When you should not adapt in place (abridged)

This is a guest post by Sharon Astyk, who posts here as jewishfarmer. This is an abridged version of a post which was previously published on Causabon's Book on scienceblogs.

Note: Deciding whether to move is probably a US issue. In much of the rest of the world, folks don't just pick up and leave, because someplace else looks better. -Gail

Most of the people who take the class I am teaching, Adapting-In-Place, reasonably enough, are doing so because they intend to stay where they are or fairly nearby in the coming decades. They know that they may not be in the perfect place, but for a host of reasons - inability to sell a house, job or family commitments, love of place...you name it, they are going to stay. Or maybe it is the best possible place for them.

But I do think it is important to begin the class with the assumption that everything is on the table. Because as little as each of us likes to admit it, it is. There will be many migrations in the coming decades, many of them unwilling and unwanted. And it is always easier (not easy) to consciously choose to step away before you are forced to leave than it is to abandon in pain and storm and disaster your home and never be fully able to return. So it is important to ask - who should not stay in place?

For some people, "getting out of Dodge" is the way to go. That is, I think that some people should absolutely consider leaving where they are, and doing so sooner, rather than later, because they have little or no hope of successfully remaining in place.

In the next decades there are going to be a lot of migrants - and you may be one of them. Migrating and settling in a reasonably livable place might be better - or it might not, and you might want to wait and see. But don't do it in ignorance - find out all you can. The reality is that many people do more research on what movie to see than about our future, and the risks and benefits of the locations we choose.

So here's my list of when to think seriously about getting out. There will be exceptions in every case - my claim is not "you definitely must go" but "think hard about what you are choosing."

1. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and can't reset it, are already facing foreclosure, or have no reason to believe you'll be able to pay for your house. Or, if your current house was bought near the market peak, and you require two full incomes to pay for it and have little equity.

The odds are good you aren't going to keep your house in those circumstances - and the worst possible scenario for you may well be that you go into debt frantically trying to keep your old way of life open, which closes off other options. If you have a better choice, one that can provide some stability, or there is hope of selling and getting out from under, seriously consider it.

2. If you have young children or are elderly and have close ties somewhere but are living far away from them in a community that you are not invested in. Not everyone has people (family biological or chosen) who will give you a place at the table, thin the soup to make it stretch, let you sleep on their couch and otherwise cover your back. But if you do, recognize that these people are the beginnings of your tribe. Not all of us have tribes in one place - and some of us have multiple tribes. But if you aren't rooted where you are in some deep way, if you live there primarily for a job, and you can get back to your people think about it seriously.

The people who will most need the support of their family are young families themselves struggling to make do and older people who may need some help. Sometimes these people are even usefully related to one another. Not all family is good; not every friendship can go this far. But if you have these ties, they matter, and they are essential.

3. If you have children or parents you need to care for far away. If you are going to be dealing with your parents' decline, or if you don't have custody of your kids but want to spend time on them, you need to set it up in a way that doesn't make anyone rely on airline or other expensive long distance travel. That means that if they don't come to you, you go to them. It was once perfectly viable to live across the country from your kids, and say, have them spend summers with you - it may no longer be viable. I realize this will be enormously painful and disruptive to families, but if you are the resource for people very far away over the longer term, you need to find a way to be closer to one another, or accept that you may not be able to take on that role.

4. If you live in an extreme climate, likely to become more extreme with climate change, but you are not particularly and unusually well adapted to it. That is, unless we check climate change, which at this point seems unlikely, (if highly desirable) at some point, many places are going to be uninhabitable for many of the people who presently live there. Some may become literally uninhabitable over time, but more likely, what we'll see is that small populations, extremely well adapted to their environment, and extremely attuned to it, become native to many places as long as they are even marginally inhabitable. But the question is, "Are you one of them?"

If you need income from the sale of your house, you might want to think about it sooner, rather than later, because there will probably come a point at which the number of people who want to live there declines dramatically, and it will be even tougher to sell than it is now. Even if some places do become uninhabitable, they probably won't do so immediately - you might well be able to live out your life where you are. But remember that it will probably become gradually and increasingly hard - the summers will be worse, the storms will be stronger, the ice pack will be smaller, your allergies will be worse. Are you prepared to be that adaptable?

5. If you live among people with lousy values. I'm on the record saying that most of us can probably get along in most places with at least some people. I don't think everyone in your town has to be like you, or that ecovillages are the only (or even the best) way to find community.

If you belong to a minority community, you might want to live where people like folks like you, or at least tolerate them, rather than a place that is hostile to them. If you rely on a religious community, you might want to live where you feel that the cultural values reflect your own. If you don't want to be surrounded by religious communities, you might want to live in a place with a strong secular culture.

Personally, I've always had a lot of luck finding allies where I went, even if we didn't share much. But there are root values we did have in common - integrity, kindness, a desire for community. If those things don't exist, you might seriously have to consider another choice.

6. If you don't think your children (and by your children, I mean the children in your family, even if they aren't your own) have a future where you are. If your children have to leave to get work, if your children have to leave because it isn't safe or is underwater, are your prepared to part with them? Are you prepared for your family to be parted in circumstances that might not be conducive to regular cross-country travel? More importantly, if you have land or something you hope to pass down to your kids, are you prepared not to be able to do so? Is it an asset that they will be able to do without? Again, you can't know all this for sure, but it is worth thinking about.

7. If you plan to move anyway. That is, if you have a family place or somewhere you have always planned to return to, if you can, sooner may be better than later. It takes time to build soil. It takes time to get to know people and build yourself into the life of a community. It takes time to see fruit trees come to maturity. If you were planning on going anyway after a few more years of earning, or something, now might be the right time. That said, however, I'd be awfully cautious about buying, and only recommend this *if you can* leave - either by selling your current place or if you've been renting. But building roots is important.

8. If you aren't prepared to live in the place you live as its culture demands. That is, as we get poorer and travel and transit become bigger issues, living in the country is going to be a lot different from what it is now. Instead of living essentially a suburban life, commuting to activities not available, and relying on trucked in supplies, you may have to shop occasionally and mostly stay home in the country, making your own entertainment. Are you prepared to do that? Once upon a time, the country mouse and the city mouse lived very different lives, but cheap energy changed that. It may well change back.

Urban dwellers may have to make do in tougher conditions as infrastructure problems come up. My own analogy is this - if you'd be ok living in the worst neighborhood in your city as most of the people there live now, you'll probably be fine. But if you've been affluent and comfortable and might not be forever, be sure you can afford the city and like the life. I believe strongly that city, suburbs (most of them), and country all have a future - but the differences between them are likely to become more acute. If you aren't prepared to deal with those differences, you might consider moving.

9. If you live in an outer suburban housing development, particularly a fairly new one. This is the one exception I make to the question of whether the suburbs are viable. Generally speaking, I think a lot of suburbs will do fine. Others will adapt in different ways - some may become more like small cities; others may be more country-like. But the ones that I think the least hope are the larger developments that were built in the "drive 'til you buy" model of the last few years, where lower income families have to move further and further away from urban or suburban job centers. If your suburb was built on a cornfield forty miles from your job, think seriously about how you will get along either in an energy constrained world or one where energy is much more costly because of carbon limitations. Do you really think anyone is going to run public transport out there? Is there topsoil? Is it a place worth maintaining and farming? Are there neighbors? Are there going to be? If you are already in a half-finished development, you really might want to get out.

10. If you are native to another place. By native, I mean that many of us have a strong sense of place, and a strong sense of belonging to a place. My husband once went on a job interview at UIL Champagne-Urbana. He recalls looking across the land and seeing the horizon and thinking, "Oh, there's the ocean." But of course, there was no ocean there - his misperception lasted only a second, but revealed something about his ability to live in that place - he comes from people who live on hilly land around water, and know the flat horizon as the space of the sea. It is possible that he could have adapted to the flat open land of the Midwest and learned to love it - but it is also possible that one's sense of place should be respected if possible. If there is a place where you feel at home, and no other constraints bind you, perhaps you will want to go there, and be there, and help other people be there.

Again, all of these examples will have exceptions. No one, especially me is saying "move now!" And some people who probably should leave will not be able to for reasons of family and obligation, underwater housing and job commitments. But do think about all your choices, as you consider where you go and stay.

What an amazing post!

My husband and I have been considering a move back East from where we are now -- semi-rural/suburban northern WA state. We now live along the water and it is definitely beautiful, but we are both old city slickers and have real differences in how we operate culturally. We have been here about 8 years and we burrowed into the community early on -- got involved in ecological issues and related politics. It felt good but got more and more frustrating as the local populace became more and more resistant to implementing ecological changes necessary to protect our Bay (one of the few remaining on the West coast that you can safely do recreational shellfishing).

Your post gives us some parameters to think about. Right now, moving is out of the question... there are many homes already for sale and are not forced to do so -- though it is worrying for the future -- will we be able to get out when we want to...

Your statement about being in a community with similar values is extremely important... and that of course does not mean in a community exactly like oneself...but do you feel like you can generally be there for your neighbors and they for you? For some of our neighbors, outsiders like ourselves, yes. For others, not so sure...

Thanks again...wish that I was more coherent in my thoughts. Its a very tough decision.

"Right now, moving is out of the question... there are many homes already for sale and are not forced to do so -- though it is worrying for the future -- will we be able to get out when we want to..."
Elie, it sounds to me like you think your property is worth more than what you could achieve for it and are waiting for the bounce? Many people think that property will go down a significant amount more so how would you feel if/when it is worth half of what it is today?

Oh I don't think our property is worth a ton... we just don't want to lose any more of our investment in it. We like it and are not necessarily wishing to sell -- just trying to staty economically as viable as possible in this time of uncertainty...

Thanks tony

I am a born & bred Seattleite, moved to NE WA (otherwise known as Hell) for 2 years. It was absolutely horrifying to be among people who considered themselves self-sufficient salt-of-the-earth types, but were clannish, ignorant Walmartians. A priceless learning experience.

I moved back to NW WA, a small college town between Seattle and Vacouver, BC. I work in an educated, liberal, urban environment, but live 15 miles out in the farmlands. I lucked out with my neighbors. They are like family, even though some are practicing christians and some are conservative ex-military. Oh yeah, I'm in a same-sex relationship & female. Not exactly the usual farm folk out here.

But somehow we have this little community of maybe 20 houses tucked in all the farms, gravel pits & woods, and we all watch out for each other. I can grow food, and have learned from and taught my neighbors quite a lot. We bitch about corporate government, but leave some topics alone. We have keys to each other's houses, lend & borrow, drink beers around the campfire....etc etc.

I am 90 miles away from my thoroughly urban, non-self-sufficient family. I miss them, but wouldn't leave my adopted community for the world. I know things can change, but right now I know my neighbors all feel the same way about sticking together through hard times, and it has been an amazing journey to get here.

Rule Number One for dealing with the Global Crisis must be "everything is on the table." Agreed.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the sheep are heavily invested in their illusions about reality, which is only a problem because they then fail to recognize the folly of their mistaken assumptions about how the future will unfold.

"Think hard about what you are choosing" is great advice, but probably not realistically achievable for most since they probably have little awareness of the potential catastrophic consequences of melting down by foolishly attempting to adapt in place.

While family considerations, cultural issues, minority discrimination and so forth are all important, in my opinion the two most important criteria to use to evaluate the wisdom of an attempt to adapt in place must be:

1) the future availability of food;
2) the future availability of transportation fuels

The GulfSpill should give us a clue. Do we see hundreds of thousands or millions of people who have now decided to park their SUVs? Nope. They don't seem to connect the GulfSpill consequences directly to their lives and seem to fail to understand that it is acting as an accelerant to bring on the effects of the decline in net energy that is driving the Global Crisis.

In my opinion, "success" in the Post-Peak-Oil-world will require a new form of "vision" that will balance the ability to "see" life success strategies available on the local scale with the simultaneous monitoring of the global situation as related to the deleveraging of the complexity of civilization as embodied in relationships between nations and between corporations and their customers.

Those of us whose brains are wired in a way that promotes decisionmaking about geographical relationships in a matrix of political and cultural complexity are in the best position to successfully adapt, whether by remaining in place or migrating towards higher success strategies.

I'm now in my 29th year of living with an awareness of Peak Oil and have achieved a degree of success in international lifestyle that affords me many options because of my willingness to jettison any old ideas that don't work. McMansion-porno, automobile-porno and related consumer-lifestyle weak strategies are ending, which is fine with me since nothing beats a good day surfing.

The only thing worse than foolishly attempting to adapt in place is the unfortunate fact that millions of people still don't have a clue that the American experiment is fundamentally flawed due to the disconnect between the ponzi-finance economic system and the fundamental truth that civilization is dependent upon flows of energy and resources, which are both now in jeopardy.

I routinely encounter naysayers who are heavily invested in American-National-Pride-pandering and claim that since "people all over the world are trying to get to the US" that the US lifestyle-strategy makes sense. It doesn't. I sometimes attempt to explain that I don't think most people would even bother trying to migrate to the US anymore if they simply understood Peak Oil and that the consequences of the decline in Net Energy will be worst for the US merely because the US has the most unfavorable energy profile from the perspective that we use about 25% of the daily consumption of oil.

Although it seems to be reasonable that there remains a possibility that pulling together all technologies and strategies could deliver a "bridge to the future" and avoid an out-of-control-collapse, it would be foolish to ignore the risk of such and instead blindly assume that some managed power-down will progress in an orderly fashion. It already isn't. Move Now!, might be pretty good advice. I already did and now have the luxury of waiting to deftly step off the ship as she slips below the waves, if that is what happens. Deal with reality or it will deal with you.

Awesomely written.
People keep asking for change while refusing to change themselves. Weddedness to places or ideas or things are all reasons but none of them are reason enough.

I for one have sought change or had it thrust upon me so many times that I find it has finally set me free. When one fully discovers that most attachments come from the constant whisper of Mother Culture in one's ears and there is a way to shut that whisper off (in the main I found by throwing away my TV, the single biggest step in breaking free), one can truly see the forks that were always there in the road before us.

Meanwhile, for that Tech-no-logical bridge to the future, please visit


If you know of someone with sufficient anything (skill, fire, connection/finance), please pass it on.

For the companion blog, philosophically speaking


Do. Be. Come. My mantra.

This abridged version left out my favorite line from the original:

"If you bought in a gated community full of self-centered rich assholes, and now you regret it because they are pissed about your garden, sometimes, if you can, living somewhere else might be nicer."

That is a good line.

You can run but you can't hide.
(spoken by the heavyweight champion Joe Louis, just before his 1946 rematch victory over the lighter, faster Billy Conn)

The question I have is; How bad have things gotten and how long you can hold on. If things get to the point where there are mass migrations occuring I doubt that there will be many foreclosures happening. If the banks are still functional it may be tough to find the personnel willing to enforce a foreclosure on folk's homes. Further, there's a point where the banks will be unable to withstand all of this bad paper and useless real property. There will be far too many. So there will come a time when credit defaults are so universal that foreclosing on some poor bloke's home will be fruitless. Whatever Govt. exists will find it necessary to halt foreclosures. The best place for a severely disgruntled populace is in their homes.

Smaller communities will resist foreclosures on their citizens and place moratoriums on big banks seizing productive properties, especially farming communities. If the local Sheriff's Dept won't enforce the will of the banks, I doubt the Feds are going to send in the National Guard to take Joe Farmer's home. (I have it from a good source that local Sheriffs are even now dragging their feet when it comes to debt collections, stalling and buying their folks time.) At some point it will be crazy for local communities to allow the folks that are growing their food or keeping their power/water on to be put on the street. This why I agree with the idea of localization in a smaller, mostly self-sufficient community.

The idea of selling a home will be moot. Why buy a home when you can pick an abandoned property and squat. Paying the mortgage will be your ability to defend your chosen property, maintaining a "superior claim". Nothing will sell (My community is there, now. Foreclosures far outnumber sales. Most all deed transfers are the result of foreclosure.)

Like I said, if you are where you plan to stay, it's a question of how bad things get and how long you can hold on.

BTW, copy and save your comments prior to hitting the Save or Preview button. If you are like I, it's hard to recreate your thoughts once they evaporate into electronic oblivion.

TOD Growing pains? (send money!)

"The question I have is; How bad have things gotten and how long you can hold on"

Excellent point. But I would set those questions in the future: How bad are things going to get and how quickly?

I see a good possibility that things are going to get quite "hot" in the next year on all fronts, particularly the climate front. Runaway GW is about to hit big time, as far as I can tell.

Good idea about saving your posts. I've had a number of them disappear lately, and that has rarely if ever happened to me in the past. I think the site may have a new algorithm that deletes posts by the same person if they share too many words or something.

'I see a good possibility that things are going to get quite "hot" in the next year on all fronts, particularly the climate front. Runaway GW is about to hit big time, as far as I can tell.'

what do you see/read to think this? thanks.

Try noodling around on one of these threads, ignoring the denialist trolls that occasionally rear their hideous heads:




Of particular concern is that Arctic sea ice is setting new record lows for extent an is in free fall as far as total ice volume is concerned. This means a much warmer and more turbulent Arctic Ocean this summer, both of which lead to a much greater chance that this will be the summer that the enormous quantities of free methane gas that has been trapped under the thin layer of clathrates at the bottom of the shallow areas north of Siberia will be released abruptly and en mass.

This is a kind of discontinuity that does not fit smoothly on to graphs and has been left out of the models, even though anyone who studies it has to admit that it is at least a possibility. The ones that know the most seem to be the most worried about it.

thanks! i'll go over the links.
i appreciate you[& those] who help decipher what for me is impossible time-wise & possibly expertise-wise to stay abreast with.

Yep, staying on top of all the doom is a major time suck.

I'm not sure that one can count on this analysis to hold up.

If some form of central government and finance survives the initial shock then an alternative version is that banks will hire their own "repo squads" or sell their defaulted mortgages cheaply to private "repo" groups in order to by-pass overwhelmed or reluctant sheriffs. There are probably many people who will be unemployed and able to rationalize participating in this activity because they need a job/income.

Why would anyone want ownership of these houses? They'll tear them down and strip out metals (copper plumbing and wiring, steel and aluminum from appliances, ducting, etc), lumber, and other recyclables (glass windows, fiberglass insulation) for resale to people trying to build (significantly scaled down dwellings) in areas that are more livable or to other countries that are more solvent than the US.

For the same reason, I don't think it is reasonable to count on houses being vacant for squatting in many areas.

If you leave your people you will not be able to go back.
Time will close the gate behind you.

Unless you've already got some long-planned move in motion, it might be too late now to make any really big changes. Better to stay where you know people and have history, connections and knowledge. I don't think there will be any place to really 'hide'.

Jim Kunstler has made some broad generalizations about various regions of the USA and how they might fare during his 'Long Emergency'. Maybe so, but being a real 'local' might well trump an awful lot of regional disadvantages.

I've been spending the better part of the past five years trying to prepare, and am really just starting to scratch the surface. Building a whole new lifestyle, infrastructure and knowledge base from the ground up is no small thing. Just talking or reading about change won't make it happen. It's just the first step.

The one item we'll all need the most will be a willingness to get along with a whole lot less of everything we've been used to, and a whole lot more of what we're not.

"Jim Kunstler has made some broad generalizations about various regions "

I think he's right more than wrong, but is definitely wrong about the South. Or has Atlanta confused about the broader south. It wasn't that long ago the South was poor, and the generational memories of how to get by are still there. The Mid-Atlantic states are going to take it far less gracefully.

I agree with you about the South. Most everybody still has a Granny or Great-granny who knows how to garden and 'put up' vegetables; and there are still many folks who know how to make things with their hands out of next-to-nothing. I joke about Mississipi and hard times: we stay so close to poor that we don't notice recession when it hits.

We've got five acres, a pond with fish and a barn with lots of old tools. Our house is old enough that it is bearable without a/c but new enough that it's not falling down around our ears. I think we are in very good shape comapared to a lot of people.

Its a cultural thing. I am a Northerner, and at points of my life when I have had to live in the south, I liked the people, I had fun, and I didn't belong. I believe, heck, I know, that the people who live in the south are fine people with good family, but if you are not part of that culture it is just a little bit scary, and the reason its scary is not obvious. Kunstler is the quintessential up-state New Yorker. He will not and can not be happy in the Southern US.

Just a comment to clarify something: The South is not a monolithic, undifferentiated mass. There are regional differences, and they do matter a great deal. The Southern Appalachians are very different from the Mississipi Delta, which is very different from the Piedmont, which is very different from Cajun Country Louisiana, which is very different from the Tidewater. Then there is Texas, which is "a whole other country" - or five or six. And don't forget Florida, the Southern Yankee state.

These regional differences even include the way people speak. There is not A "Southern accent", there are lots of them.

Northerners whose only acquaintance with the South is what they see on TV assume that it is all the same, and everyone from down here talks all the same. It isn't so.

The Atlanta area isn't really the south anymore. A large percentage of residents aren't natives. Atlanta didn't get too screwed up until all them "damn yankee carpetbaggers" showed up ;-> That's one reason I escaped. It's hard to distinguish an Atlanta suburb (or the people for that matter) from one in Cincinatti or Richmond.

Welcome South Brother (except for JHK, who can keep his yankee ass north of the MD line).

I'll second that. I am not a southerner by most standards. I was always labeled something different in HighSchool because I did not have an accent from the south. A while ago, I was talking to some lady and asked her where she was from only to get a surprise that she was from some place further south than Little Rock, she sounded like she might have been from Europe and had just learned English as a second language. I am glad I didn't say that to her at the time.

In most parts of the this area you can't tell where people are from just by listening to them. To many military folks coming and going, as well as it being hard to tell where people are originally from.

It is best not to assume anything. TV never did help things, it is all fictional.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future
Hugs from Arkansas.

And .. I bet you can grow almost anything. Especially with the longer growing seasons coming in the future!

Since many food crops wilt and die in too much heat, global warming may limit the type of crops in southern states. Snow melt in the Colorado Rockies may cause the Mississippi River to run dry in the summer robbing some farmers of their water supply. If hurricanes become more intense, the southern states will be pounded harder. More oil leaks may wash up on the shores of the GOM.

Everyplace will have problems because overpopulation, pollution and resource depletion are widespread and relentless.

Jobs of some sort are a lot more likely to be available in an area that produces some sort of critical primary good than they are in a city with an economy based on banking, retail trade,corporate management,or anything of that nature.

Unless you have a lock on some critical skill, such as dentistry,earning a living anywhere may be pretty tough, meaning that a household oriented economy will be a necessity;labor can be substituted for money in many different ways.

But you will have to be in place where you have something to work with in terms of raw materials,space,climate, and so forth.

I am extremely lucky in this respect as my family settled in the mountians of southwest Virginia a long time ago and we own a small but very productive farm.

Since we have never had any significant amount of money, we are alreay used to operating under the household economy model and substituting our own labor for the cash used by more affluent people.Learning to live well this way takes a long time but once you have mastered the many skills needed you can live rather well with very little cash income.

We heat with firewood, grow and process most of our food,own our water and sewer systems outright,maintain everything ourselves,have no mortgage, pay very modest property taxes in comparison to most localities.

We don't have money to travel much but otoh we live in a little corner of Paradise already;the view from our house is nothing to brag about by Western standards but by Eastern standards it is spectacular.

If the weather heats up by four or five degrees we will be ok, it still won't be as bad as the deep South.Our winters are mostly such that we really enjoy spring, but that's about it, the growing season is ample.

If it becomes necessary to live with very little cash income , we will be, relatively speaking, ok.We will probably be able to sell enough of the farm output to keep our heads above water.

People who are located in places with little open land, water shortages, long miserable winters,excessively hot summers and tens of thousands of out of work nieghbors are going to have it very hard by comparison.

Most people who own a paid for house in places where the real estate market has not crashed could sell for enough to buy a workable homestead, house and land, in many parts of the rural upper south.

Good points, but excessively hot summers are going to become the norm nearly everywhere, probably quite soon.

Hi OFM, good to know you think you are in Paradise.

For interest can you tell me roughly how much land costs per acre for somewhere with arable/crops, water and trees? Here in the UK a good guide would be say $15k per acre.

Also if you had a competely free choice where would you go?

So what are the skills you found most relevant and important in your experience?

Prepare to share. Plan on being skinny, with dirty fingernails and shabby clothes.

Forget your notions of a fortress. If you have so much you can share, those you share with will be better protection than a sniper rifle.

Don't worry about entertainment. You'll be too tired to play with your mind. The lifestyle will be middle ages serf.

Not that bad really, after the cold turkey pangs subside. Beans, rice, grubs, greens is a healthy diet.

If you want to stock up, MRE's last for ten years in a cool place. Taste much better than starvation.

"skinny" — funny you should mention that. I have been going through hundreds of old photos taken in the 1900 to 1950 time period in my home town. Everyone was skinny! Now everyone is fat, pretty much the same gene puddle too.

Everyone was skinny!

Here is why.

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils have been an increasingly significant part of the human diet for about 100 years (particularly since the latter half of the 20th century and in the West where more processed foods are consumed), and some deleterious effects of trans fat consumption are scientifically accepted, forming the basis of the health guidelines discussed above.

Wikipaedia article on trans faty acids

Worth a quick look.
And then deep reflection.

Right on.

We have neighbors, a community, with similar food-growing skills, defense skills, etc. Very helpful in case of outsiders poking around.

We're on 1.25 acres, which sounds like a backyard, compared to the 45 acre creek-bottom we sold to move here. But our place is the home acre for a homestead and was built & laid out with care 100 yrs ago. The house has been kept up so our last appraisal (to re-fi for a nice shop/garage) said the working age of the house is 15 yrs! This place is so fertile, and we have multiple sources of water available for the critters & garden. Right now we eat maybe 80% of our produce from here, 100% of our meat & eggs. We have a sustainable dairy 3 miles away, a local grain mill (we'll be planting our own for hen feed this year, and my neighbor grows wheat on his 10 acres). We have bees that seem to be doing well, wild fruits, planted fruits, thorny barricade hedgerows that make food, woods with gleanables, etc.

If I had to start eating slave fodder, I'd probably keel over. As it is, just buying a tomato in winter seems very very odd. It's been rather fun learning to eat what we grow & preserve, learning what will grow in any weather with any bugs. I feel we can grow most of the nutrients and calories we need with a core group of plants & animals that we know well and are 'no-brainers'.

Having had the chance to eat quite a few MRE's from all eras, most are okay, some have gotten worse for the changes.

But if you are living only on beans and rice, and grubs and greens, you might think about getting to know your land a lot better than you do.

And song and dance does not have to go by the way side, just put up a fiddle in the house and make sure you know how to tune it. Me I like drums, but can't play much.

Get yourself some hand tools so you can make do with a lot more than dirty fingernails. And shabby clothes can be made out of skins a lot better than going naked. Don't be so depressing, it is not like we will stop seeing our world in color. Learn yourself some home dying methods and teach yourself some herbal healing stories. Life is not all doom and gloom, there is still things to be happy about, even if you don't know about them right now.

Skills will be the things you will be teaching people more often than not in the years ahead.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future,
Hugs from Arkansas

I am staying in place and have been preparing for Peak Oil for 3 years now...attached is one of my short videos showing what people can do to prepare...



What an interesting article. At such a great site - as I've been repeating like a mantra from day 1 here - not very long ago.

Anyway, as someone who has moved many times - across the country - from country to country - this post prompts so many thoughts it's hard to know where to start except by paring them down to a very few.

1. I agree with one poster above me who says that if you leave, you've left a circle you can never really return to. That's true of friends from jobs (I've found) or other mini-places you may decide you need to move on from. And so as a psychologist I'd add one more thing related to this. If you are a person who can say "good-bye" then it's easier to move. And if you are a person who gets very attached, then you need to keep that in mind too. On the other hand, if you stay in one place, "others" may move and so change is really inevitable. And change that you choose is easier to handle than change that is foisted upon you.

2. We're in the process of making some changes - while staying in place. Even though both of us might have chosen differently - had we had our 'druthers, we're at an age when we realize a move is more effort than it's worth it (to us). So instead, we're making changes in our home (just a few) and our yard. Especially trying to make the yard more of a refuge, a place that we might like to travel to - except we've long ago concluded there's no better hotel than home or restaurant than home or camp site than right here - especially if we go ahead and move some trees and bushes "in" while having weedy "trees" and "bushes" moved "out".

3. A few months ago I lost an elderly parent. And another will be 93 next month. One thing I've learned - over the past 10 years - is that very elderly people can get "stuck" in a house. When what they need is another level of care. So one move I know I'll ultimately make and that is to a nearby place - where they have a continuum of care, from individual apartments to assisted living, and if needed, to nursing care. That may not be what many would choose. But we don't have family to count on to care for us - and honestly I would not burden a family member with that, after enduring such a sense of responsibility coupled with helplessness, when my elderly parents insisted on their "independence" - though it became increasingly clear that "no way were they capable of doing that any longer!" This I concluded: I will not get stuck in a house. And I will move out before it's too late! I already know the place. And though some may view that decision as "caving in" I see it as being realistic, letting go of some so-called "independence" to share heating costs, transportation costs, shared gardens, other shared spaces - while retaining a lot of privacy, as much as I want. It's a small facility, only 2 stories. All interconnected. Very caring (I know this already - my mother died there). Intimate and not institutional.

So those are my three thoughts. Among many.

Grateful to be here! This is move too. Amen to that!

Perhaps once you leave, you can never quite go back home, but perhaps you can still do better than a full outsider.

I think a lot of not being able to go back is the change within oneself, as much as that in others. I've been around the work a few times and moved around the country, yet when I go "back home" I can still chat with the old neighbors (very old now) and even with the new. The old neighbors will talk about the new folks in so-and-so's house, though the new folks have lived there 15 years now. The new neighbors will have heard about when I was a kid, the trouble I got into, how my folks fared amongst the others, and how I've made good, and I feel welcome with all.

I have no home to go back to. I've never had one. I was moved around so often as a kid, and even when I grew up and left home, "home" still kept on moving. Even after college, home had already moved! My 4 years of college were the longest I'd ever lived anywhere - till then - and you can't really call a dorm-room "living". Then in my adult life, more moves. Though we've been here 23 years now. And why? Because I said: Ok, I'll make one more move. But after that, I'll stay there till I die.

Obviously, I've gotten pretty good at adapting... And I have my anchors. Nature itself being one of them. Trees. The sky. Landscapes. Rocks. Soil. Streams. People change, but the earth endures.

It's wonderful to hear, though, how it is for you. :-)

A bit more. This time about the neighborhood we live in - which is really unique in a way. Very well suited for survival. Assuming hospitals and stores and pharmacies can somehow get restocked and continue to serve. We're in a suburb of small city - only about 5 miles, I'd say from the "downtown" but our area is quiet, homes sell pretty quickly still. We're near one of the Great Lakes (so water is plentiful). 5 minutes by bike from a Medical School/Hospital. About the same distances to 4 different grocery stores, 2 pharmacies, restaurants (though we rarely eat out). And I suppose, if it came down to it, the entire front lawn would do for a couple of gigantic gardens. The house itself, including half-basement, is less than 1800 square feet. Some solar would be possible on the roof. By the time we need to sell and move to a more communal, shared kind of living, I think our area may be even more popular - as people won't have to drive far and public transportation can easily be walked to and biking is easy. Couple parks nearby. Streams. Lots of bike paths. Not bad. Not bad...

For survival purposes, we landed in a safe environment - totally by accident. Just as I landed here at TOD. Grateful to be here!

Start that garden sooner rather than later.

Well, our city does not allow a vegetable garden on the front lawn yet. But I seriously doubt this will continue for longer...

However, I hear you! And I'll do what I can. It's necessary to hide such a garden now. One Asian lady a couple blocks away has one - well disguised. Maybe in that spot next to the garage... that gets a lot of sun... and is not so obvious.

Thanks for the advice! :-)

Thank you Sharon for the interesting post.

We live in a valley 6 miles north of Reno. We hit all the “stay in place” points except climate. This is as bad but in different ways as your rocky plot in New York. There are over 300,000 people in the general area with a natural lively hood for about 3000. It is my idea that the first or second winter, 297,000 will leave for California while I-80 is usable and still a world better than the Donner Party had it in 1846-7.

Our problem is water, soil and climate. We have a good well and solar power to run it. The soil is alkali with a hard pan down a ways. We are working to make the soil rich and productive. That part is coming along OK. Climate is always a problem in the high desert. We can get a frost most any month. We have lived here for over 20 years so we are pretty used to covering up things if it looks bad. OTOH we can have beautiful weather a week or two at a time right up till December.

As I see it, our biggest problem will be replacement parts for whatever might break. I am a woodworker and I have a full set of power and hand tools. For a number of years the solar powered golf cart will power the tools but after that it will be handsaw, plane, chisel and adz. Our children (and grand children) live a few miles away but it is obvious this place will be the family home of the future. At 77 and 71, though we are each in good shape, we probably won’t move.

There are a lot of places I would rather be when TSHTF but that is not to be so we are making the best of what we have and not migrate like most around here will do.

I think Sharon's on the right track but the very fact that she suggests eight - eight! - different categories of people that, in her opinion, should consider moving points to how complicated this question is. No easy, one-size-fits all answers.

Here are my own thoughts generally speaking when it comes to regions in NA:
-I wouldn't want to live in or establish roots in NYC or D.C. They have done well and are certainly now doing well thanks to finance as well as the federal government/Pentagon complex, but if it is true that the American Empire will decline along with the oil due to decreasing marginal returns on complexity, then both these areas have a long way to fall. If NYC loses Wall Street or D.C. loses the federal government, that's the equivalent of Detroit losing auto manufacturing. Scary stuff. Although I would think in the end NYC would fare better as it has long been a very important and strategic piece of real estate, and would probably remain a vital port city.
-I happen to favor Western Canada, the PNW, and the Upper Midwest above other areas - variety of reasons: oil sands, fresh water availability, hydroelectricity, biofuels, agricultural land relative to population, culture, etc. And other than flooding in the Midwest I can't visualize how AGW would negatively impact these areas.

I wouldn't want to be anywhere near the traditional South, although it may just be a personal bias. When there's no more NASCAR and it's too expensive to make college football or hunting trips on the weekend, somehow I don't think rednecks are going to take kindly to the situation.

We're only a couple of generations into 'tailgating' and NASCAR trips. People will naturally fall back into the old ways here.

how is your area re race relations; in these non-atlanta type places down south?

i grew up in one of those poor, got the skills type places but the segregation/racism was such that i would not consider going back- at least from my visits it is still bad- on that basis alone. also the recent dry hot weather, if it intensifies,i would worry would make the old cotton plantation south seem like a distant dream- weather-wise.

i agree that some of the old houses/buildings are well adapted to the typical hot there. i've visited on 105 deg. days in homes with no AC & been comfortable-- the iced tea helped.

"somehow I don't think rednecks are going to take kindly to the situation."

Definitly personal bias, OS. Having grown up in the "traditional South", some of the biggest "rednecks" I ever met were after I moved to the PNW, especially north of Seattle. They didn't sound like rednecks, but they were just the same. (Howdy to all you PU truck drivin', gravel slingin' folks at "Miss Piggy's" in Smokey Point).

The main difference is, folks in the South know it. They embrace their redneckedness.

While these are great suggestions for people relocating, it saddens me that we're placing the burden on families to fix systemic issues of national policy.

We need a set of New Deal-like programs, adjusted for the needs of the time. Both to tackle the problems and provide employment for people that's useful instead of having a mad scramble of people moving to where things might be least-worst.

I'm thinking things like a Civilian Conservation Corps for mass transit projects, etc etc problem by problem, like in the New Deal.

IMO 30 years of rhetorical attacks on the ability of government to solve problems has crippled our best hope for solving problems systemically.

People attempting to relocate themselved in the Great Depression and from the Dust Bowl - how well was that working prior to the New Deal..?

We need a set of New Deal-like programs

Where's the money going to come for something like that? The government has maxed out its credit already with the bailouts.

IMO 30 years of rhetorical attacks on the ability of government to solve problems has crippled our best hope for solving problems systemically.

The idea that government would come to our rescue if we weren't so cynical is just flat out wrong. Government has shown itself unwilling to even recognize peak oil as a problem. Go ask Richard Heinberg how government officials have reacted to his warnings, for instance.

People attempting to relocate themselved in the Great Depression and from the Dust Bowl - how well was that working prior to the New Deal..?

We're on our own whether we like it or not.

Half of discretionary spending is military. There's a good place to start getting some money for domestic peril.

How about the 70% of foreign corps operating in the US who pay no taxes start paying some. How about the majority of US corporations who pay no taxes start paying some. How about a tiny transactional tax on stock trades. How about cuts in corporate welfare. How about cutting down on waste, fraud and abuse. How about the flow of money that comes back to the government from actually employing people. 10% official (a drastic undercount) unemployment is not good for tax revenue.

The money is there if we want it to be. It was there for Wall St. It's there for looking for invisible WMDs. This is less a question of national security?

Half of discretionary spending is military.

What makes you think peak oil won't be met by geopolitical instability? Is it in the US' national security interests to gut its military at this time? The world is literally a tinderbox right now. You have Iran, Pakistan/India, NK/SK. The world may resent "US hegemony" but in retrospect it may be seen to have been a good thing compared to the unrestrained chaos that follows.

Also, the general sentiment in the US is skewing to the far right-wing. It's probably always BEEN right of center. So the idea of taxing people to oblivion is a non-starter. Plus, you can't bleed water from a stone. Once the economy really collapses, there will only be a small number of truly wealthy people leftover. A lot of the wealthy really only have paper wealth from their investments which may turn out to be worthless in the end, like all the underwater mortgages.

My point is you are still attacking this problem from an old-school liberal greenie. It is simply not practical nor is it politically feasible. You can mourn it all you want, but with time running out, people here are trying to do things they have direct control over, not hoping and praying for top-down solutions.

IMO it was never in the interest of most of the American public to maintain a global offensive military capability to begin with. A minority of Americans make a lot of money from that and the rest of us suffer.

Stats say over 70% of FOREIGN corporations operating in the US pay no taxes. Leaving the American freeloaders aside for a second, how much opposition - ESPECIALLY in the wake of the British Petroleum debacle, could there reasonably be to having them pay taxes?

Entitlement spending dwarfs military spending. You should take a look at some debt interest payment projections as well, those will be greatly increasing.

Entitlement spending isn't discretionary spending. That's why those are entitlements; people have them coming. People have paid into programs (Social Security) that pay out, like owning insurance. We do different accounting for each - have to - which is why I carefully stated above that military spending is a huge chunk of "discretionary" spending.

If Social Security wasn't a ponzi it wouldn't be going broke.

People did not pay in, it's generational theft. It can't go on in it's current form so it won't.

A few notes based upon the experience of someone who has permanently relocated:

I was born, grew up, and spent much of my early adult years in Indiana. About 14 years ago my wife got an offer for a full-time tenure track faculty position at a small private college in the mountains of Western North Carolina, so we moved here.

Employment: Unless you are in the fortunate position of not needing to work for a living, or of earning your income from something that is truly location-independent, then earning a living is going to be a very big issue. We couldn't have made this move unless one of us had a relatively secure full-time job in hand. Even with that, it has been a challenge. It took me almost ten years before I finally established myself in a secure, good-paying full-time job. I am both highly educated and multi-talented, so there are quite a few types of jobs that I could do. Nevertheless, it was still difficult, and I had to piece together several poor-ly paying part-time things for quite a few years until I was finally able to land the job I needed. If my resume did not have both the breadth and depth that it had, though, I might still be looking. On the other hand, if we had made our relocation contingent upon our both finding employment in the same place and at the same time, we'd probably still be stuck in Indiana, because that is just about impossible to pull off. Thus, one of the biggest items of advice that I can offer is to be realistic about your employment situation, be flexible and able to compete for and work in a variety of jobs, and be able to live for years, if need be with less than two full-time paychecks (if you are a couple, that is). For those of you who are single and don't have a partner to rely upon, having employment already in hand before moving is even more critical.

Adapting to a different place: There are places around the US that I would not have considered an improvement over what we left in Indiana. Indeed, there are some places around this country in which I hope to never have the misfortune to step foot. That, fortunately, was not at all the case with WNC. We were - and still are - thrilled to live here. There is a lot to like about this area: the climate, the scenery, the natural environment and biodiversity, cultural attractions, quality health care. . . the list goes on and on. It wasn't hard at all to adjust to a new area, but there were a few things. We now live in bear country; black bears are not the threat that grizzlys are out west, but you still need to be alert to the possibility that they might be out there and take some reasonable precautions. Some fools move down here and are clueless - there was a story in the Asheville paper just the other day about someone who left their toy dog out and it was eaten by a bear. We also need to be mindful of the fact that mountain valleys make good funnels, and that flooding is a fact of life in mountainous regions to which everyone must adjust. We need to be prepared for storms that could down power lines and leave us without electricity for days. My advice to those who are relocating is to familiarize yourself as much as you can to the new area, particularly its climate, ecology, and especially any natural hazards to which it might be prone. Adaptation to the local habitat is a biological imperative, just because you are a human doesn't make you exempt.

Social integration: Many of you have been discussing this, some with considerable fear and concern. Of course, places differ, even within regions. There are places here in the Southern Appalacians that are very isolated and not at all open and welcoming to outsiders.On the other hand, it is not that way everywhere around here. In Asheville and some of the smaller towns surrounding it - especially some of the small college towns - people from outside have been moving in more or less continuously for over a century now. Of course there are still plenty of old-time mountain folk around, and some people who have recently moved in from outside might not find it easy to break through and strike up a friendship with them. On the other hand, there are plenty of other people around here who have moved here from elsewhere, or their parents did. That makes a very big difference. Because there are so many other people around here from elsewhere, we have not found it very difficult to integrate ourselves in the local community. After a little more than a dozen years, we have developed a pretty good circle of friends and acquaintances, and feel we really have developed roots now in our local community. In our case, it helps too that we do live in a small town. Things are more closely knit here, and since the outsider/insider thing is not so much of a barrier to overcome, not having that large city anonymity to deal with has been helpful. My advice, therefore, is to try to find a small college town as your destination if at all possible. That will be your best bet for enjoying the advantages of small town life, and also finding numerous fellow outsiders with whom you can connect.

Language: I am going to elaborate a little more on the previous paragraph by addressing something that is particularly noticeable to some people relocating to another area, and that makes them particularly noticeable to those already there: language, specifically regional accent. The US is a linguistically diverse nation, more so than many people realize. In addition to the three main divisions of northern, midlands, and southern speech patterns (it is more than just "accent", things like word choice and pronunciation and how you string the words together also counts), these are further subdivided extensively. Thus, there is no such thing as a single "southern accent"; rather, there are dozens of them. Quite a few people who are attuned to these differences can tell not only what state a person is from, but also from what part of that state. There are not just geographic differences, but also ethnic and socioeconomic ones. I am of the opinion (and by no means alone in this) that what is really behind a lot of these differences in speech patterns is really a matter of "fitting in" to one's particular group. Speaking in a pattern that is different from that of the group marks one as an outsider. Unfortunately, an outsider trying to talk like an insider usually doesn't cut it. When it comes to this kind of thing, most people's perceptions are pretty finely tuned, and it is easy for them to spot the phony. The only thing worse than being an outsider is an outsider trying to fake being an insider. Thus, if you are relocating to an area with different speech patterns, I do not recommend that you try to adapt your speech to mimic your new neighbors; that will just put them off. On the other hand, I do recommend that you do try to deliberately tone down your own former regional speech pattern, and cultivate something more mainstream, non-regional and neutral - something closer to the "Broadcast Standard US English" that one hears on the TV and radio news programs. People will at least be able to understand what you are saying, and for some reason it seems to be less grating on many people's ears than are non-local regional speech patterns.

My $0.02 worth, anyway. . .

I'm not sure about your advice about small college towns. Traditionally college graduates make substantially more money than non-college graduates. Starting the last couple years "good jobs" for college graduates have been few and far between. So I think fewer people will be going to college and for those who do there will be little interest in borrowing over $100,000 to do so--so those who do will go to the cheaper public colleges. So I think a lot of small private colleges will fail.

Oh, I agree with the long-term outlook for small private colleges. I suspect that a lot of them won't survive. However, most of them are not shutting down quite yet, it will take a while. Furthermore, quite a few of the faculty and staff are going to find out when their college finally does close that finding a job with another college someplace else is not going to be at all easy. If a lot of them are shutting down, then there will be almost nobody hiring anywhere. Thus, a lot of those people will discover that they'll be "adapting in place" whether they want to or not. Thus, I anticipate that small college towns not only have a population of "outsiders" now, this will also continue to be the case even if and when the college shuts down. This is a much better situation to relocate into than a small town where you are just about the only outsider that anyone has ever seen, or is ever likely to see.

I'm not convinced about your opinions on Western NC either. Sounds too good to be true ;-)

Oh, it isn't perfect, and it probably isn't everyone's cup of tea. Employment is the biggest issue for most people. The saying for decades has been that it is a great place to live, but a tough place to make a living.

Then again, if it really does become the end of the world, everybody will "head to the hills", and guess where that is?

WNC, I'm one range southwest of you. You are right. It's not perfect and people shouldn't come here. The people talk funny, way too many churches, Walmart is a 30 min. drive and the bears get worse every year. They will eat your dog. Oh yeah, there are copperheads and black widow spiders and it's too hilly, you'll get snowed in and there aren't enough snow plows. We are in a depression already.

Don't come here. It's awful :-0

I don't think I would try to adapt in place in an area that is likely to be the target of efforts to procure fossil fuels at any cost. A segment today on NPR's Fresh Air notes the momentous effects of natural gas oil shale drilling on communities, human health and the environment where it is occurring. For starters, water supply is affected, and not just on the land leased by its owner tto the gas companies for drilling. It is instructive to see what natural gas companies have been allowed to do:


An HBO documentary entitled "Gasland" airs on Monday night. Check the map linked to the Fresh Air story to see what areas in the U.S. are targeted for drilling. I don't think I'd want to live in a place where my water catches on fire because neighboring landowners leased their land to a gas company.

*I believe strongly that city, suburbs (most of them), and country all have a future - but the differences between them are likely to become more acute. If you aren't prepared to deal with those differences, you might consider moving.*

Where am I supposed to go, Mars?

But seriously, I enjoyed this thought provoking advisement as well as the reflective posts that echo thinking that must be common to many readers based on their life experiences. It touches on a phrase, "a literature of leaving" which was written in a National Geographic travel mag article recently. I prefer to think, given my own circumstances, of a "literature of staying," the other side of the coin, if you will. I thought Kenneth Graham's Dulce Domum chapter from The Wind in the Willows would be a fine example.

As I have stated here a time or two in the past, I plan on staying where I am now. It is the outer village life, though it is in a larger town/ city area of central Arkansas. When I think of a home, I have always felt walking into this backyard as a place of comfort. I have been here off and on for the past 33 years and I can still see areas that I have walked through over 30 years ago, even though they have changed since then.

I am trying to make the grounds of the yard support more than just one person, though over the time I once lived here as a teen, there have been 3 sheds added to the back yard spaces. Once long ago I raised more than I can right now, but with changes I feel that I'd be able to grow a lot more than I ever did before.

I also know where the wild things grow, and the slope of the land and other things that you might not get if you are a new person to the area. On this street alone we are the oldest member of the group of people living here. Having seen people grow up and move off, or die out. An area changes, but so do the people, this place has changed over the years.

Not everywhere will be the same, but even though weather has changed, the slope of the land has not, we still live on the downhill side of a small rise which is part of a larger valley whose floor is about 200 yards to the east of here, and the stream bed has been concreted into a channel ages ago. Hills almost on all sides in this area but subtle toward the east. It has been well protected from storms in the past.

Hope all you folks can find a nice place to settle, if not keep your head down.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.
Hugs from Arkansas.

I've had this gut feeling for decades....well before I ever heard of peak oil....that life down the road wasn't going to be the same as the life we were currently living. As a result, the place we bought in 1982, was selected due to several factors:
1. Large enough to insulate us somewhat from close neighbors.....75 mountain acres, much of it south facing ( good for solar power ) surrounded by National Forest land. End of a small, county road. And located in a small valley with only two road access points in or out, both of which could be controlled fairly easily if times required it.
2. Plenty of timber to build with and use as fuel. In 25 years, I haven't managed to keep up with tree growth, building house, barns, sheds and heating with wood. In fact, it's actually a lot of work to keep the woods beat back enough to have a few acres of pasture, garden, orchard, or it would return to forest.
3. Good water source, which is spring water, and located high enough to gravity feed our house. That has proved most benefical over the years when we have a power outage ( as long as 2 weeks with a bad winter storm ) and most of the neighbor are on wells that require electricity.

Those were the natural points. To that, we've added/built:

1. Well insulated/built house, things like 2x10 exterior walls, lot's of internal mass that resists swings in temps. Requires only a small woodstove to heat 2300sf, and almost no AC most years.
2. Pasture, garden, orchard, cows, hogs, chickens, catfish ponds, etc.
3. Greenhouse
4. Solar power
5. Root cellar
6. Small sawmill ( bandmill )
7. Workshop well stocked with all sorts of wood and metal working tools.

So, no, not moving anywhere. Owe nothing, pay almost no utilities ( last electric "bill" was a credit for $4.20 due to solar ), property taxes are low, neighbors are good...where would we go it got any better ?

TnAndy -- I'm happy for you that you found a nice, defensible corner for yourself and your family. I'm sad to see, however, that your vision seems a bit limited to yourself, and the wellbeing of your family and immediate neighbors? How about the societal impact of many people following your pattern (see my comment below)?

I doubt seriously you have to worry about a societal impact, as about 99% of the rest of the civilized world neither could or nor would ever live like me.....unfortunately for them, that may also be their downfall.

I can't do anything about the rest of the world, all I can handle is my little corner.

Given a choice of re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic or taking a seat on a lifeboat, I suspect most people would take the lifeboat IF they were really convinced the ship was going down.

YT, I suppose you expect everyone to go down with the ship. Screw that. At some point one realizes that they can do little for society except set an example and watch from the sidelines. Just because folks like TN and I chose a different path doesn't mean we're selfish survivalists. In our case, we have cut our consumption and overall impact dramatically. Isn't that what we all need to be doing? Eating locally (from our own yards), producing our own power from renewables, providing/protecting wildlife habitat, teaching our children and others a better way.

Call it what you like. I call it constructive selfishness and developing a sense of place. BTW, when I was touring the EU, I saw areas where families have been living this way for generations, through several wars, political change, depressions, etc. Not sure how this is different.

This sounds oh so familiar. I'm lucky (or prescient) to be in just about the same condition here --- all the same issues. Off the grid, heat with wood and have all too much, plenty of acres, a nice garden, and to me very important, a really good set of tools (which include both knowledge and practice in the use thereof). A good nucleus to use to help the others who will certainly need it at some point. (think Asimov's galactic encyclopedia)

The thing most people don't and won't realize is how hard that is -- to get even close to self sufficient even in what amounts to near-ideal conditions. I don't make it, and that's after a few decades of working at it, at least at the margins, a lot of sweat equity along with a lot of plain old money in, and in a society that was working at the time -- UPS could bring me whatever I could afford for example. And as I get older, it's a race against time to maintain this (nice) lifestyle by making things easier as I get weaker...

The old saying was "beans bullion, bullets" for bad times. Well, you can only store so many beans (wheat flour might be better) and whatcha going to trade that bullion for if there's no food? Yeah, trade a Krugerand for a loaf of bread? Great value(??!?), and it would seem so in the event. So that's kind of a joke, a wishful thinking solution for those who can't/won't put in the sweat equity to learn how to survive (or are now too old to start). As Heinlein pointed out, even bullets can't be used in some cases as they will make everyone for miles aware that an extremely valuable resource is there to be taken, and as he also said, if you think no one would kill you for a can of tomatoes, you've not missed enough meals in life yet to understand reality.

The real tragedy is that only a few of us even can do this -- there's just not much land around that's not already built up or spoken for in some very expensive to change way -- it's all farm or city, very little true wilderness left. The only reason something like that exists where I live (far southwest VA) is that all the little farms have more or less gone broke and back to nature, the kids left, and all that's left is the old folks watching it all go back to trees here -- so land is cheap too if you can buy a big chunk of it at a time.

I did get a laugh overhearing some rap (which I don't normally listen to as I'm an actual musician myself) about when it all goes down, some homie with his high cap 9mm is gonna whack farmer brown and live off that -- yeah, right. Farmer brown is better armed and has *practiced all his life* so good luck with that one. And it's not as if having a farm means you sit around and eat -- it's real hard work that those types could not accommodate or even plan to (psychologically) in advance, which is why they are what they are now, anyway.

So sadly if things get really bad, really fast, the two legged predators will be the worst problem, there's just not enough to go round without all our nice tech force-multipliers working for us, most of them being in some way based on cheap and portable energy -- oil and grid electricity. I DO NOT think that's going to be the case, short of a nuke war or an asteroid strike (both of which I doubt happen), I worry more about the boiling frog syndrome, it just gradually getting worse and worse, which is harder to get people motivated to do something about.

But as TnAndy said, hey, I'm there, my roots are down here (not my native town) and here I stay no matter what. I live high enough in the mountains that the floods go on down there and low enough in the valley so the hurricanes go up there, and it's fine.

It did take 20 years for the people here to consider me "normal part of this community" -- acceptance is just slow in a small town (20 miles to the one and only stoplight from here), But that's fine -- once you're "in" you're in for real in ways that a city boy (me at one time) could hardly appreciate. If I forget my plastic or checks at a store I can just say "get you next time" and that's that -- they know I will, no problems. Most deals go down no money involved (take that, IRS). My neighbor with the super wood shop makes jigs for my machine shop, and I make tools for him....we both leave our doors unlocked and keys in our cars (so do most here). Someone might need something! And hey, they bring the car back with a full tank, it's just so different from growing up in DC (my hometown) that it's plain hard to describe to most folks. It would take a too-long post to describe all the differences, but it boils down to the difference between living like sardines and maybe being afraid to meet your possibly pedophile (Or DEA agent) neighbor, and living far enough apart to want to be friends even if it's not that easy to even find your neighbors. If it were all like this (low density) none of the above would even be an issue if we were all burning coal at 1% thermodynamic efficiency for energy....

There is basically zero crime here. No point -- you can have what you want by asking if you're "alright" and if not, you can't live here that long as no one will help you. And oh, everyone is moderately dangerous, so it's better for a burgler or mugger to look for a safer place to ply his trade -- ones too stupid to realize that are taken out by the usual Darwinian events. There are no street corners for drug dealers, and no alleys at all to get mugged in. Just not an issue.

I am pretty "green" but totally by accident -- it's the other benefits that got my attention. I got to spend a large part of today just enjoying surveying climax deciduous forest with a couple of true friends -- and it was mine, by golly, and I didn't have time to even see most of it. Now *that's* being rich (but I also have a little money)!

That's the way to go, I think, but the time to begin is NOW, not after everyone catches the cluebat. It will be too late then -- this takes years to build up for yourself. What seemed trivial for a city-boy hot-shot engineer is a lot different story in the far boonies. Nothing fails when the weather is nice and the spare parts stores are open, for example. Takes time to learn to be ready for anything, because it takes some time to have everything happen that first time so you know what to be ready for.

So, if you want a good life and are willing to *earn* it, get going now, folks, I can say it's been well worth it.
This is far better than being "well off" in a large city ever was -- even when times are all good.

15 years off-grid: +1. When you've just broken in your second set of batteries you'll understand. When you've doubled the size of your gardens and quadrupled their output, you'll know. When you can turn all of the lights on for Earth Day and not feel guilty.......when you put out store bought feed for the chickens and they don't eat it.....when you have to give food away so it won't spoil........when you would rather walk.......when you don't set the alarm because you know the Yellow Breasted Chat will beat it by at least 20 minutes.......when you never change the water filter because it never needs it........when locking the house or car seems unnatural...... when you can just tell the bear it's time to leave, and he does, because you've both done this before......when you can borrow your neighbor's plow without asking.................time to stay put.


you left out;
in case of significant nukes; not in the prevailing wind/fallout areas.

that said; respecting tremendously what you, & Grung & DcFusor too have accomplished:

given the magnitude of epochal change...the greatest set of crises since hunting/gathering times.... i believe it is a good idea to have more than one plan location-wise.

"in case of significant nukes; not in the prevailing wind/fallout areas."

There are a few things there is no point in planning for. This is when Yoga comes in handy (bend over and kiss your ass goodby).

we will be very lucky IMO if a few don't get detonated in the next 3 or 4 decades. like individuals, nations will do foolish, heinous things when desperate; i'll hopefully be gone. we can only hope that energy constraints happen fast enough to knock out the tech capability as Orlov predicts. course then we'll have other security problems due to hunger. you guys would be generally well adapted for such.

re yoga: planting & weeding by hand will keep that flexibility too...might need to hurry though to get that kiss done at my current location!

Here is the latest TED debate putting the pro and con views about Nuclear energy.
How do you stand?

well i used to think when i first learned of PO-- for a year or 2-- if i were in charge i'd go gun ho w/ nuclear as with PO i think electricity will at least partially fail due to oil constraints re mining & transporting coal.

but the chaos risks with financial collapse-- certain imo-- make nuclear too risky [like deepsea drilling] both weapon-wise, & power generation/disposal as well.

i wish i didn't think/feel this way as i believe lack of electricity will be a horrible for cities. hopefully if electric fails as i think, it will do so over a no. of years like many live with today--so we can somewhat adjust.

i'd welcome seeing this differently..a gloomy future, especially for our kids & grandkids... i think i remember you got a yacht re your grandkids.

Born in a different culture (Europe) with different values, I have often wondered why so many folks here in the US have this (unconscious) tendency to try to build themselves a "city on the hill" away from the larger society, this tendency to insulate themselves, their children, and their families from the rest of the world. This unconscious response to isolate oneself in a "secure capsule" of some sorts (tens of acres of secluded lands, a large car, a gated neighborhood) seems to shape many things here: The flight from the inner city to suburbs (fear of racial related crimes), the trend to SUVs and trucks (fear of other drivers), gated communities (fear of others, often locals when you move to a new area). The paradox is that some of this drive might be partly responsible for creating peak oil in the first place, no?

I don't really think western European culture differs from that of the U.S., every European I have met has been very similar to me.

Cities differ from Europe Because European cities, with the exception of some in England, didn't burn in the 60s as well as the fact there was no medieval U.S. Cities are dangerous here as well, you do not want to live in one. When things start falling apart it will be April '92 all over again, if you think Atlanta is Frankfurt you're sadly mistaken. Gated communities are common throughout the world where individuals with any wealth need to insulate themselves from the poor and the various ills they bring. You can find gated communities in Brazil, Mexico, and all over the U.S for this reason. You'll be in a world of hurt if the supermarket ever stops getting deliveries.

No, Peak Oil is independent from U.S. housing patterns, it is only dependent upon flow rates. Peak Oil is inevitable.

The U.S. is indeed on the road towards third world status, it appears educational attainment has peaked as well. Texas is expected to have 30.1% of its workforce with no high school diploma in 2040 if you extrapolate. You interested in living in a place like that?

I would disagree. Resemblance between, say, Germans or French and Americans are often superficial. If you lived in those two countries, you would quickly get a feeling how fundamentally different the values of their people are with respect to the environment, energy usage, food, work, the importance of government regulation, taxes etc. I could tell you many, many anecdotes from growing up in both countries.

Resemblance between, say, Germans or French and Americans are often superficial

Perhaps you did not stand far enough away from them to get a better perspective.

The untainted aBantu or the Outback Aboriginal or the migratory shepherd in Mongolia offer contrast to show the similarity of western people.

On the other hand I am reading The Tales of the Genji from 10th century Japan, to try and get perspective on the range of human conditions.
The Tale of Genji (Penguin Classics)