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Is food the last thing to worry about post peak oil?

 
Gilbert Fritz
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http://tobyhemenway.com/103-is-food-the-last-thing-to-worry-about/

toby hemenway thinks Food is the last thing to worry about post peak oil; that everything else will collapse first. What do you think? If this is so, how to we work to secure our other needs?

One point I would make is that yes, food might be available; but I could imagine a lot of scenarios where special diets would not. Thus, those on special diets will not fare will, perhaps.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Most of our jobs won't be available.

So, figure out how to live with no, or next to no, income.

 
Su Ba
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Looking at what has been happening recently when "civil war" breaks out...........Many jobs disappear as businesses shutdown. Money becomes less available, with banks sometimes closing or the government setting restrictions on withdrawals and currency exchanging. Food becomes less available and what is for sale becomes expensive. Gasoline becomes rationed, expensive, and often not as available. Medical supplies will be in extremely short supply for the general public.

I have not read Toby Hemenway, but per permaculture protocol ---- observe! Thus look what happens when society collapses in other countries under strife to see what could happen in one's own country. Judging from what the news media portrays, urban people seem to suffer far worse than rural people when their society collapses, though it's no picnic for rural people either.
 
Dan Boone
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Our existing food system assumes a wage economy so that the people who don't grow food can afford to buy it. It hardly matters if the food system does not break; should the economy break, nobody will be able to buy the food. So Toby's not wrong, but he's not entirely right, either. Just because there's plenty of food (or could be, in theory)post-peak doesn't mean it will get distributed or be available. Basically he's making the point that there's no theoretical reason why the breadbasket countries (the net food exporters) should go hungry in a time of energy-driven collapse. He might even be right, on average. But I (me personally in my very specific individual tummy) do not like to be hungry. I don't have a lot of faith that a surplus of winter wheat four states away from me is going to save me from a hungry tummy, when we've outspent our overall energy budget and everything is going to heck in consequence.
 
Steve Farmer
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Assuming that oil production continues to go up along with the world's population, you could make a case that society will collapse before peak oil. Once society has broken down, then oil production will slow, thus peak oil could occur slightly after societal breakdown.

There is no evidence to support the view of a few decades ago that oil will run out in any kind of timescale that will affect anyone currently alive, and "renewables" although growing, are not growing fast enough, or being presented in a portable enough fashion, to make much of a dent in the growth of oil use.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The issue of food today, food tomorrow seems to be linked to oil from what I can tell. The current methods the Commercial Farmers use make them very dependent on fuel, so if Oil goes away so does the fuel those farmers need.

The problem with the economy is that all commerce is now entrenched in credit. When the crash comes, no ones credit or debit cards will work, that means you have no access to your money which means you can not buy anything.
Credit based economies are teetering on the edge since all countries seem to be so deep in debt to the banks that there is no way for those countries to pay off their Many, Many Trillions of debt.
In the old days (before economies were based on credit) countries would have been considered bankrupt, now they are bankrupt but because of credit being the norm, they just continue to borrow or print money.
It's a downward spiral, not unlike a Fighter Jet that lost the engines, a horrible crash is where it will all end.

People who live in cities will probably riot in the streets once they find out they can't get to their money.
I don't see them making a mass exodus to the country, people tend to stay where they are familiar with the surroundings.

For those who think this is just hyperbole, consider that 5 years ago the president of the USA started training police to act more like soldiers, arm themselves more like soldiers, and created an ID system (those little Black and Blue stickers on rear bumpers of vehicles) so all cops know at a glace their fellow LEO members.

While I do not believe it is time to panic, I do believe it is time to be aware of how all the interconnected systems that allow a country to exist, are beginning to crumble right before our eyes.

Our (permaculturist) techniques will be very useful, more so than they are now. We will be the ones who can produce food, for ourselves and for others. We will be the ones who can live a good life when the humpty dumpty world economies take the fall.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Good points, everyone.

Especially observation.

I think that Greece and the Ukraine are most relevant to us, since they were first world countries now crumbling into third world status; third world countries like Venezuela or Sudan will provide less useful lessons.

I'm expecting something like a slow crumble into Detroit type conditions, here in the USA.

I also wonder about rural vs city here in the USA. The policy has been for years to remove the infrastructure from the countryside. Utilities, stores, churches, police, fire, and everything else is being pulled back into the cities, followed by the population. So when things crack, there will be very little in the way of a social safety net out there. Also, in the Great Depression, farmers were fleeing to the city, where there were breadlines and at least a few more jobs. I'm assuming that the gov. will hand out food in the cities if they possibly can, to quiet unrest. I wouldn't like to be in an abandoned countryside full of roving bandits.

But there is a lot to be said for the other side as well. What do you all think?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I pity those who think roving the countryside as bandits would turn out well for them.
The city bandit that comes to the country will most likely find their grave there.
Everyone in my area has a pretty good number of weapons and the ammunition to feed them for quite a while.
Most of us are good shots, some of us were military snipers, not the best place to invade, we have lots of room to hide the bodies. LOL
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I get better every year at feeding my community without depending on the monetary system as an intermediary. I gift vegetables to people. They gift things to me that I can't grow. They gift services to me. I grow all of my own seeds therefore I don't have to buy them. If I want new varieties, they come to me as gifts. Some of the community fits right into the sort of collaborative living that I like to do. It seems like some people will never be able to understand.

The farmer's mantra:

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Our community is like yours Joseph, pretty tight knit group of folks, all looking after each other best they can.
The 2011 and 2014 EF-4 Tornadoes did some thinning out but we rebuild and end up a better community.

In our community we get lots of opportunities to be neighborly

The way I see it, if the bottom drops out, it will be the unprepared that run to the cities.
The rest of us will remain and provide as we can for others, trades are better than purchases most times.

We grow our own food, save our own seeds, breed our hogs and chickens.
When a neighbor needs something, they know they will get the help needed by just asking.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I pity those who think roving the countryside as bandits would turn out well for them.


I don't believe people think it through very well. It's not a viable plan.

 
Deb Rebel
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If the grid goes down (power) then the water supply goes and the people in the cities will flee. Or try to. This is the part I dread. Over half of the world's population lives in urban settings now, they've left the land.

Also the economy is money based and a lot now is digital (credit). That goes, the power, gas, and water will go off. People can't get gasoline. Riots will happen and those in the countryside nearest the cities will get the worst of it.

My other fear is the authorities will react in their usual ham-handedness and make it worse, going out to force people off their land because they can't pay the taxes due. (when Truman became president and they were going over everything on the contingency plans to get the government up and running after a nuclear war, the plans for the IRS to get back to work made him about lose a cork. After a nuclear war people should and would be worried a lot more about other things than collecting TAXES!!!) Cue the lawless west and a bunch of anarchy.

We are facing a major relocation of the world's population over sea rise and climate change, an economic collapse will just accelerate it. The other that I worry about is a hyperinflation situation in a major country (look at post WW Germany and there are other countries that had it worse, last one of note was Zimbabwe) Playing with your money system can cause that...

When you're hungry, cold, and clueless (a lot of the world population does not know how to survive off the land directly, or have the resources to do so) if you have force (weapons) you will try to secure what you need. And 'get stupid' (look at riots in general, how it doesn't take long for things to break down). A true food forest may not be recognized but someone might still want what they can see that you have. And the ones after them, and the ones after them. So, what to do.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Deb Rebel wrote:If the grid goes down (power) then the water supply goes and the people in the cities will flee. Or try to. This is the part I dread. Over half of the world's population lives in urban settings now, they've left the land.

Also the economy is money based and a lot now is digital (credit). That goes, the power, gas, and water will go off. d but someone might still want what they can see that you have. And the ones after them, and the ones after them. So, what to do.


I don't find sudden grid collapse scenarios short of full-scale nuclear war, CME, or meteor strike plausible. In disaster, authorities tend to attempt to provide services so as to maintain order. During the riots and earthquake in Los Angeles when I lived there, the folks running the city did their best to maintain order, and there was relatively little panic or violence.

What to do? Don't worry about it beyond having emergency supplies for a plausible emergency, of which there may be many (I've been through a bunch).

(About a decade ago I ruined a few years of my life worrying about fast-collapse scenarios, so I guess I have a big personal opinion about the topic)
 
alex Keenan
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It is amazing that in today's world you can talk to people in failed state over the Internet.
Some areas in the failed state are much worse than other areas in the failed state.
Where you are when things go south makes a big difference in your outcome.
In some areas people go hungry, in some bad areas pets and rats become food, in really really bad areas people become food
 
Judith Browning
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When you're hungry, cold, and clueless (a lot of the world population does not know how to survive off the land directly, or have the resources to do so) if you have force (weapons) you will try to secure what you need. And 'get stupid' (look at riots in general, how it doesn't take long for things to break down). A true food forest may not be recognized but someone might still want what they can see that you have. And the ones after them, and the ones after them. So, what to do.


As other's here have said, share now and share then....I don't think any other approach will work long term...

 
Deb Rebel
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Long term is not such a worry than is the short term (say 1-3 years) as things would rearrange.

Sharing is good as long as someone is still rational.

I do not make it the cornerstone of my existence to worry, but I do have the concerns. I live in a very good place for if the world would dump on it's ear, but it still could not be very good. People tend to survive, it's just a matter of how.

Permie people I think do have the leg up on this, as we're keeping older skills alive and being closer to the natural ways to do things, if things do dump. That's a good thing. And yes, tech and internet keeps us all patched together. Strange thing that.

Today I got some special landrace seeds and I do hope they like my corner of the world. Our summer starts today, my cold weather stuff will be cleaned up in the next two weeks and room for the new stuff that goes in this weekend. Tending my land and my food gives me the hope I will get through whatever. In whatever form.
 
Tristan Vitali
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It's funny to me to think on these things now. I spent years worrying over this stuff (worrying as a technical term...not the high anxiety, constant fearing we take it to mean nowadays).

Peak Oil
Peak Food
Peak Soil
Peak Water
Peak Credit
Peak (insert any number of incredibly important things that can and will end the world as we know it here)

The conclusions I've come to are that:
1) We humans are (generally) ingenious, creative and quite devious characters that will ensure the continuation of our greedy, self-centered and highly destructive life-styles at all costs when given the latitude to do so
2) The rich, powerful, elitist bum-warts that "run the show" are those that make the decisions on who gets what and when, do so from behind the scenes, and those decisions are based wholly on their self-interests...those self-interests, and the decisions made based on them, seem completely foreign and counter-intuitive to us "normal people".
3) When whoever it is up there in the proverbial Tower of Babel finally makes the call to allow whatever "Peak X" situation they choose to start on its descent, all the others will inevitably go with it over a seemingly short time
4) The absolute best way to prepare for any type of collapse scenario, be it Peak Oil or Peak Hairspray, is to stop participating in the current system to whatever extent you are able
5) The examples of "Peak X" situations we have in modern history are many and varied - the best cases tend to have the least "banking" and first-world intervention involved while the worst cases are those where people depended on existing authorities to "bail them out" or somehow rescue them from the boogeyman of self-reliance

To elaborate more on #5, first take a look at Cuba, which was probably the best response the human race has ever mustered to a sudden "Peak X" scenario. An emergency mandate from the gov't to start growing food leads to one of the most permaculturally leaning societies on this planet. Appropriate technologies sprung up everywhere, the people began participating much more heavily in their local communities, niches for teaching operation of, repair of and maintenance for both the oldest and newest technologies were not only quickly filled by the willing and able but well rewarded by the people throughout the cities, and food production became so decentralized that you can't walk more than half a mile without spotting, and probably shaking hands with/communicating with the growers and producers of your entire diet.

This, in contrast, to the somewhat different but certainly related scenario that played out in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina. Well meaning Ham radio operators were turned away, allowing the communications for first responders to fall apart, trucks full of donated foods were left parked outside the basically quarantined zones for weeks to rot and even the people that were somewhat prepared and mostly out of harms way were, in their own homes, forcibly disarmed and evacuated to an overcrowded facility with poor sanitation, practically nothing for supplies and very limited internal security.

More, slightly more comparable examples of what happened include Cyprus where people's bank accounts being taken hostage and given a "haircut" to bail in/out the richer, more important banking industry, and what's been ongoing in the so-called "PIGS" nations where not only do they have incredibly high unemployment rates, increasingly high levels of immigration (which, no matter how you feel about human rights and the immigration issue, is undeniably causing more strife both on the economic front and in soaring crime rates), as well as a seemingly endless spiral of deteriorating infrastructure/quality of life with each "bail-out" or "bail-in" and each new "austerity measure" introduced. The rich, powerful, elitist media-arm even went so far as to label these suffering countries, under their own rule, with a derogatory term, insinuating that they're lazy, greedy people that don't deserve to live happy, healthy lives, while they continue to take (aka "tax") away the very things that would allow them the self-reliance to do so (access to land, education and the products of their own efforts.

Anyway, thought I'd chime in with some food-for-thought before I get moving on projects this afternoon. I don't give myself much time to think on this stuff anymore, but it's still fun to do so now and again. Sort of like going back to your roots

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Great comments everyone! Keep them coming.

I'm thinking that the roving bandits in the countryside would not be urbanites; they will stay where they are. The bandets will be militias, drug gangs, or some sort of revolution/ civil war. I'm guessing that the local governments will try to keep people in the towns; importing food will be a priority. I'm not saying we couldn't see a fast crash, but I doubt it will happen. The way I see it, the only things that could produce a fast crash all across the USA is a nuclear war/ EMP, solar flare, or the Yellowstone super-volcano. All of these are low probability events. And if they did happen, even the best plans would probably be useless.

So, country vs City? It all depends. Until things real do come apart, it will get progressively more difficult to live in the country. And it is not currently an option for me. I'd hope that my suburban neighbors could be brought together in a time of stress; I'm working now to build connections and friendship, with everyone from urban farming groups to food banks and parishes to Living History museums. I'm also hoping that Denver will hold out longer then most places; hundreds of miles from the nearest nuclear plant, far from the Southern border, far from the coasts, a playground of the rich, with the government being one of the largest employers. (So a Detroit style sceniro will take a long time to play out. I'm assuming the Feds will keep hiring until the very end.) No dangerous fault lines, nearby volcanoes, hurricanes. Even tornado tend to skip over the foothill to land on the eastern plains near DIA. We have a blossoming local food industry, and a perfect climate for both active passive solar. Even in the winter, it generally gets above 40 degrees every day, cold spells and snow are of short duration. The summer is survivable without air conditioning. There is less of a history of class/ race violence then some other cities.

As for the countryside, I think people will do better in relatively dense country areas, especially if they can get like minded people around them. If I had the choice between a country area in a wet climate with a like minded community, I'd go there instead of an urban area. But being relatively alone out in the dry empty west, with nobody within call sounds dangerous. The water thing is big; even if we get half as much rainfall, Denver could get by simply by converting all toilets to composting, and utilizing all greywater. Whereas somebody in the country with a cistern or well may be in trouble. In other words, there is more infrastructure in the city to bring water in; not that climate change will not strain that, but there is a lot of fat to trim before things actually start to hurt on that front.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Bryant, probably true. I don't think any farmer or rancher needs to worry about the "zombie hoards"!

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Joseph, that is great! I should get a sign like that!
 
Judith Browning
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:http://tobyhemenway.com/103-is-food-the-last-thing-to-worry-about/

Toby Hemenway thinks Food is the last thing to worry about post peak oil; that everything else will collapse first. What do you think? If this is so, how to we work to secure our other needs?

One point I would make is that yes, food might be available; but I could imagine a lot of scenarios where special diets would not. Thus, those on special diets will not fare will, perhaps.


Special diets and certainly medical care, our internet connections with each other, phones.....I think in many ways the lack of these things could bring people closer together in their communities to help and care for each other.

I live in a bubble...I hope that talk of armed resistance doesn't continue...and the term 'zombie hoardes' is so dehumanizing.

I think if talk of violent action is taken out of the equation more peaceful solutions can be found.

I guess my answer to the question
'How do we work to secure our other needs?' is 'by working to secure the needs of everyone'.



 
Tyler Ludens
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People have a remarkable ability to work together during hardship. My hobby of historical research led me to researching the London borough of Kensington during the Blitz, and I found an amazing graphic of the bombs dropped on the district: http://bombsight.org/explore/greater-london/kensington-and-chelsea/ London had the crap blown out of it, but people didn't go on a zombie rampage, they worked together. For all they knew they were doomed - we know they weren't going to be conquered, but they didn't know it then. They sang together in the shelters, they put on plays in the parks, and they helped each other dig out of the rubble.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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I very much hope people will work together. There is some of both in the past. There was a big blackout in New York in the 70's, and by morning the city was burning as looters went on a rampage. On the other hand, there was the big blackout in New York in the past decade, and everyone stepped up and helped out; only one person died, and there was very little looting or disturbance, though lots of melted ice cream, stranded commuters, and people stuck in elevators. So it all depends. I imagine that it will depend on what people in a neighborhood have done to pull true community together before something happens, and that people are more likely to pull together in a slow slide rather then a sudden collapse. Tyler's example of the London blitz is a good one.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think we also might ponder the idea that a permaculture future will look just like a post-peak-oil future.

But no zombies.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Spot on, Tyler! The more we work on permaculture now, the less painful peak everything/ societal breakdown will be.

There is a great idea running around out there that the organization of the Middle Ages was a good response to the collapse of Rome; walled towns instead of a walled empire, local everything instead of Continent wide everything, etc. But to a Roman these solutions would have just looked like problems.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Tristan, good thoughts. The response really makes a huge difference.
 
Tyler Ludens
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In my opinion society needn't "break down," just change. It's up to us to decide which it is.


 
Todd Parr
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How many people have read "One Second After"?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Tyler, I agree. Is it breaking down or moving up as we abandon fossil fuels and localize our lives? It will certainly be hard, but then life is always hard.

Todd, I've read the synopsis. I'd say that sort of thing would only happen if we get nuked; and I've come to the conclusion if 90% of the people are going to die off, there is not much chance that I'm going to be able to survive no matter what I do.

Here is the way I look at it;

Focus on preparing for the things that are bound to happen and likely to happen, but wouldn't be too bad, instead of the things that won't likely happen, but would be really bad. So I am preparing for: severe weather; a Depression like the Great Depression, or other economic trouble; localized political unrest (strikes, protests, small scale riot) ongoing climate change, a gradual breakdown of the utility systems, civil war, and a general decline of our current order. Preparing for these things is a good idea, but, and this is the critical point, will also enhance my life right now. It is good to have water on hand when the main breaks; it is great to be able to go without power for a few weeks after an ice storm; it is great to have a shed full of tools and gear ready to hand when something happens; it is great to have first aid knowledge; it is great to eat out of the garden.

However, preparing for an EMP or other such event would require a remote bunker in the country, huge stocks of food, heavy weapons, and other things that would not enhance my daily life. And then it probably would never happen. And even if it did, I might never make it to my bunker. I certainly couldn't do anything less then the isolated bunker; even if I had plenty of food and lived in town, I might be starved off by the community, according to that book.
 
Todd Parr
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:

However, preparing for an EMP or other such event would require a remote bunker in the country, huge stocks of food, heavy weapons, and other things that would not enhance my daily life. And then it probably would never happen. And even if it did, I might never make it to my bunker. I certainly couldn't do anything less then the isolated bunker; even if I had plenty of food and lived in town, I might be starved off by the community, according to that book.


I agree with much of what you said, but I don't agree with this. I live in an area with a large Amish community and I can tell you that as long as the "zombie hordes" don't come calling, and armed gangs raping and pillaging everything don't appear, most Amish wouldn't care at all if an EMP happened. Their lives wouldn't even change. They don't worry about bunkers, huge stocks of food, or weapons, and they would survive just fine. As far as a nuke goes, the Nuclear War Survival Guide is pretty eye opening.
 
alex Keenan
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It appears most of these post are from USA.
Well one can look at events that have taken place over the past few decade in USA.
There are localized events yearly, floods, storms, fires, etc.
Some have been billion dollar events based on economic impact.
There were areas where USA citizens pulled together. There were other areas where it was every man for himself.
One key seemed to be communities that were collaborative and cooperative before the event self organized to deal with the situation.
Where as other communities did not have much experience pulling together before an emergency so they had no basis to pull together during an emergency.
Again location was key.
 
John Elliott
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:
I think that Greece and the Ukraine are most relevant to us, since they were first world countries now crumbling into third world status;


Ukraine was never a first world country. It has not functioned well for 99% of the population since the fall of the Soviet Union. One thing everyone inherited from the State when it passed away was their Soviet-issued apartment -- 50 years old and in need of maintenance. There is as much Chinese crap in the marketplace as in western countries, but since the average wage for a worker is $200 a month, it doesn't go far.

If you read any of Dmitry Orlov (his blog is at http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/), you will know his thesis that the citizens of the Soviet Union, because of the failures of the state to provide in many areas, made for greater resiliency than we have in the consumer culture of the west. After living for a while in Ukraine, I agree. Rural Ukrainians can grow enough to eat, so that basic need is met, it's just every other basic need that is shabby or lacking.

If (or when) the food distribution system in the U.S. breaks down (remember, 90% of the broccoli we eat is trucked out of ground zero for the California drought), people are going to have to go back to eating what grows locally in surplus. For people in Georgia, that going to be lots of collards, peanuts, sweet potatoes, chicken, okra, things that we currently produce in surplus. When people realize that it is not good to get food from 4 or 5 states away, there is going to be renewed interest in getting that food to grow locally. Most people don't think of Georgia as a big grain producer, but winter crops like wheat, barley, oats and rye do very well here. If they can't be shipped here from Kansas or North Dakota, we could grow our own.

Permaculture is the solution to inevitable capsizing of Big Ag. When people can no longer rely on the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market to get their food, they will have to find someone else. If you are the local permaculturalist, you can set up your stand in front of the boarded up Wal-Mart and life will go on. From my small permaculture holding, I have regular surpluses that I could cart to market nearly every month of the year. Years of the market drive consumer culture have made people lazy, but once it is no longer there, their resourcefulness will re-awaken.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:
Focus on preparing for the things that are bound to happen and likely to happen, but wouldn't be too bad, instead of the things that won't likely happen, but would be really bad.


Personally I wouldn't bother preparing for civil war. I guess you can if you really believe it's likely to happen - I don't. My personal advice, based on my own experience, is to prepare for likely natural disasters, serious family illness or injury, and especially for loss of your job, if you have one. These are the most likely problems you'll have to face and the ones preppers don't bother to talk about much. Imagine what you need to survive each of those scenarios, and after you've prepared for those, then move on to the less likely scenarios such as civil war. Those are all crises I've faced or am currently facing in life, and they are sufficient challenge to prepare for!

 
Deb Rebel
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Gilbert Fritz wrote:
Focus on preparing for the things that are bound to happen and likely to happen, but wouldn't be too bad, instead of the things that won't likely happen, but would be really bad.


Personally I wouldn't bother preparing for civil war. I guess you can if you really believe it's likely to happen - I don't. My personal advice, based on my own experience, is to prepare for likely natural disasters, serious family illness or injury, and especially for loss of your job, if you have one. These are the most likely problems you'll have to face and the ones preppers don't bother to talk about much. Imagine what you need to survive each of those scenarios, and after you've prepared for those, then move on to the less likely scenarios such as civil war. Those are all crises I've faced or am currently facing in life, and they are sufficient challenge to prepare for!



I agree, securing your life so that if you lose income (even a reduction in pay/salary/income) you can continue. Part of what drives my efforts here, is the WHEN things shut down. If stuff does go to bleep in a handcart being able to provide for yourself is the best prep course. Or if you have seasonal employment, and have a low/dry period (a lot go full bore to the last cent and when the reduction comes hurt pretty bad) every year.

Being out from under debt and having land you can use to live off is the most important. Water, shelter, heat, food. Permie way of life, really helps.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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So, if Toby Hemenway is right, things will collapse step-wise, from the most complex to the least. What are the most complex things around? Toby points to our economic system and our medical system. So, pulling out of the standard economic system would be a good idea right now. And getting debt free so they don't decided to repossess your house or land. And finding alternative medical practitioners should be a priority.

What other highly complex systems are out there? As far as utilities, the electrical grid would probably be the first to fail. It has numerous complex and expensive parts, and even worse, it is linked into three huge systems across the USA. As we have seen, trees that got a bit too tall in Ohio, combined with too many air conditioners running in New York City, knocked out power to a vast swath of the USA and Canada. As maintenance continues to be neglected, blackouts will become more common. Also, there has been quite a number of attacks on grid infrastructure, and this may get worse. We could set up solar panel systems, but these are also complex, and depend on all sorts of supply chains stretching across the world. If you have electric heating, think again, or if you house is unlivable without air conditioning. Food storage could move to root cellars or evaporation refrigerators. Most modern homes depend on electricity for cooking, barring propane grills. A stock of propane may be one of the best short term backups for cooking, along with direct solar and small wood burning devices.

What other systems are highly complex, and what can we do to anticipate their fall?

A corollary point is that Federal level politics is likely to become more and more dysfunctional if Toby is right; our efforts should be focused at the local level.
 
Judith Browning
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Gilbert, I think the link in your signature is a perfect example of what can be done now to 'survive' peak anything...
https://catholicfarmers.wordpress.com/blog/

Sometimes I worry that I'm not more worried
I agree that permaculture will go a long way towards helping us to survive most any future event.
I just feel uncomfortable with the 'us' and 'them' talk that always comes up in any apocalyptic conversation.
I think there is plenty of 'wealth', even now, for all, if it were shared in some equitable way and that alone could ensure world wide survival.

EDIT...this post wasn't in response to yours above Gilbert...just typing at the same time.
 
Neil Layton
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:

One point I would make is that yes, food might be available; but I could imagine a lot of scenarios where special diets would not. Thus, those on special diets will not fare will, perhaps.


One could argue that in a post-apocalypse society those most likely to survive will be those willing to eat anything and do anything in order to survive, whatever the cost to others.

That said, we don't live in a post-apocalypse society. This article https://theconversation.com/can-we-feed-the-world-and-stop-deforestation-depends-whats-for-dinner-58091 summarises the latest paper (I think: they come out quite regularly, and I may have missed one) that suggests that not moving down the food chain is a good way to ensure that we're living in a pre-apocalypse society. This study quantifies a range of projections. Personally, I think it makes most sense to act in such a way as to try to ensure that such an apocalypse doesn't happen.

According to this article,

“The only diet found to work with all future possible scenarios of yield and cropland area, including 100% organic agriculture, was a plant-based one,” Erb said.
Even better: if we all woke up vegan in 2050, we would require less cropland than we did in the year 2000. This could allow us to “reforest” an area around the size of the entire Amazon rainforest – somehow fitting considering 70-80% of deforestation in the Amazon is due to the livestock industry.
In second place, the vegetarian diet was compatible with 94% of future no-deforestation scenarios. Going veggie would also save on cropland, allowing for an area around the size of India to return to nature.


It seems fairly evident to me that this is the kind of thing we would seem to need if we're going to avoid entering a post apocalypse society (and, of course, have a decent zone 5, which I'm guessing is where this post started).
 
Tristan Vitali
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Neil Layton wrote:
Gilbert Fritz wrote:

One point I would make is that yes, food might be available; but I could imagine a lot of scenarios where special diets would not. Thus, those on special diets will not fare will, perhaps.


One could argue that in a post-apocalypse society those most likely to survive will be those willing to eat anything and do anything in order to survive, whatever the cost to others.

That said, we don't live in a post-apocalypse society. This article https://theconversation.com/can-we-feed-the-world-and-stop-deforestation-depends-whats-for-dinner-58091 summarises the latest paper (I think: they come out quite regularly, and I may have missed one) that suggests that not moving down the food chain is a good way to ensure that we're living in a pre-apocalypse society. This study quantifies a range of projections. Personally, I think it makes most sense to act in such a way as to try to ensure that such an apocalypse doesn't happen.

According to this article,

“The only diet found to work with all future possible scenarios of yield and cropland area, including 100% organic agriculture, was a plant-based one,” Erb said.
Even better: if we all woke up vegan in 2050, we would require less cropland than we did in the year 2000. This could allow us to “reforest” an area around the size of the entire Amazon rainforest – somehow fitting considering 70-80% of deforestation in the Amazon is due to the livestock industry.
In second place, the vegetarian diet was compatible with 94% of future no-deforestation scenarios. Going veggie would also save on cropland, allowing for an area around the size of India to return to nature.


It seems fairly evident to me that this is the kind of thing we would seem to need if we're going to avoid entering a post apocalypse society (and, of course, have a decent zone 5, which I'm guessing is where this post started).


Granted, a larger focus on vegetables, fruits and nuts in the diet is certainly a goal for anyone interested in the health of their bodies, the sustainability of our food systems and the overall ecological security of the planet, but the "vegetarian dream" just doesn't work for the majority of us, as neither an option nor a solution. I'd point to the prevalence of grain based diets as the leading cause of ....well, everything "bad" for which the "vegetarian diet" is proffered to fix. This is most specifically the grain based diet fed to livestock. Our common livestock such as beef cattle, hogs and chickens are being fed a diet of corn, soy, wheat, etc, rather than rotationally grazed in "forest gardens" such as silvopasture and savanna systems where they get to eat the foods their bodies were originally designed for and, arguably more important, they are managed in a way as to improve overall yields while reducing footprint.

To me, pointing at meat and saying "that's the reason we're doomed" is like pointing at someone's face and saying "that's why you're not rich". Sure, it's probably a contributing factor, but it's, by far, one of the least important ones. The reason you're not rich is that you're not doing all the things, in the correct way, that would make you rich. The reason we all die horrible, painful, hunger induced deaths on or before 2100 is likewise not because we eat meat but because we're not raising all of our foods in the correct ways. Silly analogy, but true.

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Hi Neil,

I wouldn't doubt that those figures are right for the world. However, I think it ignores the fact that people and resources are not evenly spread over the world.

For instance, in India, there is no way they can keep eating much meat (except maybe insects!) And even then they might not have enough cropland. Post peak oil we will not be shuttling food all around the world.

On the other hand, the Eskimos will keep eating meat; there is no other way to survive in the far North. And their population is so low that they can afford to do so. Dry grasslands like Denver are in between; one can grow and eat a vegan diet, but due to low population desity one might not have to (Denver is dense, but Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Oklahoma, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada are very sparsely populated compared to Eastern USA, India, or Europe.

Also, there is a reason ranching is practiced in this area, instead of farming; due to drought, flood, high winds, hail, and an unpredictable growing season, raising meat is easier then raising grains. If I had to feed myself or the local community in this climate, I would want some animals, because one heavy hailstorm in July could mean starvation. Grass and animals are not affected by hail untill it gets to base ball size. (It happens here, but rarely, and only over small swaths.) Rain or hail on ripening grain causes it to lodge and rot, and that is it.

So I'd say that global studies matter far less to a post peak oil world.

 
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