-free. We hope to stew or can tomatoes (possibly using my Sun Oven). And it will be a series of lessons in basic gardening skills for my grand kids. Eat your heart out Michelle Obama.

    Anyone else in the area who'd like to see this, post a comment to this.

    -Bob Boeri

    Well here's a question to draw out the lurkers!
    What I have learnt by reading TOD over the last year has influenced many of my actions and much of my conversation.

    I had already:
    completed Permie Design Certificate, moved to 1/2 acre in small sub-tropical northern NSW (OZ) village - town 20ks away, worked for many years with my husband carpenter - specialising in re-use, re-cycle or restore. Am into chickens and putting lots of time into learning the great art of composting. I'm not much of a gardener so we are on a fast track with some good mentors - focussing on fruit & nut trees - just planted 2 more tropical apples.

    On the other hand:
    we have 2 vehicles
    have one young child
    solar hot water

    In last year:
    attended 2 Transition Towns workshops, given 3 intro talks on transition towns in the towns over last 6 weeks. Now networking with 45 others in our larger bio-region. Our village is primed for action with some state gov. funds supporting "sustainability" projects, am on committee of our village Community Association (the "street beautification" might just get a little edible this time), being approached to write for local (and potentially country-wide) mags on communitity responses to po/cc/tt. I have been approached to work with State Gov. fellow to provide inspiration and mentoring other rural communities considering TT approaches. It turns out I'm quite a good public speaker! I reckon its the material because the focus for me is that community is the only way through.

    Even though Australia may be toast my location has many pluses. rural community with great reslience still - lots of off-grid folk, community connections still holding, lots of water, 20 ks to town of 8000, locally grown coffee. on the downside the heat can be terrible even now. How we will have to adapt to the unknown unknowns is a mystery but having friends and acquaitences you can call on may well make the difference.

    Not only has TOD and all the great responses inspired my out today - this question is fantastic but when I ask it I frame it as: Where do you stand?

    Making all of the changes needed is a daunting task but I believe it may be worthwhile and satisfying for each of us to do what we can based on our individual circumstances and experience.

    Author Auden Schendler from Aspen Ski Company makes a good point in his recent book "Getting Green Done" that we can take a leadership role by making changes to our own businesses and personal lifestyles and then go on to lobby for policy changes that could have signficiantly larger impacts. Here is a recent scientific American article that discusses this approach. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=how-business-can-influence-climate-p... This is the tack that I have decided to take.

    We first made changes at our business and residence including the usual suspects: changing to CFL light bulbs (4300 lights in all), purchasing higher MPG vehicles, energy audits, encouraging local food use, educating our employees about energy issues, electricity demand management, building more energy efficient and LEED Certified buildings, optimizing our building HVAC control systems, switching to a bicycle patrol for security, serving vegan burgers in our cafeteria, encouraging healthy lifestyles for our employees, adding "Conservation Corner" and "healthy lifestyle" sections to our employee newsletter, etc. etc. The list of possible action items is nearly endless. We have received local and national media stories on some of this which has helped to get the word out to a much larger audience. At home we have installed more insulation, purchased higher energy efficiency applicances, sealed air leaks, installed timers, outside clothes drying, etc. etc. Lots of opportunities there too.

    I think where we may be able to make a larger difference though is through some of the following activities:

    Testified before our state's Senate Energy Policy Committee last June about peak oil and its implications to our state.

    Last May wrote a cover article on "A World in Energy Transition" for our local electric co-op's magazine. This magazine has a circulation of about 33,000.

    Hosted the Conference on Michigan's Future: Energy, Economy and Environment. www.futuremichigan.com Richard Heinberg was a keynote speaker. Last year's event attracted 200 people and the audio conference proceedings were broadcast on our local public radio station for several months after the conference. We plan to hold another similar conference in the fall of 2009. This event also resulted in several local public radio and tv interviews where we discussed these issues.

    Joined our state Chamber of Commerce energy policy committee where there is an opportunity to encourage a discussion on Feed-In-Tariffs with electric utility executives and key legislators.

    Joined the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council http://www.michiganglowcouncil.org/ where we are working with electric utility executives and other state leaders to identify suitable offshore wind farm sites.

    Participated on an energy policy committee with our local Chamber of Commerce and created a policy that was centered around peak oil.

    Working with the World Future Council www.worldfuturecouncil.org on bringing information on Feed-In-Tariffs to our state business and governmental leaders.

    Supported local public transportation initiatives which have now become a reality.

    Writing letters to our US Legislators regarding energy policy.

    Personally lobby our US and state legislators about energy issues.

    While this may be a drop in the bucket in the whole scheme of things it is at least an effort to try and make a difference.

    A bit late to the campfire, but yes I have been changing things. I started long ago (about 10 years) taking the attitude that I would only make changes that were reasonable in my current situation, but would ease the transition when I needed it. Some things I have done:

    (1) 10 years ago I bought physical gold. The idea being it wasn't a bad investment, and might be a good one
    (2) bought a bike (actually 2, one a fun road bike, one specifically designed for shopping)
    (3) insulated! (R 60+ in the attic these days)
    (4) Wood stove. I might get a second for another room.
    (5) I built solar space heaters (amazingly effective -- when the sun is shining!)
    (6) Started gardening and composting.
    (7) became good friends with my neighbor who is very peak oil aware.
    (8) got a drying rack and quit using the clothes dryer
    (9) started canning as a hobby.

    Things on the to do list

    (1) install solar electric (should happen this summer)
    (2) install solar hot water heat (next summer)
    (3) put in a second wood stove
    (4) continue to creatively insulate more of the house. My latest idea: clear plastic inserts in the windows to add a third pane in the winter.

    All of these changes have lowered my energy use and saved me money, had minimal or positive effects on my life style. At this point I could abandon my car with no loss to my well being, but some loss to my convenience. I am very concerned about heat, however, since my house depends on oil for heat, and it needs to be heated or the pipes will freeze. I have not come up with a solution to this.

    Thus far my efforts have been pretty meagre, certainly compared to many of those listed in the postings above, and I'm sure I'm hopelessly ill-prepared.

    I'm currently renting a small flat (UK). It has the advantage of flexibility but I can't make any major investments in it (e.g. solar heating and suchlike). It's a 15/20-minute communte to and from work (it's quicker going home as it's all downhill!). I don't drive or own a car.

    I'm mostly concentrating on small things, such as trying to improve my gardening skills; growing potatoes, tomatoes, beans etc. I've recently installed a wormery to compost my kitchen waste. I'm trying to ensure I have a basic collection of tools and gardening equipment and a reasonable supply of stored food, candles and other bits and bobs. Living in a tiny studio apartment, storage space is at a premium so it keeps my peak oil hoarding in check!

    I no longer have a TV or phoneline and stopped purchasing electronic gadgets several years ago. I have an old laptop and I doubt I will replace it when it finally gives up the ghost.

    I don't have any children to worry about, but I'm concerned about what will happen to my parents as they enter old age. The surviving members of my family are few and we're dispersed across the country. I have no idea what the future has in store or even if I will be around to experience it, so I'm trying to keep my mind open to various possibilities and to accept the things I have no hope of changing.

    Unfortunately my illness makes me slow and I always struggle to keep up with these comments and probably none of you will read this now!
    Anyway, I'll tag my own case on to Violinist, as being the least utterly dissimilar to my own (also a flat in uk). My life has been extremely constrained by adversities, most particularly severe invalidity from age 14 onwards (more than 40 years), which I now recognise as fairly typical symptoms of dental mercury poisoning (extreme fatigue and lack of memory plus much much else). Consequently never any family, social life or income to speak of. I do on the other hand have a ton of intelligence, judgement, positivity and critical genius (four unchallenged theories published) but in a society dominated by superficiality and superficial evaluations of intellectual worth that counts for far less than nothing.

    In 1974 I concluded that the world was being ruled by utter incompetents, like a ship drifting without a captain. By 1987 I had written this utterly unpublishable article: www.zazz.fsnet.co.uk/decadenc.htm . For years I hoped that my (other!) theories would break me through the institutional glass ceiling that elevates hyperactive parroting as the key criterion of intellectual superiority. Or one of my patents would be accepted by the universe of narrow minds.

    In 2004 I at last began to see evidence that my illness was due to dental merc, but just then in 2005 a horrendous scheme of harassment was launched against me: www.2020housing.co.uk . Due to the corrupt scam uk legal system I ended up evicted from my home and garden. Eventually ended up with this largeish 19th-floor flat near city centre. Only in the last 15 months have I been able to turn attention to the energy crisis.

    I consider a main thing I have done is intensive extensive study of what is going on, in terms of energy supply and its many consequences. I need to know this in order to judge roughly when and how I have to flee from this doomed city.
    The probability of a total collapse of the entire system is just about 100% in next few years and this city of lunatics will then turn into an absolute hell of death.

    Advantages of lifelong poverty are that I have never owned a car ((let alone a house!)). Have always prepared my own food and scavenged and repaired everything. Always lived under very oppressive circumstances (welcome in, those who are just joining me...!).

    Have just "taken possession" of an abandoned garden near my tower block, started planting some beans etc, but then it can't be long before I have to leave the city anyway.

    Agenda now is try to get the mercury removed (the NHS just lie like those judges lie, and the £3000-5000 surgery is beyond my means). To study farming so as to speak credibly with farmers about the best use of their land.
    Try to get some money and or find supporters in bham, and seek to make partnership links with farmers/and a rural community to escape to.

    Given that nobody can predict what effects they may have to cope with, the best solution space is one that will work reasonably and/or won't hamstring you too much you no matter what happens. For me that means reducing energy requirements, reducing economic exposure, preparing psychologically to handle social turbulence of unpredictable kinds, and creating or integrating into an altruistic community.

    In pursuit of those goals I've paid off all my debts, downsized from a McMansion to a two bedroom apartment on a low floor not in a downtown area, and switched from car to public transit for my daily commute. I've also undertaken an intense program of psychological and spiritual self-development. In the process of doing that I've joined a highly connected, caring community of awake and aware people.

    Twelve years ago I quit my job in a larger law firm in Las Vegas and moved home to an old-line Kansas side suburb of Kansas City. I live less than 2 miles from work, am walking distance to church, coffee shop, drug store, grocery store etc.

    I have been striving to "buy local" for many years and am almost completely successful as far as food goes except for rice and spices.

    Two years ago had a tree cut down and expanded my garden. Truthfully, the garden is just for practice as I seem to feed the bunny rabbits and the squirrels more than me. I still purchase most of my fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat at the farmer's market. I can, dry and ferment most of what I use through the winter.

    My 1950s house was built intelligently as far as air circulation and solar heating so I turn on the furnance in the winter and the air conditioning in the summer about three weeks after my friends and family start complaining that my house is too hot/too cold. Winter set is 58 at night and 62 at day. Summer set is 78. I knit and crochet and wear the knit hats in the house in the winter. Helps a lot.

    Most importantly, I try to cultivate a mindset of acceptance and to believe that I am personally resilient and will figure out how to deal with what I have to deal with. Hence my internet name of prairie sunflower, a beautiful but resilient weed.

    I'm one of the lurkers that was brought out of the shadows by this thread. I'm much more of a doer than a talker. It's good to see there are so many others of you out there. Not to diminish the value of the many people who contribute quality content to this site, but these problems certainly won't be solved by sitting in front of a monitor.
    Thanks TOD, for the huge resource that you are.

    Hello! Yet another (short-time) lurker, first-time poster here. Hi folks. Apologies if this is a bit long...

    I am woefully unprepared. Two years ago I did go abroad to learn practical construction skills and farm work in exchange for rent and board, but I soon discovered that place ate more in the way of fossil fuels and produced less for it than my current lifestyle does! If it wasn’t for their graphics business, it would be unsupportable. The offsite (paid) work didn’t materialise either, alas, so I spent the last year trying to dig myself out of debt incurred during that. I can now mix cement. Go me.

    In the last year I have:

    - Quit smoking – it doesn’t actually save THAT much money, but it cuts down my dependence on foreign imports and means I should hopefully be healthier in the long term. Cure rates for self-inflicted illnesses are getting better all the time, but without modern medicine that will vanish.

    - Got shot of my main social circle – once they’d blatantly shown they didn’t have my back during the times of plenty, do I think they will have it when times are lean? I don’t think going it alone is a realistic prospect, especially since I currently live in a fairly densely populated area, but I ain’t putting any more of my effort into a group that would throw me to the wolves as soon as. This frees up much more of my time (and money!) toward finding some more like-minded peeps instead.

    - Got a flatmate in order to cut my costs and carbon footprint. Managed to get one with an allotment and interest in self-sufficiency, yas! – I’m still thirty places down the waiting list for an allotment, I am always just a little too late – so I’m helping her with the plot in order to get some experience.

    - Got a wormery to reprocess kitchen scraps, again, for the allotment.

    - Draught-proofed my flat and invested in thermal underwear, giving the central heating a break.

    - Applied for a part-time engineering course, hopefully starting in May. My main obstacles at the moment are being a temporary secretary, which means sod-all job security AND sod-all cash. If I can batter through this (so the plan goes) I can hopefully get myself offshore. This makes me part of the problem of oil extraction, admittedly, but I hope to switch into renewables engineering as soon as I can (should the plan get that far). If I can get offshore, I’ll be making a mint and have loads of free time to boot. Here we come with additional courses in blacksmithing!

    - Applied for a pair of bikes on freecycle for me and my flatmate. I already walk to work, since my current placement is only a four-mile round trip from my flat, but I don’t know where I’ll end up next, a bike would extend my range independently of public transport.

    - Looking into minor openings in local council/government, hopefully something I can fit in around the course and job so’s I don’t take on too much at once. I’m probably far too shy at present to be getting involved in local politics, but it seems to be one of the ways to socially network and get PO out there. I’ve joined the local Transition Towns network but rather disappointingly there seem to be eight of us (nine, now I’ve brought a mate) out of a city of half a million.

    That’s about it. If the engineering plan doesn’t work out I am definitely running out of time to try something else. I can’t afford owt but a flat in this part of the world, and I’m still mortgaged to the hilt, so paying that off has to be a priority. Can’t overclock the mortgage at the mo though, never sure if I’m gonna be in employment one week to the next!

    Basically, none of this is adequate, and I am horribly aware of it. Still, you gotta play the game until it’s done!
    Best of luck to everyone else, read some really moving and also inspiring stuff here.

    - Draught-proofed my flat and invested in thermal underwear

    These small investments can reap surprisingly large returns in much lower heating bills.

    Always gardened, always walked or biked DID get one of those "old lady" shopping carts to make things a bit easier. I HAVE recently joined a very small local envrionmental group for my town (a "city" of less than 90,000) in conjunction with any activities I may be involved with in the Greater Cleveland (Ohio) area. In this case smaller is better.

    Other than that we've pretty much switched the light bulbs to the flurescent ones and (eventho everyone complained) I turned the thermostate down again. It currently hovers at 56.

    A two-acre pond supplies irrigation water to the EcoReality Community Farm Project in the Fulford Valley of Salt Spring Island, with Mount Maxwell in the distance.

    We are creating an ecovillage.

    We've been working on this since 2004, and recently acquired a wonderfully suitable property, that now houses four families. We're beginning the Permaculture design process and engaging the regulatory environment and greater community in the hope of increasing our permitted habitation level, so we can begin building more homes, using natural building techniques and habitant labour.

    Our goal is to be self-sufficient in food, energy, and water, and (with some luck) to have an excess of each for trading with the greater community.

    We are currently seeking members with six figures to invest in their sustainable future with us, to retire a balloon payment that is due no sooner than one year from now. Those with outstanding skills with fewer financial resources are also welcome to get involved.

    I sold my car and most of my few possessions and moved to Costa Rica. Here, I have no car, heater or air conditioning and use far less energy. I am looking into finding/forming an eco-village.

    I started sewing my own clothes! My first pair of slacks had two right legs!! I really had to think about how to fix that problem, and when I did I was pleased. I think I saved 50% by buying cloth instead of ready-made clothes.

    Sometimes I find used clothes in recycle stores and change them, another great savings.

    I hope one day I'll be able to use my sewing skills in a way that turns into a job, but for now it's my (very fun) hobby.

    I have a few rabbits, give them grass, and use their manure as fertilizer. Our garden is small so I get grass in vacant lots and along roads.

    No cars, just bikes.
    Very little meat. (The rest of the family likes it but I'm a vegetarian.)
    Re-read books instead of buying new ones. (After a few years I've forgetten what was written and it's like new. Also, classics are always good to re-read.)
    Heat one room at night where everyone sleeps in winter.

    20 years ago I fell in love with a town in the mountains. My wife felt the same, and her brother lives there. This year we bought 30 hectares 4 km from town so she can easily cycle to work at the hospital (probably one of the few indispensable jobs, in some form).

    No house so we don't have to maintain anything yet, a sub-community of greenies in a mining town. Lots of big inefficient houses nearby to rent or buy but I suspect I'll have to build to get a 100% 'passivehaus'. Cob (low 'R'), strawbale (petroleum bales) tamped earth, woodframe styrofoam high efficiency? Don't know yet. How about this moral dilemma - do I use the high-embedded energy products now while I can (cement, tile) or do I start now (cob & plaster) to try & save the world (while others piss it away in SUV's & jetskis)?

    Terrain is about 1/5 each pond (open) marsh (reed) and bog (damp ground), hayfield & woodlot. The problem is at 55N there is little solar insolation (eg no bang for the PV buck), light winds except perhaps some winter wind generation and relatively flat (little flow and only 10 m of drop for hydro). So power is not immediately obvious (well, grid hydro on all sides of the property).

    The In-Laws are already planning to use if for a bigger garden, the locals use it for winter recreation so we should have a fairly quick social integration.

    Now we just need to get out of my tropical job burning jet fuel. Cycling everywhere seems like pissing in the ocean when I use as much fuel in one day flying as a 6 week driving trip in the Colorado Plateau, or twice our normal annual burn. We have started a food/gardening group in Darwin and gardenified 5 lawns in 5 months, glean coconuts & mangos. Starting to shovel the gravel out of out proto-garden at our new rental house.

    As a sub-arctic type I just can't handle tropical life without an airconditioner for 5 months of the year. But I live with the emotional trauma.

    Thanks everyone for letting us know your god-like awesome preparations and your hesitant toe-dipping. We're all on the same planet but in a lot of different worlds.

    (Switzerland.) I would like to say I use no fossil fuels at all, but it isn’t quite true as I have a 12 yr old Peugeot that I drive occasionally. I use electricity - hydro and nuclear - to cook, for light, and to run a small clothes washer (all appliances the top of the range energy savers, and new.) I had stocks and bonds etc. and sold everything in May 2007 - tried to convince others to do the same but managed only in one case - and spent the money on re-building a small (kitch, small living r, 2 br) house. This house has stone walls, several feet thick in some places. I put on a new roof with 16 cms of insulation and hooked up to the village’s (pop 700) heating plant. It burns biomass and detritus and provides water which is practically boiling, for heat and hot water. The house has a cellar (in which there was a well!) and requires no cooling. I am having awful trouble with the authorities as I want to change the shutters...

    I don’t have a garden - only what one might call une terrasse magnifique or more prosaically a small back yard which is 80% concrete. Even with a garden, I would not have grown any food, beyond the decorative tomato and endless spices. It would make no sense for me to do so: I know nothing about it, and would waste time, energy, for mediocre results. If food is scarce, we will have immediate rationing, sharing and barter. I will live as all the other villagers do, and in any case couldn’t contemplate doing otherwise. I would finance and work in vegetable garden / extra farming in some kind of co-op scheme if it comes to that. In any case we would apportion roles in the smartest way, and I would for sure end up as Cook or Teacher. As is, I will soon become active in village politics, but there isn’t much to be done on the energy front. (Oh! I forgot the shutters! - they are practically all crap.)

    I'm a believer in adapting in place, and trying to influence my community.

    I live in a large city, but chose a residence close to public transit and the river (water and transport).

    I grow fruit trees and edible perennials on my standard city lot, grow vegetables biointensively and have 2 beehives on my rooftop deck.

    I installed rain barrels for water collection. I have solar heat and hot water, and am working on various insulation and weatherisation projects.

    I do drive, a hybrid, but generally take transit where possible. I walk to the local grocery store (3 blocks), or bike to the other stores in good weather - I can't be persuaded to bike in rain and snow (at least, not yet...haha). I know many of my neighbors.

    I'm on the recycling committee, head up the local "green" committee, write for our neighborhood newsletter, and am on the committee for building a community garden. Once the garden is up and running, I'm planning a series of talks or films which address peak oil.

    Slowly, slowly, one can influence people...lead by example.


    I'm with you. It is a different path from many on this site. Most of my life is centered around helping green the urban environment in which I live.

    Twenty-odd years ago we bought a 100-year-old recycled house in a then-unfashionable inner-ring suburb (designed and built before extensive car use) with walking distance to schools and public transit. Our small lot has been a garden since the house was built and the soil has always been well-maintained. We compost, including kitchen scraps. We observe the two-mile rule (walk or bike if at all possible). We have one car. We keep the heat turned down and live mostly upstairs or downstairs, depending on the season. This community is full of like minded people, and thus is engaged at a higher level of community organization than many surrounding communities--one reason we moved here. We read, read, read.

    My husband and I are continually making changes: the following lifestyle has evolved over years.

    I teach part time at a community college and work as an organic garden educator at a garden center. He takes public transit to work. We are vegetarians and subscribe to CSA grower. I know how to cook, bake, sew, knit and crochet--and frequently do. My brother brews beer, and I am considering learning to keep bees so he can make mead. My husband is pretty good at fixing things. We are alwys

    To me, environmental degradation and loss of habitat for vital species such as insect herbivores and pollinators (and so on, up through the trophic levels) is of grave concern (and oil-use related, of course), so I grow native plants in my yard and am involved in stewardship of my local forest preserve. I'm on a committee to make the landscaping sustainable and low petrol (native plants, rainwater management, composting, and so forth) at the community college and also take part in my community's green committees and initiatives. I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends and participate in our green initiatives governed by the testimony of right relation with the earth.

    We keep making incremental changes--cloth napkins and storm windows twenty years ago, cfl lights a few years ago, rain barrels this year. We keep looking for ways to reduce consumption. I have a hard time not buying new clothes. Am geting more involved with supporting community gardening and urban agriculture.

    Nevertheless, we are looking for some land with ok soil and a spring close to a small town.

    Living without oil is a scary proposition, especially in terms of medical care. We should be treating this resource as though it is precious, not burning it up wastefully. Have been reading "Europe Between the Oceans" and historically, civilizations have crashed, often because of environmental reasons, and then have somehow rebounded after a period of turmoil. Let's hope we don't screw things up so badly we can't eventually recover.

    Living in New Orleans, we're blessed with a geographical small city in which most everything is either biking distance or no more than a 20 minute drive(sans rush-hour traffic) away.

    We're also cursed with a brutally hot summer climate.

    My fiancee and I live in a rented 900 sq. ft apartment close to her work. The house is over 100 years old, has no insulation, stays hot all summer and cold all winter. To save energy (and money) around the house, we avoid using the central air, preferring a small a/c unit in the bedroom and ceiling fans elsewhere for summer and two 1500 watt electric space heaters over the 80% AFUE gas central furnace and 8 EER DX split system for cooling. We've been able to cut our home energy usage dramatically, though at the expense of much comfort. I also use a lot of CFL bulbs. We therefore save money for the house we hope to buy sometime this year.

    We have one vehicle. She bikes to work, which isn't far, and I have to commute about 12 miles away across the river. The truck isn't too economical, averaging only about 18 mpg, but I don't drive much other than to work and school. We usually rent a more economical vehicle for longer trips to visit family in Texas. But, I hope by the time I have to replace my pickup, there will be some nice, more economical models on the road. I'm not opposed to driving a smaller car (drove a Sentra till it fell apart) I do want something that has a little more capacity for evacuations.

    I pay for a curbside recycling service until New Orleans gets a city-wide service. I recycle everything I can get my hands on: probably about 50% of our household waste, litter around the neighborhood, paper and ink cartridges from work. There's also a few places around town you can bring your electronic waste, leftover paints, usable construction debris, etc.; though glass is impossible. We also buy as much local and organic produce as possible, but we cook a lot from scratch and so don't have a lot of heavily processed foods around, other than canned beans and frozen veggies.

    When we do buy our house, however, I'll probably end up doing a lot of efficiency upgrades, as we plan to stick to our neighborhood to keep her close to her work and avoid the expense of another vehicle. There are some very nice, high efficiency heat pumps on the market, perfect for a climate that gets chilly all winter but rarely below freezing, and, depending on the orientation of the roof, either a solar hot water system (which gets some very nice tax credits here) or a high-efficiency on-demand heater. I'm a sheet metal worker by trade, so we'll probably also end up getting a nice, white, standing seam roof to reflect all that summer sun, and of course an energy-efficient refrigerator.

    I can shave a lot of fat off my daily routine, but the real cuts come with infrastructure changes and better, more efficient, sources of electricity. Considering our power plants and transmission grid only uses about 30% of the energy it takes in, I think that's where the real improvements can be made.

    This is less a reply than a continuation along another line. My own situation is not representative of most Americans. I'm old-school, brought up by parents and grand-parents who knew first-hand of the restrictions imposed in wartime. Thus I have never been a food, energy, water or electricity waster by any Western measure though considerable energy is wasted where I live. I'll explain: living in Paris, I'm a renter; the house is old, the windows not quite covering the gaps, etc. Too financially heavy a job for me to undertake. I do sort the garbage but that's not really new here (paper plastic and tin cans/glass/organic and miscellaneous other). So what have I done? Not much. What do I plan to do? Not much more if I remain in this apartment, old but ... spacious by Parisian standards! I have bought low-consumption appliances, TV and computer. I will probably buy one of those new-fangled light-bulbs one of these days, the problem being where to put it ... Four people live here and that means lots of coming and going, which of course translates into lights on/lights off. I've never used air conditioning either at home or in our car ... I guess I'm more typical of the average European.

    Some of us in Bangalore, India have started an online community called bangalore.praja.in (we are now 1200 strong) Through this we are trying

    a. To influence the local government here to spend more money on public transport systems and increase public transport usage from about 40% today to 65-70%
    b. To make a more pedestrian friendly city (our city is shocking as far as pedestrian facilities go and we have a population of 6 million) so that people choose to walk. The weather here does not get too hot or too cold (Average max of 34C in April/May to average min of 12C in Dec/Jan).
    c. To add more tree cover both within and on the outskirts of the city.
    d. To stop the mad widening of roads to accommodate more cars.

    This is going to be one long battle against the car and construction lobbies, but we have to try.


    I am a retired man well into middle age (70) living on 25 acres of permafrost near Fairbanks Alaska.

    Concerned about the rising cost of fuel I have tried to mitigate the impact on my life.

    I heat with wood and cook with wood in the winter. The stove is a Pioneer Maid. I live off grid. Winter lighting is with propane and kerosene. I use LED headlamps extensively. The price of solar PV panels keeps dropping and I add more every year. I use nickel cadmium batteries for storage. In the winter I use a 1000 watt Honda generator when necessary. I hear that properly maintained generators will last two years before failing.

    I cut maybe 1-1/2 acres and get maybe 2-1/2 cords of wood each year and that's enough to heat and cook all year. The trees are cut into 12 ft lengths and carried home with a 23 hp Kubota tractor. Branches are run through a wood chipper and also used for stove fuel.

    Vehicles are: 1) a 2002 Toyota Echo. Gets 45 mpg in summer. I think Priuses are overrated. 2) a 1981 Datsun diesel pickup. Gets 35 mpg in summer. 3) a 1990 UD 2000 truck with 3 yard dump bed. Gets 17+ mpg on highway in summer. I think having an appropriate vehicle for the load makes the cost of insuring and registering three vehicles worthwhile.

    For refrigeration in summertime we use a hole dug in the ground. These often fill with water so I am adding conventional energy conservative refrigeration as I add solar panels. In winter we have the great outdoors for frozen food and cold corners in the house for unfrozen food.

    Fairbanks fed itself in 1900 but now the population has expanded hugely and most of the food is imported. The future for locally grown food to feed the current population does not look good. "...it would take just under 30,000 acres of new crop land to meet the caloric requirements on a diet of just potatoes, closer to 80,000 acres to provide a more realistic, nutritionally sound, and far less boring menu", according to an article in the Ester Republic. Our growing season is short and our ground is very cold. Most of the veggies you folks in temperate climes grow out of doors we grow in green houses.

    Fortunately we have salmon running up the local rivers. My neighbor has a commercial fishing permit and nets fish. We get a hundred or so fish each year for a few gallons of outboard fuel.

    That's all for now.

    Hi Folks,

    I will probably get slated to hell for this but such is the nature of Ro/Rs!

    "where Ro equals the amount of Reality which fails to reach the Control Unit, and Rs equals the total amount of Reality presented to the system. The fraction Ro/Rs varies from zero (full awareness of outside reality) to unity (no reality getting through)." (From: "The Systems Bible: the Beginners Guide to systems large and small", John Gall, 2006. P.46-7)

    I have quoted this elsewhere, I know.

    In the above posts, death only appears once, and then in a peculiar context that I admit I failed to understand. Yet in any scenario of 3E change/collapse, history itself has shown that death on a large scale is not unusual. A case in point for those of us who live in the 'civilised' west: when did you last see a dead body, or someone actually die? (apart from those whose line of work involves dealings with Mr D) I think you'll agree it is not that common. And because of its lack, the shock of it when it happens is so much greater. We are unprepared, so much so that apart from what the external world does, our own internal world can disintegrate in the blink of an eye. And for those who think they can overcome this through military training they would be well advised to talk to some who have tried. The 'Rambo' Hollywood dream thing it sure as hell ain't...

    Granted there are 1-2% of the population who seem to be naturally inured to killing and death and are indeed it seems the natural born killers, as is found in other animal species as well - a study once confirmed this, can’t find it right now.

    So as regards preparations for yet another Armageddon (from nuclear holocaust through millenarianism way back to various religeous apocalyptic scenes from floods to the falling of various cities/civilisations – we’ve had em’all!), I am trying to be flexible. In this regard, I am investigating how little ‘free will’ humans actually have (Bohm talks about this: “The Essential Bohm”, Ed. Lee Nichol, 1994) due to implicit conditioning from the society one is raised in (as regards nature/nurture – maybe its both). Meditating on this conditioned response to reality, and on the inherent impermanence of the human condition – i.e. death, is a very sobering process. One immediately begins to see just how frail the ‘mighty’ human civilisation is, and how easy and prone to failure it is. From the vulnerability of the individual to disease or injury, to the delicate and yet febrile nature of group activities such as food production, energy and resource distribution, and the building and maintaining of towns and cities. Its a humbling thought.

    Given the severe disconnect due to the perceptual problem of Shifting Baselines seen in the oceans, and across the land masses in terms of deforestation, systemic ecological collapse seems inevitable. Due to the system having been weakened to such an extent, blooms of algae and jelly fish swarm in the oceans and fungal pathogens cause the death of remaining trees such as in the case of Dutch Elm disease (interesting how that occurred around about the time of the introduction of chemical fertilisers and fungicides) and Sudden Oak Death. An immediate moratorium on all fishing and all deforestation is needed, with immediate remedial action to reinstate the huge losses. This, however is unlikely to occur.

    Prior to the rise of humans, the planet was in a stable oscillation between various stages of glaciations – for a non-linear dynamic system this was a real feat, in systems in general stable states are rare, and fixed states impossible.

    The survival of the ‘human’ race is not in question - it is currently the most adaptable life form on the planet - unless the eco-sphere radically alters its chemical composition, in which case its back to microbes. But as for the numbers - well that is a different thing entirely…

    Not realising what we have lost and destroyed over generations, how can we begin to contemplate putting it back? Is our only real hope is for a peaceful death?


    I am purchasing a fairly small house on a 0.4 acre lot a 7-minute walk from a commuter rail station where I can get a train to my job in Boston, 17 miles away. My plan is to retrofit the house with maximum insulation and install a wood stove. The surrounding region is heavily wooded. I am planning to convert the yard into a micro farm, where I hope to grow a good percentage of the food intake for myself and my partner. I am also hoping to raise a few chickens, which I can deploy for bug control and use as a source of manure and eggs. I want good access to Boston so that I can take advantage of job opportunities there in a scenario where they exist. As a fallback, I plan to learn a useful skill that I can practice as I get old, such as shoemaking, as a way of supplementing our income. I am thinking about taking up trapping, if necessary, to catch squirrels and such for protein. There are lots of ponds in the area that could be used to farm fish. The population density on Boston's southern periphery is lower than in some dense rural areas such as China, so there is at least a possibility of near self-sufficiency in food, though it might come at the expense of wood for fuel, but I don't expect the wood to be exhausted in my lifetime.

    I have rejected the idea of relocating, because I don't want to be an outsider and an alien in someone else's community in a time of crisis. Also, as a gay man, there are not many places where I would feel safe, particularly as an outsider. So, I have chosen to locate with my partner in the small town where he grew up. His brother is on the town police force, his family is well known in the town, and I am optimistic that we might be able to mobilize at least part of the town's population around transition survival strategies.

    I have no debt, though I will be taking on a mortgage to finance part of the house purchase (and putting a fair chunk down). I am kind of counting on the dollar losing its value to help pay off the mortgage, though if I can maintain even half of my current income, I can make the payments. I have invested in hard assets and am planning to invest in more, such as the wood stove, treadle-powered sewing machines, a good set of tools, a greenhouse, a sturdy bike, and so on.

    I know that this strategy is far from foolproof, as is any strategy, since we can't know the future. Also, I have no interest in surviving if it requires me to shoot people. My priority is to enjoy life while I have it, and since I enjoy gardening, enjoy this part of the world, and love my partner, I think that my strategy will maximize my chances of enjoying what life I have left.

    I purchased 10 books POWER DOWN (by Richard Heinberg) and gave them to 10 friends.
    I have sent by e-mail links of YouTube videos regarding Peak Oil to many friends and relatives. Unfortunately some people do not believe Global Peak Oil is NOW because they do not hear anything about Peak Oil in the media.
    I have also invited friends and relatives to my house to watch the
    DVD film: A Crude Awakening, The Oil Crash

    I have also talked to people of some Universities and asked them to get the mentioned DVD film and to show the film to all the students.
    I have asked them to get the film: CRUDE IMPACT as well.

    I had given The End of Suburbia and signed copies of The Party's Over and Powerdown as gifts a few years ago. So far I've taken a bicycle repair course and can take apart the whole thing if I have to. Cool.

    Now I'm redoing some hs credits so I can go to university as a mature student for fall of 2010 (it's never too late). I hope to do Systems Design Engineering and not be a useless human. I was getting tired of nowhere IT support anyway.

    I'd like to get into building renewal via Thermal heat and cold small scale as well as public transportation issues in cold engineering (I'm in Canada haha). Thermal acoustic cooling also looks fun as it could replace gases used in fridges, but it needs work. I have half a brain that's good with puzzles and I see no reason to waste it. If I can become Doctor Who that would help.

    In future I'd prefer a variation of a tiny home (tumbleweedhouses.com , their largest size is more than enough) with some land for chickens and a garden and a workshop and that'll be fine for food, energy, and community security. Otherwise I'll have to get a boat a-la Dmitri Orlov survival mode.

    One thing that bothered me was shoes! There are only a handful in all of North America capable of teaching how to make shoes, and none in my province. If I have the ability I'll have to look into it more. That would be a more practical skill than 10 mil people who can all repair bikes!

    Be useful. Be selective. Be yourself.

    In the back of my mind, I have felt for some time there was some great paradigmatic shift ahead, but only in the last few years did its nature and scope really hit me. Since about 2004 I began the following preparations:

    1. I got 100% out of debt
    2. I began saving money, tools, books, and food in earnest.
    3. I began learning as many useful skills as I could, including:
    cultivation/gardening, welding, machining, bicycle maintenance, electronics assembly/troubleshooting, food preservation, basic firearms skills, hydraulics, and carpentry among others.
    4. I began telling others of my conclusions, receiving mostly snickers from my co-workers and friends(however this does not dissuade me!).
    5. I am currently looking into volunteering in my community to raise awareness of bicycling and soil health/gardening.
    6. I started experimenting with food plants to find the best ones to grow in my area, concentrating on open-pollinated, high nutrition varieties.

    I have found this forum to be invaluable, especially the more technical writings and even the cultural commentary by members such as Airedale and others. Keep your chin up people!...at some point we are going to need each other!