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Responding to Collapse, Part 4: getting out of the city

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool November 21, 2018

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Responding to Collapse, Part 4: getting out of the city

 
A cold and windy day on Lake Huron

In my last post I talked about the economic contraction that is being caused by declining surplus energy and the collapse which that contraction, combined with the effects of climate change (covered in the post before that), is likely to cause.

My conclusion was that we will have a good bit of adapting to do and it will be much easier to do in rural areas than in the cities. So I advised that, if you currently live in a city, you should be considering a move to the country. But I didn't go into much detail about this moving and adapting and now I intend to remedy that. I should give credit in advance to my friend Don Hayward for sharing with me his thoughts on the subject, and taking part in many good conversations that have allowed me to clarify my own thoughts. Similar credit is due to "Joe", from the comments section of this blog.

It will no doubt be obvious to my readers that I am figuring this out as I go along. Whether I've got it right is, of course, open to discussion. I also reserve the right to change my mind as I learn more.

In a post some months ago I expressed the opinion that the reduction in our impact on the planet following a major financial crash would be mainly a matter of drastically reduced levels of consumption, particularly in the developed world, and that there would not be a major reduction in population at that point. After considerable reflection, I have to say that especially in large cities, the combination of climate change and supply chain interruption following a global financial crash will lead to greater loss of life than I had previously thought. Of course it is hard to predict, but I think this will lead to an actual reduction in population, perhaps by a few billion people.

I still believe that planetary resources will still be sufficient to fuel some sort of recovery as we rebuild the virtual organizational systems lost in the financial crash on a smaller, more local scale. But if we don't learn to live sustainably, that recovery will see us plowing through the remaining resources and there will be another crash, an agricultural one, mainly effecting the more populous areas and reducing the population to a few hundred million. One thing I am pretty sure of is that the predictions of a world population of 9 to 10 billion later this century are not going to pan out.

I am still expecting a slow and irregular collapse. Even without the localized catastrophes that will no doubt happen, the contracting economy will lead to a slow crumbling of industrial civilization.

But now let's return to our scheduled programming, so to speak. The question for today is what sort of adapting am I talking about and why do I think it will be easier in well chosen rural areas?

For most people the hardest thing about collapse is facing up to the end of progress. Adapting to this big change in how we think about the world, and our lives in it, is challenging. But it can be done, and most of the effort takes place inside your head. So it doesn't much matter where you are for that part of the process. It does help if you have a supportive family and community around you, though of course that is true of anything you try to do.

But once you've decided that life is still worth living, you're faced with the many practical issues of staying alive in a collapsing world.

For most of us, staying alive means taking part in the economy—having a job or collecting a pension or the proceeds of investments, so as to have the money needed to procure the necessities of life. Since the economy is contracting fewer jobs are available and many people are unemployed, or "under employed" at best. Pension and investments are under some stress but not doing so badly, though a financial crash would certainly change that.

At the same time, in many locales, housing is getting more expensive and the ranks of the homeless are swelling with the unemployed and even the working poor, many of whom are living out of their vehicles.

That contracting economy also means that less money is being spent on maintaining infrastructure, which is gradually decaying as time passes. And in an effort to keep the economy growing, regulations intended to protect the environment are being repealed and efforts to cut back on the release of greenhouse gases and reduce climate change are being abandoned.

This means that what were once minor inconveniences will grow into catastrophes. Here is a brief and probably not complete list of such events:

  • The degradation of the natural environment due the load placed on it by the human race, mainly manifesting as climate change, ocean acidification and various other pollution related problems, as well as degradation of the environment due to resource use and habitat destruction.
  • Failures of the physical built human environment, mainly infrastructure— water supplies, the power grid, and transportation and communication infrastructure.
  • Failures of the virtual built human environment—economic contraction, financial crashes, failure of the credit systems which make commercial enterprises possible and have largely replaced cash for individuals, breakdown of governments as economic contraction starves them of financial resources, degradation of the fabric of our communities, social unrest, and war.
  • In some sense food is at the intersection of our natural, built and virtual environments, and as such, we can expect there to be problems in production, processing and distribution of food. These will lead to famines in many cases.
  • It also seems likely that there will be an increase in severe epidemics. I am not as well informed as I'd like to be about this, but it seems that hunger, poor sanitation and crowding in slums and refugee camps will be contributing factors.

So, we are going to find ourselves poorer and adapting to getting by with less. Less energy, less stuff and less stimulation, to borrow a phrase from John Michael Greer. This will mean a significant reduction in our level of comfort and convenience but given the high level of consumption in the developed world, there is quite a bit of room for this sort of adaptation. I think there is good reason to believe that many of us will survive, find a livelihood and maintain a sense of self worth even with drastically reduced consumption of energy and material goods.

When it comes right down to it, the bare necessities are energy, food and water. All three are going to be in short supply as collapse progresses over the next few decades, and those shortages will frequently lead to crises. The term "necessities" implies you can't adapt to such shortages, at least not in the long term. All you can do is try to be where they are less severe.

Cities rely on supplies shipped in from other locations. Before fossil fuels, the largest cities had populations of one million or a little more, and that only in ideal circumstances where water transportation made it possible to bring food in from a large enough surrounding area to feed that many people. Cities today rely on complex infrastructure powered by fossil fuels to supply their inhabitants. They will be in deep trouble as collapse progresses.

On the other hand there are many rural locations where:

  • adequate energy can be had locally in the form of firewood, which can be cut by hand if necessary
  • potable water can be accessed from already existing wells that can be converted to hand or wind driven pumps, or surface water that can be used with fairly simple filtration or treatment
  • sufficient food for the local population can be grown on existing farmland within walking distance of town, without fossil fuel powered machinery
  • the population is small enough that organizing such alternate arrangements will not be impossibly difficult to do when it becomes necessary.

This is the essence of why I think we will have a better time adapting to collapse in rural areas. Yes, it will require some degree of advance preparation and a willingness to accept a less affluent lifestyle, but it is all quite doable. As always, what I am recommending here as a viable response to collapse will only work if relatively few people follow my advice. But somehow, I don't think that will be a problem.

The standard trope in discussions of collapse and in collapse fiction is that the most extreme sort of catastrophe happens very quickly, widely and early in the process of collapse. Things break down pretty much completely over a period of days, and people are left thirsty, hungry and freezing in the dark. The sort of perfect storm it would require to have all this happen at once all across even one city, much less a whole country or continent is pretty unlikely in my opinion, though it does make for exciting stories.

After this fast and drastic collapse it is assumed that there will be roving hordes of hungry people leaving the cities to engage in looting and other violence in the countryside, leaving a trail of destruction behind them. But we should bear in mind that, even in the unlikely event of such a collapse, people can't walk far on empty stomachs, especially when they aren't used to walking much at all. Thirst and hunger are debilitating and in a fast collapse most people, caught unawares and unprepared, would not think to head out until they were already in pretty desperate shape. If this really were to happen, what you would end up with is piles of corpses along the sides of the roads, gradually thinning out as you get farther out of the city.

But of course, that is not the way I see it happening at all. Long before things have broken down completely, economic contraction will leave fewer and fewer people with jobs to keep them in the city. At the same time, infrastructure and supply chain failures will become more frequent and more lengthy, providing the nudge that people need to get them moving. First there will first be a trickle of people leaving the cities, mainly those who left the country to find jobs in the city in the recent past. Later on, there will be a wave of refugees leaving the cities following each new disaster.

While governments still have the wherewithall to do so, many of these people will end up in refugee camps. But as economic contraction eventually starves governments to the point where they simply don't have resources to do much of anything, those camps will stop being serviced and people will be left to their own devices, both in the cities and in the camps. And by the time things have broken down completely, there will only be a few people left in the cities.

The actual facts about how people respond to disasters paints a very different picture from what most people expect. There is a deep human need to come together in crises to take care of each other. And contrary to the horrific picture of typical reactions painted by the "disaster mythology" (especially points 2, 3 and 4 in that article), in fact communities often do come together to help themselves in the most extraordinarily positive ways. This works best in communities where people already know each other and where things haven't broken down to the point where there are hostile factions that are basically at war. And of course, it requires at least a minimum of the resources needed to keep people alive (energy, food, water). These resources are far more likely to be available outside the cities.

It has also been suggested, that when the financial sector crashes, the commercial sector must fall apart too for lack of working credit arrangements, and with catastrophic results. I don't agree—even a worldwide financial collapse will hit some areas harder than others and will proceed, as I have said before, unevenly, unsteadily and unequally.p>

From personal experience in agriculture and the power industry I would predict that the people at the workface in critical industries will simply refuse to set down their tools when the results would be disastrous, just because banks are no longer doing their part. Alternate credit arrangements will be set up, involving handshakes, records kept on paper and promises to straighten it all out after the dust settles, rather than let people freeze and starve in the dark if there is any alternative at all.

Make no mistake, I don't mean to suggest that "Business as Usual" can continue on after a major financial collapse using jerry rigged credit arrangements. But there is a vast distance between BAU in all its glory and complete collapse where everything quits working. There is a lot of inertia in the systems which we most need to keep working: the power grid, industrial agriculture, the various systems by which fuels, especially diesel fuel, are distributed, and transportation and communication. This sort of thing will mitigate to a degree situations that would otherwise be thoroughly catastrophic.

So, anyway, you're going to move to the country, to position yourself where surviving collapse is the more doable.

The first thing to decide is when you should make this move. Many people, who live in sheltered circumstances, don't realize that collapse has already been happening for quite a while and that parts of many cities are already nicely along their way in the process of collapse. And it appears that we are in for another financial crash that will make things much worse. You want to leave well before your personal resources have become so depleted that you can't make the move successfully.

So this is more urgent than you might think. Still, I'm not suggesting you leave in a panic today. But do start preparing right away, and leave as soon as you can do so in an orderly fashion with a workable destination already arranged. You don't want to end up in one of those camps. Nor do you want to end up as one of a large wave of refugees arriving in a rural community, especially if that community is unprepared for you arrival, as will likely be the case.

This is more than just a matter of getting out of the cities before things get really miserable there. It's going to take some time to get set up where you are going and to become integrated into your new community. At the moment, people are still leaving small rural towns to find work in the city, but the day will come when that flow reverses. You want to be seen as a relatively old hand in your small town when that happens.

One of the challenges of the slow and uneven collapse that I am predicting, and which has indeed been going on for several decades now, is that there is never going to be a day when you can say at bedtime, "yep, industrial civilization collapsed today." Looking back years later it will be more obvious that collapse has been happening, but still hard to pin down a specific date for when it happened, even in any one location.

If you are at ground zero for one of those catastrophes I listed, there will usually be somewhere else where things are better and you can go as a refugee. But waiting to be a refugee, or worse yet a victim of catastrophe, is exactly what I recommend you don't do. As I have said before, the only real choice you have is to be part of the influx of refugees or to be among of those who are welcoming that influx. I would say that the latter role is very much preferable. A timely move, before things get serious, can put you on the right side of things.

But where to go? In the second post in this series I identified a number of criteria for selecting a new location, based on avoiding the worst effects of climate change:

  • well above sea level
  • not at the top of a bluff overlooking the sea that is being gradually eroded away
  • not situated so as to take the full brunt of tropical storms
  • not in the floodplain of a river
  • not in a desert or semi-desert that relies on water from fossil aquifers that are being depleted faster than they are replenished or rivers fed by melt water from disappearing glaciers
  • not subject to hot season temperatures or heat waves that are not survivable if the power goes out or you can't afford air conditioning
  • receiving enough rain to allow for agriculture largely without irrigation
  • with a growing season and soil that will support agriculture

Now based on the need to get out of the city and find a location where adapting to post-industrial collapse conditions will be easier, we can add a few more criteria:

  • far enough from the city to avoid the worst of what's going to happen there and so that the waves of refugees will be largely spent and small in number when they arrive at your location, and to be isolated from epidemics as well
  • in a small town (a few hundred to a few thousand people) or on a farm near such a town
  • where the surrounding agricultural area can support the local population using low tech, sustainable agricultural methods
  • where there is still some standing timber, mainly for firewood, but also for all the many other things that can be done with wood
  • where the ground water or surface water is potable or can be made that way with simple filtration
  • where you have connections in the community, or where you can make those connections with some work hard
  • where you can initially earn a living or set up to live off your savings/investments/pension

There are a few things that such a community needs to be prepared to do and you should work toward being in a position to encourage that preparation. At some point the trucks are going to stop running. You'll need to get by on local resources.

  • Many small towns have a water treatment plant that relies on chemicals that are shipped in on a "just in time" basis. A stockpile of those chemicals and/or a plan for moving to an alternate source of potable water will be critical.
  • You will need a plan to feed the populace when the grocery store shelves are empty, using local farm products, so that people don't panic and start helping themselves to, and in the process destroying, the stock and crops on local farms.
  • It will only be a matter of time until your connection to the power grid fails. Firewood, wood burning stoves, lanterns and so forth will be in short supply and you'll want to be prepared.
  • While perhaps not quite so urgent, some thought should be given to how welcome refugees. This is on humanitarian grounds, if nothing else. A community that is willing to drive refugees away at gun point, will eventually be willing to treat its own member just as harshly. Your remote location should ensure you won't be overrun, that a manageable number of refugees show up. Your aim should be to treat these folks as well as you treat yourselves and, without abusing them, to turn them into a resource rather than a burden. You will be switching over to a lifestyle where people are needed to replace automation, so that shouldn't be too hard.

It would be excellent if the existing authorities were aware of what's coming and had plans to deal with it, but I should think that is pretty unlikely in most small towns. Better to get to know some of the locals, particularly farmers, well enough to be able to get together with them and organize what's needed when the time comes. If you set a good enough example, others will follow.

More on that, and other practical considerations, next time.

 

Privatising Air

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Published on FEASTA on February 26, 2016

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We seem to have entered an era of ‘reductio ad absurdum’ capitalism. Many of life’s fundamentals such as land, water and energy have been or are being enclosed and privatised. As capitalism runs out of convenient colonies to parasitise, it has begun to work on societies within its traditional hosts in the developed world through austerity. In parallel the realm of  privatisation extends into areas previously considered as public goods available as of right. Is there any ‘natural’ limit to this process? Could air be privatised?

We should perhaps envy Marx for his somewhat detached historical perspective on the development of capitalism. All things must pass. The problem, perhaps felt more acutely if you have children and grandchildren, in that by the time capitalism has eaten itself there will be nothing left for our descendants to sustain themselves with.

If you had asked a member of one of the 170 native American nations before 1880 who owned the land they would not have understood the question [1]. Fast forward 140 years and the idea that land is just a special type of property, and that its resources and use-value can be reserved to the owner is embedded in law and in the general unchallenged narrative about ‘how things work’. Very little land is now held in common, and the only current activist initiative pissing into the prevailing wind is that of Land Value Taxation – a proposition which, while welcome, does appear to accept that land has been irreversibly enclosed, and restricts itself to demanding a land rental back to the exchequer in the form of a tax.

In Ireland a series of #right2water marches have attracted tens of thousands protesting at the Irish government’s plans to privatise water via the creation of a new semi-state (a public-private hybrid) Irish Water and the imposition of water charges. Elsewhere, in Flint, Michigan, following a series of commercial disputes over water supply, a state of emergency was declared as the extent of lead pollution became clear. In neither of these cases are we in an area of water shortage or stress. The common factor seems to be the introduction of public/ private partnerships to move the costs of water supply off of the national (or state) accounts.

In parallel the development of the bottled water market has burgeoned, seemingly unaffected by the inconvenient ‘market externality’ of trillions of plastic bottles going to landfill, and by Coca Cola (via their Dasani brand) and others bottling treated tap water [2] – based on an idea by DelBoy [3].

The creativity of the market, which at its best is a joy to behold and a source of life-enhancing innovation is a curate’s egg. And the parts that are bad are fouling the world. Markets have no inbuilt ethics. And we have yet to demonstrate any governance capability that can detoxify them.

As a thought experiment, (and since we are in reductio ad absurdum territory) consider the potential privatisation of the air that we breathe. That air is a basic necessity of life is of itself no protection. There is no apparent ethical barrier – other necessities such as land, shelter, energy and water have been enclosed by elites and rented back to citizens. So there is no ‘in principle’ difficulty.

The difficulties are practical.

For example there is rather too much clean air to make for the globalised opportunity which would be ideal. However this does not need to be a major barrier provided we sculpt the narrative properly. In the U.S. 92% of tap water is of the highest potable quality [2] but this has not interfered with the growth of bottled water sales. Creative (occasionally mendacious) advertising plus mainstream media focussing on any convenient tap water scare stories have done the trick.

The prime difficulty is in the physical enclosure of a separated-air-space and supply. A controlled-quality-air environment can be envisioned at the personal, dwelling, community, municipality or planet level. So there are product development opportunities for personal breathing devices, masks and filters, passive house variations with recirculated air and domes. As pollution increases, helpful stories about diesel particulates or Beijing air quality will progressively sensitise consumers to the need for interventions. Our inability to leave fossil fuels in the ground will help this narrative get established – an interesting variation on the theme that every market failure provides an opportunity for a new market. At the community level we should see a natural extension of the gated community service proposition to include guaranteed air quality inside large scale geodesic domes. Some municipalities – particularly scenic locations – may banish sources of pollution, buoyed by extra-high local rates acceptable to wealthy residents. Depending on local micro-climates such Canute-propositions may persist for a few years until higher pollution levels waft in from neighbouring areas. At a planetary level geoengineering solutions will develop to pump pollution back into less prosperous sink areas.

So it’s just a matter of being creative. Technology plus entrepreneurship can enable the enclosure of any public good. Absent effective sustainability-minded governance that is.

Endnotes

1]: “My reason teaches me that land cannot be sold. The Great Spirit gave it to his children to live upon. So long as they occupy and cultivate it, they have a right to the soil. Nothing can be sold but such things as can be carried away” –Black Hawk quoted in Lewis and Clark: The Unheard Voices http://archive.adl.org/education/curriculum_connections/in_this_issue_fall_2004.html

2]: Bottled Water is a Scam: March 2015 http://www.salon.com/2015/03/14/bottled_water_is_a_scam_pepsico_coca_cola_and_the_beverage_industrys_greatest_con_partner/

3]: The renowned Peckham Spring brand featured in Only Fools & Horses episode Mother Nature’s Son http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0666564/

Featured image: barbed wire. Source: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/barbed-wire-1221152.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plumbing the Tiny House

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on February 9, 2016

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Plumbing the Tiny House

Geoffrey Chia, February 2016

This continues the series of articles by which we hope to empower readers to exit the "killing fields of the future" (the cities), to help you achieve and maintain a comfortable offgrid lifestyle for at least a couple of decades after TSHTF (assuming you have purchased sufficient spare parts for maintenance and/or are creative in your repairs). For example, solar evacuated tubes invariably break, therefore it will be prudent to purchase many spares, in addition to those in your working solar thermal array.

In this article I outline my plumbing preferences for my tiny house which, to say the least, is a little unconventional compared with "standard" arrangements. The plumbing here is specifically configured for my tiny house design which I have described in a previous article: http://www.resilience.org/resource-detail/2544932-building-a-tiny-house

2 ColdWaterSystemNoExternalTank3 ColdWaterToHotWaterConnection4 ConventionalSystemUsingMicroprocessor&Sensors

 

Preferences for the cold water system:

 

  1. A steel rainwater storage tank within the lounge (under the seats) doubles up as a thermal mass tank which picks up passive solar heat in the daytime. This minimises the need to operate the wood stove at night. The water in this tank (eg 500 litres) may not last long depending on the rate of use, hence my preferred configuration is a permanent connection to an additional external rainwater tank with capacity of perhaps 1000 to 2000 litres.

  2. In off-grid configuration, the 150 litre header tank is all-important feature and serves three main purposes: first and most important is that if a tap is accidentally left open, the greatest amount of water that can be lost is only 150 litres (even if a hot water tap is left open, the last 50 litres of water in the cylinder will not be lost because at the end there will be no pressure head left to empty the cylinder). If however the system is directly connected to a community shared large (eg 40,000 litres) water tank uphill, it will be possible to lose many thousands of litres. The second reason for a header tank is that the ritual of filling of this tank each morning, either by electric or manual pumping, will reinforce the value of fresh water and encourage daily limitation of water consumption (of course this is not true rationing because the header tank can always be refilled at any time, but being creatures of habit we will probably just fill it once a day or even on alternate days, thus limiting water consumption to <150 litres per day per tiny house). Thirdly, a header tank eliminates the need for a frequently operating electric water pump (triggered by the pressure drop detected by an electronic sensor whenever a tap is opened). It eliminates another layer of electronic complexity (even though a high volume electric pump is part of my configuration, it does not require any electronic sensor and also has a manual backup). Another purpose of this header tank is additional thermal mass.

  3. This system includes the option of direct connection to town (reticulated water) supply at normal mains pressure. This high pressure port will also be suitable for permanent direct connection to a larger water tank situated uphill, although as stated before this is to be discouraged.

 

The diagrams are self explanatory

5 TypicalHotWaterCylinder6 HeliatosVendorsDiagram7 Mini10EvacTubeArray

Preferences for the hot water system:

 

Contemporary conventional solar / hybrid hot water systems are highly complex and depend on sophisticated electronics. I initially describe my general preferences, then outline the workings of proven "standard" setups, then go through a process of deconstruction and simplification to pare things down to the bare bones system I personally prefer.

My general preferences:

  • I prefer solar heating of water with an evacuated tube system (the "heat pipe" type evacuated tubes, NOT the hollow core type) with no integrated gas or electrical backup. Evacuated tubes are more efficient in temperate climates in winter compared with flat panel arrays*. Best orientation is facing the equator (ie facing North if in the Southern hemisphere) and permanently angled around 15 degrees higher than your latitude eg if you are 40 degrees South, it should be angled around 55 degrees from horizontal, which is optimal for winter. Suboptimal angling for the summer sun is in fact desirable, to avoid overheating in summer.

  • If there are several overcast days, the wood stove (or LPG stove) can be fired up and hot water obtained from the backboiler tank or by heating a kettle. Adding the hot water to cold water in a bucket will create a comfortably tepid wash mixture. For me the expense and complexity to plumb a system which connects pipes from the woodstove backboiler (eg from the Salamander Hobbit system) to the hot water storage tank is not worthwhile.

8  Heliatos configurationWithTubeArray9 PassiveThermosiphoning10 PassiveExternalStandaloneSystem

Conventional systems:

  • Contemporary conventional domestic solar hot water systems use a microprocessor controller with electronic sensors. The "Heliatos" system http://www.heliatos.com/ obviates the need for microprocessor control of the pump. I have no pecuniary interest in Heliatos but mention them repeatedly because their components and configurations enable simplification of conventional complex solar systems (and easy retrofitting of non-solar to solar systems) while still working well, and I have had productive dealings with them previously. The key components are the "bottom feed connector" and a simple 12V DC electric pump + 10W photovoltaic panel. The standard Heliatos configuration assumes the solarthermal array is on the roof, ie above the level of the hot water cylinder, and the cylinder incorporates backup gas/electric heating. Typical cylinders operate at around mains water pressure. Whenever hot water is taken from the top of the cylinder, cold water under mains pressure replaces it at the base to keep the cylinder full, to enable ongoing sourcing of hot water from the top. The entire water mass in the cylinder is always kept hot because backup heating kicks in as needed, as determined by temperature sensors. Please note: all pipes containing hot water must obviously be heavily insulated, this is not shown in the diagrams for simplicity.

  • My modifications:

  • My modifications involve use of evacuated tubes rather than the Heliatos flat panels and placing the tube array on the ground rather than on the roof for ease of cleaning and maintenance (also easy to cover with a tarpaulin to shut down the system if it overheats or to protect against a hailstorm). Tubes are thus located at a lower level than the hot water cylinder. I also choose not to have backup gas/electric heating. The mode of operation is described on the diagram. Thermosiphoning during the day should be enabled, thus eliminating the need for an electric pump and PV panel.

  • My aim is to reduce complexity (resulting in only minor inconvenience) and thus ensure long term robust performance. This configuration is pretty much guaranteed to work, because there are already well proven "stand alone" outdoor evacuated tube systems which utilise passive convection currents, with the tank situated above the tubes. Such standalone outdoor systems are suitable for warmer climates such as Queensland but not ideal for cold climates such as New Zealand, where it is best to locate the hot water cylinder in a warmer indoor environment for greatest efficiency. I sought the opinion of the Heliatos consultant, Dr Abtahi (Phd) about my split system preference, who emailed me back that what I propose is not only workable, it is actually not uncommon. Thus I cannot claim any originality here and can be quite confident of its feasibility. His main caveats were that the pipes must be properly insulated and the array should be tilted so that the hotter end of the manifold sits higher, to kick start thermosiphoning in the morning.

  • It is always important to seek the advice of your local plumber, which I am also doing. We can expect problems to arise if the sizes of the tank and solar array are mismatched between each other and also with regard to the climate. For example of the tank is too big, solar array is too small and winter sun is too feeble, you can expect persistent poor heating performance. Conversely if the tank is too small, solar array is too big and summer sun is too strong, the system can boil away the water in the tank and cause the tubes to overheat. The good thing about "heat pipe" evacuated tubes is that one or more tubes can be removed from the array and the system will continue to function perfectly (obviously with less heating power). So you can reduce the array size in summer and increase its size in winter very easily. Alternatively simply cover one or more tubes if the day is too sunny.

 

 

11 ExternalHeatExchanger12 PassiveThermosiphoningThruInternalHeatXchanger

 

 

Frost

  • If frost is a likely problem, a glycol solution must be run through the manifold and this circuit must be kept separate from the domestic water. Heliatos have an external heat exchanger which connects to the bottom feed connector, hence if retrofitting, there is no need to purchase a hot water cylinder with internal heat exchange tubes. The Heliatos external heat exchange system requires two pumps and a 20W solar PV panel in the usual "high panel" configuration (compared with the standard Heliatos arrangement which uses one pump and a 10W solar PV panel).

  • If establishing your system de novo, obtaining a cylinder with internal heat exchange tubes will be preferable and more efficient. As the internal heat exchange tubes will be much wider than the tiny tubes of the Heliatos external heat exchanger (thus posing less resistance to flow), there should be no need for any electrical pumps at all in the "low panel" configuration. This arrangement may turn out to be the simplest yet most robust configuration, which can suit all climates (even with freezing winters), as seen in the final diagram. Hence this is my preferred configuration. As in all things the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the end user must try their own system out for themselves and tweak things if necessary to make it work. There will be different specifications of different components purchased by different users in different climates, hence no two systems are likely to be identical and some customisation may be necessary.

 

Exclusive use of rainwater will avoid the problem of lime deposits from hard water.

 

CONCLUSION: This article outlines a variety of options. Different configurations will suit different people depending on whether they want roof mounted or ground mounted panels and what level of complexity they are happy with. Conventional systems are convenient (hot water is available at all times with backup heating which however requires complex electronics) but also have more potential points for failure. I do not mind some inconvenience (no hot water in tank after several heavily overcast days) but prefer an easily maintained, simple and robust system with greater longevity. Just remember to buy good quality components from the outset and obtain plenty of spare parts (eg extra evacuated tubes, magnesium anodes etc) and you should be able to enjoy using the same system for at least the next twenty years.

 

G. Chia Feb 2016

 

*Footnote:

Boat based solar thermal arrays must by necessity be mounted flush on deck, which when stationary will be horizontal (or near horizontal), but due to boat movement will be constantly varying in angle. Evacuated tube systems are not feasible for boats because:

  1. Irrespective of latitude, the tubes need to be angled at least 20 degrees from horizontal to allow convectional forces to operate within the tubes

  2. Even though designed to cope with small hailstones, tubes are easily shattered (whereas a flat panel with polycarbonate cover will not break if a heavy shackle drops on it)

A boat based, horizontally mounted flat panel system will therefore require water to be circulated by electric pump: there is no option for passive thermosiphoning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resilience Testing Week

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 3, 2016

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This week was notable on the Last Great Frontier for not 1, but 2 critical infrastructure failures.  Neither one lasted all that long, but both gave me the opportunity to see how prepped and ready I am for intermittent failures of the 3 basics you often take for granted, running water, central heating and electricity on demand.

http://i0.wp.com/savethewater.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/drought-6.jpgPrior to full on SHTF where this stuff goes off and never comes back on, there is likely to be a period where such outages become more frequent, and run for longer periods of time.  This is the way it is already in the 3rd World countries that have such ammenties in their larger cities, actually it's always been that way and never really got a whole lot better.  When I was living in Brazil back in the 60s, we had a power blackout at least once a month.  Nowadays in Sao Paolo, with water rationing the taps go dry either for a few hours each day or for a few days each week, so everyone still stuck living there has to adapt by storing water and conserving what is stored.

As crucial as water is in your preps, for me it was one of the last things I developed a full plan for.  While I was on my early prepping frenzy in 2008-9, I worked up a good 2 year food supply, but my water supply on hand was limited to about a dozen quart size water containers, which were old Cranberry Juice bottles I rinsed out and filled with tap water.  Far as just drinking and cooking goes, this probably would last a week, but if you add in stuff like flushing the toilet, washing dishes, taking showers etc you probably would use it up in a day or two the most.

http://www.pooresttourist.com/uploads/1/2/4/5/1245765/2884998_orig.jpgSo upon moving to my new digs, I developed a more comprehensive water plan.  I now have 3 large 20 gallon water containers, 2 1 Gallon Water containers for water transportation, 10 1 gallon containers of Distilled Water, along with the original dozen quart bottles.

2 of the 20 Gallon containers are for drinkable water, the 3rd is for "gray water" used for toilet flushing.  After doing a task like washing dishes or taking a Sponge Bath (no showers during water shortage time, even if you have a portable shower system!), you store the leftover water in your gray water container for later use again as toilet flushing water.  Also keep your toilet flushes to one/day if possible.  If several people are using the same toilet though, this may not be possible.

The other means I have for keeping the gray water container filled s a stream that runs nearby my digs. That is what the 2 1 gallon jugs are for.  I can take a trip over to the stream on the Ewz, fill the two jugs then return to the digs and dump this water into the gray water container to keep it topped off with plenty of toilet flushing water.  The only time this is problematic is if the creek is frozen solid, but it usually is not these days.  Of course, not everyone has a creek running nearby them, so not everyone can use this method.

If your water problem is just local to you, like your well ran dry but there is still running water nearby you like in convenience store bathrooms, that is what the quart containers are for.  You drop one or two in a backpack and when you hit a convenience store, you use the bathroom and fill them up with FREE water.  When you return home, you dump this water into your drinking water 20 gal containers and keep them topped off.  Similarly, you can do this at work if you still have a job, and your kids can bring one to school each day and fill from the school tap water.  If everyone brings home a quart of water each day, you should all stay well hydrated unless sweating heavily because it is hot, in which case you will need to double this possibly.

If the problem is systemic like in Sao Paolo, this is not going to last forever.  Eventually no convenience store will have running water, no school and no workplace.  Guess what?  Time to either move out of Sao Paolo or roll over and die!  It's no longer fit for human habitation.

So your Water Plan is not a solution to a permanent drought, and neither is the Electric Plan following a solution to permanent grid down scenarios.  The plans are just designed to get you through disruptions to normal infrastructure supply that lasts for a defined period of time.  How long that time is depends on how much of anything it is you store, but IMHO a minimum standard is 1 week.  1 week is about how long on average it will take to get all neighborhoods back on grid power and running water after a typical decent Snow or Ice Storm or a Flooding event.  Really bad ones, 2 weeks and stuff like a Hurricane or F5 Tornado passed through your town, it could be several months.  In my case, I estimate I can go 3 months completely off grid, no running water, utilizing gas from my cars and Bugout Machine for my generator after the first week or so.

This water plan is very inexpensive, less than $100 for the cost of the containers.  Now onto the Electric plan.

http://www.wnybatteries.com/images/ibs_HD24-DP.jpgThis was one of my earliest preps, but I have expanded on it as time goes by, adding solar PV panels as well as a gas powered generator.  Mainly however it is a storage plan for grid power for the occassions when you lose electricity for a few days.  The core of the plan requires only 3 things, all of which can fit on a shelf in the garage or a corner of a closet, Battery Storage capacity, an AC/DC trickle charger for the battery and an Inverter for converting stored juice back from DC/AC when the power goes out.  One of each can suffice for most critical purposes for a while but I recommend a bit larger system for this.  Here is how it played out today in my Grid Down Resilience Test for electricity.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41yf0CmxNTL._SX300_.jpgIn the case of my power outage, besides running the laptop and light for a while, the Deep Cycle Marine Battery also fully charged the laptop and the cell phone, so even after it fully discharged there would have been hours of time left on their independent batteries.  However, the DCMB was barely touched here on this, and I now think it would run at least 24-48 hours full time without a charge on just this drain.  It is now plugged back in on the trickle charger and collecting juice for the next outage.

With this knowledge, I can now recommend a Minimal System for short term electric outages.

3 DCMB @ $100 each
1 1000W Modified Sine Wave Inverter $100
1 500W Modified Sine Wave Inverter $75
6 Amp DC Automotive Battery Charger $50

Total Cost Basic System: $525

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kphrsrCNL._SX300_.jpgThe 1000W inverter is dedicated to your Fridge.  Typical fridge draws 500-750 Watts, but not all the time, only when the compressor runs, and that depends on ambient temp in your digs.  One DCMB is dedicated to keeping the food cold as well during an outage.  You also don't need to use it for the first day or so long as you don't open the fridge or freezer too often.  Keep your freezer PACKED.  If it's not packed up with meat, fill the empty spaces with tupperware filled with frozen water.  Only fill the tupperware about 80% full before freezing, because the water expands on freezing.

The 500W inverter is sufficient for your laptop and a couple of lights, and will also keep you portable rechargeable electronics fully charged. Another DCMB is dedicated to this Inverter.  The 3rd DCMB is a backup for either of those if they fail or run out of juice.

By itself, this sytem will probably get you a week of time if you are careful about electricity usage.  Like dont leave your laptop on 24/7.  lol.

A simple Upgrade to this is to add a 2000W Generator and have say 10 gallons of gas in 2 5 gallon jugs.  Use this to recharge your DCMBs as they run down.  This probably brings you up to a month of resilience time with enough juice for the basics.  That is going to cover any outage other than true SHTF stuff.  If your neighborhood electric company cannot restore power inside a month, it is Mad Max time.

This addition to your electric resilience costs

2000 Watt Generator: $300
10 Gallons Gas: $25
2 5 Gallon Gas Containers: $40

Total Options Cost: $365

After that, you can invest in solar panels or RV Wind Turbines to get a little more trickle charge going in some locations depending on Sun & Wind resource.  Also remember if that if necessary, you can repurpose your SUV battery for additional storage.

So, IMHO, there is no reason the typical McMansion owner cannot Prep for power outages lasting upwards of a month.  the whole package comes in less than $1000, a one time cost which is CHEAP insurance.  It's also highly portable and can be taken on the road with you if you have to abandon your digs (wildfire, flooding, earthquake, volcanic eruption, war breaks out etc).

If you have extra FRNs, you might want to go with Li-I batts which will shrink and lighten the load in the SUV for the bugout scenario, as well as give more discharge cycles.  However, they are pricy, and will probably triple the Batt investment cost in this type of insurance.

After Water & Electricity, the final part of your Short Term Disruption Preparedness plan (besides the food of course, which every prepper starts with usually) is having enough HEAT in your place so you dont freeze and the pipes don't freeze during the disruption.  This is only an issue in the winter in places where the temps go below freezing, but that can be the case most anywhere these days except equatorial regions.

In most setups these days, if you lose your electricity you lose your heat also, even if the heat is NG or Diesel fired furnaces.  They have electronic controls and will shut down without electricity.  If there is no manual overide to this, you are without heat as well as electricity, even if you still have fuel.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51twT-QR71L._SY300_.jpgAs long as your digs are well insulated, lack of heat is probably not going to be a problem the first day.  In my case over a few hours the internal temps only dropped a couple of degrees from the 60F I keep the place at in the winter.  Not enough to even drop on a second sweatshirt.  Your primary preparation for heat disruption is having good winter gear to throw on as the temperatures drop, in layers as it gets colder.  Above freezing, there is no real need for heat at all,  good clothing.will cover you fine.  However, you do have your pipes to worry about, so once the internal temps drop below around 40, you're going to want a backup here also.  Best for this in terms of Energy Density and ability to run indoors without killing yourself from Carbon Monoxide poisoning instead of freezing are portable Kerosene Heaters, which have CO detectors on board and automatic shutoffs.

https://don1uexbbetbo.cloudfront.net/content/art/slideshow/wellsfargo_igludorf_lg1.jpgHow much kerosene you will need to have stored and how many of these heaters you will need for any given length of time depends entirely on how big the space is you are trying to keep above freezing, and how low those external temps actually go.  If you have a big place and the temps outside are -20 Below Zero, you would need a LOT of heaters and a lot of kerosene every day to keep the place above freezing!  So for good resilience at an affordable price, best NOT to live in a big McMansion.  Also better to live together with several people in a reasonably small space, since your combined body heat by itself does a lot to keep a small space warm.  This of course is the Igloo principle of the Inuit, Athabascans and other "Eskimo" tribes that live here in Alaska, although they hardly live that way anymore.  You put husband, wife, 2 kids and 6 dogs in an Igloo big enough to fit all that mammalian biomass, you will not need a fire inside the Igloo just about no matter how cold it gets outside.

However, you shouldn't have to go the Igloo route for a short disruption if you match your heat generation capability to the size of the space you need to keep above freezing.  This is an important point, because you don;t want to try to keep the place at the same kind of temp you would under "normal" circumstances with your backup heating gear.  You are just trying to keep yourself and the pipes in your digs from freezing, not making it so hot you can walk around comfortably in your BVDs.  lol.

To conclude here, all of these plans are SHORT TERM DISRUPTION  plans.  They will not help you in a permanent Grid Down, SHTF scenario longer than their designed lifespan, which at the very outside I think would be a full year.  Perhaps longer if there was still working money and fuel to buy with that money, but in such a long disruption that probably would not be the case.  The deal here is though that as this spin down proceeds, it's unlikely that your infrastructure will fail all together, all at once, for good.  Being able to survive through the intermitent problems while the society reforms is crucial to making it THROUGH the Zero Point to the Other Side.  You don't wanna be the guy that freezes to death in his digs after just 3 days of an Ice Storm power disruption, but you get stories of those folks all the time.

For the longer term when all of these things we take for granted now are gone for good?  Most of the population, including me, will die off.  I'm not suited to building mud huts with stone tools and living the full primitive anymore.  Only a few younger folks may be able to do that, and I wish them well in their efforts.  For most of us though, you take it one day at a time, and try to keep going just as long as you can.  Covering the basics for the short term disruptions can help you do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Stress in the Mediterranean Basin

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 5, 2015, and on Peak Resources

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Global pressures on finite water resources have grown rapidly over the past decades as a result of population growth, increasing per capita consumption and industrial agriculture. Overexploitation of groundwater in agricultural regions of particular concern are north-western India, the north China plain, the Great Plains of North America and the Central Valley in California (Rockström et al. 2014). Climate change is already impacting the number of people living in absolute water scarcity (Schewe et al. 2013). Water scarcity is a recurrent imbalance that arises from an overuse of water resources, caused by consumption being significantly higher than the natural renewable availability. Water scarcity can be aggravated by water pollution and drought.

 

River basins, with withdrawals exceeding more than 40–60% of available water resources, experience severe water scarcity. Many economically important river basins around the world are suffering from unsustainable withdrawals of water that impinge on ecological needs or have surpassed ecological limits such as the Amu and Syr Darya, the Indus, the Nile, the Colorado, the Orange, the Lerma Chapala, the Murray Darling and the Yellow River basin.

Global hydroregions – population pressures on water security

 

 

The map above shows a relative pressure indicator (incorporating population density and runoff) for river basins in different hydroregions of the world. We can see that dry belts (medium density and very low runoff) around the equator and northern mid-latitude (high density and medium runoff) have the highest pressure on water security, while hydroregions with minimal pressure are due to high runoff and/or low population density (e.g. Amazon and Orinoco basin, Boreal hydroregions, Northern Australia basins) (Meybeck et al. 2013). Water security pressure range from the most to the least densely populated: Asia > Europe > North America > Africa > South America > Australia. Interesting to note is the difference between the “Old World” (Asia, MENA, Europe) and the “New World” (Americas and Australia).
 

Overall Water Risk around the Mediterranean

Shows level of overall water risk (physical quantity, quality and access). Source: Aqueduct-Water Risk Atlas

 

In the map above we see which countries and city regions around the Mediterranean that suffer most acutely from overall water risk. London, Budapest, Bucharest, Valencia, Naples, Odessa, Donetsk,  Sofia, Istanbul all show signs of high overall water risk due to population pressure. Countries in the dry belt of North Africa and the Middle East (MENA) all show signs of high overall water risk, either from depletion of water resources, pollution or lack of access to clean drinking water.


 

Baseline Water Stress around the Mediterranean

Shows baseline water stress (the ratio of total annual withdrawals to total available renewable supply). Source: Aqueduct-Water Risk Atlas

 

If we look at baseline water stress defined as the ratio of total annual water withdrawals to total available renewable supply (accounting for upstream consumptive use) we find that stress is extremely high (dark red) in parts of Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Italy, Malta, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Azerbaijan, and Iran. If we compare the map above to the one below, showing population pressure in the Mediterranean region (in 2009), we find that baseline water stress occurs around many of the big cities as expected.

 

Population density around the Mediterranean

Source: UNEP-Grid (2009)

City regions along the Mediterranean east coast in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt have high population density in close proximity to each other. This at the same time as they suffer from extremely high baseline water stress is like begging for a conflict. Italy, Spain, Greece and Malta will suffer in the future if they don't do somthing about their unsustainable water situation immediatly.  Morocco, north Algeria and Tunisia will also have to adress their water situation.

Access to Water in Europe and MENA

Shows level of water risk related to access (% of population without access to safe drinking water). Source: Aqueduct-Water Risk Atlas

 

People may not perceive water stress as an issue depending on access to water defined as % of population without access to improved drinking water. Here we see the situation being severe (>20%) in countries undergoing conflict such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and large parts of North Africa. In the map below we can see that Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Cyprus all have desalination plants (red ring). This requires lots of energy, most likely from fossil fuels, that many countries can’t afford to spend and it only furthers global warming. Relying on desalinated water is a very risky strategy.

 

Water infrastructure around the Mediterranean Basin

Source: UNEP-Grid (2009)

 

From all the above pictures it is not difficult to figure out that water stress, together with climate change and peaking fossil fuels will lead to migration and conflict without any foresight or planning ahead. Water is essential for all life, without sufficient water resources people have no option but to move as ecosystems dry out. Relying on groundwater pumping and fossil aquifers with little respect for ecological limits or plans for collecting rainwater is a disaster in the making, of which we are seeing the first signs. Furthermore, explosive population growth in the MENA-region following their oil boom have lead to far more people than the arid landscape can provide for. The only reason this population increase was even possible was due to fossil aquifers now empty and massive amounts of energy from oil that has been used to desalinate water from the ocean. But these are finite resources. Thus the crisis we now see in the Middle East was forseeable, it was only ever a question of when, not if. The German Advisory Council on Global Change reported on these risk already in 2007. Most other European countries must also have been aware of these risks. A little planning could have gone a long way but all we see now instead is chaos.

 

Migration pattern due to ecological degradation and climate change

Areas where drought, desertification, and other forms of water scarcity are estimated are expected to worsen and could contribute to people migrating away from these areas to secure their livelihoods. Main projected trajectories are added where climate change-related migration can be expected in the future. (Source: Bogardi and Warner, 2009).

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Confessions of a Carnivore

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Published on the Doomstead Diner  on August 1, 2015

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The Meat FIX for the week…

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I have a confession to make.

I am a MEAT ADDICT.

This addiction may be even worse than my Beer Addiction, it's a tossup.

http://shepherdexpress.com/imgs/hed/art10330widea.jpgI can blame the Meat Addiction on my parents.  Growing up in my youngest years in Brasil, they often took me to Churascarias where many delicious cuts of meat were served up directly off the spit.  My Taste Buds became so entranced by the flavor of Meat cooked over an Open Flame that upon returning to the FSoA around age 10 or so, I immediately embarked on a career as a BBQ Chef, utilizing a small Cast Iron Hibachi that was the site of many Steaks, Burgers, Chicken Wings and Salmon Fillets being Grilled to PERFECTION! 🙂

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/412UgoxHaSL.jpg

I am of course aware these days of how poorly treated the cows, pigs and chickens are by our Industrial Ag system, but people aren't treated a whole lot better and it becomes a bit much to worry about the unfortunate life of a cow in a feed lot when there are a few billion people not living much better lives, and besides I just LOVE MEAT!  So I can't quite buy in to the Vegan mind set because of this.

http://beefambassador.com/wp-content/gems/2014/04/feedlot-1.jpgBeyond the downside of the unfortunate life for an an Industrially raised, fed and slaughtered cow in some Chicago Feed Lot is the ENERGY and WATER problems involved with a diet copiously laden with MEAT in it.

According to HuffPo, it takes around 1847 gallons of water to raise up a Pound of Beef.  Chicken does a lot better at just 518 Gallons for a pound of Chicken, and Beer does better than Wine at 296 vs 872, although you then get into serving size questions as well.

In any event, as you can see it takes a whole heck of a lot of water to put the meat on the table, and even the Beer in your Bottle also!  To acquire enough of that water these days also takes energy, pumping it up from ever more depleted Aquifers like the Ogalalla.

However, the problems of Industrial Ag and its treatment of animals used for food sources, the problems of energy consumption and the problems of water consumption are NOT the reason I am writing this article!

The reason is that due to a few reasons, I cannot STOP buying MEAT at the grocery store!  The Feature Photo at the top of the page has this week's selections, a rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs which ON SALE came in around $4/lb, and 3 nice Filet Mignon Cuts coming in at $12/lb.  That wasn't a sale, but it's still pretty cheap for Filet Mignon.

http://storage.googleapis.com/zgt-user/Boston-Chicken-Photo.pngPrior to buying this meat, I still have in the fridge leftovers from LAST week. particularly some nice Short Ribs and about 1/3rd of a Rotisserie Chicken left to eat, and that is BEFORE I take the carcass and throw it in the Slow Cooker to make a batch of Chicken Soup, which itself will last me another 2 days EZ.

Layered on top of this is the fact that my neurological problems from my neck injury are depressing my appetite, so most of the time I just don't feel like eating any of it!  Regardless how good it smells or looks!  I'm just not feeling HUNGRY enough to devour it!

Now, because  I can't help myself as an ADDICT, I keep buying this stuff.   I'm NOT living on the SNAP Cad Gourmet budget of $2/day (yet!), but neither am I spending much more than $5/day either on food.  The Filet Mignon I picked up for around $12, The Pork Baby Back Ribs for another $16, but together this is enough Animal Protein for 2 weeks EZ!  If I would just STOP buying the stuff when i see it ON SALE, I COULD stay under $2/day!

 

http://i5.walmartimages.com/dfw/dce07b8c-fae7/k2-_f9c906d7-2db2-412b-b285-669ed7dfd238.v1.jpgBut I can't stop buying it, I'm a JUNKIE for Meat!  Not just beef, any Animal protein.  You know what ELSE I bought this week?  A Cocktail Shrimp Ring for $10!  Like I really need this with all the freaking leftovers I have in the fridge right now?  It will take me a month to work through just the LEFTOVERS, and some of it will probably go bad before I am hungry enough to eat it!

Supermarket-meatsI can't even vaccuum seal it up and put it in the Freezer!  Why not?  Because the freezer itself is JAM PACKED with as yet uncooked Steaks, Fish, Chicken and Sausage I have purchased on other occassions travelling down the Meat Aisles of the local Food Emporiums.  I'm like a kid in a Toy Store when I walk (or these days cruise on the Ewz) down the meat department.  Look at those beautifully marbled Rib Eye's ON SALE!  Gotta have those.  Hot Italian Sausage ON SALE!  Mmmm, think of the great Spaghetti Sauce I can make with those!  LOL.

Meanwhile of course out there in the rest of the world and even here in the FSoA, plenty of people have trouble just putting enough Rice in a Bowl to get the daily necessary intake of calories.  Houston, We Have a Distribution Problem!

You might think this would make me feel guilty about buying more meat than I can actually eat, but it doesn't.  Why not?  Because all the dead cow flesh in the local freezer will never make it onto the plate of a starving child in India, and in fact a good deal of it never even goes to feed the homeless up here either.  It just gets tossed if it gets too old and can't even be sold at discount. It's not my fault the distribution system is so fucked up, and I am not going to blame myself because I have more meat to eat than I can handle and somebody else has none.  It happens to be the shelf at my local grocery store, and I happen to have money to buy it, so I do.

http://lorax.blog.drugisvet.com/files/2011/11/Skinny-cow.jpgThe other reason I can't stop buying the Meat is because of the problem I KNOW is coming down the pipe here at some point, which is that the stuff just won't be available to buy AT ALL.

Cattle are already not looking too good in many parts of the world, and here in the FSoA as the water depletes out of Ogalalla and the energy isn't there to pump it up either, the Cattle right here are going to look just like the one at left.  The ones still left anyhow, since the ranchers are already culling the herds, which leads to some pretty weird effects not dissimilar from what is going on with Oil, which is that in spite of a real shortage, the prices go DOWN rather than UP. as a temporary GLUT hits the market.

You have the additional problem where as Credit dries up, the first folks to lose access to the credit are the actual End Consumers of the product, be it either Rib Eye steaks or Gas for your SUV.  If the end consumers don't have credit to buy the stuff, where can the price go but DOWN?  This deflationary driver is ongoing across the Globe at the moment, and is likely to continue on for quite a while in many places, while in others new Credit is created, driving an inflationary spiral in those places.  Eventually either way though, without the stuff on the meat rack to buy, the Money Dies.  It simply stops working to buy things, and you revert to a barter economy if you are fortunate, this already is occurring in Greece.  You do need something to barter though that somebody else wants, and they have to have something you want.  Both of those things are also likely to start disappearing too.

Which brings us back round to the old question of TIMELINE, how long will it take for this to play itself out, in what locations first and how can you best negotiate what is inevitable here, for yourself and your progeny?  There are no firm answers to those questions, but we do tackle them daily here on the pages of the Doomstead Diner.

 

Thinking Like A Watershed

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Published on Peak Surfer on May 31, 2015

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Nigara-rainbow

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" This is why I turn white with foam and why they named me 'Blanco.' "


“The main challenge to rational planning for flood risk in the country is that private property rights trump even modest limitations on floodplain development,” said Nicholas Pinter, an expert on floods, people and politics at Southern Illinois University, in an email today. “And that sentiment runs deep in Texas. The result is unchecked construction on flood-prone land, up to the present day and in some places even accelerating.”

It’s worth noting that a similar pattern, although with a different mix of drivers, can be seen far from the strip malls and condos around Austin. In some of the world’s poorest places, rapid population growth and flimsy housing in zones of profound “natural” hazard have created huge vulnerability (the latest case in point is, of course, Nepal).

— Andrew Revkin, Opinion in The New York Times, May 25, 2015



In many parts of the world, watersheds like me are underappreciated and overlooked. Not me.

Maybe it is because I am in a high, dry country, long the home to roving horse nomads and then to hardscrabble ranchers. Every cottonwood grove along my banks is sacred to those people, because they are rooted in the Earth, and when the rains come they know to be thankful, and to keep a respectful distance from my banks.

In good years, I bubble out in winter from a series of springs in northern Kendall County and flow generally eastward for 87 miles between rolling hills and canyons. My bed is quite shallow, and it briefly dips below ground in some areas of the Hill Country, like a Ninja practicing the secret of invisibility.

At other turns I pass through the steep cliff walls that I have carved out of hard rock over eons, to remind you of my hidden power. When my temper is aroused, I have 1000 times more strength (3000 m3/s versus 3 m3/s). This is when I turn white with foam and why they named me, those wise Tejano Texians, "Blanco."

When I stood up last week, I raised myself 30 feet in less than 3 hours, blowing away the puny depth gauges marking my passage through the Balcones Escarpment. 

About halfway between Austin and San Antonio, near San Marcos, I take a southerly turn. About two miles west of Gonzales I join my sister Guadalupe and the two of us gather in our brother Antonio before reaching our delta and estuary at Guadalupe Bay.

If you have seen the pictures coming out of San Marcos, Austin, Houston and the other central Texas towns this past week, you might wonder why we are all this angry; why we are all Blancos.
 
Some think it has to do with climate change, and there is an element of truth in that, but you need to look a little more closely. Texas ranchers and those mad fools in the oil patch have wrecked the climate for a good long while, but what has got me mad now is sprawl. 

In one county I run through, Hays, the population grew 61% between 2000 and 2010 and shows no signs of slowing. Those humans are doubling in numbers every couple decades. All those people assume there will be water enough for their yards and gardens even in dry years, but they are paving over the recharge zones of my springs. I know one shopping center that paved over 40 acres that once absorbed runoff for me and what did they do with that land? They parked cars on it!

 
So, people, if you really want to enjoy my gentle nature, and raft or kayak on me, or water your crops and herd your cattle, you had better stop what you are doing to my watershed. For heaven's sake, control yourselves. There are limits, you know.

World Water War I: Already Under Way

        From the keyboard of Thomas Lewis
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First published at The Daily Impact  May 1, 2015
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A common misconception: the wars of the future will be fought, not with water, but over it. There will be a lot of them. Soon. (Photo by Radio Free Asia)

 


The stresses that are rearranging the world’s maps, uprooting populations, destroying nation-states and destabilizing the planet have less to do with extreme “-isms,” geopolitics, hegemony or nuclear armaments than they do with water. Overuse, misuse and pollution of water, combined with spreading drought, a consequence of climate change, are imposing on larger and larger regions of the world an inexorable sequence of deprivation leading to desperation, then disintegration. About halfway through the progression, as desperation begins to bring on disintegration, the violence begins, and from then on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride hard.

The increasing scarcity of water is the unacknowledged cause of the so-called Arab Spring collapses of the governments of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. It was the spark that lit the fuse of the rebellions in Syria (when protesters in Daraa protested corrupt allocations of scarce water) and Yemen (when citizens of Taiz, the thirstiest city in the country, erupted in 2011).

It is only when we recognize this causality (keeping in mind that high costs, and scarcity, of food are almost always a consequence of scarce water) that we can appreciate how much trouble we are in. What happened to these failed and failing states is under way in:

The list of countries approaching mortal crisis because of water scarcity goes on, and on. It has to include California, Arizona and Nevada, states whose mummification by dry desert air is proceeding apace.

In the shadow of this real and present danger to the world, politicians and talking heads continue to prattle about religion, ideology, ethnicity, world domination — indeed, any distraction imaginable — apparently to avoid having to confront reality. Despite their best efforts at obfuscation, however, it is clear that reality is about to confront us.   

 

 

 

 


Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

Gail Tverberg in China: Diner Exclusive Interview

Off the microphones of Gail Tverberg, RE & Monsta

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner  & Our Finite World on April 29, 2015

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Diner-Map-Eurasia-4-28-2015-China

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As regular readers of the Doomstead Diner and Our Finite World know, Gail recently took a month long trip to China, where she was invited by Professor Feng to give a compact University course to Graduate and Undergraduate students at the China University of Petroleum in Beijing.

China University of Petroleum – Beijing (CUPB) is a national key university in China, located in the world famous scenic Changping District, the area close to the Great Wall and Ming Tombs. It is one of the 100 institutions implementing the national "211 Project".

The university is equipped with the first-class facilities, including a library with a collection of 300,000 books, modernized classrooms, new computer facilities and a comprehensive sports center.

Above all, CUPB has an excellent academic staff body of 545, including 121 full professors and 128 associate professors.

Unfortunately, internet access from China is limited for a couple of reasons.  First off, any number of websites (like Google for example) get the Thumbs Down from the Chinese Goobermint.  WordPress is another site not well liked by the Chinese Central Committee.  While you can access some WordPress sites from China, actually getting onto your Admin board to do publication work is close to impossible.  Besides that, access is spotty in terms of bandwidth and speed, so even if a site is theoretically accessible, the infrastructure won't allow you to access it in any usable form in many locations.  So Gail was a bit concerned before leaving that she wouldn't be able to fill in the OFW readers on her trip while she was over there.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/images/Minicamps/PD5-1.jpgI personally am notorious for finding end-around means of getting things up on the net that are otherwise difficult to do (you have to be creative when you get booted off as many websites as I have been. 😀 ), so when Gail mentioned this problem on OFW, I emailed her and suggested she send me her Updates from China * in email, which I would then publish for her on OFW under my byline.  While website work is pretty tough from China, you can pretty much get your emails out.  How well this plan would actually work was a question mark since neither of us had tried such a thing before, but it turned out to work marvelously well.

Upon her return here to the FSoA, basically RIGHT OFF THE PLANE, I snagged Gail for an Interview while her recollections of the China Trip were still fresh in her mind, despite the Jet Lag of course. 😉  We cover numerous topics in this discussion, including Chinese economic issues, Water & Air Pollution issues, Demographic issues and venture off as well into discussion of the various monetary issues we see ongoing in Europe as well.

As these things go, this one is one of the best we have ever done, right up there with my personal favorite with David Korowicz, the Irishman with the Gift of the Blarney Stone who wrote Financial System Cross-Contagion: A Study in Global Systemic Collapse and a few other well documented and researched papers.  Also right up there with the most popular discussion generally speaking with Nicole Foss (aka Stoneleigh) of The Automatic Earth blog.

Hope you enjoy the discussion.  While you listen, here below are a few more pics from Gail from the China Trip.  You can find more of them in the China Trip articles in the archives on OFW.

In Taich Electric Board Room

Inside the Taichi Electric boardroom where we met with officials. The people shown came with our group, however. Lots of smoking; windows were open and no heat despite  temperature in the low 50s. No elevators in buildings we visited.

Inside graduate student officeInside the graduate students’ office where I spent my time in Beijing when not teaching. Note blue jacket, backpack, and purse. 

Where we met at third factoryWhere we met at the 3rd factory we visited in the electrical industry in Wenzhou. The individual shown is a retired professor who accompanied us on the trip.

Popular cheap noodle dishPopular cheap Chinese noodle dish in the school cafeteria. It consisted of tomato sauce with vegetables, noodles and a fried egg on top. It came with unlimited refills on the noodles and sauce, for the equivalent of $1.30.

Some sea food at restaurantPart of seafood selection at a Chinese restaurant. Most fish was cooked and served whole. Eating it with chop sticks was challenging.

Equivalent of UPS delivery for studentsThe equivalent of UPS delivery for students at the university. If a student knows the date a package is expected to come, the student can go and check the sidewalk for it. I didn’t find out what happens when it rains or snows.

Shrine at third factoryMapShrine at the 3rd factory in Wenzhou. Religious expression seems to be permitted in some areas outside of Beijing.

 

*Gail's China Trip Travelogue Posts

Smart Meters

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on April 7, 2015

Drought-Monitor-July-8-2014

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Enforcement Of Mandatory Water Restrictions Is Only Just The Beginning

Warning Signs 2 - Public DomainSmart meters are now being used by authorities to crack down on “water wasters” in the state of California, but this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what they can be used for.  Ultimately, smart meters are designed to be part of an entire “smart grid” that will enable government bureaucrats “to control everything from your dishwasher to thermostat“.   And in recent years, there has been a massive push to install smart meters in as many homes in the United States and Europe as possible.  Back in December 2007, there were only 7 million smart meters installed in this country.  Today there are more than 51 million.  On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Parliament has set a goal of having smart meters in 80 percent of all homes by the year 2020.  This is being promoted as the “green” thing to do, but could it be possible that there is more to these smart meters than meets the eye?

In Long Beach, California authorities were getting complaints that a local McDonald’s restaurant was wasting water in the middle of the night.

So what did the authorities do?

They installed a smart meter which instantly started providing incriminating evidence against McDonald’s.  The following comes from CBS Los Angeles

The Long Beach Water Department says sprinklers at a McDonald’s restaurant on Bellflower Boulevard went on for 45 minutes at a time, twice a night, for an undefined number of nights. Complaints continued to mount as water pooled and wasted. The department, however, could do little about the wasting.

That was before the smart meter.

Since its installation in February, Long Beach Water Department General Manager Kevin Wattier says he saw an immediate spike by tens of thousands of gallons, each time McDonald’s overwatered their property.

And according to NPR, other large California cities are also now looking into how they can use smart meters to enforce the new mandatory water restrictions in the state…

By next February, California cities together are supposed to cut their water use by a quarter. Sacramento, San Francisco and some Central Valley cities are also seeing whether smart meters can help.

But smart meters are capable of determining far more than whether or not we are using too much water.

Already, police all over the country are using the data provided by smart meters to identify homes that are potentially growing marijuana.  Homes that grow marijuana tend to use much more electricity than other homes, and so if your home is using a high level of energy that is a red flag for the cops.

In addition, there are a whole host of other ways that smart meters can be used as surveillance devices by law enforcement.  The following list comes from an electronics and media expert from Burbank, California named Jerry Day…

1. They individually identify electrical devices inside the home and record when they are operated causing invasion of privacy.

2. They monitor household activity and occupancy in violation of rights and domestic security.

3. They transmit wireless signals which may be intercepted by unauthorized and unknown parties. Those signals can be used to monitor behavior and occupancy and they can be used by criminals to aid criminal activity against the occupants.

4. Data about occupant’s daily habits and activities are collected, recorded and stored in permanent databases which are accessed by parties not authorized or invited to know and share that private data.

5. Those with access to the smart meter databases can review a permanent history of household activities complete with calendar and time-of-day metrics to gain a highly invasive and detailed view of the lives of the occupants.

6. Those databases may be shared with, or fall into the hands of criminals, blackmailers, law enforcement, private hackers of wireless transmissions, power company employees, and other unidentified parties who may act against the interests of the occupants under metered surveillance.

7. “Smart Meters” are, by definition, surveillance devices which violate Federal and State wiretapping laws by recording and storing databases of private and personal activities and behaviors without the consent or knowledge of those people who are monitored.

8. It is possible for example, with analysis of certain “Smart Meter” data, for unauthorized and distant parties to determine medical conditions, sexual activities, physical locations of persons within the home, vacancy patterns and personal information and habits of the occupants.

If all of that wasn’t bad enough, there are also substantial concerns about the impact that these smart meters are having on our health

According to physician and epidemiologist Sam Milham, Smart Meters, which are linked to an array of health issues, emit as much as 100 times the amount of radiation as a cell phone.

Daniel Hirsch, a senior lecturer on nuclear policy at UCSC, says the federal government purposely misleads the public by conducting biased safety studies at the behest of power companies.

A Washington DC power company stirred controversy in 2013 after they were caught lying to the public about how often their smart meters emitted radiation. Despite claims that the meters only emitted radiation once every 4 to 6 hours, an investigation by WUSA9 News revealed the frequency to be closer to 4 to 6 times every minute.

When there is that much radiation blasting through our homes on a continual basis, it is inevitable that there are going to be health problems.

According to Infowars, tens of thousands of people have already reported significant health issues that they believe are directly related to the installation of smart meters in their homes…

Tens of thousands of individuals are reporting officially, to governments and utilities, that they are experiencing illness or functional impairments following the installation of “smart” meters. Reported symptoms include headaches, sleep problems, ear ringing, focus difficulties, fatigue, heart palpitations, nausea and statistically abnormal recurrences of cancer.

Perhaps you are dealing with one of the health issues just mentioned.

If so, you might want to check to see if you have a smart meter in your home.

There has got to be a better way for the state of California to monitor water usage rather than smart meters.

And without a doubt, the state of California is facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions.  The snowpack in the Sierras is only 5 percent of the long-term historical average.  Snow levels are currently at the lowest levels ever measured for this time of the year, and the snow is melting five to 30 days earlier than normal.  For much more on the nightmare that the state is dealing with, please see my previous article entitled “How Many People Will Have To Migrate Out Of California When All The Water Disappears?

Thankfully, there is a lot of waste that can be eliminated, so a lot of water can potentially be saved.  It turns out that Californians are some of the biggest water wasters on the entire planet.  The following statistic comes from the New York Times

California’s cities consume 178 gallons per person per day, on average. That’s 40 percent more than the per capita water consumption in New York City and more than double that of parched Sydney, in Australia.

So let’s hope that Californians start banding together and begin using water more wisely, because this drought is not likely to go away any time soon.

And the truth is that what is going on in the state of California is kind of a microcosm of the water crisis that is beginning to emerge all over the globe

The move by California to require mandatory cuts in water use for the first time in its history has highlighted the world’s looming water crisis and increased the focus on the links between sustainable water and sustainable energy.

“We need a new paradigm,” says Steven Solomon, author of Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power and Civilization. “The days when we could just go further into the mountains and find new sources of water are past. We need to make better use of the water we have.”

In the end, the drought in California is going to affect all of us.  A tremendous amount of our produce is grown in the state, and we will all soon be feeling the pain of the drought in our local grocery stores

As California’s multi-year drought rages on, consumers in the rest of the United States may soon be feeling the pinch at the grocery store as farmers around California reduce water and plant fewer crops.

California, sometimes called the ‘nation’s salad bowl’, is the country’s largest producer of grapes, kiwis, olives, avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, tree nuts and dairy. Now in the fourth year of a massive drought ‒ and facing only a year’s worth of water remaining in the state ‒ food prices in the US and agricultural unemployment in California are set to climb as farmers do what they can to conserve water and protect their investments.

So what do you think about all of this?

The EMP threat

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on April 6, 2015

EMP.map.graphic

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The EMP Threat: All It Would Take Is A Couple Of Explosions To Send America Back To The 1800s

EMP ThreatOur entire way of life can be ended in a single day.  And it wouldn’t even take a nuclear war to do it.  All it would take for a rogue nation or terror organization to bring us to our knees is the explosion of a couple well-placed nuclear devices high up in our atmosphere.  The resulting electromagnetic pulses would fry electronics from coast to coast.  Of course this could also be accomplished without any attack.  Scientists tell us that massive solar storms have hit our planet before, and that it is inevitable that there will be more in the future.  As you will read about below, the most recent example of this was “the Carrington Event” in 1859.  If a similar burst from the sun hit us today, experts tell us that life in America could suddenly resemble life in the 1800s, and the economic damage caused could potentially be in the trillions of dollars.  This is one of the greatest potential threats that we are facing as a nation, and yet Barack Obama has essentially done nothing to get us prepared.

The technology necessary to conduct such an electromagnetic pulse attack against the United States has become much more accessible in recent years.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, even rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran either already have or will soon have the capability to hurt us in this way…

Rogue nations such as North Korea (and possibly Iran) will soon match Russia and China and have the primary ingredients for an EMP attack: simple ballistic missiles such as Scuds that could be launched from a freighter near our shores; space-launch vehicles able to loft low-earth-orbit satellites; and simple low-yield nuclear weapons that can generate gamma rays and fireballs.

If a successful, large scale EMP attack ever did take place, it would be a catastrophe beyond anything that the United States has ever seen before.  The EMP Commission, which was established by Congress, says that it is likely that most of us would end up dead

What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.

In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose co-chairmen were former Secretaries of Defense William Perry and James Schlesinger, concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.

If you are a terrorist, a dictator or a fanatic that is looking for a “killshot” for the United States, those kinds of numbers would certainly get your attention.

And it was recently reported by WND that the Iranian military has already been playing around with such a scenario…

Peter Vincent Pry, who is executive director of a congressional advisory group called the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, raised the alarm as the agreement is about to be finalized.

He said U.S. military officials have confirmed such an Iranian plan.

“Iranian military documents describe such a scenario – including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States,” Pry wrote in a recent column in Israel’s main online media network, Aruz Sheva.

“Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell of Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom,” he said.

Very chilling stuff.

And of course there are many, many others out there that would love to see the U.S. taken down other than just the Iranians.

Meanwhile, our power grid is far more vulnerable than most Americans would dare to imagine.

In previous articles, I discussed a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report which stated the following…

“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”

Are you starting to get the picture?

Our entire way of life depends upon electricity.  If you take away that electricity, our society is transformed literally overnight.

A successful EMP would be an utter nightmare for this nation.  Just consider what U.S. Representative Scott Perry had to say about a potential attack last year

The consequences of such an attack could be catastrophic; all electronics, power systems, and information systems could be shut down,” Rep. Scott Perry said in prepared remarks during an EMP hearing in May held by the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. “This could then cascade into interdependent infrastructures such as water, gas, and telecommunications. While we understand this is an extreme case, we must always be prepared in case a rogue state decides to utilize this technology.”

In essence, suddenly nothing would work and just about everything that we take for granted would suddenly be gone.

In a previous article, I spelled out some of the implications of such an event…

-There would be no heat for your home.
-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.
-Your computer would not work.
-There would be no Internet.
-Your phones would not work.
-There would be no television.
-There would be no radio.
-ATM machines would be shut down.
-There would be no banking.
-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.
-Without electricity, most gas stations would not be functioning.
-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.
-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.
-Hospitals would not be able to function normally.
-You would quickly start running out of medicine.
-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.

And as I mentioned above, all of this can happen even without an attack.

A direct hit from a major solar storm can cause the exact same thing.

In fact, NASA says that there is a 12 percent chance that such a storm will hit us during the next ten years…

NASA is warning that there’s a 12 percent chance an extreme solar storm will hit Earth in the next decade, sending out massive shock waves that would knock out grids across the world.

The economic impact of this doomsday scenario could exceed $2 trillion — or 20 times the cost of Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

In recent years, we have been really lucky.

There was a close call in 2012 and another one in 2013.

The following is an excerpt from an upcoming book that I have co-authored with Barbara Fix that will soon be published entitled “Get Prepared Now”…

Most people have absolutely no idea that the Earth barely missed being fried by a massive EMP burst from the sun in 2012 and in 2013. And earlier in 2014 there was another huge solar storm which would have caused tremendous damage if it had been directed at our planet. If any of those storms would have directly hit us, the result would have been catastrophic. Electrical transformers would have burst into flames, power grids would have gone down and much of our technology would have been fried. In essence, life as we know it would have ceased to exist – at least for a time. These kinds of solar storms have hit the Earth many times before, and experts tell us that it is inevitable that it will happen again. The most famous one happened in 1859, and was known as the Carrington Event. But other than the telegraph, humanity had very little dependence on technology at the time. If another Carrington Event happened today, it would be a complete and utter nightmare. A study by Lloyd’s of London has concluded that it would have taken a $2,600,000,000,000 chunk out of the global economy, and it would take up to a decade to repair the damage. Unfortunately, scientists insist that it is going to happen at some point. The only question is when.

So keep an eye on the sun.

The giant ball of fire that we revolve around has started to behave very erratically, and it has the power to end our way of life at any time.

In fact, scientists tell us that we are about to get hit with a “glancing blow” on April 7th…

A filament of magnetism stretching halfway across the sun erupted during the late hours of April 4th (22:00-23:00 UT). The eruption split the sun’s atmosphere, hurling a CME into space and creating a “canyon of fire,” shown in a movie recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory: The glowing walls of the canyon trace the original channel where the filament was suspended by magnetic forces above the sun’s surface. From end to end, the structure stretches more than 300,000 km–a real Grand Canyon.

Fragments of the exploding filament formed the core of a CME that raced away from the sun at approximately 900 km/s (2 million mph): image. Most of the CME will miss Earth, but not all. The cloud is expected to deliver a a glancing blow to our planet’s magnetic field could on April 7th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

The event of April 7th is not going to cause us major problems.  But someday there will be a solar storm that will.

Personally, I cannot even imagine what life would be like without electricity.

Because we have become so deeply dependent on technology, most of us would have absolutely no idea how to live without it.

An electromagnetic pulse attack would be one of the fastest ways to cripple America and end the dominance of the United States in world affairs.  And in this day and age, there are hundreds of millions of people around the planet that would love to see that happen.

So to not take steps to protect our power grid from such an attack is very foolish.  But that is precisely what Barack Obama (and presidents before him) have chosen to do.  We have technology which would mitigate the damage from an electromagnetic pulse, but rather than spend the money Obama has decided to just hope that it will never happen.

Up to this point, we have been fortunate.

But someday, our luck may run out.

Ongoing Commodification of the Commons

Off the keyboard of Stefeun

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 7, 2015

tragedy_of_commons.gif

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

Reverse Engineer kindly invited me (1) to develop here one of the comments I posted on Gail Tverberg’s blog Our Finite World. It was a link to a very good article by Cory Morningstar on her blog “The Art of Annihilation”(2).
To summarize it, she says that the non-governmental organizations, and especially the environmental activists, are in fact working for Big Corp, voluntarily or not.
In this purpose, the capitalism is trying to find new resources, as standard/traditional ones are depleting.
Here’s an excerpt from the prologue:
“(…)
It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests (via REDD), water, etc. (environmental “markets“). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing.”
The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – a fait accompli extraordinaire of unparalleled scale, with unparalleled repercussions for humanity and all life.
Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” The fact of the matter is, all corporations on the planet (thus all investments on the planet) do and will continue to require massive amounts of energies (including fossil fuels) in order to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.
The windmills and solar panels serve as the beautiful (marketing) imagery, yet they are somewhat illusory – the veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.
(…)”
Then I started looking at it in a broader view, and realized that in fact our whole economy is actually about, and based on, Commodification of the Commons.
Indeed:
– the Primary sector (agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining) takes what is “given by Nature” (i.e. for free), and exchanges it for claims on whatever has been given a price (i.e. money).
– then the Secondary sector (manufacturing) turns it into refined or consumer goods or tools, and the Tertiary sector (services) helps dispatch the stuff and information.
The cost we take into account is only the amount of energy spent for the extraction, the transformation or the distribution(3). The “real” cost of a given product is therefore the total energy embodied in it. Apart from heating or cooling it, which obviously uses thermal energy, most of the embedded energy is mechanical energy (= Work) used to move it. Wether this work is hours of human labor or barrels of oil or kWh consumed by a machine only matters for the order of magnitude.
The material itself is counted zero (!!).
Both material and energy are considered infinite (!!!).
Each and every single operation is using energy and generating waste (entropy).
The waste isn’t taken into accout and “the economy” considers that either Nature, or the Society as a whole, should take in charge the burden of recycling it or making it disappear no matter how.
The size of the dustbin must be infinite too!.
Of course most of this waste doesn’t just disappear, as it cannot quickly reintegrate the natural cycles. It isn’t manually or mechanically recycled either, even when possible, because doing it requires energy (often more than the valuable output could buy) and therefore is accounted as a net cost nobody wants to take in charge (as an example, look how successful the carbon-tax is).
This process is transforming the Earth into a huge garbage dump.
Back to the main point, what we call “the economy” is thus a process of appropriation, which first step consists in taking hold of something that primarily doesn’t belong to anybody, for a private profit(4).
We’re stealing from our environment, and in return vomit rubbish that cannot be reused neither by humans nor by Nature, unless spending huge amounts of energy or waiting several years, if not millenia. Steve Ludlum says that what we proudly call “wealth-production” is in reality an organized destruction of our real capital, that cannot be recreated. There’s no substitute, and what is gone, … is gone forever(5). The economy is a component of the natural environment, not the other way round.
Such a “steal & waste” system can work as long as sufficient resource is available for all, and requires only a reasonable effort (i.e. low energy cost) for its extraction. Not to mention the rate of waste-production that must remain low, and with high level of recyclability. In other words, the human population density and the technological level must both be very low, in order to acheive something in which equilibriums are evolving slowly enough to resemble a “steady-state”(6).
As soon as a risk of scarcity appears, the rules of property prevail and there’s a fight over the resource (arable land, fresh water, mineral ores, fossil fuels as required in bigger quantities to compensate the depletion, etc..).
These property laws are being reinforced and are becoming overwhelmingly important as we’re approaching the limits. Once the resource is depleted in a given place, we must take over areas where it is still available.It started with “this land is mine” (colonization), continued with “this subsoil is mine” (oil-wars), “this water is mine”, etc…
By the way, the ownership is progressively shifted from public to corporate (while debt flows in opposite direction), see e.g. landgrabbing(7). Big Corp is more flexible than Nations, thus better adapted to changing environmental & economic conditions.
Then, because of diminishing returns and finiteness of the planet, it becomes increasingly difficult to find new land to conquer, good seams to work, oil-fields to take over. Therefore, in an attempt to catch up with the loss of usual resource, Big Corp is currently expanding its property claims onto patents on the living, rights on species(8), intellectual property, information (big data), etc…
All these examples of new resources, enlarging the pool of valuable ones (IOW the reckless race for privatization of whatever-can-be), are aiming to compensate the decline of traditional ones, if not feed the mandatory growth.
Beyond the likely irreversible changes triggered and the increase in savage destruction caused by this process, the main problem here is that the laws of diminishing returns also apply to the energy, most of it being fossil fuels for which we don’t have any substitute nor expandable source.
So, in the end of the day, finding new “fields to mine” is pointless (not to mention dangerous), since we won’t have the sufficient energy to exploit them.
         _____________________________
PS about the economic system: IMHO, capitalism is undeniably speeding up the whole process, especially when financialized, but I’m not sure that another system would have given a better result in the long run, unless it would have considered that a- the resource is finite (the only net input in our system is the energy from the sun, all the rest is -or should be- recycled), b- taken into account the waste management (entropy production), and c- deeply questioned the property rules (to promote cooperation and avoid wealth concentration).
Unfortunately, such a no-growth system is an utopia, because Life is a succession of unexpected shortages, and the winner is always the one who burns most energy, according to the MEP principle (Maximum Entropy Production, aka 3rd Law of Thermodynamics, acc.to F.Roddier/R.Dewar), or the simpler MPP (Maximum Power Principle, as described by Jay Hanson in http://dieoff.org/).
        ________________________________
Footnotes:
(1): I discovered Our Finite World by end of 2013, that was a few months after I decided to jump off the industrial workforce because I had less and less understanding of how it worked and what I was doing there. I had already grasped parts of the story here and there, but Gail sort of opened my eyes and helped me connect many dots by clearly explaining the interactions within our complex system, which should always be considered as a whole and not studied as independant parts.
(3): I don’t consider here the financial costs. After all, capital and debt are claims on amounts of energy that has been or will (never) be consumed elsewhere.
Note that I’m talking about cost, not price. The price is a result of power struggle, and can be lower than cost in some -temporary- cases (e.g. barrel of oil today).
(4): Michael Parenti, in “Against Empire”, states it as follows:
“The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force.”
See http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/695226-against-empire ; also quoted in Cory Morningstar’s article linked at (2)
(5): I assume that most of the DD readers know Steve Ludlum better than I do (many articles and podcasts available here on the Diner).
(6): Gail Tverberg explains why a steady state isn’t realistic: http://ourfiniteworld.com/?s=steady+state
(8): speaks for itself: http://www.speciesbanking.com/
The mother-site is… drumroll here…: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/

Attack of the Zombie Plants: World War A

From the keyboard of Thomas Lewis
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Just when you think it’s safe to go near the water, you start feeling dizzy. Thanks, algae. (Photo by Dave Shefer/Flickr)

Just when you think it’s safe to go near the water, you start feeling dizzy. Thanks, algae. (Photo by Dave Shefer/Flickr)

First published at The Daily Impact  September 3, 2014

 

Along most of its coastline, in its bays and estuaries, and in many of its rivers and lakes, America is under mounting attack by another enemy of its own making — toxic green algae. It’s like a bad horror movie, with the slime sprawling across vast reaches of water (so much that it’s visible from space), eventually covering beaches and burping a neurotoxin that is deadly to earthlings. As a movie, it wouldn’t get past a concept lunch in Hollywood today (Hey, Arnie! It’s been done, okay?) but it is raising real dread — not the fake movie kind — from California to Florida, from the coast of Washington to the coast of Ohio. Yes, Ohio.

First let’s be clear about the primary cause of algae blooms. It is the excessive and incautious use of fertilizer by industrial agriculture, compounded by the excessive erosion that results from industrial practices. The Big Ag lobby has browbeaten almost everybody into mentioning, when they talk about algae blooms, the contribution of city lawns, insufficient sewage treatment and storm runoff. But the size and extent of the blooms, nationwide, tracks over many years with the increasing “consumption” of fertilizer. Actually, if it was consumed, by the plants it is intended for, there would be no problem. But when too much is applied, or it’s applied at the wrong time of year, it washes off, and is consumed by algae instead.

Garden variety algae is one kind of problem. Toxic algae is another. Generally, algae turns toxic — begins to emit a deadly neurotoxin — when three things happen to an algae bloom. It gets very large, very warm, and is infused with an extra-large amount of nutrients. Once upon a time those things didn’t happen very often. Now they do. Everywhere.

Along California’s Central Coast, dozens of beached, convulsing sea lions, many of which die, are being seen every day. Pelicans, having scooped up a beakful of contaminated fish, are falling dead from the sky. Many fisheries have been closed since April, when high levels of toxin were first detected — this year. “These blooms are getting more frequent and larger every year and affecting more and more animals,” according to Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

A half million residents of Toledo, Ohio were told not to even touch their tap water for two days this month after an algal toxin was discovered to be present. An algae bloom had occurred near the city’s water intake in Lake Erie, miles from the shore. Officials sounded the all clear two days later, even though the algae bloom is still there. Algae typically cover enough of Lake Erie in recent years to be clearly visible from space.

Just off the west coast of Florida. the biggest red tide in ten years stretches over 4000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico, to a depth of 100 feet. A red tide is just another color of algae bloom, and like the others when it gets big enough and warm enough it starts oozing poison. This one has killed fish by the tens of thousands, and as it comes ashore its colorless and odorless toxin threatens larger animals including humans.

The Chesapeake Bay this year has one of the largest dead zones on record. A dead zone is a volume of water stripped of its oxygen by decomposing algae, which has flourished because of an oversupply of nutrients. This year, the 34th successful year in the war on pollution in the Chesapeake, the dead zone comprises a cubic mile of water in which nothing can live.

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River is also one of the largest this year, dwarfing the Chesapeake’s problem at 5,000 square miles.

This problem is not caused by climate change, although climate change makes it worse by providing the algae with warmer water for longer periods of the year. The cause of this problem and of climate change are the same: rampant pollution by industrial interests that governments cannot or will not restrain.

The much-touted efforts to “solve” the problem of agricultural runoff — you will see estimates that billions have been spent in the effort — consist mainly of puffery: signs that say “you are now polluting an important watershed” and resolutions about voluntary programs (“you could stop polluting this watershed if you wanted to.”)

Meanwhile the slime spreads, and dies, and spreads some more, killing when it’s alive and killing after it’s dead. Until the people who stimulate algae blooms start going to jail for it, the algae will continue to poison America. Don’t hold your breath.

 

***

 

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

 

Swimming in a Sea of Sewage

Off the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on September 1, 2014

logopodcast

Discuss this Photo Essay & Rant at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

http://freshkillspark.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/landfill.jpg

The Fresh Kills (sic) Staten Island Landfill

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Park Ave, NYC Trash.  No, this was NOT during the strikes of 1975 or 1981.  This was shot in 2010

http://i.imgur.com/0EfxYCf.jpg

Cockroaches on the streets of Naples, Italy in 2012

http://5tjt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/rat2.jpg

Rats at the Buffet Table in NYC

http://www.asianews.it/files/img/CHINA_-_River_pollution.jpg

Fishing in Beijing

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Environment/Pix/pictures/2008/11/25/yellow5.jpg

More Chinese Fishing

http://media1.keepbusy.net/pics/pic-dump-201-5.jpg

Blue Water is soooo Yesterday…

http://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/1391747/china-water-pollution.jpg

Refreshing the Water Bottle in Shanghai

http://www.lefigaro.fr/medias/2013/01/14/3636e120-5e59-11e2-ad4f-60a6e0e3c541-800x532.jpg

Biking is Great Aerobic Exercise!

http://www.2050publications.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/japonia-fukushima.jpg

TEPCO sez, “No worries, we will store all the water as Ice Cubes after we Freeze it”

http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/files//home/virtual/v2.blogs.ft.com/var/www/html/wp-content/blogs.dir/30/files//2010/12/macondo-explosion.jpg

BP sez, “Gulf Shrimp thrive on Corexit”

http://www.ctvnews.ca/polopoly_fs/1.1635314!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_960/image.jpg

BC Scientists are BAFFLED by Starfish Melting disease!

http://www.mt-seafood.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Blue_crab.jpg

Even Crabs get the Blues sometimes…

Snippet:

…Mostly, the trash is put “Out of Site-Out of Mind” in Landfills that are fairly distant from your Suburban bedroom community, so you don’t see them or smell them unless you take your own drive over to the dump to dispose of some of your junk. Mostly we employ public and private Garbagemen for this task, so you don’t see it unless you have one of these jobs. At least we used to call them Garbagemen when I was a kid, now they are called Sanitation Engineers. This sounds sufficiently technical we imagine ourselves to be cleaner I suppose.

Besides the individual waste is the Industrial waste which gets produced along with the products you buy and eventually send to the dump. This includes megatons of slag produced in mining operations and more tons of toxic chemicals. This stuff eventually works its way into the groundwater, which then needs to be “processed” to keep it potable, which takes enormous scale water processing plants in Big Shities which themselves take enormous quantities of energy to run, and after filtering the poisons out of your drinking water, they again need to be disposed of.

So you constantly fight an ever increasing pile of waste, which as the density of the population increases begins to overwhelm any natural processes which might recycle the waste into something which doesn’t pose a health hazard, not just for Hom Sapiens, but most of the other creatures sharing the environment with you…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

California Drying and Peaked Oil: Daily Impact Double Feature

From the keyboard of Thomas Lewis
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Palestinian_refugees

This hasn’t happened yet in California (it happened in Galilee in 1948). But this is what it will look like on the Oregon border if the historic drought continues (Wikipedia photo)

California Drying: “We May Have to Migrate”

First published at The Daily Impact  August 1, 2014

The only category of drought higher than the one now assigned to nearly 60 percent of California (the USDA’s Drought Monitor calls it “exceptional”)  is “Biblical.” Three years in, there is no relief in sight — the much-anticipated El Nino pattern of sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, which usually increases rainfall in California, has not materialized. It would take a full year of normal rain and snowfall to restore surface waters to normal levels. A UC Davis study just out finds the amount of surface water available to California agriculture has been reduced by 6.6 million acre-feet(yes, that’s enough water to submerge 6.6 million acres to a depth of one foot). Groundwater has been pumped to replace five million acre-feet, but the shortfall remains a jaw-dropping 1.6 million acre-feet.

It is, right now, one of the worst droughts in the history of North America. Bad enough, says Lynn Wilson, chair of the School of Arts and Sciences at Kaplan University and member of a UN delegation on climate change, that “we may have to migrate people out of California.”

Which immediately led to a post on the aptly named Lunatic Outpost ( I am not making any of this up) titled “UN panel recommends moving people out of California.”  In black transport helicopters, one assumes.  (For the record: Dr. Wilson’s UN service is not her day job, and her observation had nothing to do with the UN.)

But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you might not have to leave California. “Civilizations in the past have had to migrate out of areas of drought,” says Dr. Wilson, and although heroic measures can be expected before any such decision is reached, she says, “it can’t be taken off the table.”

Ominously, heroic measures are already being taken. Californians can now be fined $500 for washing their car or watering their ornamentals. Time to move to Phoenix. Oh, wait….

Like an earthquake far out to sea, the California catastrophe has raised a tsunami of consequences that has not yet reached the doorsteps of the rest of the country. Except for much higher prices for lettuce and, one assumes, arugula. California industrial agriculture produces half of America’s produce — fruits, vegetables and nuts — and to do it sucks up 80 per cent of the available water. (Which is why, when the drought gets really, really bad, the government cracks down on car-washing.)

With half a million acres of farmland idled for lack of irrigation water, with lettuce wilting and fruit trees dying, the hurt will soon spread beyond the region’s devastated farmers. Just this year, the California Farm Bureau estimates, the average American family should expect to spend $500 more on food because of the California drought. And next year, it’s going to get serious.

Next year, or soon thereafter, they are going to start running out of groundwater to pump onto their fields. And while the effects of that will be obvious and immediate, there’s more: they have already pumped so much water out of the Central Valley’s deep aquifer that the Sierra Nevada has rebounded upward by a half inch just in the last decade — six inches in the last century-and-a-half — and the massive San Andreas Fault has been twitching with unusual clusters of earthquakes nearby.

The UC Davis study went to great lengths to monetize the costs of the drought just this year to the state ($2.2 billion), to agriculture ($1.5 billion), and so on. But it may not be until we see the first battalions of climate refugees trudging across the Oregon border in search of rain that we comprehend the true cost of screwing around with Mother Nature.

________________________________________

Peaked Oil: Waiting for the Swords to Drop

Damocles learned that when you know about the sword up there, it’s hard to enjoy a life of luxury.

Damocles learned that when you know about the sword up there, it’s hard to enjoy a life of luxury.

First published at The Daily Impact  July 28, 2014

In the fable that bears his name, Damocles was unnerved in the midst of luxury and power by the threat of a single sword (representing the ever present possibility of failure) hanging precariously over his head. We, who because of cheap oil enjoy luxury and power in our ordinary lives beyond the imagination of the kings of old, live beneath a veritable forest of deadly blades, all of which are just about to fall. Unlike Damocles, we refuse to look up, let alone move out of the zone of impact. When they tell our fable, nobody’s going to believe it.

1. The Price Sword. The world is paying just over $100 a barrel for the 90 million barrels of oil it needs to get through a day. If the price goes any lower, it will be less than the cost of production from fracking, tar sands and deep ocean wells, which is where all the new oil is coming from. If we have to depend on the old legacy fields of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and the like, which are all in decline, the price will quickly go up, and when it gets much above $100, experience shows it will drive industrial economies into recession. So that’s two swords — one sticks you if you stand up, the other if you sit down.

2. The Demand Sword. The recession of +/- 2009 drastically reduced our consumption of oil, hence dropped oil prices and then kept them from rising as fast as they would have. As we recover, demand increases, prices go up, pushing us back into recession. As the masses of China, India and Asia have the audacity to try to live like us, with cars and air conditioners, they increase demand for oil, which increases prices, which makes it highly unlikely they will ever get to live like us, which, of course, we will soon not be doing either.  So this is really two swords, too — one sticks you if you step forward, the other takes a slice if you step back.

3. The Capital Sword. The oil bidness has done a very good job of not letting us see them sweat. But they are sweating. Not because they have to spend a lot of money to find and develop new sources of oil years ahead of getting them on line — that has always been the case. They are sweating because despite spending more and more on exploration and development, they are finding less and less oil. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard observed in the London Telegraph recently:

Data from Bank of America show that oil and gas investment in the US has soared to $200bn a year. It has reached 20pc of total US private fixed investment, the same share as home building. This has never happened before in US history, even during the Second World War when oil production was a strategic imperative.

This is of course otherwise known as a bubble, a stampede of money started by the irrational exuberance of the hydraulic frackers. It continues, amid talk of “energy independence” and “America Numbah One,” but not for long. Look around. All the shale operators are under water. Not a single major oil company is involved in the American Fracking Revolution: Shell was, but bailed at the end of last year after taking a $2 billion dollar loss.

The same situation obtains worldwide, for deepwater, Arctic, and traditional sources. Global capital investment by oil companies doubled in just eight years (2000-2008), is running near a trillion dollars a year, and is finding virtually nothing. The major oil companies have already, quietly, begun cutting back on their capital expenditures for exploration and development, which may be the scariest single fact about the oil situation today.

4. The Depletion Sword. The Achilles heel (Too many classical allusions? Okay, I’ll stop.) of the fracking business is the hideous decline rates of the wells. Traditional oil wells lasted for 20 years. These super-expensive, water-guzzling, radioactive and toxic waste-generating  babies last for five. That means if you’re an operator and you want to show your investors steadily rising production, you had better bring a new well on line nearly every year. The good times roll on, as long as everybody believes the good times will last forever. But it’s always amazing how fast a party that everybody wanted in on can disperse when it runs out of booze.

5. The Stock Market Sword.  With the country’s economy manifestly unrecovered from the Great Recession (or the Minor Depression, whichever you prefer), it makes no sense that the stock market is dancing in the stars, wearing silly hats and blowing on noisemakers while millions sink into poverty. That which makes no sense, collapses. Reality, it turns out, is not just a good idea, its a prerequisite for persistence. (See the Enron Bubble, the Savings and Loan Bubble, the Dot-Com Bubble, the Housing Bubble, and on and on….) So it is not only conceivable, but likely, that within the next few months a standard, garden-variety stock-market correction (the other word for it — “crash”) could suck all the money out of all the fracking plays, at once. Or, the dawning realization that we have been led up a blind alley by the American Fracking Revolution could trigger the market panic that finishes fracking. Either way, it’s a lose-lose scenario.

And to think Damocles freaked out at the sight of one sword.

***

 

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

 

Apocalyptic Drought

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on Economic Collapse on July 15, 2014

Drought-Monitor-July-8-2014

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20 Signs The Epic Drought In The Western United States Is Starting To Become Apocalyptic

When scientists start using phrases such as “the worst drought” and “as bad as you can imagine” to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad.  Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end, we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age.  The state of California is getting ready to ban people from watering their lawns and washing their cars, but if this drought persists we will eventually see far more extreme water conservation measures than that.  And the fact that nearly half of all of the produce in America comes out of the state of California means that ultimately this drought is going to deeply affect all of us.  Food prices have already been rising at an alarming rate, and the longer this drought goes on the higher they will go.   Let us hope and pray that this drought is permanently broken at some point, because otherwise we could very well be entering an era of extreme water rationing, gigantic dust storms and crippling food prices.  The following are 20 signs that the epic drought in the western half of the United States is starting to become apocalyptic…

#1 According to the Los Angeles Times, downtown Los Angeles is now the driest that it has been since records began being kept all the way back in 1877.

#2 The California State Water Resources Control Board says that nearly 50 communities are already on the verge of running out of water.

#3 In a desperate attempt to conserve water, the state of California is considering banning watering lawns and washing cars.  Once implemented, violators will be slapped with a $500 fine for each offense.

#4 It has been reported that a new social media phenomenon known as “drought shaming” has begun in California.  People are taking videos and photos of their neighbors wasting water and posting them to Facebook and Twitter.

#5 Climate scientist Tim Barnett says that the water situation in Las Vegas “is as bad as you can imagine“, and he believes that unless the city “can find a way to get more water from somewhere” it will soon be “out of business”.

#6 The water level in Lake Mead has now fallen to the lowest level since 1937, and it continues to drop at a frightening pace.  You can see some incredible photos of what has happened to Lake Mead right here.

#7 Rob Mrowka of the Center for Biological Diversity believes that the city of Las Vegas is going to be forced to downsize because of the lack of water…

The drought is like a slow spreading cancer across the desert. It’s not like a tornado or a tsunami, bang. The effects are playing out over decades. And as the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people (from Las Vegas).

#8 In some areas of southern Nevada, officials are actually paying people to remove their lawns in a desperate attempt to conserve water.

#9 According to Accuweather, “more than a decade of drought” along the Colorado River has set up an “impending Southwest water shortage” which could ultimately affect tens of millions of people.

#10 Most people don’t realize this, but the once mighty Colorado River has become so depleted that it no longer runs all the way to the ocean.

#11 Lake Powell is less than half full at this point.

#12 It is being projected that the current drought in California will end up costing the state more than 2 billion dollars this year alone.

#13 Farmers in California are allowing nearly half a million acres to lie fallow this year due to the extreme lack of water.

#14 The lack of produce coming from the state of California will ultimately affect food prices in the entire nation.  Just consider the following statistics from a recent Business Insider article

California is one of the U.S.’s biggest food producers — responsible for almost half the country’s produce and nuts and 25% of our milk and cream. Eighty percent of the world’s almonds come from the state, and they take an extraordinary amount of water to produce — 1.1 gallons per almond.

#15 As underground aquifers are being relentlessly drained in California, some areas of the San Joaquin Valley are sinking by 11 inches a year.

#16 It is being projected that the Kansas wheat harvest will be the worst that we have seen since 1989.

#17 The extended drought has created ideal conditions for massive dust storms to form.  You can see video of one female reporter bravely reporting from the middle of a massive dust storm in Phoenix right here.

#18 Things are so dry in California right now that people are actually starting to steal water.  For example, one Mendocino County couple recently had 3,000 gallons of water stolen from them.  It was the second time this year that they had been hit.

#19 At the moment, close to 80 percent of the state of California is experiencing either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.

#20 National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt says that this is “the worst drought we probably have seen in our lifetime“.

Most people just assume that this drought will be temporary, but experts tell us that there have been “megadroughts” throughout history in the western half of the United States that have lasted for more than 100 years.

If we have entered one of those eras, it is going to fundamentally change life in America.

And the frightening thing is that much of the rest of the world is dealing with water scarcity issues right now as well.  In fact, North America is actually in better shape than much of Africa and Asia.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “25 Shocking Facts About The Earth’s Dwindling Water Resources“.

Without plenty of fresh water, modern civilization is not possible.

And right now, the western United States and much of the rest of the world is starting to come to grips with the fact that we could be facing some very serious water shortages in the years ahead.

So what is the solution?

Who Goes Dry First? Vegas or Phoenix?

From the keyboard of Thomas Lewis
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lake mead

First published at The Daily Impact  June 11, 2014

The title of first American city to be abandoned for lack of water will be awarded in the next decade or so, and it’s hard to decide whether to bet on Las Vegas or Phoenix. It could be a tie. Those among us who still like our stories to end with a moral are rooting for Vegas, whose demise would round out a lovely wages-of-sin, Sodom-and-Gomorrah kind of fable. Phoenix seems less blameworthy, but only if you think what’s about to happen is retribution for sin. If you lean more toward the inevitable-consequences-of-stupidity theory, then there’s not much to differentiate between Dumb Phoenix and Dumber Las Vegas.In Vegas, “the situation is as bad as you can imagine,” according to climate scientist Tim Barnett at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Vegas gets its water from Lake Mead, impounded by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. Lake Mead is less than half half full, and is dropping fast, probably by another 20 feet this year. It is lower now than it ever has been since the lake was filled in 1938. Another 37 feet and the Las Vegas intake pipe will be sucking air. (All this was updated thoroughly last week in the London Telegraph. Why are the best stories about America’s environmental problems found in British newspapers?)

Not to worry, there’s another water intake for Las Vegas, 50 feet below the present one. Oh, good, two more years. Assuming drought conditions get no worse than they are now, and that is far from a safe assumption. Then what? Vegas has a plan. A boring machine the size of the Pentagon is chewing through solid rock at the rate of one inch a day to punch a line through to the very deepmost bottom of Lake Meade. Another few years, if they make it in time. The country can’t find the money to fix its roads and bridges, but it found $817 million to keep Las Vegas in flushing water for a few more years.

Then what? According to Rob Mrowka, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, “As the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people (from Las Vegas).”  

Who else gets half its water from the very same lake Mead on the very same Colorado River? Phoenix, Arizona, that’s who. A city that has been in drought conditions for ten years and is expected to remain so for another 20 or 30 years. (To say that Vegas is in a 14-year drought is redundant. It’s in a desert. Four inches of rain a year is normal.) Yet until two weeks ago, no one had told Phoenix, officially, that unless there are substantial (and unexpected) improvements in the flows of the Colorado River and the level of Lake Mead and Lake Powell farther upstream, deliveries of water to Phoenix are going to be curtailed.

Now the Central Arizona Project, which manages the lower Colorado watershed, has said exactly that. “We’re dealing with a very serious issue,” board member Sharon Megdal told the New York Times, “and people need to pay attention to it.”

In other words — Brace for Impact.

 

***

 

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

 

Dwindling Water Resources

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on Economic Collapse on June 18, 2014

Drought-No-Swimming-Sign-Photo-by-Peripitus

Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

25 Shocking Facts About The Earth’s Dwindling Water Resources

War, famine, mass extinctions and devastating plagues – all of these are coming unless some kind of miraculous solution is found to the world’s rapidly growing water crisis.  By the year 2030, the global demand for water will exceed the global supply of water by an astounding 40 percent according to one very disturbing U.S. government report.  As you read this article, lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers are steadily drying up all over the planet.  The lack of global water could potentially be enough to bring about a worldwide economic collapse all by itself if nothing is done because no society can function without water.  Just try to live a single day without using any water some time.  You will quickly realize how difficult it is.  Fresh water is the single most important natural resource on the planet, and we are very rapidly running out of it.  The following are 25 shocking facts about the Earth’s dwindling water resources that everyone should know…

#1 Right now, 1.6 billion people live in areas of the world that are facing “absolute water scarcity“.

#2 Global water use has quadrupled over the past 100 years and continues to rise rapidly.

#3 One recent study found that a third of all global corn crops are facing “water stress“.

#4 A child dies from a water-related disease every 15 seconds.

#5 By 2025, two-thirds of the population of Earth will “be living under water stressed conditions“.

#6 Due to a lack of water, Chinese food imports now require more land than the entire state of California.

#7 At this point, the amount of water that China imports is already greater than the amount of oil that the United States imports.

#8 Approximately 80 percent of the major rivers in China have become so polluted that they no longer support any aquatic life at all.

#9 The Great Lakes hold about 21 percent of the total supply of fresh water in the entire world, but Barack Obama is allowing water from those lakes “to be drained, bottled and shipped to China” at a frightening pace.

#10 It is being projected that India will essentially “run out of water” by the year 2050.

#11 It has been estimated that 75 percent of all surface water in India has been heavily contaminated by human or agricultural waste.

#12 In the Middle East, the flow of water in the Jordan River is down to only 2 percent of its historic rate.

#13 Due to a lack of water, Saudi Arabia has essentially given up on trying to grow wheat and will be 100 percent dependent on wheat imports by the year 2016.

#14 Of the 60 million people added to the major cities of the world every year, the vast majority of them live in deeply impoverished areas that have no sanitation facilities whatsoever.

#15 Nearly the entire southwestern United States is experiencing drought conditions as you read this article.  It has been this way for most of the past several years.

#16 Thanks in part to the seemingly endless drought, the price index for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs in the U.S. just hit a new all-time high.

#17 As underground aquifers are relentlessly drained in California, some areas of the San Joaquin Valley are sinking by 11 inches a year.

#18 It is being projected that Lake Mead has a 50 percent chance of running dry by the year 2025.

#19 Most Americans don’t realize this, but the once mighty Colorado River has become so depleted that it no longer runs all the way to the ocean.

#20 According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “a volume equivalent to two-thirds of the water in Lake Erie” has been permanently drained from the Ogallala Aquifer since 1940, and it is currently being drained at a rate of approximately 800 gallons per minute.

#21 Once upon a time, the Ogallala Aquifer had an average depth of approximately 240 feet, but today the average depth is just 80 feet. In some areas of Texas, the water is already completely gone.

#22 Approximately 40 percent of all rivers and approximately 46 percent of all lakes in the United States have become so polluted that they are are no longer fit for human use.

#23 Because of the high cost and the inefficient use of energy, desalination is not considered to be a widely feasible solution to our water problems at this time…

The largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere is currently under construction in Carlsbad in San Diego County at great expense. The price tag: $1 billion.

Right now, San Diego is almost totally dependent on imported water from Sierra snowmelt and the Colorado River. When the desalination plant comes online in 2016, it will produce 50 million gallons per day, enough to offset just 7 percent of the county’s water usage. That’s a huge bill for not very much additional water.

#24 We have filled the North Pacific Ocean with 100 million tons of plastic, and this is starting to have a very serious affect on the marine food chain.  Ultimately, this could mean a lot less food available from the Pacific Ocean for humans.

#25 One very shocking U.S. government report concluded that the global demand for water will exceed the global supply of water by 40 percent by the year 2030.

Sadly, most Americans are not going to take this report seriously because they can still turn on their taps and get as much fresh water as they want.

For generations, we have been able to take our seemingly endless supplies of fresh water completely for granted, but things have now changed.

We are heading into a horrendous water crisis unlike anything that the world has ever experienced before, and right now there do not seem to be any large scale solutions capable of addressing this crisis.

Hundreds of millions of people living in North Africa, the Middle East, India and parts of China already deal with severe water shortages as part of their daily lives.

But this is just the beginning.

If nothing is done, the lack of fresh water will eventually be deeply felt by nearly everyone on the entire planet.

Homemade Bread and a Dying Infrastructure

Off the keyboard of Gypsy Mama

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Published on The Butterchurn on February 16, 2014

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Discuss this article at the Pantry inside the Diner

The more aware I become of our food system and how preservatively poisonous it is, the more I desire to cook at home where I can control the ingredients. Bread was chosen among the first of the foods I learned to produce homemade.  When I began making bread, I chose a recipe for a homemade bread that consisted of four simple ingredients: Water. Flour. Salt. Yeast.  You’d think that mixing together four ingredients into a bowl would provide the same results, consistently.  Nope.  I had the worst luck. I’d mixed those ingredients into a bowl over and over and OVER again.  I’d followed the recipe to the mark.  Many times.

After awhile, I went rogue. I tried kneading the dough against a “no-knead” recipe.  I tried different oven temperatures.  I tried different amounts of cooking time.  I tried different depths and shapes of scoring.  I mixed flours.  I changed flours. I added more yeast.  On and on it went, a slew of rock hard, gooey centered, bland tasting, fall apart failures.  Every now and then, I’d get a decent loaf…but I wouldn’t know what I’d done differently to achieve it.  The process became a science experiment.  WHY was I failing?  How could I cuss up such a simple recipe?

About four months ago, my husband researched water purification systems for our home.  Up until that point, we’d used PUR and BRITA brand filters on our kitchen faucet.  He wanted to make sure that we were getting the most for our money.  A final decision was made that we should invest in a Berkey water filter system.

Water was not something I had considered as an inconsistent ingredient to my basic recipe. Each and every time I would make bread I’d pour water directly from our kitchen sink faucet.  The recipe called for tepid to warm water, so I’d adapted to turning on the hot water knob until the water was at the desired temperature.

I guess that was a bad choice considering that I now live in a house that is connected to city water.  Through one of many conversations with my husband, I learned that the water systems that are set in place for most cities are OLD.  The water itself, as you should know, is treated with… well…

I heard a story once about a guy who used to work at a water treatment plant.  He told a troublesome tale about how he’d just “spray whatever seemed enough” of the “treatment chemicals” into the water that was being distributed to all of the residents of the city he worked for.

Nice.  Regardless of the fact that I can’t cite that source, that’s quite the slap in a trusting American’s face, now isn’t it?  It sure straightened my eye sight a bit.

As I was pondering over how to write this blog and tell this story, I began thinking about my history of bread making.  When we owned a house in Rock Hill, SC, we had a well.  I loved that we were not connected to city water because I knew that Fluoride, among other “just enough” treatment chemicals couldn’t “get us.”  The bread that I made in Rock Hill was more or less consistent, so long as I stuck to the recipe and didn’t mix in too much whole wheat flour, etc.

As I look back, I kick myself for not putting it together that the water itself could have been the culprit when it came to my inability to produce a successful loaf of bread.  Thankfully, I finally came to my senses.  During the in between, however, I was working well to convince myself that operator error must have been the cause… and I took that anger and frustration with myself out on a many innocent failed loaves of wasted time and energy= death by chicken.

Earlier this week, I was mixing together the four ingredients my bread recipe called for. (yields two loaves)

  1. 3 cups of tepid water
  2. 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt (we use sea salt)
  3. 1 1/2 tablespoons of quick rise bread machine yeast
  4. 6 1/2 cups of flour

To make room for the mixing bowl, I had to move the gallon sized glass jug of filtered, husband provided, Berkey water from my less than desirable kitchen counter work space.  As I sat the mixing bowl down, something fired inside my brain that caused my simple mind to connect that, umm…maybe I should use THAT water in my recipe?

Needless to say, I baked two perfect, beautiful loaves of bread that day.  They were both eaten in about two days.  Could I succeed again, or was this just a fluke?  A few days later, I had produced two more loaves of beautiful, edible bread.

I am pretty convinced that the city tap water was causing inconsistent results when it came to my bread making.  Yeast, after all, is alive.  It is frightening to believe that the very water provided to us in a system that we’ve been raised to trust could KILL my bread!  But how can I question this belief after seeing the proof “pan out” in my oven?  The variables (ingredients) in my experiment were consistent– or so I thought.  Who knows what dose of what chemical (or worse) I’d been mixing into my dough?  No wonder I was beginning to feel a bit insane.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

All of those times I’d repeated the steps.

All of those ingredients I’d measured delicately.

All my efforts wasted because of the inconsistent variable in my experiment:  CITY WATER.  A variable that I had the audacity to believe was CONTROLLED.

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If you want to try this recipe yourself, just mix together all of the four ingredients(using filtered water, of course) in a large mixing bowl.  Stir them together until the flour has been absorbed into the mixture.  Cover the bowl and leave it somewhere it won’t be disturbed too much overnight.  In the morning, mix all of the dough into a ball in your bowl.  Grease two bread pans (coconut oil is THE BEST) and separate the large dough ball into two parts.  Turn each of your two smaller bread balls into each other (like you’re folding socks together), put ‘em in the pan and bake them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
If you’re into it, I’d be happy to spend some time writing a more detailed instruction to this recipe (with photos of preparation in between) so that you can try your hand at homemade bread of your own.  My focus of this blog, of course, was to imbed into you, oh wise baker, that filtered water WILL create better bread.  Always.

Also, if you’re wondering, we chose to purchase the “Big Berkey” with fluoride filters and have been very happy with that choice.

This amazing system reduces bacteria, viruses, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and trihalomethanes to purification standards and lasts thousands of gallons. – See more at: http://www.berkeyfilters.com/berkey-water-filters/big-berkey.html#sthash.oYr2Lqju.dpuf

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As a side note, I want to make sure that I mention that I had the worst outbreak from eczema  that I have ever had in my life after moving to a house that was hooked up to city water.  Heavy metals (Copper, Zinc, mercury, lead, Arsenic, Cadmium) are commonly found in decaying water line infrastructures.  Nickel is listed among the suspected causes of my particular form of eczema:  Dyshidrotic Eczema.  Suspicious.  I’m obviously still on the hunt for some answers to this ailment.  The cause may be different for each person, but I still don’t know exactly WHY I was a victim.  I feel as if that question of “WHY” should have an answer by now.  The medical community has not done enough research on this matter, I fear.   As I continue my search for an answer, I’ll occasionally share my thoughts on the matter in this blog through posts and comments.

Exposure to some metals, such as mercury and lead, may also cause development of autoimmunity, in which a person’s immune system attacks its own cells. This can lead to joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and diseases of the kidneys, circulatory system, and nervous system.–http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/water-education/quality-water-heavymeatal.htm

Nickel toxicity, specifically, was evaluated by researcheres at Michigan State University who found it presented a multi-tiered toxic attack. First, nickel causes essential metal imbalances. It severely disrupts enzyme action and regulation. Finally, it causes and contributes to a high amount of oxidative stress.–http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/metal-toxicity-health-dangers-nickel/

The primary source of nickel in drinking-water is leaching from metals in contact with drinking-water, such as pipes and fittings. However, nickel may also be present in some groundwaters as a consequence of dissolution from nickel ore-bearing rock

Chinese Toast

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 27, 2013

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Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

One of the longest running contrarian opinions I have spent ungodly hours debating on the net is the concept that the "Chinese Economic Miracle" is a sham, and that rather than ending up as Successors to the Great Amerikan Empire of the 20th Century, in fact they will likely end up with the most brutal problems of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  It seems obvious enough to me that the path they have taken over the last 20 years to play "catch up" to the FSoA and Krautland as a Mercantile Powerhouse is unsustainable, but somehow the folks in charge of issuing mega-bucks of debt at the TBTF Banks have not had the same opionion.  China has been the "Big Sink" for all the debt issued here, Hot Money off the Printing Press of Helicopter Ben Bernanke flowing over to China to Invest in new Factories for Widget Production, Ghost Cities, Bridges to Nowhere, High Speed Rail and all the rest, creating a Bubble of such outrageous proportions it makes Sub-Prime here in the FSoA look like GOOD INVESTMENT with SOLID FUNDAMENTALS.  LOL.

Over on Zero Hedge this week, it was reported that China has now surpassed the FSoA as Oil Importer and chief Konsumer of Fossil Fuels, @ 6.3 mpbd to the 6.26 mbpd of the FSoA.  The subtext here is that since China is using MORE Imported Oil now than the FSoA does, they are doing BETTER than we are!  Their Industrial Paradigm is WORKING, while ours is FAILING!

Submitted by Rory Johnson via OilPrice.com,

Last month the world witnessed a paradigm shift: China surpassed the United States as the world’s largest consumer of foreign oil, importing 6.3 million barrels per day compared to the United States’ 6.24 million. This trend is likely to continue and this gap is likely to grow, according to the EIA’s October short-term energy outlook. Wood Mackenzie, a leading global energy consultancy, echoed this prediction, estimating Chinese oil imports will rise to 9.2 million barrels per day (70% of total demand) by 2020.

World Liquid Fuels Consumption

This trend has been driven by a combination of factors. Booming American oil production, slow post-recovery growth, and increasing vehicle efficiency have all served to reduce crude imports. In China, however, continued economic growth has brought with it a growing middle class eager to take to the road. While the automobile market had cooled earlier this year, September saw sales rise by 21%—a trend that is putting increasing strain on China’s infrastructure and air quality in addition to oil demand.

Some of the world’s largest traffic jams are now commonplace in major Chinese cities, and air quality issues have pushed authorities to pursue synthetic natural gas technology to offset the need for coal-fired electricity. Increasing oil consumption will only serve to exacerbate these issues.

Furthermore, the per capita consumption differential between the two countries is still vast, with an average Chinese citizen consuming a mere 2.9 barrels of oil per year compared to an average American who consumes 21.5. This indicates that China’s growing thirst for oil isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

So what does this shift in oil imports mean?

More than anything else, it is a sign that China will increasingly depend on global markets to satisfy its ever-growing oil demand. This necessitates further engagement with the international system to protect its interests, encouraging a fuller integration with the current liberal order. This will have effects on both China’s approach to its currency and its diplomatic demeanour.

Derek Scissors wrote last week that this shift might usher in a world where oil is priced in RMB as opposed to solely in USD. This transition could only occur, however, if the RMB was made fully convertible and Beijing steps back from its current policy of exchange rate manipulation. Earlier this year, HSBC predicted that the RMB would be fully convertible by 2017, a reality that is surely hastened by its position as the single largest purchaser of foreign oil. A fully convertible RMB would be a “key step in pushing it as a reserve currency and enhancing its use in global trade, said Sacha Tihanyi, a strategist at Scotia Capital.

On the diplomatic side, while the United States is unlikely to withdraw from its role as defender of global oil production or guarantor of shipping routes, an increasing reliance on foreign oil will push Beijing toward a more engaged role within the international community. It is likely that we will see a change in Beijing’s approach to international intervention and future participation in multilateral counterterrorism initiatives—anything to ensure global stability. In the future, anything that destabilizes the oil market will increasingly harm China more than the United States. While Beijing views this increased import reliance as a strategic weakness, it a boon for those hoping to see Beijing grow into its role as a global leader.

Bottom line: as Chinese oil imports grow, Beijing will become increasingly reliant on the current market-oriented global system—this is nothing but good news for those that enjoy the status quo.

Why is increasing consumption of a non-renewable resource viewed as a GOOD THING?  In all reality, this is a BAD THING, because obviously when the resource you depend on RUNS OUT or gets TOO EXPENSIVE, your whole paradigm is shot to hell.  In the mind of the Economista though, Increasing Consumption is GOOD!  It means Increasing GDP!  In the pathway from Production (really Extraction) of Resource to its consumption, the Intermediaries along the way sieve off their "Profits".  This is how people get RICH!  They insert themselves somewhere in the chain which goes from the Extraction of the Resource to its Consumption and production of Waste and take a piece of the downhill energy flow.  The more WASTED at the bottom of the Pyramid, the RICHER the folks at the top of the Pyramid get.

To the people who run this show, China looked just GREAT!  1.3B potential Konsumers of Energy they could leverage on to still GREATER heights of Unimaginable Wealth!  Long as those Chinamen are continuing to Increase in their Energy Konsumption, somebodies in the Middle of the flow are getting very, VERY rich!  If you are in there as a BENEFICIARY of this waste based system, the LAST thing you want is for it to STOP!  So China Bulls promote the Asian Economies as the Next Great Place to GET RICH, investing in the further build out of the energy intensive economy in this locale.

What is the PROBLEM here?  The problem is the ENERGY increasing Production out of the Chinese Economy is becoming increasingly scarce and increasingly EXPENSIVE to extract with each passing day.  On the Graphs produced of EXPECTATIONS, it looks like those Industrious Chinamen are gonna continue to BUY & BURN more energy than we can, so THIS is the place to Invest your Money!  Can they REALLY continue on this Up Slope all that much longer though?  When you peruse the latest RESULTS of this last ditch effort into Industrial Manufacturing on the Grand Scale, you see the small problem of ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE!  Every day now another entire Chinese CITY gets shut down due to overwhelming SMOG!  This is not bombast coming from the Blogosphere, it is straight off the pages of CNN and the rest of the MSM:

A woman wearing a mask walks along a road as smog engulfs Harbin, China, on Tuesday, October 22. Expressways, schools and an airport were closed after smog disrupted one of northeast China's most heavily populated areas.

(CNN) — Schools, major roads and an airport remained closed Tuesday, as a thick cloud of filthy smog smothered the northeastern city of Harbin.

Meteorologists in the city, which is famous for its annual ice festival, issued a red alert for fog at 5 a.m. Tuesday, with visibility in some central areas of the city down to less than 20 meters (65 feet), the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Video from China's state-run CCTV showed some people — obscured by smog even just steps away — wearing masks over their mouths as they walked in the province. Some drivers who braved the roads flashed hazard lights.

Kindergartens, primary and junior middle schools were ordered to suspend classes for a second day, while Harbin Taiping International Airport remained closed — with 250 flights canceled on Monday alone, according to Chinese state media.

China needs smog-free air in a can

Hazardous levels

China's toxic smog problem

Thick smog blankets city, closes schools

On China: China's role in climate change

Pollution levels remained far above international standards, as the city's monitoring stations on Tuesday showed that concentrations of PM2.5 — the tiny airborne particles considered most harmful to health — were more than 30 times the World Health Organization's recommended standard, the state-run China Daily reported.

Could smog choke China's sporting ambitions?

Government officials blamed the smog on a lack of wind and farmers burning crop stalk after their autumn harvest, though the city's coal-burning heating system, which was recently started, is also a likely factor. Harbin's environmental bureau has also conducted checks on factories known to discharge pollutants, the China Daily report added.

Extreme conditions

Fang Lijuan, the city's chief meteorologist, said it was very rare for the city to suffer such extreme conditions.

"There has been no strong wind and the level of humidity is high," she said, in quotes carried by China Daily.

Residents of this city of 10 million people were also surprised by the thick smog.

Living with an 'air-pocalypse'

"The pollution is indeed very bad, we can only see things within 100 meters, and yesterday it was 20-30 meters. We can smell the smoke in the air," one man, who identified himself as Mr. Ren, told CNN.

"The smog started about four days ago … I heard all face masks in Harbin are sold out. People are very angry about this and there is a lot of discussion over the Internet.

"The main reason is Harbin started its heating and the main resource is coal. Every year at this time, the air quality is bad — but this year is especially polluted."

Can social media clear air over China?

Naming and shaming

Last month China announced plans to start listing its top ten most air-polluted cities every month in the hopes that national humiliation will push positive environmental action.

"We must put air quality control as an ecological red line for economic management and social development," China's Vice Premier Zhang Gao Li said in a statement as he announced the new policy at the 18th Air Pollution Control Conference in Beijing.

Chinese officials did not say when the first list would be announced, but the northern megacities of Beijing and Tianjin, as well as the surrounding provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Shandong have signed onto an official plan to speed up air pollution control measures.

China's capital often suffers with hazardous pollution levels and smog. An explosion in the number of cars on the roads, as well as industrial pollution are seen as the main contributors.

What Beijing looks like on a gloriously clear day

A policeman directs Harbin traffic on Monday, October 21. In some central areas of the city, visibility was less than 20 meters (65 feet).

This is a sustainable paradigm?  GIMMEE A BREAK!  These folks got an Overshoot problem in Population non-pareil in absolute numbers, virtually ZERO Energy Resources of their own to mine up, depleted land for farming AND internal debt on Ghost Cities and Bridges to Nowhere too!  The main ASSET the Chinese hold is a ton of IRREDEEMABLE DEBT issued over here by our Treasury Department.

Now, here is the REAL question to ask yourself.  HTF is it that the "Richest" country in the world in say 1990 (ostensibly the FSoA) was able to borrow $Trillions$ from an impoverished COMMUNIST nation that at the time had pretty much ZIPPO in the way of Industrial Infrastructure?  Where were the Chinese getting money to LOAN to the FSoA?  Answer:  They didn't HAVE it until we BORROWED it.  Then they created the money to loan out!  This is just a bigger version of the same scam your local Bank does when it Loans you money on a Mortgage to buy a McMansion.  AFTER you borrow the money at the current Interest rate charged for retail loans, the Bank then uses this asset to Borrow the money at a lower interest rate (nowadays ZERO) from Da Federal Reserve, who creates the money based on this new "Asset" on the Loan Book of the Bank who issued the loan out.

Of course it is a good deal more complicated than this with Securitization of Mortgages, Rehypothecation etc, but this is the essence of how this Money Creation Game works.  So the Chinese become this ENORMOUS Lender, based on nothing really other than the fact it is a big country with lots of people in it.  Investment money flows toward China from the Private Sector to build up the Industrial Infrastructure that will produce toys that Amerikans will buy on…yes still MORE Credit!  This time a lot of it UNSECURED credit in terms of Credit Cards, but also HELOC loans based on a perceived Asset Value of McMansions that itself was all based on the further issuance of Credit.

The Finance and Economics industry has all sorts of neat names for this, "Animal Spirits", "Bull Markets" etc, but basically it's self-replicating FRENZY that develops when there are lots of Resources to exploit around, and the people in charge of Credit Creation set up the game to get outrageously RICH on the Spreads and Management Fees involved in pushing out all this Credit.  All the laws are written to favor the Creditors, so even in a Bust situation they usually figure to come out OK.  They just Repo the Assets for Pennies on the dollar, leave the Debtors completely Impoverished and then Reboot.

At least that it how it worked up to this iteration of the cycle, but this time really IS DIFFERENT.  On this occassion, the Frenzy of Animal Spirits in the Bull Market basically exhausted the supplies of Cheap, EZ to Access Fossil Fuels that run the Industrial Economy, and most if not all of the Physical Assets created using this energy source such as Carz, McMansions and Factories are basically WORTHLESS in the absence of MORE Cheap Energy.  You CAN repo them, but their Liabilities are greater than their TRUE Value, which is ZERO.  You cannot repo at ALL the Oil burned up in the production of these now worthless assets, it is all floating around in the atmosphere now as molecules of CO2.

Which brings us back to Chinese Toast.

First, the idea that China's energy consumption and importation of Oil will continue to Increase here for any great length of time is preposterous.  Total Oil production has plateaued here, and all the major fields providing relatively Cheap Oil are declining in productivity.  More and more countries who were net Oil Exporters are flipping over to being Oil Importers, if they can get Credit for that of course.

http://dlb8685.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/world-oil-production-2002-2008.gif

Second, all the countries which BUY Chinese products have hit a Debt Saturation point, and demand is falling across the board for just about everything except food, which is relatively inelastic.  The Chinese environment overall these days for doing food production is deteriorating, so it is unlikely they can become Food Exporters.

Third, EVERYBODY KNOWS China has a massive Bubble in Real Estate, with Hong Kong PARKING SPOTS retailing out at like $200K.  Ghost Cities, Bridges to Nowhere and a Pollution Problem so bad they have to shut down a City a Week these days as the Smog rolls in.

In their own way the Chinese appear to see the problem, and are Prepping Up by trying to buy up tons of Gold, Farmland in Africa and Coal Mines in Oz.  It remains to be seen whether they can keep shipping food OUT of Africa to China when local Africans are STARVING.  Whether the tons of Gold they are importing NOW will buy what is left of MENA Oil in 5 years is also an open question.  Do Saudi Sheiks really need any more Gold?  If the Saudi PEOPLE are starving, how long do the Sheiks maintain enough control to ship out any remaining Oil?

If the Chinese do go ahead and try to wholesale dump USTs, it will send the whole House of Cards down.  They'll never really be able to back Renminby with Gold, because anybody holding Renminby will want to convert it to Gold.  If they don't allow the conversion to Gold, then RMBY is NOT really "backed" by Gold.  So the Chinese will play along here as long as they can, and the charade continues a while longer until there is some real hard stop in actual supply chains.  Most likely to occur resultant from escalating War in MENA, but other possibilities exist as well.

On an economic level, when the price of production exceeds the price the customers can pay, this is what will  force the shut-down of high priced "tight oil" production facilities, which is what keeps us plateaued here rather than seeing a large drop in total world Oil production.  Steve on Economic Undertow refers to this as the "Triangle of Doom", and the trend lines appear to converge around the end of 2014.

http://www.economic-undertow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Triangle-of-Doom-080113.png

Rock, Meet Hard Place here.  Far as the Chinese are concerned, this is the point at which they could not continue to Increase Consumption of Energy even if they wanted to.  The customers  won't have money to buy it in greater quantities, and the Oil Extractors won't be pulling so much out of the ground.  Even a forced Credit Expansion by the PBoC won't work, since Gold or no Gold in the basement safe of the PBoC, issuing out credit to buy what is not there to buy just devalues the credit.

It remains to be seen how real contraction of available energy affects the various Nations currently dependent on increasing consumption for nominal Growth in their respective GDPs.  There will no doubt be demand destruction across the board here, which will make the Pricing extremely volatile.  Forced conservation efforts may be undertaken also, and more peripheral countries triaged off the Credit Bandwagon also, leaving those countries still with access to credit to comepte with each other for the remaining supplies.  However, you cannot get round the fact that less energy will be available here, because there simply are no sources of CHEAP energy, and that is what the Waste Based system has as its underpinning.

If Energy had been priced correctly from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in terms of the Work it was capable of doing and the Finite Limitations of its availability, the structures we created in the intervening time would never have been built.  The Eisenhower Interstate, the vast and spread out living arrangements of McMansions dependent on Automobiles, the long Supply Chains moving products 1000s of miles every day around the Globe…all of this was based on Mispricing Energy.

http://www.scdigest.com/images/Historical_Oil_Prices.jpg

The above chart updates the one I posted in my last couple of articles by showing pricing through history in 2010 dollars, which gives you a better idea of the volatility during periods when Oil supply is not a sure thing.  In those early years while Standard Oil was being consolidated as a Monopoly by John D. Rockefeller, the price of Oil was even more volatile than it is now.  You can see the spikes which occurred through the period when various political events put a crimp in the supply chain of delivery from Well to Refinery,  but overall until the Yom Kippur War the price of Oil and the availability of credit to buy it stayed LOW, and building out the system based on ever more extraction was possible.  The volatility we see in the aftermath of that shows that the perpetual increasing production could not be maintained, and ever more expensive Oil has had to be sourced since then.  If credit gets issued on FUTURE production, it gets defaulted on, because the price increases faster than the customers ability to purchase it does.  On a gross level, the system is no longer GROWING, it is CONTRACTING.  The numbers get masked by wacky accounting fraud gimmicks, but the results are quite obvious. More Biz goes BK, more homes foreclosed on, more Nation States unable to collect sufficient Taxes to support their systems.

The Chinese are really at the Leading Edge of this problem, regardless of what current economic indicators purport to show.  They have one of the worst problems in Population Overshoot, real Resource Depletion issues with Water and Arable Land, dependence on Energy and Food Imports, horrible Pollution issues and a mercantilist economy quickly running OUT of customers to sell to.  Heaps of UST paper and Mountains of Gold cannot save the Chinese.  They are TOAST.

RE

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Trump whistleblower: Why involving Ukraine is omin [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on March 18, 2019 [...]

CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

Scientists have unlocked the power of gold atoms b [...]

Quote from: azozeo on August 14, 2019, 10:41:33 AM [...]

Wisconsin Bill Would Remove Barrier to Using Gold, [...]

Under extreme conditions, gold rearranges its atom [...]

The cost of gold futures on the Comex exchange inc [...]

Quote from: K-Dog on September 15, 2019, 08:08:32 [...]

Good interview.  You sounded smart. [...]

A little Political Bickering is a small price to p [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

Shaking the August Stick By Cognitive Dissonance     Sometime towards the end of the third or fourth [...]

Empire in Decline - Propaganda and the American Myth By Cognitive Dissonance     “Oh, what a tangled [...]

Meanderings By Cognitive Dissonance     Tis the Season Silly season is upon us. And I, for one, welc [...]

The Brainwashing of a Nation by Daniel Greenfield via Sultan Knish blog Image by ElisaRiva from Pixa [...]

A Window Into Our World By Cognitive Dissonance   Every year during the early spring awakening I qui [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-20http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-19http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-18http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-17http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-16http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

A Tyranny of Time"“We will move to a low-carbon world because nature will force us, or because policy will guide [...]

The Trickster's Tale"Everyone has some wisdom, but no one has all of it." Come gather 'round my children [...]

Nothing Again - Naomi Klein Renews Her Climate Prescription"By now we should all be well aware by now of the havoc being caused by climate change." I [...]

Leaves of Seagrass"Seawater is the circulatory system of Gaia"In 1855, Walt Whitman penned the free verse, “ [...]

Treeplanting Olympics"Withdrawing 700 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere could be accomplished by as early as mi [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

This "Clapper" person sounds a lot like the beloved "Fast Eddy": --------------- [...]

I am not sure what the new studies assumed. I know that older studies tended to assume that the pane [...]

Sorry, I am traveling this weekend. So time and privacy are limited. I will try to watch when I am h [...]

The thing that strikes me is the fact that commodity prices were close to high enough for producers [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

Barocaloric is a solid-state not-in-kind technology, for cooling and heat pumping, rising as an alte [...]

Terrestrial ecosystems and their vegetation are linked to climate. With the potential of accelerated [...]

The Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO) is a paleoclimate temperature cycle that originates in th [...]