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#1 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 01:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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(Mods, I would like to have a discussion of the issues in this book relating to finances, rather than a literary discussion.)

Are other mamas here familiar with this book by James Kunstler? (There's an article that very briefly recaps the material in the book here, bear in mind the numbers given in that article are from 2005 and the price of oil is already more than double the value cited there.) I read it a couple years ago and it seriously scared the pants off me. I was horribly depressed for like a month. Then I guess I became resigned, like, whatever's going to happen will happen regardless of how much I fret about it.

We're now IMO well into the beginning stage of the scenario Kunstler outlined, where food prices have skyrocketed partly because of the increased cost of oil, and partly because a large amount of food crop has been diverted into "alternative energy".

When I read some of the other threads on this forum, I'm a little shocked at how a lot of people are perceiving the increased food and energy costs as merely an inflation problem, or signs of a recession. In other words, something that will be tough for a while, but will pass or we'll somehow adjust to. I see threads about what kind of car would be a good purchase, or if increasing gas costs would encourage one to move closer to work, with the pros and cons kind of coming down to budget and lifestyle preferences.

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.

We have done what we can. We have chickens, and a garden, and live within walking/biking distance of virtually anywhere we need to go. I still have a car, but only because being that it's paid off and I drive very little, there's no financial gain in giving it up. Might as well hang on to the convenience as long as gas can still be bought.

Just wondering where other MDC families are at on this issue. Do you know about it? Have you made lifestyle choices/changes in anticipation? Do you think we're really now IN "The Long Emergency"? Or do you think the predictions are exaggerated and things will somehow work out?
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#2 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 02:02 PM
 
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I haven't read the book, but I have been thinking about this very thing the last couple of days.

I also agree that the problems you hear about in the media are not short term. I believe the problem of peak oil is going to hit, and our country's economy is completely set up on the principal of cheap oil. Food distribution is generally centrally located, so food has to travel hundreds or thousands of miles.

I'm not actually concerned about the price per gallon of gas for our own vehicles. We don't drive much, and could cut down if needed. We could afford over $10 per gallon if we were very thoughtful with how we used it.

But we couldn't afford the increased costs that would create for food and everything else. Chickens aren't allowed where we live, but maybe that would change if things got really bad. I could plant a garden, but I've never had much success in the past.

We are actually doing much better financially this year than in the past, and our state's economy/housing market is also doing well. We haven't felt what a lot of the country has. My dh also got a big raise & promotion this year with a business that really won't be hurt by these recent events with the economy. Even in a worst case scenario, I believe his job is secure.

But I would still like to be more self sufficient. I'm rethinking our plan of moving to a bigger house within the next year, even though we are busting at the seams.

I'll have to check our library to see if they have this book. I'd like to hear what other's say.
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#3 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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I completely understand what you mean!

Inflation my tukas! We are growing quite a few veggies in our backyard, working on getting some chickens...

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#4 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by wednesday View Post
Just wondering where other MDC families are at on this issue. Do you know about it? Have you made lifestyle choices/changes in anticipation? Do you think we're really now IN "The Long Emergency"? Or do you think the predictions are exaggerated and things will somehow work out?
I think that the changes that are happening are long-term changes. But I do think that things will somehow work out. I do think that the standard of living for many people will drop.

Last night I went to my kids' end-of-the-year school program. The school my kids attend is HUGE on promoting community. Each of the classes in the school has been working with a community elder (older person who lives in the area) all year long. They interviewed the elders and wrote songs about their lives. In listening to the program last night I was struck by how different the elders' lives were when they were children. All of the elders talked about raising animals, gardening, canning, etc. because that's just the way everyone lived. The oldest elder was a 104 year old woman who had grown up in a small town. Even in town, people kept and butchered their own animals and raised gardens. All of the elders commented on how they had lived without electricity at one point in time, and talked about how different things are now, when losing electricity for a couple of hours is akin to an emergency.

I also think about the stories my grandparents have told me about when they were growing up. My grandma grew up on a farm and it was a big deal to go into town every other week. Gas was expensive, and they just didn't have the money to go into town often. Living in the country truly was isolating. I live in the country now, and my experience is much different because I drive my kids to school every day and go into town often. My DH drives 35 miles to work (although he is able to telecommute a few days/week). We try not to drive too much, but it doesn't seem like a big deal to drive 25 miles to Target.

I think that changes have occurred, and more changes are coming. Basic goods are getting more expensive. I do think that these changes will be painful for a lot of people, myself included. I see some people around me trying to make changes, but others resisting change. I'm a little afraid for society in general when I see SMART people I know making bad decisions. I know several people who are in economic crisis, but who don't think they can cut down on expenses or reduce their consumption. It is a huge shock to people when they are required to reduce their standard of living.

As for what we're doing, we moved to the country so we could try being more self-sufficient. In some ways, I think we're successful. In other ways it feels like living in the country has made us more dependent on gasoline, negating all of the self-sufficient efforts that we're making. The thing I'm working on the most right now is to change my mindset so that I'm content to be at home and use the car less.

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#5 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 03:37 PM
 
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I think a lot of what he says makes sense, but I do have to object to his generizations about how various regions will fare in this Long Emergency.

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I'm not optimistic about the Southeast, either, for different reasons. I think it will be subject to substantial levels of violence as the grievances of the formerly middle class boil over and collide with the delusions of Pentecostal Christian extremism. The latent encoded behavior of Southern culture includes an outsized notion of individualism and the belief that firearms ought to be used in the defense of it. This is a poor recipe for civic cohesion.
Otherwise, I think he has some great points about a cheap oil economy not being easily replaceable and society changing because it is forced to change. I don't know that it will be an immediate change, but rather a more gradual inclination toward self-sufficiency which I think we are seeing already. I remember during the Y2K crunch when people were stockpiling and what not and the media and general public tended to think they were a bunch of crazy loons. This time, I see a lot more people "preparing" to brace themselves for the crisis, and a lot less talk of the insanity of it.

I sometimes really worry for people like myself who are dependent on medications and modern medical equipment for survival (I need supplemental oxygen) and wonder how that will play out in the next decades. Then I realize that there are people all over the world right now who have the same diseases we do but do not have access to the modern medical "wonders" that we do, and I think I guess I'll do whatever those people do! Which is, whatever it takes to survive as long as possible. The bad thing is that we have (in America) become so dependent on specialized knowledge that things which in a more traditional society would be handed down through the generations are now lost to most of the population. I would have no idea where to start looking for herbs in the woods next to my house, for example, although I am working to educate myself on such matters. Most of society would not know how to function without an ER handy when the crap hits the fan.

I have a lot more thoughts on the matter, but I also have a baby that needs a nap so I'll leave it at that for now.
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#6 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 05:21 PM
 
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"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.


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato
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#7 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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i havn't read the book, but i did just read the article. this prospect of society as we know it coming to an end doesn't scare me. call me crazy, but what is so bad about growing your own veggies and walking to the local diner (instead of driving). my dad in california lives in a small town, but can walk from his front door to a grocery store, restaurant, a once a week farmers market, and more. my hubby and i are jelous. i would love to live in a town like this...and he does grow his own veggies. i am frankly tired of all the choices we have...how many different types of crackers can you possibly make? apparently, thousands, cause big biz keeps crankin' them out, along with a new ad campaign.

it really makes me sad that we have gotten so far away from the way our grandparents lived. don't get me wrong, i am very happy that we have the internet and fabulous advancements in medicine and such, i am glad that i was born during this time, but i am also saddened that we have dusted off our sleeves of our past...like the way they lived was so horrible and barbaric. we have become very spoiled and very pampered.

i do think it will get worse, and gas won't ever be cheaper...i think it will be good for this country to be a little more independent...it will make us stronger as people and a little more appreciative of what we have (hence the remark about going to town being a real treat...hell, now we go to town 18 times a week! and think nothing of it)

do i want to give up my current, easy lifestyle? not really, i like watching tv and movies and washing clothes in a machine.... i don't neccesarily think our future will be so bad if we have to do things like they did in the past. i can wash clothes by hand, i can walk to town, i can grow a garden...

we can, and may have to...is that so bad? i don't think so.
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#8 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 06:02 PM
 
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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.

Yeah, I didn't understand this either. We live in North Dakota, and people here are generally down to earth, help each other out, and can make do. I would think there is still enough land here that we could easily localize our food sources without falling into anarchy.
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#9 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 06:10 PM
 
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Tinybutterfly, I agree with you about the midwest. I read that and was like... has he ever BEEN here? Evidently not! Apparently he thinks the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" is an exaggeration or something.

But then, I wasn't 100% impressed with The Long Emergency. I read it a while ago, but from what I recall he spent a huge amount of time talking about all the different kinds of renewable/alternative energy and talking about why each one wouldn't replace cheap oil. But it never seemed like he considered how we could work synergistically to use multiple ways of getting energy to fuel our economy and pair that with changes in how we use resources to stave off lots of the problems he's discussing. I don't think it's a perfect solution (nothing is) but I think not discussing it or taking it seriously was a fatal flaw, and I do think that on some level things will somehow work out.

On the other hand, I do think something is happening that is going to be permanent as far as the way our lifestyles are going to have to change. Our family has always been focusing on acquiring "do it yourself" skills and living on less, and we are making deliberate choices based on the assumption that things are going to get worse. We've decided to stay where we are in a smaller town in the relatively food-secure Midwest where there is already a great local foodshead movement and good ability to walk/bike to meet our needs rather than move back to the Mountain West to a city that is urban and doesn't have the water, not to mention food, to support it's population.

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#10 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 08:09 PM
 
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I'll join. I just recently read The Long Emergency, as did my mom and my DH. And we can see enough of what the author is talking about to want to make changes. I'm in Southern California, and I think things here will get very ugly. Not just from peak oil, but from the confluence of events, including global warming. I don't think it will be long before we start seeing race riots, or maybe class riots, between the haves and the have-nots. Southern California has an awful lot of both. I can't get anywhere without driving. I can't get local food - at. all. My DH and I are pretty well off, and we have friends who are as well. Our friends' point of view is that they're well enough off to weather pretty much any storm. For example, they can continue to drive even with $10/gallon gas. They're not thinking about there being NO gas. My POV is that if I have the means to change my way of life, then it's morally wrong of me not to. Said another way, I have the means to change my life to reduce my consumption. Therefore, I should, even if I have the means not to. Quoted from the $10 gas thread, here's what I said we're doing:

Quote:
We're making plans for this right now. We are leaving Southern California and moving to coastal Maine. We'll have a house that can be heated with wood instead of oil. We'll be able to bike the 1.25 miles into town until the abandoned rail line behind our new house is turned into a walk/bike trail. Or we'll be able to row or sail into town. Food will be more expensive, but we're moving to an area with lots of local, organic farms, so the farmers aren't dependent on oil for fertilizer and it's not terribly far to get food to market. We'll have chickens or ducks for eggs and a fairly large garden - especially a winter garden.
Additionally, and possibly more important, we'll be settling into a *community*. We'll make friends and develop relationships so that we can help and be helped down the road, whatever comes our way. We're also buying a house that can accommodate 3 generations, because my mom is not in a good enough financial state to support herself in the event of increasing costs.

But back to The Long Emergency. The author does seem awfully pessimistic about alternative energy, but I really think he may be onto something. At a minimum, I think we're not going to have it together as a country to make the switch to alternative energy/fuel before things get ugly. I suspect we're going to see environmental regulations (especially air quality regs) tossed aside while we exploit all of our coal resources, which will accelerate the release of carbon into the atmosphere at a time when we desperately need to reduce carbon emissions. I think we are and will continue to be desperately clinging to oil when we should be looking forward.
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#11 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 08:36 PM
 
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I'm reading the book, and don't have time to read this whole thread right now, but I wanted to plug his book "World Made by Hand" which is "fiction" and set in the Long Emergency. It's also located in the Hudson Valley of NY where we are.

Great book, but not if you like to sleep soundly at night......
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#12 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 09:30 PM
 
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I agree with you, wednesday. I have not read the book, but I did read the article, and I am pretty sure a number of my friends have read the book. We (my social group here IRL) are all navigating our way towards increased self-sufficiency and less dependency on oil, electricity, gas, plastic, etc.

Unfortunately, the biggest emotion I feel right now is panic. I am trying hard to think calmly and rationally. I've been moving in a more useful direction since 2003 (oddly enough, not because of anyone else's ideas, just my own intuitive pull toward self-sufficiency). But change (for my family) is happening too slowly for my comfort, and I'm afraid of what lies ahead.

Anyone have suggestions on how to think positively about this? I've really been feeling anxious. We already have a large garden (getting larger every year), chickens, some tools and books and increasing experiences to support self-sufficiency...and yet our plan is to sell this house (bad timing) and buy land (if we can sell our house)...and if we can't sell our house, which was built in the 1960s when no one thought much about potential oil shortages, we are going to have to substantially re-engineer our house to reduce dependency on oil, electricity, etc. I am stuck in a rut of hopelessness, and I know that isn't productive. But I can't help worry about how this is going to play out.

Sorry to be such a downer! Anyway, I totally agree that what we are experiencing is NOT a simple recession that will right itself in a few years. This is the start of unprecedented change for our culture and our world.

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#13 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 09:48 PM
 
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I don't know much about The Long Emergency, but I think this is an interesting change that is happening. I was feeling worried about it for a while, and then I went to a talk by my old history professor about the changes that happened in the 1800's.

I'm not a history buff, so my facts might be off, but the general idea is (I believe) accurate:

Late 1700's: Slavery was the norm, and it really didn't occur to anyone (with just a handful of exceptions) that it might be terribly immoral. Analogy to: Many American's driving gas-guzzling SUV's without a CLUE that it might be harmful to the environment.

Early 1800's: Slavery was the norm. It started to occur to more than just a few people that it might be immoral. This 'immoral' concept started spreading. However, everyone said, "But our economy will totally fall apart if we stop!" so no one did anything about it. Analogy to: our current "green revolution." People are realizing that we need to change our lives. But then people like me say "there are no bike trails along our busy roads. I couldn't possibly get to the grocery or work on a bicycle."

Mid 1800's: The belief (now recognized as fact) that slavery is immoral was pretty widespread. And people realized that it could be possible to not use slave labor. Country by country (surprise, the US was the last) abolished slavery. And no economy totally fell apart! The world did not come to an end with the abolishment of slavery. There may have been a few plantation owners who would have disagreed with me on that though. Most people, however, were okay. Analogy to: towns will start building bike lanes and other changes will be made so that life can continue. Life will be different as we know it, but life WILL continue.

Mid 1900's: MLK. Obviously, we're not done with the issue of racism, but we've made some notable progress. I don't know what the analogy for that is. I just thought it was un-PC of me to leave it at 'slavery is over, and we're done with the issue,' because obviously the issue isn't over.

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#14 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 10:19 PM
 
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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 am in South Dakota and I think he is dead on. Right now water issues and who gets control of the Missouri river is a huge on going debate. rural areas are dying out because farming is tanking. We are a mess.

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#15 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 10:28 PM
 
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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.
Poor farming potential: there has been a huge loss of topsoil due to current farming practices. The midwest was originally very fertile because of the type of grasses that naturally grew on the prairie. Those grasses have been replaced with monoculture farming, which strips the land of nutrients. If petrochemicals become unavailable, our current farming practices will become obsolete.

Water shortages: this is already a problem in mountain states. Water rights is a huge, contentious issue. There are places in the west where property owners do not have the right to drill a well or to even take water from a stream that flows through the property, because the water "belongs" to municipalities downstream. Even in the midwestern states, underground resevoir water levels have been dropping, requiring deeper wells to be dug. Yes, we have lakes and rivers. If worst comes to worst we could drink out straight out of the Mississippi- but would you want to do this?

Population loss: many rural areas in the midwest HAVE lost population and would struggle to be self-sufficient. I'm not saying that they couldn't overcome the struggle, but it would be a struggle.

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#16 of 260 Old 05-23-2008, 11:49 PM
 
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All good points. The plains states or midwest is a LARGE area. I am most familiar with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri. I've also lived in Kentucky, technically sort of the south.

The tillable land would probably end up being peoples yards, or parks, not the fields that have been over-farmed by big business farming.

Would I want to drink from the river? Not really, but I used to swim in the Illinois river and got plenty of it in my mouth...I am still alive. If people are really desperate, they'll drink dirty water. No choice.

And legal or not, people would use water from streams or creeks nearby. If things got really bad, the rules might change.

Water rights...I have never lived in an area where that is an issue. I have a hard time understanding how one state can take water from another state...I know it is done, but to be honest, it doesn't seem like a good idea...if that pipeline dries up, there are a lot of people stranded in areas that naturally don't have enough water to support such a large population, right?

I don't know...I guess I figure eventually people will pull together, in communities.

But...I am from a small town originally. I have spent most of my life in the midwest or upper south. I've lived in smaller cities and am now back in a small town area, so I know that makes things different. It's a different culture.

Plus I grew up in an area where people hunted, fished, foraged...shared what they had. That was all just a part of how they lived. Although the younger people here don't seem to do as much of that, the older people remember how.

The mountain states...I have just always figured they were as independent and self-sufficient as midwesterners tend to be. I'd even guess southerners would do fine.

Things would be bad at first, people would have to make changes and they would.

Honestly, I would be more afraid to live in an urban area during such a crisis if it should occur.

Life would change. It might be more like our grandparents or great-grandparents lives and they managed.

In general, people are adaptable, resourceful and clever when they have to be.

But...I am an optimist.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato
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#17 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 01:01 AM
 
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interesting topic. :
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#18 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 01:46 AM
 
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Just wondering where other MDC families are at on this issue. Do you know about it? Have you made lifestyle choices/changes in anticipation? Do you think we're really now IN "The Long Emergency"? Or do you think the predictions are exaggerated and things will somehow work out?
I read this book almost 18mths ago - it was life changing for me. Yes, I do believe we are now in TLE. I too was quite depressed for a while and then I started to take action. I started to blog my journey and feel like I'm in as good a place as any now.

My mindset changed in many ways: It helped solidify my choice to homeschool, I accepted the fact (and was quite a relief) that the car we have will likely be the last one we own (will just keep it in a good working order, so even though it is now 11 yrs old we won't be upgrading), I took major action on learning about gardening and getting one going and look forward to my 2nd growing year, learning a lot of "old" skills, decluttering - but at the same time stocking up on items and materials that could be useful in a post-peak oil world and so much more.

I feel reasonably optimistic now and although things are increasing in price, we haven't been hit hard since we've scaled back and similified so much it's not come as a big shock.

One other major thing we did last year was to get DH a new job where he was working locally and perhaps not so vulnerable (his job was as a sales rep selling truck parts - these companies are now starting to struggle so his job would be quite stressful to hit sales targets himself).

We have altered our lifestyle where we dont' rely on just jumping in the car to do whatever we want - I plan, make sure I do multiple things when we go out and have gotten used to having "home days".

Housewise - we own our home and have made a firm decision that we will stay in this house for a LONG time, but have a mortgage (fortunately my parents were able to give us the loan, so we are no longer in debt to the bank and their rising interest rates). Because we now have no plans on upsizing we had our roof replaced, have made improvements around the property that are long term ones that help us live the life we want now, we have a wood burner that has a cook top that can be used to cook, heat water and of course heat our home - so in that sense we are self sufficient. I have bought a solar shower if we ever needed it, we have stocked up our emergency food supplies and have about 3mths of food (boring, but sustaining), have purchased "how to" books, I'm planting our herb gardens this spring so I can grow medicinal herbs etc.

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#19 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 02:04 AM
 
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Unfortunately, the biggest emotion I feel right now is panic. I am trying hard to think calmly and rationally. I've been moving in a more useful direction since 2003 (oddly enough, not because of anyone else's ideas, just my own intuitive pull toward self-sufficiency). But change (for my family) is happening too slowly for my comfort, and I'm afraid of what lies ahead.
I am in your sinking ship as well. I have a $20,000 monkey on my back (CC debt), if the economy can just hold out one more year, we can have it paid off and can afford to move to the land we so desperately want.

I am scared to death of what will happen in cities such as mine. Majority of people do not have a clue how to take care of themselves. When w-mart starts shrinking their stock to what they can afford to bring in and suddenly there is not enough food to go around, what do you think will happen? Bread lines only last so long. People are going to start going hungry and that is when violence rises. In the end we are all animals. We all have the urge and need to survive at any cost.

As for the south being gun toting states... I'll be honest. I don't like guns, but I have been very tempted as of late to get one.

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#20 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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nathansmum, it sounds like we're in a similar place as you. Fortunately DH already had the self-sufficiency bug before we really even knew about peak oil. We had talked about getting chickens practically since we met, and got them pretty soon after moving into our current (permanent!) home. He is also a fantastic gardener and so knowledgeable about complementary planting and beneficial insects/plants and that sort of thing. We have also been careful to keep fixed expenses down (very modest mortgage) and our two paid-off cars will not be replaced.

One area I feel inadequately prepared on is water. We have some potable water stored, of course, but only about a week's worth. And really, it's not possible to STORE enough water for long-term needs. I'm crossing my fingers that really, public utilities such as clean running water are going to be prioritized even in a very dire situation. We do have a rainwater barrel but that water would only be suitable for irrigation. Long-term, we'd like to put a metal roof on the house and bury a cistern to store harvested rainwater, and have a filtration system to clean it for drinking. But that is a very expensive undertaking, not something we have the cash on hand to do or the will to finance.

Just saw this article on CNN stating that "SUVs are an endangered species". The article states that used SUVs/trucks aren't selling, even for like half their supposed value. Nobody's buying.

I see a lot of confirmation bias in people's reactions/awareness to what is going on. The folks who are in, or working towards, more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyles are like yeah, this is totally TLE. Whereas people who are stuck in huge mortgages in huge houses on tiny lots in HOA-restrictive subdivisions 50 miles from employment with big SUVs in the driveway are like "Eh, it'll work it out somehow." Is the "reality" somewhere in between?

The early 90s in Cuba is IMO indicative of how things may become. That's when the USSR dissolved and the huge financial support that was supporting Cuba's economy dried up. Life was HARD. But people planted gardens, even container gardens on balconies and window ledges, and communities pulled together, and people survived. Actually life is still hard there (I visited in 2002) but it's better than it was.
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#21 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, and I would agree with PPs that Kunstler's regional generalizations are so broad as to be meaningless, and frankly unnecessary/irrelevant to his overall argument.

I live in the southeast, in an area I believe to be a very sweet spot in terms of climate and terrain and culture. Rolling hills, lots of farmland (mostly private/family-owned), doesn't get either excessively hot OR excessively cold, and sprawl here is fairly minimal. Everybody does not have a gun . And I am sure where I live is not totally unique.
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#22 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 09:19 AM
 
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One area I feel inadequately prepared on is water. We have some potable water stored, of course, but only about a week's worth. And really, it's not possible to STORE enough water for long-term needs. I'm crossing my fingers that really, public utilities such as clean running water are going to be prioritized even in a very dire situation. We do have a rainwater barrel but that water would only be suitable for irrigation. Long-term, we'd like to put a metal roof on the house and bury a cistern to store harvested rainwater, and have a filtration system to clean it for drinking. But that is a very expensive undertaking, not something we have the cash on hand to do or the will to finance
Yeah, we have a large water storage tank built as part of our porch/house (collects rainwater off the roof), but is not filtered etc. So would need to be boiled - that's adequate for safe consumption isn't it (now I'm wondering?)? We also have an irrigation hose feeding out of it for our garden. One of the guys from the council came around and reckoned it would be fine to drink with doing nothing as they did back in the 80's before there was town supply! But I'm sure that their bodies were probably used to things in the water and ours are not anymore??

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#23 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We currently have asphalt shingles on our roof -- I've read it's not advised to drink water collected off that surface. Number one filtration is a problem, apparently, a lot of particles from the shingles end up in the water and will clog filtration systems. And then number two even with purifying unless you are talking about like a serious reverse osmosis system, there's potentially like petrochemicals and stuff leeching out of the shingles that you shouldn't be drinking. And an RO system requires energy, so it doesn't fit with the goal of maintaining a potable water supply despite inadequate energy resources. (Although, boiling is in the same camp.) In a pinch, you can add (tiny) amounts of bleach to water to make it safe to drink, i.e. kill bacteria/organisms. But that won't get the chemicals out.

A metal roof is supposed to be ideal for collecting water you intend to drink, although even then it should still be filtered and treated/purified (bird/squirrel poop, pollen dust, pollution, etc.).
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#24 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 09:38 AM
 
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I live in the southeast, in an area I believe to be a very sweet spot in terms of climate and terrain and culture. Rolling hills, lots of farmland (mostly private/family-owned), doesn't get either excessively hot OR excessively cold, and sprawl here is fairly minimal. Everybody does not have a gun . And I am sure where I live is not totally unique.
See I guess this is why I feel sort of ( not completely, but sort of) comfortable about where we are. It does get hot/cold here in mid-summer/winter, but it is doable.

The soil is acceptable. I know there are locally owned cows just up the road from me, a couple of locally owned farms, an orchard, etc.

Guns...I grew up around them because my family hunted. My dad just got two new guns this year. Don't ban me, but when I drive around here and see big ol' geese waddling across the road, or deer running through the fields, or rabbits galore in the area, I feel good because I know that there is plenty of wildlife here. :

I know morels grow here, though we don't anyone who owns some land we could mushroom hunt on...people are very secretive about their mushrooms spots.

In our family I am the one gathering books and reading, but this has been going on for years. I've told my sons about how my brother and I grew up, and work on getting them involved in knowing how to do things for themselves. My husband ( although he is pretty mainstream) knows how to "do things." It's one of the things I admire about him. If push came to shove, we'd manage I think.

My brother just moved up the road and that helps.

I do wish we had more family nearby or my friend D and her family. We talk about this kind of stuff. Between the two of us, we know how to do a lot of things.

My brother thinks dh and I should buy the property that ajoins his and start our own little family compound. If we had the money, I'd do it in a heartbeat. We were talking about it yesterday...I was yakking about goats, bees and chickens...and he says "There you go, talking about those chickens again." I've been talking about chickens since I was about 19. I still don't have any, though.

There are fish in his creek and the same creek runs on the other side of our property really close by. We are also fairly close to a river.

And yes, these are all things I think about when we move somewhere...it's just second nature.

I wish I could get my husband to understand it's a GOOD thing to pay off the house. He seems to think there is some kind of tax benefit to having an unpaid mortgage and that drives me up a wall.

The good news is if we lost our house, we could all crowd in with my brother. His garage used to be the original house the people lived in before they built the little house he lives in...the garage has a kitchen, a woodstove, is set up for plumbing, there is a little bathroom area, etc. It's sweet. We could totally live in there...and it's about a 1/4 of a mile up the road.

We both have wild strawberries in our yard...

I think about this stuff way too much.

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#25 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I love the family compound idea. We have some great neighbors, well the ones next door are great in a lot of ways, but they also just got bees! I figure it saves me the trouble. I'd wanted to have hives around but kind of didn't want to deal with it myself. They are also super-knowledgeable about alternative energy, the guy owns his business installing solar panels and all kinds of "green" home upgrades. They're a great resource to have right next door.

We don't really have any hunting experience or tools or anything, and being we're in a downtown area (in a small town, it's not "urban") we don't really have easy access to hunting ground. I am a little interested in possibly raising rabbits for meat. It's about the only game I think we could easily manage on our own property (a quarter-acre). DH is a little skeptical though so I think we won't go there unless it becomes more obviously necessary. We did slaughter some roosters a few years ago but neither of us is that enthusiastic about doing it again. It was a LOT of work for not much meat. But, we know how to do it now.
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#26 of 260 Old 05-24-2008, 10:54 AM
 
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where food prices have skyrocketed
I don't think that food prices have skyrocketed, honestly. I think that they have gone up, yes, but I don't think they have skyrocketed.

I think we are in the beginning of a long-term change in things, but not necessarily in the beginning of an emergency.

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#27 of 260 Old 05-25-2008, 04:22 AM
 
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We currently have asphalt shingles on our roof -- I've read it's not advised to drink water collected off that surface. Number one filtration is a problem, apparently, a lot of particles from the shingles end up in the water and will clog filtration systems. And then number two even with purifying unless you are talking about like a serious reverse osmosis system, there's potentially like petrochemicals and stuff leeching out of the shingles that you shouldn't be drinking. And an RO system requires energy, so it doesn't fit with the goal of maintaining a potable water supply despite inadequate energy resources. (Although, boiling is in the same camp.) In a pinch, you can add (tiny) amounts of bleach to water to make it safe to drink, i.e. kill bacteria/organisms. But that won't get the chemicals out.

A metal roof is supposed to be ideal for collecting water you intend to drink, although even then it should still be filtered and treated/purified (bird/squirrel poop, pollen dust, pollution, etc.).
Hmmm, you've got me thinking now. We do have a metal roof, and I have a small supply of bleach for this purpose in my emergency bin (but obviously not a long term solution if bleach weren't easily available), but we currently have an RO system hooked up to our normal town supply. I wonder what it would take to convert it to filter the water from our tank?? Might do a bit of investigating - perhaps not the best though, coz we'd need a pump to drive the water from the tank into the internal plumbing which would probably need electricity. So I guess, in emergency we could get away with boiling and just ignore the dust/pollen/poop and hope the boiling/bleach process deals to any bacterial stuff.

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#28 of 260 Old 05-25-2008, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've heard of using a stationary bike to power a pump/filtration system. Don't really know anything about how you set it up tho.
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#29 of 260 Old 05-25-2008, 02:50 PM
 
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I am not familiar with Kunstler's book but I do read his website, along with peakoil and a few others. I do believe we are in for a massive transformation in the coming years and that we are living today is just a small taste of what's to come. I feel quite unprepared. I do have a garden but I don't know much about soil or what to do when your veggies aren't growing. We planted fruit trees 2 years ago and are set to have peaches this summer, but we are selling our house. I guess if we can't sell the house then at least we have our own fruits and veggies and enough room in our backyard to have chickens.

We are moving to Costa Rica when we sell our house. I am very concerned about the affordability of power and heating gas if we stay here. We already pay $200 a month for those things and I know it is only going to get a lot worse. The wages are so stagnant that any increases in the cost of living are going to be unbearable for us. We had planned to build a small home in Costa Rica but alas the headline news yesterday there was "cost of building supplies double." You can't win these days! I would hate to be in the suburbs. Dh wanted to buy a house in the suburbs but I talked him into our current home which is 5 minutes from downtown. I can't imagine the gas costs of commuting. I really do feel for people with long commutes and/or SUVS that they can't get rid of. We have a 14 year old SUV. I am seriously thinking about buying a VW Bug to use for most errands and keep the SUV for special trips because I don't know that we could give it away now.

Having lived in Costa Rica, we are used to blackouts, water issues, infrastructure issues and the like, but we do have an excellent food producing environment and fruits grow wild in many areas. There will never be a shortage of mangoes! They grow with so little water. We planted 25 mango trees on our property there 5 years ago. Lately we figured we'd sell the property as it turned out to be a popular area but a) more and more I'd like to live there and forego the big profits of selling it and b) there is no water in the area so you can't build anything. That said, rainwater collection tanks and a yurt might be an option until the water from the nearby town's aquifer arrives. Life can be so short and I am very weary from worrying about all this crazy stuff happening and the uncertainty about the future. I am at the point where happiness, freedom and of course, family and health are the things that are the main focus of my life rather than material things and having a fat retirement account. Heck, we don't even have one at all. I think the smartest thing a person can do in these times is get self-sufficient, whether you have money or not. I have seen people lose their money in various ways and end up completely helpless. In any event, I want to be able to weather any storms that may come. I refuse to buy a car when we move. We will drive a 22 year diesel car and be happy with that. If something happens and we can't work, I don't want that to mean starvation and misery.

These are tough times but I do see the silver lining. People working for themselves is the best-paying job there is, IMHO. Being able to feed yourself, take care of your own home, even build your own home, making a radical shift to different transportation means and taking your health and well-being into your own hands is a wonderful result of this crisis. If things get really bad and we end up having serious water issues and the like then that is going to be really tough, but necessity is the mother if invention and I see great things being invented in the future to allow us to live in a world of dwindling oil supplies and environmental deterioration. The social aspect of it is something I prefer not to think too much about right now. I'm taking this one step at a time. I'd like to think people and communities will work together in ways not seen in decades and we will be able to weave a web of interdependency on one another rather than corporations and the old status quo. The information age may lead into the new agriculture age. Oil disappearing means local food staying local. That means a whole lot of farmers will be needed in many areas. We already see in Costa Rica that the government is ordering more rice production and has implemented a plan to get the country to grow nearly all of its own rice and beans. With this in effect, the country can be totally self-sufficient food-wise. They also really need to get the railroads going again! I am both nervous and excited about the coming changes. I know life for my girls will be so different but I am hoping it will be a good thing, a better thing than what it was for me.
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#30 of 260 Old 05-25-2008, 03:58 PM
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Do you think we're really now IN "The Long Emergency"? Or do you think the predictions are exaggerated and things will somehow work out?
We're not quite there yet, but I think we will be within the next decade.

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