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  • 6 Peak Oil: What To Do (138)
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    • 6 As Oil is Depleted (14)
      • 6 Expected Problems (10)
        • Cessation of all fossil fuelled activities.
        • Cessation of all use of fossil fuels as "raw materials", such as fertilizers, insecticides, and medicines.
        • Massive population dieoffs, as only a fraction of the present population can be sustained without the present infrastructure, particularly that of the food industry.
        • Economic collapse, as businesses become obsolete.
        • Ecological disasters, as remaining natural resources are plundered in attempts to maintain the failing infrastructure.
        • Governmental oppression, as governments face internal and external challenges, and lack the resources to cope.
        • Civil disturbances as people realize what they have considered normal falls away.
        • Severe food and water shortages, leading to riots, thefts, and worse.
        • Demands for "sharing", anyone who prepared labelled as "hording".
        • War, as those who are "better off" are seen as unjust, unfair, or evil, or someone with weapons feels they have nothing to lose.
      • 6 When To Act (2)
        • Immediately. When the oil supply dwindles, the shortages, climbing prices, and disruptions of shipping and industry may effectively preclude any personal preparations.
        • At the present, you can "click" on the web, or make a phone call, and have unique goods delivered, or labour performed.
    • 6 Personal preparations (91)
      • 6 Air (1)
        • You must select your homesite away from expected air contaminants, as it is probably outside of the reach of most people to live in an area large enough for comfort, crops, etc., wherein the air is sustainably filtered or purified.
      • 6 Water (6)
        • The running city water in your home, even if the (fuel-driven) pumping continues, may not continue to be properly treated.  Whether you get your water from the city, a well, stream, or collect rainwater, you may want to treat the water yourself.
        • Earthship »   Filters can be purchased many places, including a pre-plumbed "Water Organizing Module" available from the "Earthship" people.
        • A homemade filter of essentially sand can remove larger particles.
        • Water in contact with silver tends to kill microorganisms.  Running a small DC current (i.e. from a cheap solar battery charger) through two silver electrodes submerged in the water will distribute silver ions and kill bacteria.
        • You can fabricate (or purchase) a still, to use the heat of the sun to evaporate water, then condense the vapor for human consumption.  It can be as simple as a sealed bottle setting in the sun, with a hose leading out of it to another bottle, that is buried in shaded soil.
        • Expect that you will need to drastically alter your use of water.  Washing water can be used to water plants.  Eliminate wasting water in the toilet by setting up a composting, or solar dehydrating toilet.
      • 6 Food (6)
        • Humanity's industrialized food production depends heavily on fertilizers and chemicals made from oil.
        • Expect you less and less be able to shop for groceries, and that you may increasingly need to subsist solely on what you grow yourself.
        • Ecology Action »   Research by organizations such as Ecology Action, which is available in books authored by John Jeavons, demonstrate techniques that may let you grow a healthy diet of crops in an area as small as 1,000 sq.ft. per person. These techniques take effort, and time though, if you're not starting with soil that is healthy and productive.
        • Plants for the Future »   The present commercial food system has focused on only a few varieties of the thousands of different food plants, and within those few in use, entire crops may be essentially identical clones.   A good resource for plants suited for your location is the online database maintained by Plants for a Future.
        • Food Storage »   Your food program must contemplate the situation where, despite your best efforts, you lose an entire crop.  You therefore need a food storage program that can "tide you over" until your garden is again able to sustain you.  While your program must meet your personal taste and resources, good guidelines are available at this URL.
        • Not everyone will have success with everything they attempt to grow, or with a gardening program overall.  You should consider appropriate crop "surpluses" for barter materials.  Such exchanges may help rebuild interdependence and cooperation within your immediate community, assisting in development and security.
      • 6 Shelter (2)
        • Earthship »   "Earthships", the sustainable housing proposed by Michael Reynolds in his books, and at his website appear to be the most practical shelter for a sustainable resource use future.  The "Earthship" materials cover many aspects of sustainable living.
        • Insulate and waterproof soil »   Earth sheltering, and technical aspects of why you should insulate and waterproof the soil for 20' out from your home are explained in the book "Passive Annual Heat Storage", by John Hait, of the Rocky Mountain Research Center.
      • 6 Power (11)
        • At this point in man's history, electricity is a key form of energy.  Unfortunately, burning fossil fuels generates most of our electricity. When fossil fueled centralized power generation fails, the remaining nuclear, hydro, wind, etc. systems cannot possibly supply anywhere near the present demand.
        • Unless you are quite wealthy, you will soon find yourself "downsizing" your electrical use.  If you wait until it is forced upon you, it will probably be uncomfortable, and too late to implement personal alternatives.  There are indeed some functions that can only be done, or best be done, by electricity.  (i.e. electronics, and to an extent lighting at night)  but there remains much that we can do without the need to resort to electricity.
        • Approach the coming power shortages with a two-prong attack.  Progressively reduce you use, and add home power generating capability.
        • Solar p/v panels continue to be improved in efficiency, and for the moment, reduce in price.  However, the power fluctuates with weather conditions, and some type of power storage system is usually required.
        • Solar thermal can generate electricity directly by thermocouples, or by generators essentially driven versions of "steam engines".  Some systems under development can use materials heated by sunlight  (i.e. a large insulated tank of water) as the heat source for continued generation at night.
        • Windmills have been used to generate electricity for a long time, and can be bought (now) or built.  But being driven by the wind, they only generate power when it is blowing, and need storage.
        • Micro-Hydro, using a suitcase sized turbine, driven by a pipe of high pressure water, can provide a constant source of modest power (if you happen to have access to a properly located source of water).  In areas where large containers of water can be placed at significant differences in height, water pumped to the high tank can somewhat serve as a "battery" when allowed to flow to the lower tank thru the turbine.
        • Internal/external combustion engines, burning "renewable" fuels (i.e. wood, crop scraps, alcohol, biodiesel, hydrogen, etc.) can power generators "on demand".  While  they are a low-efficiency approach to converting sunlight into useable electricity, production of fuel, i.e. alcohol, can be a low-tech program, entirely solar powered.
        • Fuel cells can directly generate electricity from a variety of fuels, but require higher technology to produce and maintain.
        • Batteries can (currently) be purchased to meet specific needs, or made under low-tech conditions.  See "How to Recycle Scrap Metal into Electricity", by John Hait.
        • Electricity can be stored in batteries, or by performing work (compressing air, pumping water, splitting water for hydrogen, etc.) converted into potential power that can later be used to re-generate electricity.
      • 6 Fuels (6)
        • The end of fossil fuels, does not mean the end of all fuels for machines.  It means that fuels for machines will have to come from renewable resources.
        • At this time, there are NO prospects for a renewable fuel, or power source, that can be used on an annual basis anywhere NEAR humanity's consumption of oil, gas, and coal.
        • Most renewable, biological based fuels entail a tradeoff in the use of cropland.
        • The world is no longer the forest and grassland covered wilderness that it was.  We dare not burn the remaining forests merely to heat our homes, or fuel an engine.
        • The greater part of humanity will probably need to return to reliance on their own muscles, or the labor of animals, for "motivation".
        • Heat for homes, cooking, etc., will probably need to be solar.
      • 6 Location (6)
        • Away from air, water, and soil contamination as much as possible.
        • Away from large concentrations of people.
        • Adequate soil, water, and growing season.
        • Adequate rainfall for sustenance, supplemental by such other sources as are found safe.
        • Similarly concerned neighbors.
        • Laws, and local government which does not now interfere with preparations.
      • 6 Security (9)
        • The time of transition to a post-oil paradigm world may be a distinctly unpleasant period.   Those whose lives are overturned, or threatened, may lash out in bitterness, or desperation.  Decide in advance how you respond.
        • Will you welcome, or feed, strangers? How many?
        • Whom of your present associates will you welcome?
        • How will you respond to squatters, or raiders, or worse?
        • Concealment is a security option. But once concealment is lost, are you prepared, mentally, physically, and materially, to use (perhaps deadly) force to defend yourself, your family, and friends?
        • Laws about your rights of self defense differ from place to place as to how you may defend yourself, and what you may use.  Know your local laws, and work within them.
        • If you are satisfied with your physical condition, start an appropriate exercise program.
        • If you are interested in any martial art, begin training.
        • If you select weapons that require advanced technology for parts or ammunition, "stock up" appropriately.
      • 6 Appropriate Technology (7)
        • The crash and recovery could be swift, or take lifetimes.  You should anticipate little organized society for a long period.
        • There is significant on technology for primitive situations at http://www.vita.org/ and http://www.attra.org/.
        • Maintaining contact with others, in the wake of a disaster, will help hold at bay despair. "Ham" radio may be your most likely means of maintaining contact when phone lines and the web fall into disrepair.
        • With a modest collection of quality hand tools, even a neophyte can make modest repairs, disassemble obsolete equipment, or fashion vital devices.  Imagine trying to "double dig" a garden bed (see JEAVON's books) without a shovel, or taking any device apart without basic hand tools.
        • Stainless steel and cast iron cookware have a much longer and varied useable life than aluminum, teflon, and plastic.
        • There are many items widely available, and cheap today, that could reasonably be stored, that may soon become unavailable for some time.  (Nails & other fasteners, insulation, pipe and fittings, even bricks)
        • A good bow, and perhaps surprisingly, an air rifle, represent weapons that can be maintained operable with primitive  tools and materials.
      • 6 Transportation (7)
        • Use of fuel for personal transportation may be restricted, or priced out of reach, as dwindling supplies are reserved for farming, emergency services, or in war.
        • In calories of food/fuel consumed per mile, the human powered bicycle is the most efficient vehicle.  In it's early development, it was intended as a serious means of transportation, which became overshadowed by fossil fuel engines.
        • Variations on bicycle designs are used worldwide to meet many transportation needs.
        • With an athlete as the "poweplant", an enclosed recumbent bicycle has exceeded 65 mph.
        • While we would consider them toys today, a bicycle, "assisted" by a small fuel or electric motor, can provide individual transportation for significant distances.
        • For the near future, plan your "neighborhood" around modest walking, or bicycling distances.
        • Heavier vehicles will remain, but due to limited fuel, might only be available for be the purview of the wealthy, or governments.
      • 6 Knowledge (10)
        • Mankind's accumulated knowledge is recorded in many places, in many mediums.  Despite the present day volumes, much of this information might perish in the disasters of the crash.  Information that you do not personally have, may never again be available to you.
        • Books, or other printed means, are the simplest means of accessing knowledge in a crashed society.
        • Microfiche, once a popular means to store large volumes of information, has become "old fashioned".  But in microfiche, one person can carry hundreds, indeed thousands of books.  Microfiche can be adequately read using even a child's toy microscope.
        • Electronic media, whether CD's, tapes, disks, etc., all require a functioning appropriate player.  A quandary when you looking for the instructions to fix the device.
        • At the present, tremendous knowledge is just a "click" away on the web.  As a minimum, download all that appears appropriate to you, and printout that which you feel could be vital.
        • It will be left to those who prepare, and make it through the crash intact, to reset the foundations of human society.  What do you think you, and the future, needs to know?
        • The authors mentioned earlier, Jeavons for agriculture, and Reynolds for housing, are good examples of places to begin.
        • Visit your local library regularly, and keep organized notes.  Ask about interlibrary loans of books you need to see, but are not held locally.
        • Used bookstores, and web sales, can yield out of print priceless "gems".  Try ABE at http://www.abebooks.com/, or Powell's at http://www.powells.com/home.html, or of course, Amazon at Amazon.com.
        • Recommendations of specific books from Running on Empty members are posted at the egroups webpage.
      • 6 How long will the crash last (2)
        • If there is widespread or high level conflict, especially involving nuclear or biological warfare, populations could vanish within days or weeks.
        • As supplies dwindle, and the situations slowly worsen, it may take years before many realize the crash is already taking place, and decades before we "bottom out".
      • 6 Leadership roles (5)
        • Members of the Running on Empty discussion group have repeatedly contacted the prominent media, and the national and local governments of their widespread residences.
        • Nations might cooperate, and impose the tough measures to deal with dwindling fuel, food, water, and clean air, as well as force limits on procreation, and "encourage" early deaths. But our 18 months of investigating suggest it is unlikely that the global infrastructure will be adjusted in the time remaining.  Unfortunately you cannot assume the government will have the resources to take care of you.
        • If you are in a position of public exposure, or influence, you can begin to guide those who will listen to you toward their own revelation of the nature of the problem.
        • Inventory the assets of your organization, or your community, and identify the shortfalls which could challenge continued viability.
        • Steer new development toward sustainable projects.
    • 6 After the Crash (10)
      • 6 Paradigm shifts (9)
        • Every definable area, the globe, a continent, a nation, an island, or a valley, has a limited number of humans that can be provided for by the sustainable resources.
        • Unfortunately, it is clear that every individual who has a child beyond their personal "replacement", is now overburdening the Earth and placing that child into a  world of great scarcity and danger.
        • We have stripped much of the natural life from the Earth, and must act to restore it.
        • The remaining natural resources must not be used faster than they are renewed.
        • Non-renewable resources must only be used in a manner that contemplates and accounts for their eventual recycling.
        • We must no longer release into the world toxins that damage life systems that support us, and are not harmlessly broken down by nature.
        • We must realize that "new and improved" does not necessarily mean "better and necessary".
        • In the absence of cheap, easy shipping, the focus for production of food and products will return to local people making a variety of products, rather than large factories making a generic products to ship long distance.
        • We must truly "Think globally, and act locally."
    • 6 More Information (19)