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19 April, 2009

Letter Re: "Economic Crises May Buy Us Some Extra Time to Prepare for Peak Oil"

In response to yesterday's post, Clifford J. Wirth, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of New Hampshire wrote the following and I agree with his assertions completely:

"This will buy us a year or 2, but oil production is declining and will soon fall below demand.

In 2004, geologist Colin Campbell (retired -- Texaco, British Petroleum, Amoco) cautioned, 'Throughout history, people have had difficulty in distinguishing reality from illusion. Reality is what happens, whereas illusion is what we would like to happen. Wishful thinking is a well-worn expression. Momentum is still another element: we tend to assume that things keep moving in the same direction. The world now faces a discontinuity of historic proportions, as nature shows her hand by imposing a new energy reality. There are vested interests on all sides hoping somehow to evade the iron grip of oil depletion, or at least to put it off until after the next election or until they can develop some strategy for their personal or corporate survival. As the moment of truth approaches, so does the heat, the deceptions, the half-truth and the flat lies.'

The 2009 G20 global recovery plan is an illusion, and ASPO President Kjell Aleklett explains why in detail:

"Not enough oil for the G20 package," originally published in the Swedish newspaper "Uppsala Nya Tidning," April 4, 2009 and translated into English on his blog here."

Prof. Wirth, by the way, publishes his own very insightful blog. Check it out!


Re: "Don't Be Lulled Into Complacency By Mainstream Media Cheerleaders"

Just in case you weren't completely convinced by the links I provided yesterday in trying to keep you from falling for all the recent media optimism, I thought it prudent to point you toward a few more to help you see the full economic picture in all its ugliness. The popular opinion, and the one the mainstream media is all pushing, is of an impending miraculous recovery that looms just around the bend. I'm sad to say, though, that an examination of the real numbers just doesn't back that up.

Check out the following links:
Why There will be no other Bubble to Save us from this 40 Year Financial Bubble...
The international monetary system’s breakdown is underway
IMF predicts prolonged, deep global recession


18 April, 2009

Don't Be Lulled Into Complacency By Mainstream Media Cheerleaders

The media, it seems, is out in full force to tout President Obama's optimism regarding the economy as evidenced by any number of reports recently like the one linked to here. But, honestly, I can't see what they're so optimistic about.

True, the free fall seems as though it may have slowed and that is a promising development, but there are still sectors of the economy that are teetering on the edge and must be watched diligently. A more clear understanding of the situation can be seen, for starters, by reading these two articles: US housing data puts Obama's hopes on hold and A Thought for Tax Day: The Real Fiscal Crisis Is Yet to Come, the latter of which quotes figures so astronomical as to boggle the mind.

Honestly, I'll never understand what it is about most people that allows them to go through life completely oblivious to the very idea that something really bad could happen to them. Oh, it'll happen, but it'll happen to the other guy - not them. The neighbor might lose his job, but not them... until they do, and then they're so devastated that they go batshit crazy and kill half their own family or eight or nine poor folks at a Mcdonalds somewhere. I think that this willing ignorance may be some sort of mental defense mechanism to help the body regulate stressful feelings, but then when the worst does occur people have had no chance to allow the possibility to sink in over time. In the worst case scenario, this makes them snap but even in cases where there isn't such a dramatic outcome it still leaves people in a position where they're now in trouble, having never seen the need to prepare.

As far as the media is concerned, you would think that with all the newspapers going out of business that they would be a little more clued-in to how bad things still are, but instead they just continue their love affair with the new president. And, I hope they're right. I hope things will be taking a turn for the better soon, but I'm just not seeing it with respect to the numbers, and blind optimism is pointless unless you can back it up with facts and figures.

In the meantime, I urge you not to be lulled into complacency by the chearleaders on the nightly news. Hope for the best but always, always prepare for the worst.


Economic Crises May Buy Us Some Extra Time to Prepare for Peak Oil

A recent article regarding the "demand destruction" taking place due to the current economic crises made me wonder what affect it would have on the timing of Peak Oil, which many agree is (essentially) now.

As the article explains, OPEC is being forced to consider cutting back on production in order to prevent a drop in the price-per-barrel in the face of lower demand for oil (i.e. less consumption would effectively flood the market with a glut of oil and result in a steep drop in the price-per-barrel). The lower consumption levels are, of course, a result of the poor economy.

The reason it should be of interest to you and I is that this kind of move will basically guarantee that gas prices will remain at or around the current level throughout the summer; and, the production of less oil means more of it is staying in the ground longer, thus temporarily staving off the adverse effects of Peak Oil.


13 April, 2009

How To Grow 100 lbs. Of Potatoes In 4 Square Feet

I saw this link over at Survivalblog.com and wanted to pass it along. It seems like, if done correctly, this could greatly increase production of a very versatile and satisfying food crop. Potatoes have always been a favorite of mine. You can fix them a gazillion different ways or just eat them raw, they'll grow even in infertile soil where other veggies absolutely refuse to, and they're a staple food capable of keeping people alive during the hardest of times.

Anyway, here's the link.


12 April, 2009

It Sounds Like Something Out Of A Science Fiction Novel...

... and yet, to the utter surprise of those of us few sane human beings left, it has actually been the topic of serious discussion between President Obama and his science advisors.

To what am I referring, you ask? I'm talking about the contingency plan to be used in the fight against Global Warming wherein we would shoot pollution particles directly into the upper atmosphere, purposely blanketing the planet in a sort of nuclear winter-esque soup in an effort to reflect sunlight back out into space and thus cool earth's air.

Yeah. I'm not kidding. Here's a link to prove I'm not pulling your leg.

I could say a lot. I could say what a colossally stupid idea that is; and, I could point out that if they screw up they could fairly easily cause the extinction of our entire species. But, I fear if I linger on the subject that this article might quickly devolve into a hair-pulling, eye bleeding, expletive-laden rant. So, instead, I'll just ask a question: weren't these jokers were supposed to be the smart ones?


10 April, 2009

Catastrophic Effects of a West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Collapse

A few days ago, I wrote about the ever-increasing disintegration of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and its relationship to the possible future disaster regarding the West Antarctic Ice Sheet or WAIS for short. I promised then to follow-up with more information and so here is the info I was able to dig up.

As I eluded to in the previous article, scientists are now saying that the loss of the WAIS could actually shift the very axis of the earth. Previously, it was estimated by taking the mass of the WAIS in water and distributing it equally among all the world's oceans that sea levels world-wide would rise by five meters (16.4 feet). Taking into account the new variable of the axis shift, however, the water's dispersal would no longer be equal; more of it would be pushed into the northern hemisphere. Were this to occur, it is now believed that ocean level in the northern hemisphere would rise to between six and seven meters (between 19.7 and 23 feet). To put that into perspective, the city of Miami (among many others) would be completely under water. Here's an interactive map for you to play with. And, oddly enough, it seems like that might be the best case scenario.

As I eluded to in my previous article, if the WAIS were to suffer a catastrophic collapse (as many believe could now occur since it is about to lose the support of the Wilkins Ice Shelf) it could suddenly slide into the surrounding ocean, rapidly displacing millions if not billions of gallons of sea water. Due to the gargantuan mass of the WAIS, this sudden displacement would mirror the effects of a large asteroid or cometary impact, causing mega-tsunamis over a mile high!

Have you seen the film Deep Impact (Special Collector's Edition) lately? You may want to check it out. It contains some pretty big scientific errors, but one part they almost got right was the flippin' killer tsunami wave. And, that's pretty close to what they're saying could happen.

I don't have access to the mathematical equations or skill necessary to talk in the language of exact numbers, but the prevailing wisdom dictates that anyone living within 200 miles of any coastline might have reason to worry. And, I would wager that description covers a large percentage of human population. Again, the tsunami effect could only occur if the WAIS collapsed suddenly and catastrophically, so we just have to pray it doesn't happen and prepare in case it does.

Even if the wave did occur and you managed to survive it, however, you're not out of the woods just yet. The rapid addition of billions of gallons of fresh water to the oceans could, scientists believe, shut down the North Atlantic current that is responsible for the temperate weather in parts of the northern hemisphere, thus causing a mini-ice age. And, even if you don't believe the tsunami is a possibility, this part might still affect you: there is at least one theory that blames the axis shift itself for the onset of ice ages, tsunami or no tsunami.


09 April, 2009


I received an email recently from a gentleman representing a company that makes pre-fabricated dome shelters that could be used for everything from a hunting/fishing shack to a bug-out dwelling. I have no financial ties to this company; they are not a paid advertiser, but I thought you might find the following information useful.

Hey Backwoods: Great site. Considering your appreciation for the ability to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, I thought I would drop you a line. As a 4th generation Alaskan that grew up in the woods hunting and fishing I too understand the majesty and importance of "The University of The Wilderness". Below is an article that ran in papers across Alaska about our heritage:

Hawkeye Story

For those who do have remote land or property my company produces a revolutionary new instant remote wilderness lodge. This one below went 120 miles up a very "skinny water" river south of Fairbanks. The whole building fit in the riverboat in the picture. We set the hunting lodge up in a couple hours, went out for the evening hunt and had fresh moose backstrap for dinner.

We have bridged the huge gap between tents and stick built houses for the first time. Our buildings go up as fast as a tent, yet once erected are stronger than a stick built house and are virtually indestructible. The one below is on top of a mountain above Valdez, Alaska. It's hit by 150+ MPH winds all through the Fall storm season then is buried under 40+ feet of snow all winter. The sensitive telecommunications and computer equipment inside is in perfect condition every summer when it melts off for a few weeks and they get into maintain the equipment.

These domes would also be perfect storm shelters or backyard bunkers in case of the total global economic melt down and all the horrors that would entail. Our "SolarDome" is totally sustainable, off the grid, provides AC/heat and can even produce pure drinking water out of the dry air. Our 14 footer with these options is called "The Survival Dome". The whole building can be strapped to the top of your SUV or bow of your boat or even a bush aircraft and be erected in the most extreme remote sites, instantly. The same goes for after a terrible disaster of any kind, man made or natural. We have all learned after Katrina and Ike that to wait for the FEMA Cavalry to ride over the hill to save you, many times, has the same results as Custer at the Little Big Horn........your out of luck. Moral of the story...you must prepare to take care of yourself, your family and friends. When it comes to one of the three essential of life...food, water and shelter...we are the answer to #3.

I think if you take a look at our site you will agree we have a lot to offer your readership. Thanks again for raising the awareness and appreciation of learning from the woods. Best regards...

Capt. Don Kubley
InterShelter Inc.
15945 Glacier Highway
Juneau, Alaska 99801
Ph: 907.789.9273/ Fax:907.789.0190
Cell 907.321.1111
Email: intershelter@aol.com




06 April, 2009

DIY In-Ground Shelter Plans

As a follow-up to the basement shelter plans I posted yesterday, I thought it might be a good idea to post something that might benefit the folks who don't have a basement. Also, I needed a contingency for myself as well because I still haven't decided whether or not I'll be building mine in the basement or underground in my yard. Please refer to the previous basement shelter article and consider this one as a companion to it, because there's a lot of detail shared between the two designs that I won't be repeating here. This article will simply amend the original with changes you'll need to implement if you go the in-ground route.

  1. A.) Since, for the purposes of this article, you're now building your shelter underground, you'll first need to excavate a hole. In addition to the obvious due diligence (locating any underground wiring or pipes so as to avoid them while digging), you also need to plan ahead so that you can be sure you excavate a sufficiently large space. It needs to be deep enough so that there's room between your shelter's roof and ground level for you to be able to back-fill the necessary amount of mass to shield you from 99% of radiation. As stated in the previous article, those amounts are 24" of tightly-packed earth or 36" if loosely-packed; 5" of steel; 16" of solid concrete; or, 36" of water. If you're okay with a protection factor of only 90%, you can reduce it to 16" of earth; 3.3" of steel; 11" of solid concrete; 24" of water; or, 38" of wood. (Source) Unfortunately, building out in the open with no house above you means you'll have to be sure to maximize the mass directly on top of your shelter, meaning more weight and more work for you to reinforce your structure against the dangers of collapse. Still even 90% protection should be sufficient, so I would use the smaller set of numbers (with a little padding because I'm a scaredy cat and it would suck to die from radiation poisoning). B.) The other part of sizing the hole correctly is that you need a one foot wide, one foot deep trench around the edges at the base of the concrete foundation you'll be pouring. Split a length of PVC pipe in half vertically and lay it in the trench, open side up. Tuck a layer of plastic sheeting into the bottom of the pipe and cover it over with gravel; be sure that the length of the pipe extends out beyond the corners of your shelter so water will be carried away.
  2. Construct your shelter by following the specifications described in steps 3-7 of my previous article.
  3. Next, to improve upon the earlier design by increasing resistance to moisture (this is a much greater concern now that you're building underground), I suggest you add multiple coats of the waterproofing paint as well as several layers of plastic sheeting. Also, don't forget to further reinforce your bunker's ceiling.
  4. Back-fill.
  5. Camouflage the area above your shelter by using it as a picnic area. This will also lessen the chances of you forgetting and doing something dumb like driving your car over it.
Again, as before, these plans leave certain logistical concerns to the individual and are meant only as a guideline to get you started.


Canada Moves To End Gun Control, Calling It An Ineffective Measure Against Crime

A quote from the piece that I found telling:

"For years now researchers at places like the American CDC, for instance, have found absolutely no evidence to suggest that gun control is at all tied to reductions in crime rates. Gun control isn’t about safety or crime. It’s about, well, control. And people who just can’t stand the idea of their neighbors living freely."

Read the full article here.


05 April, 2009

DIY Basement Shelter Plans

As I promised yesterday, I worked out some rough plans for a basement shelter that I want to share with you. If time and resources permit, I may begin work on building this late this Summer, but next year is probably more realistic. Along with being able to afford the project, another concern I have is whether or not I have sufficient space in my basement. If not, I may have to rent a Bobcat or something to excavate a whole to build the thing in my yard.

Before we begin, keep in mind that protection from radiation is achieved through mass. The numbers I have always gone by to achieve protection from 99% of radiation are as follows: Steel - 5"; Concrete - 16"; Earth - 24" packed or 36" loose; and, water - 36".

Being that we are building this shelter in a basement, it is already blessed by having the earth around it and your house above. This effect is multiplied if your house is more than one story; the voids from each floor to each ceiling won't help you, but the combined mass of the wood and building materials will.

You'll need:
  • Bricks
  • A saw
  • Plywood
  • Electric drill
  • Concrete/cinder blocks
  • Mortar and a trowel
  • Bagged quikrete, sand and gravel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Steel or heavy wooden beams
  • Steel rebar (optional, yet highly recommended for increased strength)
  1. Choose a suitable place for your shelter. I suggest you utilize a corner space as it will give your structure added strength. I also suggest you choose a space with no windows.
  2. Whether or not you imagine you'll ever find yourself in danger from nuclear radiation, I'm including this next step as a means of added protection against that possibility. That being said, you can skip it if you prefer. Using the drill, screw sections of plywood to the ceiling joists to create something like a shelf in the void between each beam. I suggest screws as they will provide a stronger bond for the construction, but a hammer and nails would suffice. Also, you'll do it in sections (you'll need to pre-saw the 8x4 plywood sheets into smaller, more manageable pieces prior to beginning). Once your first row of "shelves" are ready, fill the void as tightly as possible with bricks. If you've done it in small sections and used screws on both sides, it will hold the weight. Be sure to fill the void as tightly as possible, always remembering that mass is what stops radiation. Repeat until the ceiling over the entire area you'll be building your shelter is covered.
  3. This next step is another that you might be able to get away with skipping if you so choose. I consider it wise as a hedge against any possibility of flooding as I plan to store emergency preparedness supplies in my locked shelter year-round. Using whatever means you find most expedient, build a form into which you will pour a concrete foundation that raises the floor of your shelter several inches above the floor of your existing basement. Now is a perfect time to position steel rebar in the wet concrete. The rebar is another part of this you can probably skip, but using it will increase the strength of the finished structure.
  4. Build the walls to your shelter using the concrete blocks, remembering to leave space to install a door as well as a filtered air intake later (you may also want to run electrical or telephone wiring or pipe in water - I'll leave that to you). If you've used the cinder blocks with the voids in them, I advise you to mix up another batch of concrete mix and pour it in the empty spaces so your walls are solid. This will help to increase the protection factor from blast forces, heat, ballistics, et cetera. The height of the walls is up to you, but FYI a wall built 10 blocks high would afford an internal shelter height of 6'8" and there aren't many of us who couldn't make do with that.
  5. The roof of the shelter should be constructed by laying steel or sturdy wooden beams completely across the top of your shelter and packed tightly together. You could conceivably spread them out more and use them as supports for a ceiling of plywood or metal sheeting, but packing them closer reduces void space and thus provides more protection from radiation. You will need to buy or cut these to the correct size. They should be long enough to lie across your structure, resting upon the tops of the walls but not hanging over if it can be helped. Use vertical beams or build block columns at equal intervals within your shelter to provide added support.
  6. At this point, your basic structure is complete. I would advise covering the roof with plastic sheeting to provide a moisture barrier and adding another layer of tightly-packed bricks (no mortar). Beyond that, the more overall mass you can cram into whatever empty space exists between the roof of your shelter and the roof of your basement (which we stuffed with bricks earlier) the more protection you will have from radiation. Continue to add as much as possible, but always be mindful of the weight on your ceiling and its stability.
  7. Paint the whole thing, inside and out and floor to ceiling, with moisture-resistant paint.
I've left it up to you to decide certain things on your own, such as ventilation and what kind of door to use and how to construct it. I would strongly suggest a metal door though. And, since you've gone this far already, take the tiny extra step to make sure your ventilation system has filters that are rated for NBC protection.


04 April, 2009

Rethinking My Stance On Bomb Shelters

Recently, I've been involved in several discussions regarding possible future threats we might face and which emergency preparedness measures might be prudent in order to more easily ensure survival of those events. Through the course of those talks, I began to see a few things in a different light from what I had previously, and I am close to changing my mind on the subject of bomb shelters.

Whether you call them that, or if you prefer the term bunker or fallout shelter or whatever doesn't much matter; the general idea is the same. I have never been a proponent of taking the time and resources to build one with the noted exception of individuals living close to large population centers that might one day be targeted by a terrorist attack with a so called suitcase nuke or dirty bomb.

In truth, I still have a hard time imagining a scenario where we end up in an all-out nuclear exchange of the type envisioned during the Cold War, although recent news regarding both China and North Korea do give me pause as far as the future is concerned. In today's geopolitical climate, I still maintain the most prevalent threat of attack via WMDs would be isolated to areas near large cities and/or valuable military or infrastructure assets and originate from a terrorist source.

But, who is to say what could happen? Even if you consider the idea that we might be attacked unlikely, would you really want to gamble your life and those of your loved ones on that? And, what about the strange weather we've been experiencing? Whether you believe in global warming or not, one cannot deny that something is happening. There were two separate tornado scares in the dense central Appalachian mountains of southern West Virginia where I live this past winter, and I can tell you as someone who has lived here my entire life that is exceedingly rare. In fact, in one of those instances, it was reported to me that an eyewitness saw a funnel cloud come down and rip the roof off of a building. The news called it a "collapse due to high winds."

You can believe whatever you wish, but I will be undertaking the task of drawing up plans for a shelter at my homestead. Even if I never need it for protection (and that is hard to believe as I am still a relatively young man), it will still benefit me as a secure space to store my preps. I'll post those plans here on the blog in the next day or so.


03 April, 2009

Do they know something we don't?

There's some interesting chatter going around the interwebs regarding a drill conducted by the federal government yesterday to "test the Gulf Coast's communication and response plans to help communities prepare for a tsunami."

As it states in the article, tsunamis are possible along the Gulf Coast but are very, very rare. And that's in the context of an event that pretty rarely occurs anywhere at all. Wouldn't it make more sense to conduct a drill such as this one in an area more likely to actually see the phenomenon? It strikes me that the west coast is much more likely to actually see tsunami activity, what with the Ring of Fire and all.

But, it would be much more difficult to keep a drill that size so quiet.