Thinking about things you can do now, that may be more difficult later

We all have things that we like to do, or are important to us. We also have things we want to do that might be helpful for the long term.

Not all of these things will be as easy to do if oil becomes less available, or even if the economy turns for the worse.

My question is:

What things should we be thinking about doing now, and not put off?

For example, my husband and I added a screened in porch, where previously there had just been a deck, a few years ago. In the back of my mind, I wasn't sure we could count on air conditioning for the long term. We have found we have enjoyed it a lot, regardless of whether or not it is helpful for the future.

Another thing I have tried to do if I get a chance, is visit relatives and friends that I don't see too often. Instead of taking a vacation to a far away place, I try to visit folks that it might be harder to visit later. Using the phone works too--keeping up good relations with others is never a bad idea.

Some thing take more time than money, but are still easy to put off--working on a garden, or getting acquainted with neighbors.

What ideas do you have?

Build something like a swimming pool for storing water.
During blackouts, there could be water distribution problems.

The swimming pool is a good idea, Goerge, but do not fall into the trap of using the sodium hyperchlorite chlorination system as this makes the pool water progressively more salty and useless from a gardening point of view. If anybody knows of a pure chlorine systme then I am keen to hear about it right now.

I think those who survive a depression are those with the highest IQ.

Eg instead of saving water in containers, it is better to dig a well.

To buy and save consumer goods are meaningless. It´s only crap and got broken.

Cars are also consumer goods. There are simple tractors that will last a lifetime:

You can build a simple car with a simple engine:

And the engine have better sound than a V8 engine.

"Eg instead of saving water in containers, it is better to dig a well."

Depends on how many people are digging wells. If the aquifer is depleted faster than it can replenish then you end up with a tragedy of the commons situation.

I am the child of a Depression Era parent. The STARK difference between the great depression 'survivors' and modern society is that the depression era populus in general were rural and had the skills to do subsistance living. They knew how to care for animals, they knew how to garden, how to grow field crops, how to work on vehicles which were substantially simpler back then. Now, you have the just in time supply system. No one lives on the land any longer. Most people have only one or two areas of expertise and no skills beyond that and most of those skills zero would apply to those needed post peak.

Folks on TOD like to paint a picture of a period of some pain and then this idyllic utopia at the end. I am much less optimistic. Once the distribution system breaks down, I see looting, mass starvation and total chaos in large cities, formation of roving gangs fighting for dwindling resources over a short period of time. I anticipate that the population will be reduce very rapidly and violently down to less than 1 billion worldwide overshooting the agreed upon 2 billion sustainable mark.

The world will return to a 'dark age' where you have local 'kings' which like in the dark ages are no more than the biggest meanest thugs on the block whose word is the absolute law on his turf. You don't like it, die, or leave. Not that it will be any better anywhere else. Hopefully you will have the skills it takes to be a fighter. They are the ones to get the spoils, the support folks get the scraps.

Forget all the smiley faced, holding hands, pass the yogurt, sing around the camp fire scenerios. The guy the wrote the "Lord of the Flies" has the true scope of human nature down and it isn't pretty. When there isn't enough, it gets ugly.

There are several water sterilization options but they have several general problems:
- most rely on complex technical solutions (hypochlorite, UV, ozone, silver ion);
- some provide no residual killing power after treatment (Ultraviolet light exposure, ozone) so water is treated in a side stream, and returned to the pool without the ability to continue killing microbes;
- silver ion provides residual killing power, but may have other health (or garden) effects.

I believe the best approach is to mimic natural water treatment and abandon the microbe killing mindset for a crystal clear pool. This would approach is used in "natural" swimming pools that use planted zones and massive porous media to support microbial populations that clean the water. Water slowly circulates through the planted zone where excess nutrients (left over fish food, decaying leaves, fish feces) are passed down the bacterial food chain and either eliminated as gases (N2, CO2) or processed to nitrates and taken up by plants. Plant biomass can be decorative or edible. By splitting off a side stream at the cleanest part in the process and shunting it continuously to a slow sand filter, you can produce potable water: slow sand filters are used in older water treatment plants for public water supplies and they rely on microbes that are established in a "schmutzdecke" or microbial colony layer in the sand to metabolize ("eat") undesirable microbes, including pathogens. The output of the slow sand filter can drain to a clean drinking water cistern for human consumption with no further treatment as long as the cistern is properly maintained. The pool can be used to grow fish or swim in (a primary (receding horizon?)goal of EPA's Clean Water Act is to make US waters "fishable and swimmable".Natural pools are essentially wetlands treatment systems and a pond in continuous recycling mode. They require no chemicals and can produce food and clean water.

Provide enough headboard in the pool to capture rainwater from a 100-year rainfall event from your roof (and clean pavement) areas and you have your own water storage system for drinking, fire protection and irrigation.

If you're a techi-optimist you can couple your AC system to the pool water with a pipe in pipe heat exchanger (
and modify to a water contact heat pump to increase summer AC thermal efficiency and warm the water for better fish growth and swimming comfort. Aide from the AC potential, the main energy cost for a natural pool is water pumping costs. I am exploring the use of air-driven water lifts to move water so only one pump is required for multiple pumping points. Air lifts are open tubes, inserted in the water column with air bubbled into them near the bottom, which reduces water density and moves water up under the action of surrounding water pressure. If you ares serious about fish production, you will have to remove solids from the water, which can be done with special screens developed for the mining industry. The solids make a wonderful compost "kicker" to add nitrogen and phosphorus or it can be applied directly to soils as a fertilizer. The water can be recirculated through long shallow beds to grow food hydroponically. This combo is called aquaponics).

Here is the best book, complete right down to a parts list from your local plumbing supply house:
"Small Scale Aquaculture: A Guide to Backyard Fish Farming" by Steven D. Van Gorder, 1992, Rodale Institute, ISBN 0-9677732-0-2
Details and plans on how to raise, harvest, prepare, and store over 100lbs of fish in five months. This system is the result of eight years of research at the Rodale Research Center. A simple and efficient way to produce your own fish on a scale appropriate for a self-sustaining household. Makes home aquaculture as practical as gardening for providing healthy food for a family. Features an ecologically sound recirculating system designed for low energy and low water use made from readily available materials. From Rodale Institute Bookstore:

Here is a shorter description on how to build a pond:

Here is the European commercial pond makers web site:

John Todd's Ocean Ark Inst. Living Machine:

Two Airlift pump papers: and

Info on aquaponics:

Slow Sand Filter Paper:

This manual covers all aspects of water systems (including wells and cisterns and much more) it is an excellent reference: or here:

Good luck!

Better yet, buy a $100 Plastic set-up pool and enjoy yourself on a 3 month trip around the world with the money saved

Considering the cheap price, some of the throwaway pools are real bargains.We have a permanent pool built out of stainless steel and concrete(a packrat/ welder/scrap yard junkie such as yours truly can accomplish such little miracles cheap as dirt) but we also had a better located 16 foot temporary job, about three feet deep, that was still holding water just fine after five years up until last year when I failed to drain it and the harsh winter finally got the plumbing.It cost only four hundred bucks new.

I mention this because the rubbery pool material is still as tough and flexible as it was when it was new.I cut it up into a couple of large pieces and several smaller ones, which we are now using as tarpaulins to cover machinery, firewood, and so forth.I expect these free makeshifts to last at least ten years or so.

Such pools are often available free for the hauling;anyone living the country lifestyle on a budget can make very good use of such a discarded pool.

You know that is not a bad idea as a suggestion for friends who don't have a pool. Just have one in storage (with a cover one hopes), I remember the movie "the road" (i read the book in the 70s), as soon as he had some sense of the bad he started filling the tub with water. you could do the same with your pool. a number of assumptions there, but in a couple of big things i've been through, i've had 3-24 hours notice. more than enough time to send the kids outside to put up a simple pool and fill it with the hose....

Start the democratic revolution... now, because it's going to be a lot more difficult, if not impossible in the future, as the true character of the post-democratic, corporate, military state, reveals itself.

One could argue that it's already too late, that effectively the United States has evolved into a de facto military regime, a bit like a third world country like Pakistan, where one has a massive military dragging a state around behind it. Welcome to third world America!

It often seems, as it was warned over fifty years ago, that the US has become a state ruled by a powerful military-industrial complex, which isn't just threatening to take over the republic; it has done it already. The military increasingly functions as a semi-independent, state within a state. The 'only' part of it that seems to 'work' anymore. The only part with prestige and the power to get things done.

I wonder, did the average Roman realize that the assassination of Caesar was a historic watershed, and meant the death of the Republic and the slide towards rule by emperors and the military?

Ah, I wouldn't worry to much about the big war machine... it needs more energy than any other part of the economy. It's a self solving problem - our track record on wars for oil is that they have negative EROEI. ;) Local feudal structures, if they evolve, are another deal entirely...

I'm sorry, I can't let this pass. I served 20 years in the Air Force and there isn't anyone in Uniform interested in taking over the Republic. They have medicine for your condition.

I'm sorry, I can't let this pass. I served 20 years in the Air Force and there isn't anyone in Uniform interested in taking over the Republic. They have medicine for your condition.

We re-did the roof (in WHITE -- it works as advertised!), insulated, added a solar water pre-heater, rehabilitated the second well and put on a pitcher pump, built a food storage room, planted 36 fruit trees, and doubled the garden and the flocks. I went on a paddle trip from "here" to "there" on the big river, eight glorious days, with a dear friend, camping on islands, and crossed it off the life list. Liked that so much I might cross it off again, GWATCDR. Oh, and I changed my sex. That might be a lot harder to do later.

Well, I'm sure I can't top that! :)

However, in the past couple of years we have:

more fruit trees
started laying hens again
expanded worm beds
added solar hot water
saddle broke newest Peruvian Paso
bought low speed electric vehicle
renewed our federal farm number
stockpiled veggie seeds
bought the property/house next door
to move my elderly parents in
have decided to become more active
in county politics

Plan to:
organize a neighborhood (about 6 miles
square) potluck.

We will never be "ready".

Neighohood potluck, great idea!

Stockpiled veggie seeds, must do that!

"started laying hens again", Is that still legal in the country?

Seriously though, I had this vision of folks living in the city considering this question, and their corresponding list.

*Plant herbs in the window box.
*Stock up on tins of spam.
*Buy guns
*Start motorcycle gang.
*Find locations of TOD members living by themselves in the country within a day's ride.
*Buy more guns.
*On second thoughts, forget the herbs and spam.

Oh, true. At my age, I kinda got my licks in. But "The kids, Marty, we gotta do something about your kids!!" [Back to the Future] -- wish I could jump forward & save 'em.

This is the proactive kind of stuff I like to see. Of course I think I'll leave my sex the way it is, I kind of like it.
My property is entirely too small and entirely too close to the city, we are looking at 10 acres about 60 miles out. Currently planted in Alfafa so I know it will do Wheat. Currenly I have 6 diffent fruit trees, 8 4'x8' sq ft garden boxes and about a years supply of grains, legumes, vegis, sugar, salt, and other incidentals. I expect some of it to get ripped off in really bad times so I have some out in the open and some well hidden (from a previous post you see I have less faith in my fellow human). We are out west in more arid country, so we need to get a well in run on solar.

There's a sort of triage process if you believe time is on the short side if you are a member of the middle class. I think for me (I live in a rural part of Maine)-
1/ practical self education - (not school)
2/ Increase resilience at home - garden a little more, can a little more, set aside a tank of fuel oil for fueling vehicles in an emergency, fueling a tractor, and lighting, cut 2 years wood in advance, etc.
3. Get a small solar PV set up - seems only prudent.
4. Get an EV or an EV conversion kit. It seems to me everyone will want to go electric at the same time, and there will not be enough to go around.

note that some skills take considerable time - eg gardening takes years to learn how to do the easy way -

Everybody's situation is different, but I think individual resilience can collectively increase system stability & perhaps we'll all be a little more secure.

Develop a resilience plan and work it. It's better to prepare than to react to circumstances and events. Something like The Crash Course is a good place to start. Our 'just in time' world may quickly turn into a 'too damn late' scenario for many folks.

I have 3 projects underway. The most ambitious is the building of a 10 metre ferro cement boat (remember ferro cement?) styled on the Bristol Channel Cutter design which I have loved for years. I built a 45 foot boat in my 20's and lived aboard for a number of years, but this boat is for my daughters to have that opportunity to enjoy and to have a change of living style available should things turn absolutely ugly. The second is a very special folding push bike. I know there are zillions of them. This one will make it a zillion and one. The third (optional) project is to build an amphibious microlight plane.

I will be happy if I get just the boat done. The chickens have already come to terms with its presence. This one will have some absolutley lovely living features. One of my pet ideas for this boat is to build in 2 below the water viewing ports in the bow so that we can lay on the forward settee births and view down into the water beside and below. At night some food and a light strung over board will be a good replacement for television. An advantage of being older and living in this technological age is that designing and building a boat is so much easier.

My brother is a boat builder, and they are powerful items.
I lived on a tri or a while. Not for everyone, but would supply an escape.
One needs to know how to sail.

My brother is a boat builder, and they are powerful items.

"Everybody's building
Big ship and boats,
Some are putting up monuments,
Others jotting down notes.
Everybody's in dispair
Every girl and boy.
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Everybody's going to jump for joy."

The Mighty Quinn.
Bob Dylan.

Do you think that bottom is about to fall of the bucket? Then we stockpile, fortify, and pray.

Is the question about the last gasp oil intensive activity? Only wealthy or at least better off have options, because the "high carbon" activities are already expensive and the average Joe does not have time anyway.

If not, then North America has some time to change to a more 'European' way of life. America will get its oil, even if the global supply goes down. Somehow I see Saudi Arabia exporting to USA before it exports to Japan. USA will be first in line for oil for quite some time, if worst comes to worst, with USS Eisenhower visible on the horizon...

Both in USA and Canada enormous savings can be achieved relatively easily, because we are so wasteful: Voluntary lifestyle adjustments (not even wholesale changes) will generate huge savings. I can get by without Chilean peaches in November or raspberries year round. Or drink filtered local tap water instead of Evian and Perrier. Fiji water is good: exactly other end of the world. On a hot day read a book in the shade instead of watching TV in air conditioned house. Is 32" TV big enough?

Canada uses 2.3 Mbpd, so my family of 4 share of oil consumption is 100 bbl per year. Within last two years I changed cars and driving habits and reduced my gasoline consumption by 12 bbls of (gasoline) per year. In a traffic jam a Honda Fit is no different than an SUV. In a few years one car goes away, save another few barrels.

All it takes is a personal change in attitude.

20% reduction in overall consumption but performed only at consumer level should be completely unproblematic, if driven by free choice. This buys a few years (and can channel A LOT of money from consumption to investment) to fund long term solutions.

As long as we think having a V8 (engine, not drink) is a constitutional right, we have a problem.

The US government asked citizens to cut back on consumption of needed goods at the start of WWII. It didn't work and rationing became mandatory. If people are not capable of cutting back on consumption voluntarily when a war is staring them in the face they are never going to do it by free choice.

When you quadruple the price, people will "freely" cut back.

Over the past few years i have:
1. rolled my entire retirement account into gold bullion coins
2. installed a 5KW grid tied PV system on my home
3. designed and installed a "backup" system that will supply 2.5KW if the grid goes down (cost about 1200$US)
4. installed a solar hot water system
5. purchased an electric tricycle plus a lot of spare parts and batteries
6. purchased a "sun" oven (which works great!)
7. built a solar water still (over 2 gallons a day of distilled water)
8. purchased over a years supply of "dry pack" food for 2 people
9. purchased a gravity water filter purifier system (1 gallon per hour)
10. lots of guns and ammo
11. body armor
12. numerous sizes of rechargeable (small) batteries
13. an infrared night vision system
14. received first aid and search and rescue training using the CERT program
15. been qualified for assisting the police with certain duties

Now that all that is done my wife and i go off to Los Vegas once and awhile to enjoy what's left of the party before it ends!

A lot of hard work there. I guess reasonable precautions should be taken, but guns, body armor, infrared night vision, wow! I don't want a gun, because I don't think I could shoot someone, and live with myself. I'd rather give them the food and whatever else I had, than kill them. If the party is ending, there is no point in fighting over the scraps

I'd rather give them the food and whatever else I had, than kill them.

It'll be Serenghetti time, just like the lions and hyenas. Kill or starve. Lean on those people, dust them off, clean their clocks if their trying to take your food. You can't let the modern era soften you up so much you forget your roots. You have to turn into an animal and rage for your continued existence.

Animals have nothing over us in terms of rage and violence.

I think if one is to survive, there's both a lot of toughening AND mellowing to do to extricate from this last couple centuries.


I'm not sure what you mean, Waxwing.

As I look at my comment again, it reminds me about how Slack and Flabby this cheap energy has made us, at the same time, how Jaded and Crass. In a word, Spoiled.

What is it with the US? Either the population has got their collective head stuck up the governments ass like a cult groupie or, failing that, feeling some individualistic panicky paranoid need to kill everyone. It's like some kind of national psychosis.

To a European the constant US theme of stocking up with supplies, guns and ammo is totally bizarre. And given Europe's violent history, it's the Europeans that should be insecure to the point of paranoia, not the over indulged Americans.

Get a grip guys. What kind of place is it where there is so much deep rooted fear and mistrust of one's fellow countrymen?

Peoples worldviews nowdays, both in America and Europe, are created by the mass media. Today I saw a report that a far right politician had been voted into office in Sweden. It was then casualy mentioned that this followed a trend throughout Europe. How long before we start sending Muslims to camps?

We already do. There is a deportation camp 3 miles from my home. Includes women and children. Of course, not all of them are muslim. Some of them are gypsies.

The new (UK coalition ) government has just backtracked on halting the locking up of children.

Hi Burgundy,

I guess to the average civilized European, I come across myself as a bloodthirty redneck, given the comments I post in favor of owning weapons.

Let me say that while a very high percentage of my country men do own guns,only a very small percentage are actually obsessed with them.The media blow such things out of all proportion, and the panty clad among our politicians do all they can to get out thier voters by fanning the flames of fear and registration/confiscation.The other wing just naturally jumps in on the other side to gain such advantage from the issue as THEY can of course.

The media here find it necessary to get all shocked and breathless on a daily basis of course about SOMETHING.Guns are one of the everdependable stand bys.

Europe has substituted faith in the state as Sky Daddy for self reliance and a traditional God;here in the states we still believe to some serious extent in a such God, and we still believe in self reliance to a much greater degree, possibly due to our shorter history and still extant frontier heritage.

As I see it, most guns right supporters are more opposed to a further advance of the power of the state at the expense of the erosion of our personal rights than in guns per se.

But a significant minority of gun rights advocates, such as yours truly,really and truly do believe that our personal security would be severely compromised if we were to lose our guns.

I believe I am right in this respect, and that there is a very real possibility that I may yet live to see the day that I have to literally stand gaurd over my fields and machinery, not to mention my home.So far the known fact that I am armed and might be OCCASIONALLY standing gaurd has served me well, as it has most of my nieghbors.But it is now getting to be a fairly common thing that a new weekend resident finds his ATV, lawn mower, generater, tractor and implements all gone at his next visit.

In the city I could count on thieves being deterred to a great extent by the fact that there are people around nearly all the time.If your live a only few hundred feet from the nearest nieghbor out in the country, this does not necessarily apply;a thief can learn your schedule and family status very easily indeed,by simply watching a few days,or having a snitch, and clean you out while your kids are at school and you and your better half are at work.

Few people realize it, but if and when tshtf, such cops as are available are not going to be able to keep things under control;and history also tells us that a LOT of THEM will turn rogue or simply abandon thier jobs in order to better look after themselves and thier own families.

Perhaps your fellow citizens "over there" should spend a bit more time contemplating what history has to say about the subject.


It's always good to read your comments.

When I was younger and more carefree, I would have supported very strict licensing and control of firearms. But now, with the federal government increasingly limiting our civil liberties and my belief that there is a 80%+ chance of tshtf in the near future (due to any combination of social unrest caused by energy collapse, financial collapse, terrorist attack, emerging disease) my attitude towards firearms has taken a significant change. In addition, I'm now married and I have young children to look after.

Although I grew up around all sorts of weapons - my dad has always had an interest in guns - I previously only owned a 'home protection' pistol. I recently purchased a large game rifle and high power scope in the event I have to hunt to provide for my family. I'm considering purchasing a shotgun for better personal protection capabilities in my liberal suburban neighborhood.

I still believe and hope that working together during a crisis is by far better than any other response I know. I just don't want to be totally unprepared if the idea of working together disintegrates.

I heard it often said that growing older generally makes you more conservative, but didn't know how true that statement was until now.

With their gaming of the political process and seeming absence of logic, I still abhor the NRA, but I have the bad feeling in the back of my mind that when tshtf and some of my worst nightmares start coming true, I might become an ardent supporter (but I hope not).

Your place sounds like a great place to bunk up when the panic bell rings. Have you tried any of the 8. purchased over a years supply of "dry pack" food for 2 people? Is it tasty, varied and nutritional enough for one whole year?

Anyway, sounds like you'll be making through the transitional period. Say hello to tomorrow for us, and if you have a link you can recommend for the dry food, it would be appreciated.

Build a fall out shelter because cold fusion is real and every feudin' Hillbilly will have the BOMB.

"Ah seed you kissin on ma Fannie May. Ahm gonna learn ya good."

This is a tough question - but very relevant.

During the 70s, we were concerned about The Population Bomb and The Energy Crisis. We bought some land off the shore of Lake Superior (very remote area) and built a fairly energy efficient, passive solar cabin with the intent of eventually expanding the cabin into a retirement home. We owned the property for nearly 20 years but gradually decided that this was untenable as a retirement place. Great fun to visit, but finally we sold it. Also, our worst fears never happened.

However, we built kind of a compromise home in rural southern Wisconsin - still a DIY with no mortgage and lots of energy efficient and passive solar features. Once again, a great experience and no regrets even while many of our friends put that same time, money and energy into travel and more luxury stuff. I still think there is more satisfaction from completing a neat woodworking project than bragging about that Scotland golf course trip.

Now, the questions are more difficult: a knee replacement that could be put off until it really falls apart; dental work for problems that are still tolerable; a new roof that might get by for a couple of more years; building a greenhouse right now instead of fixing those crummy kitchen cabinets.

If one thinks that BAU will just slowly decline over the next couple decades then planning one's life can proceed in a more orderly manner. However, if one believes TSWHTF within the next decade (or less), then priorities will change and some basic issues of health and home become much more urgent.

The notion of which scenarios have the most probability of occurring in the next decade or so - is really the big question when thinking about personal survival. Of course, if personal survival is not even likely - then why worry about it?

Hi Dave,

Our personal survival is the ONE thing that we most assuredly need not count on, one we hit the age we are thinking seriously about new knees.;)

The one general thing that I most bitterly regret in my entire life is not doing a lot more for some of the people who loved me and looked after me and accepted me for the irascible , contrary,bone headed old coot that I am-people who are gone now, although they live still in my heart.

Some of them have left me very unexpectedly.Death comes like a thief in the night sometimes.A phone call in the wee hours, a grim fast ride to the hospital,a child in the hallway sobbing uncontrollably because his Momma "didn't make it".

This is not ag, but everybody can take it to the bank;when you are once laid up by age and infirmity,or ill health,you will place a higher value on a visit with an old friend who makes time for you than any material good whatsoever.

If you are that friend,be you ever so humble otherwise, you are a man or woman worthy of respect.

I can rest easy for the most part in this respect;but I would give everything I own , right up to life itself,for an opportunity to do more with and for with a couple of people who are now irretrieveably gone.

The question is not whether we shall live, for surely we must die, and as we get older the perception of time flying multiplies exponentially.

The question is whether we have lived well, and can die peacefully,satisfied with our achievements, and without excessive regrets, when the time comes.

I hope to count among my achievements leaving this little farm in such a condition that if necessary, some of the younger folks can reasonably hope to ride out the next three or four of generations on it no matter what, barring actual war in the nieghborhood.After that things will probably be settled down to such an extent that people may again expect to live reasonably "normal" lives.

About the only thing I have not seriously contemplated doing is digging a bomb shelter.There are several suitable spots, and I have a very powerful backhoe.It wouldn't cost all that much, a few thousand bucks for materials, mostly concrete, and it could serve very well as an additional storage vault/root cellar/pantry.

Such a job would keep me busy for six months at least, working on it as time allows.

Or maybe I should put the money in solar pv panels.There is not enough money for everything I would like to do right away, and while pv module prices are falling, concrete prices are rising sharply.

Comments from others making similar either/or choices are hereby solicited and will be studied carefully, thanks in advance!

Some good thoughts, touching thoughts, there, FarmerMac.

The only thing that I can offer you is the notion that if you bother to build a bombshelter, which will never be used for that purpose, build it in such a way that will allow it to be used as a methane digester to convert your farm waste into fuel (natural gas) invarious forms. China has some very good designs.


I like the thought: The question is whether we have lived well, and can die peacefully, satisfied with our achievements, and without excessive regrets, when the time comes.

I too was once worried about the population bomb (1960s), and my wife and I have not replaced ourselves. We have a wonderful son who was tragically disabled by criminals running from the law. It was at that moment that we learned what life was really all about. We have a country site where we once thought about building a highly efficient cabin home with stocks and weapons. We have enjoyed a visit to this place which is still not developed every almost summer since 1980. Now the thought of leaving our family and staking out a survival location is fading from our thoughts. We will likely not need it in our lifetime and our son would not be able to farm the land. We do plan to subdivide the property and build a so called “green” community, but not with the idea of survival of society against the collapse – our goal will be to make the most of life and learn to live efficiently. This we should be able to do.

More logical is to see friends, live within our means, and support the type of leadership that will make the same types of decisions that we would make.

I like the idea of an underground storage cellar, and it could be useful should a tornado appear in the neighborhood. Hopefully the circumstances of collapse will not bring out the worst in society although that is bound to occur in some locations. It makes sense that many locations will be spared because of their remoteness and the difficulty of survival in the urban areas.

mac it is only tooooo logical that we will during the serious decline time have some 'radiation' event[s].

i have a good basement & for the odds...surviving a nearby bombing... i go with having a plan & some materials for fortifying an area of my basement. this also is a winter 'produce' storage area. i built 2 walls using the general plan from elliot coleman's 4-season gardener. i bought empty sandbags to fill[with garden dirt/compost, etc.] to do other needed barriers for radiation...above, etc. btw that frontend loader can put a couple of feet of good dirt into rooms... [brace the basement as u add weight], sandbags or not...above the basement bunker area in short order. the problem with a bunker is typically size; & if there is not many of u'all & a lot of folks are nearby u'll have to change those proportions as folks come a calling. on the other hand ; unfortunately [i welcome being corrected] i think me or at least my kids will experience fallout.

i started with worse case buying that ev setup for my old vw pickup sounds good!!! but i don't really expect that future to last long enough for that investment; so i am currently negotiating [with my wife] buying a rundown loghouse in a village[$3k] in the northwoods near the great lakes...v.low pop. density [btw i live where the pop. density is tooo high is Here for now]. in my best projections this is a cool summer place when little AC...& maybe we need another sailboat to get there.

one thing at a time... maybe even the ev eventually.

If you don't have a root cellar, it is very similar to a shelter - even has ventilator shafts in most designs. I think this would be very valuable - but I live where the winter is long.
You can have a shelter and a couple panels as well, as part of a shelter if you wish.
A lot of utility from just a couple panels. It doesn't take much to support a freezer, or a pump, or a battery charger, or a few lights. Just plug your system into the branch circuit you wish to use (with it's breaker off), or plug directly into your inverter.

Mac: From one contrary to ordinary old coot to another: Thanks for articulating those thoughts so well. Including my children, I can count my true friends on both hands and have some fingers left over. I consider them as most precious and myself a most fortunate man to be graced by their acceptance of me. In spite of my ornery old self! I think building a root cellar would be a prudent thing to do. If it can be used for a bomb shelter, then that is good too. Every farmstead and ranch out here on the high plains used to have one. For good reason. Everyone used to have a couple of rhubarb plants as well, for cleaning the old digestive tract out in the spring! Basic food preservation and storage techniques will be ever so important for the young ones to learn and practice.

Hi Mac,

Good thoughts that I really relate to. I too am at the age where I've had to bury way too many good folks - you get to the point where you pretty much know the playbook but that does not make it any easier. My wife did not make it in time for her dad's unexpected death - still a sore spot. Even losing a long-time family dog is another painful event we come to expect.

place a higher value on a visit with an old friend

Interesting that you mention this - 4 or 5 times a week, wife and I bike 20 miles to have coffee with an old friend. He is 82 and never owned a car - still rides his bike every day. He lives about a mile from the coffee shop and is a village fixture as he rides along smoking his pipe (his invalid wife can't tolerate smoking in the house). We know that most of his other close friends are gone now and he really looks forward to our visit - and the feeling is mutual. He is an avid reader, a great history buff, and full of wonderful insights about the world. Well, the world of yesterday as he never watches TV, reads a newspaper or a current magazine. He is such great relief from much of the yuppie folks that have invaded our previously remote/rural area.

Shipping containers are a quick way to make a buried shelter. Very cost effective. I know a couple of folks who did this for root cellars, one guy for his EMP resistant radio shack. They have them sprayed with foundation sealer and insulation foam, dig a hole, plenty of gravel for drainage and bury them in the hillside. Easy to conceal the access with shrubbery, etc. The radio guy put in plenty of plumbing, ventilation and conduit pipe for air, water, sewage and elecrtical access. He did much of it with leftovers from building his house. Containers are 'cheap' these days.

As I indicated above, I believe that a resilient lifestyle is a win-win choice. Low/no debt, some level of self-sufficiency in food, water and energy, and a good level of community with like minded folks nearby, skills that others will find valuable. The community garden we started with our new neighbors this spring has been a huge success. These south FL city folks are hooked on gardening and canning, really working hard and thrilled to be part of growing food for themselves and others. A community garden is more than a source of fresh food. It builds a working bond among those involved that is valuable under any circumstance. Recommend keeping it small, two to four families.

Two of my sisters built homes near me in the last few years. They are going in together to rent a wood chipper to make mulch from all of the deadfall around the property. Neither added a wood heat (or passive solar) option to their homes. I find this faith in our energy future a bit troubling. Many folks are relying on energy sources from far away but don't consider the energy that falls in their backyards or rises in the east every morning as a viable option. They don't even have a means to heat a can of beans or pot of water without energy from afar. Not very resilient. One, at least, has approached me about adding a backup tank to her well water system. It seems she fears not being able to flush the toilet during a blackout/calamity.

Prioritize. Start with the basics.

OFM you are a consistently thoughtful and iconoclastic contributor. Thank you!


I would like to add "taking care of farm animals" to the list!
A few years ago we got some rabbits as pets. Now after 4 years I have learned a lot about them, especially how varied their diet can be. They can eat an amazing variety of plants. I can see in an environment where there are a lot of weeds and little else, that rabbits would be very convenient. Not as pets, but as food, in that case. They also breed like, well, you know.....

I think any kind of farm activity, no matter how minor, hobbyist, small-scale, etc. could be a great way to prepare for a future where there is a lack of good transportation of goods. Because you will be able to learn before you need the skill to earn a living.


Seeing family & friends and building the screened porch are good ideas. This is what we are doing:

Insulating and repairing our home
Planting drought tolerant edible plants/trees now while it's easy to get them established
Learning how to save seeds from year to year in our garden plot
Amending the soil in our future crop area with nitrogen fixers but keeping it fallow otherwise
Obtaining sturdy tools
Building a library of books on how to do things by hand
Getting healthy by exercising, staying at a good weight, and taking care of our bodies

It doesn't matter if there is a decline in 10 years, 25 years, or over our lifetime; these things are just a prudent way to live.

One additional Housekeeping issue is people might consider reroofing with a Good Metal roof instead of asphalt Shingles, next time out.. They last much longer, and are maintainable and repairable..

I just went up to our camp in the woods and started building my 'Solar Woodshed'.. just using some spare 42" Glass sheets for the Steep South roof and South Wall, so my wood gets a little help in curing before I lug it back home. This little 6'x8' is also big enough for a hammock, if it's not filled with firewood.

Glass and Mirrors, I always think these will be useful to have stocked up a bit. Many, Many uses.


By coincidence, my current projects are screening in a porch and building a garden. My wife wanted the porch, but it occurred to me that this was a classic place to sleep in the South before air conditioning. The garden will be a big project: retaining wall, excavation, irrigation, trucking in dirt since we don't have much, rainwater collection and storage tanks. It won't feed us completely, but might provide some fresh vegetables if those become hard to get.

Adding some more solar (to 12 KW), adding insulation and upgrading windows and doors. Have an electric bike, 5 regular bikes and bike trailer. Plan to get electric cars, maybe electric motorcycle when available.

Re weapons, it occurred to me that what I need is some *less* powerful ones: crossbow and pellet gun, to possibly get a deer or bird, legal or not, without making noise. Snares and traps are cheap. Only in emergency, of course.

Already have some Katadyn filers for water purification, plan to get a system with filters and UV purification; quite a few choices since people need them for lake houses and such.

If tshtf, you might be very glad to add a starling, pigeon, or crow to your larder!

I don't own a pellet gun, but I do know for a fact that a good one, in moderately skilled hands, is adequate for rabbits and birds at short ranges-maybe up to 150 feet, and good ones are very accurate.You could get a lot of birds with a pellet gun.

I doubt that more than a very small handful of people even be after extensive practice will ever be able kill even a rabbit with a bow of any sort, unless the range is very short.If you baited the game to a spot where there is a good backstop for the arrows/bolts, misses wouldn't be much of a problem, but anyone who has ever shot a bow in the field will tell you that your good quality hunting arrows have a life expectancy of one or two misses each;you simply can't find them more than about half the time.

Shotguns are VERY noisy, but a long barreled bolt action twenty two loaded with "shorts" and equipped with a telescopic sight can be had for very little and is probably the quietest easily obtainable firearm available.

Even a novice can kill a stationary rabbit or a large bird such as a pigeon consistently with such a weapon at up to 200 feet, if he is able to rest his arms and weapon against any suitable stationary object while aiming.A perfectly placed head shot-easily doable from a blind with a little practice - at under a hundred feet will drop a deer in its tracks.

This is not the place for discussing the details, but that already quiet 22 can easily be made considerably quieter with a silencer that can be rigged up in five minutes with tools and materials easily found in most homes, ASSUMING it has a telescopic sight.Such an improvised noise reducer will block the line of view , rendering the regular sights unusable.If such a gun is fired on one side of a street just as a car is passing by, it is altogether likely that somebody on the other side will not notice the noise from a hundred feet away.

22 ammo is dirt cheap, and if stored properly, meaning in a cool dry place, my experience, anecdotally well backed by talking to other old geezers, is that even after twenty or thirty years, over forty cartridges out of a box of fifty will still fire.I paid "three prices"(ten dollars only) for an odd lot of partial boxes found buried in a desk drawer at an estate sale recently that were probably fifty years old, and well over half of them are still good.I'm not going to shoot the rest as they are of some value as conversation pieces;I remember buying just such cartridges in just such little boxes for fifty cents for a box of fifty back when I was a kid.

As an older person (63), it has occurred to me that Mr. Darwin doesn't care whether I survive or not; and I may not survive that much longer no matter what I do or what the state of peak oil is etc.

So, in my planning I don't just plan for myself, but for children and (hoped for) grandchildren. They probably aren't preparing, but I will be prepared to help them. I can do without much (or any) car, but plan to have enough electric cars to loan them to my children.

Research has found that in primitive societies, the maternal grandmother has a huge effect on survival and well-being of the grandchildren. I'll see if I can make the grandfather worth something too.

on a completely different tack from all the other posts

1, fly - go on those trips to far flung places - if the world is going to hell in a hand cart then see some of those fantastic places first .

2, buy that fast BIG car - never going to happen in 10 years time ( actually I think 2 years but thats a WAG) firebird , mustang or even a Hog

3, borrow like hell - if they're going to take you down might as well enjoy the trip now!

However more line with the other comments posted

i, dental work , get it done now - yes someone might knock them out later but look at the history books - dental decay and wear were a major source of pain and misery - sort yours out now - 25 years is average for caps and the like.

ii, Here in the UK getting guns is mostly illegal - pistols certainly . So join a gun club and get a .22 rifle but don't tell them about peak oil because you'll be a nut and nutter aren't allowed guns ;)

iii, jewelry - its not the cheap stuff that'll be worth trading later. And hide it . Sentimental things ( even if they're not for you ) are better at trading and easier to keep from being just taken ( that gold bar my mother gave me isn't as good as that's my mothers necklace , if see what I mean)


PS: the crash is more likly to be slow in Europe - food will need to keep for 3-5 years , not one.

"PS: the crash is more likly to be slow in Europe - food will need to keep for 3-5 years , not one."

Any population crash in Europe due to food shortages is likely to be more sever than in the Americas because of our greater density of population per km2. Specifically the UK, which imports almost 40% of its food, is in a precarious situation.

Grautr, beside your Euro specific PO issues you also have radical Islam working to take over your countries. You will be fighting two battles...not one.

We discuss it here:

In my own case, I've been prepping like a part time job for many years. Still have lots to do. Beside prepping, I plan to travel as long as the crude is flowing and air flight is affordable.

Here is an interesting article "The Myth of Self Reliance"

Now even though being 100% self sufficient is near impossible. We can work towards preparedness for a variety of possibilities to make us more comfortable if and when trouble strikes.

For survival is also about comfort. We try to be as comfortable as possible in uncomfortable circumstances. For if we get too uncomfortable...we die!

The Myth of Self Reliance

Toby Hemenway
posted 1-15-10

A mass emailing went out a while back from a prominent permaculturist looking for “projects where people are fully self sufficient in providing for their own food, clothing, shelter, energy and community needs. . .” There it was, the myth of “fully self sufficient,” coming from one of the best-known permaculturists in the world. In most US permaculture circles, the idea that anyone could be self sufficient at anything past a very primitive level was abandoned a while ago, and the softer term “self reliant” replaced it. But even self-reliance is barely possible, and, other than as way of expressing a desire to throw off the shackles of corporate consumerism, I don’t think it’s desirable.

I took a Googling cruise around the internet and found that “self sufficient” shows up as a desirable goal on several top permaculture websites. I’d like to hammer a few coffin nails into that phrase. My dictionary says that self sufficient means being “able to maintain oneself without outside aid.” Who lives without outside aid? No one. Let’s unpack that a bit further. The meaning of “self sufficient in food” is something most of us can agree on: supplying 100% of your food needs from your own land and efforts. I have never met anyone who has done this. I’m sure there are a few people doing it, but even subsistence farmers usually raise, alongside their food, a cash crop to buy the foods that are impractical for them to grow.

I hear people say they are growing 30%, 50%, even 70% of their own food. What they usually mean is that they are growing fruits and vegetables that make up some percentage of the total cost or weight—but not calories—of their food. Vegetables are high in wet weight, but low in calories. If you are growing 100% of your own vegetables, they provide about 15-20% of your daily calories, unless you are living mostly on potatoes or other starchy veggies. Most daily calories come from grains, meat, or dairy products. So if you’re not raising large-scale grains or animals, it’s unlikely that you are growing more than one-quarter of your own food, measured honestly by nutritional content. In that case, it’s not accurate to claim you are “70% food self sufficient.” If you are getting most of your calories from your land, you’re almost certainly a full-time farmer, and I salute you for your hard work. Now we begin to see how difficult, and even undesirable, self sufficiency is. You won’t have time for much else if you are truly food self sufficient, even in a permaculture system.

But even if you grow all your own food, can you claim you are self sufficient if you don’t grow all your own seeds? Provide all your fertility? Where do your farm tools and fuel come from? Permaculturists understand as well as anyone how interconnected life is. At what point do you claim to be disconnected from the broad human community in anything? Is there really a way to be “fully self sufficient” in food?

Let’s take a quick pass at clothing, shelter and energy. Even if you sew all your clothes, do you grow the cotton, raise the sheep? If you milled all the lumber or dug the stone for your home, did you forge the glass, fabricate the wiring? In the off-the-grid house, what complex community of engineers and factories assembled the solar panels? We’re reliant on all of that.

Claiming self sufficiency in almost anything insults and ignores the mountain of shoulders we all stand on. US permaculturists are a pretty politically correct crew, and it became obvious to some of us that “self sufficient” was not just impossible, but was a slap in the face to all those whose sweat provides for us, and was another perpetuation of the cowboy ethic that puts the individual at the center of the universe. So the term morphed into “self reliance,” to show that we know we are interdependent, but are choosing to be less reliant on others. At its best, self reliance means developing skills to provide for basic needs, so we can stop supporting unethical and destructive industries. But I see much less need for self-reliant people who can do everything themselves, and much more need for self-reliant communities, where not everyone knows how to weave or farm, but there is clothing and food for all.

There is still a deep prejudice in permaculture, as websites and emails show, that doing it all ourselves, and on our own land, is the most noble path. And insofar as our skills make us less dependent on corporate monopolies, developing the abilities that we think of as self-reliant is worth doing. However, the more we limit our lives to what we can do ourselves, the fewer our opportunities are. Each connection outside ourselves enriches us. When we create a web of interdependencies, we grow richer, stronger, safer, and wiser. Why would you not want to rely on others? To fully probe that would take us down a psychological rabbit-hole, but some of it is grounded in a belief that others are unreliable or unethical, and that we weaken ourselves by interdependencies. But the old saying “if you want a job done well, do it yourself” simply shows poor management skills.

If you’re still skeptical, I’ll resort to scripture: a quote from the Book of Mollison, Introduction to Permaculture, page two: “We can also begin to take some part in food production. This doesn’t mean that we all need to grow our own potatoes, but it may mean that we will buy them directly from a person who is already growing potatoes responsibly. In fact, one would probably do better to organize a farmer-purchasing group in the neighborhood than to grow potatoes.”

As veteran permaculture designer Larry Santoyo says, go to the highest generalization to fill your needs. Thinking “I must grow my food” is painfully limited. Thinking “I must satisfy food needs responsibly” opens up a vast array of possibilities, from which you can choose the most stable and appropriate. Individual efforts are often less stable and resilient than community enterprises. And they’re bad design: self-reliance means that a critical function is supported in only one way. If you grow all your food and get hurt, you are now injured, hungry, and watching your crops wither from your wheelchair. That won’t happen in a community farm. And for those worried about an impending collapse of society, the roving turnip-bandits are much more likely to raid your lonely plot while you sleep exhausted from a hard day of spadework, and less likely to attack a garden protected by a crew of strong, pitchfork-wielding farmers who can guard it round the clock.

Creating community reliance gives us yet another application of permacultural zones: Zone zero in this sense is our home and land. Zone one is our connection to other individuals and families, zone two to local commerce and activities in our neighborhood, zone three to regional businesses and organizations, zone four to larger and more distant enterprises. Why would we limit ourselves to staying only in zone zero? We can organize our lives so that our need for zone-four excursions—say, to buy petroleum or metal products—is very limited, while our interactions with the local farmers’ market and restaurants are frequent. This builds a strong community.

Self reliance fails to grow social capital, a truly regenerative resource that can only increase by being used. Why would I not want to connect to my community in every way that I can? If we don’t help fill our community’s needs, there’s more chance that our neighbors will shop at big box stores. An unexamined belief in self reliance is a destructive myth that hands opportunity to those who are taking our community away from us.

If you love being a farmer, then yes, grow all your own food. And sell the rest for the other things you need, in a way that supports your community. But is there really a difference between a farmer exchanging the product of her labor—food—for goods and money, and me selling the product of my labor—education—for goods and money? We both are trading our life energy within a system that supports us, and I’d like to think that we are both making wise ethical choices.

A good permaculture design is one that provides for the inhabitants’ needs in a responsible and ecologically sound manner. But there’s nothing in permaculture that says that it’s important for all yields to come from the owner’s site! If I can accomplish one thing in this essay, it is to smash that myth. Permaculture design simply says that our needs and products need to be taken care of responsibly in our design, not on our own land. That design can—and must—include off-site connections. If you are an acupuncturist whose income is provided by your community and you are getting most of your needs met from mostly local sources you believe to be ethical, then that’s excellent permaculture design. Your design will be stronger if your needs and products are connected to many off-site elements and systems.

It’s very permacultural to develop skills that will connect you more deeply to land, home, and community. And sometimes the skills that we gained in search of self reliance are the same ones we need to be more community-reliant. But self reliance, as a goal in itself, is a tired old myth that needs to die. It’s unpermacultural.

I dont think Islam is going to be a problem for Europe. I do think Europe will be a problem for the Muslims and other easily identifiable foreigners living here as economic hardships take hold. The French and Italian government moves agains the Roma people, in clear breach of European race laws, is a clear example of what is going wrong.

I think you're supposed to just drop in a relevant snippet, and let a link do the rest. (I didn't respond directly to yours, in case you wanted to change it)

Interesting read, but I find the analysis to be typically overzealous. There's nothing wrong with the goals of 'Self-sufficiency and Self-reliance', and I can't think of a single person who looks at that goal and sees it in such extreme terms. It's more of an Ideal, a direction to head in as much as an exact spot to reach. (Like Dieting or Exercise..) They (we) are all too aware that life is interconnected, that none of us is or should be an island.

One part of the goal of self-sufficiency would be that one is able to overproduce some foods or other goods, such that they have the capacity to trade and barter with neighbors and whomever, to fill the jars that they don't get from their own land. 'Balance of Trade'

I'm afraid it sounds like the kind of Debunking that we got in this 'Fake Fire Brigade', where it challenges a goal that's not really the goal (Total, 100% independence).. and for those who do treat it as a path towards Shangri-la, well, what's the harm, they're heading the right way- so what if a few of them are a little starry-eyed?

The biggest projekt for me right now is to build a sturdy practikal bike based on a Big Dummy frame.
Hopefully it will be finished by next spring.
Im also slowly getting more tools and buying books on permakulture, housebuilding and so on.

Hi BikeNerd,

Why not just get a trailer that you can hook to any bike - even a recumbent?

I needed a more sturdy bike anyway, my current is not up to my standards. So i thought why not go for maksimum load capacity on the bike from the start. And it seems like a trailer+bike will be more off a hassle especily on public transport(trains/ferrys) than just a slightly longer bike.
And i will also get myself a trailer for the big dummy. Just in case :-P

After reading all the comments, I think I'll just stock up on hemlock, it might be cheaper >;^)

As for this morning, a bike ride to the beach! I'm also looking for a nice sailboat that can handle oceanic cruising as I have family and friends all over the world and I can't see air travel being available for the average Joe much longer.

Looking for an ocean cruiser is the perfect activity to prepare for a difficult future. Just look, and case out a couple of them. It probably won't be necessary to buy one.

For training in boathandling, there are multiple offers to be a crew, online and in yacht magazines. If you can crew for 3 months, pay for your own food, and have a cheerful attitude, you'll have an easy time getting aboard.

If you live on the coast, all the prep only costs you time and will be most entertaining.

Hi Fred,

a bike ride to the beach!

Any day you can ride your bike is a good day!

Gail! I don't think you will get too much helpful comment on this thread;

Those who have any real clue are quietly doing what needs to be done. At the same time they do fervently hope that - in an unlikely but still possible moment of collective sanity - our entire species will suddenly become aware of what is coming, and switch in a single day to a new paradigm that is utterly self-sufficient and in full harmony with our Earth Mother.

But without that global side-step to a new safe reality, the only self-care process left now is for those individuals who read and understand the many portents of impending change to keep their heads down and build their own lifeboats; their Arcs, And sadly; the rest be damned!

After seven years of following this, we've given up on the "prep" idea, for things just have not panned out as we expected.

Things won't pan out as expected, either, because not one of us has been vouchsafed the gift of seeing into the future. That's because the future doesn't exist; it is not "out there" somewhere waiting to be divined. We live in an eternally-unfolding present that simply demands that we adapt day-to-day to ever-changing circumstances.

The idea of preparing now for what won't be feasible in the future is question-begging: it pretends to know what will be, but the unfolding realities are too complex for anyone to see where we're headed.

We're not giving up farming, or preserving our own food, or disengaging from contemporary pop culture, etc. We've always done that because it's what we've always wanted to do (for twenty-five years now).

Be we no longer have any illusions that we'll have a leg up on anyone else should TSHTF in ways that we can't foresee.

Ecc 22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?

23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.

24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour....

That's right next to one of my favorites..

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Ecc. 9:10

I'm going to walk my daughter (who will still hold my hand and make me skip sometimes..), over to a coffee shop, and then over to a UU Church. Two of my favoritest cults!

The Book isn't within reach and I'm not moving unless nature calls, so a paraphrase from ECC:

The generations come, and the generations go, but the Earth abides forever.

I have had a couple of confirmed athiests-very intelligent people-tell me that they have found more wisdom, as opposed to mere knowledge, within the KJB than in any other book.

This married couple, both technically educated , grew up in a fundamentalist Christian society,as I did, and were devout literal believers until they were well started in college.

It's like Lee's Old Chinese Men studying Genesis in 'East of Eden'

"And do you know, those old gentlemen who were sliding gently down to death are too interested to die now?”

Adam said, “Do you mean these Chinese men believe the Old Testament?”

Lee said, “These old men believe a true story, and they know a true story when they hear it. They are critics of truth. They know that these sixteen verses are a history of humankind in any age or culture or race. They do not believe a man writes fifteen and three-quarter verses of truth and tells a lie with one verb. "

I sort of plan in two tracks. One track is a slow grind-down in life-style over decades and the other track is for instant events that have low probability but high impact.

Keeping fit, eating more whole grains and vegetables that you grow, and dropping habits like nicotine are all good things to do no matter how things turn out. Keeping your teeth in repair is going to pay off as most people will tell you that have lost their teeth.

If you are storing food, as I am, get used to eating it on a regular basis. Beans and rice are a good staple most people store but you need to incorporate eating it on a regular basis.

Practice low impact living even if you can afford all the trinkets we are told are necessary to live the good life.

Get our of debt and stay out of it as much as possible. Bill collectors are likely to be around for longer then you are.

Learn a skill that is outside what you normally do for a living. Woodworking, animal husbandry, metal-working, etc.

Agreed, after 8 years of reading up on energy and environmental issues I'm beginning to tone it down on the preping. A cetain amount is positive but concidering the future is unknown and black swans are inevitable, throwing resources at a possibility is likely subject to the law of diminishing marginal returns.

Whatever you're planning to do, get started. Get started. Get started.

Envisioning a new lifestyle is relatively easy, and takes little time. Realizing it is absolutely hard work, and will take the rest of your life.

Not much I can do now, living in a condo in SoCal
But I plan to retire with my family and friends in a self provisioning community.

For the time being, my focus is on learning and skills building, though there remain a number of projects I'd like to do when/if I muster the means.

Learning new ways of thinking is key. There are some notions we'll have to unlearn in order to adjust. The individualism reflected in most of the plans above will need to give way to networking together to get things done. Juliet Schor's work on "Plenitude" offers constructive approaches. Learning to build networks, trade favors, share stuff, barter stuff, and collaborate to get things done may prove wisest of all. As Schor notes, strong social networks have historically been key factors for resilience.

We need to cultivate networks devoted to learning new skills and sharing the fruits of that learning. For instance, I learned to graft fruit trees this spring in one such network and shared, with a co-presenter, a little of what I've learned about seed saving in another last week. (Handouts here: , . If you download, please download both, as they go together. I had to make them two separate documents because printing is in portrait mode for the handout and landscape mode for the chart.) My co-presenter and I shared seeds for Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes and Zipper Cream peas. These two crops can be gifted throughout a community.

At home, even while I lack means now for big projects, I continue to work on permaculture-style edible landscaping, veggie beds, and soil building in my half-acre yard.

My value to a community later on will likely take the form of knowledge I've mined and can share - not about everything - but about some critical subjects. So I enhance my value by learning even when I have little money to spend.

I am getting a recumbent tricycle. This is primarily for my wife who has difficulties riding a regular bicycle. In any event, I think this is a great idea for aging baby boomers who still want to use human power to get around for day to day activities, recreation, and pleasure. It is good to do something that can be great fun and reduce your carbon and oil footprint at the same time.

Before we lost my Mom so suddenly last year, I had been setting up to get her a Cargo Trike, or some variation on that theme, for just the reasons you mention. I want a covered trike myself, just because of the issues I have propping the two-wheeled kind up all the time.. esp when there is some stuff onboard from the day's errands.

I've also kept a few bike wheels in 'stock', and build them into what I call 'Lego Style' box-frames and such that can be quickly assembled into various types of carts and carriers. All sorts of fun combinations can be tried.. and I'm now drilling holes into old angle-iron stock so that I have my 'Adult Erector Set' parts pile as well.

I just built it all into a Sheetrock lifter this summer, when I was re-rocking a ceiling. Complete with Handcrank and ropes, etc..
.. not that I couldn't have just rented one from the Hardware Store, but I like the claw-sharpening involved in figuring it out, and having the flexible pieces in store to get 'access' to a range of work that needs doing.

Learn to use tools.. even the simplest ones give you access to another whole world! All the old junk lying around can become new, useful stuff again. Just a good sewing machine (treadle or electric) is access to all sorts of possibilities!

Collect Fasteners (Nuts, Bolts, Nails, Screws, Glue, Washers, Straps, Angles ..) and a broader category of what I call 'Adapters', which is shorthand for all those unsung heroes that may be cheap and ubiquitous today, but will quickly block a bigger process from happening. EXAMPLES: Ever been camping and didn't have a can-opener or the right plug for a generator or an airpump, etc? Lubricants, Adhesives, Solvents, Sealants, Detergents, Disinfectants, Paints - Have a pile of the Petrol 'Inspired' kind, but also start researching on what local, simpler or natural alternatives you could use as well. (Get the Foxfire series of books for much of this and more, while Amazon is still available..)


Whats really kuhl about you jokuhl is that you are an hp 200lx fan. One of the best computers ever built.

I love that little thing.

It just got new Nimh's, but it's still cranking, at 15 years old! (On PV power, as you saw)


Hi tstreet,

Trikes are the most underrated vehicle in the world! Almost anyone can ride one if they have enough mobility to amble out of the house. Distance and hills are minor matters as one can rest and restart at will. A reasonable amount of snow and ice is not an issue either. But, motorist traffic is still a problem - look for safe routes! Use noticeable flags.

Hi Dave,
I ride my Catrike700 about 60k a week. And I most certainly agree that snow and ice aren't a in Scottsdale. ;-)

Gave up on uprights on account of my back, neck and butt. And my air horn has saved my life at least once.

Cool flags!


Hi (also) Dave,

No Air Zound horn - no bike ride. Definitely saved us from major damage a couple of times - and, I've found no other horn that competes with it. But, I get mine a little cheaper:

Flags are from here:

I think the only real issue with trikes is visibility - especially in places like parking lots. Good flags help a lot in this regard.

We should be doing things that need a lot of fuel now in case it is unavailable in the near future. For instance I am learning to pilot a small plane and have the goal of building a small plane of my own design in the near future. If the land transport system falls into an unusable state, such as bridges collapse, small aircraft will still be able to transport high value goods or highly skilled people where they are needed. Think of the Flying doctors of Australia for instance.
This is the time to travel to those special destinations you have dreamed of seeing. That is while we still have airlines and cruise ships.
As for preparing for a sudden collapse of law and order what are you going to do when the ammo is all gone, rampaging hordes of hungry people have stripped your fields bare, and all that stored food has been used up? What good will that gold be when there is no food to be bought at any price? You are going to die eventually so the question is how long do you want to suffer? If doom comes then those who have stockpiled food, guns, and gold will simply suffer the pains of doom longer than those who have not prepared.

I bought a pressure cooker, aluminum should become more expensive in a lower energy economy. Pressure cookers are great for canning leftover fruits, vegetables, and meats. Pressure cookers are also great for cooking tough cuts of meat due to the higher pressure used, it tends to tenderize and also works well on revitalizing freezer burned chicken etc.

I'm also stocking up on jars and lids. Pressure cookers save energy because they cook faster and once they develop pressure the heat is turned way down, they are a closed vessel and retain the heat and steam within them.

I've also loaded up on white sugar, its very cheap and lasts for years. Because it is so dry it doesn't seem to attract insects, which is also a good thing. White sugar is a handy barter item and easily converted to white lighting with the help of a few good yeast. I'm certain sugar will be worth more than dollars should times become very difficult. Its bulky, but it comes in a variety of sizes from 5lbs, to 10lbs to 25 or 50 pound sacks.

I've been putting away extra doses of prescription medication, so I now have over a years supply stored away, I have also read up on how to store them and what the expected maximum shelf life is, which tends to vary with storage temps and humidity.

I have put away several cases of my favorite whiskey, vodka, gin and assorted other alcoholic beverages. I have also purchased the materials to build my own still should the need arise.

I have purchased several cases of incandescent light bulbs, which are going to be no longer available in the U.S. in 2 years. These will make dandy barter goods as well as serve my needs until a suitable replacement can be found.

I keep a years supply of laundry detergent and bleach as well as vinegar, salt and baking soda.
I keep a years supply of canned goods. I keep a years supply of toilet paper. I have a well fitted garage with most tools to repair my own vehicles and appliances. I have a spare microwave and refrigerator. I have a years worth of furnace filters and automotive oil.

I live simply and threw away the television last year after I realized I had not turned it on in over 5 years. Life is too short to spend it watching talking heads spewing hate and selling crap.

If you're going to stockpile, LED bulbs might be better. Annoying RF interference with radios, but they use even less power than compact flourescents, pretty sturdy, and last 50k hours. You may never need to replace them.

LED bulbs are too expensive and unproven. I have several devices that use LED bulbs like a usb computer lamp, that has already burned out several LEDs in 2 years of occasional use. LEDs will become feasible for consumer level lighting at some point, the government is trying to hurry the bottle mama, (if I may steal from Steely Dan) by outlawing incandescents, they will no longer be sold in the U.S. after 2012.

If our current economic maelstrom continues, and there has been no credible evidence it won't, many people will not be able to afford LED replacement bulbs, 42 million people are on food stamps in the U.S. currently. This number will increase as the 99 weeks of unemployment expires and consumer demand continues to wither, killing business forecasts and new hiring.

Incandescents provide heat which is a good thing in some locations, like my basement in winter, or a pump house. I can get 4 100 watt incandescents for less than a dollar, one LED bulb would be around 30 dollars, you do the math.

When kilowatts become so dear, that LED's are worth the effort, I will likely be using candles and oil lamps, because the energy costs of manufacturing and shipping the LED's will also have jumped by a commensurate amount with the cost of electricity and other conventional energy prices.

Light bulbs, toilet paper, tampons, all valuable barter goods with extremely long shelf lives

Light bulbs, toilet paper, tampons, all valuable barter goods with extremely long shelf lives

You nailed these three items. Reminds me of childhood behind iron curtain:

It's wonderful to see the actions posters upthread have taken. And, I've done many of the same things. However, I want to address a different form of action people should take - mental preparedness. No action in and of itself is more important.

One acronym that is often used to help people get focused is S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L.
S = size up the situation (surrounding, physical condition, equipment)
U = use all your senses; undue haste makes waste
R = remember where you are
V = vanquish fear and panic
I = improvise
V = value living
A = act like the natives
L = live by your wits but for now learn basic skills

By internalizing this one can develop the mental flexibility necessary when the future cannot be ordained. And, of course, we all face an uncertain future. We can try to connect the dots to get a forewarning of what might be coming but this is hardly perfect. We can take basic preparedness actions to buy time. (I have often mentioned that the actions I have taken are to buy time whether it is a day, a week or years so as to not have to take actions which are not thought out.)

I believe many people would benefit by reading Sun Tzu's book, The Art of War because it demonstrates how to seamlessly meld your actions. It was available at I didn't check to see if it still is.

Further, by inculcating mental preparation one avoids becoming so caught up in "doing" that the "doing" takes on a life of its own.

My own actions go back well over 25 years. I took them not because I was fearful of societal collapse or peak energy but rather because I like alternative energy, growing food, etc. They were, and still are, fun for me. However, I will say this; I was very much impacted by how the Depression affected my family and swore I would always be able to survive without "the system."

So, take some time for your mind. There are lots of essays and books out there that can guide you.


"I believe many people would benefit by reading Sun Tzu's book, The Art of War"

I was wondering when someone was going to mention that book.

I think prepping is good--to a point. The goal of being the last man standing may not be worth it in the end if the measures you have to go through sap all the enjoyment of living out of you.

It might be better in the end to act like a terminal cancer patient and to live the best possible life you can live rather than the longest. Somewhere in between the extremes of "eat drink and be merry" and being a mountain-man in an isolated bunker.

If it gets bad enough, the survivors will one day envy the dead.

Looking at a lot of these, people are looking at their possibly purchases... which I suppose could be looked at as the last manifestation of mall culture for those who think mall culture is about to die. ;) A lot of these are good ideas, especially the dental work (I did this before I knew I'd be impoverished by grad school). One thing I agree strongly with - the one thing you're definitely taking with you if you're still a going concern is your brain. Develop skills... real skills. This is especially important for older people - if you don't want to be doing the hard physical work it's worth knowing how to do things that are practically needed semi-brain, semi-physical work, and things we haven't done lately... skills take a while to develop. You either need someone who knows what they are doing, or a lot of time for trial and error with ideas you get from books. It's not good to be doing something for the first time when you really care about how well it turns out.

For example - shoemaking - any time I talk to hipster friends from NYC and this topic comes up, I tell them start with this. If TSHTF never happens, they've got an interesting little hobby. OTOH if it does... well you can't do anything outside in the northeast for much of the year without a good pair of shoes, and virtually everything we have these days is hotglued crap from Malaysia that lasts about 1 year, maybe 2. The main character in Maus (non-fiction graphic novel about the Holocaust) survived the concentration camps in Germany by being able to fix dress boots... so he was in a starvation environment, surrounded by people who wanted to kill him, with no resources, and managed to survive with this skill. In a revalued economy a good, long lasting, well fit new pair of boots could be worth maybe 1/20 of a years' food, maybe more. While sewing is still well known in my area, shoemaking is pretty rare even in the country. Even the raw materials of boots they way they used to be made are not readily available anymore - if you look at modern shoes they are largely modern chemicals.

So tanning could also be very handy (and you can track this chain of skills back all the way to knowing which tree's bark will let you tan stuff locally). So could fine metal work - a diesel tractor needs just this one little screw for its carb... a desktop CNC router is in the low 1000's now. Making bearings. These things lead you to knowing how to make charcoal and crude air control for a furnace... Rewinding motors (well pumps, home made wind generators, not to mention car starter motors, bicycle assist motors...) Fine carpentry - when plastic is not available getting anything like a good insulating seal around a window or a door is tough. Ersatz chemistry - rubber cements to fix tires, some kind of calk, paint, etc., from local stuff. Taking ideas of the digital age and combining them with ham radio.

All of this was local 100 years ago, and we know a lot more about chemistry now, so in contrast the "World Made from Hand" idea, future handmade tech is likely to benefit from modern knowledge.

Also... a quickly declining economy is going to be like a prison economy. You're always going to need stuff - antibiotics, a bearing, lumber, a chimney brush... it's really worth thinking about what others are going to give anything to get. There's a short list. Drugs are big on that list. Whiskey, tobacco, coffee, tea, morphine, pot, etc. Having cigarettes and coffee as trade goods is not a bad idea, but finite. The whiskey making part of that is a skill that can be developed now (though you can't do much of it, you can do enough to know that you know what you're doing when you can't consult the internet to know that you haven't made something that will blind you...) It also is a useful skill for making a bunch of other needed items.

My main focus as I work on my farm (and yes, I'm also building solar and raised beds and buying food and ammo) is thinking about what things send me to town... and then thinking about how I can avoid that. So the skill of being a tinker - for instance, scrounging some copper plumbing tubing to adapt one wheelbarrow wheel to another wheelbarrow is the kind of thing I think is really useful. I've always done this, partly out of a desire to be like MacGyver, partly from reading Farnham's Freehold by Heinlein as a kid (disclaimer: the book is kinda racist... but in the first half at least it does talk about survival when you're suddenly not getting access to manufactured goods again.) This is a really different way of thinking; when fixing a bearing in my forced air heater's fan I started thinking about where I could get another bearing... car fan? water pump? I settled on a motorcycle wheel bearing... I don't think those are going to be hard to come by anytime soon. I'm doing this now, though, so that I'm good at it later. It also teaches me what stock I can't get by without (I've got years worth of copper tubing, joints, valves, etc...)

If the gangs with guns need something from you that is a skill, not a thing... well then you much less to worry about from them, because they need you to be secure. There may also be more than one gang...

If your grandmother ever had black or white poppies in her flower garden, you might be able to track down some seed.........

One question that springs to mind is what happens when those who haven't prepared for the coming difficulties come looking for those who have ?

If you can play your cards right, you've got a ready supply of interns and apprentices to help get these important jobs moving forward. They get essential skills, you get free labor (or labor in trade)

Put another way, 'Those who CAN do, teach'.

Wow... So many comments on *survival* tactics. I suppose that is one of the problems with America - too much of the cowboy/outlaw attitude out there. Sorry folks, but it ain't like in the movies. You'd be better off stocking up on knowledge for how to work with a local community, instead of wasting it on guns, ammo, and the cabin in the woods. History has time and time again shown how people who "get outta Dodge" and load up on weapons and other sundries don't fare too well once the supplies run out - or they get ransacked by wandering folks with more weapons...
On the other hand, just returning to a simpler lifestyle (while a good start) is also problematic; if you do all that you can to take care of yourself and your family, yet remain in the wrong place, you are equally doomed to failure (e.g. Jews who stayed in Germany in the 1930's instead of emigrating to other places outside of Nazi influence or control).
Unfortunately, these attitudes seem to be so conducive to the current American psyche that the best advice of all might be to look for another (less violence prone) country to live in and work to build a sustainable community there.
I predict that as the economy worsens and disgruntlement rises you can look to the rise of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party...
Just some food for thought.

Anyone who watched Hurricane Katrina unfold should certainly know by now that the Federal and State governments have little means or desire to help in a large scale dire situation. The onus is on the individual to care for himself, at least in the U.S.

I must learn to care for myself in the environment in which I live, I am a U.S. citizen residing in the U.S.A. so I must work from the concept that my government is malevolent and would rather see me dead and own my wealth and property, than to help me. I don't hate my government, I understand if I was very rich and powerful I would probably feel the same way. I just stay out of their way and let them feed on the easy pickings, the low hanging fruit they consume voraciously.

I keep a low profile, I don't let anyone know what I own or where I keep it. I have been storing food, water and necessities for more than a decade as I understand how tenous our society is here. If we get a snowstorm the shelves of the grocery store are picked clean, what happens if there is an oil embargo, or a sizable natural disaster? Its not all about peak oil, its about understanding that our society in the U.S. relies on just in time logistics, and if anything breaks the supply chain, a cascade of effects occur, and none of them are very pleasant.

Maybe I'm a cynic and overly cautious, but I feel better having a years food stored than having the equivalent cash in the bank, especially with the current insolvency of the banking system.

If that makes me a cowboy, so be it. I just think I'm being smart and prudent and making an effort to make sure I don't become a statistic on a government chart. We all must do what we think is proper, if there is a safety net when a disaster happens, then my preparations will make more goods and services available for the unprepared, as I will not be using the governments helping hand. On the other hand if they behave as they have shown themselves in the recent past, then I would truly be insane by trusting them and waiting in hunger and darkness for the help that never arrives.

Just a picture of my part of the world, I hope yours is rosier, even if only in your dreams.

Of course we don't know how far down the slope towards a stone age economy we will tumble when tshtf in a few more years relative to resources and population.

Personally I remain hopeful-most days-that at least here in the states and most of the better off parts of the world that we will only suffer a wrenching but survivable economic contraction, with the civil authorities able to maintain basic services availability such as water, sewer, primary highways, grid electricity, and food and shelter for thier respective populations.Things will probably get pretty grim; a food ration might be mostly potatos, beans, and cabbage. There might be almost no discretionary income.

But things CAN stay MOSTLY peaceful, at least in countries such as the US, France, Canada, and Australia.Countries such as Britian , short on resources such as farmland and utterly dependent on trade,are going to be in a world of hurt.

But things can also go to hell in a hand basket in a big hurry, and for what it is worth, depending on how I'm feeling any given day, my own guess is that the odds of a hard crash followed by a period of great violence even here in the US are somewhere between ten and fifty percent.

Those who are not intellectually and morally opposed to the possession of weapons but undecided as to whether the possession of the same may not be worthwhile should consider this principle of logic and decision making:

A rational and well informed person should never give up an option of any kind, supposing that retaining it costs little or nothing.Such options need not be exercised until circunmstances indicate that it is advantageous to do so.

If you have a weapon and never need it, you have given up very little, as weapons are cheap,compared to the ongoing expenses of just living from day to day.

But if you need a weapon and don't have it,or know how and when to use it, there is a serious possibility that you may lose your life or worse-you might have to watch somebody rape your little girl.

No matter how bad things get, there are going to be many , many survivors, barring a flat out nuclear war, or somebody turning loose Capn Tripp.

The bad guys can and will die just as easily and just as often as the good guys,after the first inning;after that, the panty wearing good guys going to be out of the game.

I cannot say for sure that if tshtf and a well organized gang raids my nieghborhood that they won't get me;but otoh, there are numerous good sturdy men and women here; there are good sturdy men and women everywhere.

We will have a community militia up and running within a couple of days, if it is ever needed, and all I can say is this.

When tshtf, if it does, may God have mercy on the soul of any stranger who makes a suspicious move, for the Scots Irish Old Testament Christian and redneck hillbillies around here will show none at all,if there is no sheriff to come running and they percieve that thier wives and children are at risk.

The most dangerous game of all is man himself;those who wish to hunt him will find themselves hunted after the first few days in the tough parts of the big cities and in the remaining rural areas where almost everybody still owns a personal arsenal.

Even in the wildest jungle, life can be only so hazardous;there must be sufficient prey to support the predators.After a little while,if there is a truly hard violent crash, there won't be so many people around, and predatory people will become scarce in proportion.

Those of us who make reasonably good preparations for the arrival of the Horsemen have a very good shot at surviving.History indicates that a lot of people are going to survive even though they have made no preparations at all.

My first oil drum post. I have enjoyed reading oil drum posts by memmel, rockman, farmermac, and others. Regarding this thread much of what I have read here seems of little value given that the view of the world that may come into being in the future is currently unknown. With regard to self-sufficiency and learning skills to live off the land I have spent my life doing these very things while I wasn’t earning a graduate degree in biology that has proved useless in terms of getting ahead (or even subsisting) in our materialistic, consumer driven society that places monetary value on careers such as law, finance, medical professions, real estate(at least formerly). I didn’t go into my field expecting to become rich. I did, however, never expect to see a day where 700 guys at Merrill Lynch receive bonuses for over a million dollars in a bad year. Who knows what they made in terms of base salary. Regardless, this mis-allocation of resources allows others above them to make billions. I don’t know if most of you who prepare fully appreciate the wage inflation that has occurred for the top percentages of American Society or see the implications for your future. Even the top 20% do extremely well after wealth trickles down.

While I certainly believe peak oil will cause significant problems for Americans, I do not believe it will be an event. There may be an event and in fact I do believe that a run on the banks, gas stations, and the grocery store will almost certainly occur within the next decade. This will certainly feel like the end of the world to many. At this point individuals who live in the country and have a network and have been preparing will no doubt be better off than those caught in the middle of cities or suburbs. I believe the government, military or local police or national guard will eventually restore order in any such scenario (they will have all the oil they need to do so). Eventually, gas and food will become available through rationing. The part of this that is a process and not event has been going on for 30-40 years, small farmers driven, off their farms, the diminuation of the middle class, the rise in government corruption, the privatization of economic gain by corporations and socialization of the losses.

So you move out onto a small farm, try to have a good life, raise your kid on healthy food educate at the appropriate time in a doctrine of sustainability and Austrian economics (in addition to other fairer subjects (art, literature) lest he become a hermit). As the elite continue to steal with the cooperation of the government you will be further marginalized. Those guys who used to work at Merrill have long since been converting their money into assets, global currencies, gold, farmland, and commodities. Nearly bankrupt local governments and powerful individuals with the assistance of those keeping order will demand higher the taxes on your land. The elites and other powerful forces have been stacking the deck and buying farmland and commodities at ever increasing prices. The military now keeping order so that the elite can continue to collect their salaries related to government supported enterprises (Fannie, Freddie, Goldman Sachs etc.) You have been saving seeds and learning to raise chickens. The value of your land has increased considerably but inflation of tangible assets and elite salaries are such that you will basically be forced from your land or you will sell half. Your children and their children may become peasant farmers working the land that you once owned. It is the very concept of land ownership that now fills you with a sense of security that someday may enslave your children.

So while I don’t have any solutions and sure I think is a good idea to know to do something real and know how to live sustainably on the land. I think the notion that we will just deindustrialize and go back to living on 19th century homesteads is not a credible outcome. If you have been able to save a considerable amount, have considerable assets, or perhaps you were one of those guys at Merrill, I do not begrudge you your success. Just know that there are likely a lot bigger fish than you and the masses out there are going to suffer incredibly and may end up on your doorstep one day. The same system that permitted your success will be as responsible for the destruction the middle class. It is fine for teachers to make 15-30k a year when execs, finance guys, doctors, and lawyers make 75-200k year as it was in the 80’s. Now the teacher is 25-35 k year. What is the exec up to now? So let me disabuse you of the notion that it will collapse and level the playing field for everyone. It may collapse but the deck will be stacked all the way down. Even if you can make it today raising some chickens and growing your own food you may not be able to in the future and the elite have every incentive to maintain the status quo and that will continue to marginalize you and your family.

Though she may share different opinions on these matters I highly recommend you listen to the interview of Nicole Foss by Jim Puplava at the Financial Sense Newshour.

I really want to have a sustainable future where everyone is happy but my life experiences regarding human nature of the masses tell me that this is the least likely outcome. I welcome other opinions and would like for someone to convince me that real change is probable or even possible. If you attempt to do this, however, please explain why a democratic president who ran on the platform of change tells lies to the American people the same way his predecessor did and continues to promote policies which will ultimately benefit the elite (and corporations if there is any difference between these terms) at the expense of the vast majority of Americans.

"why a democratic president who ran on the platform of change tells lies to the American people the same way his predecessor did and continues to promote policies which will ultimately benefit the elite..."

Because the elite are who surround the political circus. That's who they know and meet. Both Parties are members of the UMC in good standing.

Your other points are well taken, and welcome to the Audible Spectrum at TOD.. I'd just say that even if there's a certain 'Walton's' tone to the suggestions, that folks here do live and blog in the modern world, and aren't necessarily looking to entirely back out of the Gilded Age. It's just one of many routes to keep an eye on.

Luddite-Technotopian (lately, maybe 'A Frayed Knot')

Thanks for the the welcome Bob. There are so many great people out there and many are living and working toward a more sustainable future. I believe in that and actually am now living on a farm. The house we live in is built atop a 19th century post and beam house of Dutch construction(constructed approx. 1830's). Not a nail in the whole thing. The posts and beams were hand hewn to match on the ground and marked with roman numerals for reassembly. I discovered this as I removed fake wood paneling likely applied during the glory years of the 1950's. It is truly a simple thing to sleep in this house and and get lost in time on our farm. If there were a point to my previous post it would be to point out that as attractive as hard work, and growing our own food might be for many of us, we live in a society where wealth and credit expansion has gone exponentially out of control and eventually even more of this wealth may be converted into assets so perhaps we are doing the wrong things to prepare Those of us living on the farm may find the doubling or tripling of our taxes(or why not ten fold) is enough to put us out of business. The Manhattan lawyer doing GS bidding might be able to pay the tax bill with a couple days salary. Who might eventually be able to afford to live on our farm?

thanks again for the welcome Bob,

recovering neo-Luddite Tony

P.S. The Waltons sound pretty good right about now.

We should change the building codes to prepare for electric vehicles. This is simple and relatively cheap.
1) Require all new homes & apartment complexes with parking to at least put in conduit for wiring up EVs. When the real demand is there, then all that needs to be done is pulling the wires and installing the outlets/chargers/boxes/etc.

2) Do the same for work places, shopping places, etc.

If these things were done, even short range EVs would be extremely useful since you could charge at most destinations.

There are many things like this that can be done on a small scale. These things are essential to enable green technologies but are often difficult to do on a broader political scale. Another is to remove restrictions against solar and wind imposed by owners associations. Condominium associations can be influenced with reasoned argument on a very small scale as opposed to local laws and regulations that must overcome large amounts of inertia and established customs.

My suggestion? Collect skills. On the bumpy road down from Hubbert's peak, what you can do will be more important than what you have -- plus it's a lot harder for official or unofficial thieves to divest you of a stockpile of practical skills. What skills? Anything that people are likely to want badly enough to give you what you need in exchange, and that you can do with a very modest technological basis.

Here's an example: making soap from raw materials. When the Soviet Union collapsed, soap became very scarce, because everybody used soap from a handful of giant factories that shut down. We're in much the same situation in the US. Soap can be made from almost any kind of fat and any reasonably clean form of lye -- yes, you can extract this from wood ashes -- but you have to know how, and a dozen batches worth of practice is a very good idea.

There are scores of other options. Choose a couple, while you can still get the information easily, and get going.

Gaining skills is important, but sometimes the proper situation is necessary for the learning experience.
I think that people re far more resourceful and resilient than even they think they are. I remember looking at my daughter when she was 11 and we lived in New York city and thinking that a more feckless creature was never created. Fingernail polish colors was uppermost in her mind. Now, some years later I live in Vermont and my daughter and her husband decided they wanted to move here live the country life. I thought they'd flee back to the city as soon as the temps dropped and the snow began to fall. Didn't happen. I'm amazed to see her kill, pluck and gut a chicken, shinny up into the loft and throw down hay, drive the tractor, operate a wood splitter, use a chain saw and hand milk the cows. This is a 100 lb woman too. So people do learn quickly and rise to the occasion.

However, when one of our cows had her first calf a new circumstance arose. The cow just could not settle and let the calf nurse. Getting the colostrum is vital. Chances are the calf will die without it. We waited about six hours and still the calf could not nurse. No body knew what to do. But me. I'd grown up on a dairy farm and was not afraid of the cows and knew how to proceed – I made a hangman's noose, threw it over the cow's horns, tied her head closely to a post, shouldered her against the fence and, keeping my head against her stomach so I couldn't be kicked I milked her into a bucket and we then then used a turkey basting syringe to feed the calf. He's fine and healthy three months later.

Now just describing that seems simple enough, but it takes a bit of familiarity to be able to pull it off. Having been around cows enough to know my way around, knowing that being strong is useful but not necessary, and having prepared a stall in the barn where we could confine and manage the cow are the gifts of experience.
After seeing what I'd done the daughter and son-in-law said something like “so that's all there is to it.”

By the way, Love your writing.

It is too late to prepare for the bottle neck now. It is time to prepare for the other side.

Quote from Brian Josephson, Nobel prize winning physicist.

In regard to Cold Fusion, it would be advisable for the scientific community to brace itself for the fallout that will coming soon when the public starts to become aware that the scientific community was engaging in an act of gross self-deception back in 1989.

Power densities achieved.

June 1996. 10 exp 5 Watts per cubic cc. That is 10kW per cubic centimeter (Prepparata, ICCF-6 & JEAC).

pp252. The Rebirth of Cold Fusion, Krivit SB

That is not subtle.
That is an embarrassment of riches.

Don't be fooled, Fred. We are talking Atomics, not mild mannered chemical reactions. EROEI of a totally different order.

Do we all remember the transistor? Developed and spurned by America and the West?

The disease of the Western mind is Ego. Inflated, bombastic, overblown and fragile Ego.
Galileo could not get the Cardinals to look through his telescope.

Cold fusion is not going away, but the references given above are quite old, and incorrect.
[As a simple reality check, a claim of 10kW/cc, in water, will take just some 0.033s, to heat that water to boiling!! ]

For a more up to data summary, this is good :

This shows moderate excess power, peaking at ~7%, or 7W@100W - so not really power station stuff yet, but certainly worthy of R&D dollars.

I was taking the excellent question on the societal front; as people will be able to adapt/fill in holes pretty easily well into peak oil.

There is enough scrap steel to last a lower speed society for a long time. Aluminum is too hard to weld to be as useful, but there is quite a bit of that.

What I came up with was enough chemical process equipment to build a few coal to liquids plants to keep the trains running, and a modest rebuild of some of the lines that have been abandoned.

The other thing I came up with was cement. Post peak oil, could we make enough cement to support a Grand Coulee Dam sized project? If not, we should build out what hydropower we can now.

One the other hand, the best sites are already occupied. There is room for one more on the Columbia, but it would be a run-of-river design, and wouldn't take that much concrete. There is room for 5 or 6 on the Salmon, but that has little flow int he summer, and isn't that much on a MWH basis.

Can anyone else think of a cement heavy project that needs to happen before the oils production decline really gets going?

Most of it has been said.
I've been using a pressure cooker for years, you can cook practically anything - soups are wonderful - and it saves energy. Now you need to buy some duvets and other bed linen and blankets. Also pillows. And warm clothes and underwear, and soap. We take textiles for granted but they were the cornerstone of most economies before modern technology. These things will become expensive as raw material and transport costs rise. Buy some good gardening books; old ones are excellent as they were unaware of chemicals in the old days. Books on basic plumbing, surgery and electricity might help. Buy tools. Buy antibiotics and other basic meds. Get your teeth fixed. Buy a wind-up radio.
Gold and silver will be the only useful means of exchange, and barter goods of course; those antibiotics? Of course, when they find you are surviving better than they are they'll come after you. So engage with like minded people now, and be prepared to hire, using that gold, young men who can fight for you. You will need to reward them mind, and so you will need to predate on weaker neighbours to take their goods. You will kill these people and take their land and possessions. It is essential that your armaments are well maintained and serviceable, and that your men know how to use them. By this time you will have occupied land; you will need to force the serfs to work it for you, so you'll have to use brutal methods, but also offer a religious outlet for them promising hope of a better life after death; oh, and they can have some days off for festivals too. You will have control of the law of course, and penalties must be harsh.
You won't survive, because some other group, better organised, more ruthless and offering better conditions to your serfs will come along one day and kill you. So I'd also recommend you keep a phial or two of potassium cyanide where the bathroom used to be.

You missed this bit:

"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women"

Thanks. Obviously there have to be lamentations. And there will be of course, and gnashings of teeth, which is a mistake given that decent dentistry will be hard to come by.

Have you just read 'The Prince'by Machievelli ?

Oh hell, is that what it looks like?
I read it years ago in fact, when I was a kid: great book. A must-read for all the optimists out there.
In La La land the goodies always win, with virtue defeating evil and the blessed being delivered up to a sunny watered upland for a new beginning.

In the real world I fear the baddies steal the screaming girls, slay the men, fire the crops and houses and then head into the night to terrorize the next village.

If the villagers can persuade a warrior band to work for them they might be lucky - cue great theme tune - but goodness alone will not suffice.

Goodness 'Alone' won't suffice..

Nothing Alone will suffice. You're painting a bad movie cliche' up there, just as Traum-based as the Pink Unicornitopia above it.

The extremes are real enough, and a lot more photogenic than the more boring stuff in the middle, which there is also a lot of..

or in other words, 'Pay no attention to those smooth, well-fitting wheels! These squeaky ones are much more interesting!'

Get out of America.
It is over, over here.
People came over here when things were terrible over there, in Europe.
It only took a few hundred years to go through the resources (the book "The Great Frontier" on Google Books).
It takes money to get out in an orderly fashion. It takes money to be welcomed elsewhere.
Those who divest now can escape with the value accrued. The rest are fodder for the great Ponzi scheme.
America is not even a third-world country. America is a heard of consumers where product is dumped: farm animals in reverse.


A good friend of mine just died. A little older than I, she survived the bombing of the Ruhr, the death of her much admired brother on the Russian front, many other very tough situations before she came to the US as a war bride.

In wartime Germany she saw and got thru far worst things than most people here can imagine. She died happy with her many gifts to the world and with her many good friends. She was an example, if anyone was, of a good person.

“A sin is anything our grandchildren will regret that we did”. Despite my professed goal of leaving the world a better place from my efforts, I have lived an entire life of one such sin after another, and am still piling them on. I and my age-mates. So when I think of my friend and her memorial service, and of what any memorial for me might contain, I feel pretty small. Plenty of things tried, very few got anywhere. Most of them a bit silly, actually.

And my grandchildren are going to have to live with all that carbon grandpa dumped on their world in his efforts to try to save it.

So, what next? Quit just playing with hardware, finish my memoirs, which just might be educational to people almost like me, if nobody else. Publish that bit of sort-of Sci-fi on how to change this planet to the paradise vainly promised by the various religions- it sets good goals, if nothing else.

And get out and try to get together a real survival-capable local community.

Guns don’t do it, friends, Community does.

Wimbi, I agree with you on the importance of community. I think the biggest problem in our communities is how we have set them up, organized them and the scale of things. I'm curious what a survival-capable community would look like to you? A small town, group of boomers living in their vacation homes in a valley in North Carolina, an intentional living community, etc?


Hi Wimbi,

Community is beyond any shadow of doubt essential.

But guns are going to be necessary to defend your community in the event of a collapse-there WILL be predators.

You won't last if you can't defend yourselves, unless you are willing to live as slaves or worse.

There would be no Quakers except for the fact of short tempered and armed Baptists.

OFM. Thanks for all your good comments. I agree with most of them, and sympathize with the ones I don't.

Guns. Sure, I grew up with guns. But I have a little anecdote:

I got into the navy near the tail end of the second war, and one of the boot camp exercises was the rifle range. I thought I knew something about guns, and so assumed that springfield 30- 06 was kinda similar to my beloved 22.

So I took a bead on that bullseye at 200 yds and let 'er fly. Things happened.

1) I hit the bullseye dead center.

2) the springfield kicked the livin' hell out of me and gave me a big black eye. Nothing like the 22 short, the only thing I could afford at home! This was some serious weapon.

3) It instantly flashed thru my youthful and still agile mind that all this was real bad news;
a) I had hit the bullseye
b) lotsa people have better eyesight than I do
c) so it follows as the night the day that if I could hit the other guy, he could do ditto to me, and maybe faster and farther.
d) this is not a game I want to play.

I still feel that way. Community is better. Include a few riflemen in the hills, if diplomacy doesn't cut it. Aim for their leader's head and tell him he's dead unless he gets more reasonable. And while he is contemplating his options, bring in the beer and the dancing girls to make his decision easier.

What community? Well, we start by getting everybody together to say something like " We shall all hang together or we shall all hang separately", and go on from there.

PS. While it is true that my wife is a Quaker, I am not. Besides, women are better at it.

Very surprised no one said "Start a Transition Initiative in your area"...

We already have. I'm on the initiating committee.

Where are you initiating?

Saved that one for you, Will!

I joined my local TT. My conclusion is that these people will be even less prepared than your average Jo because they are expecting some green utopian future.

That has been my impression also.

Can one create an environment where there is a significant number of neighbors who can raise food and band together in the event of TSHTF without being a TT? Certainly, though this would likely be most viable in rural areas where like-minded farmers already know each other to some extent. Knowing one or two people 'across town' with the same mindset won't cut it, though, for the obvious reasons.

The issue is "how do we get community involved", as go-it-alone-doomers will never be able to fend off the better equipped and disciplined raiding bands they themselves predict will eventually evolve. At least with TT, the increase in local food production and various trades will make the transition much more systematic, aside from the fact that having 100+ other people on your side makes posting lookouts and producing food actually viable. How many nights will a go-it-aloner be able to stay up, trying to keep someone from sneaking in and doing their dirty work? What happens the first time a well-disciplined bandit group of a dozen or so shows up, scouts your place (and others in the area), discerns your many weaknesses, then exploits them after you've exhausted yourself with a couple of sleepless nights of fear?

There will always be those even in most TTs that have a sense for security; don't expect them to be overt about it to newbies or casual visitors. Will every single TT have them, especially in Europe? Doubtful, though it doesn't hurt to raise the subject quietly to those who appear most likely to be receptive, and go from there.

So TT is one way to approach the issue; if there are other effective ways to create a level-headed community-based response to PO that don't attract fringe elements, I'm certainly open to hearing about them.

PVC joins! the post-teotwaki currency. i could cut a lot PVC piping out of the crazy abandoned buildings in the US right now, and in the future, and build whatever i needed for sewer, water, etc., simple reuse. but i could never reuse those joins.

I noticed a couple of postings on gaining experience, and I would agree. By example, I've gone through four generations of security for my 50 hens, and thought (with generation three) i had reached a steady state with the bobcats, foxes, and hawks. Then the falcons showed up, the fighter planes of the animal kingdom, they could take chick in a blink. since i didn't want to invest in an AA battery. I finally decided to building a plastic fenced/roofed aviary of 5000 square feet, around my coop. I decided that the plastic fencing in 7 foot by 100 foot rolls was cheap enough to make the investment.

I am sitting here firuratively kicking my own butt because I pvc connectors are not something I have on my stock up list in the event of a crash;you can't stock EVERYTHING, but you can surely burn up the old savings account once it is obvious that ts is in tf, and get whatever will come in to the extent the money lasts.

A spare well pump is a must.Getting one on short notice will be hard or impossible if tshtf.

Not to be effete.. (and can I be any moreso than to use the word effete?),

But I would collect NPT Threaded hardware first (especially brass!), so I had plumbing equipment that could be disassembled and reassembled. I dislike the design of US electrical house wiring, and of PVC plumbing, since it's all decidedly one-use. All that twisted copper wire that is one bend away from oblivion, all those glued connections.

Same goes for Wood. All that bloody fiberboard. I have 20 year old chunks of plywood that have been reused in project after project, along with some old and very experienced drywall screws, still gunning for their next assignment.


It's been pointed out on TOD before, I know, that we should use the resources we still have to take care of things that may be much more of a challenge in the future. And we should look at the 'long lead' items first - things that take a long time to be completed, infrastructure stuff mainly. That would include, too, stuff that will be with us for a long time, things that have a slow replacement rate.
Not only because buildings are my 'thing', but more because they are with us for a long time and could not be replaced overnight, I think we must build much better, more energy efficient buildings - both houses and commercial/institutional. It's hard to retrofit to a really high energy standard, we know energy is going to be in short supply, we should be using our resources for investment in the future.
People worry about future transport, and rightly so, but cars can be turned over in a few years. Yes we should make sensible investment in transit options, but the roads are already there. For rails, if we believe them to be vital, we should make plans. But even they can be laid pretty fast.
I happen to think nuclear power is a viable option for future energy, so there's another candidate that takes a lot of resources and a long time. But they do not last as long, with current designs at least, as the average well-tended building can.
And we should think of land-use patterns. Once land is built on, it is almost impossible to bring it back to agricultural productivity. And of course we know that suburban sprawl may not be viable in the future. However we do yet have the public will in North America - although they've had it in parts of Europe since the 30's - to implement that as policy.
So, short list of some things we really should do now -
Build houses and other buildings that can get by on very little energy
Build a sustainable mix of energy sources based on realistic analysis
Get land use for food production that's accessible to and in sync with centers of population
Encourage people to build and settle in areas that will be safe, do not take away from agriculture,and will need low energy to live in. EG in North America, it makes no sense to move to North Dakota unless your producing from the ground there, and little sense to keep Detroit going. Ultimately we can live in most places that are hot without air conditioning, but in no places that are cold without heat.
Build new sewage treatment plants so that the final product can go back on the land to help fertility. (just one example of infrastructure for the future, there must be many others)

Personal skills are useful no doubt, and so is wider education in communal affairs - but we'll be dead pretty soon, and social behavior can change very fast when needed. It will get harder and more expensive to change the physical world, we need to make logical choices now - while admitting that we have absolutely no idea how things will be in any detail in the future.

Thinking about things we are doing now that will likely make life arduous for the children......

At least to me there is something perverse and profane harbored within a culture that makes it ok for the most clever, self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us to “obey the laws” and still destroy so much of what is known to be sacred in the planetary home human beings with feet of clay are blessed to inhabit…and not desecrate as is are plainly occurring in our time. Sad to say, the children will be justified to look back in anger and utter disbelief at the way greedmongering leading elders dishonestly and duplicitously destructed the natural world, even as they claimed so seductively, arrogantly and self-righteously to be protecting and preserving God’s Creation.

Thank you.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001
Chapel Hill, NC

Please note the number of discussants in the TOD community who are calling out for our attention to be directed to the colossal size of the human population on Earth. To talk about "things to do now... and later" and simultaneously to ignore the "mother" of human-driven global challenges is neither reasonable nor does it make good sense.

One day children everywhere might ask of their elders, "What did you know? When did you know it? And why did you say nothing? Did you not believe you owed your children more than your willful silence, your conscious denial of science? We recognize that you did not lie to us, but how on Earth could you collusively conclude that it was somehow correct not to tell us the truth as you saw it. What if Einstein was right in noting that people cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that was employed when we created them. Then mess you have made on Earth cannot be cleaned up by doing the very same things that caused the mess in the first place. Business-as-usual cannot secure a good enough future for us, can it? Your election of silence has effectively served as a pernicious obstacle to the development of momentum necessary to bring about new thought, different behavior and other ways of doing business. What say you? Please speak loudly and clearly."

Perhaps necessary changes toward sustainable consumption, production and propagation by the human family is in the offing.

I've seen the population issue discussed daily on TOD. The consensus is that our governments are more likely to address peak oil than they are population control. On the other hand, the US seems to be doing it's part to reduce population. How many people did you kill today?

Population reduction will be evolutionary, legislated or not.

Dear Ghung,

Please point to one discussion of human population dynamics.



Oh yeah, I've been saving my most essential and useful online articles (how-tos, recipes, etc) to disk (CD/DVD) JIC the web goes down or is censored (or we can't pay the ISP bill). If things get "primative" I'll have time to print hard copies of important materials to put in the library.

You should keep hard copies NOW, let alone in the future. We take everything, and i mean everything for granted. Imagine no pumped water or sewage, no fuel delivery of any sort, no food but what we can find, and no new anything. And everyone eying everyone else up for the main chance....

Since I'm one of those off grid, solar powered goofballs I hope to have a little time to make final preparations if things go crazy. Gravity water, gravity sewage (septic tank) and firewood are my friends. Securing extra fuel for the chainsaws will be a priority (though I ought to get the septic tank pumped again soon). Anyway, I plan to buy a few reams of acid free paper next week and start filling three ring binders with wisdom extracted from the web. I've even considered archiving TOD posts at some point. A little nostalgic comfort reading for a cold, post-collapse night by the fire, shotgun and a good dog close by, maybe a little home brew...... ;-)

Good on you. Just listen as you sit there in the depths of winter by your stove with your candle and your copy of On The Beach. That snap of a twig by the back door, or is it by by the window, or both; what is it! The dog has opened his eyes and his ears are alert. The house is very quiet, silent in fact, nothing stirs. You are sweating now. You ring your friend, the phone is dead and the cellphone gets no signal. What was that strange scraping noise out there.....

No cell phone here. We are on our own and we like it that way. The dogs, all five, have long since alerted me that something is arye. Likely it was Dicey, the quiet Poodle bitch, who communicates in silent, effective ways, that was first to detect the unwelcome intrusion. My shoot first reputation being well known locally and with no announcement of friendly intentions, the noise one hears will likely be me, scaping some evildoerwannabe's dead ass off of the side of my woodshed in the morning.

I so love dogs! Nobody sneaks around my place.

TOD printouts..

Good source for Lotsa heat, and a bit of light!

the first thing i am thinking is that after graduating from my university, what i will do, what i can do or who can apply me.i am scare of being unemployed.