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It's the end of the world as we know it . . . and I feel fine.  RSS feed

 
Marco Banks
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Total systemic environmental collapse.

The zombie apocalypse.

The shit-hits-the-fan total social collapse scenario.

Whatever you call it, there is a growing generalized anxiety that our world is rapidly changing, and that at some point, it will reach a tipping point that will lead to a rapid social, economic, cultural, and environmental collapse. The popularity of survivalist and prepper web-sites and on-line communities dove-tail with the greater permaculture community. Jack Spirko's "survival podcast" has become a leading voice in this nexus of prepping and permaculture. For years, geoff lawton's web-site lead with a link labeled, "Surviving the Coming Crisis". A recent thread on this board spoke about how to protect your food forest from the coming marauding hoards of urban "zombie" locusts who would sweep through the countryside, devouring the little pockets of productivity that are fruitfully feeding the faithful who planted them. Even the popularity of dystopian entertainment as varied as "The Walking Dead" or even "The Hunger Games" are anecdotal evidence of a growing expectation of impending doom, societal collapse, and chaos fueled by climate change.

Here is what we know.

First, it appears that the intensification and acceleration of global change in the spheres of economics, the environment, and mass movements of people (refugees and immigrants) is increasing, not slowing down. Driven by media access never before known, we are simultaneously following stories of refugees in Europe and the Middle East, a massive wildfire threatening oil sands production in Alberta, drought in California (where I live) and India (where I don't), deforestation throughout the developing world, currency crises in Europe, Venezuela, Turkey, Greece, Puerto Rica, and who knows where else . . . the world is this giant interconnected web where actions and decisions taken in one sphere effect everyone else.

Second, people are being driven by these anxieties about these changes to do something to prepare. Plant a tree, capture some rain-water, and secure your seed stocks. Do something. Could you feed yourself and family when the SHTF? Not everyone, but certainly a sizable sub-set of the permie community are feeling these anxieties.

Third, permaculture offers solutions to economic freedom, sustainable and restorative solutions to deteriorating environmental conditions, and the promise of a buffer to absorb this chaos as it increases all around us.

So, what will happen in the years to come? Let me postulate a few predictions. Feel free to disagree or debate them: I don't have thin skin.

1. I don't believe that we will see wide-spread chaos in the streets, or a zombie hoard rampaging through the countryside in search of an apple tree to defoliate. The dystopian vision given to us by the Walking Dead are of these motorcycle gangs, armed to the teeth, driving through the country taking what they want. Really? Rampaging mobs of hungry people over-running my little third-acre suburban food forest? That just isn't going to happen. What is happening right now in Venezuela is a great case study. Consumer goods and food have become increasingly hard to find, created largely by man-made political incompetence. People can't find toilet paper. Food is becoming more and more expensive. Fresh milk, meat, staple foods like rice and beans . . . all harder and harder to find, and people have to pay more and more of their limited income to purchase. But people are not rampaging through the countryside, killing and eating pigs, pineapples and pepper plants. They just stand in line longer. They add more water to the soup. They eat fewer calories. They plant a little garden in whatever space they can find. No zombies. No riots. They stop having children.

In another thread I wrote about recently returning from Turkey where there are now over 2 million refugees. People are not rampaging, but they are hungry. They beg for food and money but as they get more and more hungry, they are LESS likely to leave the city. So . . .

2. People will move toward the cities of the world, not out into the countryside. Urban is the direction of human history. About five years ago, the world population crossed over the threshold of 50% now living in cities. This will not reverse. Hungry people in the countryside will move to the city. The reverse is rarely seen. In 2010, when the devastating earthquake flatted Port-au-prince Haiti, we temporarily saw the population de-camp from the city to return to family who still lived in the villages and regions outside the major urban areas. But today, that has already returned to how things were prior to the earthquake. And, as with the point I made above, when they returned to their traditional family villages, they did so orderly -- not a rampaging hungry mob. In buses and taxis, they left the city and quietly returned to the village. But in the years since, they've returned to Port-au-prince. The urban population of Haiti today is higher than it was in 2010.

Most government emergency scenarios are built around moving people toward urban shelters and feeding points. They are not going to move millions of people out of Los Angeles to Iowa and Wyoming. All the distribution systems are built around moving food toward the cities, not people toward the food. To reverse such systems would take years.

Look what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They quickly moved displaced people from one urban center to other urban centers. In the last week in Alberta, over 80,000 people were moved from Fort McMurray to Edmonton. Authorities will take charge of these massive movements of people, and the cities will absorb them. They won't move into the country to fend for themselves. Any farmer who sees someone running across his field, trying to catch and kill a cow or sheep will simply get out his 30.06 and fire a warning shot over their heads and they'll scamper for the camper, never to be seen again. People don't have camping equipment, firearms, and the smarts to survive for more than 3 days away from their local Starbucks. The idea of thousands of people taking off like this . . . never. The cops will close the roads, turn the cars back, and that will be that. Rampaging Buffy and Buford in their Prius, heading out to the country to live off the land . . . uh . . . never.

Anyone in my backyard eating from my veggie patch will be in for a rude awakening. They'll have to get past the fence, the dog and then the buckshot before they'll get anything to eat. It simply will not happen on a large scale.

3. Water will be the critical resource. I was reading an article today in the LA Times about drought in India. Millions of people are being displaced from the villages and rural areas because wells have dried up and rains have not come. Where do they go? The cities.

Short term, we need to think about food. But long term survival will depend upon access to water. If you've got water, you can grow food. This puts a premium on capturing and storing rain water, protecting watersheds, and if you've got a well, praying that the idiots who live around you don't poison the groundwater or pump the aquifer dry. I live in a dry place, but I'm taking steps to depend less and less on municipal water and more on using less, capturing more, and increasing soil carbon content to hold it for a longer time.

4. The tools of permaculture are not just ecological and biological, but also social. Homesteading skills, the tools necessary to grow and preserve your own food, handicrafts and food preservation, and the networks of people who you will depend upon are as critical as knowing how to dig a swale or plant a guild. It takes a village. It takes a village sans a bunch of village idiots. On a small-scale, we will build resilience to get through the impending global social and environmental collapse if we build communities that are self-sustaining. It can't just be about me and my family. It has to be an a larger scale than that --- a group of farmers, tradespeople, and producers.

5. Change will continue to take place, but it will be gradual, not sudden. Climate change will have a greater and greater impact, but it will not be sudden, like you are flipping a light switch. The collapse of economies (like we've seen in Greece, Venezuela and Puerto Rica recently) will happen, again, over an extended season, not overnight. The poor will be effected first, while the rich will move to put safeguards and power-structures in place to protect themselves). The key, then, is to utilize the years ahead to improve our systems toward sustainability, with each year becoming more and more capable of feeding ourselves, capturing energy and water, and building the kinds of communities we need to weather the storms ahead. The longer you wait, the more expensive these changes will be. The best time to plant that food forest was 10 years ago. The second best time is today. Build your soil. Learn to butcher your own chickens. Convert that swimming pool to a Tilapia pond, or at least understand how to do it when the time comes. The world is changing (again, not overnight), so we need to be changing as well.


Thoughts?
 
r ranson
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I love this kind of conversation. It didn't really fit in 'soil' so I hope you don't mind me moving it to the cider press.

Point 1. I couldn't agree with you more. "This is how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper."
It's that old analogy of boiling a frog. Which is really disgusting and I have no idea if it's true because it's just not something I'm interested in trying. Basically, they say, that if you stick a frog in hot water, it jumps out. No frog legs for dinner. However, if you put the frog in cool water, and increase the temperature slowly, then it just sits there and boils to death. I think many humans are a bit like this fictitious frog. Not slimy, but rather they respond quickly and violently to sudden changes, but will often accept slow change, even if it kills them.

Point 2. Possibly.

Urban is the direction of human history.


Yes and no. Recent history, the last 600 years in Europe, for example, shows humans migrating from country to city. There are many other examples of state-level societies that collapse or slowly fade away, where the migration goes the other way.

I envision a future where people cluster together for support. We are used, now, to specialist labour, so I see larger, but almost self sufficent towns. Everyone will have a kitchen garden, barter and trade will be important, but unlike past collapses, people will maintain the specialist skillsets. Cottage industry, or guild based industry, with a central location for gathering and distributing the goods. There may be some big cities, but I don't see them being very much more than a place to put government and they would be on a trade route. Trade would be a big thing, but not at the scale it is today. If fuel is scarce, trade would be slower, and fewer perishable goods, so the communities would need to be fairly self-sufficient when it comes to food. By being far more difficult, trade would become far more important. Food, I think, would be the limiting factor as to how large a community could grow.

Point 3. Water

Water is very interesting to me, but I don't know what the future holds here.

A lot of little things in my mind, like how so many people in Canada went to Africa to dig wells. In the communities where the wells were dug, the water table goes down, and it contributes to the drought, makes the wells useless, and so on and so forth. Or so I've heard. Weather and rain patterns will change as the earth warms/cools/or whatever.

Point 4 and 5. Absolutely yes!
It also reminds me of the book 1984, which I suddenly want to read again.
 
Marco Banks
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Thanks for moving this to the correct forum.

Your response on point 2 is very interesting: that the march toward urbanization may not be a one-way phenomenon. Perhaps, but I would imagine that if society were to de-urbanize, it would take place over an extended season. 20 years? 40? More?

Historically, you could certainly make an argument that as societies and empires have collapsed, cities often collapsed with them. The fall of the Roman, Byzantine, Persian, and Mayan empires all saw this take place. Many Greek cities were absorbed by the Romans, often with minimal bloodshed. Hittite cities were often taken by the Assyrians, although there was a lot of bloodshed. The Ottoman empire collapsed so slowly (over 300 years) that by the time they came to their end, their territory was minimal and Turkey was the sick man of Europe.

Perhaps we have to ask why empires collapsed and why nations have failed. For some, it was a slow decline, followed by the overthrow by war by a superior empire. This was the fall of the Greeks to the Romans.

The Mayans, however, fell to environmental collapse. Deforestation causing severe drought and agricultural failure caused their society to come to an end. They estimate that 19 million people abandoned Mayan cities over the course of a century. That's not an overnight move, but it is significant.

One of the many reasons the Ottoman empire collapsed were the changes made in agricultural policy, where farmers were given less and less incentive to farm the land they had always owned. Many abandoned their farms, accelerating food shortages in Istanbul and the other major empire cities.

OK -- perhaps this might happen. People could leave the cities and move to a more agrarian life. People predicted this in the 60's, with the hippies wanting to go back to the land. We saw a little bit of it but not a large scale depopulating of the cities. I'd maintain that if it were to happen, it would not happen overnight with zombie hoards marching through the countryside picking peaches off our trees and running pigs down and killing them with sharpened sticks.

My hypothesis is that if (when) American society collapses, it will be a combination of economic collapse (debt, like we witnessed in Greece the past few years), moral corruption of the political class and the failure of the family causing massive social unrest (like we are seeing in many of the poorest cities like we witnessed in Baltimore last summer, masquerading as a racial justice issue, but that was just the presenting issue not the root issue), and environmental collapse (floods, droughts, water shortages, fires . . . ).

One global phenomenon we have witnessed again and again in the past 40 years has been the rise of the incurable virus. AIDS, West Nile, Ebola, and now Zika . . . it seems like every couple of years, we have a new viral plague. Can you imagine what would have happened if Ebola had made it's way to the teaming cities of India or China? What will happen if a mosquito born virus like zika or malaria emerges that has the deadly effects of AIDS or Ebola? If that were to happen, you would certainly see the massive depopulating of the cities, albeit by death, not by migration.

In the meantime, my trees keep growing bigger and my garden is more productive. Don't worry: just compost and feed the chickens.
 
r ranson
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I'm not sure I can see us becoming a wholly agrarian society again, either, at least not in a slow decline scenario.

In the past when cultures went from city focused to farm focused; most of the population were generalists. Sure, they lived in the city, but they understood the basics of farming. They knew that milk comes from cows, sheep, and goats, they knew the animal had to be female and they knew the animal had to be pregnant first. I personally know very few city dwellers who understand this concept, or could recognize what type of vegetable comes from which plant. We don't have farm knowledge as a main focus in our society, so it would be pretty darn difficult to fall back on the village system.

This is why I imagine a slow decline into a town system. A population of specialists, but the size and density limited by the food that can be produced within a day's travel of the town. As people begin to understand how important food is, then there may be a gradual trickle from urban to agrarian.

Another thought, looking at history again: Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management (circa 1855) has some fascinating lists for how much a person 'should' pay for things. A lower, middle-class person, just starting to climb the social ladder, should pay no more than 2% of their income for rent, and about (if memory serves) 70% of their income for food. Now, I think it's something like 15% of the income is spent on food. I'm going by memory here, so I could be wrong. The interesting point is how different the values are now.


For me, my hope lies in hoarding. I don't see hoarding stuff as having much use; instead, I hoard knowledge. I gather it up, practice it to keep it relevant, store it in my brain, and share it with others so that it can be stored in their brains. Having the skills to deal with whatever the future throws at us, is the best way, I see, to build resilience. That, and lots of fruit trees.
 
David Livingston
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Firstly I think it should be mentioned that while empires collapse others rise to take their place , weather you think these new societies are good or bad thats a value judgement made on your own terms it might or might not be the same way I would look at things
Change in the form of evolution both of societies and life in general is about survival not such ideas as best or other human constructs ( or even devine ones I accept this is my own opinion others I know differ on this )
Since change is happening all the time and as societies and humans evolve it appears to be accelerating . Compare the time it took to get from the stone to bronze ages and the time steam lost out to the internal combustion engine.
I cannot predict the future and have so far failed to win the lottery but I suspect it means more change . I refuse to put a value judgement on it will be good change or bad. I just want to roll with it .

David
 
Neil Layton
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Marco Banks wrote: A recent thread on this board spoke about how to protect your food forest from the coming marauding hoards of urban "zombie" locusts who would sweep through the countryside, devouring the little pockets of productivity that are fruitfully feeding the faithful who planted them.


Thoughts?


I think that's a slight misrepresentation (although it did go down that route) but I think there is a a broader question.

I see a forest garden first and foremost as about providing food security, for me and others (others not just including human ones).

I originally came to the question through an awareness of the fact that in one of the places I originally considered settling others were having a problem with food being stolen straight out of the field. While I do know people who can't identify a potato plant, I don't think you can rely on general ignorance. I don't actually have a problem with feeding the poor and hungry, but I do accept there has to be a limit when a project may be on the edge of financial viability.

My concern is what happens when we end up in a lifeboat situation and there is simply not enough to go around. At the moment the problem is one of distribution and an arguably criminal tendency to feed most of the world's grain to livestock (something even many so-called Permies do, whether that's cows or chickens). When we talk about food distribution issues it's not just about moving food from A to B, but about the way many of us insist upon eating at a high trophic level and an acceptance of a vicious economic system that says it's better to destroy food than give it away because that keeps prices up for those who control the food production, distribution and sale system. There are plenty of legitimate projections that say that could well change. People are already dying thanks to the activities of climate change deniers, and that is linked to vested industrial interests (I regard climate-change denial as tantamount to incitement to ecocide and genocide, which is why I get so riled up over it). As always the poor and most vulnerable suffer first.

In India they are already posting armed guards around reservoirs in order to prevent desperate farmers from watering their crops. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/02/armed-guards-at-indias-dams-as-drought-grips-country Now, part of this problem is the tendency to move away from drought-resistant crops towards western-led monocultures, but that is only part of the story. It's also true that most of the refugees are heading for the cities, just as the refugees coming into Europe from Africa and the Middle East are heading mostly for the cities: that's where the aid is and, to a point, where the jobs are. That is contingent on moving food with oil: both of which may present problems if and when the (already inadequate in come cases) distribution systems come under increasing pressure.

Part of the problem in Venezuela, as an aside, is deliberate attempts to undermine the economy and government by certain vested interests (summed up by three letters: either USA or CIA, depending on who you ask) who want to show Socialism as failing.
http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/3/noam_chomsky_as_venezuela_struggles_to
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-weisbrot/-brazil-should-stand-firm_b_8733258.html

I'm interested in climate-resistant agriculture, so that I will be able to weather at least some of what a pissed-off Mother Nature will throw around.

That doesn't make me feel fine. Yes, there are things I can do, but those things have their limitations. People are dying now: for the moment I have some buffer against joining them, but I have no idea how long that will last, and I can't find it in myself to ignore those already being affected.

I don't think there is much to feel fine about.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I don't see the cities being fled from. I see the first phase as being economical, the USA and many other countries are deep in debt, so far in fact that they are already bankrupt, they just haven't admitted it because the banks still float them loans. What I see starting the demise is a lock up of credit. Credit is the currency the USA operates on, when the banks decide enough is enough, they will stop all credit, you won't be able to go to the ATM and get money anymore, you won't be able to use your credit/ debit cards anymore. If you don't have cash, you won't be able to go further than that last tank of gas in your car. That will be the beginning of the end. People won't leave the cities, they will be stuck there because they can't leave. There will be riots in the cities, because anger will abound and overflow. It will be time to pity the Cops and the military will be called in, but will they do anything? they won't have the money to do much either.

Once the financial fall occurs, people will begin to feel hunger like never before, but since they can't get out to the country, they will be forced to find food in the cities or they will try bicycles, and walking to escape the hunger lines. Government will at first try to placate the people but those in government (elected official types) will find that they are targets of the people.

At that point it will be mostly over for them. I will sit on my mountain and eat a peach or tomato and nod sagely about how much sorrow there is elsewhere.
 
Marco Banks
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I ran across this article today:

http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/more-preppers-buying-property/

The move toward buying bug-out property outside the urban limits, building a safe-room, stock-piling survival foods, etc. appears to be a reactive response to uncertain times rather than a proactive response to building a better life.

Fundamentally, permaculture feels to me like it's a proactive movement toward sustainability and self-care. I don't do this because I'm afraid of the end-of-the-world, but because I think it will make my life richer and more healthy. Is there an element of self-preservation? Certainly. I like that I save money, live in a beautiful ecosystem, and get to share the abundance of my life with friends and family. If the SHTF, I'll be much more capable of surviving than had I done nothing all these years. But I'm not motivated by fear, even though I recognize that the times are a changin'.

Neil, yes, your thread was hijacked and took a turn toward dystopian scenarios. Please don't read my ramblings above as a critique of the idea of food forests being a way to secure food stores out in plain sight. I thought I would start a unique thread to postulate on this idea of social change leading to social chaos and urban centers overflowing out into the country.

If we are driven by fear to make changes that lead us to build into our lives permaculture systems, we will probably hold a mindset that sees resources as scarce, people as potential enemies, and collaboration as foolish. We will see the cities teaming with potential mobs, not people to educate, serve and collaborate with. But if I make these changes from a posture of optimism, hope, care for others and the desire for generosity (both giving and receiving) if and when the SHTF, I believe that the potential to weather the storm is actually much more likely.

Should I buy a bunch of guns? Do I need a bigger fence, meaner dogs and anti-zombie vaccination medications? No. I need mulch. More mulch. Bio-mass, not bullets. And I need to cultivate a relationship with the neighbors on either side of my house, sharing some comfrey cuttings and helping them re-direct their gutters so that the rain water doesn't wash down the driveway, but out onto their lawn (where some of that moisture will eventually percolate over to my orchard -- or at least keep their dry soil from wicking water away from my land). A posture of hope is, in my view, a much better investment than a posture of fear.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I like to think of us (permies) as building hope by showing what can be accomplished without resorting to Big Ag's hyperbole.

If you live in fear, then aren't you hiding from life and living well?

While I own guns, I don't see them as "my arsenal" I see them as some of my hunting gear (rifles and shotgun) the pistols are for close predator encounters and my wife and I carry them when on our land. (yes I have a CCL but rarely carry lately).

I agree Marco, we are proactive and seeking sustainability in all ways.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I was super into doomerism in the early 2000s, and it took me awhile to realize that a fear-based life was pointless and horrible. So I gave up doom for permaculture.

I expect to die of natural causes, rather than fast collapse.
 
alex Keenan
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A number of Tech people would like to live a permaculture existance.
However, loans, job skills etc. do not allow this in many cases.
What I see happening is small communities being created where Tech people can work from home.
Home being in a permaculture community.
Because they tend to be higher wage earners they can help supply the money needed for permaculture in such a community.
A good steady job paying well can also secure a loan for land needed to create a permaculture group.
We need to think of a paring of different skill as part of a overall community.
Maybe assess to a T1 line or highspeed internet should be one of the considerations in selecting land.
Get the right setup and you may be able to attract your own nerd herd (I can say that because I have been in IT for decades
 
Neil Layton
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I was super into doomerism in the early 2000s, and it took me awhile to realize that a fear-based life was pointless and horrible. So I gave up doom for permaculture.

I expect to die of natural causes, rather than fast collapse.


I don't have enough data to be sure, but I'm working for the best and preparing for, if not the worst (a 6C temperature rise would not be conducive to much current life on this planet surviving, although I accept that's not likely to happen in my lifetime) then at least very nasty, while trying to make it less nasty.

I'm aware that things could really go to shit, but my focus is on building something positive. I want to be prepared for the SHTF.
 
Neil Layton
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alex Keenan wrote:A number of Tech people would like to live a permaculture existance.



It had occurred to me that a work-from-home techgeek (this is a compliment, as far as I'm concerned) - or someone else working freelance or an artist or something - might make a good partner. I'm aware that setup time for a forest garden in particular means someone working part time for the first few years.
 
Todd Parr
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I was super into doomerism in the early 2000s, and it took me awhile to realize that a fear-based life was pointless and horrible. So I gave up doom for permaculture.

I expect to die of natural causes, rather than fast collapse.


This happens to a lot of people in the "prepper" lifestyle I think. It never affected me that way. I never felt I was living a fear-based life at all. I looked at prepping as something I did as a safety net, much like having insurance, and I also enjoyed the type of training I did to prepare for it. Prepping led me from guns and ammo, boxing, martial arts and MMA, to gardening, permaculture, studies on self-sufficiency, etc. Situational awareness is simply a habit for me now. I never think about it, worry about it, have any negative thoughts attached to it at all. I have guns, ammo, gardens, animals, and food forests, and it is all the same to me. They are all just tools. The idea of being prepared, however this all plays out, gives me a feeling of tranquility. Being prepared, for me, frees me from having to worry about any of it. It's interesting to me how different upbringings, life experiences, and situations cause people to feel differently about the same things. I'm glad you found a path that helps bring you peace.

Marco, good topic. Thanks for the time you put into this.
 
Todd Parr
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Neil Layton wrote:I don't have enough data to be sure, but I'm working for the best and preparing for, if not the worst (a 6C temperature rise would not be conducive to much current life on this planet surviving, although I accept that's not likely to happen in my lifetime) then at least very nasty, while trying to make it less nasty.

I'm aware that things could really go to shit, but my focus is on building something positive. I want to be prepared for the SHTF.


Yep.
 
Tyler Ludens
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It was the constantly being browbeaten by negativity that got me down. I was constantly being put down by the doomers for not being doomy enough, and people drumming fear scenarios into me. People were really mean, and they were always trying to convince me I was wrong when I said I didn't think there would be a fast collapse. I was called names, etc. What a rotten place that was.

 
Todd Parr
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Tyler Ludens wrote:It was the constantly being browbeaten by negativity that got me down. I was constantly being put down by the doomers for not being doomy enough, and people drumming fear scenarios into me. People were really mean, and they were always trying to convince me I was wrong when I said I didn't think there would be a fast collapse. I was called names, etc. What a rotten place that was.



That sounds horrible. Another aspect of this I didn't consider was that I didn't associate with prepper groups at all. I did all of it on my own. The people I trained with in MMA and boxing had no idea I had anything to do with prepping. I would read prepper articles and books, take what was useful to me, and add it to the other things I was doing. I didn't have to deal with the negativity you did.
 
Neil Layton
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I don't think the collapse will happen suddenly - historically these things have usually taken time, but sometimes with signs of escalating violence.

I think there are unlikely but plausible scenarios in which it might, but there are also unlikely but plausible scenarios where we pull through to a more peaceful, egalitarian society. I want to work towards that end of the tail.

I've never had any interest in firearms. One of my ambitions is to go through life without ever handling a firearm.
 
Todd Parr
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Neil Layton wrote:I don't think the collapse will happen suddenly - historically these things have usually taken time, but sometimes with signs of escalating violence.

I think there are unlikely but plausible scenarios in which it might, but there are also unlikely but plausible scenarios where we pull through to a more peaceful, egalitarian society. I want to work towards that end of the tail.

I've never had any interest in firearms. One of my ambitions is to go through life without ever handling a firearm.


People in the Midwest US in any type of rural area pretty much grow up with guns. I don't know anyone that didn't have one. The first time I went hunting I was 12, and I had handled guns many times before that. To me a gun is just a tool, no different than a hammer, a chainsaw, or a car. Like most tools, if you need one, nothing else will do the job of that particular tool as well as it can. To me, a better ambition would be to go thru life never having to use a gun to protect yourself.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yeah, it wasn't the prepping that was the real problem - though I did go through some weird bits of hoarding behavior and still have to dig out from some of that - I think being prepared for likely disasters is a good idea. I've been through a few natural disasters and it's been good to be prepared. It was the general negative tone of the place that got me down, and the lack of ability to distinguish likely threats. The Zombie Horde was widely accepted as a fact, something that was going to happen any minute. I'm sure it still is going to happen any minute, among doomers.

 
Neil Layton
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Todd Parr wrote:
Neil Layton wrote:I don't think the collapse will happen suddenly - historically these things have usually taken time, but sometimes with signs of escalating violence.

I think there are unlikely but plausible scenarios in which it might, but there are also unlikely but plausible scenarios where we pull through to a more peaceful, egalitarian society. I want to work towards that end of the tail.

I've never had any interest in firearms. One of my ambitions is to go through life without ever handling a firearm.


People in the Midwest US in any type of rural area pretty much grow up with guns. I don't know anyone that didn't have one. The first time I went hunting I was 12, and I had handled guns many times before that. To me a gun is just a tool, no different than a hammer, a chainsaw, or a car. Like most tools, if you need one, nothing else will do the job of that particular tool as well as it can. To me, a better ambition would be to go thru life never having to use a gun to protect yourself.


The function of a hammer is to knock nails into wood. I've found myself needing to join pieces of wood together occasionally.

The function of a gun is to kill. I've never found myself in a situation where I've particularly needed or wanted to kill anyone, human or otherwise, a few politicians aside.
 
r ranson
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Neil Layton wrote:
Tyler Ludens wrote:I was super into doomerism in the early 2000s, and it took me awhile to realize that a fear-based life was pointless and horrible. So I gave up doom for permaculture.

I expect to die of natural causes, rather than fast collapse.


I don't have enough data to be sure, but I'm working for the best and preparing for, if not the worst (a 6C temperature rise would not be conducive to much current life on this planet surviving, although I accept that's not likely to happen in my lifetime) then at least very nasty, while trying to make it less nasty.

I'm aware that things could really go to shit, but my focus is on building something positive. I want to be prepared for the SHTF.


I'm with you, doing something positive is what I like.

Whatever the future holds, it's uncertain. Globally we will have to make some changes in things like how we grow food. A lot of times I feel people (especially people I know in real life) don't understand the point of me doing this kind of farming on a small scale. They seem to think global changes can only come from big things. But big things start small. If I can make a go of this little postage stamp of land, make it work successfully, then I'll have the skills and the seeds to make food in my climate, with little or no outside inputs (like water). I take these skills, seeds, and successes, use them to show other people that it can be done and here's how. If I fail, then the damage isn't so bad as if it had been on a large scale.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think climate problems are already manifesting themselves in my region. We seem to be getting some terrific storms very early in the season, before you'd think there'd be much energy in the system. We've had floods and horrible hail storms recently. So those are things we'll need to figure out how to live with, or work around.

Are there any "how to design a food system to resist hailstorms" threads?

 
r ranson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Are there any "how to design a food system to resist hailstorms" threads?



If there isn't, there needs to be.

You could take advantage of our guest author this week, and start the thread in the "permaculture" forum. Maybe Shawn Jadrnicek might have some ideas for us.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Marco Banks
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I had an aunt and uncle who spent an ungodly amount of money prepping for Y2K. The parents of a close friend also spent close to $100,000 on Y2K supplies. They bought an entire pallet of toilet paper. They converted the garage to a food depot and bunker. My aunt found one of those old Singer trundle sewing machines (foot powered) and bought yards and yards of fabric -- apparently clothing was going to disappear after the new millenium rolled over? They had not 1, but two generators, still sitting in the box years after Y2K turned out to be nothing but a wet fart.

In the minds of both of these elderly couples, this was going to be the dystopian scenario of rabid mobs running through the streets, apparently taking people's toilet paper. They had crates of MRE's, a whole room filled with 5 gallon pails of grains and legumes, 55 gallon drums of fuel and water, and old coffee cans with gold and silver coins and real copper pennies (pre-1982), and who knows what else . . . What DOES one do with 50 pounds of powdered cheese?

Had they spent that money on a plot of land, built some earthworks, planted a ton of trees, maybe bought and installed some solar panels . . . they'd have easily recouped their investment and would have made the world a richer place. But instead, they were driven by fear, and they are still trying to finish all the macaroni and canned beef and burn the 1000 or so candles they bought.

They say that the only people who made money in the gold rush of 1849 (and following) were those who sold shovels, tents, food supplies and other mining equipment to those gullible enough to rush out to the gold fields to stake their claim. Everybody went bust except the guy who ran the general store, saloon, cat house and livery. In the same way, there are people who make a lot of money selling fear and the attendant supplies needed by domesday preppers. Nothing motivates quite like the fear of millions of minorities streaming out of the inner city to invade our suburban paradise. Build me a panic room! Sell me a case of pepper spray! There is an entire industry that trades in fear to get people to spend their money on blue plastic 55 gallon drums and underground shelters. I'm grateful that the permaculture people I most respect are not selling that snake oil. Farmers like Gabe Browne and Joel Salatin are thinking about leaving a better plot of soil for their grandkids, not mounting automatic weapons in the turrets above the fence. Salatan often talks about the sign he once saw: "Trespassers will be Impressed".

I can't live that way. I can't be motivated out of fear. I don't think that there is any danger of the permaculture movement being co-opted by the doomsday industrial complex, but it's still a significant population out there on the fringe. But the point of my OP was that the scenario they are predicting just doesn't seem to be realistic. So they sell prepping supplies to people whose anxieties they have artificially raised, for a scenario that isn't likely to occur.

Meanwhile, the peaches on my first ripening peach tree are ready to be picked and enjoyed. I spent $30 for that tree 8 years ago, and I'll enjoy it for decades to come. No fear, just delicious peaches. While doomsday Fred checks to see that he's got enough ammo, I'll be throwing a couple of those peaches on the grill tonight (split into half, brushed with some honey, sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon, grilled till they get nice and hot with grill marks, and served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream) and transplanting about 30 cabbages out into the food forest/orchard. If the zombies want a grilled peach, they should come by about 6:00. Once that peach tree is done, don't worry -- I've got 5 more, that will ripen successively all summer. Zombies are welcome until August, at which time they can feel free to take a cabbage as well.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Marco Banks wrote:But the point of my OP was that the scenario they are predicting just doesn't seem to be realistic.


That took me a long time to realize. My poor husband tried for years to dissuade me from the doomer mindset. It took watching "Doomsday Preppers" together to impress on me just how stupid and crazy some of them were. As a crazy person myself, it's hard for me to keep a grip on reality. I rely on my husband to help me figure out what's real and what's not. Most folks on permies seem fairly non-crazy so this is a much better place for me to hang out than with the nutty doomers. Plus people are nice here instead of mean.

 
R Scott
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First, Tyler, I am offended if you tried to call me normal!

Second, I see urban growth like plant succession. Urban centers will grow until unsustainable, then change. Some will shrink slowly, some will collapse spectacularly like Detroit. And then the new succession will come in. Unfortunately that can be gangs and doomsday stuff. But it can also be urban farms and new communities.
 
Marco Banks
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Tyler Ludens wrote: As a crazy person myself, it's hard for me to keep a grip on reality. I rely on my husband to help me figure out what's real and what's not.



In any community of deeply committed believers, be it preppers or any other group of people intensely committed to their cause, if you don't come up for air from time to time and talk to people who are not a part of the inner circle, there is a tendency to lose perspective. I have a friend who is REALLY into biodynamics, and it isn't worth the effort to try to ask questions to her about the veracity of the claims of biodynamics because she's so deeply committed to it, anyone who isn't in the fold is an apostate. If she wants to garden this way, cool -- more power to her. But it's the intensity of who is an insider and who is an outsider that gets me . . . we don't talk about it anymore, because her depth of commitment to the cause has created a sense of mistrust of anyone who doesn't share the cause.

And it hacks her off that my veggies and garden is consistently better than hers, and I've never buried a poop filled cow horn in my life.

I suppose I'm intense about my own pet beliefs where I wish only to hear from voices that affirm my narrow perspective on the world. There is wisdom in a plurality of voices, and the most important ones just may be those most skeptical to our pet beliefs.

Tyler, we all should have someone like your husband in our life --- a sounding board that brings a healthy dose of skepticism and reality to our sometimes crazy lives. My wife is just such a person who keeps things in perspective for me.
 
alex Keenan
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"It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

That's great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane, and Lenny Bruce is not afraid

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs, don't misserve your own needs
Feed it up a knock, speed, grunt, no, strength
The ladder starts to clatter with a fear of height, down, height
Wire in a fire, represent the seven games
And a government for hire and a combat site
Left her, wasn't coming in a hurry with the Furies breathing down your neck

Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh-oh, overflow, population, common group
But it'll do, save yourself, serve yourself
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

Six o'clock, TV hour, don't get caught in foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform, book burning, bloodletting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crush, uh-oh
This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline

It's the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)
I feel fine (I feel fine)

It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)

The other night I dreamt a nice continental drift divide
Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right? Right

It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)

It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)

It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It's time I had some time alone)

(It's time I had some time alone)
 
Marco Banks
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Neil Layton wrote:

Part of the problem in Venezuela, as an aside, is deliberate attempts to undermine the economy and government by certain vested interests (summed up by three letters: either USA or CIA, depending on who you ask) who want to show Socialism as failing.
http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/3/noam_chomsky_as_venezuela_struggles_to
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-weisbrot/-brazil-should-stand-firm_b_8733258.html



Your sources on the Venezuela crisis are tremendously left-wing. Noam Chomsky? His answer to anything is MORE socialism, more government spending, and more taxation of productive citizens and profitable businesses. Even liberals keep him at arms length, he's so leftist.

Socialism, in general, makes it hard enough for an economy to grow, but brutally corrupt socialism, as we've seen in Venezuela, will utterly destroy an economic system. As Margaret Thatcher once said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money to spend." In Venezuela's situation, they have turned the world's largest oil reserves into a pipeline for personal corruption and a disincentive to invest, save or do anything productive ---- why bother, as soon as you are even slightly successful, the government will take it all away from you.

Here is a much better analysis of the Venezuelan crisis, still from a liberal source (the Washington Post), but nothing as liberal as the links you put up (the Puffington Host).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/05/19/there-has-never-been-a-country-that-should-have-been-so-rich-but-ended-up-this-poor/?tid=hybrid_experimentrandom_2_na


Never the less, lets not take our eye off the ball. Here is a nation that is complete economic meltdown. People are looting the stores, eating dogs and cats, and taking to the streets to protest. But there are no reports of people taking to the countryside in search of farms to raid.

What they are seeing in Venezuela is vigilante justice against people who are stealing. They are killing people who steal from others. Stay out of my garden or else.
 
Neil Layton
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Having read Chomsky, it's pretty clear to me that he's probably more intelligent than everyone on this site combined, present company very much included. I'm certainly not going to pay too much attention to one arm of US imperialism commenting on the consequences of the actions of another.

I grew up under the Iron Excrescence's Blue Reich. Given what that evil fascist monster did, I'm not going to give her views on socialism any credibility whatever. Her goal was to steal from the poor to give to her rich chums, and my experience with capitalism since suggests this was not an aberration.

I'm no socialist - although I think it has much going for it. I'll oppose capitalism (and indeed consumerism) until my last breath.
 
Marco Banks
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The most vibrant examples of permaculture and productivity that I follow are clearly capitalist and for profit. Unapologetically.

Gabe Brown's operation in North Dakota is tremendously profitable, and his use of these resources are a benefit to the entire community. His 100% no-till farm is tremendously productive, even as it has restored fertility to the land. People line up to buy his beef, chicken, eggs and other products raised on his farm. One of the lines he often uses when he speaks is, "You don't know how gratifying it is when people line up to buy a steak from you for $20 a pound, and then thank you for it."

Good for him. I'm sure he's got all sorts of good plans for what he intends to do with his profits.

Joel Salatin has transformed his worn-out, washed-out, degraded farm land into a permaculture garden of Eden. They sell their chickens, turkeys, rabbits, pork, beef, honey, eggs and veggies for top dollar, and people line up to get them, knowing that its the healthiest, most nutrient dense food you can put in your mouth. With his profits, they've greatly expanded their operation, bringing fertility and productivity to hundreds more acres in his valley in Virginia.

sepp holzer has basically been stopped by the Austrian government from selling his produce, but he's found a way around it by charging for "tours", and then letting people pick and take what they want. I hope he's a wealthy man.

What these families choose to do with their money is theirs and theirs alone to determine. it seems clear that they are reinvesting their profits back into their operations, making them more sustainable and more profitable. In Salatin's case, he's turned his operation into more than just a for-profit family farm, but he's investing a tremendous amount of money into raising up a new generation of farmers. He employs over a dozen full-timer workers for all the various things he's got going. It takes capital to make capital.

Compare this to Chavez's Venezuelan experiment. In 2001, he issued his 49 decrees (the CIA didn't do this - Hugo did this all on his own). The 49 decrees basically gave him total control over every aspect of the economy. He used this power to seize private factories, kick out any foreign owners of Venezuelan companies, and made it absolutely certain that no further foreign investors would ever invest their capital there. Through a series of absolutely colossal economic blunders (price controls, and then even more disasterous currency controls), he ran the economy into the ground. Capitalism didn't go away --- it just went underground. So now any legitimate business was driven under, while the black market has become the only functional system in the nation. In this way, you'll never get rid of the profit motive. If the government will not let people make money legally, they'll just do it under the table. I saw this repeatedly in Eastern Europe when I worked there in the 80's and 90's (I traveled and worked in Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic for years). The failure of socialism drove people to become root-hog-or-die capitalists, albeit on the black market.

Three cheers for free Venezuelan healthcare --- except now babies are dying on a daily basis in hospitals that lack even the most basic medicines and equipment. Doctors and hospitals are forbidden from making a profit, and thus, the entire healthcare system is imploding.

Most significantly, Chavez's Venezuelan agricultural policy confiscated private land and farms, and proceeded to redistribute that land to any and all who wanted it. Production plummeted, and now they are not able to feed themselves. Food shortages are rampant. Any productive farmer is penalized for their "greed". If there is no incentive to make a profit, save and re-invest, any business will quickly fail --- and this is exactly what has happened to the agricultural sector.

I agree with you: capitalism is the WORST economic system that there is, except every other one.

It's what people choose to do with their profits that makes it moral or immoral. Moral people, like Brown, Salatin, and Holzer reinvest their profits, employ people and give them a stake in the success of the operation, and use their surplus as they see fit.

Paul has made this point repeatedly in his various addresses over the years: Permaculture people need to get over the fact that people need to make a profit in order for permaculture to become a mainstream, viable strategy for food production and ecological restoration. Making money doing what we are doing is a tremendously good thing. Losing money or just breaking even is a formula that makes absolutely no sense. I wish you well Neil. I hope you make a million bucks -- I really do. I hope that you make a shit-load of money and that your government does not punish you for doing so by confiscating ever larger amounts of it to redistribute to others. You can choose to spend it as you wish -- it was your energy and hustle that got you that money. I hope you make ethical choices with how you spend that money, but frankly, if you don't, that's not the fault of capitalism. Maybe you'd be able to hire a half-dozen Venezuelans --- they are all looking for work now. Pay them well, and make your second million with the ethical and ecologically sensitive expansion of your operation.

One last point, and then I'll let this go—if you choose to have the last word, please, go ahead. Allowing people to keep what they earn isn't "stealing from the poor". It's keeping what you've earned. Both England and America's economy grew tremendously during the Thatcher/Reagan years. You can look it up. Employment (real employment, with unemployment falling precipitously, not the kind that we are seeing now, with millions dropping out of the work force) and job growth was robust. Did the rich get richer? I certainly hope so. All economic classes earned more. But that doesn't mean that those at the top of the strata took something from the lower classes. In Venezuela's case, you see that everyone has gotten poorer -- not just the rich, but everyone. Savings have been wiped out. Inflation has devalued everything. There is no future for anyone. The principle certainly seems to be that the greater the degree of socialism and the larger the roll of government in the private sector, the sooner the parasite will kill the host. This has been the economic lesson of the past 50 years, and I've witnessed it firsthand in numerous nations.

And while all this is going on, the people are still not rampaging the countryside. They are protesting in the streets, looting stores, and catching cats to eat . . . but the zombie hoards are not rampaging through the farmers fields and stripping the orchards bare. Which was the original point of this thread.


 
Neil Layton
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Under the present economic system, I accept that permaculture has to make a profit. That would be the case even under my preferred economic system (which is not socialism).

I also accept that public necessities, like education and healthcare, need to be paid for.

I have no desire ever to be "rich". I'm not greedy - that was a lesson I learned from Maggie, even if not the one she intended. I have a desire to have enough, and hopefully help others to have enough.

I think you have been misinformed about Thatcher. When Thatcher came to power, unemployment was running at slightly under 1.5 million. The peak under the Thatcher regime was over three million, and was over two million when she left. I don't have the energy to fact-check the rest.
 
John Weiland
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"We had the back of Maggie's hand
Times were tough in geordieland..." -- Mark Knopfler, "Why Aye Man"
 
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