Saturday, November 05, 2011

ASPO 2011: Post-Collapse Planning


22 comments:

Silenus said...

I wonder if it would be wise for people to begin forming their own militias as a preparation for the crash. There's enough cultural and political hatred out there to result in a lot of violence when security breaks down. Having bands of armed, coordinated men might make it possible to secure a local territory, prevent internal political violence, and repel any external violence.

Then again, militias could just become gangs of raiders. I guess the security situation will work itself out somehow, leading either to minimal peace or cycles of endemic conflict.

Mike Spinrad said...

I would be most worried about food shortages. Any opinions on how best to prepare?

Dr. Doom said...

Awesome presentation, Dmitry. I'm thinking that most of the contents of a country hardware & seed supply store may be a lot better to have on hand than a stash of gold bricks and silver coins, with or without firearms.

Lance Michael Foster said...

I have seen a lot on violence and armed conflict, etc. that is coming as part of the collapse. However, I wonder most about the despair and madness that will surely be evident. When people's worldview breaks, so will some minds. What does history say about this? At least in the collapse of the Roman Empire, people had the Church (whatever one thinks of it) to lend structure and meaning to suffering. We are empty shells that depend mostly on "the American Dream" of material success, so wherefore meaning? And then most so-called "religious" people-- Calvinist roots and the liturgy of success has that God loves the successful which is proof of their success...so... The horror, per Kurz.

Archivist/Cultural Liaison said...

it seems militias would be gangs of thieves because they would have to rely on spoils to maintain their activities

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Silenus, I'd say it's inevitable. May as well prepare for it and get it as organised and controlled as possible.

what the Tee Vee taught said...

Needless to say (I'll say it):

A push towards consuming ego-deflating drugs sure wouldn't exacerbate the mess that is coming.

Fantastic Fungi (Fungi are, after all, from almost any vantage point, our betters), grass for those who currently consume coffee, sugar, and other bits of nonsense in absurd amounts.

Right now — to friends, family and acquaintances — I think Kaczynski's Manifesto is a valuable offering... help people to realize (as Dmitry has pointed out repeatedly) that post-collapse has a lot to offer to those who want to discover a life that is actually fulfilling... rather than a life that desperately (and often without success) seeks fulfillment and purpose.

Having to keep yourself alive and in good health through active mental and physical exertion... that's a purpose. That ain't "boring".

what the Tee Vee taught said...

And as for food, I have advice based on my practice:

If you're planning to stay where you are (and even if you aren't): dig up your lawn (a pick-axe is the way to go), if you have one, and sheet-mulch it.

Then practice growing food. Problems will arise, try to solve them, repeat.

Dr. Doom said...

BTW, I know you don't like to be held to a prediction of a specific date for collapse, but perhaps subconsciously, you have plotted in your slide 10 about 8 years from the Peak Oil date until collapse. If Peak Oil (conventional, not all liquids) was 2005-6, then collapse should be in the 2013-14 time frame, per your plot. That date is very close to the time Jeffrey Brown (westexas) has said net available petroleum exports to the OCED countries will be getting extremely tight. Of course, a lot of other tipping points could be encountered first.

Stephen Bach said...

Just a hint on the food front: dandelion is extremely nutritious (more beta carotene than carrots) and grows wild ... no external inputs needed.

Journal Actif said...

I'll add to the food advice. There's certainly a learning curve to subsistence gardening. Not only that, but it necessitates a good soil and that takes time to build. Starting now is important.

The learning curve to become a subsistence gardener also includes the ability to save seeds and successfully keep staples to propagate via roots (potatoes, garlic, onion) so you have some to plant for next season crop. It takes few years to create a household seed bank, particularly if your yard is small. What will you eat from your garden if you don't have seeds to grow it?

When planning the subsistence garden, I concentrate on density. i.e. tomatoes and cucumbers are good and love growing and eating them. But dried beans and potatoes do a much better job at sustaining us and are so much easier to store and keep without added energy, tools or supplies (non canning, no freezing necessary).

Onion, garlic and cabbage are nutrition powerhouses and not particularly difficult to grow. And they will keep all winter long with a minimum involvement. Setting up a proper cellar either in the garden ground or in the basement is easy and inexpensive right now.

I would also add, about sheet-mulching or any other mean of preparing the soil, that it takes anywhere from 2 to 5 years to transform an urban or subburban lot fertile enough to actually produce enough to feed its owners. The sooner you work on it, the better.

Also, stashing non-perishables like sugar, salt, rice, honey, spices, tea, coffee and the like is a good idea. A 6 months supply, not necessarily to use for yourself and the family but rather, to trade for eggs, milk, cheese, meat, etc.

If I wouldn't be able to garden (no gardening space or other physical constraint), I would see what skill I could trade for food and get the equipment to practise that skill. If at all possible, I would get both the energy-operated and non-energy-operated tools. As an example, I can sew and have the usual electrically powered, modern sewing machine. But I bought an old, foot-pedal powered sewing machine and stashed everything I need to service it and use it (needles, lubricating oil, threads in all colours, additional bobbins, replacements or mechanical pieces that can worn out after lots of use, etc.)

I also can formulate and make my own household paints and I stocked a good deal of the supplies I think will become harder to find during and after collapse. Those supplies are compact and keep indefinitely. That might become a handy skill to trade some day, who knows.

A last thought: resourcefulness, emotional intelligence and resilience are paramount qualities to try and develop. My family and I thought maybe live now like it’s already tomorrow would be an excellent way to do just that.

Jeff Snyder said...

Journal Actif, S. Bach et al, best book I have found for food self-sufficiency is The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self Reliance in Uncertain Times, by Carol Deppe. A lot of tremendous practical advice and discussion of "the five crops you need to survived and thrive -- potatoes, corn, beans, squash and eggs.

She tends to dwell on some varieties (e.g., some squash) whose seeds are not readily available, but does include enough information to let you make informed decisions. Her discussion about why ducks are better than chickens for homesteading is really useful.

Jeff Snyder said...

Great presentation Dmitry! Great food for thought. I hope to hear the entire presentation in the near future.

There is a tension between the "counterproductive" strategy of paying down existing debts and the productive strategy of preparing now to implement later. Specifically, if you have other assets to grab, and default now, the spurned lender may try to take the assets you have and are hoping to rely upon later. In other words, the timing and manner of the "strategic default" is also fraught with difficulties and conundrums.

alyosha said...

re Food - In addtion to learning to grow it, there are companies that will sell dried food that can last 25 years. Check out eFoodsDirect.com - not surprising they're based in Utah - probably run by Mormons, who have a tradition of stockpiling for disasters. If you can afford a food cache like this, the problem won't be starvation, it will be fending off hungry marauders.

Journal Actif said...

've read Carol Deppe's book (I borrowed it at the library). It's good, but in our case it was moderatly useful. I can see though how it might be excellent for others. We don't eat much corn and squash, and they occupy an awfull lot of space in the garden. Plus, it's quite difficult to save corn seeds in our heavily "Monsantoed" area (we're in a region people here like to call "Quebec's pantry" and it's heavily industrialized agriculture).

You inspired me to add my favorite gardening books, the ones I use the most for reference.

Eliot Coleman's Four-Season harvest
Eliot Coleman's New Organic Grower
I find those two very usuful for 3 reasons.
i) Coleman is an adept of everything low-tech, all hand tools.
ii) no energy input in his winter growing structures which he developped, inspired by french intensive culture of the Parisian Maraîchers at the beginning of the 20th century, before the vulgarisaiton of the automobile (and the green revolution).
iii) He shares his knowledge and experience running a successfull 4-season vegetable farm in Zone 5 on coastal Maine, which is almost the same climatic conditions as our lot in Montreal subburbs.

Tania L.K. Denkla's Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food.
That one lists 765 varieties of vegetables, fruits and nuts, in alphabetical order. It's a great reference book, whith very comprehensive and well organized information for each entry.

Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
It's THE book on permaculture for the home gardener. It's my absolute favorite and I find myself reading it just for the pleasure sometimes. We use permaculture principles in some areas of the yard, particularly on the front yard, under and around the trees.

Right now I'm reading a very interesting book which is not a practical "hands on" one but promises to be very enlightening. It's Julia Wright's Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in an Era of Oil Scarcity: Lessons from Cuba.

I bought Steve Solomon's "Gardening when it counts" and found it doesn't aswer my needs. The author recommends hybrids over heirloom. You can't save seeds from hybrid. Not good for subsistance gardening. And his recipes for improving the soil requires you get some refuse from terrible industries: meat packing, soy and cotton... Huh!!! Not in my vegie garden thank you very much.

kollapsnik, please let me know if my comments are too long and I'm "too much" (as my sons tell me when I get carried away).

ghpacific said...

For what it's worth. http://members.beforeitsnews.com/story/1269/137/Incredible_Survival_Q_A_From_Serbia.html

Jeff Snyder said...

Journal Actif,
Thanks for the book references, I will pick up the Coleman books. Gaia's Garden is indeed very good. Re: corn, I agree. For dietary reasons I try to avoid carbs as much as possible. You need calories for survival though, so I plan to start experimenting with squash next year.

hawlkeye said...

@ Journal Actif,

More detail please about the supplies stock-piled for painting... thank you!

Journal Actif said...

@ hawlkeye,
The details you ask for would necessitate a whole book on the subject (we filled almost 3 notebooks with trial formulae and experiences notes). But to answer briefly (I hope), one can formulate good quality paints, in the powder form, the "just add water and stir" kind, by tweaking (modernizing) old recipes, dating back before the industrialisation of paint manufacturing.

A good example would be the famous Swedish paint, which is the best ever for exterior wood clapboard, sturdier and longer lasting than any store-bought exterior paint offered at big boxes stores. That one is not the "just add water" kind since it requires oil and cooking, but it gives you a good idea about the kind of heritage recipes one can tweak to produce good quality household paints, given one listened at chemistry courses in High School and is willing to spend some time working on it.

We began our paint making using the Swedish recipe for our old 1855 house, then got carried away and now we don't buy paint anymore for our home. We make our own. I suppose you could try and work in the same way we did. Looking first at the library for old formulae-recipes books, experimenting and testing, adding new ingredients and removing old one now known as toxic, until you get the result you want.

Beware of online recipes (milk paint and the like). Some are not so bad but others are just a joke. And experiment formulating little batches so not to be discouraged by the waste if you're not happy with the results.

Hth.

nik said...

solomon's gardening when it counts was ironically enough written by a retired american gardener in the south pacific - tasmania. did not seem real useful.

good food advice all. thank you. re: carbohydrates- while we avoid as many of them as we get in our still first world diets, they will prove useful in the third world. if not as direct nutrition than as feed for domestic livestock and/or bait for larger prey.

re: militias - kollapsnik had interesting points in previous writing and speeches. the speech for the long now and stewart brand comes to mind.

kollapsnik, was recruitment to such an organization ever presented as an offer one might not want to refuse?

hawlkeye said...

Journal Actif,

Thanks for your insights; it's all very intriguing...hawlkeye

Kevin said...

Journal Actif -

It comes to my mind that I might do well to learn some recipes for making artist's colors and other materials. I'll particularly miss brushes made from the fur of Russian red sables, which are already much harder to come by than they once were - possibly due to a decline in the population of that animal, I suppose. Most other brushes are rubbish by comparison.