Tuna, Toilet paper, and Timing

Concern about global resource depletion, at least in certain circles, is generating individual hoarding behavior - I don't know how prevalent this is, the potential advantages it will ultimately confer, or any of the subtleties of the'must have' list. This brief Campfire essay is a (somewhat disjointed) exploration of the short term translation of financial capital into basic goods, from the perspective of long term timing and social trajectories. (I expect it will generate some good discussion, especially following Luis' piece on Sustainability)

When Johnny Carson made a joke about toilet paper supplies disappearing from shelves on the Tonight Show in the late 1970s, it caused instant hoarding of TP which ended up lasting 3 weeks. (Toilet paper ranks #28 on Matt Savinar's list of 100 Items to Disappear First-Business-Plan. In a just-in-time inventory society, where food, water and energy arrive each day 'at the margin' in a complex delivery matrix dependent on liquid fuels, it is only a matter of time (20 days to 20 years?) before shortages of some sort or other occur. There is also reason to suspect that once this happens, there will be considerable positive feedback behavior, both at the moment, and in a lasting shift in peoples expectations about future 24/7 availability of goods buffets.

I was a bit taken aback this week when I went to my hairstylist, (who has until this occasion demonstrated rare skill with sasquatch locks) when she confided her recent exchange of all her bank cash for gold and tools. Surprised, I proceeded to provide her an academic explanation of her behaviour as trading abstract fiat capital into real capital in an environment of energy depletion and expansion of fiat debt, etc. She nodded knowingly and shared that she has believed society was headed for collapse since the 1970s, and only recently have real world facts caught up with her views. She went on to say that the next 20-30 years are going to be much better than the previous 20-30, and wanted to hang on something of lasting value during the transition. She then asked what 'depletion' and 'fiat' meant.

The drive home had me thinking thoughts on various levels. On the surface, I was curious as to how many people unaware of peak oil and fundamentals of debt/credit crisis have been intuitively preparing for some sort of social dislocation. An ivory tower moment for me, of sorts, I suppose. But as I thought about it deeper I wondered, in a world of myriad possibilities, intentions and trajectories, what actual long term advantage would people with gold, or foodstocks, or ammo, really experience - 3%? 50%?. In the grand scheme what kind of edge will Savinar-with-slingshot types have over those who haven't prepared one whit, but who are smart, resourceful and crafty? Or is it just perception of an edge? When we make decisions for tomorrow, is it to improve our odds for some perceived future bottleneck? Or is buying/hoarding stuff like buying State Farm life insurance - it allows us the expectation of a better, smoother, (risk adjusted) future? Or, just like higher returns in the stock market, as a (perceived) indicator of relative fitness vis-a-vis others. (e.g. Bob has 400 lbs more rice and 7 more guns than Bill - we gotta be friends with Bob!) Still, on an even deeper level, even though goods accumulation is in preparation for the 'future', it is still a focus on the very near term future, not the time frame needed for long term symbiosis of our species with the rest of the planetary ecology. So hoarding/peak oil prep. may be just another avenue for individual out-performance in a global commons, via competing for real goods instead of financial.

When we think about the future, whose future are we really thinking about? Our own? Our yet-as-unborn grandchildren? Or yet to be speciated future evolutionary organisms, products of hundreds of thousands of years of vibrant/healthy world ecosystems into the future? The above graph is totally hypothetical, but attempts to illustrate that as the focal point of our cultural/global decisions extends outward in time, it will have differing impacts both on future human welfare (black line) and future non-human welfare - biodiversity, healthy ecosystems, etc. (green line). As our focus moves forward in time, the black line suggests that future human welfare will decline until we begin to focus beyond the next 20 or so years. It is unlikely that many organisms, even possessing language and culture, could think/plan much beyond their own lifespans, but until such a point is reached, focusing on the present, especially when using finite extractable resources, borrows from the future, and quite possibly the immediate future. It seems to me that 'hoarding' as individuals is the opposite strategy as 'hoarding' as a species, which would entail consuming anything beyond renewable flows and the barest trickle of non-renewable resources. (The graph could be drawn many different ways depending on ones assumptions about population, resources and impacts)

Biology tells us that organisms arrived at today's present form and number by 'maximizing 'fitness', or pursuing those behaviours that were most successful in propelling their specific genotypes forward in time. But this is true only looking backwards in time, to all the events/bottlenecks in our ancestry that shaped our physical and mental characteristics before we were born. Once we emerge, bright eyed and naked, we then become adaptation executors, running cultural software cues through fixed hardware. (yes the hardware can 'change', i.e. plasticity, but this trait itself is a fixed property in the wetware). We are descended from the best of the best at surviving, procuring goods, and mating. Most of the planning and decision-making occuring today, even among the depletion cognoscenti, is likely favoring a very short time horizon in the grand scheme. It strikes me that hoarding goods, or scaling renewable infrastructure - wind, solar, nuclear etc. without paying attention to and shifting our demand drivers, is implicitly favoring a certain time period in our future - perhaps 2015-2025. In order to favor 2025 and beyond we need to start making consumption paradigm shifts etc. Still, as events decelerate with energy, the economy and the environment, this will on average increase stress, cognitive load, etc. thus continually shrinking our time horizon of focus.

I have no firm conclusions on these musings, other than by definition those alive and making decisions in 2050 and beyond, will be those (or the descendants of those) who by luck or preparation made it through to that time. I also don't believe that one necessarily needs to be alive or have copies of ones genes extant in that future, to impact it. Finally, I have come to realize that every 'plan' that we individually or as a culture pursue, by definition favors one time frame in the future over another. I'm not sure what this means, other than the further we look in the future, the less certainty there is - so perhaps all trajectories have to just take it one step at a time...


Campfire questions:

1)Regarding 'hoarding', have you been buying things that you fear someday might be unavailable due to breakdown in supply chain, etc? If so, what is your objective by owning such things? Insurance? To make it through a bottleneck? What % advantage might these things offer you vs average human conspecifics?

2)Regarding the future, how will decisions optimized for the next 5-20 years adversely affect the next 50-100 years? Is it even possible to care more about 100 years from now than 10 years from now, as an individual? as a society?

3)Could we prepare for depletion equally well by giving things up? Instead of amassing 'extra' supply, instead reduce our demand for things at a similar pace? I think this is possible at the margin, but can we really reduce our demand for food, water, energy, and extra 'insurance'?

4)===> anything else related to preparation/paradigm change/timing you think is important..

I expect this to be a popular thread on TOD. My thoughts:

1. Have not bought any "preps", other than camping supplies (which I use for camping). I Do not hoard food. This is mostly due to the fact that I rent, not own.

2. The biggest one I can think of is the decision whether or not to have kids. One must decide whether having kids would increase/decrease one's chance of survival over the next 15-20 years, but if you decide that it would be disadvantageous to procreate (would require you to secure more resources over the short term), then you may have hurt your chances in the long term.

3. It depends if you mean individually or collectively. I think that an individual should do both, but I don't see how reducing your demand on a personal level will do much, other than easing the psychological shock when there is less to be had. You will still need supplies. On a societal level, I think doing with less will be far more effective than hoarding.


I wonder what the time frame of some "preppers" is. Are they remembering to rotate through their stocks? If you buy a bunch of canned tuna, and throw it in the attic, don't expect to be able to eat it in 10 years.

One issue also to be considered is the effect of the accumulation of physical capital (food, TP, Ammo) on social capital. Is hoarding really a good idea if it isolates you from the group? What if the power goes out, and you fall down the basement stairs going to your stash, but nobody checks on you because you're the weird guy who hoards food?

"On a societal level, I think doing with less will be far more effective than hoarding."

I agree with this.

We have no stores of food (as in large cans of this or that in the basement). Instead, what I am doing is gradually expanding my garden, and continuing to learn more about providing food for myself and my husband. We do not have children, but tonight I gave some beets, carrots, and kale to one of our neighbors who has two children. It's definitely better to grow food and share than to buy food and hoard.

But I would not want to be categorical about it. If someone wants to hoard, let it be. It's just that it tends to perpetuate what is probably an existing isolation or alienation from others ... whereas we really are all in this together, whether or not it's easy to perceive that, or feel it.

My weak point in terms of food is food preservation. I am reluctant to spend time and energy canning our garden harvest. I know I would love the results in the winter, but to me it's not sustainable. On my list is to build a solar food dryer. Drying food to save it for the winter to me is much more sustainable since you don't even need a solar dryer to do it: you can simply spread out food on trays in the sun. But it does take labor to tend it.

I wonder what the time frame of some "preppers" is.

I could feed my family for about a year and 1/2 with my preps.

Are they remembering to rotate through their stocks?

I buy what we eat already, just more of it. On sale.

What if ... nobody checks on you because you're the weird guy who hoards food?

I don't advertize it.

1. I have hoarded some minimal amounts of food, medicine anti-fiat and especially water dating back to the cold war and the possibility of earthquakes, financial collapse and nuclear war. I also tried to live within my means.
2. Other than having a vasectomy there was little that I could see doing for those I expect to be living in the 22nd Century.
3. I admired but did not want to emulate Mr. Propter, the Aldous Huxley extremist trying to live off the land in the 1939 novel After Many A Summer Dies the Swan.
4. The attendees were sorry that you were unable to attend the mini-conference in Hawaii. What do you think of Jay's proposed solutions? He tends to not approve my posts about the number of bureaucrats required to allocate toilet paper in Hawaii, dieoff as a free market mechanism, or the need for money as a store of value a standard of value and particularly a medium of exchange in a shrinking post peak population. To say nothing of the impossibility of controlling 7 billion people.

So where to begin?

I generally hoard on a short-term timescale even while renting.

Eating and drinking are important to me. I don't want to be out of food/water during an earthquake in the sf bay area.

It's also annoying to make constant trips to the grocery store for food which keeps out of the fridge anyway.

Planning to do more extensive gardening >>> farming.


"survival"? Not so much. all my stuff is dual-purpose.

communication, self defense, bicycles... all useful in the present.
solar charger for batteries...this is just to fool myself about being 'ecofriendly' and saving money on batteries.

planting trees/veggies: this is to learn skills, save money, eat healthier. it's planning for a future of local food distribution and collapse of the govt/corporate stone heads.

in that vein, a bike can be used during a fuel shortage whether temporary or permanent. but at some point, even bicycles depend on having patch kits for tubes. that's just abotu the only thing that would stop working on a bicycle... i saw plenty of cambodians bicycling on dirt roads.

plan to learn sailing for pleasure and for potential long-term necessity.

all these things really only help me and my circle personally, and by reducing stress of everyone else by being more self-reliant. one less person at walmart the day after an earthquake. hopefully one less person getting a heart operation.

if we were all planning 100+ years out, we'd abandon our cars completely, knowing they have zero future. we'd put in lots of trains in teh US -- even tho this too is not in harmony with nature, ultimately.

because ultimately, to be in harmony with nature we'd all go back to living off the land directly. we'd stop using electricity and FFs. and there'd be orders of magnitude fewer of us.

nothing i do now is really planning for 100 years out.

nothing we do matters in a billion years is how i see it, but i try to do 'the right thing' anyway.

nate and everyone, you should check out 'halfpasthuman.'

also stocked up on alcohol and meds. recently learned how damn EASY it is to make honey wine.

just do one part honey to four parts water and let it SIT for a month. or something like that.

i'd rather do more exotic things, but..

like someone else here, have been planting native plants as well as the directly useful ones...

It's best to actually have some known yeast to kick the process off...get a more predictable result that way. I use Lalvin wine yeasts. I've made a few different hooches, the best being the apple-hooch. It's been a while so I can't recall exactly what quantities I used, but I think I put in two cans of apple juice concentrate and about 1/2 pound of sugar to fill a 1 gallon carboy, EC-111B yeast. Satanically sweet and the alcohol would sneak up on you and knock you on your ass. The real fun is hearing the "bloop......bloop..." from the fermentation lock and watching it bubble in the early days - good smell, too.

Ive made mead by this method. AMAZINGLY good! Also, native plants are incredibly usefull in themselves. Just get the book Native American Ethnobotany, by Daniel E. Moerman. (unless,that is, you dont live in the US.)

but at some point, even bicycles depend on having patch kits for tubes. that's just abotu the only thing that would stop working on a bicycle...

Oh no, my friend, oh no... I have over $2000 worth of spares for my 2 bikes, ranging from wheels, tires, tubes, chains, gear clusters, lubricants, brake pads, etc. Your comment is naive in the extreme.

You might consider that hoarding, even for an individual is dangerous in an urban environment.

Your stash will have more value to the people that don't own it than to you (the running-for-your-life vs running-for-your-dinner argument from natural predator/prey models).

Unless hoarding and hiding go together?

I would guess that life would need to be pretty bad before hoarding would have any noticeable positive effect. And at this point you probably have much bigger problems.

The nuclear (self-reliant) family model again - any meaningful existence will require a community of skills and not just stock (as many others on TOD have said much more eloquently than me!).

1. Everybody should have food in case of an oil embargo or act of war or terrorism. I increased the amount of long shelf life food I keep on hand to about three weeks worth. Nothing I wouldn’t ordinarily use, so I do have a grain mill and bread machine so I have 50 pounds of wheat. We have been making our own bread for 30 years because it tastes better. I bought a lot with mature pecan trees and planted citrus, figs and loquats. It has decent soil and I have deeply dug raised beds, but only grow a few things. My wife and I could grow enough to eat; however, we live on the edge of a 100,000 population area next to cropland. There are fields of peanuts at the end of my street.

I also bought bulk fertilizer from the farm supply for my one acre yard. Most I applied to build soil fertility, but some is for long term use. By bulk I mean bring your own large containers and weigh it out. DAP (18-46-0) and 34-0-0 are about $485/ton.

I retired early and, moved from Atlanta and built a concrete house that requires little energy and no maintenance. It was expensive and I had to design it myself and be general contractor. Dozens of generations past me should be comfortable in it. The house was inspired by ice storms that left me freezing in the dark and outrageous natural gas prices. Also, maintenance on conventional houses cost up to 3% of the value, and they still depreciate.

2. Decisions made today for peak resources are too late already. Also, we ignored the ageing of the population, pretending that the government could car fro retirees. The government is broke. Another mistake was deindustrialization through globalization. The good news is a lot of imports were auto related, and this segment of the economy will disappear over the next 25 years.

3. I cut out much unnecessary driving. I do not waste money on new cars. The ones I own will outlast the fuel supply. We had a better solution to transportation in 1910 with streetcars and railroads.

Nice post topic, thanks Nate.

I think "hoarding" is one interesting example of phase-state transitions in human systems which share some very similar dynamics with nonliving systems. I think such phase transitions will be an important thing shaping the way things turn out. Fruitful ground for discussion another day.

To a certain degree, I practice what some would call hoarding, and have always done so; not as a reaction to any particular fear but as a kind of no-brainer level of individual resilience. Not only does it cost less to buy foods in bulk, but it saves fuel, money, and CO2. Moreover, I have water purification systems, antibiotics, and all else one would need to survive independent of external systems for 6 months or so. There is no net cost to do this; again, it saves money, time, and convenience at the minor costs of a little storage space and forethought. What's the down side?

Actually, if you buy stuff while it's plentiful, I don't know that it's technically hoarding.

Certainly, anyone who's ever been in a survival situation might think this way, and I have been. In my case, though, it may just be my partial-autism wiring; I have never been uncomfortable doing stuff in different ways than others if it seemed to make more sense. Thus, making a trip to the store every day just seems dysfunctional to me; aesthetically messed-up.

I have a brother in Texas, and when visiting there once, he and his wife admonished me not to buy a 5-lb bag of potatoes even though it was the same price as one pound of non-bagged potatoes (and identical potatoes). I bought them anyway, and when it came to storing the remaining 4 lbs overnight, they asked me to throw them away because they didn't wish to be the "sort of people" who stored potatoes. I noted that they'd actually be wise to have a bit of food stored in their home for unforseen circumstances and offered to pay for it myself. His wife simply said "we'd rather die" and that ended that discussion. They fancied themselves fairly well-off at the time, not sure about now.

As I say, I don't consider my lifestyle to constitute special prep for anything; I'd turn it around and wonder why anyone would wish to depend absolutely on a long supply chain and just-in-time delivery for their meds, food, sanitation, etc.

For heavy-duty situations like societal collapse, individual resilience makes some sense, but stored food wouldn't help much.

More to the point, for me, is that I have consciously de-emphasized personal survival to focus on larger questions of the earth. At 58 and somewhat disabled, living forever is a losing proposition anyhow; and would be a silly place for sunk costs. I'll probably survive any weird stuff fairly well since I operate efficiently in chaotic situations, but it's not an important goal compared with what's generally at stake.

RE: discount rates, I'll do a separate post on that....

Re: throwing out potatoes

That is truly bizarre. Do they empty out milk jugs and throw out bread and eggs when they pack it in for the night?

"...they didn't wish to be the "sort of people" who stored potatoes."

Something tells me that these are the "sort of people" who would build a house without a bathroom because they do not excrete feces.

Of course, if you do not excrete it...(you just fill up with it)

The culture of the DFW suburbs really is mind-bending when I visit there. I think they take it to an extreme, but living at the limit of one's means as a social norm is commonplace. Row after row of hermetically sealed high-ceilinged air-conditioned houses; multiple daily trips to the densely-packed stores, meticulous lawns.

Actually, in their previous house they kept the dog in one bedroom, where it crapped and peed on the carpet for years, while the rest of the house was a showplace. Personally, I'd rather have a bag of potatoes in the closet than a bedroom with a urine-soaked carpet, but that's just me.

Anyhow, I think that a place like DFW will really be hit once things start being less dependable.

Hi Nate,

I have some time so I will answer your questions.

1) I have a small amount of gold just as a kind of "insurance". I've heard that after the war in Europe it was helpful to have some. I started out with it to trade it, but then once I had it- it seemed just wrong to sell it. We have some stockpiles of food and water in event of a hurricane but I haven't taken the step yet of stockpiling for a sustained shortage of basic goods. I don't know what I am waiting for, it just seems like abandoning all hope to take that step.

2) This is playing out now by opening new areas to oil drilling. IMO areas not being drilled now should be held in reserve for future generations. And for anyone with children it is easy to care about the long term. Granted that 100 years is several generations, but do we really want to be remembered by our descendents for our greed?

3) I just read an article the other day where they cut the calories of Rhesus monkeys by a third and showed that the health benefits were phenomenal. So yes, I certainly think that cutting back is a viable strategy. We have installed better insulation and solar water heat in our house and I drive a small 4-cylinder car that is certified as an ULEV. I think this is actually the better strategy because this sets an example that others might be willing to follow. There is so much waste in everything right now, how much improvement would there be in our situation if everyone became more frugal? We could at least buy some time.

4) What you are going to have in this discussion are those who think you have to go it alone and those like me who think survivable is not feasible without a community effort. I think preparation should consist of learning how to be a leader, or at least how to gain some amount of influence. Those of us who have knowledge of the problems facing us should have knowledge of possible solutions and the capability to influence people around us if we want to make a difference.


Your remark about leaving resources for later generations triggered the thought that we would be leaving the least accessible ones that require the most expense [in both energy and investment] and sophisticated technology to retrieve and use.

This seems to me to have the unconscious bias of assuming that the level of economic structures and technology will be functional in the future that we would be bequething these resources to.

Far better than lauding ourselves for some moral restraint, it makes sense for us to use the resources lightly and then just kiss them goodby as stranded resources forever.


That's a good point you make about the leaving the least accessible resources. I haven't really developed my thought on this subject too much but discussing it will help.

I think we may agree more than you than you realize. When I speak of leaving untapped oil reserves for our children I really mean the generation growing up now. I have no idea what the situation will be 100 years down the road but I think you're right that drilling for oil two miles below the ocean surface may be beyond them.

The way I feel is that untapped resources should be off-limits until people start to appreciate their scarcity and use them sparingly. So I agree that it does make sense for us to use resources lightly.

My hope with this would be to buy time to adapt to different energy sources and mitigate the transition to a lower-energy lifestyle. Maybe there was some desire on my part for this generation to have some moral restraint, but chances for that are not too good anyway from the look of things.

Hey Clint,

In case you ever try the Rhesus monkey thing, voluntarily or not, their diets were very carefully controlled. Caloric restriction is about calories, not nutrients, so just be careful :)

From the main post: "When we think about the future, whose future are we really thinking about?" This reminded me of the quote, I believe from Franz Kafka: "There is hope, but not for us."

As to hoarding/prep, I keep some food stocks, but mostly we've been trying to de-clutter.

I don't know if you could call it hording, but I have been trying to develop the tilth of my soils and the species diversity around me. I have planted over 100 kinds of native plants on my property, mostly non-edible, but many with medicinal uses. All have large root systems that sequester carbon and develop the soil. I regular take bags of leaves from neighbors' curbs and turn them into compost or beds for potatoes which grow well in old leaves.

Besides tilth, tools, skills, and cultivating lower levels of desire for most things, I think developing community resilience is something that will do the most for survivability. I would love to see a campfire on how to do this most effectively.

Regarding the future, how will decisions optimized for the next 5-20 years adversely affect the next 50-100 years? Is it even possible to care more about 100 years from now than 10 years from now, as an individual? as a society?

I think you're entirely right that the target time period defines the prep, and that part of our 'tragedy of the chronological commons' is the steep discount rate, which rarely sees past a human generation, if that. And that whether the target of prep is "human happiness" or a "healthy world" makes a huge difference.

When it comes to this stuff, I have an admittedly odd discount rate: in terms of how I invest my time and energy, I value the far future more than the present. My own target is the earth of 1000+ years in the future, and humans as maybe 10% of that effort vs. 90% for other species and supporting ecosystems. So since I've been doing it for a third of a century, it must be possible in principle.

I mean, think of it, there's something on the order of a billion years of life left in the Earth, and even if one wishes to be human-centric there could easily be trillions of real human lives yet to be lived. It strikes me that not having that time period be our primary consideration is wildly f*kked-up. But as I say, I'm a bit odd.

Thus, my primary concern is what makes it through the bottleneck, and that's what I work on.

Some scientists believe the figure is something closer to 500 million years of life left on earth. After that the sun is supposed to expand and engulf the earth turning it into a cinder.

And others figure 1.5 billion; hence my saying "on the order of a billion".

But say it's only a measly 431.6 million years. That's a whole mess of time. The dang dinosaurs have only been gone for 65 million.

I don't mean to pick on your comment, and I'm the one who mentioned a billion years, but like clockwork every time I mention something to anyone about timescales more than 10,000 years in the future - which is an eyeblink in geological or even evolutionary time - I find people start saying "dude, the sun's gonna burn the earth up anyhow".

It's a non-friggin-sequitur, ok?

I've called this the "nihilism heuristic", the tendency to conflate wildly disparate outcomes beyond a short time horizon and use that "deep thought" as a rationale for whatever it is one wants to do anyway.

The sun burning the earth up in a billion years seems to be the ONE piece of scientifically-grounded cosmology which has worked its way into everyone's philosophy, and it's used to rationalize wrecking the planet. Perfect.

Thanks for letting me vent.

1) I went to the store today and filled my vehicle with toilet paper. Thanks for the tip on using it as a currency (I had only enough for personal use). I have also cigarettes and alcohol in my survival bunker for use as barter currency. In any period of social unrest one just needs enough to be able to lay low and stay out of sight until some sort of order is restored. It gives you time to plan your next move. It is difficult to plan for longer term survival without seeing the context of how society reacts to shorter term events.

2) My philosophy is to look after the short term and the long term will look after itself.

3) You should stockpile essentials to be comfortable while oil supply shocks pass though society. You will be forced to give up things in the future. It will not be a choice you make. So enjoy them now.

4) Longer term (6 months +) you can do very little to isolate yourself from general changes in society. Even growing your own food is not sufficient as people will steal the food from your fields during the night. I have carried out some research on farm fortification - but the cost and number of people that would have to be involved is too great to be implimented this far in advance.

Your Quote: "I have carried out some research on farm fortification - but the cost and number of people that would have to be involved is too great to be implemented this far in advance."

In earlier TOD postings: I laid out a method whereby I/O-NPK investors would stockpile, inside the farmgate, a multi-year supply for the farmer. This incentivizes these investors to protect their hoard and the farmer AT ALL COSTS WTSHTF. Skilled snipers, with top-notch equipment on top of tall barns & grain silos, should have no problem approaching the single-shot kill record of 1.65 miles. YMMV.

Recall that IMO: future-oriented NPKS 'topsoil fuel' will be more valuable than PMs or big-screen TVs for trade; yellow scrambled eggs & golden bread more valuable than yellow coins. There are No Substitutes to these Elements to leverage photosynthesis above a Liebig Minimum.

Elements NPKS->food surpluses->job specialization->civilization. Will the USA ever see the postPeak need for my speculative 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPKS'? Consider how reliant we now are upon I-NPKS imports, yet I see no massive build for many Ghawars of O-NPKS.

I went to the store today and filled my vehicle with toilet paper. Thanks for the tip on using it as a currency

Absurd. I only use water to clean my bum, like most Africans and Asians do (although I'm a whitey). Everyone can easily stop using toilet paper. Just pour water from a jug over your crack from behind and clean the anus with the other hand. You end up with a much cleaner butt than when using TP. I guarantee toilet paper will disappear in the future. Guaranteed.

I will go to my grave baffled by the fact that North Americans and Englisg-speakers in general do not own or use bidets.

Neither do Swedes but there were a bidet fad somewehere arund 1970.
I guess the bidet demand has been filled by showering if you feel or are
that dirty.

Possibly a cultural consequence of the relatively recent step-up from the outhouses of my farm-family father's time. And I'm only 25. I don't think it's a desire to consume resources, in this case.

>Even growing your own food is not sufficient as people will steal the food from your fields during the night.

Hence the practice of growing "stealth" foods that are largely unfamiliar and mostly invisible. Parsnips can sit in the ground all winter - not require refrigeration - and it takes a very observant person to know what is hidden there. This year I'm growing some amaranth for grain. The variety I'm trying is an ornamental plant. Most people would have no idea it was a valuable food stuff.

The best defense against marauders are many neighbors all engaged in growing their own food. Communities that can feed themselves, much with individual garden plots, will not feel as much pressure as communities where gardens are sparse and pantries are bare.

I have no firm conclusions on these musings, other than by definition those alive and making decisions in 2050 and beyond, will be those (or the descendants of those) who by luck or preparation made it through to that time. I also don't believe that one necessarily needs to be alive or have copies of ones genes extant in that future, to impact it.

I know for a fact that no critter alive in the coming billion years will be a direct descendent of me.

And that's fine. It will be no great loss to the world not to have my odd genome passed along piecemeal to the future, and for that matter my sister has substantially my same genes and has successfully cranked out a lineage of a lot of baptist grandkids who are carrying on the tradition.

Rather, what I hope to pass on to the future is species and systems which might otherwise be lost, a healthier planet, and maybe some ways of humans getting things done which will make things a bit less messed-up than they would otherwise have been. Will I succeed? Time will tell, but it's a fully rational choice to make.

Honestly, I can see why genes would use humans to replicate themselves: it's the simple structure of their existence. But I have utterly no idea why, knowing this, human minds often feel some sort of intellectual obligation to adopt their genes' mindless agenda.

I am not my genes; in fact, they're not only trying to kill me but will succeed. My genes' agenda is not a sane agenda for a citizen of this planet. It is owed no loyalty, nor are they.

Why the hell should we care whether the humans of two centuries hence are descended from our gonads or our neighbors'? It will be largely luck which determines the survivors, and our enormity of excess population pretty much guarantees that there will be survivors if larger life forms continue at all.

On the other hand, protecting an ecosystem, saving species; these things have at least the potential to resonate through living reality for a billion years. By the same token, passing on ideas and values to others strikes me as a more reasonable sort of "reproduction" than the genetic kind.

"and for that matter my sister has substantially my same genes and has successfully cranked out a lineage of a lot of baptist grandkids who are carrying on the tradition."

Not that different from my only sister. Certainly you have many genes in common with your sister but looking back a generation, she may have inherited a disproportionate number of genes from two of the four grandparents compared to yourself.

Certainly you have many genes in common with your sister but looking back a generation, she may have inherited a disproportionate number of genes from two of the four grandparents compared to yourself.

Robert, that's true, but don't take it as snide when I note that I utterly could not give downpayment on a rat's ass how many of my genes they do or don't have.

I wish her brood the very best of luck, but that has nothing to do with any gene commonality. Actually, to me the very notion of caring more about people based on how many genes they share is functionally insane. As I say, it makes sense for the DNA since that's what DNA does; it's simply silly as a human fetish.

Loving one's family is great; but loving people who aren't related to you is great too. And feeling a kinship across species lines... well, that's the direction we need to go, IMO.

"Loving one's family is great; but loving people who aren't related to you is great too. And feeling a kinship across species lines... well, that's the direction we need to go, IMO."

Thank you. I believe these are the thoughts of an advanced being.

Hi Greenish,

On the other hand, protecting an ecosystem, saving species; these things have at least the potential to resonate through living reality for a billion years. By the same token, passing on ideas and values to others strikes me as a more reasonable sort of "reproduction" than the genetic kind.

Your above comment may well be appreciated by many TOD readers, but I would speculate that less than 1% of the US population would have any clue what you are talking about or could even care enough to think about it for 15 seconds.

As we have discussed in the past, the great majority of world citizens, and US folks in particular, are far more focused on the quality of their life after death than they are about the quality of life for the planet's various species in 100 years or so. The absolute belief that there is a supernatual world surrounding our natual world has totally crippled the minds of most humans to comprehend what is happening in terms of human population versus natual resources (resources in the broadest sense - not just fossil fuels and metals).

Human reproduction (the genetic kind) cannot be questioned in the mind of a christian or other delusional believers of myths. If this most fundamental of all issues cannot be questioned, then how can we expect many people to appreciate your vision of reproducing intellectual stuff instead of genetic stuff.

The entire concept of evolution and genes is so simple, logical, and proven that it is astonishing how many Americans cannot accept these simple facts and instead prefer to believe that some "holy" books have been authored by some supernatual entity that created humans in its "image and likeness" to reign surpreme over the "beasts" on the planet.

I think you are 100% correct in your thinking about ideas and values being reproduced versus hordes of more humans - so, that makes you and me and perhaps - how many more? Not many I suspect.

Honestly, I can see why genes would use humans to replicate themselves: it's the simple structure of their existence. But I have utterly no idea why, knowing this, human minds often feel some sort of intellectual obligation to adopt their genes' mindless agenda.

I am not my genes; in fact, they're not only trying to kill me but will succeed. My genes' agenda is not a sane agenda for a citizen of this planet. It is owed no loyalty, nor are they.

A very interesting comment. I see this almost completely the other way.

It seems like you identify yourself as your consciousness, and your genes are a separate being that lives through you. I feel like my consciousness is a product of my DNA interacting with the environment, and there is no "me". Identity is a fluke of perception, an imagined separation of reality into defined parts. If this is all true, then there is no "Great Purpose", but plenty of purposes one can choose to follow. I think yours is a noble purpose, and I share many of your sentiments regarding the future that is to emerge.

Ultimately though, I think you put too much faith in human self-control. It's not as if our Genes whisper to us, "Go make lots of babies", and we agree. We follow our feelings and urges because we don't know what else to do. We can justify our actions with Reason, but ultimately reason is relative to our perceived purpose. And, we pick a purpose that best fits how we feel. Sort of self-reinforcing rationality.

From a human perspective it seems like our genes have a purpose: to self-replicate. From the perspective of an scientist, it doesn't seem like genes have a purpose. They are just bits of matter following the rules of physics. Not that I think there are "rules" of physics, but it's more clear than saying "doing what they are."

Writing this stuff feels like trying to wrestle the Tao. Trying to define that which is beyond definition. It's a futile effort, but one still tries.

A very interesting comment. I see this almost completely the other way.
It seems like you identify yourself as your consciousness, and your genes are a separate being that lives through you. I feel like my consciousness is a product of my DNA interacting with the environment, and there is no "me". Identity is a fluke of perception, an imagined separation of reality into defined parts.

And thanks for your thoughts; mine are just top-of-the head thoughts to toss out to the campfire gang. But they are a good snapshot of how I think about it.

I certainly realize that the organism referred to by my social security number is made of meat and electrochemistry. However, it is also true that the things which are cognitively emergent are in many ways a more salient measure of individuality for our conduct as inhabitants of the earth.

I fully agree that your consciousness and mine are a result of our DNA interacting with the environment; but behaviorally we are distinct; the things you do and the things I do are presumably somewhat different. The concept of "me" is logically consistent, and if it's an arbitrary convention - arguable - it's also an understandable one.

If this is all true, then there is no "Great Purpose", but plenty of purposes one can choose to follow. I think yours is a noble purpose, and I share many of your sentiments regarding the future that is to emerge.

There is no inherent "great purpose" I have discerned in the universe. But purpose is an inherently subjective human concept, and it thus has meaning to the extent we feel that it does. Once one decides that solipsism and hedonism are thin gruel, it's no great leap to making arbitrary decisions which can establish a reasonable context for feelings of significance. For instance, the arbitrary decisions "life on earth is a good thing", or "self awareness is better than no awareness". These are not Truths, but they are reasonable arbitrary standards for self-aware earthlife. So acting in accord with them provides structure for a certain non-dissonant self-image, and for me, meaning.

Ultimately though, I think you put too much faith in human self-control. It's not as if our Genes whisper to us, "Go make lots of babies", and we agree. We follow our feelings and urges because we don't know what else to do. We can justify our actions with Reason, but ultimately reason is relative to our perceived purpose. And, we pick a purpose that best fits how we feel. Sort of self-reinforcing rationality.

I put nearly no faith in human self-control. However, in my experience, it isn't always illusory. In my case, I have acted greatly at odds with my feelings and urges. We could get into a circular /tautological discussion over whether my ability to do this was simply another urge, but I'll state that it has not been.

From a human perspective it seems like our genes have a purpose: to self-replicate. From the perspective of an scientist, it doesn't seem like genes have a purpose. They are just bits of matter following the rules of physics. Not that I think there are "rules" of physics, but it's more clear than saying "doing what they are."

Well, it's point of view, isn't it. The concept of "purpose" is a human conceptual mapping which has no privileged status in the universe, and which oft goes astray teleologically. Hell, even causality may not be as tightly constrained in the full-dimensional universe as we would suppose.

Still, I think my point stands as reasonable. Behavioristically, DNA can be said to have an "agenda" to replicate, since that is a reasonable metaphoric representation for a human brain to get a handle on. And my assertion is that this metaphoric "gene agenda" is a dumb-ass thing for humans to pay any sort of obiesance to, to the extent they might attempt to exercise some control over their rationalizations.


Thanks for responding.
It appears we do have a similar perspective on interactions of genes within reality. It seems I was just being difficult over the language.
I wonder if there is a feedback where those who resist their genetic agenda to multiply are overtaken by those who don't.

Hey thisone

Nobody was ever born to someone that resisted [successfully] the urge to procreate [baring rape and no remedy other than infanticide].

Don't need no highfaluting feedback mechanism for that. Bet there is however a strong correlation between people that successfully thwart reproduction and being overly impressed with their self-consciousness. Nature's way of pruning the outliers.



You're not the only one to have made this obversation.One of my more radical right winger friends refers to the efforts of the well educated who refrain from having children for societal reasons as engaging in self imposed genocide for the sake of making an example that obvoiusly will not be followed-except by the like minded.

He has only two kids and is doing everything he can to create an educational and economic base that will help them survive,including learning how to garden on a grand scale and care for domestic animals.

There are many routes to most destinations-and he has arrived at the Oil drum consensus,if there is such a thing,thru reading science fiction,history,and a couple of daily papers.

His forecast,for any who are wondering ,is for an extended period of "hard times"
followed by a new paradigm characterized by an austere standard of living with little hope of upward mobility for the survivors of the war(s) he sees as inevitable.

Lots of work for servants but very damn little for automobile mechanics.

Plenty of work for women who can repair clotheing ,or make new clotheing out of salvaged fabric,but not much opportunity for them to sew in factories anymore.

Lots of work for men who can patch roofs but not much work putting roofs on new houses.

Hello Nate,

Your Quote: "It seems to me that 'hoarding' as individuals is the opposite strategy as 'hoarding' as a species, which would entail consuming anything beyond renewable flows and the barest trickle of non-renewable resources."

Your Question:
2)Regarding the future, how will decisions optimized for the next 5-20 years adversely affect the next 50-100 years? Is it even possible to care more about 100 years from now than 10 years from now, as an individual? as a society?

My reply, reposted from today's DB:

"She comes down from Yellow Mountain.."
Full credit to Michael Martin Murphy and Youtube's 'Wildfire Reloaded'.

Basically, we should encourage the FF-producers to get [S]ynaptic Wildfire[S] reloaded early, then massively hoard recovered-S for Optimal Overshoot Decline...

Can you hear the very faint music 'that sets our minds afire' when very gentle winds blow across Spiderwebs 'strung with silver wire'?


"Remember when the music
Was a glow on the horizon of every newborn day.."--Harry Chapin

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Has anyone studied how people prepared for World War II?

A good number of famous people left Germany in Feb/March 1933 -- they could see the hadwriting on the wall. And how many of them had been contemplating emigrating since 1929?

It was clear to all in Europe from 1938 on that a Great War was extremely likely; and similarly to the hairdresser I'm sure there were many who denied yet took actions that perhaps prepared.

Bart Anderson at Energy Bulletin has been good at posting links to stuff that references the Great Depression and wartime rationing here and in the UK, but I haven't yet seen stuff on the psychology of the coming war in the thirties.

IMO, we should work to prevent WWIII and ICBM targeting of S-blocks:


IMO: IOC & NOCs & Natgas outfits should move to very low economic S-flowrates for Optimal Overshoot Decline; to be much more long-term imitative of the natural bio-geochemical sulfur cycle. Consider the high S-content of egg-yolks again.

Since learning about peak oil, I have wondered what it would have been like to have been alive in the 1920s before the market crash, or to have lived in Germany in the 1930s as the Nazis rose to power. The foreshadowing of catastrophic events ahead may have been palpable to some, and created an intuitive sense of unease in many. But denial and rationalization would have been constant companions.

The film "Nowhere in Africa," and the book by the same name, is a true story about a Jewish family that decided to uproot themselves from their home in Germany and flee to Africa. Some of their extended family and friends who remained in Germany did not survive.

Here is a brief video clip from the film Cabaret, the "beer garden scene," of the foreshadowing one might have witnessed in 1930s Germany:


Wikipedia on this clip from Cabaret:

"The rise of the Nazis and their increasing influence on German society is dramatically demonstrated in the beer garden scene: A boy - only his face seen - sings to the seated guests what first seems an innocent lyrical song about the beauties of nature. This gradually shifts to the strident "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" as the camera shifts to show that the boy is wearing a brown Nazi uniform and lifts his hand in the Nazi straight arm salute. One by one, nearly all guests in the beer garden (except a bewildered old man - or an elderly veteran who has seen this before) get up and voluntarily join in the singing and saluting."

What foreshadowing regarding Peak Oil are we witnessing now, and will we further witness in the near future? In retrospect, what clear clues would there have been, but that most everyone missed? What few people caught the clues and acted appropriately? How many, such as Nate's stylist, picked up on some vague sense of foreboding and started preparing? How many simply remained in denial until they were blindsided and their lives were overtaken by unfolding events?

Those with some sense of impending doom would, in the 1920s, have exited (or shorted) the market, and left careers as stock or real estate brokers. Others, such as some of those who grew up on self-sufficient farms in the 1930s, have reported that they felt few ill effects from the economic downturn.

Many in Germany in the 1930s, especially if you were Jewish or a male of draft age, should have seriously considered exiting the country. But that for many would have involved leaving a career, job, friends, family and a home. What a tortuous decision to make.

What tortuous decisions must we be making today?

I made a good call about four years ago and sold a rental house in LA because I anticipated a real estate crash. Good call.

Two years ago, I said to my wife that we should sell our current home, which we love, before the real estate market fell further. We didn't -- too difficult a decision to follow through with. Bad call?

Now I think that the safer areas of the world in the future will be New Zealand, perhaps Australia. But, that means leaving career, friends, and family behind. Can I really make that call?

Bottom line for me: location, location, location. Certain geographic locations were safe during WWII, and one could have pretty well predicted where these places would be. Certain places were "economically safer" during the depression.

The question is this: in 10 - 20 years from now, when you look back at the decisions you are making today, will you be satisfied that they were the right ones?

The foreshadowing for our times is clear and ominous -- resource depletion, economic collapse, ecological overshoot, etc.

As in the Simon and Garfunkel song, the writing is on the wall.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the signs said, the words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.

-- Simon and Garfunkel, "The Sounds of Silence" (song lyrics)

Now I think that the safer areas of the world in the future will be New Zealand, perhaps Australia. But, that means leaving career, friends, and family behind. Can I really make that call?

And how easy is it to become an immigrant to another country? I suppose if one has a skill that is in short supply there, or large wealth it would be fairly easy though still not as all as easy as travelling as a tourist.

Then there is the culture shock. Years ago hitch-hiking home from California I caught a VW van ride with a brother and sister, a fine relaxed and easy going pair, but not so after crossing the border. Despite given a home with us while they found their feet (the brother was of draft age and this was the late 60's) they felt jittery and unsure of themselves and after a few weeks scuttled back to just over the border where they wrote that they had found a place to stay and were quite content even with the draft.

The Canada US border has been IMO the easiest border for Americans and Canadians to cross due to proximity and great cultural similarities, but Australia?! ask yourself first, "Do I play the didgereee doo even this well and do I even want to? . We all, on the Oil Drum, have a keenly developed a sense of humour but does it go as far as this Aussi's humour does, when ... introducing us to Downunder? Does he not leave us gasping with mouths agape?

It's quite true. I've traveled a good chunk of the United States, have some great American friends who I cherish deeply, and spent most every weekend in Youngstown, NY when I lived in Toronto... but could I live there permanently? No, I'd be a fish out of the water.

There's too much I'd miss, crazy stuff like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kkYhCX1uqQ

Cheers, eh?

I have lived several years in Canada and in the US, and also in Australia. By far the US is the best place to live and I cannot under any circumstances recommend people in the US moving to Australia. We have too many poisonous snakes and spiders, most of the country is a desert, towns are separated by great distances with almost no people or habitation. We have far fewer fast food outlets, very few drive-through's, people are expected to walk and gun ownership is restricted so you are almost defenseless when on foot. Since we have abolished the death sentence there is very little deterrence for criminals.
Add to this the very high solar radiance, requiring sun-screen and hats to be worn year round. Most houses don't have central heating and during summer most people have to live on the beach to stay cool or attend very boring cricket matches.
We have tried advertising and producing movies such as Mad Max, showing how much fun it will b living in Australia after Peak Oil but still people are not coming so we only have 20Million people living in a country the size of the USA.

Thanks for bringing up "Nowhere in Africa", I thought I was the only one in N. America that had seen it. I wasn't prepared for the German with subtitles, but it does make you concentrate on the film more; and, it kind of made me feel cultured ;-)

The central plot from the movie is; who has the courage of their convictions? How far are we willing to go based on our information? As in selling the house, we have been through a similar experience. Although my wife is intelligent, she is too invested in the "American Dream" to give up on these promises. We have a small rental home that I implored her to unload in late 2007-early 2008 and she was having none of that. Now we are stuck with something that is probably worth more as an empty lot. We still have our primary home in the same area and now she believes me when I say that we ought to sell it if the market ever gets back to a reasonable figure. (Don't go on about the never returning real estate market people, ours is in an historical urban north Florida neighborhood, close to transportation and work, and has the best chance of any to reacquire value).

Last night I watched the first episode of The World at War, A New Germany and it was there in plain sight the way people joined the Nazi group-think. You could also see the odd person here and there looking about them in disbelief. Being an iconoclast is a tough row to hoe, but one has to routinely ask themselves if they are willing to act on their current knowledge. I try to, and I can tell you it is tough.

But to sum up the general consensus (as in 80% to 90%), it would be the tried and true axiom:

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day [hoarding]. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life [reduced consumption, practicing sustenance skills, community]

I saw that film too and thought about how much it paralleled my thoughts. Being so convinced that the future would be different and dangerous, asking friends and family to think through the implications with me. Being shut out by them, but having my wife appreciate me and change with me.

Highly recommended film.


Congrats on having an understanding and supportive wife. My husband thinks I am nuts-- but largely he is over-worked on our farm and can't imagine that we could add any more labor to the workday.

For over a year we've been discussing what to do with one of the abandoned wells on our farm. We're require by state law to seal if (with cement) or put it back in use. I want a hand pump- he thinks I'm crazy. So after one year of arguing I just gave up yesterday morning and said "you are right- the county will pay us to have it sealed. That's the expedient, cheapest way to deal with this state regulation." At which point he says "well... it's probably a good idea to have a back up in case of emergency."

So even as he fights me- he is probably fighting himself. When I give up, it allows him to not be constantly pushing back against my apocolyptic leanings.

I would recommend that any US citizens considering relocation outside of the country think very carefully about it first. The US is already very widely hated, and is likely to become even more so in the future. Are you sure that an angry mob is going to recognize the difference between a "bad" American, a "good" American, or a "former" American?

This is a very, very good point and I feel the same way having traveled and seen the anti-American sentiment.
You are correct as far as no discernment. As far as most of the world is concerned all Americans are Ugly Americans.
That was years ago and I am sure it is much worse now.
I had a friend that was moving to Costa Rica via driving through Mexico. Well, he and his girlfriend get deep inside the interior with their U-haul in tow and get stopped by banditos. Lost everything and lucky they are not dead. How stupid people are.
Recently I had someone mention they wanted to move to Mexico. My response was a loud laughing WHAT!! Don't you watch the news?
Just another symptom of the ignorance that permeates or society. We are screwed.

The trick to relocating is don't be a typical American. That's an awful stereotype to make and I say in jest because I know plenty of good, honest Americans that don't portray the outwardly national personality.

My wife and I are straddling the fence by keeping our house in Florida while I am living and working in Canada. We have options. I think BC has one of the best chances of getting through this muck so long as the hoards do not invade from the south. We have climate, resources, good market connections, and stable government (sometimes too stable).

Recently my relatives in the U.S. (wife's side) get to understand what universal health care really means. I blew my knee - finally, after 30 years - and visits to the doctor, free; lab exams, free; prescription drugs, somewhat free; operation, free; universal health system, priceless. And, don't believe the negative propaganda from the U.S., I'm getting the same level of access and treatment.

Anyway, relocating is more than just a marvey location. There is the culture, family connections, and pertinent expertise to consider. I was offered a job in New Zealand working for the electric utility but they couldn't come close to my $CAD salary due to currency exchange differences. Plus, just how sustainable is New Zealand with 4 to 5 million people living there? I would bet they are every bit dependent on outside imports as the rest of us. Sheep only go so far...

I have been looking at Canada as well. I am from New England originally and have been to Canada many times. My name is actually French Canadian.
I never met a Canuck I didn't like and grew up around several transplants that still had French accents.
If you don't mind cold winters (which I don't) it is on the short list of global locations for the "long emergency".
I am thinking of closer to the great Lakes though.

Has anyone studied how people prepared for World War II?

British government began preparation for food emergency in 1936. (Britain imported 70% of food-as-calories)
Rationing was an obligatory part of the strategy.
(See also my guest post, part 2, March ToD)

There were some anticipatory British novels, one by Neville Shute who became more famous later as an author post-WWII via a post nuclear war novel made into a film. His late 30's book got quite a lot wrong - the air-strikes and social confusion were greater in the book IIRC than actual events. More like Germany in 1945-46.

1. ive been raised in the country in a poor family and near a grandfather that tried to live off the grid. so i have found it uncomfortable to lean on company supplies and the 1000mile infrastructrue. but being in my late 20's im not long out of uni and renting alone in a city i hadnt long be financially able to do much more than live heavily short term.

now that this has been changing i have been stocking a small excess of long life food, high quality camping tools, good outdoor clothes and etc. the main driving being social dislocation from oil(and inflation) and the natural disasters that my state can experience.

as im still renting - my focus has been on being portable as i expect being homeless or needing to travel being a real issue in any crisis. eg. good bikecycle, backpack, sleeping bag, leatherman, fenix torch, and in general keeping warm and dry.

2. i think the small % of aware people are not going to have any adverse long term effect by "hoarding". there will be a run on goods when its too late and this will have shortterm effects as socially we reorganise for the longterm.

companies and governments need to optimize for the future short and longterm (future generations).

3. no. humans are run by greed and desire to be better off. its like a run on the bank, the more the government screams to not run on the back, the more it concerns people and individuals will want to slip through as the lucky one keeping their cake. you cant force people to cut back, so the more some morally driven poeple give things up for good, the more the greedy will buy up.

In my opinion we are still in a recession that will transition into a depression with occasional positive economic indicators along the way. The business model on which our economy rests is unsustainable, yet all government efforts to date have been focused on restoring that unsustainable model. Since about 1990, US wages have been in gradual decline when adjusted for inflation. Additionally, there has been a gradual decline in the percentage of non-government employment versus population. The wage and employment decreases resulted from off-shoring, illegal immigration, temporary work visas for high tech employees, and automation. We can expect these forces to continue to destroy jobs and put downward pressure on wages. The government is trying to solve the economic problem by shifting existing bad debt and incurring more debt, rather that allowing the bad debt to be liquidated along with the attendant pain. I am reminded of the old expression “Hair of the dog”, which means treat the hangover with another glass of whiskey. Even if we temporarily escape from this current economic collapse, declining availability of cheap oil will throw us back into an even steeper decline.

Because I believe the above, I am hoarding. But I see hoarding only as an easing of the transition to a permanent new way of life. At age 75 all my efforts are focused on preparing my four grandchildren, their parent and my community for TEOTWAWKI.

We live on 80 acres in a rural agricultural community. Much of my time is spent teaching my family and neighbors about the future as I see it. As a result, we have a very active program to replace the nearby super market (11 miles) with necessities produced in our own valley. We also have plans for defending our resources.

Hoarding will make transition easier but developing sustainable alternative sources is the key to making it through the transition.

Geez, I can only day dream about hoarding thanks to student loan debt and low wages. If I was able to I'd go for the full package, land, gold and silver coinage, mickies of vodka, corned beef, outdoor gear, firearms, hand tools etc. I've at least been able to get going a bit in regard to bicycles. I think they will be indispensable soon. As I began to read up I came across the very worrisome fact that no bicycle inner tubes are made in North America at all any more. (Can anyone confirm/deny this?) Europe and China still have plants making tubes and all our tubes are imported from there. I'd like to invest in a stash of tubes for myself and possibly a much larger stash for resale should TSHTF. Can anyone here advise me on a rubber preservative for the long term keeping of tubes and tires? Is there a liquid/spray/cream/Armor-All product available that would best do the trick? Rubber products like tires and tubes and patch kits only last so long, they crack, dry out and can be affected by UV light. There's also airless tires (like these: http://www.airfreetires.com/shopping/c-6-airless-bicycle-tires.aspx) that might be a good investment now.

To preserve rubber, keep it away from oxygen. Try a large food storage bag and some oxygen absorbers. You can find these on the internet.

Years ago diving supply shops carried spray on coatings, but I think most fins and masks are now silicone.

Silicone is being used in a few auto tires (some Michelin).

Silicone rubber radiator hoses will last the lifetime of a car. Some NY taxicabs used silicone hoses. Copper degrades rubber, acting as a decomposition catalyst. I don't know how much copper is used in car radiators these days.

Thanks paul!

Note also that in many poor countries that bicycles continue with solid tires built up from layers of inner tube, cut from extant tires and glued/screwed/wired on etc.

Consider learning bicycle repair - official and improvised they will continue for a long time IMHO - maybe not in such a comfortable form, but their ability to leverage a persons ability to travel long distances and carry large loads makes them too valuable a technology to be quickly lost or discarded.

Try googling bicycles + africa to see what i mean.

I can't say if this would work for the specific formulation of bicycle tubes or not, but I store a fair number of car parts (which include plastic bits and rubbery bits) in 1 gallon Zip-lock bags soaked in WD-40. They can be pulled out years later, wiped off and look as good (sometimes better) than the day I put them in. Stored in cabinets, so they're out of the sun, too.

WD-40 should be included alongside bailing wire and Gaffa/Duct Tape as things with which you can hold the planet together. ;)

The best overall lubricant is plain motor/gear oil. It is cheap and you can even use old gear oil after decanting it to allow the particles to settle out.
Can't get the carbon to settle out of engine oil though. Save your old gear oil and put it in oil cans. Some things just can't be improved on much.
I have found WD-40 to be way to thin to be an effective lubricant. It is good for other things though(solvent mainly) but other chemicals do a superior job in just about every case.

Maybe even use regular old glass jars for the storage containers. Inert and will outlast bags.

Ozone is even more destructive to rubber than oxygen. Maybe a sealed container filled with nitrogen to displace the air.

Cheaper than a Nitrogen flush is a CO2 flush using dry ice.

Great ideas. Any inert gas in jars.

"In a just-in-time inventory society, where food, water and energy arrive each day 'at the margin' in a complex delivery matrix dependent on liquid fuels, it is only a matter of time (20 days to 20 years?) before shortages of some sort or other occur."

In your toilet paper example you are confusing "panic hoarding" with actual supply of food, water, electricity and fuel.
Panic hoarding of a commodity can occur where it can be easily stored, so with toilet paper some people in a Japanese panic had a room full of toilet paper. It's easy to store and doesn't deteriorate. More important in any panic did people really suffer because of no toilet paper. Many alternatives are available if you have hot and cold running water.

Is it relevant that electricity, water, NG arrive continuously the world is not Savajero, our cities are not under military embargo, we have thousands of people keeping services functioning.

The myth of only a few days food supply in supermarkets is based on the observation that products like milk, meat, fruit are delivered daily. Many items such as rice, flour, canned goods stay on shelves for weeks and there are stocks in back rooms or in local warehouses, or are sourced locally from large stockpiles. For example wheat for flour is stockpiled at mills because of problems using freshly harvested grain. Some canned foods are only canned in season so up to a years supply is stockpiled. No one is going to starve in the US because transport of fresh fruits and meat is interrupted for a week or two. Items may disappear from supermarket shelves because of panic buying of one or many items such as occurred in the Cuban missile crisis, that's why rationing sometimes has to be used. Did anyone starve in the US during the Cuban missile crisis or just miss out on some food items?


i agree with the difference to 'panic hoarding' and planned hoarding.
if everyone lived with a degree of caution there wouldnt be a run on the bank. people deciding to live with caution in advance isnt going to cause a run, just demand.

though in the same psot i disagree about the few days food supply. that yes your right that there are stocks and its only some items that actually 'require' regular delievery that would suffer. BUT, as soon as fear hits about food shortages you will create a run on the food stores.

think about if 'john smith' was informed that he could be without food, he is going to run to the shop and buy rice and canned food. not milk and bread.

people might not be aware of the PO issue, but they are not stupid so that they wont look to the future when its forced on them.

"... no toilet paper. Many alternatives are available if you have hot and cold running water."
In 1971 I went to India (overland from Paris to Tehran, and then by plane from Tehran to Bombay ... er, I mean, Mumbai). Once in India I was rarely in places where there was toilet paper. You use your left hand to wipe your rear end, and then you eat only with your right hand, and also do not pay people with your left hand (it's very rude).
Anyway, in many places there, even though there was no toilet paper, in cities and towns often there was a little spigot near the toilet providing a little water for rinsing one's left hand. The system worked, and you get used to it. Think of the energy used to manufacture and transport toilet paper. It adds to our carbon footprint, whereas millions of people worldwide get along without it.

I wrecked my left shoulder playing hockey so, consequently, I can't physically extend that hand behind my torso. That, in turn, crosses a few countries off my list. :-)


You must be a big fan of the Comfort Wipe then?

OMG, I shouldn't laugh, 'cause I could actually use one! (That commercial, btw, is something you would expect to see on SNL back in the '70s.)


You just know there is a guy in a factory making comfort wipes in some part of the world saying "what the heck is this used for?" Sort of like the employees of this company in Pakistan.

Too funny. I use to say that if I wanted to be ass whipped and brow beaten and grovelling on all fours, I'd still be working for the nasty [... of ...].


Paul, damaged left shoulder here but I think I can still reach. However, short term we have implemented humnure bucket system and so could easily replace TP with say torn up newspapers or leaves. Having grown up in the bush of northern Ontario I have wiped with leaves a lot. We could have a technical discussion of leafe use. However for the bucket I would prefer the newspaper solution, especially since the killo or so of paper we get delivered free as the local paper. Since the political views of this rag are much different than mine I would find it appropriate to wipe my ass with it. The contaminants and ink are not an issue in the composting cycle with perhaps only the glossy highly sized flyers going into the recycling.Cheers ...

telco bills?
raise sheep?
grow cotton?
jump in the ocean?
a smooth stick?

anything but your hand ..

Hi BikerBrook,

I also worked in India - up to the mid 90s. I got to like those little faucets on the left side of the toilet. However, out in the countryside, you got a hole in the floor with no running water or toilet paper - ample fiber in your diet was helpful.

I know. I used some of those also. It's amazing what you can get used to when you have no choice but to adjust.

If you must wipe in the woods with natural supplies,be damn sure you know what poison ivy looks like.

I've never made the poison ivy mistake myself but I know at least one person who has.

And I found a yellow jacket nest once by taking a crap on it.Fortunately it was still a very small colony and I only got stung three or four times.

"Did anyone starve in the US during the Cuban missile crisis or just miss out on some food items?"

Maybe not in the US, but in my local town in AUS, 1999, December 28 or so, my local town run almost totally out of food for 3 days because of "fear" of the Y2K bug. Nothing happened, but even so, just the fact that something could have completely wiped the supermarkets out of food.

I'm quite sure you will find out in any disaster the shelves of the supermarket will become empty very quickly, even if they do have a couple of weeks supply out the back.

I remember when I was building my initial food stockpile I, by myself, kept the local supermarket totally out of stock of dehydrated peas and condensed milk for several weeks.

I remember when I was building my initial food stockpile I, by myself, kept the local supermarket totally out of stock of dehydrated peas and condensed milk for several weeks.

If your local uses an auto-stock computer system, there's a good reason they were constantly out of stock. The Auto-stock systems say something like "we sell 4 packets of McKenzies Dried Peas a day, and there are 12 packets in a carton. The Minimum Quantity allowed on shelf is 3 packets, and the carton has a lead time of two days." The system then orders a carton two days (typically slightly more, as a margin of error) prior to there being a projected 3 packets on the shelf.

Normally, this isn't a problem, unless there is a Promotion or someone comes in and buys everything up at once. If there's a promotion, then the store management, regional office, or warehouse should have pre-ordered or allocated sufficient quantities to keep the Peas in stock. If someone comes in unannounced and buys up all the stock on shelf, week after week, it throws the auto-stock systems out: they continue to order stock more or less as normal, but the increased purchase rate means they order ever-so-slightly more frequently. When the person stops buying, the recent purchase habits are still going through the system, and the Peas are now over-ordered for several weeks as the system assumes the increased sales will continue. The system notices sales have dropped off, and under-orders. Rinse and repeat until the old equilibrium is reached.

A person could always go to the department manager and ask them to make a special order. This way, the auto-stock system won't be thrown out because it'll know there's a reason the store sold 48 packets in a day. :)

None of this solves the long-term problems inherent in a JIT inventory system, however.

"excuse me store manager, can I have 3 months worth of dehydrated peas for my stockepile" hehe, no, I dont think I will ever have that conversation. Low key is the key to success or something like that. A few packs here, a few packs there, all is well.

People go into supermarkets and ask for bulk amounts of stuff all the time. The manager isn't going to look at you any weirder for ordering ten cartons of dried Peas than he does at the person who orders twenty 30-pack cartons of Coke cans. In fact he'll probably think you're less weird than the person who buys five roast chickens and a can of Diet Sprite. ;)

Supermarket staff don't know you from a bar of soap, and don't care what you want unless you overly bother them. :)

4. Also - i think for an individual that 5-20years will be longterm, as hoarding is only going to last 1-5years before you need to sustain in your new climate.

if you hoard;
food - it is eaten or spoils in 2 years for most.
toilet paper - youd waste a room to last a couple of years
batteries - run down and need replacement after 5-10 years
electronics - break and hard to keep online past 10 years
clothes - tear, shrink, and begin to fall apart and struggle past 10 years
gold - needs a market in which it can be traded which is unlikely in a 10 year period of severe global crisis

when you consider these items will be day-day items in a long dislocation, they will wear out much faster than normal.

5 - 20 years i think everyone will be dependant on their skills, health, friends and family, water source, soil quality and what remains of the environment.

in a modest dislocation, a hoard pile may surfice the duration.
and a longterm crisis, a hoard pile through obviously not sustainable will help you buy time as you find the sustainable solution.
in a catastrophic crisis (and i mean 15% declines, loss of northpole etc) that a hoard pile may be the difference between life and death. running down the street advertising the fact you have lots of food i dont think is going to better your chances.

all a human needs is water, food and warmth - i think location is everything.
living in extreme hot or cold, bad soil, low water natural water sources i think will be a much larger factor than stock.

The hairstylist example is interesting. The Obama's planted veggies on the White House lawn. Gardening has went from a hobby to a frenzied-fad. Folks are worried. Folks that believe that the oil companies are sitting on the oil are planting gardens in my neighborhood. Why? They are young Christians who understand that many are starving in the world and at least one thinks bad things are coming (not sure why, I should ask him for details). In another neighborhood I visit, they want to eat their own organic foods due to the ecological destruction that industrial farming causes. Ten miles to the South of there, I think they want to save some money. Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

Hey Gog

I think the irony is just adorable. Most of us here think that it is necessary to fully understand the big picture via elaborate systems analysis before any action can rationally be taken. The rest of humanity somehow can derive the same strategic actions without anything but common sense and paying attention to the stuff happening on the ground. And likely the ordinary folks will influence their neighbors actions much sooner than us with our pointy headed reasons.


Hi Nate,
I suspect many TOD readers could fill a book responding to these questions (I know I could), but here are a few thoughts.

Addressing your Campfire questions in order:

1)I believe that you can't hoard everything, so I only hoard things that I can't do without or that I think will be good trade items. I aim to have what the people in my area don't have. The location of my home was carefully chosen - I live within 35 minutes (by train) from my work in the city, but within walking distance of streams and farms (lettuce, cattle, goats and chickens), so I have 30 fruit trees in my backyard....the item they don't have. I also hoard items that will store for a long time and retain their value. Asprin. White sugar (a preservative that is also good for brewing alcohol). Salt (again, a preservative).

My objective? They are many:
- To address a wide vaiety of scenarios.
- To make life a little better when/if there is a problem. I live in Australia. I have said elsewhere that Australia will probably do better than most places in the coming crunch (before you start talking about droughts, remember that Australia is a big place - about the same size as the lower 48 states, but with a tenth of the population.... we have areas of drought, but other areas do well). In the two years since I said that, Australia has (in my view) tracked generally better than the US or Europe, supporting my argument. I don't anticipate Mad Max scenarios, but I certainly expect some dislocations, followed by a decline in living standards. If this dislocation is severe, then I want to maximise my family's chance of coming out the other end without too much suffering.
- Provide time for a transition.
- Provide materials for transition strategies.
- Improve outcomes for my children.

What % advantage might these things offer me?
That depend on the scenario. My preparations can be divided into 2 categories:
i). Increasing comfort and opportunities - aimed at the milder scenarios.
ii). Increasing survival prospects - aimed at the extreme scenarios.

Since I don't anticipate extreme scenarios here in Australia (and for other reasons to boring to enumerate), most of the last 5 years have been spent addressing category i). I have built an energy-efficient resilient house in what I consider to be an optimal position, and I am in the process of equiping it for a downturn that could span generations. In my opinion, these preperations may increase our comfort levels. If I had to put a number on it, the number would be around 50%

However the extreme scenarios represent "Show Stoppers" and therefore must be prepared for. I have done what I consider to be the minimum. I have discussed this elsewhere, but here are the highlights:
i) Food. About 9 months of stockpiled food. Some we rotate through, some has such a long life that I will simply replace it if we ever reach end-of-life.
ii). Water. More than 17,000 liters (about 4,000 gallons) of reticulated water in 3 different tanks. Water purification equipment, with streams nearby.
iii). Etc, etc, (shelter, security, transport, etc.)

These preperations probably give us a 50% edge, depending on the severity of the situation.
Up until now, I have tried to concentrate on preperations that could be used in any scenario (including "Business As Usual"). I am now starting to devote more resources to "show stopper" scenarios. These resources will probably be wasted, since I am now making preperations that will probably never be used.

2)I am attempting to change my thinking - when I buy something, I ask "will it last 100 years?" If it won't, but I still feel that I need it, then I buy a variety of the item that will last as long as possible. No more throw-away items. Difficult to do, but I am getting there.

3)Could we prepare for depletion equally well by giving things up?
I'm working on it. I no longer drink coffee - that was tough, but I was dependant on it, so it needed to go. I know from experience that I can do without utilities (electricity, gas and water), though I don't enjoy it.

4)Anything else related to preparation/paradigm change/timing you think is important..

Scenarios. Plan for all, not one.

"These preperations probably give us a 50% edge, depending on the severity of the situation."

Umm, looking at those preparations... try a 95% edge sunshine :)

1) In terms of a break down of supply I've been hoarding several things, most importantly rifle ammo, canned food, and water. Its not so much as hoarding as just being prepared; when you've read for years about comming hard times, I think it's only natural to prepare. A gun is important, because if you know how to use one, it levels the odds if someone decides they want to steal your stash, which in a future of order being stretched thin its for the best to prepare for your own defence.

2) I've taken all my money out of the banking system so that I can 'do my part' in bringing down the financial system, which in 50 years will be our greatest accomplishment. Andrew Jackson was very proud of stopping the US central bank, and it will be us who tear down this current system for one based on real assests.

3) Your plan could work if everyone played along, but people aren't like that. Stocking up on food is the only way to assure you'll have the ability to out-live those who don't think anything is wrong.

4) I would just mention, that even though I have no money in banks, I didn't put it all into food/water/ammo; some is in silver and a little gold since those will probably have enough value even in the future to buy that which you're lacking.

I've been lurking here for about 6 months and learning a lot. I saw this and felt that it was an interesting topic to jump in and comment on.

1. We've been preparing for the worst for about 2 years. We started doing this because of a general feeling that Roger Boisjoly(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Boisjoly and http://www.onlineethics.org/CMS/profpractice/exempindex/RB-intro/Erosion...) would have described as things going "against the direction of goodness." Our goal is to get at least one year of food and supplies stored up. The basic purpose of this is to get through an immediate crisis and survive until things have calmed down. I view it as an insurance policy in case any one of my concerns is realized. The food we have stored is food we also eat on a regular basis so we're constantly pulling food out and replacing it with new food.

I view the food and supplies we have saved as important to get through the initial crisis, but equally as important is knowledge of things like hunting, fishing, gardening, edible plants, medical knowledge, etc. I think a combination of these two gives somebody a considerable advantage over the average person who may have a few days of food and would run to Walmart at the first sign of trouble. That's the last place I'd be if there was a shortage of food and peak oil had slowed or halted supply trucks from going there.

2. Since I stock up on supplies that I use on a day-to-day basis, I don't view what I'm doing as having any more adverse implications for the long term than somebody who doesn't. The difference between us is that when I need a can of tuna fish, I go to my basement and get one and then replace it later. Somebody else would just go to the grocery store.

This is going to sound very selfish, but I'm not concerned with what's going to happen in 50-100 years, I want to be prepared since I believe we are going to start feeling the effects of peak oil in the near future. My immediate concern is feeding and taking care of my family. There are numerous things we do on a daily basis to reduce our consumption which can have a long term positive effect, but I am going to do everything in my power to keep my family from going hungry.

3. Your last sentence here is a key one. We can reduce our consumption of products, but the human body needs a certain number of calories per day to survive. I have reduced consumption a lot in my personal life(for example, I walk to work every day and we only have one car for a family of four), but food can only be reduced so much.

4. I also wanted to comment on a post from NotSoCertain above. I don't consider us to be a family trying to be self-reliant. I'm actually a part of a small group of people who are all quietly preparing and would be helping each other out in a crisis. We have teachers, doctors, a dentist, a college professor who's an expert at hunting, etc in our group. The goal is that if things got really bad in society, we could pool our knowledge and resources to help each other. In the situation that was described, it would be difficult for a single family to go it alone.

I also agree with NotSoCertain that in an urban setting, it will be very dangerous to have a stockpile of food. That's also where the g word(and it's not the religious g word I'm talking about) becomes necessary. We also have plans and places to go if we need to get out of dodge in a hurry. The other thing we do now is that we don't tell anybody about our stores of food. With the exception of the people in our group, nobody else knows and I prefer to keep things that way.

You seem to have thought this through quite seriously.

"That's also where the g word(and it's not the religious g word I'm talking about) becomes necessary."

Would you (or others) be following this route even if your country does not allow individuals to own firearms currently?

I live in the United States and within a state that has very few restrictions on gun ownership. In fact, the number that I've heard is that 70-80% of the households in this state have guns in them. Last year, I almost took a job in California and several of the guns I own are illegal in California. I would have become a criminal by taking them into the state. If I had moved there, I would have done what I do now - keep very quiet and not broadcast to anybody what kinds of guns I have. In fact, most people I know would be shocked I even own any because I just don't talk about them.

Storing (hoarding) basic essentials, particularly food, is a common strategy in most hunting/gathering societies. What and how much a given group put away varied according to seasonal availability and type, means of preserving (drying, freezing, salting, etc.), available storage, transportability and nomadic movement patterns. Circumstances usually favor a relatively short time horizon perspective in such societies. Indeed, I recall Eskimo and Athabascan Indian informants telling me that it was bad luck to plan or prepare for events in the distant future. That doesn't mean that they were oblivious to the possibility of unexpected future events upsetting and possibly threatening their lives. Many had survived major disasters that had taken the lives of family members. Preparation beyond a few months or, perhaps, a year was in the form of a high level of skills in making the most of their environments and in the cohesion of the cooperative group/village to which they belonged.

Collecting and storing basic essentials seems like a wise, short term survival strategy. The Latter Day Saints (Mormons) encourage their members to store supplies adequate for a minimum of one year. This provides a cushion to carry you through the initial breakdown of modern supply systems while you shift to a more local and sustainable way of living. However, survival success ultimately requires being a member of group that willingly shares both the burdens and bounty of the land and efficiently divides the workload. The individualistic mountain model is a dead end strategy. Friends are far more important than guns for long-term survivability.

This page is becoming a bit like the wise ant vs the lazy grasshopper.

Most of us seem to be ant-like. ;¬)

I frequently see comments about augmenting food supplies with hunting and fishing. My view is that will work for a few people for about two weeks (figuratively speaking) after the crash.

Last April, as I distributed 10-20-20 fertilizer on my hay meadow, at least 35 elk stood in the wood line waiting to come feast. Last March at 3:15 pm the herd (35?) were in my yard destroying my fruit trees. The locals will make quick work of herds that have lost fear.

I hoard 10-20-20 in 50# plastic bags. Over the past three years gold has increased in price about 58%. Fertilizer in ton lots has increased about 114% during the past three years.

NKP will be of more value to my grandchildren than gold Eagles or Maple Leafs.

Kudos to you, TGN. NPK has a much longer shelf-life [if kept away from moisture and water] than most foods, and thieves generally will not be interested in stealing your ferts, then planting crops, as their discount rate is too high.

Be careful not to buy or sell too much NPK, however, or you will be branded as a domestic terrorist. NPK-derived explosives were used in the Oklahoma City and World Trade Center 1993 terrorist attacks, while conventional explosives were used to demolish the World Trade Center in 2001.

That being said, I agree with totoneila.

Although possible, it is not easy to turn fertilizers other than ammonium nitrate into explosives. Possible for some types, but not easy. My local Agrium dealer used to require ID on all fertilizers, but no longer do, perhaps because they know me now.

I do not think it is easy to buy ammonium nitrate anymore. My Agrium dealer also discontinued handling ammonia. Both are hazardous materials. Most other commonly available fertilizers are relatively non toxic and non flammable or explosive, the exception being potassium nitrate which is an oxidizer and used to make gunpowder. Potassium nitrate is a great fertilizer (14-44-0) because it contains no useless salts that can injure plants. Same with diammonium phosphate (18-44-0).

Urea is a safe and effective N source. Being 46% N it is the most economical N for transportation.

... and thieves generally will not be interested in stealing your ferts ...

They probably will. To sell or trade rather than growing crops.


I agree with you about hunting and fishing in general-once people are unemployed and law enforcement is lapsed,animals of any sort will become very scarce pdq.If things get really bad, even domestic animals such as dairy cows and saddle horses will be considered fair game by daddies with hungry kids. Roaming scavengers won't think twice about eating Fido or some little girls pony.

But some people will probably continue to be be able to catch a few fish over the long term,if they live very near a large body of good water well away from a city-once there is no more gasoline for trucks and boats.

will inflation erode your stockpile?

in a senario that demand bounces of supply while it is gently declining BEFORE it hits a sharp decline in the standard huberts bell curve or supply. will this not mean that we all will see a suffering of inflation and unemployment before we are thrown into a full blown crisis?

slow unaffordability to maintain a stock correctly will result in its loss to expirey or your mouth before its really needed. in objection to my own arguement - as long as you only buy goods to restock your pile and consume the oldest. then its feasiable to maintain your buffer as long as its established before your money reserves run low. any change in priorities and it will quickly fail your stock with no affordability to resupply.

just a thought.

Hoarding saves purchase money,gasoline, and time.My paternal grandfather built a store house about fifty feet from his kitchen door elevated on blocks and lined with hardware cloth and equipped with a very substantial lock.His father before him managed his affairs in much the same way,and such behavior is a family tradition.I expect it is a direct carry over from the days when my great greats lived mostly outside the industrial and trade economy,bartering with local trades people but buying almost nothing except a few iron tools, window glass,gunpowder,and maybe some coffee or sugar,etc.

When he sold his crops he stocked up for the coming year on every thing he could buy in bulk from staple groceries such as sugar,salt ,coffee and flour to motor oil.Yes,toilet paper too,at least during his later years.

You can save more money and time this way than most people would believe-especially if a roll of toilet paper that costs only a dollar or so costs you a forty minute round trip to the closest open store.

I do not THINK that the economy is going to crater so badly that people will be starving in the US but I think it's going to get a lot worse,and stay that way for quite a while.I do realize that a "power down" scenario can't be ruled out,and I believe that the risk of widespread ,hot,and long term war is high.

In the case of war all bets are off and draconian energy rationing is a certainty.Such consumer goods as will available will be very expensive,and some critical materials may become unobtainium.

Whatever you have on hand,such as rechargeable batteries,might be all you will ever have.

Food deliveries could be severely disrupted,and it could be many days before emergency deliveries arrive.The power could be off.Municipal water systems might fail,for days or weeks.Wars are perhaps the most likely overall cause,but earthquakes,hurricanes,terrorism,volcanoes,and plain old bad luck-such as a truck running into just the wrong utility pole at just the wrong instant- could bring your city to it's knees,depending on where you live.

A couple of months worth of the absolute essentials laid by just seems like good sense,but even two weeks worth could make a big difference..If ts is really in the fan,it could take that long for the authorites to restore order,and staying home and out of sight might be a very good idea.

I will hazard a wag that having a few weeks food and water on hand,and a good home defense weapon (plus the ability and willingness to use it if necessary) might easily double your chances of surviving the worst sort of disaster,such as being stuck in a place like NYC in the event somebody set of EMP bomb or two over the US. Getting out of town right away would be impossible,but a few weeks later maybe the national gaurd might escort you out.

"Hoarding " in the usual sense means stocking up for your personal use and depriving others in a shortage situation,but a good stash of whatever you lay in while things are still plentiful cannot reasonably be said to harm your fellows;im reality you will be helping them because you will not be competing for critically short food supplies,etc,in the first few days before relief can be-hopefully -organized and delivered.

I have a large and growing stash of various energy intensive farm inputs such as plastic pipe,electrical wire,structural iron and steel,and tools that will never be worth less than I paid for them,given my fleamarket/wrecking yard shopping habits.

In a world of increasing energy prices and contracting large scale manufacturing, I expect the true value of such items to increase on a steady basis.A roll of plastic water pipe that can be had for a days wages TODAY ,when every Home Depot type store has truckloads on hand,might easily be worth ten days wages (if pipe becomes unobtainium) to someone with a spring a few feet uphill from his house.That person might think it a bargain to hoe my corn and taters for ten days in exchange for having running water in his post grid house or tent!

If tshtf in such a way that there is no law enforcement,I would not trade my last box of buckshot or thirty o6 for ten times the wieght in gold coins.

I don't believe it is possible to plan in a meaningful way as far ahead as a hundred years in Extremeistan,other than to take measures that can't hurt and might help,such as trying to take care of the environment.If you(or those dear to you) don't survive the next couple of decades,the next century is an academic question,unless you are one of the few(imo) people who genuinely see the entire human race as family.

There is a Chinese saying to the effect that a wise man-a man who wishes to survive-must be prepared to abandon all his goods and baggages at least once in his life.

If I could impress any one thing upon my relatives,friends,or just plain old fellow humans,it would be to always look at the elephant from a distance and all points of the compass and without prejudice-to think in terms of FACTS first and desires and morality second.

Education both scientific and cultural are equally priceless and equally valuable and equally essential to our survival as a species and as individuals.

The best and easiest way to get a cultural education imo is to read lots of history and classic novels,plus a good smattering of science fiction.

Probably the only practical way for most people to get a good basic science education is to enroll in a good college and get down with the basic courses thru the first year at least in biology and chemistry and anything else you can find the time for.This level is not for employment but it is adequate for informed thinking.

You are not much more than functionally illiterate in the world of Extermeistan without this data in your hard drive.

Most of the mistakes I have made in my life have been the result of failing to seperate the facts from my misconceptions,desires or prejudices-and I refer to facts that were known to me,but ignored or rationalized away.

I am happy to report that so far none of these mistakes have been fatal,but there have been several near misses.

Nobody has an answer now ... for what the question will be ... when.

Therefore, trying to answer in materials now to what crisis may not take place is simply another form of consumption. Which makes the entire hoarding topic a form of advertising.

Any kind of hoarding would be an attempt at an individualistic bahavior; that I have my food etc. for myself regardless of system dynamics. What is need then is organization and what needs to be hoarded is negotiating skills and the ability to cooperate with others.

What I am suggesting is an outside competition - between organizations - with inside coordination rather than today's inside (between individuals) competition with outside forces coordinating with each other to plunder the uncoordinated individuals.

In this context O < (O + 1) ... where O is any sized organization. A larger organization ( +1) is more effective/always has fundamental advantages even if that is only the ability to work in shifts. Therefore, hoarding - a tactic that separates an individual from others in an attempt to gain an advantage or to have a perceived advantage relative to an organization - would only gain parity (at best) with other individuals and would possess inferior abilities in relation to any organization.

Abstractly, the inside competition would simply be carrying forward current behavior to an environment that has rendered such behavior irrelevant.

Hoarding the ability to farm would be much less valuable than the ability to teach farming to others. In the new world that is coming altruism will be very valuable.

Also, organizations would have ... organizational advantages, one of which would allow for specialization. An organization that gives members access to clean water because it can support specialists - individuals - which would give regimes the means to run more complex systems such as water pumps, a treatment plant and distribution. That organization would have an advantage over another that cannot support those specialties. An organization that can muster doctors and a medical system gives that organization a substantial advantage because that organization will have a service it can market and can keep up a high level of productivity because injuries and diseases can be treated. If nothing else, medical services would aid community morale. Superiority in an organization doesn't necessarily mean miltary supremacy, but rather the ability to recruit more able individuals and make itself more effective in the process.

Organizational 'growth' in other words, but overall 'zero sum' as unit support costs would be the same and the gain to one organization would be at the expense of another. The supposition is that there will be social structures - forming these is part of human nature - albeit structures that lack energy leverage.

In the future, skills will give organizations advantages so skills - real physical abilities, not abstract finance management skills - will be highly valued and no group will risk losing skills to other, competing groups.

Organizations tend to coalesce so aggregation here will amplify the inherent group advantage as the parent organization becomes larger and more coherent. Fuel consumption isn't necessary for this, only reasonable governing rules for the organization plus self- interest. While the current crisis has called much of the status quo into question both here and abroad, there is so far no successful challenge to centralized socio- economic power even in spaces with almost negative resources such as Pakistan.

In this light, the transition from current, business- cycle managements to replacement regimes will take quite some time. The centers will hold for a remarkably long period even without resources. Many current regimes will endure, provided they are sufficiently altruistic. An example is the Taliban in Afghanistan/Pakistan which will outlast the local warlords, the two countries' central governments and US intervention. They can do so by simply being less abusive of the local citizenry.

Nevertheless, new organizations will evolve as BAU unwinds since the current forms of organization have huge costs that cannot be carried forward, such as unpayable credit/money exposure or defaults ... as in the Anglo- American economic space. Systems with high social intervention costs will render regimes such as China's unstable. Suppressing groups is expensive while attempting to do so un- altruistically results in failed states such as Somalia. Unsupportable legacy obligations such as environmntal breakdown, entitlement overhangs or high money wages as are found in OECD make those regimes unaffordable. Replacement regimes will have stark examples of what not to do to help form and guide their evolution.

What is more likely than a Hobbesian war of 'all against all' would rather be contests or races to first gain then express organizatiosal fitness, where the most successful would be the most socially efficient, which means in practical terms the most altruistic.

The most aggessive or self- aggrandizing would be the second- tier organizational collapse, unless aggrandizement is coupled with a strong altruistic follow- up. Resource constraints will eliminate petroleum- leveraged military advantages with national military parity resulting in either unsupportable expense - think of the Cold War - or constant, self- immolating stalemates at best and defeats leading to social/political dismemberment at worst.

The wars of the future will best be won without fighting, giving all advantages here to the most altruistic and clever organizations. Sun- Tzu or Machiavelli rather than Thatcher or FDR will be the politial templates for the future.

Human endeavors have ebbs and flows and many fluxes. Over 2,000 years in Europe there have been many political and organizational entities and some have proven prosperous and others ... have been failures over longer terms. The end of the Roman Empire did not mean the end of Europe. New organizations arose and they gained their identity as they succeeded or failed on their own terms. The Frankish 'nation' was a failure, France was not. Aztec/Tenochtitlan was a failure, Mexico may wind up so ... but organization that reaches and serves the greatest number of people gives it a large advantage over challengers to its adminstrative space, even as Mexico runs out of cheap oil.

I suspect a large amount of the problem is a lack of imagination on the part of Americans who cannot comprehend a future without automobiles. The obvious next step in the minds of these people is a kind of 'Seven Samurai' existence of poor farmers and maurauding bandits. This may happen, but what is more likely is the US energy consumption will drop by two- thirds and people here will live like people did in pre- petroleum times. Eventually the shock and horror of no cars will end and a new organizational regime will seize the many and vast advantages that humans possess and use them to remake the US - and the rest of the world - into a place that is what represents the best of civilization.

Where nature and human endeavors collaborate.

I hoard a fair amount of food/water etc. I looked at the army ration packs (about $30 a day here), found the ingredients in the local supermarket and then "built my own" for less than 1/2 the cost. I also have bulk supplies of rice/beans/pasta/flour/sugar/salt.

To the people that say they will spoil, get stolen, only last so long then you'll have to rely on your skills, i agree to some extent, but its cheap and gives you options.

Your not going to be able to raise a garden with 1000s of starving people around the place, so your going to stay inside as quiet as possible for 6 months or so until they die off a bit.

Also, there's plenty of other reasons to have at least 2 week supply of essentials, flood, fire, storm, power outage etc etc etc could all lead to a short term disaster where you need to survive on your own for a couple of weeks.

I think keeping anything less than a 2 week supply of food/water in your house is pretty irresponsible really.

not to mention that it takes many months before a crop to yield its produce.
itll be a hungry wait even with a stash.

governments arent going to deny community food when we will still have plenty of energy. just not enough of it for the next 100. so a stockpile may only need to last a couple of weeks tops as your sole source before you can suppliment it with handouts, gathering, shopping etc.

Your not going to be able to raise a garden with 1000s of starving people around the place, so your going to stay inside as quiet as possible for 6 months or so until they die off a bit.

LOL, what a cheerful thought! I wonder whether people who are new to TOD just think we're all wackos, what with our likely future scenarios full of zombie cannibals...


Your comment and the fact that I don't remember any previous comments lead me to believe you may be a fairly new here yourself.

Actually most of us probably believe in the POSSIBILITY of a really hard "crash landing" that might result in mobs in the streets and people fighting for food. Sometimes some of us with a more ghoulish sense humor engage in such commentary.But these same guys are usually pretty middle of the road for the most part.

It COULD HAPPEN - you could find yourself in such a situation.

If you were to do so,my estimate of the matter is that when you come out to look after your garden,one of the last of the surviving scavengers is more than likely to do you in.unless you work in a crew with somebody standing gaurd.

But the odds are that some sort of civil authority will prevail after a short period of time-maybe a few weeks at the most,given the nature of most disasters.

LOL, saying "you cant raise a garden with 1000s of starving people around the place" is not the same as saying "6 months from now there will definitely be 1000's of starving people around the place".

If i thought that was a likely scenario I would quit my job now and go build a bunker somewhere.

I think we are in for longer and longer, tougher and tougher global recessions until the US/Aus/UK look like India/Russia/China do now. That is what I personally believe is most likely to happen. (notice how I paired the UK with communist china.. I would never move to the UK)

That or we will get taxed higher and higher rates until we are all totally socialist and the (by that time very large) government will distribute everything evenly among the peasants (and obviously give themselves a "bit extra" for their hard work as dictator..)

What will happen, noone knows, what may happen we can only prepare for best we can.

1. I would contend that "storing" while supplies are plentiful is not the same as "hoarding", as long as you are storing things you use anyway and can and will reasonably rotate through before expiration. Hoarding would be what will happen when supply stops and people run to the store to fight over the last bottles of water. I think if you see this sort of thing coming (and obviously, we do or we would not be here), then you are being a responsible member of society to think ahead and prepare so that you are not another drain on a failing system and hopefully can help others to depend less on the "system".

We have a three month food storage system that we rotate through. For me, it is solely to be able to provide calmness and ease worry of myself and my husband and our four kids during a time of crisis, many of which are threatening to come our way "sometime" in the not too distant future.

In the event of a shorter crisis - while people are sitting around waiting for their government to rescue them and trying to cope with the realizations that all of us have spent years trying to digest in a matter of a few short days - I think this increases our odds on the order of 70%.

While it often sucks and is a serious pain to see what is coming, I think that alone gives us all a huge advantage. We won't need to waste as much time observing the situation and reacting as each crisis unfolds. We will have already thought out possible scenarios long before we need them.

2. I do my best to think as far ahead as I can, but I have to admit, my number one concern is that of my family, friends and community right now. I aim to not cause more damage to the future. Seeing as how there are a lot of unknowns for what we face in the next five years, much less the next 100, I feel like civilization has enough to chew on to survive the next 20. That being said, I purchase tools that are well made and can be used without fossil fuels and I try to learn and practice skills that will be useful for generations to come and I start the tradition of passing this knowledge down. I also take to heart the observation in "Deep Survival" that it is not the most prepared nor the smartest who survive, but the ones who can most readily adapt to change.

3. I have to admit that I struggle with this one. I see the value of preparing to be shut in for a pandemic or major terroristic event, but beyond a few months, you just cannot store everything and really, will it do any good anyway? Obviously, learning to live with less is the best preparation for the inevitable future of life without consistent (or any) fossil fuels. Learning to grow and preserve food (cold storage, saving seeds year to year, etc.) will serve you well forever and can be shared endlessly, but a tin of wheat only goes so far.

So somebody finally mentioned saving seeds. That it took this long into the thread before it was even mentioned should give us pause to ask how well thought out most of these "hoarding" schemes really are.

Remember, we are an aging population. How many people assume they can go completely without advanced medical for years into the future, getting older every day? Don't think so...for the bulk of the population, we either make the system we have work or we die.


Hi RC,

we either make the system we have work or we die.

Being part of that "aging population" myself - I very much agree with you. However, I doubt even 10% of TOD followers are interested in trying to work within our current system to help prevent the worst consequences of PO.

A short while back, here on TOD, I supported a petition to get the National Academy of Sciences involved to advise our goverment about PO. Although there is some room to nit pick this approach, it was pretty amazing to see how most of the posters here would not support any such effort.

Some of us have been saving seed so long we do it without thinking about it,like breathing.

But I must admit we don't have everything we should have,meaning the full range of vegetables we could grow locally.

And not enough of what we do have,if we were to find ourselves in a really bad spot-say a year the crops failed.

But we wouldn't starve.

For what it's worth there are and will be lots of alternative foods available in a real pinch,if you are quick enough and open minded enough.I've never eaten dog,but I'm told it's not bad and in a survival situation a dog would look just as good as a deer to me.

And there are pallets and pallets of livestock feed in fifty and hundred pound bags at the local farm supply.This stuff is not graded to the same standards as people food,but it's not exactly piosonous either.I have no doubt that there are lots of people that would LOVE a bowl of mixed grain fortified with some rendered fat and maybe some soybean or fish meal this very minute.A car full would probably keep a family of three or four alive for several months.

Here in the states and in places such as Australia and western Europe I really think that the odds of organized emergency food distribution after a major catastrophe are really pretty good,and that if you make it thru the first week or two,you will probably make it.

Not much to add, most stuff seems to be covered in long lists of skills, essentials etc. However one thing that seems not to have been mentioned (at least in the lists I've seen) is a magnifying glass. Lots of talk about the need for an endlaess supply of matches but as long as the sun is shining (it does that occasionally even here in Scotland!) it's easy to start a fire if you have sunlight, a MG, and a source of dry combustible material (e.g. paper, wood). Just focus the suns rays and you'll get smoke almost instantly and fire soon after. Dark coloured material works best.


Keep some Tinder Fungus around along with some flints and iron pyrites, or a Fire Piston.

I do not think that hoarding of food will save you as there will most probably be a long period of declines and it is difficult to store so much food. I think the best hedge would be to make sure that you live in an environment with community support a village or small town, with the possibility to grow part of your own food.

I would love to buy a small house on a big plot (>10.000 m2) close to where most of my family is living (western part of The Netherlands) however in that area something like that is not for sale or way to expensive >EUR 500.000 so I can not buy it or finance it. Then there is still a chance that the western part of The Netherlands will flood because of the rising sea levels.

House should be equipped with Solar hot water and power and rainwater catchment system or a small well for water.

Another option is to buy the same but for instance in Germany or Poland. The same plot size will be much cheaper < EUR 100.000 but I will miss my family and local support. Also it is far away from work :( Difficult dilemma.

The only thing I can think of of buying as a hedge against the future is gold coins or bars. Difficult to estimate if it will be worth something in the future. But maybe better then money in your bank account ??

In the long term we are all dead, but I hope to see my two nephews grow up and prosper. They are my biggest worry (as I have no kids my self) they will carry the full blow of anything that comes and stupid governments that can not look ahead for more then the next elections.

The decision to hoard is a palliative for the tragic scenarios we have painted in our minds, a nuclear attack, one or several population eliminating plagues, a collapse of the financial system, loss of transportation and so on. Those scenarios are easy to contemplate and prepare for but it's the aftermath, the time after the hoard is depleted that is more difficult to envisage.

The most damaging event most of us will likely incur will be loss of employment or a catastrophic medical event. In these cases a hoard may be beneficial, but what if the employment does not come back? Should your ultimate hoard be a nice peice of terra firma that your ancestors lived quite well on for billions of years prior to our brief misdirection into the dead-end of technological evolution.

Think of yourself as a single cell in a metazoan body. By serious study and reading National Geographic religiously you are aware that the whole system of which you are a part will soon die. Other cells and their constituents go about their business processing enzymes, building structures, doing metabolic things, and are completely unaware of their impending demise. You, being a mobile leukocyte, make your way to the periphery. You're still getting nutrition from the body and you want to take advantage of that as long as you can. But you also know that others will soon begin to notice that the glucose levels in the blood are dropping and the metabolism just isn't right.

Most think that the body is just experiencing a temporary fever and indigestion when in reality it is approaching a massive coronary event. Of course bodies die all the time, but they create new ones before passing. Technological bodies, societies, have embarked upon living and growing forever without any death and rebirth cycles using energy that won't even be available for a next generation and technology that is so toxic to the ecosystem that we may not even want a next generation. We will be severely disciplined by the natural parameters that define life on this planet.

Getting back to my metaphor. You, being a lucky leukocyte (maybe) should equip yourself with a tool and skill set that will enable you to survive outside the cushy squishy interior of the body. Isolation is also a bonus. Or you could stay behind and help your bewildered cell mates obtain nutrition from the coagulated and decaying network of arteries or hit on a few of those adipose cells (the body's hoarders) until their hoards are depleted and then you can lay down and die together.

Our body has no discipline, no final form defined by natural barriers and competition. It is a cancer. When it is finally disciplined it will turn inward and begin to eat itself and thereby destroy itself. (For instance, notice how the speed traps have recently intensified and taxes are increasing for many. : ) If you lack income, find someone to eat.

As long as you can get a share of food from the body, continue to do so. Become a nice juicy adipose cell, but don't let the body suck you dry when it begins to starve and wants to distribute your stash to rest of the population. The cheapest way to defend yourself is to be invisible or isolated or both and avoid the frantic throngs that will rampaging, destroying the infrastructure and overall be sealing their own fate. It is likely that the loss of sustenance will result in a positive feedback whereby mobs destroy key infrastructure needed to feed densely packed population centers. However, order will be temporarily restored (curfews and shoot on sight orders). Do you really want to live in that kind of environment?

You should hoard options and be flexible as things unfold. Try camping out and living a minimalist lifestyle for a week or so and see where your weaknesses are. Lose your job and you will definitely recognize your greatest weakness, being too dependent upon centralized provision of your basic needs. You may have to become a resistant spore of sorts as the old dies and hopefully the new order will recognize and avoid the catastrophic misteps of our first technological journey.

I'm going to focus on responding to question #1, because the thrust of the piece is centered on one particular idea, hoarding, and it meshes with my perspective on what the future will portend.

As resource depletion intensifies in the years ahead, people who can will begin to hoard. However, at some hundredth monkey threshold there will be such widespread hoarding that the Fed. govt. through news services will exhort people to stop, because the act of hoarding will exacerbate the crises into all out panic to buy what's left on the shelves. People will fill whatever space they have available, owned or rented, with as much stuff, TP & food etc. with what they can afford. They will also probably borrow more than they can afford to repay on credit cards as they see the system faltering. In response, the banks will start closing accounts on a large scale as they see this phenomenon accelerating.

Once the shelves are empty and the glass to the stores are smashed, no new deliveries will be made. Orders will be cancelled and the next few weeks will determine who lives and who dies. Those with little hoarded food available will steal or kill if needed to feed themselves and their young. For those that were in a position to hoard the most, and have set themselves up to be well protected either by geography, construction of their domicile or have really good defense weapons, will be the ones to survive the initial period of day to day survival, which may only last a few weeks.

Then will come the deafening silence of a defunct civilization. That will be followed by those that survived possessing a common bond with one another talking with each other, finding ways to continue to survive by planting food, shooting game and sharing skills. Then small Kunstler depicted communities will band together. The number of people that survive will only be about 3-5%, so although times will be tough, it will in some ways be much easier to keep the peace and establish close relationships.

High tech equipment will be replaced by simpler tools, but in a few thousand years hence, humankind will begin to ascend to a an advanced civilization, albeit with a much lower population. What will also be tatooed onto human consciousness will be the hard lessons learned about living via the ill-fated guise of phantom capacity.

' initial period of day to day survival, which may only last a few weeks.'

the average healthy adult can do w/o food close to 1 month; so a lot longer than u say.

'Then will come the deafening silence of a defunct civilization.'

great line!!!

'The number of people that survive will only be about 3-5%'

how do u get to such a low no. in anything near the timeframe u give???

This is a subject that could take a series of articles to cover sufficiently.

First, if any stockpiling is to be considered, it must be in reference to one or more risks. What risks might there be?

Potential Risks of Medium Duration (2 months to 2 years)

It may make sense to stockpile food and supplies for natural or man-made disasters where some aspects of critical infrastructure will be temporarily disrupted.

Severe Pandemic: Multiple waves lasting 2-3 months each could result in "Widespread Social Disruption ...Stock a supply of water and food. During a pandemic you may not be able to get to a store. Even if you can get to a store, it may be out of supplies. Public waterworks services may also be interrupted. Stocking supplies can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters. See a checklist of items to have on hand for an extended stay at home." PandemicFlu.gov (Caveat: I've written a book on preparing for pandemics and other extended disasters, though the .pdf can be obtained here free)

Regional Nuclear War; Climate shifts of several years below the level of the Little Ice Age could result from a nuclear exchange between two hostile countries (e.g. Pakistan/India, Iran/Israel, etc), severely impacting food supplies. Rutgers
(I don't see any reasonable mitigation for global nuclear war)

Potential Risks of Indefinite Duration

Mitigations for these types of risks tend to focus on long term access to sufficient food, water, and shelter.

Peak Oil (and other resources): (Insert the usual hard-lander scenarios) Transitioning locales to increased self sufficiency in goods and services will be the best possible mitigation. Individuals, families, or small pockets of survivalists would be too isolated to have a passable chance of making it on their own. TransitionTowns.org

Economic distress: A severe depression could lead to widespread social dislocation and potentially disorder. Having the means to at least supplement with home grown fruits/vegetables/nuts could be a critical mitigation to the risk of food supply or income disruption.

I've heard some who say they are reminded of the seven years of feast and seven years of famine found in Genesis 41.

Surely here on TOD then Peak Oil is the main context to concentrate on.

I mirror Kipper's statement that what is most likely is a gradual decline in infrastructure over a long time - probably years or decades - based on failing funds mainly.

I guess this would cause some islanding of communities based on transport and power availability but incrementally not overnight.

Perhaps others could highlight what quick disaster they think PO could conceivably bring? Fuel riots? Surely even if prices get silly, initially this will be offset by employers and even by government, so again I can't see the rush that would make hoarding remotely useful (for PO anyway).

Who gives a sh%t about toilet paper??!! Pun intended.
Wipe your butt with a rag and wash it and repeat.

I have at least 1 year stored food that I rotate and it is just regular off the shelf items. Tuna canned veggies,rice beans, flour sugar pasta canned sauces.
Read the labels on canned stuff some lasts 1-2 years but tuna in oil is 4-5 years. It probably is still good after the "best by" dates anyway.
I have grown many common garden veggies such as, squash,tomatoes,eggplant, carrots, peppers. This I can see is not going to cut it. It seems to me that growing enough food to survive is a land and labor intensive endeavor that is a daily effort.
I need more land to even have a shot. Also, having to rely on irrigation shoots the whole thing in the head.
I live walking distance from a lake with drinkable water if it is filtered. I have purchased 3 Katadyn water filters(very expensive) that have reusable ceramic filters. Each one can produce gallons of water in 10 minutes and lasts tens of thousands of gallons. I think everyone should consider these filters as a top priority.
Many of the tools that I have been collecting are hand tools and I have become a fair woodworker with them. I enjoy this activity and it is a very valuable skill in any lower energy scenario.
Real world "hand" skills in general will be the most important things to possess if the future holds what most here seem to think.
Lawyers and business men will be ditch diggers and craftsmen will tell then what to do.
Weapons will be a must if you want to keep what you have. I have always been around them and have many. Ammo is going to be very valauble I believe in the popular types i.e. 12 gauge, .223, .40s+w, 9mm, .308 etc. Also in any ammo ban the military and police calibers will still be around and manufactured so get weapons in those calibers.
I have a 10 year old son so I do think longer term but past a few years? It seems there will be enough to contend with in the next couple and if you don't make it through that what goods is a 100 year vision?
Oops out of order...........We should have been giving things up years ago and I have "been the change that I want to see". It is funny because I have gone from the worry wart nut to the guru now that it is too late.
In summary, I think that the most important aspect of preparing is probably the skills and knowledge to survive. This not only provides the means but the confidence and hope to try.
As an 8 year military vet I have been through survival training and SEER training and also traveled to places on earth that do not have the next American Idol. Most humans live in the situations that we are preparing for. It is already being done by billions so it can be done by a few more.

Consumer behavior in every stratum of the population, without exception, is characterized by agitated demand, flight from money, the stock-piling of goods (food, clothing, and so on). Judging from a survey conducted in August of this year [1991], almost one-third of the population, on average, want to buy up deficit goods, whether they need them or not. Half of the recipients expressed a willingness to overpay for individual items. Distrust of money and the desire to get rid of it is manifest not only in stockpiling (which is primarily determined by the shortages) but also in the formation of a savings strategy that is typical in a crisis economy. The most popular use of savings is buying jewelry (38 percent of respondents said that this was a good time for it); slightly less popular is the purchasing of hard currency (33 percent feel that this is a good time to buy it). Lack of confidence in the government is seen in the low ratings of state forms of savings (saving banks, securities, and bonds).

Soviet memo quoted in Collapse of an Empire by Yegor Gaidar.

Being prepared for a medium-term emergency (one year/one growing season) is how I sleep at night. I think of it as insurance. If you needed food or clean water for your family during a crisis that had disrupted the supply chain, what would it be worth to you? Unfortunately at that point it may not be available at "any" cost, or any cost that you would be willing to pay. So for around $1500 you can get set up from this outfit:

Ready Reserve Foods

I have made many purchases from them and have been happy with the product and the customer service.

Edit: The advantage of the Ready Reserve products is that they are packed in nitrogen and have a shelf life of 10+ years. Also, you don't need to spend as much as I did. They sell a range of items, including individual cans, 72-hour emergency kits, three-month food supply packs, etc. I just received an email from them this morning (7/14) saying that they have a sale going on.

To complete the picture, if you have streams or ponds nearby you can ensure an ample supply of drinking and cooking water by shelling out another couple of hundred bucks here:

Berkey Water Filters

I have also taken other steps to protect what I have. My expectation is that these supplies will keep me afloat as I work with others on longer-term solutions should they be necessary.

It baffles me that most other people can't see how exposed they are to increasing levels of risk. But I go wilderness camping every year, and with no stores around, I have learned first-hand about the things that I most want and need when regular access to them is unavailable: food, water, and hygiene/sanitation.

(Full disclosure: I'm no longer in Vermont, but I'm not far away; but that's a story for another day).

1. I am one of "them" in that I chose to purchase several quality firearms in common caliber with which to defend my "hoard" should the need arise. I see it only as prudent. I also have a small pile of food, say 2 months for an individual on 2k calories a day, plus the usual short-term survival items. At one point in my life I was homeless and did not know where my next meal was going to come from. It was a painful, yet valuable, experience for me in that I became aware of just WHY desperate people do what they do. Everything is rational and reasonable if you are hungry. Hunger is a prime motivator and people will do just about anything to sate it. I also stocked up on skills and implements I had identified as necessary to continue survival of those I care about. My primary concern is to be in a position to help others and not be one of the millions on the dole WTSHTF.
2. It sounds insane to say "I don't care about the future" but that pretty much sums it up for me. I simply don't know what the future will look like, and neither do you. Allow me to qualify that: As I walk through the neighborhood or ride the bike to work I STILL see the majority of people as bleached skulls should future scenarios be as dire as some predict. I see the morbidly obese, the disabled, the addicted (both to common pharmaceutical confections and consumer items) and the unprepared both physically and mentally. We are sloth and we are gluttony.
3. Much of my preparation is mental, but has also consisted of evaluating the utility of the items/people that flit through my life. I let the unnecessary go when I can, and am often much better off for it...(ie. TV, meat, highly processed foods, poisonous people, expensive vacations, barhopping and "shopping"). This may tick some of you off - I DO value and care about people, but only inasmuch as they are mindful of their place in life's web. We don't have the TIME to save them, even when we care about them. All the wrong people are breeding, but who am I to decide who is fit? It makes me crazy in the eyes of others, but I can't help it. Take a deep breath, and keep working is all I can do.
4. Get yourself out of debt, it is an incredible feeling!

be well

edit: I take it all back nothing to worry about:

I enjoy these posts, clearly it makes sense to be prepared for shortages of certain goods, to be prepared to defend yourself/family/group, all for relatively short terms, less than 5 years. As to the long term gloom and doom expressed by some, and the accompanying guilt trip that we should all just reduce our standard of living to that of the Sudanese, I don't share in either. There is a lot of truth in the saying that "if you give a problem to technology it gets solved, if you give it to politicians you get a worse mess" (I know I don't have the quote 100% correct, but you get the message). Personally I have faith that humankind will solve the problems of today and move onward and outward, current politics is a serious impediment to be survived and overcome, but we will. I do not buy the implied concept that we are headed back into the stone age.

I half agree with your sentiment on the power of technology but what you miss is that the incredible acceleration that defines the last 100 years was due to the steroid of fossil fuels.
To think of just the last 100 years and juxtapose it against all human history prior just warps the mind.

I was in VietNam when the oil crisis hit last year. With the high oil prices, the food price went up as well. VietNam is the world's 2nd largest rice exporter. So there was no reason to run out of this. But when the panic (like a bankrun) hit the street, many rice shops would close early -- hoarding the supply to drive up prices. A 5% jump in price in one day was just normal. Hoarding is just the norm even before the real crisis hit. Some can react a bit faster than others.
The thing with the Great Collapse is not with hoarding -- but a life changing direction before it comes.

At what point does stocking up cross over into "hoarding"?

A year or two ago (can't remember exactly when), I started stocking up on food. I only have enough to squeak us through maybe 6 months, and it is all stuff we normally eat, so it is regularly rotated. I was motivated in part from reading about energy issues, but Sharon Astyk had additional good reasons for keeping food - like having something to fall back on in case of job loss - your own or someone else you might want to help.

It's come in handy already. I lost my job awhile back, but now my husband has to take unpaid "furlough" days, further decreasing our income. When we had some unexpected expenses recently, it really helped to have some extra food on hand.

Stocking up on food used to be just good common sense. When I was a girl growing up in the Midwest, people routinely kept extra food on hand in the winter, in case of snowstorms, inability to get to the store, or whatever.

I don't stock up on guns, gold, or anything else that I'm GUESSING will be valuable for trade or whatever post collapse. (Though I am hanging onto some gold jewelry I don't wear. There are ads all the time offering cash for gold, but that ARgentinian guy's advice to have small qtys of gold in the form of jewelry for barter sticks in my head, so I haven't sold anything.) For one, I don't have the $$$. But I just believe in stocking up on what I need and investing in practical things I might not be able to afford later. For example, we built raised beds last year and are finishing a chicken coop this year. Next year, we may not have any extra cash for those things. We've also "invested" in fruit trees and berry bushes, things like that.

RE prepping for depletion by giving things up - we're already doing that, too (e.g. line drying clothes, going down to one car, not using AC). I think prep, like any investments, should be diversified...


you are right. i wrote this in a hurry yesterday and looking at it now, I should have used 'stocking up' or 'basic needs buffering' instead of hoarding. Hoarding does have a negative connotation, but I know lots of people that DO hoard (as opposed to holistic food storage). I wonder what the Mormons refer to? (my understanding is Mormon familes, per the church, are recommended to have 1 year of food, water and medicine stocked up)

The Mormons have the "LDS Preparedness Manual" that can be downloaded for free from their website.

I downloaded and printed Version 5 some time last year which I believe is still the most recent version.

Its quite a good read.

I cant find a pdf that will download, any link you know of?

There is something about tobacco addiction that makes stockpiling it for trade purposes extremely dangerous. A smoker will go for days without food as long as he gets his fix. I have seen too many destitute people standing outside the soup kitchen who have spent every penny on smokes. There are too many folks who would kill you to get a smoke. Ask yourself if you would be willing to kill to protect your supply of tobacco? Once you run out there would be even more folks who would not believe you no longer have any and will destroy everything you have before deciding you were really out of smokes. The same but to a lesser extent would be true about alcohol and other recreational drugs.

Catching up on some of these posts, been making hay while the sun shines. Most of the examples of "hoarding" and "prep" I see here are what we up here call getting ready for winter.
This years wood is in, and working on next winters now. Some secure knowing no matter what the house will be warm through the winter. Split, dry, wood in the woodyard is so much better than money in the bank. Water I don't store, but do have a backup handpump in the event of long power outages which are pretty typical out here. I did put a new set of leathers in storage for the pump. Food is pretty straight forward, can and store a lot, sometimes purchase locally grown in large quantites to put by. It's just the way things a done here.

The area up here is highly dependant on summer tourism, not doing very well this year, and it leads to a lifetsylte that just normally stocks up during the good time, to roll through the leaner times.

Don in Maine

Many years ago I read that the intermittent availability of food in the distant past led to a genetic predisposition to obesity in many humans. Could this be true? It takes approximately 3500 calories to add one pound body weight. With an extra 50 pounds one might survive months with relatively little caloric intake. Should one consider hoarding (stockpiling) calories in the form of fat around ones belly? Or should a true survivalist be lean and mean?

"fitness" in survival terms will only be obvious retroactively.

If there weren't contexts in which stored fat conferred a survival advantage, there wouldn't be so many potbellied Irish marching in the streets on St. Patrick's Day.

However, as all "extreme" metabolic or survival strategies, there are tradeoffs; like not being able to run fast, and one's body wearing out more quickly.

In general, a smart, fit person should be able to take advantage of more opportunities competing with other humans; but in famine situations fat gets many animals through the winter. And a fat warlord will out-compete a thin bunch of farmers in some cases.


1) I have tried NOT to hoard but I keep finding that I still accumulate stuff that I see as "too valuable" or "too durable" and useful to pass up. I hunt and camp a lot too , and the pure joy of having stuff that works and lasts keep me buying more. Consequently I have some serious stashes of the following, not exactly intensionally:

-Water filters and purifiers of multiple kinds
-Two solar ovens, reflective mylar film, rolls of plastic sheet in clear and black
-Lots of cold weather clothing for family (you can never have too many wool socks & good gloves/mittens)
-Leather for making stuff (I tan & keep all my deer & elk hides - they accumulate over the years)
-Knives. I have way too many but if there is a more useful simple tool that can last for generations I don't know what it is
-Flint/magnesium fire starters, magnifying glasses, fire starters, matches etc.)
-Good cast iron dutch ovens, skillets, griddles
-Firewood, axes, mauls, splitters
-Water buckets, every 5 gallon tub of Sam's laundry detergent ends up getting saved... plus many more from brewing beer or making wine.
-Glass carboys for brewing (some how I have about 8 of the large 5 gallon ones... no idea how I ended up with so many)
-Guns, reloading equipment & supplies, ammo (It's mainly for hunting, I'm not a survivalist, but the stuff seems to appreciate in value faster than gold is right now.)
-Boots & shoes... perhaps this is fetish? After having cold feet for so many winters when I lived in Illinois I can't seem to forego more quality footware. If far east sources dried up I could probably make it for another 40 years with what I own right now...)
-Tools, fasteners - particularly screws.
-Primitive archery, strings, arrows, points, and broad heads. Simple archery is durable, reusable, renewable, and lasts decades or can be made with hand tools.
-Tents, sleeping bags, bivy sacks (if really bad SHTF, these can be used indoors)
-Seeds, good compost, lots of food bearing perennial plants
-Chickens, chick raising equip, coop & chicken wire.
-Canning equipment: good pressure cooker, lots of lids & jars (handy for growing fungi too)
-Manual food processors of all kinds: slicers, meat grinders, grain grinders, dryers, etc.
-Full pantry (Sam's or Costco habit) rice, beans, canned goods, ramen noodles....

Why? Some unconscious part of me must be driving this trend. I like durable stuff and often misplace the critical ones, which means I end up buying more, much like a squirrel burring more nuts that they really know where they are.
I think this behavior would be beneficial to surviving a bottleneck shortage with little or no stress.

Perhaps more important is that this surplus enables me to SHARE with neighbors & friends and thus build a strong support network. In a big long term crisis, this is what we need. As humans, we simply can't survive for long as individuals. Transitioning during crisis into a tightly interconnected clan or community will foster sanity, peace of mind and survival. Solo "survivalists" are toast IMHO. That kind of separatist mentality will ATTRACT nasty people & behaviors... no matter how much ammo you have.

2) Hmmm.. I'm not sure where your question is leading. Appreciating, using, and teaching others about good manual tools & processes IMHO has value over 50-100 years. My descendent's could conceivably be still using my knives, axes, dutch ovens, and grain grinders. Other stuff like canned food, water filters, only have a 5-10 year useful window of help.

I think MOST IMPORTANT is the transmission of KNOWLEDGE. I keep a whole set of Firefox books, teach people & family how to garden, cook, raise poultry, hunt, butcher, keep self clean & healthy, etc. Teaching people how to NOT PANIC and to work together despite appearance of lower living standards will perhaps be the pivot point between a fast die-off and a more conscious powerdown.

3)Yes, getting rid of HABITS, THOUGHTS, BELIEFS, and illusory needs will enable one to best adapt to this new world that is emerging. Climate change, peak oil, globalization & relocalization are only BAD, STRESSFUL, or NEGATIVE if and only if WE THINK they are. Perhaps I should rate a case of Byron Katie books as another survival tool...

Reality is what it is. How we think about it is what drives us mad, causes depression, or leads to hopelessness and suicide. If TSHTF hard like so many here on TOD seem to rationally conclude will happen, then most people will be in shock, chaos and denial. Survivers and thrivers will be those who accept the new situation and deal with it, and move forward.

4)Find something that makes you happy and that is not dependent upon external circumstances and doesn't cost anything. Share this with another person. Repeat.

I believe the future is very unclear at this stage. We could be looking at orderly transition to a low energy economy or a complete breakdown of western society or anything in between. I guess uncertaintity over future events has always been a feature of civilisation. It is just that in the last 50 years, we have got used to a world with relatively low standard distribution of probabilities ie. the future has been a lot more predictable. Not so now.

I try and take a view of preparations as insurance. For $1000 I can put aside enough calories for my 4 person family to live for a year. This seems like good insurance as it could cover for either a short hard crisis or as supplements for a long period of rationing. With a bit of extra work in turnover of food stores this can be managed as an advance payment rather than a sunk cost. But, I have not done this ...yet. I have been experimenting with storing some foods to see that it can be done with no detrimental effects to the food quality. The food can be acquired in an instant (provided you are ahead of the pack) but the knowledge takes time.

Same thing with growing your own food. Over a couple of years I have learned how to grow as much food as I can on a small suburban block. I am certainly no expert but my work at backyard gardening puts me years ahead of where I would be if I were to experience a crisis with no preparation. I have virtually no vegetable garden at the moment (a few fruit trees only) because of lack of available time, but I know I could start one and be producing within a few months.

We don't know if we are in the crisis now or if the world will pick itself up for another try at BAU for a couple of years before we again bump into the depletion curve. I am relying on my ability to see the signs in advance of the general public before puting in too much effort on those things that can be addressed quickly if/when the crisis looms. I am reminded of the one about the two campers who encounter a bear in the forest. The first camper takes off his shoes. The second camper screams "What are you doing. We will never be able to outrun the bear". The second camper replies "I don't have to outrun the bear".
Not a very altruistic approach on my part but I console myself with the fact that I am doing everything in my power on a professional level to try to find solutions/mitigation to the problems society as a whole will experience.

So I am trying to address the 100 year horizon at the the same time as taking out insurance for the next 5 years ahead.

I started out like you, on a small suburban block, with a small garden in Sydney Australia. I have stockpiled some flour, rice, pasta, beans, sugar and canned goods(and toilet paper). Then I started to worry about defending my food, didn't want a dangerous gun in the house in case of accidents, I used to be a good shot with a hand gun, from the days I lived in Tennessee, but my eyesight is not so good anymore, so have contracted a local security force. I was worried about by back-up electricity supply so have decided to link in with a few neighbors using a connection to several generators to have a more reliable supply. Similarly my water tank may run out so I have hooked up with a pipeline connected to 4 local dams that have about 5 years supply( all gravity fed).
The local security force does a real good job patrolling the neighborhood, I can contact them 24 hours a day and as well call on a local fire fighting force and a medical emergency force if I need them. I do worry about post Peak Oil if they will still be able to give good service, but recon that if fuel supplies are tight they will probably get it before the criminals and the rest of us. Of course the down-side is I have to pay for these services, but since my suburban neighbors also like the service we decided to share the costs amongst many thousands. You can't beat having good neighbors like that, although to be perfectly honest I only know the first names of a few in the street.

I like the bear and the campers story, in many societies the campers would join forces to defeat the bear, that's worked for 200,000 years and has the advantage that it also works when you come across the second bear, or other wild animal. I don't like the long term chances of the camper without shoes.

I don't know if you have experienced the same conflict between alternative provisions that I have been wrestling with.

I believe that on balance the most probable outcome for the next 20 years is for a progressive decrease in energy availability with no significant sudden shocks. No mad max. Just a managed, maybe a bit painful, transition to alternative energy sources and a society that recognises the value of energy. In this scenario an efficient inner city house with very good public transport and infrastructure is a good solution. Particularly if your individual skill set is in a field that requires large organisations (government or corporate) to be effective.

On the other hand, I have only 250 m2 of land that I can devote to growing food. There is no way I can grow enough on this to support 4 adults. I am surrounded by several hundred thousand people that will make no preparation or contingency plans. Even if they did make contingency plans they could not survive at the population density in my local area. If things do go bad for a period then I am in a great deal of trouble. If we do go into a period of "survival" then the best option would be to be located much further from suburbia with access to more land so that I can be largely self sufficient and fully sufficient through cooperation with your local community.

You indicated you have employed a local security force. This seems like a good solution provided we go through only moderate societal dislocation. If we go through a major breakdown however, it may not provide any protection and in fact could result in a negative outcome.

We all place our bets on probable outcomes and will have to work around problems if we are wrong.

I am not placing bets on probable outcomes more on the society holding together over a wide range of possible futures.
Noted today that EIA data for April 2009, the US electricity was 34% derived from non-FF, 21% nuclear, 13% renewable. That's not 100% but a lot better than using candles, we could certainly all manage on one third of today's electricity if we had too, without society collapsing. Of course that's not replacing today's oil and NG consumption.
If that 33% of today's electricity was the only energy society had we would still be way above life in pre-industrial societies, but would require large numbers of people to co-operate. There is no future for the long camper( the one that outran his ex-buddy) or the isolated family holding up in a cave.

Hoarding just postpones the inevitable. As in all things, tomorrow belongs to those who can adapt to meet the demands of the future.

But no man is an island and there are few of us who can truly survive for long on our own. I think the atavistic, self-sufficient human being is something of an American myth: we all want to be independent mountain men like some sort of post-apocalyptic Grizzly Adams or, perhaps more pertinent to our national character, the homesteaders of old. What we forget is that, even in those far-flung communities of our past, they were still very much communities, and most people who took to their own in the mountains didn't last the winter if thieves and brigands didn't get them first.

We need communities and communal organization to support any sort of life-style beyond subsistence in the most brutish sense. The loss of fossil fuels implies the loss of a great deal of modernity, but it doesn't imply the end of civilization. The records of human civilization date back some ten millennia. The internal combustion engine has been in existence (at least in numbers great enough to have a serious impact on our lives) for maybe a hundred years, steam engines, another hundred years on top of that. Industrial civilization as such has only existed for 250 of these past years. The end of oil does not mean the end of civilization, just a backslide to the way we were before all this mechanization. I think that's a point that gets lost in all these long-emergency type scenarios.

So, while we will all be substantially poorer, with those with the most energy-intensive lifestyles bearing much of the brunt, we will not cease to exist as a civilization. Our political boundaries will most likely be redrawn and modern capitalism will cease to exist in the absence of global financial markets and trade. Labor will be redefined to crafts and things that can be constructed by human hands and the service sector will most likely collapse. It will be hardest on the generations old enough to remember what things were like now, but, in time, generations hence will know a different world.

But we will still have our technology, even if we only have limited resources to operate it, so I believe we will eventually return to our current levels of prosperity, though we may first have a long reminder of what it means to live in a dark age. In short, I see our lot not as an apocalyptic one, but we are on the cusp of a similar experience much of Europe had following the fall of the Roman Empire, though I'm sure ours will not be so rife with plague, poverty, and feudal warfare.

As an aside, I feel our efforts would be better spent trying to find solutions to prevent the coming dark age, rather then fret for own desires for Hormel chili, Colgate, and ammunition to protect ourselves from we know not what. If nothing else, we should find means to secure enough energy to support interstate rail-based transit, hospitals, schools, commercial refrigeration, food processing, and home heating. These, I feel, are the minimum required to prevent the doomsday scenarios the hoarders so fear. Compared to our current rates of consumption, these requirements should be quite modest and within the capability of even minimal electricity networks.

1)Regarding 'hoarding', have you been buying things that you fear someday might be unavailable due to breakdown in supply chain, etc? If so, what is your objective by owning such things? Insurance? To make it through a bottleneck? What % advantage might these things offer you vs average human conspecifics?

We routinely buy in bulk, when things are on sale, etc. We've got enough canned and packaged goods, paper goods, etc., to last us from several weeks to several months. This has just always been our way. We live in an area that could be shut down for up to a week or more due to storms, so you've got to be prepared for that. I'm trying to work on broadening and extending our stockpile, but I'm not sure how feasible that will end up being.

I'm pretty sceptical about stockpiles for a year or more. We don't really have the space or money for that. If things are that bad, I am doubtful that we would be able to escape being raided by government authorities, or criminals, or both, and that efforts on my part to defend that stockpile would just result in my certain death.

2)Regarding the future, how will decisions optimized for the next 5-20 years adversely affect the next 50-100 years? Is it even possible to care more about 100 years from now than 10 years from now, as an individual? as a society?

I am constantly aware of the fact that my life expectancy is in the range to 20-30 years at best; I will be exceptional if I make it much past then. As I don't have any kids, I might be tempted to not care at all about the longer-term future. I actually do care, out of a sense of civic-mindedness and social/ecological responsibility.

It is possible to imagine human cultures where the primacy of concern is for the patrimony (or legacy, or heritage - take your pick) passed down to future generations. One thinks of native Americans and the "seventh generation" principle. Unfortunately, our culture is not at all like that. We would need a radical cultural revolution, as sweeping as any ever contemplated by Mao, in order to institutionalize such a long term outlook.

3)Could we prepare for depletion equally well by giving things up? Instead of amassing 'extra' supply, instead reduce our demand for things at a similar pace? I think this is possible at the margin, but can we really reduce our demand for food, water, energy, and extra 'insurance'?

That is a big part of it. I have been saying for some time now that the 21st century is going to be one long exercise in giving up things. The sooner one gets started and gets "ahead of the curve", the easier things ultimate will be.

4)===> anything else related to preparation/paradigm change/timing you think is important.

I believe that others have mentioned this above, but I believe that investments made in developing one's capacity to produce as much of one needs as one can will be a far better investment than will be stockpiling consumables above some minimal "emergency preparedness" level. I am talking about getting your land set up to produce vegetables, fruits, honey, eggs, meat, and maybe dairy products. I am talking about being able to provide at least some of your own energy for space heating, water heating, and other essential household needs. I am talking about being able to transport oneself without reliance upon purchased fuels or operating transit systems. I am talking about being able to do basic home repairs, and to make and repair your own clothes and other household goods, and maybe even to make or do something that could be traded in exchange for something else. This is the way that most people lived in the countryside and in small towns for most of our history up though about WWII or so, here in the US, and probably in most of the world too.

Further to the "coming dark age" viewpoint. Maybe I am just older than most of the posters, but I dug around in my library and I found my copy of that book, by Roberto Vacca, titled "The Coming Dark Age", it was circa 1971, and was basically the position of "The Club of Rome". In the same time period there were a number similar, including Paul Erlich(sp?), who forecast that by 1990 several hundred million of us would have starved. Who knows, maybe their timing was just off a touch.

However, my personal view is that we may well be in for a great depression, not unlike the 1930's. Could the world population be dramatically reduced? Well, it will soon be 100 years since the 1918 flu epidemic killed some 100 million world wide, so if that sort of thing occurred in conjunction with a huge depression, which would by definition dramatically reduce medical care and food production, then reducing the world population by north of one billion is easily possible. (you greenies out there who are rejoicing over that possibility, a) you may be one of the billion; b) God may get you for your thoughts :<) ) Will that qualify as a new dark age, in many respects it may, but perhaps not so much in the fundamental advancement of mankind. After all, the increase in human knowledge which ultimately led to this comment via the internet being possible (for example, advances in quantum mechanics) continued throughout the 30's. So long as the KNOWLEDGE gains of the past can be preserved, men will add to it, growth will resume, and technological advances will make it possible.

The assumption that we fall into some state of existence similar to the 1850's due to oil declines, presumes that no replacement energy will be found. That is a political problem, so long as we persist in trying to solve such problems via government fiat, we are lengthening and steepening the hill up which the rock must be pushed.

Don't eat tuna.

Pelagic ecosystems tend to be top down regulated. Removal of top predators dysregulates them.

Toxins bioaccumulate up the food chain. Tuna is loaded with Hg.

Dolphins are killed as bycatch of tuna harvesting.

So just don't eat tuna.

Strongly agree. If people are going to store cans of stuff, how about refried beans. Or canned chicken.

Ecologically, eating tuna makes no more sense than making burgers out of lion meat. Stupid way to abuse an ecosystem.

"Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you wind up with the tragedy of the commons".

i have both of those as well. OK no more tuna hoarding.

To answer the "Campfire Questions":
1) Yes, both as insurance and also to meet possible bottleneck problems.
2) Thirty years; after that I'll probably be dead.
3) Yes, one might be better prepared by accumulating less. Thoreau only needed his accumulated knowledge and an axe. But #1 and #3 are not mutually exclusive. You can dump whatever you have that you don't need later.

My work is in the field of biology. I take it as axiomatic that all species strive to maximize utilization of all available resources. All living things are hardwired to behave this way. By doing this, they drive out all competition, maximize their own populations, and "WIN". Humans are no different in their behavior (as near as I can see) than fishes, or insects, or virginia creeper or any other living thing. Utilize all available resources until natural limits force population crash. I really think it's just that simple.

I believe we'll eventually get the banks back up and running. Whatever is needed will be done in order to allow us to continue full exploitation of all available resources. It's what we DO. It's what all living things do.

Let's start with 'hoarding' - the definition I know is to keep excess amounts of goods beyond one's normal needs.

In the past, keeping food sufficient to last until the next harvest was normal and prudent; some crops one might wish to store a couple of years worth as uneven harvests from year to year might yield no harvest at all for a year or two. (Read your Bible- that is what granaries were for!)

As an example, three winters ago where I live, unusually cold weather killed all the berry bushes down to the ground; no berries the summer of 2007. Last year the bushes were regrowing, with few or no berries. It is only this year, 2009, that I expect enough berries to make jelly and jam, and that means we will pick a lot and make enough cases to last 2-3 years, plus give away, barter for fish, and donate to charitable causes.

Eating locally, as well as practicing subsistence harvesting of fish, berries, mushrooms, herbs, game, etc. imply returning to preservation and storage of food for those times there is none growing.

One other note about keeping extra food and goods= their purpose is usually to give one time to deal with emergencies and have time and resources to cope. I fell on the ice and snapped my humerus in half one winter- didn't have to go shopping for a month and a half- not for us, and not for the animals- there was enough food, toilet paper, kitty litter, etc.

To answer another part of your question, what can I do about the future? One is to plant and to develop plantings to increase sustainability here. That means, this year, adding a big garden box in an unused shady section of lawn dedicated to a large mint bed for tea- enough for us, and for many of our neighbors, lasting for many years. This turns unproductive scrubby lawn into a productive perennial grow space. One can't live on mint- but it is one component of a pleasant life, with some medicinal properties, especially for upset stomach. Step by step rebuilding the local food infrastructure...

Every year we strive to make these kinds of changes, to share them with others, give away plants and spread this kind of consciousness. Last year we moved to a small house in our little town, within walking distance of work, doctor, church, fishing, hardware, food, etc. (Planning for less or no car.)

The other main way we give forward is by being involved in our local sustainability/transition movement and supporting others
in their efforts. Our local energy coop generates 87% sustainable power now, which will go up to 95% when our new windmills come online in August. Do you go to your energy cooperative or company's annual meeting? I do, and so do hundreds of my neighbors, and it has made a huge difference to this town! Showing up for town and city meetings on recycling, land use, allowing chickens and hanging laundry outside- these and hundreds of other ways to make this a more sane way to live are the way to go.

Hey neighbor, let's build this future together!

If I may butt in,Thinking outside the box has us using a 16oz. bean can half full of water to clean up after a crap. So forget about stocking up on toilet paper. Now, you don't just throw the water at yourself. Swish your fingers in the water and rub yourself a litle. There will hardly be any feces there and if a little gets on your fingers just swish in the water and repeat. Don't even bother drying yourself by the time you have your pants on you will be nearly dry by body heat. Since I am a full time camper I use a little shovel to dig a hole about 6 inch deep and cover back up. You can use the water in your bathroom just as well.
Think about growing sprouts to eat. Temperature,of course, is important. Wheat sprouts are delicious being sugary.I think there is something to be said for wheat sprouts instaid of laboriously farming the wheat and grinding it and, ultimately, making bread.

Here, we generally have a one year supply of food as I was raised in the country and we grew our own food and canned and preserved for the winter enough to get through to the next growing season. I hardly see that as hoarding but rather a way of life, a way to provide healthy chemical free food for my family.
We have put up a good bit of other types of supplies as well. My husband and I think that in the event of some kind of collapse, it would buy us time to make decisions about what to do. Or, in the event of job loss or sudden illness it would be like money in the bank for us. Again, it would gain us breathing room and time to decide what to do.
It seems little different to us than buying car or house insurance.
If you've ever had a sudden job loss, or like my daughter lived through the aftermath of Katrina, you will know the value of a full pantry.


1. "Hoarding" - Like others here, we keep a pantry with at least several months worth of food and other basic essentials we use on a regular basis, and rotate regularly. This is a matter of convenience (no running to the store at the last minute before/during cooking) and it acts as insurance against possible short-term economic disruptions.

3. "Giving things up" is one great preparation strategy. Especially for expensive vices (smoking, drinking etc) and nonessentials like distant vacation destinations.

oops, no comment.