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The Long Emergency - Page 4

post #61 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
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.
I don't have all the answers, but keep in mind we aren't feeding all six billion people now and never have even back when oil was 41 cents a gallon during Desert Storm. People were starving back in the good ol' low population days. There are many many thousands of people dying of starvation now and their deaths have nothing to do with peak oil. These are regions where cheap oil wasn't the solution to begin with, and while the lack of cheap energy will certainly hurt, it won't change the underlying dynamics at play.

Again I go back to the hyperbole that is prevalent in the peak oil message. We will all starve! (as if there was no starvation before, as if oil is the only reason people will starve). The world will end! OMG! OMG! (as if we have zero infrastructure and zero technology and might as well give up.) The world's problems are not solely oil-centric, nor are the solutions. The world context is bigger than oil. There are many many factors at play contributing to both our problems and their solutions.

Keep in mind, I agree with the peak oil dogma, what I don't like is the tone of 'it's too late, we're doomed, all that's left is to bendover and kiss our a$$es goodbye'. I dislike the panicky chicken little rhetoric the peak oil movement has adopted. As the message disseminates into the mainstream it will cause all sorts of hysteria which will just make things needlessly worse. There's too much sensationalism and not enough of a practical focus and we need a strong practical focus because our government is not onboard with what needs to be done, which means we must organize at the grassroots level.

V
post #62 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet2 View Post
I don't have all the answers, but keep in mind we aren't feeding all six billion people now and never have

V
But now we'll be feeding even fewer. And we'll have increased violence because of it, especially in countries where people are used to eating regularly. "The line between hunger and anger is a thin line," as John Steinbeck states in Grapes of Wrath.
post #63 of 260
I think it's a lot of hype. Every generation has it's survivalists. When I was growing up Nuclear Halocaust was "inevitable." People were putting bomb shelters under their suburban yards and stocking them with a years supply of canned goods and NOT telling their neighbors that they were there, lest they be overun with too many people trying to squish in "when the big one hit."

And then it was the whole Y2K thing, which was supposed to cripple the world, more stockpiling - gold not paper money. It was all supposed to collapse.

And now it's peak oil and The Long Emergency. I agree with the poster who thinks people are adaptable. We'll figure it out. Things will change, just like they always do. It might not be in the direction we thought.
post #64 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C View Post
I think it's a lot of hype. Every generation has it's survivalists. When I was growing up Nuclear Halocaust was "inevitable." People were putting bomb shelters under their suburban yards and stocking them with a years supply of canned goods and NOT telling their neighbors that they were there, lest they be overun with too many people trying to squish in "when the big one hit."

And then it was the whole Y2K thing, which was supposed to cripple the world, more stockpiling - gold not paper money. It was all supposed to collapse.
So we got lucky a couple of times. But if you go farther back into history........even just into the 1930s, times were not nearly as rosy. I wish I could believe the optimists on this. But I just don't.
post #65 of 260
The only thing that really worries me is keeping our jobs. Losing the job = losing the house/land. I can squeeze the budget more than ever, we can wear holey clothes and get hungrier than usual, but I can't squeeze a mortgage payment out of thin air. I guess we'd all have to go move in with my parents, at least they have a big garden & a well. My grandparents built that house and THEY survived the great depression. They already taught us a lot, and they are still here to help.
post #66 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellien C View Post
I think it's a lot of hype. Every generation has it's survivalists. When I was growing up Nuclear Halocaust was "inevitable." People were putting bomb shelters under their suburban yards and stocking them with a years supply of canned goods and NOT telling their neighbors that they were there, lest they be overun with too many people trying to squish in "when the big one hit."

And then it was the whole Y2K thing, which was supposed to cripple the world, more stockpiling - gold not paper money. It was all supposed to collapse.
But both instances you mentioned did not involve a machine already in motion. People are already losing their jobs and eating less because they can't afford food. The company I work for just defaulted on one of their two loans. Why? Because people have stopped buying. Sales are down. America is an economy based on servicing each other. If there is no one there to service, there is no job. I will likely be out of a job in a matter of months. What then? We will be down to $200 a month to feed and cloth my family of four. I lose my job I will be cutting off all unnecessary expense, phone gone, I will unplug everything but the fridge, no buying anything that is not food or toiletry. When I scale back my spending, I will be in turn cutting into profits of other companies which will result in more layoffs, just as so many people have already begun to do, which is why my company is suffering. Its like people are trying to catch up with the falling dominos. Each company hits another, hits another.....

This is not new, there have been studies coming out for years about the disparity of wealth in our country. The middle class is disappearing, the number of people living in poverty grows daily.

My mother insists this is simply a low moment, but things will turn around. I asked my gmother today if she has ever seen the economy looking worse than now and her response spoke mounds to me - She told me what she remembers of the depression as a child. This may all be fun theoretics to some, but to others it is a frightening horizon that is very, very visable.
post #67 of 260
A big thank you! to the poster upthread who posted about Sharon Astyk. I've been doing a lot of fascinating reading since then. I particularly enjoyed this post from March:

http://sharonastyk.com/2008/03/28/di...ong-emergency/

Back to finances, for those who believe there is a Long Emergency looming, I'm curious about your thoughts on retirement and college education for your kids. The more I think about things, the more I realize that the retirement I imagined for myself and DH (financial security, travel) isn't the one I need to prepare for. And I have to wonder if I should be spending a fair chuck of what would ordinarily be invested for retirement into systems (home, land, gardens, bikes, etc.). And WRT college, the college education I imagined my children getting seems more and more like it wouldn't necessarily serve them in the long run. DH and I are higher-education biased with 3 master's degrees between us, but I wonder if the kids won't be better served by learning "skills" versus "academics".

I find myself baffled by those (not necessarily in this thread) who believe that technology and innovation and the powers that be will save us and all will be just fine. And that people survived just fine before petroleum and will survive after petroleum. As A&A pointed out, pre-oil, there were a whole lot FEWER people, and a whole lot MORE resources to go 'round. And we're not just talking peak oil. We're talking peak oil and climate change and looming financial crisis. Hydrogen cars alone aren't going to reduce carbon emissions enough to head off global warming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
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.
post #68 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by MomInFlux View Post
Back to finances, for those who believe there is a Long Emergency looming, I'm curious about your thoughts on retirement and college education for your kids. The more I think about things, the more I realize that the retirement I imagined for myself and DH (financial security, travel) isn't the one I need to prepare for. And I have to wonder if I should be spending a fair chuck of what would ordinarily be invested for retirement into systems (home, land, gardens, bikes, etc.). And WRT college, the college education I imagined my children getting seems more and more like it wouldn't necessarily serve them in the long run. DH and I are higher-education biased with 3 master's degrees between us, but I wonder if the kids won't be better served by learning "skills" versus "academics".
I agree with you on both counts and have for some time.

DH and I long ago abandoned the standard idea of "retirement." We are planning to (soon) put our money into land, house, gardens, systems, etc, which we want paid off as fast as possible (no mortgage). We'd like to set ourselves up to be as self-sufficient as we can, and so we can retire as comfortably as possible on minimal income (taxes and maybe some food/toiletries, that's it).

On another board I frequent, I was once (a few years ago) the lone voice in a thread with 100+ responses from people who absolutely expected their kids to attend college. I think college is useful if it constitutes truly necessary training for a job someone already has their heart set on, but as an overpriced self-exploration tool? Not worth it. I want my kids to figure out what they want to do, and then gain the tools - skills or training - needed for it. I am actually a bit embarassed that I have an $80K college degree that I have barely "needed" or "used." My DH is the breadwinner, and he's the one without a college degree (my dad didn't have one either, nor did his dad). So I'm not assuming my kids will go to college, and I'm kind of hoping they won't need it. I can't imagine paying for three or four kids' college at once, or helping them pay, or helping them figure out how to pay. I cannot believe how expensive college is nowadays. There are other ways to get where you're going and make a living.
post #69 of 260
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MomInFlux View Post
Back to finances, for those who believe there is a Long Emergency looming, I'm curious about your thoughts on retirement and college education for your kids. The more I think about things, the more I realize that the retirement I imagined for myself and DH (financial security, travel) isn't the one I need to prepare for. And I have to wonder if I should be spending a fair chuck of what would ordinarily be invested for retirement into systems (home, land, gardens, bikes, etc.). And WRT college, the college education I imagined my children getting seems more and more like it wouldn't necessarily serve them in the long run.
I hear you on wanting to prioritize your currently available resources. I contribute 5% to a 401k that I get an employer match for, and I also contribute a small amount to an IRA every month. I'm continuing to do that because, well, I can't predict the future. We also are NOT financing a new roof/rainwater harvesting system, as much as I'd like to have that in place, and despite the fact that we have loads of equity in our home -- I'm not taking on debt out of panic.

Sharon has a post on her blog somewhere about how we can't purchase our way out of this situation. That a lot of people, once they learn about PO/TLE, wonder if they should immediately spend all their savings on every tool that might be helpful in a less-energy-available lifestyle. Grain mills, solar power generators, etc. She kind of argues against doing this and says if the worst comes to worst, people will figure things out without a lot of fancy tools that allow them to replicate their current lifestyle.

She recommends that you prioritize a solar-powered battery charger, and adequately insulating your home, above anything else you might spend money on. Plant a garden and reduce your dependence on car travel.

Quote:
I find myself baffled by those (not necessarily in this thread) who believe that technology and innovation and the powers that be will save us and all will be just fine.
Myself as well, we have other very real crises that government & industry seem to be pretty ineffective at addressing: healthcare and regulating financial markets come to mind most immediately. These have been very obvious problems for a very long time and ultimately the answer always comes back to "people have to take personal responsibility." And most everyone who is not particularly affected by these issues nods along and agrees. Even with Katrina, a lot of people questioned why those left in the city didn't evacuate, didn't help themselves in advance. It baffles me that anyone thinks "they" will figure out effective and timely solutions for the energy crisis.
post #70 of 260
I don't think peak oil will bring in some sort of collapse or fast crash and the survivalist way of thinking is mistaken in my opinion. It certainly isn't sustainable anyway. I think TLE or PO will look like ordinary poverty for quite awhile.

A couple more things:

If there is a screening of the documentary "Community Solutions: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" in your town or if the movie is available through your library system, it's definitely worth a watch.

A book I think depict life as it could turn out to be in a worse case scenario (well, minus the war aspect of things) is "Baghdad Diaries" written by an Iraki artist during the gulf war. When I read it I couldn't help but think a fastish crash scenario would look like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MomInFlux View Post
I find myself baffled by those (not necessarily in this thread) who believe that technology and innovation and the powers that be will save us and all will be just fine... We're talking peak oil and climate change and looming financial crisis. Hydrogen cars alone aren't going to reduce carbon emissions enough to head off global warming.
In total agreement with all of that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MomInFlux View Post
Back to finances, for those who believe there is a Long Emergency looming, I'm curious about your thoughts on retirement and college education for your kids.
Thanks for bringing this up.

On retirement savings:

Through my employer, I'm forced to pay into a huge pension fund and I have no way of getting any of that money out, stopping my contributions or even managing my portion myself. I'm considering that lost money. It will be a bonus if I see any of it back as I'm not counting on it.

First things first, we're aggressively paying off all our debts at the moment. We've also majorly changed our lifestyle in the last few years and are working at being able to live on as little money as possible. That's how we've been able to make the switch to being a one income family (and not a very large one at that) in a high cost of living city.

We also have some personal registered retirement savings and buy them mostly for the tax deduction. I'm expecting to cash out on those in the next 10-15 years I imagine.

On the topic of higher education for my kids:

To me, it's not a prerequisite to living a fulfilling life. I personally wish I had gone into a trade of some kind instead of university (not going to university, even tho my parents didn't pay for any of it wasn't really an option, it was the "normal" thing to do, I didn't question it): for one thing I wouldn't have had to spend 8 years repaying my student loan but also, the work I do now has nothing to do with what I studied specifically learned at university. Learning opportunities are everywhere and I learn all the time anyway.

If my kids wish to go , we'll address it then. I started some savings for each of them when they were born (small automatic deduction from my paycheck so I don't see it) but it's not locked in a registered education saving plan and they don't know about this money. I'm actually not counting on anything I save being ever available but you know, it's not causing me hardship to save it right now.
post #71 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by oneKnight View Post
The only thing that really worries me is keeping our jobs. Losing the job = losing the house/land. I can squeeze the budget more than ever, we can wear holey clothes and get hungrier than usual, but I can't squeeze a mortgage payment out of thin air. I guess we'd all have to go move in with my parents, at least they have a big garden & a well. My grandparents built that house and THEY survived the great depression. They already taught us a lot, and they are still here to help.
Me too. I think that we can make it and stretch our dollars far enough, as long as DH remains employed. If DH lost his job we'd be SOL, because then we couldn't afford our wonderful land that we're using to garden and keep animals on.

There's a huge part of me that would like to buy outright a little plot of land somewhere, to fall back on. But it's just not in our budget right now.
post #72 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinybutterfly View Post
"The Mountain States and Great Plains will face an array of problems, from poor farming potential to water shortages to population loss."



I was wondering what this was all about? Has he ever BEEN to the mountain states or the plains states? Or is he from one of the coasts and it's all just one big red blur to him.

I told my dad and my brother about this and they were both puzzled by his dire predictions for these areas, too.

Bizarre.

People have lived in those areas long before we became so dependent on oil and I am going to imagine they will manage to live in those areas just fine for years to come.

I grew up in the midwest ( a plains state) and there is plenty of natural water ( rivers, creeks, lakes and people used to dig wells...my aunt had a working well when I was a kid.)

The soil is great. Beyond great. I had never heard of buying dirt to help "fix" the soil until I moved. We had 6" at least of deep, dark top soil.

My mom is from a mountain state and her family was dirt poor...they did fine. Plenty to eat, just not a lot extras.

If all those things happened, there would be changes in peoples lifestyles, but I don't see a big deserted middle of the country.

I live in Montana, and ITA. I don't get what he's saying, especially about water shortages and poor farming potential. (Farming is one of our main occupations here.) As for population loss, we already have more cattle than people in our state, so I'm not sure we'd be too bothered if the "wannabe cowboys" went back to whereever they're from!
post #73 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by MomInFlux View Post
Back to finances, for those who believe there is a Long Emergency looming, I'm curious about your thoughts on retirement and college education for your kids. The more I think about things, the more I realize that the retirement I imagined for myself and DH (financial security, travel) isn't the one I need to prepare for. And I have to wonder if I should be spending a fair chuck of what would ordinarily be invested for retirement into systems (home, land, gardens, bikes, etc.). And WRT college, the college education I imagined my children getting seems more and more like it wouldn't necessarily serve them in the long run. DH and I are higher-education biased with 3 master's degrees between us, but I wonder if the kids won't be better served by learning "skills" versus "academics".
We do contribute to both retirement and college savings funds for our kids.

I've posted about this before, but I'll say it again. Yes, we are trying to live in a more self-sufficient manner. We're in the country, we garden, we raise animals, DH works from home several days/week. But I would feel really uncomfortable without a cushion to fall back on. As much as I may want to continue to live a frugal, self-sufficient life, I probably will not be able to do that forever. Many of the people who participated in the "Back to the Land" movement of the 1970s abandoned their efforts because it's a HARD life. I have grandparents who live a frugal lives. I grew up spending summers with my grandparents, helping them garden and can. But once my grandparents hit their mid-80s, they starting wanting more conveniences. Now that my oldest grandparents are in their 90s, they do extremely minimal gardening and I don't think they put up any of their own food anymore. After seeing the way age has affected my grandparents' lifestyles, I don't feel comfortable at all investing all of my money and resources on a self-sufficient lifestyle. On the plus side, my grandparents are wealthy because they lived below their means for so many years. I can only hope that the same future awaits me.

As for college, I'm torn. I know that I'm not directly using the college education that my parents provided for me. But I don't think that my education was wasted, either. I met a LOT of really cool people in college who significantly changed my outlook on life. I don't think I would be living the way I am now if I hadn't attended a rural university. I don't know if a college education will still be necessary to be well-employed in the future, but at this point I'm willing to sacrifice so that my kids will have more doors open to them.
post #74 of 260
College- no, we are not saving for a college fund for either of our dds. I am an "ivy tower brat" from a family in which people have more than one advanced degree. Between us, DH and I have a total of 5 advanced degrees with another 2 on the way. We are very very very devoted to education. But we expect that our children will get their education the same way we did... a combination of loans, grants, scholarships, salaried jobs, and taking the time to select the best school/program for their specific goals. Having looked at our income and the cost of higer education it just doesn't make sense for us to save money that will never amount to more than a slim fraction of the cost.

Instead we're using that money actively to improve our family's financial health, we're reducing our footprint and becoming more independent, and we're providing the sort of skill based/experience based opportunities that will enhance their eventual academic education... should they decide that they want to follow an academic path... or provide a solid footing for an apprentice program should they decide that is more to their liking.

This may have been addressed I read the first two pages then skimmed) but if the assumption is a total lack of resources for personal vehicles, how does this integrate with the idea of moving back to the land? We recently bought acerage and have been working to become more self-supportive BUT the move to a rural location came with the "price" of nothing in walking distance. It's a very hilly region, lots of seasonal dirt roads, and although there are a few neighbors (all very "peak oil" btw... ever seen a veggie fueled backhoe or excavator? ) the closest anything is about 20 minutes by car in good weather. If absolutely necessary I'm sure I could make it into town and back on a bike but it would take all day, and with two little kiddos in a bike wagon I'm thinking I might die on the uphills!

So anyway, does the book address in more detail how "no gas for car" works with "back to the land for survival"?
post #75 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by MomInFlux View Post
http://sharonastyk.com/2008/03/28/di...ong-emergency/

Back to finances, for those who believe there is a Long Emergency looming, I'm curious about your thoughts on retirement and college education for your kids. The more I think about things, the more I realize that the retirement I imagined for myself and DH (financial security, travel) isn't the one I need to prepare for. And I have to wonder if I should be spending a fair chuck of what would ordinarily be invested for retirement into systems (home, land, gardens, bikes, etc.). And WRT college, the college education I imagined my children getting seems more and more like it wouldn't necessarily serve them in the long run. DH and I are higher-education biased with 3 master's degrees between us, but I wonder if the kids won't be better served by learning "skills" versus "academics".

.

I worry about the same things. My children are so smart--I want them to go to college. I want them to have those experiences. I want to be able to afford the guitar lessons I promised my son he could take when he gets older.
post #76 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by OceansEve View Post
But both instances you mentioned did not involve a machine already in motion.
Thank you. I couldn't find the right words to express this.
post #77 of 260
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post
So anyway, does the book address in more detail how "no gas for car" works with "back to the land for survival"?
The acreage vs. proximity question does pose quite a dilemma, but that's not really the focus of Kunstler's book. It's not a survivalist guide and it doesn't get that much into what people SHOULD do. It more lays out what the issues currently ARE, why people should be concerned and taking notice. That is, with declining oil production and how shortages/higher oil costs will affect the global economy and people's ability to maintain their current lifestyles. He also addresses the weaknesses of various alternative energy sources, basically it comes down to no other energy source being anywhere near as efficient as oil, and the infrastructures of alternative energies not being in place in time to help as much as will be needed.
post #78 of 260
Thanks... I just wondered about the comment earlier in the thread about subdivisions that are not "foot traffic friendly" becoming ghettos. If you assume that gas wont be available I'd think a more dense residential area would face more difficulty but I dunno.
post #79 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by wednesday View Post

I hate to be all chicken little about it, but under Kunstler's scenario, private vehicles wil become obsolete. Subdivisions located beyond reasonable biking distance (or accessible public transport) from employment centers are predicted to become slums. It just seems like by the point the majority of people realize the severity of the crisis, they are not going to have the availability of choices in housing and transportation they are expecting to have.
I hope this thread is kept here by the mods. =-)

What you wrote above was also written about in The Washington Post not too long ago. An article said how those gated communities are becoming slums since there's no one to mow the lawns, squatters are moving in and the copper wire is torn out of the walls to be sold by folks.

I probably won't read that book anytime soon, because I am still freaked out about having read Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Talk about depressed. I was depressed for months. Like you, I feel that I am doing what I can -- living close to public transport, starting a garden and learning to grow food, using and reusing as much as possible, etc.
post #80 of 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post
So anyway, does the book address in more detail how "no gas for car" works with "back to the land for survival"?
Not having read the book, I don't know, but it sounds like not. I would be very interested in knowing if there are books or articles that do address this dilemma.

We are also living rurally, 20 minutes from "anything." And our plan is to buy more workable, lower-mortgage land, but to afford that sort of thing we will need to look outside of town. Is it a catch-22? I don't know.
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