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The Long Emergency - Page 3

post #41 of 260
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belleweather View Post
I wonder, though, how much of our panic is justified? I mean, isn't a part o the theme of "The Long Emergency" that it will be, well... long? And that nothing is going to happen all at once - we're going to spiral down in to (in theory) a less-technological, less wealthy society as we are unable to continue to use cheap energy?
Yes, I agree with this, which is what keeps me from panicking

I have read some of the peak oil websites and definitely some of those folks are Ted Kyznski types, seriously anti-social if not sociopathic, who WANT to see a complete collapse of society. Which I can kind of understand that POV, since so much of our culture can seem so alienating, but still. I don't buy into the doomer philosophy at all.
post #42 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by leerypolyp View Post
We do the best we can. Sharon Astyk wrote a great post about the imagined future here. And seriously, if you are at all interested in this topic (on this thread, I mean), I can't recommend her blog highly enough. Kunstler's great, but he's a dude, you know? Astyk is a mama, and talks about the place of breastfeeding in the long emergency, and women's role in the changing world. Good, good stuff.

I second Sharon's blog. Very good stuff!

I became peak oil aware a couple years ago after seeing the movie "The End of Suburbia". Ever since, my family has been busy learning old skills and building community. We've also made a lot of lifestyle changes, in line with my environmental convictions, which will help us adapt to change easier.

My favorite news source on peak oil is Energy Bulletin. I also like Sharon Astyx a great deal and I think what Rob Hopkins does with Transition Towns is invaluable.
post #43 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by meowee View Post
Ideally a massive and efficient public transportation infrastructure will eventually be built, anyway.

Ideally perhaps, but that is not going to happen here, where I live. You must live in a large city, there is not the funds, nor the means for a bus route to function in much of my little part of the world.

Also, Y2K had to do with people's lack of understanding of computers. If you actually knew anything about them at the time, you weren't concerned. It was people who had hardly ever touched a keyboard that were truly panicking back then. What we are talking about now is people not having the money to afford food - that is a real crisis.
post #44 of 260
I often think these books/pundits underestimate ingenuity and technology. Yes, by and large, we have our heads in the sand which will probably result in 10-20 years of upheaval, a much longer transition than necessary if we'd just been a bit more proactive. Ultimately, we'll figure it out. Once society at large grasps the reality, I believe change will be fast as people will put their efforts into feeding themselves and their communities and creating transportation networks.

That being said, I am operating under the following facts right now:

Gas for driving is expensive.

Gas for heating is expensive.

And prices aren't likely go go down. In fact, they will probably go up and up and up.

So we are working on a wood stove for the house and looking into solar energy( we can't afford to do the whole house, but are researching stop gap solar to keep the fridge and a few appliances running off the grid while we just do without for the other stuff).

I'm also trying to figure out what food I can grow under the enormous oak tree in our backyard. As go gas prices, so goes food so might as well grow what we can.

V
post #45 of 260
well we are at war you know. We have been for years now. Even though its not in our back yards. People ibn this country seriously think we can be at war with big power countries or groups and not feel any economic decline? They hit our financial heart and brought it down in flames! This wasnt supposed to effect our economy?

We have oil still. We have oil in our own backyards, in texas and other places we just cant use it yet. I think it is very important to come to terms with oil not being neverending and we need to conserve and get on using and finding alt energy sources but i dont think the things you guys are talking about will happen.

As we begin to phase in alt energy we will at the same phase out oil. Oil prices will drop or even out when we get a new president and eventually get out of war, get better prices for oil and drill in the us.

I do see changes, exciting ones. I am so glad at least here in CA that going green and enviromental is so hip and cool right now and that the next generation is all about using and finding other sources, nature and caring for the earth. We had a bit of a indulgent streek and now i think things will get back to how they were before. Appreciating what we have and getting away fromt he bigger better more thing

I am totally excited about it all. Its very interesting. I dont think tis going to be chaos or anything though
post #46 of 260
For those of you who are concerned about peak oil and The Long Emergency, have you read The Road?

It has me concerned.
post #47 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
I often think these books/pundits underestimate ingenuity and technology. Yes, by and large, we have our heads in the sand which will probably result in 10-20 years of upheaval, a much longer transition than necessary if we'd just been a bit more proactive. Ultimately, we'll figure it out. Once society at large grasps the reality, I believe change will be fast as people will put their efforts into feeding themselves and their communities and creating transportation networks.
Yes, exactly.

I don't think that civilization as we know it is going to go down in flames. I do know that it's going to change -- but it would, no matter what. Change is about the only constant in life, you know?

What is really heartening to me is watching my local community slowly make the changes we need to make *without* a whole lot of drama or ennui. LOTS more people gardening, in whatever ways they can manage -- containers, community gardens, tilling the lawn, etc. Lots more people carpooling, full bike lanes going into the city in the mornings, busy farmer's markets, etc. And not because the President, or Sharon Astyk or anyone else told them to, but because right now it seems like the right thing to do.
post #48 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
So we are working on a wood stove for the house and looking into solar energy( we can't afford to do the whole house, but are researching stop gap solar to keep the fridge and a few appliances running off the grid while we just do without for the other stuff).
Do you have any good resources for jumping off points? I am very interested in individualized solar power but have no idea where to start.
post #49 of 260
All this wood stove talk is reminding me of a statistic from a long ago "Harpers Index," which was - if everyone in the US switched to wood heat - all the trees in the country would be gone in a year.

No, I don't know the source. But its something to keep in mind.
post #50 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by yukookoo View Post
We had a bit of a indulgent streek and now i think things will get back to how they were before. Appreciating what we have and getting away fromt he bigger better more thing
I think this is very true. I was just talking about this the other day with my husband....how so many very expensive, luxury items have crept into our culture and now seem like necessities (cell phones, home computers, iPods, DVD players, cable/satellite, huge TVs, expensive coffee, bottled water, eating out, movies, and even vacations). Even in the 70s we didn't have these things. Going out to eat was a special deal reserved for holidays and special events. People didn't fly or travel at the drop of a hat. We didn't even have call waiting, you know? Or answering machines!

And we've really lived (collectively) above our means via credit cards.

We've really had quite the extravagant time of it for the past couple decades. And now the pendulum has to swing back a little. We're going to have to re-think what's necessary and what truly is a luxury. Surround sound with a flat screen and high definition and DVD and game system hooked up to TIVO and a satellite with a Netflix subscription is pretty much the norm now. And that's a huge luxury. How long ago did we consider *color* tv to be a big luxury? Or when remote controls came out?! That was HUGE. Now we couldn't even imagine having to get up and change the channel or adjust the volume. Or tweak an antenae. Or deal with some fuzz and static.

So I think there will be some evening out of these things. We'll start to consider how much we need leather seats in our cars. Or satellite radio. Or even things like electric windows. But it's going to be a weird transition I think, where people are trying to figure out how to keep living this life of luxury AND pay for the increasingly expensive things like food and gas AND deal with declining wages/jobs AND pay back debt. Unfortunately, it seems like we're going the route of keep it all and just rack up more debt. And that's where it seems like there's real potential for disaster.

Any. Way. It's interesting to think about. And I love how so many here are working toward a return to frugal living and "old fashioned" life skills. Having just moved from the suburbs of DC to a very rural area it's interesting to see how much more recession-proof/self-sufficient folks here are. They would be much better equipped to weather the sorts of changes we're talking about.
post #51 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by savithny View Post
All this wood stove talk is reminding me of a statistic from a long ago "Harpers Index," which was - if everyone in the US switched to wood heat - all the trees in the country would be gone in a year.

No, I don't know the source. But its something to keep in mind.
Not to mention all of the air quality issues that would arise. You think smog from car exhaust is bad....

I used to think that heating with wood would be awesome. Then I moved next door to a family that heats entirely with an outdoor wood burning furnace. Sure, it can be nice at times. But in the middle of summer when it's humid and windy and the neighbors are stoking their furnace to heat their hot water heater, it can be downright nasty and hard to breathe. I also am so glad for our propane heat when I see our neighbors out chopping wood and adding it to the furnace at 10pm in January when the temperature is -15F.

While I have thought about getting a wood burning stove for supplemental heat, I'm also really happy that we have cleaner and safer heating options.
post #52 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by savithny View Post
All this wood stove talk is reminding me of a statistic from a long ago "Harpers Index," which was - if everyone in the US switched to wood heat - all the trees in the country would be gone in a year.

No, I don't know the source. But its something to keep in mind.
Well, we have access to a wooded area where we can collect what is in the ground cover and log fallen trees.

We don't plan to start a logging operation or anything. I have a hard time believing with as much as we log for paper and other wood products and manage those wood resources, that we couldn't somehow burn wood without destroying the earth.

Electricity has its own issues with foreign oil or coal inputs. No energy source is zero impact.

The stove we're looking at has really low emissions and heats for 9 hours with one load. Again, nothing is zero impact. There is only responsible use.

Since the government and big business aren't likely to do anything to cushion the blow of scarce energy resources, it's up to me to care for my family as best I can. We need to be self-sufficient and wood burning is the only way we see to heat our house that removes us from the geopolitics of skyrocketing energy costs. I'm looking for where I can opt out of the grid and insulate myself from high prices. As of today, no one is coming to save me/us. I see no forward motion or any initiative on a large scale cooperative effort to mitigate the financial impact of oil speculation in the stock market or the fact that oil production has peaked.


V
post #53 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by OceansEve View Post
Do you have any good resources for jumping off points? I am very interested in individualized solar power but have no idea where to start.
I'm still trying to sort it out and am a little lost. One suggestion on a website I found was to go to an energy fair. Unfortunately, my state doesn't have one. But I would google that to start.

Basically, I noticed they sell marine solar kits for use on boats and read some green bloggers talking about how they are using some panels they bought on ebay to power their phone/laptop and I started googling from there. But it's confusing and I'm not mechanically inclined.

For the marine kits, I haven't found any specs as to longevity, repair needs, and exactly what they'll power. I may start with a small collection of solar lights/electronics, but I'd really like to have emergency power for our fridge and a few small appliances. We lose power a lot here and I'm in a major suburb, the infrastructure is aging and we've previously lost power for several days in the winter. I imagine with the energy crises that this will only occur more frequently.

Oh wait, here's a good link: http://www.rain.org/~philfear/how2solar.html
V
post #54 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
I have a hard time believing with as much as we log for paper and other wood products and manage those wood resources, that we couldn't somehow burn wood without destroying the earth.

V
Here:
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3374#more

From that, Here's his result:

Alternatively, the entire United States forest stock of hardwoods contains 364 billion cubic feet of wood, or 2.84 billion cords which would throw off 24,024 Trillion BTUs (note, this is only 24% of the total annual energy usage of the country). So the good news is if we were really cold and sans fossil fuels, we could chop down trees for at least 4 years before the US would resemble Easter Island (24,024/5,074= 4.74 years).
post #55 of 260
I think many people, myself included, have a sort of perverse apocaplytic fanatasies. I think it's unlikely we will be reduced to hordes of crazed people storming the homesteads, BUT I think we also definitely need to shift more to a place of self sufficiency. It's about balance.
post #56 of 260
Everyone always mentions flat screen TVs as an example of our decadence but I think it is more than just relatively small purchases like a TV. It is far more lifestyle related. Driving gas-guzzling cars, financing them, credit cards, feeling entitled to nice clothes, feeling our kids are entitled to nice clothes and expensive portraits, and spendy preschools, having a lot of pride when it comes to the way we live and wanting more house than we could afford, believing it was an investment that couldn't go wrong. I honestly look at people I know and wonder how on earth they can live the way they do because they have nice homes, nice cars, nice clothes, eat out at restaurants, pay $$$ for recreation, and the only possible way they are doing that on their wages is a) their parents helped/are helping them and/or b) they are in debt up to their ears.

When we bought our house I wanted to put 30% down which was all of our money but the mortgage lender was pushing for us to put down 10%. I refused. I knew we wouldn't have the cash leftover for fancy furniture, upgraded car, vacations, toys, plasma TV and built-in bar in the basement, but I knew it would give me way more peace of mind than any of those things. Unfortunately, savers are getting the shaft in this economy. Those who got homes with nothing down simply walk away while we may not be able to sell our home even though we need to, and if we do, it may cost us a good portion of our savings we used to buy the house. I see people who heloc'd houses, bought nice cars and then walked away! Meanwhile, we have always shared a 14 year old car and eating out means going to Pizza Hut once in a blue moon. It just irks me. That's another topic altogether though!
But the bottom line is that us Americans developed a sense of entitlement and the creditors certainly helped us along with that dillusion. Yeah, growing up in the 80s I don't remember ever having even close to what many of my Gen X friends have in their 30s already. We ate out only on special occasions, not because mom was too tired to cook or dad craved a steak from Outback. We had an old car that kids made fun of, but heck, my parents both had good jobs, better jobs than a lot of the ones today's younger people have. It's very clear many Americans completely lost the concept of living within your means.

I remember when we got cable and it was like, "hallelujah!" and all my friends wanted to come over to watch. Now it is as though not having satellite seems to be the exception. We also had a garden and not because we were freaking out about food shortages but because it was a tradition that our parents' parents did and you just had one. My mom's dream was to send me to a private school in junior high. She never could afford it. Nowadays, parents find a way to finance Junior's every need and desire, or so it often seems. Lessons and extra-curricular activities were also out of the question. Again, my parents had good jobs! My dh, bless his heart, tried to tell me that home values always went up. In the 80s we had a house for 7 years that we could not sell for what we paid for. The hard times are here, but they only seem hard because of the 5-year long party we've been having. Things are actually normalizing, with the exception of oil prices. It must be hard for younger kids who came to think this was how life was and had cell phones, Ipods, and anything else they wanted gifted to them by parents. I waited 3 months to get a Rubix cube when I was 13 because it still costed, and every expenditure had to be well thought out. How do people do it? I shudder to think of the debt. The days of big everything and having the latest technology are coming to a very precipitous end. The long emergency, I believe, is going to be looonnggg. We had the perfect storm to create this mess and I don't see that ever happening again, at least not for another 25 years when everyone will have conveniently forgotten everything. That's if we are even still an economy of any consequence.
post #57 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by savithny View Post
Here:
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3374#more

From that, Here's his result:

Alternatively, the entire United States forest stock of hardwoods contains 364 billion cubic feet of wood, or 2.84 billion cords which would throw off 24,024 Trillion BTUs (note, this is only 24% of the total annual energy usage of the country). So the good news is if we were really cold and sans fossil fuels, we could chop down trees for at least 4 years before the US would resemble Easter Island (24,024/5,074= 4.74 years).

Yes, we will turn into Easter Island so long as we are beyond stupid and don't replant or utilize any sustainable forestry practices. More than 1/2 the world's harvested wood goes for fuel and has gone for fuel for however long. While we may not be replanting one-for-one, we've replanted enough that we haven't run out yet. Imagine what we could sustain if we tightened up on replanting/forestry management. Wood can be more sustainable than we think with proper management.

This is the one thing I don't like about books/ideologies/sites like The Long Emergency/The Oil Drum--they are extreme and sometimes indulge in pompous doom and gloom statements as if they are the final authority and there are no other alternatives. I recently read on one of the blogs mentioned in this thread that wood stoves aren't recommended because wood is too expensive.

First, the writer uses wood heat! Second, the assertion that wood is too expensive is a statement made on the assumption that the only way to get it would be to buy it, that someone couldn't harvest it themselves. Myopic apocalyptic sensationalism, imo.

Well, then I guess I'll just let my family freeze to death. The experts couldn't possibly be wrong, even if they are doing exactly what they advise against for their own families.

These authors can only create hypotheses and I can poke hole after hole in their scenarios. So I'm not sold that the future will unfold exactly as predicted. Yes, gas is running out. Yes, things are getting expensive. Yes we should conserve, garden, get out of debt, and buffer ourselves against the energy upheaval, but once the experts start wailing all the trees will be gone etc..., they lose me.

Humans are not stupid and the ones that are won't last long. We aren't that far removed from a time when oil wasn't king. There are still people around who remember how to live without oil greasing the way. We still have that infrastructure, all we need to do is dust it off. Yeah, the transition will suck, but we can do it.

V
post #58 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
Yes, we will turn into Easter Island so long as we are beyond stupid and don't replant or utilize any sustainable forestry practices. More than 1/2 the world's harvested wood goes for fuel and has gone for fuel for however long. While we may not be replanting one-for-one, we've replanted enough that we haven't run out yet. Imagine what we could sustain if we tightened up on replanting/forestry management. Wood can be more sustainable than we think with proper management.

This is the one thing I don't like about books/ideologies/sites like The Long Emergency/The Oil Drum--they are extreme and sometimes indulge in pompous doom and gloom statements as if they are the final authority and there are no other alternatives. I recently read on one of the blogs mentioned in this thread that wood stoves aren't recommended because wood is too expensive.

First, the writer uses wood heat! Second, the assertion that wood is too expensive is a statement made on the assumption that the only way to get it would be to buy it, that someone couldn't harvest it themselves. Myopic apocalyptic sensationalism, imo.

Well, then I guess I'll just let my family freeze to death. The experts couldn't possibly be wrong, even if they are doing exactly what they advise against for their own families.

These authors can only create hypotheses and I can poke hole after hole in their scenarios. So I'm not sold that the future will unfold exactly as predicted. Yes, gas is running out. Yes, things are getting expensive. Yes we should conserve, garden, get out of debt, and buffer ourselves against the energy upheaval, but once the experts start wailing all the trees will be gone etc..., they lose me.

Humans are not stupid and the ones that are won't last long. We aren't that far removed from a time when oil wasn't king. There are still people around who remember how to live without oil greasing the way. We still have that infrastructure, all we need to do is dust it off. Yeah, the transition will suck, but we can do it.

V
Sure, the author uses wood. Sure, you (or anyone else) can certainly turn to wood if wood is available at the moment.

The point is that wood is not a long term answer, is not a feasible answer for everyone, and will not solve our problems.

Wood does not grow fast. Wood is renewable, yes, but the point is that if we all go to wood, we will all clear off our woodlots (should we have them) long before anything we plant *today* is large enough to make good firewood.
post #59 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belleweather View Post
I wonder, though, how much of our panic is justified? I mean, isn't a part o the theme of "The Long Emergency" that it will be, well... long? And that nothing is going to happen all at once - we're going to spiral down in to (in theory) a less-technological, less wealthy society as we are unable to continue to use cheap energy?
"Long" means "enduring," not necessarily "gradual."

There will be a tipping-point at which our economy will take a free-fall as job-losses mount.
post #60 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post

We aren't that far removed from a time when oil wasn't king.

V
Except we (globally) have an exponentially-larger population than we did 100 or 200 years ago. Feeding the 6 billion people currently on planet earth without cheap energy will be impossible. Yes, there are certainly already large segments of the world that struggle with food security now. It will get worse. A lot worse. For a lot more people.
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