Tuesday, January 05, 2016

My Prescription for 2016: Collapse Early and Often

Tony Futura
[Mein Rezept für 2016: Frühzeitig und häufig Kollabieren!]

[Ma prescription pour 2016 : Effondrez-vous rapidement et souvent !]

[La mia ricetta per il 2016: Collassare presto e di frequente]

We are in the time of year when most sensible animals living in northerly climates are hibernating in burrows and hollow tree trunks, while the somewhat less sensible pundits make their predictions for the coming year. My prediction is always the same—things will go on more or less same as before, until something major breaks, while the probability of something major breaking goes up with each passing year. I have called this event “collapse,” and have predicted, year after year, that it will eventually happen. And so, instead of repeating this less than useful prediction, this year I will instead provide a prescription.

Not too many people, I expect, will want to follow my prescription; not too many of my family members, or friends, or acquaintances, or you who are reading this. And that's fine because, as I have learned over and over again, there is no strength in numbers. Quite the opposite: the probability of any given trick working is in inverse proportion to the number of times it is tried, or the number of people who try it. And so, if you are reading along and think “I can't possibly do this because of [insert lame excuse]!” then—good! Fine with me. Fewer people equals more oxygen.

And that applies to the few people who will actually bother to read this. Lots more people will not want to read this, because—what collapse? Gasoline prices are low, Obama has shut down most of the wars, the economy is strong enough for the Fed to have started hiking rates, and once Bernie Trump gets into the White House, everything else will be set right too. To the people who think that, someone like me, who predicted collapse a while back, was clearly wrong, and needs to be psychoanalyzed, not followed. Again, fine with me, so long and thanks for all the bullshit.

The reasons it's all bullshit are as follows.

• Gasoline prices are low because high oil prices crashed the economy. In turn, low oil prices are destroying the North American oil patch, which was only showing new signs of life thanks to fracking and tar sands, which are expensive to produce and only make sense when oil prices are high. Rest assured, prices will go back up, and then back down, until, in the end, oil comes to be regarded as useless toxic waste. A year ago I described exactly this scenario.

• The wars are over because all of them pretty much ended in defeat for the US. None of them achieved any of their stated objectives. Now, some of you will jump up and try to comment that the stated objectives were not the real objectives, which were to sow chaos and destruction for the sheer hell of it while enriching defense contractors. That's fine too, because such “real” objectives are consistent with imperial collapse: empire wants to steal a precious vase; empire smashes it instead; success! Moreover, whatever the objectives, they don't matter any more, because now they can't be achieved no matter what. The new Russian/Chinese/Indian/Syrian ordnance, such as the S-300/400/500 air and space defense systems, the Kalibr long-range supersonic cruise missile, along with various electronic warfare systems such as Khibiny, has rendered most US forces obsolete. You can say that defeat is victory but, as I explained two years ago, it isn't. Cancel Red Alert and set course for nearest dry dock.

• The Fed is pretending to hike rates to avoid the impression that it has lost control. This is not the only sort of pretense being attempted in the financial arena; there are plenty of others. The US economy isn't growing, and if you subtract out the effect of runaway debt (which will never be repaid no matter what scenario you consider as likely) then it's actually shrinking. More accurately, it can be said that it is sucking in whatever it can in order to avoid collapsing. It is a black hole, as I described half a year ago.

• As far as the “Bernie Trump will save us” theme, it is well understood by now that the US is no longer a democracy. (Maybe it was one once upon a time, maybe not; it doesn't matter.) Consider the matter settled. Anyone who thinks that it is still possible to effect positive change in the US by voting is a conspiracy theorist of the most miserable, deluded kind.

* * *

There are some general properties of collapses to keep in mind.

1. All things that must collapse eventually do. All empires collapse—no exceptions. All buildings collapse—unless they are demolished first. All Ponzi schemes—such as the current financial system, based on runaway debt—collapse when you least expect them to. Seeing as collapses aren't optional, it makes sense to get used to the idea of them happening, and to learn how make the best of them. Some people consider this and are filled with grief. As I pointed out before, collapse is the worst possible time to suffer a nervous breakdown, so please get your blubbering over with ahead of time.

2. Some collapses are actually good for you. Some really important things could be saved provided whatever less important thing that would cause them to collapse collapses first. For instance, if indistrial civilization were to collapse soonish, this would avoid ecosystem collapse, leaving whatever survivors would be left with breathable air and a survivable climate. And if the gigantic bubble in human population, which grew apace with the burning of fossil fuels, were to pop before turning the planet into a giant smoldering trash heap, then the few survivors would have a reasonable chance of making it.

3. Bigger collapses are nastier than smaller ones. For example, if you had lots of local banks and credit unions making loans to people who then couldn't repay them, then some large number of these banks and credit unions would collapse, insured depositors would be repaid, bad debts would be written off, and the entire system would eventually recover. But if you have a handful of gigantic banks and financial institutions holding most of the bad debts, and they fail all at once, then that brings down the entire system. And if you bail them out, then the entire system ends up on life support for the rest of its life, because nobody has any incentive to stop generating bad loans, since now everyone expects to be bailed out again and again.

4. Frequent collapses are better than infrequent ones. This is because unless things—be they populations, Ponzi schemes, economies, cities or empires—collapse on a regular basis, they tend to get too big. And when they get too big, their collapse (which is inevitable, see Point 1 above) becomes bigger, making them worse (see Point 3 above). Plus, frequent collapses of the nonfatal kind can be actually good for you (see Point 2).

For example:

• If the electric grid collapses now and again, then you will eventually learn that you need to get yourself a 12V system, a generator, some solar panels, a wind generator, and install LED lights.
• If water pressure goes down to zero periodically, then you will learn that you need to put in some cisterns, a filtration system, a demand pump, and collect water off the rooftop.
• If garbage collection stops for periods of time, then you will learn to incinerate and to compost, and will try to minimize the amount of nonbiodegradable trash you generate.
• If paid work disappears for periods of time, then you will learn that you need to keep a few months' worth of savings around to ride out these periods.
• If stores run out of food on a semi-regular basis, then you will learn that you need to grow your own food, put a chicken coop in the back yard and figure out how many lazy beds of potatoes you need.
• If banks periodically confiscate all your money (that's called a “bail-in,” and it's actually been made legal not too long ago), then you will learn to keep an absolute minimum of money in the banks, and figure out other, more reliable forms in which to store your savings.
• If you were to periodically find yourself cut off from the medical system, then you would find out ways of staying healthy and of treating yourself.
• If you periodically found it impossible to buy gasoline, you would learn that you can't rely on your car, and would instead bicycle, or walk, or take public transportation.
• If your country's government periodically turned fascist and started detaining, torturing and killing people indiscriminately, then you'd learn that you need to get yourself a second passport, and practice getting out of the country in a hurry.

These are all examples of small, frequent collapses that are good for you.

But that's not what everyone seems to be aiming for, now, is it? What everyone seems to be aiming for is preventing any and all of these small, frequent, nonfatal collapses. However, such efforts are in direct contradiction with Point 1: “All things that must collapse eventually do.” Instead of preventing collapse, such tactics guarantee a single, huge, catastrophic collapse that can very well turn out to be fatal for huge masses of people. But that's OK: see Point 2: if “the gigantic bubble in human population... pops before turning the planet into a giant smoldering trash heap, then the few survivors will have a reasonable chance of making it.”

And so, what if you aspire to being one of these few survivors who might stand a reasonable chance of making it? My prescription is simple: Collapse Early and Often.


Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Wonderful! A LOL in the headline, and every few lines after that! I posted this link on The Lifeboat News message board:

"Vintage grim, absolutely hilarious post by Dmitri Orlov, for 2016 - et seq. Really: Don't Miss! -"

Jon from Virginia said...

Or as JMG says, Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush. Uneducated white men in the Rust Belt got their 80% pay cut starting in the 70s. Middle management over 50 (outside of the FIRE economy) got theirs after that. For them, collapse isn't coming, it's here.

Rightas Rain said...

Great New Year post Dmitry! All the items you mentioned ring true this year as they have in the past. It has been a joy reading your blog every week. My wife and I have taken your advise and have practiced collapsing early and often and now enjoy our time in a peaceful country outside the USA. Although we realize that collapse is inevitable we welcome the results....
Gotta go, we have company from the states and are planning the day. Will you be able to continue blogging after the collapse? I hope so!

Chris Smith said...

I second what Jon from Virgina said. Such is clear here in upstate New York. We've had a nice series of mini-collapses to keep us on the straight and narrow. If big total collapse comes, we're screwed but so it goes.

I already have eliminated my back yard in favor of a nice seasonal vegetable garden with full composting. And, most important of all, I can keep making small batches of good beer with minimal amounts of tech. We are ready to toast the collapse in style! My goal for this year is to learn decoction-style brewing so I can get (literally) medieval with my beer.

Robert Goad said...

Down here in southern Mexico our power goes out often, city water goes out a few times a week, trash has indeed piled up on the streets occasionally, etc.. Most folks just burn candles, use gas to cook with, and have large backyard cisterns for outtages. Food abounds in the market and what food isn't trucked in somehow is supplemented by indigenous campesinos (country dwellers) who come in and set up shop on the surrounding sidewalks. Here in the altiplano no one has heaters or air conditioning to pay for. Economic inequality reigns and has for a long while but the ruling classes seem more intent on materialistic gain than powermongering and societal control. Public transportation is the general rule for most but there is definitely a sickening push to car ownership. And the long lines waiting to be anointed at the local ATMs is disquieting as well.

So a little third world fun run can be a eye opener in many ways. Collapse is going to be tough down here too but not near as bad as the good ole USSA. We know we should go more rural, set up indie power and water systems, and really root in with the campesinos. We know we need second passports (but can't afford them so that is that) but hope the concept and need of passports quietly dies amidst the coming chaos. At least we are aware of this, unlike the great washed masses north of the border.

Lastly: most folks will NOT receive this message well. Those that do though I'd counsel to consider a boat home to address almost all these mini-collapses soundly. As one astute analyst so well posited awhile back FREEDOM= ANONYMITY + MOBILITY.

denmon said...

I'm commenting to add another voice to the choir. For us it's come as no surprise that collapse is imminent; the signs are all there and are increasingly harder to ignore regardless of the timeline. We couldn't agree more with the message of this blog. Family, friends, community, and compassion are fundamental to any hope of preparation. That being said I also find that every attempt I make to secure options for responding to the real or projected challenges of change of this magnitude is in itself rewarding and strengthening. Just as physical exercise maintains and even improves health so does any positive effort increase our ability to thrive no matter what. History, if anything, provides plenty of examples of survival against all odds. In short, I agree with Dmitry and his passionate efforts to awaken as many as will listen to his message.

forrest said...

This article seems to imply that our human climate-destablization project has already gone self-sustaining, no longer needs our efforts:

"'The loss of sea ice decreases albedo [reflectivity] and results in greater absorption of energy in the water, and the warm water then heats the air above it,' Klein told Truthout. 'NASA's CERES satellites have observed an increase of 10 watts per square meter of solar radiation absorbed by the Arctic Ocean from 2000 to 2014.'

"By way of comparison, overall net planetwide warming from greenhouse gases thus far is only one-twentieth that amount of heating."
On another hand, I could imagine this leading to a shutdown of the Gulf Stream that might(?) allow for refreezing. The article overall suggests that rather than an accelerating meltdown, we're more likely to creep into it via a series of back&forth wriggles.

A piece in last month's Scientific American (which I get to a month late via the library) said that much air conditioning (a large, otherwise likely to increase energy-expense) could be eliminated by radiative cooling from certain high-tech mirrors... but a closer look shows: "the material, made of layers of hafnium dioxide and silicon dioxide on a base of silver, titanium and silicon..." -- and hafnium, if you look that up, is not a material we're likely to be paving our streets with anytime soon. Scratch that idea; unless someone finds a less exotic material for this we'll just have to roast. [Why do these people keep titilating us with these fairy-dust salvations?!]

Anyway, small collapses just about guarantee that air conditioning should become a much-desired, but increasingly rare commodity.

I don't know if we can avoid reaching utter uninhabitability or not -- but your prescription seems likely to be our best available option (and may not even turn out avoidable in any case.)

Kevo Downunder said...

"Anyone who thinks that it is still possible to effect positive change in the US by voting is a conspiracy theorist of the most miserable, deluded kind.As I pointed out before, collapse is the worst possible time to suffer a nervous breakdown, so please get your blubbering over with ahead of time."
Dimitry Orlov begins the year with a truly great, tongue in cheek blog post lauding the merits of collapse but continuing to underestimate the severity of the ecological catastrophe unfolding.
Just one detail of collapse that he misses is the effect of global dimming which on it's own will put runaway climate change on steroids in the event of the obvious collapse baring down on us.
Happy new year everyone, have a great Collapse.

Patrick said...

Cogent, and well-written. As mentioned in the piece, not too many family members, friends, or acquaintances are interested in imminent collapse, nor believe it is possible (let alone probable) — and really, who can blame them? It's tough for even those of us who've been paying attention for any length of time. But the inability to share in meaningful ways our fears, expectations, and strategies for coping with whatever may be coming can feel pretty isolating, I think. One of the challenges we face. But I'm sure throughout history, it has ever been so.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Kevin -

Good point about global dimming. It decreases the global temperature by about 1ºC. Since we have already warmed up the globe by over 1.2ºC, once industry shuts down we will automatically be well over 2ºC which is somehow still considered preventable.

Eric Hiatt said...

I've been against the “Collapse Early and Often” idea because this could allow corrections that perpetuate the eco-destructive paradigm of civilization too long, which is a loser's game in thermodynamic terms. As you noted, having large pops could provide needed amounts of correction, so why insist on a controlled burn? I'm concerned at this point that we don't have a global financial system capable of burning enough fossil fuel to heat the planet sufficiently, which will be required for large pops. Our species needs a major ass-kicking to have a chance at reset. Otherwise - as one possible scenario - we're looking at millennia of dark-age decay as there's just enough energy and resources left to band-aid together rotting, centralized techno-dystopias ran largely by cartels. That would be rather boring.

Wendy Bandurski-Miller said...

and the nuclear power plants around the planet when our collapse happens? Curious about your take on what happens then?

David Petraitis said...

Thanks for a funny and relevant post.
Fail fast, fail often a mantra for tech entrepreneurs refashioned.
Collapse now and avoid the rush.

All that's left is the blubbering.

MIckGspot said...

Climbed out of my tree trunk this morning, walked to the library to get my weekly fix of Club Orlov. I'm rather happy this period of glaciation is ending on my little part of the planet, hopefully I can enjoy the next 20 - 30 years of warmer weather.
Thank you Dmitry

John Doyle said...

The multi collapse scenario has its equivalent with forest management. The native aborigines used a system of firestick farming and so burned the landscape in coupes about every 4 years. This way the fuel load was low and the fires kept to a low temperature.
Westerners don't do that , preferring the unburned look, but fuel loads build up. Inevitably the forest light up, either deliberately or by lightning. These fires are much hotter and more destructive causing great damage to the forest and the community.
You'd think we'd know that by now, but the denigration of indigenous knowledge is a uniquely stupid attribute of western arrogance.

Kevo Downunder said...

Hey Dimitry, why don't you come on Professor Guy McPherson and Mike Siliwa's radio show Nature Bats Last on prn.fm and we develop the convergence between economic and ecological collapse.
I respectfully suspect you are underestimating the severity of the ecologicial catastrophe and what will happen when collapse causes global dimming to reduce and 430 nuke plants to melt down and worse still the attendant 1000 odd spent fuel pool fires that will be vastly worse.
You can contact Guy at guymcpherson.com
Best K

michigan native said...

Well at the age of 52, I live with a heart arrhythmia and my back has blown out from decades of breaking it to make other people wealthy, and the smug, arrogant, SOBs have actually brainwashed people into thinking it is some privilege to have their labor exploited by them, that they are the Gods who generate wealth and have some right to tell you what you can think, say, or do even in the privacy of your home.

Speaking of homes, mine was almost sold at auction. They fire us older, seasoned veterans in the healthcare field and hire in fresh grads for a lower wage. Been to a hospital or a (God forbid) a nursing home lately? Notice how young the staff is? That is age discrimination in action, but then again, your employers are God and do not have to answer to anything. Unable to get out of bed because of my back for an extended period, I went back to my job and was told I was replaced. The administrator didn't have the guts to tell me in person, he had a council of his attack dogs inform me, and that Michigan is an "at will" state whereby your employer can fire you at any time without giving any reason and you have no recourse, no rights to speak of. So we got behind, the creditors come out you like ravenous wolf packs, almost like they know the dollars they lent out re about to become useless and are in a rush to collect them while they still have some perceived value.

The local fire fighters apparently do not have enough fires to put out, my city has been scaling back services and either they saw my little entropy bunker was about to be sold at auction, so after being here some 20 years they send out their snoops to trespass on my property without my consent and send me a series of threatening letters about getting my garage door fixed for a garage that I never used except as a storage area because the people that built the place must have been on drugs, the driveway is too narrow to back a car in and out of without having to back u, go forward, crank the wheel, go back, etc to keep from scratching the paint on my car. So the $500 that my wife and I had stashed for an emergency or one last camping trip was swallowed up fixing a garage door that I never use. A "final notice" one week before xmas from the local government that couldn't run a lemonade stand but sure have become masters of efficiency at harassing people, fining them, and having their police ticket the hell out of anyone and everyone they can.

I do have a survival strategy that involves certain family members, but they think Sanders or Killary Clinton is going to save us. One of them joked about some long term food I have stored in a safe place and how we should eat that instead of the honey baked ham. I was thinking the joke is on you, and you don't even realize it. The property of one is out in the country, has lotsa fertile soil, a pond that could be stocked with blue gills, open sunlight on the roof and patio for solar panels, woods for a wood burning stove that we would have to install. Plenty of room for chicken coops. I have wanted to start for some years now, my wife is vaguely aware but unable to convince my in laws of the need to band together as they think Sanders or Clinton will save us, just like they thought Obama would in 2008 and 2012. Things will just have to crash before they get any better, the wall of denial is insurmountable. Sad but true.

Sheila Grace said...

Thank you thank you for the laugh! Must remember that one, there is no strength in numbers, very funny! It ranks with f-k off and stay f-cked off. Love the oil roller coaster ride which is indicative of really only one thing: a system way off balance, and like any ecosystem way out of balance, it won’t last in its present form.

Wars are never over, just the latest battle. Goals lost on one front by said elite are won in another arena, usually turned in another direction, generally inward.

Tap dancing at the top doesn’t negate extraction from the bottom 85%, after all, the fate of the lower 85% is to the elite’s, as inconsequential as the fate of any other population outside of the borders. The X and Y axis are the same - inside or outside of the borders: when resources that can be extracted from the ground, are determined to be useful, the population doesn’t matter and inversely this Empire’s population, when determined useless for more extraction, is when the X crosses the Y. We’re fairly close.

Bernie Trump goes into the old tired bin with “just go shopping”, trickledown economics, techno-salvation, deregulation, Patriot Act, TPP, Health Tax, credit scores, subprime loans, CDS, Debt to GDP, and all the other debts; student, car, and low or high gas prices. Blah blah blah. Graham Turner nailed it: you can always tell a bigger lie but you can’t tell a bigger truth. Unfortunately most people can’t bear to confront the end of the party, it terrifies them, and so they are voracious for lies that confirm the party will continue no matter what.

1. Blubbering done, moved on.
2. 2012 wasn’t personally funny for me. I collapsed early to avoid the rush.
3. Small collapses being what they are can be extremely advantageous early on. Decentralize as much as possible every subset possible and lesson the blow. Extra bonus: you get to Live your Life and help the environment too.
4. Observe and adjust

As for your examples we’ve accomplished all but the last two. We’re in a remote area so it’s a no go for options listed in example eight, except to sit tight. The last one is tough and I’ve resolved it by saying to myself; passion about what I do each day and detach from the outcome. That’s an important point for me because I’m a loving and caring individual and I’d like to retain my sanity and humor. We’ll work out the ninth example when and if it ever becomes a reality; second passport or opt for the five o clock news. My personal choice would be a third option; sit on the deck surrounded by the results of intentional design by working in harmony with nature rather than against her, doing with much, much less and reveling in creative abundant decline.


Stan said...

Been practicing by moving back to a frequently failing country for the third time. This was my best timing, but there is room for serious improvement. And I gotta admit my comfort level concerning what's coming is not what it should be either, but experienced, better adjusted, more trustworthy people around me have much to teach.

Another upside is not being exposed to so many delusional exceptions every fucking day, and getting a much deserved respite from the 24x7 attentions of the Zersetzung goon squads infesting God's Country. They're here, but not in the numbers found among The Great American People™. They also enjoy less freedom of movement here than in the US.

Denis Frith said...

This is a wise anthropocentric discussion that takes into account what is actually happening to Tityas (the vast aging technological organism that provides the services society has become dependent on). It discusses only some of the symptoms of the malfeasance of Tityas.

Compound F said...

still blubbering somewhat, trying to get over it. Emotions! I have been working on ye olde doomstead, also, for years, fwiw, reading this great blawg and others, and their associated books, etc., in order to "support the friggin' writer." I find value in collapseniks.

Anywho, 'nuther good post. I'm a flat-out admirer of your work.

michigan native said...

So my woes are nothing compared to what others have had to endure, just keep in mind, when trying to offer comfort, don't say "well you think its bad that you had contracted genital warts, I had both my balls cut off from testicular cancer". Such a remark may be well intended, but offer very little relief for the person you are talking to. It will make them feel belittled. Just a note for those of you who may be willing to offer therapeutic comfort. Instead, say "this must be or is a very difficult time for you. How can I help"?

Now one poster suggested making beer as a survival method. Any of you beer/alcohol enthusiasts look to the long range picture, long after dollars, currencies, even gold become useless as a medium of exchange in a post collapse/deindustrialized world where dollars will be used to warm people in the cold or replace used corn cobs as toilet paper? Think of what you can produce or barter instead of coins or money for goods and services.

Prostitution will be there until the end of mankind. Politicians get away with this, only it'scalled "campaign contributions" (with many high classed hookers supposedly paid for by the corporate lobbyists along with the exotic vacations, golf outings, and several thousand dollar priced meals to go with selling out)

So if all of the gold and precious metals supposedly accounted for in the US, what will be the new medium of exchange that people will be willing to give up the fruits of their labor for something they need in return? I am thinking stop thinking of coins and pieces of paper as getting you anything you need to survive. Either join a gang and live your life a despicable criminal/slime bag (it was called capitalism before it strikes home) or make or create or offer something tat people will be willing to trade for you in a new system of barter and simpler, intensely local, living arrangements.

Home gown beer is soooooo much better than Bud or Miller. No wonder they are making their puppets (poiticians) more expensive trough regulations than there quick for profit dish water that they used mass advertising to monopolize. Grow your own. Brew your own. Cut off their oxygen supply.

Jan Lundberg said...

Dmitry is one of the very few collapse commentators who sees not only the bigger picture --the ecological -- but allows that simpler living of an independent nature is the way for intelligent people to go. I first got first-hand familiarity of his unusual, incisive work when he sent his article The New Age of Sail to CultureChange.org in 2006: http://www.sailtransportnetwork.org/node/873 and on the ClubOrlov website.

Alex said...

I live in San Jose, California. Yes, rightin the center of silicon valley. I make maybe 12k a year, and have no running water. I filch about a gallon a day from next door....

I buy drinking grade water because since the drought started the local water has gotten a bit questionable.

My skills are in electronics. There are NO jobs here. I have some low paying work, part time, because I know so some. I get to live in the building so at least I am not outdoors.

I am a third generation Californian. My father graduated from an ivy. I'm a gringo who speaks good English. There are many many many who are not doing as well as I am here. The internet is becoming this thing people used to have, not have. I can go online text only, very slow, and expect this thin line of communication to go away in a few years.

This is the view from the heart of silicon valley. The collapse is here.

Satish Musunuru said...

"You'd think we'd know that by now, but the denigration of indigenous knowledge is a uniquely stupid attribute of western arrogance."

Well said... Even on the Near Term Extinction site that is "Nature Bats Last", few people are willing to acknowledge this fact. Of course, it's par for the course because civilized people have forgotten to listen, and people who forget to listen become "civilized". It all checks out. Here's a comment I made the other day that addresses this - http://guymcpherson.com/2015/12/the-same-every-day/comment-page-2/#comment-169602


Excellent post, Dmitry! I too think an ecological shock might just start the ball rolling. Billboards along Highway 101, the main corridor that runs through Silicon Valley, shout: “IN THE NEXT SEVERE STORM, THIS FREEWAY WILL BE UNDERWATER.”


D. Mitchell said...

In short, you are telling us to grow our own food. Lots of people around the country are doing that. They are called gardeners. They also can and put things in root cellars, but not in near enough numbers to make a dent. This is common in more rural communities like where I live. But should we grow grains, potatoes, or what to make the bulk of our calories. You hint at it, but never say outright.

You are telling us to learn our own medicine...which is kinda hard since most of the things you can do without Big Pharma (TM) is 19th century medicine. I mean what about insulin? Difficult to say the least. Plus the idea of operating on someone makes me mighty nervous. Even still I have memorized a lot of solutions for my family's medical problems that are low tech and a somewhat viable alternative to Big Pharma (TM).

You say to get your own water collection rigging. Which is illegal in some states...why? I suppose being on a houseboat those concerns do not come up. Most people have a hard enough time keeping up with simple house repairs, so yeah a lot of people aren't going to do that one.

Save about 6 months of expenses, because face it getting a job within 6 months of losing yours in a crud economy is like winning the lottery. It's why my husband works like a dog at a job he hates and does a damn good job. He knows this is the best he will get anytime soon. In reality for us, we would need to save a year's worth of income to be sure he got at least some income before we were destitute. Where are you going to save all the money is a question since you're not suppose to keep more than the bare minimum in the bank thanks to bail ins.

You address getting rid of common trash, through burning and composting. Does this include human wastes? Oh, I can see a lot of people not being ok with that at all if so. Not just government types either, but soccer moms and even poorer people that want to keep their dignity. After all if the water doesn't work, how do you flush? At the same time, how do you safely compost shit? Should you burn it? Will it smell bad? Is that like waving a white flag of defeat when fighting poverty? What will the neighbors think? How embarrassing right?

You suggest people walk and ride their bikes. Easy to say, much more dangerous to do with flying metal death boxes hurling themselves at 55 miles per hour over long curvy roads on hilly terrain in the country. It's even worse in the winter. My husband rode his bike 37 miles to work and 37 miles from work for about 6 months. He came so close to getting hit every week, I begged him to quit working. He didn't. They fired him because apparently riding your bike 74 miles a day and working 8 hour shifts can give you a hernia. In America if you get hurt, you get tossed out the door like garbage. A horse and cart are more doable, just because the horse might get hurt instead of you.

Finally solar power...not sure about that one...seems like a good idea. How many will actually try to do it though? I have heard more people say it's too hard, than have tried it. Oh they love my little panel set up, just enough for 50w, but not enough to DO anything.

I think you nailed it. Very few people at all would want to do all of this. That doesn't even address clothing, keeping warm or cool, eating meat, having things to carry your laundry in, or making soap to keep clean and ward off disease now that there is no medicine. I mean, how far back will we fall? The 16th Century? Just as well... I suppose it would give a us proper dose of where actually belong in the world.

Karl K said...

Speaking of health issues there are some good things on this site and lots of free pdf downloads - especially "Where there is no Doctor" (individual chapters are free, but you can also buy the entire pdf or book). I bought the paper book a few years ago (collapse early), since I don't think the electronic stuff will be working very much longer:


Good post Dmitry. Thank you.


Armen Vaspurakanyan said...

@D. Mitchell
"You are telling us to learn our own medicine...which is kinda hard since most of the things you can do without Big Pharma (TM) is 19th century medicine."

Read this book from Arshavir Ter Hovannessian

You can live without insulin or whatsoever drugs you're on.
You can live without operations (your own body wields the bones together, the doctor stabilizes the injury location using metal fixes so that you don't displace the fracture even more. The body has its signaling to stop you from fracturing, it's called pain, but we hack around this natural signaling by poisoning our nerves with pain killers.
You can live without dentists, in fact, you would do much better without them and preserve the few remaining teeth you got.

Hippocrates said it looong time ago "Let your food be your medicine"

forrest said...

re 'what to grow?'

Potatoes -- as the Irish found out -- are a very good staple crop when you'be been forced to live on a very small plot of marginal soil. My father used to tell me that the Army had found that a person could live on only potatoes, provided one threw away much of the stuff inside and ate the skins.

The Irish also found out that depending on only one variety could turn out very badly when some fungus comes along tuned to that one variety (especially if some foreign power keeps shipping most of the food in one's country out to retail elsewhere) but evidently the South American indigenous folks have always grown a big selection of different varieties.

Keith Rose said...

"if indistrial civilization were to collapse soonish, this would avoid ecosystem collapse, leaving whatever survivors would be left with breathable air and a survivable climate"

Not when the 443 nuclear power plants all melt down because no one is maintaining the cooling system.

DeVaul said...

Wow. Lots of comments. Funny article, and of course a wise one.

A few thoughts:

Beer. I used to brew beer and once had 10 different varieties in my basement. I see two potential problems with homebrew in a collapsed society. The first is the availability of malt and grains. Unless you know how to do your own mash, it is highly unlikely that malt syrup will be there for you when you need it. Secondly, sanitation is vital to a successful homebrew. Even the slightest contamination turns your homebrew into vinegar. Where I am, I would try to learn to turn Indian corn into corn whiskey. That is what would be most readily available.

Mobility. In the interior, mobility equals animals, not boats. Animals are vital to a mobile life here in the interior. One should learn to ride a horse and to keep dogs. Always dogs. Can't emphasize that enough. A dog will most likely ensure that you and your family wake up the next morning alive. Without the dog, you might as well slit your own throats before you go to sleep. Big dogs can be used to haul small carts too, but horses are better. A cow is also good for milk, butter, yogurt, and it can walk with you if you need to move somewhere else.

Right now, horses are being abandoned because people cannot afford hay, but in a collapsed society you can graze your horse anywhere. Just stand next to it with a gun if necessary. The horse can find its own food. It's sad to see so many starving horses right now because there is land for them to graze on, but it is "owned". I just hope there are enough left for when we really need them.

Niantic Wind said...

I am middle aged and had lost my house around the 2008 debacle . I survived that by "camping" on a piece of land I bought on a payment plan with the owner ,that was marginal, on a two season road with no neighbors. I'm in the north, winters were brutal, but I built up my health and endurance by walking for miles, riding a balloon tired one speed bike, andd snowshoeing and dragging a sled in and out. I sporadically had jobs, gave up just about everything that was easy and convenient but the experience has made me a competent woodsperson, gardener, athlete, forager,builder, inventor, story writer, bicyclist, etc. Most people won't understand the transformation from typical Joe Shmoe laborer to well rounded Jack of all Trades is a blessing. I still am challenged by financial issues but as the years progressed I was able to pay off my land, put some money in fruit trees, supplies, bike parts, food, etc. I learned to cure diabetes with diet. I stick to the GAPS Diet by Dr. Campbell-McBride. I've had to solve most problems by myself without money. You can too, just read, research, try, practice, and NEVER GIVE UP!!!

rapier said...

Niantic. By chance are you in Central or North, West Michigan? I only ask because while a still practicing member of the middle class in the area I am well aware of a persistent and growing subculture in the area that is somewhat accepting and accommodating of marginal living and that goes right to the local governmental level. I am guessing that in most areas of the US local governments, Township and county, more negative pressure is applied to marginal and off grid living arrangements. I could easily be wrong and maybe it is just a false impression.

The largest minus of such arrangements in the north are the winters but to the plus side is relative abundance of wood fuel and even a moderate supply of game.

MER Frazer said...

How does one go about getting a 'second passport'??

Unknown said...

D. Mitchell, Try the Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins; it explains how to safely compost our manure. Been doing it for years and it works like a charm.

Reg dashcam said...

Hello Dmitri,

An avid reader of yours here. I have a question about industry, post-collapse: Wouldn't pollution actually worsen in the near-term following an economic collapse, since industry will probably not have to worry about emissions controls being enforced (at least for a short while) while the rest of the country's more important matters are sorted out (not that they would be solved)? Apologies for my lack of knowledge on the subject, but I'm just wondering. Thanks for an enlightening read as always.

- Reg

onething said...

What to grow for calories? Besides potatoes, corn, beans and squash. Learn how to harvest acorns, in a pinch. Butternut are very easy to grow.

Manure? Really the easiest of all problems, even in the suburbs. Dig a hole, bury it, forget it. You can even make a makeshift composting toilet inside if you have something like wood shavings.

Cynthia G. said...

I lived in Cairo for a while. There were constant power outages, and some of the other things mentioned, like water shut offs. The people there are much more inventive and resourceful than in the west. I admired how many survive on nearly nothing. It made me realize how spoiled we have become.
All your suggestions are good, but I am not sure how to hide money or protect things if it gets really bad. You can grow food, but if the neighbors don't, what will you have left? Anyway, thanks for the insights Dmitri.

LLTKLLTF said...

I wonder if the author have heard of JAH (John Anthony Hill)? I'm just curious if anyone here have read his plan?

jackgoldman1 said...

Many people fail to realize a collapse has already occurred because the consequences have yet to occur. The currency has already collapsed. The Dow has not gone up for fifty years in real, legal, silver, US dollars. In counterfeit debt notes the economy is booming, roaring, in a bull market of subsidies, where bankers on Wall Street pick winners and losers. The currency collapse is over in one large cycle going from 4% in 1951 to 18% in 1980, to zero and below zero in 2016. The dollar has already collapsed. What has yet to occur is the consequences of the collapse. People are still taking dollars for prostitution, sexual services, groceries, fuel, and loan payments. This will have to result in a collapse. The bond market has outperformed the stock market since 1980. This is a 36 year bond bull market as interest rates collapse to below zero. The bonds have never been priced at a higher price for a lower yield in the history of humanity. How does that end? Badly. But worse yet, our money is a one day, zero interest bond. The counterfeit dollars have no value. An ounce of gold is always an ounce of gold. Gold was $20 an ounce in 1920, $35 in 1935, $800 in 1980, and almost $2011 in 2011. The gold did not change. The dollar is collapsing in slow motion. The consequences is a wealth transfer from laborers and machines to asset owners. Preventing the collapse prevents asset owners from losing their assets and having to grow their own food or do their own labor. The collapse is over. The consequences of the collapse have yet to occur. I have to protect myself.