Monthly Archives: August 2012
By: Tom Chatham
The critical keystone of life on this planet is water. Its importance cannot be downplayed in the expansion and productivity of the human race. While some species can live and even prosper in brackish or polluted water, humans need fresh water to ensure good health and proper function. The small amounts of fresh water available on this planet that is mostly covered by water, provide a limit to the expansion and endeavors of mankind. The sustainable use of this precious resource can go a long way but man has been anything but sensible in his use of it and his shortsightedness may be about to catch up with him.
Fresh water aquifers are getting dangerously low and above ground sources are disappearing at an alarming rate. Not only are the demands of human needs draining rivers but the reoccurring dry spells are on the verge of becoming catastrophic as rivers turn to little more than mud bogs and streams. Lake Mead which is held in place by the Hoover Dam, is down by 59% and stands the chance of going dry by 2021. The Mississippi River is down by almost 40 feet in some places. It has become so low that salt water from the gulf is threatening to flow up the river and could become life threatening for the towns that draw their water from the river.
One of our problems with water is the fact that large amounts of it are used for things other than for drinking. The national average indoor use for water is 60 – 70 gallons per day per person and 50% – 75% of residential use is in the bathroom. Much of this use can be attributed to ease of accessibility. If the average person had to carry this much water into the house every day it is likely they would use much less. A standard toilet uses about 3.5 gallons per flush while a low flush type uses about 1.6 gallons per flush. In a city of millions, this use alone adds up to substantial amounts every day. The use of composting or incinerator toilets would go a long way towards reducing water use. The use of grey water systems for irrigation of small areas would also reduce water needs considerably.
Another major use of water is for the generation of electrical power. For every gallon of water used in a residential home, five times as much water is needed to provide the electricity for that home. Almost ½ of all water taken from rivers and lakes is used by power plants for cooling and generation functions. With the population increasing, the power needs will likely increase by a similar amount requiring an even larger percentage of our water sources. As our water sources dry up it will make power generation increasingly difficult if not impossible. The average nuclear plant requires 2725 liters of water per megawatt hour produced, coal 1890 liters and natural gas plants 719 liters per megawatt. The output at Hoover Dam has decreased by 23% due to low water levels and there is a 50% chance it could cease power production by 2017. Researchers also predict Lake Mead has a 50% chance of going dry by 2021. Hoover Dam provides power to about 29 million homes and would be difficult to replace.
A major need for water is irrigation. Almost 60% of the worlds fresh water withdrawals go towards irrigation uses. In 2005, total irrigation withdrawals in the U.S. was about 128,000 million gallons per day. People need food to survive and that requires large amounts of water for the system we now use. The Ogallala aquifer is rapidly dropping and provides huge amounts of water to the mid west for crop production. As the water dwindles, so does our ability to produce huge crops to feed hundreds of millions worldwide. Many vegetable farms in California have had their water cut off at different times in the past due to water shortages and it is likely to get worse. Many of the western states get most of their irrigation water from ground level sources and lack of rainfall can have serious consequences. This will affect food cost and availability and lead to a dysfunctional system of food production that will affect millions nationwide.
As water becomes more of an issue, expect government at all levels to react with heavy handed tactics to regulate its use. Recently a person in Oregon was sentenced to jail for capturing rain water on his own property. Not too long ago the idea was proposed that meters should be put on private water wells and the owners should be taxed on how much of their own water they use. As water becomes more of an issue, expect to see more tactics like these from those in charge.
The water situation as expressed is one of many good reasons to become far removed from urban areas and build an off grid homestead to ensure you have the resources you need in the future. The further you are away from government bureaucrats, the more freedom you will enjoy and the less hassle you will have to deal with. By building and developing your property in a sustainable way you will be able to avoid many of the problems of the general population that must submit to government bungling and mismanagement. By determining your water, energy and other future needs and devising a plan for storage and use, you will be able to maintain a good standard of living no matter what shortages appear. If you plan to build a small homestead, you need to consider the annual rainfall in the area among other factors. If you depend on others to insure your well being and standard of living you may suffer for that dependency in the future. If you do not have a plan for your future yet, time is running short. Make the best of the time you now have.
By: Tom Chatham – Author of The American Dream Lost
It is important to talk about a possible currency collapse given the current financial conditions in the U.S. The people need the conversation to help prepare for the challenges that would immediately follow. Government control following a collapse would further degrade quality of life and personal freedoms. It would be a troubling time to say the least. Those that feel the need to prepare already know what the government is about and what it is capable of. They know it will be a long time following a collapse before any semblance of civilized society might return to the country, if it ever existed to begin with.
A police state economy can be identified by shortages, poverty, misery and brutality. The population has no drive for productivity and no chance for wealth creation or incentives for new product creation. The whole system breeds stagnation throughout the country insuring future generations will have a lower standard of living. People will do the minimum work necessary to survive as anything more will create no excess for them to keep and use.
A good question they might ask themselves now while they have time to ponder it is, what will the government use to pay its minions to carry out its plans after a collapse has destroyed the dollar. The sociopaths that fill the government ranks will no doubt do as they are told but at some point they will expect to get paid for their services to purchase the necessities their families need. What might this situation look like?
In normal times, a currency collapse would be followed by government reforms and possibly replacement of politicians by an angry populace. The government would issue a new fiat currency and the citizens would be slowly conned by the politicians to accept it. The game would start anew until the next collapse. In the case of the U.S. the populace at large is learning how the game is played and they won’t want any part of a new fiat currency by choice.
The emerging problem with the U.S. is that the politicians don’t care what the populace wants or is willing to accept. The fact that the U.S. is becoming a police state gives some indication of what a post collapse situation would look like. Being that the major banks own the government, in practice if not in name, the industry and resources seized by government will provide securities for recapitalization of the banks following repudiation of the dollar.
Immediately following a collapse of the dollar in the U.S. the government would seize control of all production capability and resources. It would have no choice because they know a new fiat currency would not be accepted by the working class and businesses. They would issue a new currency probably in connection with a type of debit card that government employees and those that support the government would get. The government would want to control every sector of society in order to ensure finished products are available to the selected groups. Everyone else would either have to fall in line and work as they are told to receive goods or be removed as a threat.
A barter society would arise quickly to provide the needs of communities but this would be a threat to government control so expect them to react against this activity very quickly and harshly. Any barter activity that eludes government scrutiny would need a medium of exchange outside of government control such as precious metals, diamonds or other hard commodities. All industries would have to be controlled by government in order for the new fiat currency to be accepted and used for commerce and to insure continued production of products. Any type of small business that is hard to regulate or control would be shut down by government officials. This would cause a severe backlash by the population and the critical infrastructure would have to be guarded by heavily armed government personnel to maintain control and prevent interference by citizens. This would require a large army with weapons and lots of ammo that will obey all orders from government officials.
The government may claim the new currency is backed by gold reserves but if it is not directly convertible into gold a gold backing will mean nothing. This would be one way to attempt to appease citizens into accepting a new paper currency. The prevention of barter or alternate currencies would be enforced with brutal force by the government acting in a totalitarian way to ensure its total control over the society. Currency controls would be such that officials would be able to prevent the accumulation of wealth by individuals. The absolute control of resources will ensure most of the population will submit or do without.
In the opening hours of a government takeover, the only way for citizens to prevent totalitarian rule is the acquisition of critical infrastructure and resources by force before government personnel can secure it. As the old saying goes, possession is 9/10 of the law. The acquisition of resources is only the initial problem that the citizenry would face as government forces attempt to take control away from citizens. The difficulty would come in restarting commerce with a hostile government still in place. Those that depend on the government would likely support any measures that would keep resources flowing to them. The large populations in the urban areas would be easy for the government to manipulate due to the need for a continuous flow of resources to those areas.
Citizens that can control the resources in the rural areas will curb government control as long as those areas can be held. Once government forces have complete control of industry and resources it would be very difficult to remove it from their hands. It is a historical fact that once a totalitarian government takes control, it is very difficult to end it. The regime in North Korea is a good example of what to expect if the U.S. ever goes down this road.
An informed and vigilant citizenry is the only defense against this type of scenario and judging from current events, Americans have little or no defense at this time. Once a total government takeover has occurred, nothing short of war will likely correct it. There are nonviolent actions that can topple a government, but only if the population acts in unison for a common goal, which is unlikely given the divisions we currently see in the U.S. The current course of the U.S. is troubling and barring a significant event that alters this course, the American people have some very difficult times ahead of them. When this paradigm shifts, the citizens that do not have supplies or local production capability will become beholden to the government for their every day existence and it will not be benevolent in its actions.
By: Tom Chatham
When all else fails to prevent the rise of tyranny and the abuse of freedom, good men of continence must take those actions that in peaceful times seem drastic and ill advised. The maintenance of freedom is an ongoing struggle between those who believe in God given rights and those who believe in government supremacy. It is only natural that a country that slowly turns its back on God and embraces immoral activities, will eventually see the government as the grantor of social values and freedoms. It is the moral decay of a society more than anything else that signals its impending demise and only those that rise above the depravity will be able to defeat these forces. Those without moral values must ask themselves what they are willing to die for while good men already know.
To be effective in defending values that they hold dear, a partisan resistance must have resources to draw on. A populace can be controlled by restriction of water, food, movement, communications and financial controls or any combination of these systems in a developed country. It is the role of the partisan to become as self sufficient in these areas as possible in order to conduct an effective campaign. The less government restrictions affect the population, the less control they will have over them and the less likely the population will succumb to government orders. Access to resources is the governments biggest concern when it comes to control and that is why they will secure those items very quickly when they wish to implement full control over the population.
When it becomes evident to most of the population that the government wishes total control, it will be difficult to acquire those resources in sufficient quantities to be effective in the future, therefore, supplies and production capabilities must be organized prior to government action. Resources needed to wage a prolonged fight can be broken down into several categories.
Personnel – Partison personnel would need to live in the area of operations to better blend in and for knowledge of the area. They would be averse to government interference in their daily lives and would be willing to make sacrifices to improve their living conditions.
Secure area – Partison fighters must have secure areas to resupply and perform training and operational planning from. It must provide safe conditions for medical treatment and recovery of personnel.
Weapons – There must be an initial stock of weapons and ammunition to conduct operations with. The equipment to reload and reproduce ammo and repair weapons is essential for prolonged operations that may take months or years to complete. The creation of weapons and munitions from locally available materials may become a necessity.
Equipment – Individual field gear specific to the fighting environment would be required by each fighter. Specialty equipment such as night vision, telescopic sights, body armor and enhanced listening devices would be beneficial.
Food – A locally available supply of food and water would be vital to partisan forces in the event the transportation and delivery of those items is controlled by hostile forces. The placement of small scattered gardens and caches of food hidden throughout an area would insure some food is available at all times. The placement of root crops in small clearings in wooded areas would go unnoticed by most people. The availability of small diversified farms within the affected area would be a primary source of products that hostile forces would have difficulty accounting for. This would also make farms a primary target for these forces.
Medical Resources – The potential for medical supplies being cut off nessitates the local production of medicines and supplies. An initial stockpile of medical equipment and supplies would be very beneficial to a partisan group. The availability of qualified medical personnel is also a need in a prolonged situation. These individuals would be a target of hostile forces and subject to surveillance.
Communications – The ability to communicate with other partisans to assemble and conduct coordinated operations is critical to effective operations. The use of several types of communication systems would provide redundancy depending on the atmosphere you are operating in. Shortwave radios, short range hand held units and message drop points would be beneficial if standard communication abilities are prevented or monitored.
Transportation – The ability to move swiftly around the battlespace allows you to shape the battle and insure a positive outcome. Automobiles are the most accessible transportation but motorcycles, four wheelers, bicycles and horses allow you to move where most vehicles cannot go. In a fight with mechanized forces, you must be able to go where their vehicles cannot, thus removing some of their abilities and tactical advantages.
Clothing – The ability to fight will in some cases require the proper clothing to protect the fighter from the elements. The acquisition beforehand or the local production capability later, will enable partisans to continue operations year round for the duration of hostilities.
Energy supply – Energy is required for many operations in a conflict. It is needed for heat, to cook food or sterilize equipment. It is needed to power transportation and produce electricity for equipment and lighting. The more technology that an army uses, the more energy it will require, therefore, a partisan army will want to keep technology needs to a minimum so that localized energy production is possible. The use of solar panels and wood gas units to produce the power needed will give the partisans a distinct advantage over an army that needs to transport large amounts of energy that can be disrupted.
Local support – For partisan fighters to be successful a large percentage of the population must be either sympathetic to the cause or indifferent. This is what allows partisan fighters ease of movement and safe areas to operate in. The lack of support in an area will present a difficult situation for partisans to live and operate in without being identified and captured.
Good moral judgment – During times of combat, the anger and disassociation experienced by fighters can devolve into wanton acts of rape, murder and looting, causing sentiments among the local population to turn against the fighters. Only fighters that maintain good moral standards will have the backing of the community and the wherewithal to endure the physical and environmental difficulties that will be experienced.
When government forces decide to control an area or a population, they must have unfettered access to resources of their own to conduct these operations. A small partisan force has no chance of defeating a well equipped army head on, therefore they must employ gorilla tactics utilizing asymmetrical warfare. The larger the fighting force, the more logistics they must have on a continuous basis and the disruption of these logistics is one of the keys to defeating them.
The use of partisan forces over the largest area possible will force the enemy to deploy a disproportionate amount of troops to secure the area. The disruption of supplies becomes easier as the battlespace becomes larger. Disruption of critical supplies and selected harassment of forces can have a demoralizing effect on personnel that will create problems with conduct and effectiveness of units. In the case of demoralizing troops, asymmetrical warfare can take time to be effective but can have devastating effects.
In other areas, asymmetrical warfare can have rapid results such as disrupting water, electricity, food, munitions or liquid fuels to combat forces or local populations. The destruction of critical infrastructure that is difficult to quickly restore can be detrimental to heavily mechanized forces that depend on heavy weapons to maintain a tactical advantage.
Trees that block roadways, the destruction of roadbeds or the destruction of primary bridges can hamper the movement of heavy equipment. The destruction of power transmission towers, transformer sub-stations and fuel delivery systems to power plants can disrupt power transmission to large areas. The contamination of water or bulk food with poisons or substances that are not easily removed can prevent operations of forces in an area and possibly disable enemy personnel. Sniper activity can force units to move as larger elements than normal tying up resources and decreasing the area of coverage. The addition of substances to liquid fuels can damage equipment and prevent deployment of those assets. Booby traps and IEDs in selected areas can hamper travel or even close that artery to use. The lessons from Vietnam and Afghanistan should not be lost on partisan fighters.
A campaign fought by partisan fighters is the last act of defiance when the civil population becomes subject to government intrusions into their lives. Historically, when the situation devolves to these types of actions, the acts of violence against the civil population has already begun by government or hostile forces providing justification for self preservation by individuals. When an overwhelming force is misused by those in power, the only option is to dissolve that force in the most expedient way possible returning the ultimate power to the people.
By: Tom Chatham – Author of The Crux Event
When we look at the actions of the universe we find many instances of cyclical trends. The sun has cycles. The moon has cycles. The Earth has cycles. Is this true with everything in the universe? Is the universe even more, well ordered than we realize or can comprehend?
Harry Dent has identified cycles in human behavior. We live, work, spend and grow old in generational cycles that repeat with regularity. Knowing these trends we can speculate when and where we can invest time and money for the best return.
If the Earth has cycles such as glacial and interglacial periods, do these periods affect human cycles? Do humans prosper and grow with these interglacial warm periods only to destroy ourselves and civilization just as the new ice age begins, leaving only a few humans to survive and carry on the human race until the next interglacial period. The scattered remains of past civilizations litter the Earth and we are only now discovering artifacts that defy belief and cause us to question how long civilized man has existed.
It is interesting when we look at the many crises we are now faced with that seem to grow by the day. We know man has the capability to destroy civilization many times over today, so we need to ask, has he done so before? If so what does this say about humans and civilized society? If civilization is cyclical and we continuously start over, is it possible for us to realize this and understand it enough to leave a message for the future to prevent our own demise? Would our understanding of it break us out of this cycle to usher in a new age of reason that would break this chain of self destruction? Perhaps former civilizations have made this attempt but we have yet to find and understand the message.
Former civilizations have left temples and writings that tell us they existed and understood things we are now only beginning to comprehend. Is there a message in these artifacts that can help us move forward instead of backwards? Are we doomed to another cycle because of human arrogance? There is evidence that there may have been a previous nuclear war on Earth. Glass found in several desert areas of the planet indicate the sand was fused at a temperature of 3,300 degrees and lacks the tell tale sign of being caused by meteors or the like. It is the same kind of glass formed at the U.S. nuclear test sites. Does this mean anything or is it just a freak natural occurrence?
If we decided to send a message to future generations thousands of years into the future, what would it be and how would we insure it survived to be found? To answer these questions now might allow us to find the answers we seek to the past. Most people are so consumed with their daily lives that they are not concerned about thousands of years into the future or the past. They are only concerned about the here and now and what they can do to make their lives enjoyable. Are humans so petty that they only care about themselves and is this the road to destruction that cycles are made of?
If civilization is cyclical should we care and if so what should be done? To understand these cycles is to understand ourselves and the world around us and would allow us to use this knowledge for more productive ends. The human race has not been kind to itself or the planet. A continuous cycle of destruction can only lead to the end of humans or Earth or both. Is that the legacy we want to leave? In the end, will the universe really care what we do to ourselves?
By: Tom Chatham
Climate change has become a contentious issue over the years and there is a lot of speculation and interpretation of data that has taken place. When trying to explain issues using science it is important to leave politics and agendas out of the equation for the sake of arriving at the truth. There are many that will dispute conclusions based on the best available facts and arrive at their own conclusions based on little or no fact. People are free to think whatever they like but the truth will always be the truth.
According to a large and compelling body of evidence, the earth is now on the brink of another ice age. The many sources of data that provide our knowledge base of long term climate change, which includes ice cores, ocean sediment cores, the geologic record and studies of ancient plant and animal populations indicate the 12,000 year long Holocene period will soon be coming to an end. All records indicate a regular cyclic pattern of ice age glacial maximums which last about 100,000 years separated by interglacial periods lasting about 12,000 years. Part of this cyclic pattern are the three Milankovich cycles.
The three Milankovich cycles include
1) The tilt of the earth that varies over a 41,000 year period. The tilt varies from 22.1 to 24.5 degrees. Our current 23.45 degree tilt is right in the middle.
2) The shape of the earths orbit, changes over a period of about 100,000 years. Currently our planets orbit is almost a perfect circle. It will change from a circle to an ellipse (oval) then back again. In an elliptical orbit the solar energy received would make the perihelion a much warmer time of the year than the aphelion.
3) The procession of the Equinoxes, which gradually rotates the direction of the earths axis over a period of 22,000 years. In about 11,000 years the axis of the Earth will be pointing at Vega from its current alignment with Polaris which will give the Northern Hemisphere summer in December and winter in June.
According to the Milankovich theory of ice age causation, the three cycles each of which affects the solar radiation reaching earth, act together producing the cycle of cold ice age maximums and warm interglacial periods. The combination of the 41,000 year tilt cycle and the 22,000 year precession cycle combined with the smaller eccentricity affect the severity of summer and winter and are thought to control the growth and retreat of ice sheets.
Theory suggests that the primary driver of ice ages is the total summer radiation received in northern latitude zones where major ice sheets have formed in the past near 65N degrees north. Astronomical calculations show that 65N summer insolation should increase gradually over the next 25,000 years and no ice age is expected in the next 50,000 – 100,000 years.
While some believe total solar irradiance is a driver of climate, some research has singled out solar UV radiation as a major driver of climate from the upper atmosphere down to the earths surface. It could be the cause of a sudden climate shift 2,800 years ago during a solar minimum. More information on the UV connection to climate change can be found at http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/earths-climate-follows-suns-uv-groove.
In the 1970’s Carl Sagon and other scientists began promoting the theory that greenhouse gasses like CO2 produced by human industries could lead to global warming. The central piece of evidence cited is the hockey stick graph cited by Al Gore and shows an upward spike in global temperatures beginning in the 1970’s continuing through the winter of 2006-07. This warming trend was interrupted by the deepest snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere since 1966 and the coldest temperatures since 2001.
The major flaw in the AGW theory is that its proponents focus on evidence from the last 1,000 years and ignore evidence from the past 1 million years which is necessary for a true understanding of climatology. The data from paleoclimatology provides a more credible explanation for the recent temperature spikes, based on the natural cycle of ice ages.
During the 1990s, ice cores from Russias Vostok station in Antarctica provided a record of global atmospheric temperatures, CO2 and other greenhouse gasses and airborne particulates from 420,000 years ago until the present time.
The graph of the Vostok ice core data indicate that ice age maximums and warm interglacials occur at regular cyclic patterns. It also shows changes in global CO2 lag behind global temperature change by about 800 years. This indicates global temperatures precede or cause global CO2 changes. The natural cyclic rise of global temperature is causing global CO2 to rise, not the reverse.
The reason CO2 levels rise and fall in response to global temperatures is because cold water is capable of retaining more CO2 than warm water. The earth is currently warming as a result of the natural ice age cycle, and as the oceans warm they release increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. When the oceans begin to cool in response to lower global temperatures they will begin to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Because CO2 levels lag global temperatures by 800 years, we will be 800 years into the next ice age before CO2 levels begin to decrease.
Within the natural cycle, about every 110,000 years, global temperatures followed by global CO2 levels have peaked at approximately the same levels which they are today. This indicates we are now near the peak of the interglacial period and it is about to change. The data from paleoclimatology including ice cores, sea sediments, geology, paleobotany and zoology indicate we are now on the brink of another ice age and the data also shows severe and lasting climate change can occur within a few years.
The change could be gradual or it could be very sudden. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we need to pay attention to the historical record and prepare ourselves for any contingency. Instead of worry over the dubious threat of AGW, we need to focus on the real threat that could potentially render large portions of the Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable.
When could we see the shift? When dealing with time spans of this magnitude it is difficult to give exact dates but Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, Russia has stated that he believes we will enter a little ice age in 2014 following this solar maximum. If he is correct the people will need to be given an honest assessment of the situation so they can determine what if any preparations they need to begin making. When it comes to Earth changes that affect billions of people, politics and agendas need to be set aside because the truth has no agenda. Either way this climate change goes, it should be apparent by 2015.
By: Tom Chatham
The global financial system is beginning to come apart like a cheap suit. When the normal life you rely on ceases to function properly, what are you going to do? If you do not have a plan you will be left helpless in a rapidly deteriorating situation that will put you and your family in danger. It costs you no money to think through some basic questions and come up with realistic answers. The sooner you address this, the more secure your future will be when things don’t go as planned. Everyone expects the government to be there with a safety net when things go wrong, but the government may not be there in the future when you need them or they may require things of you that you are not willing to do or give up. When times are uncertain, it is your responsibility to care for your family and that is a responsibility you cannot pawn off on someone else. If you have no plan or don’t know where to start, you can begin with some basic questions.
How will I feed my family? – If your income is cut off or your food supplier is shut down, what is your backup plan to provide food for your family and how long will you be able to do so? The acquisition of potable water is also a concern you need to address.
How and where will I shelter my family? – If you lose your job and the ability to pay your bills, will you still be able to live in your current home? If your community becomes dangerous will you stay there and if not where will you go?
How will I provide security for my family? – When the financial system breaks down, many who depend on it will become desperate. They will do things they normally would not do in order to maintain their living standard. Many will become violent as their comfort zone is breached by many unknown variables they are not ready to confront.
How will I preserve my wealth for future use? – If you have wealth in the form of paper assets and they are stored with institutions, you may lose access to them in an emergency. They may also become lost, stolen or greatly devalued depending on the circumstances. If the well being of your family depends on those assets, are you prepared to lose them? If not what are your contingency plans to protect those assets so you have buying power in the future no matter what happens to the system?
What will I use for transportation? – In a depression type of collapse it may be difficult to acquire fuel or get your vehicle repaired. What is your backup plan if you need to evacuate your family to another area? Do you have a storage of fuel supplies, an alternate fuel source or the ability to maintain your own vehicle? Do you have an alternate source of transportation you can use?
How will I provide clothing for my family? – If you have no income or savings, how will you provide clothing for your family? Can you make your own or do you have a plan to trade for what you need? Should you store extra clothing now for future use and how much should it be?
Do I have others I can depend on if I need help? – If the situation deteriorates, do you have others you can rely on? It may be a need for food, clothing, shelter or security but in a prolonged situation you will need help in some form at some point.
What will I do to earn a paycheck? – In a serious downturn that lasts many years, what will you do to earn a paycheck? What skills do you have that can be traded for the things you need? What equipment do you have that can be used to provide a product or service?
How will I provide medical services to my family? – If the situation is desperate and medical help is expensive or unavailable, how prepared are you to care for a sick or injured family member? While broken bones and internal injuries may require a professional, can you care for minor injuries and provide medicine for sick individuals?
Can I provide power and communications if the grid is disabled? – The financial collapse of nations can lead to the shutdown of major service providers or leave you unable to pay for those services. If you can provide your own power and communications during critical times, it can provide you with information and capabilities to keep your family safe. Even a solar panel, 12v battery and small power inverter can give you many capabilities.
Once you have answered these questions in as much detail as possible you will have the outline for a basic plan to follow. As you answer these questions, more questions will arise that will lead to more detailed planning. Planning is a continuous process that develops more capabilities as you progress. In the future, the more capabilities you have, the easier it will be to navigate the disruptions in society that you are likely to encounter.
By: Tom Chatham
There are so many dangers lurking in the shadows today it is difficult to keep up and even harder for the average person to prepare for them all. One of the first things a person must do is to identify the threats and determine a course of action to remain safe. Even without the necessary preparations, knowing what the challenges are gives you an edge on the rest of society when things start to fall apart. Among other things to worry about is a danger from nature that can have catastrophic consequences. A global shift into another ice age. Imagine if you will, humanity attempting to recover from a global financial crisis after having lost their jobs and all of their wealth. If another global disaster suddenly appeared from the shadows at a time when people had no resources to prepare for their survival, what would they do?
Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, Russia predicts that a little ice age could begin by 2014. His theory is that long term variations in the amount of solar energy reaching earth is the principal reason driving and defining the whole mechanism of climate change from global warming to glacial periods. He states that Total Solar Irradiance is the primary factor causing climate variations on Earth, not carbon dioxide. He believes we are headed for a long period of low solar activity that could reduce the energy received by Earth, causing a cooling effect much like the period between 1645 and 1850.
The Earth has spent much of its history moving from one ice age to another separated by short periods of warn weather. An ice age is the norm not the exception on this planet. These periods of warn weather are thought to be around 12,000 years. It seems that we may be nearing the end of one of those warm periods and a shift to a colder climate may be imminent. Some scientists speculate this cold period could last only 30 to 100 years and others think it may last as much as 100,000 years. It could take decades for the climate to cool but there are no guarantees that a small initial change could not happen in the near future that threatens our food production capability. Even if it took decades for the climate to become unbearable to us, our food production would have ceased long before then. Even if you can grow your own food, how will you do so if the weather is too cold?
It may seem crazy to consider this as a threat given the unusually hot weather we are experiencing but if solar irradiance is the cause of global weather, the solar maximum we are about to see peak could be the cause of this hot weather. If this is so, and it is followed by a solar minimum lasting decades, it could have immediate and serious consequences for our climate.
To prepare for possible disasters people have learned to produce their own food and have taken the personal responsibility to store supplies to last for a few years. If we slowly lose the ability to grow crops over several decades, how could anybody possibly store up that many supplies, especially if they have been financially ruined and don’t have the money. Even if you stored 20 years worth of food, it would eventually run out, then what? This scenario could lead to the slow starvation of billions. The only way for humanity to survive indefinitely is to have the ability to produce food in a sustainable way.
As with a radiation hazard you have two choices. You can evacuate or shelter in place. The problem with a global disaster, that requires evacuation from some areas, is that if there are safe zones following the disaster, how many people can that safe zone realistically support? If everyone has the same idea of moving to that zone, what will be the outcome? The first people in the zone will see it as their zone and at some point will try to limit or stop others from entering to insure their own survival. This is human nature. If you are one of the first ones in, are you prepared to fight to maintain that zone and for how long? How long do you think you will be able to fight off the rest of the world? If there is a great deal of fighting, will the resources in the safe zone survive destruction? These are all valid questions that we need to answer before something like this becomes a reality.
In an environment where you have to do everything inside, at least for a large portion of the year, energy is the key to everything. With enough energy you can produce light to grow food, stay warm, provide ventilation, produce power and run machines. In some survival situations, energy may be the primary need in order to produce food and pump water.
Wood is a good energy source that humans are very accustomed to using and we have a plentiful supply. One of the problems with long term storage of wood is it’s tendency to decay or rot. The fact that we have some homes in America with 200 year old timbers in them attests to the fact that wood under the right circumstances can be stored for a long time.
Coal is a good source of energy and we have an abundant supply of it in this country. We have used coal for over a hundred years and we know how to get the most from it. It can be dirty but will store indefinitely and is a compact source of energy.
In a long term survival situation where energy is a key to staying alive, a dependable source of power will be a necessary component to your plan. The storage of liquid fuels is possible to run a generator but could you afford a 20 year supply of fuel right now if you needed it? If so will it store for that long and how will you replace it when it is all gone? Also, generators running on liquid fuels will require periodic maintenance and replacement of components. Even with a supply of repair parts, your engine will eventually wear out requiring a replacement. You need a power system that is easy to maintain, is extremely durable and is simple enough that you can manufacture parts for if necessary.
A simple, tried and tested power system is steam power. With a boiler and a steam engine you can power just about anything and secondary steam can be used for heating. Machines and generators powered by a power take-off shaft can be run by a single engine. Boilers and steam engines are much simpler in design and function than petroleum based engines making repairs and maintenance long term more realistic. With a power take-off shaft you can run several items off of one engine such as a water pump, DC generator, AC generator, metal working machines and ventilation equipment.
With fuel in limited supply it would be necessary to store power for long periods. A battery system is the natural way to store power but lead acid batteries will only last 5 to 10 years before they lose the ability to hold a charge. A better battery for long term use is a nickel-iron battery. These batteries are very durable, to the extent that some in use today have been used for almost a century. They only require a change of electrolyte every 20 years or so and they are almost impossible to damage by overcharging. They do have draw backs such as not being as efficient as lead acid and needing to be topped of occasionally with distilled water but these things may be secondary considering the service life. The expense is also a consideration that may necessitate a group purchase of items in this type of scenario.
The graph of the Vostok ice core data indicate that Ice Age maximums and warm interglacials occur within a regular cyclic pattern. About every 100,000 years the cold glacial period is interrupted by a warn interglacial period lasting about 12,000 years.
We are now near the end of a warm interglacial period and the Earth is due to enter the next ice age. The Milankovich cycles each affect the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth and act together to produce the cycle of cold Ice Age maximums and warm interglacials.
The data from paleoclimatology, including ice cores, sea sediments, geology, paleobotany and zoology, indicate that we are on the verge of entering another Ice Age, and the data also shows that severe and lasting climate change can occur within only a few years.
In all likelihood, a return to a little ice age will entail cooler summers and colder winters with a growing season 1 to 2 months shorter in many places. This is something we can adapt to and is much less catastrophic than a full fledged ice age with glaciers covering large portions of the northern hemisphere. Even though we will be able to adapt, it will still cause problems with food production in a world that continues to grow at an ever increasing rate. It could still mean shortages and starvation for some around the world as the grain producing regions in the north are able to produce much less or nothing at all in some places. Even a small shift in climate still holds the potential for dire results if we do not plan for it ahead of time. Now is the time to take a serious look at our future and plan appropriately. Next week we will look at the subject of climate change in a little more detail.
By: Tom Chatham
As economic conditions bottom bounce before their next downturn, many families find the prospect of future prosperity dimming. One of the largest investments a person makes during their lifetime is their home. A home should be looked at as a place to live and raise a family and nothing more but recent generations have looked at houses as more of an investment vehicle and have come to realize the risk associated with it. As with any investment, it can go up or down and many failed to realize this until too late. This left many homeowners under water and some losing thousands of dollars of earnings as they were foreclosed on.
Losing your home is bad enough but also losing years of earnings can be devastating, especially if you are older and nearing retirement. One of the mistakes people make when they look at the future is assuming what their future earnings will be and trying to live on potential earnings instead of actual earnings. As we now see that can change for the worse in very short order. Your earnings can be decimated as well as the retirement payments you expect to receive if inflation should get out of control. It is for these reasons that a person should do as our grandparents did and live within their means by living in a home that they can afford now not over a twenty year period.
Most people do not have the 10% – 20% down payment for a new home much less the full amount so what else can they do? Even with the recent drop in home prices they are still looking at about $150,000 for an average home in most places. That’s a lot of your future earnings not including interest. One thing people have bought into is that they must have a home as big or bigger than everyone else’s. That is something that everyone needs to think about very carefully. Do you really need all of that room or do you just like having a big house? Most people can honestly answer that they really don’t need it they just want it.
Even if you have a large house and it is paid for, will you be able to maintain it in the future if your income is decimated? This is a reason you need to consider building a small cottage. For someone just starting out or is about to retire that has limited income, it just makes sense. Even if you had to borrow the money, being in debt for $15,000 is much better than holding $150,000 in debt. Living in a small cottage while you save to build a larger home will also save you thousands of dollars in potential interest that you will ultimately be able to spend on other items that you need. Once you build your larger home you will still have your cottage for a weekend retreat, backup residence or to rent out to recoup your building cost and generate a small cash flow.
If you have a home in an urban or suburban area and it is not fully paid for, it might make sense to buy a few acres in a rural area and build a cottage on it. It can act as a vacation destination or as a place to go if it becomes untenable in the city for numerous reasons. If you lose your home due to financial difficulty, it will provide you with shelter until you can improve your situation. If this is a possibility you should take precautions to ensure you will not lose your cottage property along with everything else. Having a paid for home to live in if everything falls apart can help you sleep at night.
For those that have a stable living condition and may not face financial difficulties in the future, having a cottage in the country is still a great idea. If you have children, the financial prospects for the next generation are not looking very good. This rural property could be given to your kids to help them get ahead faster in a tough job market allowing them to save some of the meager wages they may be earning. It could even offer them the opportunity to start a business. For that matter if you should suddenly find yourself homeless due to a sudden disaster, it could allow you to house your family while building a new home or starting a new business. With a few acres you could even build more than one cottage and rent them out either for summer rentals or to people who need housing and cannot afford much rent. Even having a cottage behind your current home could be useful. With the many collage graduates moving back home because of the job market, a backyard cottage would be a good place for them to live while they wait for the employment situation to improve, leaving mom and dad more privacy at the same time. A cottage fitted with all propane appliances would also give you a retreat in the event of a prolonged power outage.
A rental cottage with a large garden area out back would be very appealing to many who want to reduce their expenses and live a more sustainable life. A small livable cottage can cost as little as $5,000 dollars making maintenance costs very small and property taxes very small as well allowing you to keep more of your hard earned money. A cottage can provide you with opportunity and ability by freeing up your financial resources for more productive use.
For those that say they don’t have the financial resources to buy a property and build an extra house it can be a difficult prospect but not impossible. The primary issue is not so much the money but how badly you want to do it. Most homeowners have lots of useless stuff sitting around they had to buy because it was on sale or it looked nice but serves no real purpose. That stuff can be sold. If you have a car that is paid for and worth several thousand dollars, you can sell it and find a cheaper car to drive to work. If you have jewelry you don’t wear any more you can sell it to generate money, just don’t sell your gold to one of those gold for cash schemes because you only get a small fraction of the real value. There are many ways to generate the extra funds you need to get a small piece of property. Keep in mind you don’t want to buy a $20,000 an acre property but a $2,000 or $3,000 an acre property in the country.
Once you have the property if you lack funds for a stick built home try an alternative method such as cob, adobe or cord wood as the primary building material. Scrounging for materials at building sites or from old buildings can save a great deal of money. It’s a lot of work but you won’t create any debt in doing it and that is the main goal. You need to take a good look at where you are financially and decide if having a small place is right for you. If your financial situation is tight now, what will you do if it gets worse? At what point will you decide to cut your losses and create a debt free zone that can keep you safe until things get better? These are questions you need to answer now while you have the time to think them through. For those that think smaller might be better, start pricing properties and looking at building methods that you can do yourself. Search for small home plans and find something that would work for you. These actions won’t cost you any money and you will be able to determine if it’s within your financial capability. Why wait? You can find links on our blogroll for free small home plans so why not look into it.
By: Tom Chatham
As the economy sinks deeper into oblivion and drought conditions cause devastating damage to crops nationwide, many people go about their daily lives hoping things get better, totally unaware of the problems growing in the shadows. The world runs on resources and the low hanging fruit has been harvested, leaving the more difficult commodities to be extracted.
The world has heard the arguments for peak oil. It is not that we will run out completely, but the fact that as the oil fields age, extraction of oil becomes more expensive. We have already passed peak world production that occurred in 2005. From now on every barrel of oil that is produced will cost increasingly more.
Keep in mind that energy is required for everything we do. Not only do we need it for electrical power and transportation but other natural resources that must be produced require vast amounts of energy for extraction. As the third world nations vie for better living standards, they will be competing for the limited resources that they must have to build up their economies.
The wars we fight overseas are to a large degree for the resources in that area. What is still unclear is why the global power brokers have the U.S. fighting for control of overseas resources when we still have vast untapped resources here that they refuse to let us use. It may be their way to bring all remaining resources under their control for later global control. It may be that the plan is to use everyone else’s resources and when they run out we will still have ours to draw from. The scenarios are endless but one thing is for certain, our natural resources are declining at a very rapid rate.
It is the depletion of our resources through unsustainable use that will lead to nations increasingly using military force to get the things they need. The U.S. has the best equipped military thus far but what happens to it when we run out of money to pay for that hardware? What will happen if a rising economy like China, decides they need our resources to further their consumption? The population is increasing substantially in the third world nations that will need resources in the future. These people see it as only fair that they should have the same living standard the U.S. has had in the past and it is now their turn to share in the wealth of the planet.
More people and fewer resources will inevitably lead to more conflict in the future for control of the dwindling water, food and energy resources and those that live in and around those resources will be in great danger. The green revolution brought greater agricultural production to the U.S. but that production came at the price of large quantities of oil needed for fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, transportation, processing and packaging. When the price of the energy to produce food becomes too great, the quantity and quality of our food will suffer. Those that have no wealth and are forced to bid on future resources will revolt at some point and will either have to do without or fight. The U.S. is mired in debt that can never be paid back without destroying the currency. The destruction of our currency would destroy the vast paper wealth that Americans have and turn us into a third world country almost overnight reducing our ability to bid for needed resources.
The need for water is even more grave than the need for food. Without water nothing lives or can be grown. The fresh water resources in the world are dwindling and becoming more polluted every day. Even in the developed world, water is becoming a scarce resource and our consumption of large amounts of it to support our standard of living is making it even worse as time goes on. The sad fact is we could have a high standard of living while reducing the amount we use but like everything else, the volume of water we use creates a lot of jobs and makes many people rich. In recent years several U.S. states have had disputes over water rights and as water sources dry up it will become worse. What will happen to places like Las Vegas and Phoenix in the future when water supplies are reduced to levels that cannot sustain their populations?
The need for petroleum is a major cause for fighting in the world. Many of the things we do require a great deal of energy and oil now fills that role. A major use of oil is for growing crops, and transporting goods around the world. In the past when goods were made and sold locally, the need for large amounts of energy were small. As the price and declining availability of oil increases many will have no choice but to revert to earlier forms of production and distribution. Those that are creating large industries will see it as a necessity to acquire the supplies of energy for their own use and many will be willing to fight for it. No military in the world can be powerful without oil so those with the largest militaries will be at the forefront of the forced acquisition of resources. At this very moment China is using its large cash reserves to buy up resources around the world including here in the U.S.
Other resources such as copper, zinc, iron ore, manganese and rare earth elements are the foundation of a modern society. Those that control these resources will grow and those that do not will be mired in poverty. Rare earth elements are hard to extract because they are, well rare, and they make the small powerful electronics we use possible. This also makes them a necessary element in military hardware. The ones that control the rare elements will have the most sophisticated military equipment that will give them a distinct edge on the battlefield. China produces the most rare earth elements and the last few years they have begun to restrict their export. The U.S. and Australia have deposits but they are less developed than Chinese production leaving the U.S military in a bad position if a major war should break out.
As the population increases and the world attempts to maintain the status quo it is inevitable that more wars will be fought for resources. Those producers that are as self sufficient as possible will have an advantage over the consumers in society and will fare better in the long run. A person living on a 20 ac diversified farm will have the ability to produce most of what they need and earn a living with the excess. The potential to produce all of the energy you need is possible even on this type of small acreage. A few acres of timber can provide wood for heating and cooking and even for fueling a wood gas generator for powering equipment and generators. The use of solar and wind energy can provide a majority of your electrical power. The production of bio-gas for cooking and power generation is possible in livestock operations. The production of ethanol from corn can provide additional energy for selected operations. The building of rain catchment systems to store rainwater for irrigation during drought conditions would allow the irrigation of small fields. With livestock to produce fertilizer and water storage systems, a small farm will be able to avoid many of the resource problems that larger farms would experience in the future. It is this type of localized production that will become more important in the future as resources become scarce and expensive.
As resources get tighter, expect inflammatory language and actions followed by armed conflict. It will not be just nation states with armies but corporations, states, municipalities and individuals in conflict with one another to seek their share of resources on various levels. These conflicts will likely be in conjunction with economic problems and could last years or decades until balance is restored by the advent of new energy systems or through population reduction reducing the demand on resources.
Innovation has always been the hallmark of civilization and we can solve the problems we face but only if we try. To continue down the road we are on just because it is easier than changing course will inevitably lead us to a dead end and the time it takes to get back on course will take much longer.
By: Tom Chatham
Once you have started your homestead, you will want to make it as productive as possible in order to provide the many different items that enhance your quality of life. For a homesteader, quality of life will usually take precedence over monetary gain so some of your endeavors will achieve nothing more than personal satisfaction. Even so, in the process of providing satisfaction in your own life, you may be able with the aid of certain tools, to provide for additional production that can be traded or sold. Nothing could be better than enjoying the fruits of your labor and making some extra money to boot. Many of the tools that you acquire will be based largely on the types of production activities you are involved in so a homesteader should take that into account before they begin. Compiling a list of needed items in your future endeavor will help determine if it is a worthwhile purchase or if the funds should be spent elsewhere. For someone just starting out, every dime is important so careful thought should be given to any planned production activity. For many, it may take years of saving to acquire all of the tools that you wish to have so priorities must be assigned to the most beneficial tools. A benefit of buying slowly and purchasing quality tools is the knowledge that it is a purchase you will only need to make once in your lifetime if care is taken.
Ice cream maker
Manual washing machine
Manual water pump
Manual sewing machine
With a supply of woodworking tools and the knowledge to use them, many of these items, which can be expensive, can be homemade. In the coming weeks watch our blogroll for links to do-it-yourself plans for some of these items. The more you can build yourself, the less your homesteading activities will cost you and the greater your profit potential. The more production capabilities you have, the better you will be able to navigate the difficult times that are on the horizon. With the increasing energy demands of the world and the increasing cost of production, non-electric devices free you from the uncertainty of how you will process your raw materials into products you can use or sell. Power equipment can do more faster, but simple tools allow you to produce regardless of the energy situation and the simplicity of operation allows you to do most repairs on equipment yourself with minimal tools and repair parts. The world is changing and the more you can do for yourself, the better your quality of life will be in the future.