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Archive for August, 2012

Disasters are never fun and neither is having your daily routine upset in order to survive one. It can be stressful and full of things that can go wrong.

I’ve been checking out a variety of blogs and websites advocating a variety of ways to survive a disaster. Most people who prepare for a disaster tend to follow textbook advise by supplying themselves with modern conveniences and technology. For a short-term disaster that is often fine but not if it should last six months or more. What do you do then?

Here is an example of what someone might do to prepare themselves:

Buy a diesel powered electric generator, either a tracktor or plow and stock up lots of canned
food and other personal care items. So along comes someone who didn’t prepare but has weapons and takes what you have which took you so long to stock up in the first place. Then what?

If your scour blogs like I do you will come across those people who advocate that you militarize yourself with weapons and follow military survival techniques. Although helpful will not help you survive if there are also other people competing for the same resources in which case you both fight it out until one is dead, one gives up or you both decide to work together. That’s a lot of wasted energy and it only perpetuates the very mindset that created the problems in the first place.

Here is why I don’t recommend following prescribed plans for surviving a disaster:
For all modern things that require a liquid fuel such as a generator or tractor need a huge supply
of liquid fuel which means a large tank to hold it. Eventually you will run out then what?

Then people think about getting a plow and an animal, horses or buffalo to pull the plow which requires a large amount of feed (namely grasses and other plants) or large enough field for them to graze in. Don’t forget you have to train the animals and yourself too. That only adds to the work needed.

Instead here is what I recommend:
I say do away with conventional thinking and do the work yourself in small manageable sized plots. Figure out how much you can work in a day then figure out how much you need to feed yourself and that is the amount of land you need. Masanobu Fukuoka – a Japanese Permaculturist – said anyone can feed themselves on a quater acre by following his [permaculture] principals.

It is actually not that hard to feed yourself by building a quarter acre food forest which grows a large variety of edible plants which has built in resiliency. What does that mean?

When the potato famine happened in Ireland it wiped out the single type of potato they grew. If on the other hand they had grown a variety of potatoes like Peruvian people do then they would have survived the potato famine because not all of the potatoes would have been effected. That is what resiliency is about. If one thing fails not everything fails that means you don’t fail either.

So, if you are going to prepare yourself to survive a long-term disaster, which means you can also survive short-term disasters, you prepare yourself in such a way that includes resiliency in your plans. It also means not relying on any modern techniques, machines, technologies and so on. That way if someone with weapons should pass your way you stand a better chance of surviving because you don’t have anything worth stealing.

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Whenever I bring up the topic of Peak Oil people often tell me we have so much oil left we have nothing to worry about. I’m not sure where they are getting their information from other than what has become the rhetoric after 2007 when the way reserves are calculated which include oil from synthetics (like pyrolysis), Canada Tar Sand, and shale. First oil from pyrolysis depends on waste or trash and if we produce less trash there is less syn-oil. Second is Canada Tar Sands which is a mix of heavy oil with sand that requires millions of gallons of water and a huge amount of natural gas to become something liquid enough to put into a pipeline, but no one ever mentions that. Last Shale oil is not even in production at this time that I know of, but its still counted.

Turning trash or waste into oil has maybe a return of 2 or 3 to 1, Tar Sands after refinement and ready for sale of 1:1 at best and Shale would have the poorest of all returns in the negative, using more energy to bring it to market than it would return. Relying on these fuels is a definite sign we are running out of petroleum faster than politicians, economists or the industry will admit.

Critics of Hubbert like Bjorn Lomborg, Michael Lynch, and Dr. Michael Mills disagree with the Peak Oil view, or Dr. Marion King Hubbert who came up with the Hubbart’s Peak on oil. They believe the Peak Oil argument, decline in oil to be flawed. Not sure how that can be since resources all go through the same path of discovery, increase in use, and decline. All resources. Instead they believe that a rise in price of oil will bring new supply and demand into balance as not to result in intolerable economic damage. This makes no sense if a resource is running out and there is no more to be had. John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil when interviewed on CNBC in February of 2012 said, “I think OPEC is about maxed out. When people talk about spare capacity in OPEC, I don’t see it. I just don’t see it coming through and I’m not sure it’s there. And it’s not just that they’re greedy, but they’re really producing what they can produce.” Followers of Hubbert’s Peak believe what’s left is much smaller than actually reported. As oil becomes scarcer and more expensive, critics of Peak Oil believe its increased price will encourage an advancement in technology to develop alternatives. Just what these “alternatives” is a big question. In the U.S. if we were to convert all the farmland into fuel production like biodiesel and alcohol from cellulose we would just meet 50% of our liquid fuel needs. Where’s the other half coming from? Some claim a land mass the size of Texas could meet all our needs in liquid fuels, that would be for cars only not trains, planes, ships or anything else. Also no one bother’s to address the other half of a car that is made from petroleum like lubricants, wire insulation, seats and carpeting and so forth.

Lomborg, Lynch and Mills must have blinders on or promote a very narrow view of reality. It is such detractors that are keeping the world from moving forward. Unless we address the fact so many things in our society are made from or are dependent on petroleum we will never find an answer to the decline in oil and prices will not over come the fact that we are running out of oil. I would like to see a real conference where every view brought forward their data and information openly discussing, debating and publishing the information. We can’t go on someone’s word that something like price will cause some magical increase in oil finds or production. These types of views need to brought out for what they are, lies and distractions from reality.

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