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31 August, 2009

Making Your Own DIY Solar Panels: Don't Be Fooled, but Don't Be Discouraged Either

Assuming you haven't spent the past few years completely immersed in some arboreal forest without even the most meager access to the internet, it is a safe bet to say that you’ve seen the ubiquitous advertisements hawking kits, ebooks, and any number of other mediums with the promise to teach you how to "Build your own solar panels!" I say this because they literally litter the world wide web, leaving nearly every page I visit somehow oddly resembling my fraternity's old house the morning after that toga party we threw during my junior year of college. But, unlike said party, the surprise one finds when finally daring to look beneath the toga is often less than magnificent, which is my very cleverly cheeky way of saying that purchasers of these ebooks and DVDs, et cetera, often find that the supposedly simple process described therein is either far beyond their capabilities, or at the very least it is much more labor-intensive than they had been lead to believe.

Let me say, also, that I'm not saying the whole DIY Solar Panels thing is a bust. On the contrary, I think it shows a great deal of promise. But, the truth is it isn't nearly as easy as most of those ads would have you believe. The process requires skills and patience. The solar cells you will have to acquire are rather delicate and break very easily. You can find them all over eBay by searching for broken solar cells; to be perfectly clear, they still work even though they're broken. The power you get out of them is obviously reduced when compared to a new, pristine cell, but you augment that by piecing together broken cells. In the end, you can build a perfectly working solar panel.

And, the best part is that you can now see how these panels are actually put together, using the free video resource YouTube. You can watch any number of videos that will give you a clear idea of what exactly is involved in putting homemade solar panels together, using what you learn there to make yourself better at the whole process and not such a novice once you decide to shell-out the cash for the expensive teaching ebook or DVD... or, better yet, to completely bypass the costly product and just go it on your own. Yes, some of the videos are that good!

So, here you go, watch and learn. Hopefully, this will better prepare you to make your decision whether or not you are capable of taking on a project of this type. Good luck!

Image taken from XeSolar International Limited at www.xesolarcn.com/images/sdcp.jpg

30 August, 2009

Our Water Supply, Down the Drain

Water issues are something I've written about fairly extensively here on the blog as it is hands-down THE most important resource on our planet. As such, securing a supply of clean, potable water had better be the very first thing you think of when you think about survival.

And now, this article comes along and spells out for us the truth of which many of us were already aware: "A water crisis is threatening many parts of the country -- not just the arid West." In fact, the rights to water supplies have become such a source of contention lately that "more than 30 states are fighting with their neighbors over water."

The hardest part about the whole thing is that we, as Americans, are accustomed to simply engineering our way out of such predicaments, but those sorts of fixes come with problems of their own: we've already built so many dams and diverted so many rivers that "only 60 in the country remain free-flowing." The other quick-fix has always been to take our water directly from deep underground by drilling wells, but the levels in aquifers all over are now plummeting dangerously. A prime example of this can be seen by looking at the Ogallala Aquifer, which experts agree could be depleted in just a few short decades if water use continues at the current levels unabated. The simple truth is that most of the 'tech fixes' are either too energy intensive or present other problems that call into question their feasibility on a large scale; and that includes the oft-spoken of desalination of ocean saltwater as well as reclamation.

An important point that the article touches on only briefly is that "the real problem isn't shrinking water levels. It's population growth." This supports my contention that the ugly truth is that overpopulation is the true root cause of our most pressing issues as a civilization; namely Peak Oil and the very subject we've been discussing here, which many are lately referring to as Peak Water in order to emphasize the 'resource depletion' aspect.

As always, the best way for you to insure your ability to purify your own drinking water in the event of a disaster or survival scenario is to buy my water filters.

Previous Backwoods Survival Blog Articles on Water Issues:

- Peak Water Nearing Due To Climate Change/Overpopulation, Violence Erupting As People Fight Over Life-Giving Resource

- California's Water Woes Threaten the Entire Country's Food Supply

- The Death of Our Mighty Rivers

- What's in your water?

- "Water, water hardly anywhere."


29 August, 2009

Letter Re: "The Climate Change Climate Change: The Number of Skeptics is Swelling Everywhere"

A reader who asked to remain anonymous wrote:

"The premise that increasing CO2 emissions (human caused or natural) lead to increased global warming is built on a cause-and-effect falsehood. The actual research and historical records shows -- that increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere does not precede increasing global temperatures, but instead, the cause-and-effect relationship is exactly the opposite, that is, CO2 levels increase after increased global temperatures, not before. Start reading here for an illustration of the beginning deceptions behind the myth of man caused global climate warming. This link offers an honest, objective analysis, although it does not mention or document the falsity of the causal relationship. You can find that by further research. Here's more: here and here.

Please make up your own mind, don't let me or anyone else do it for you. Best."

SM's Response: As I said previously, I am decidedly on the fence. As such, I would say that my blog is probably one of the few places on the internet where you will find information supporting both sides of the argument. But, the truth is that the entirety of human existence spans such a finite portion of the life of this world, and documented history an even more finite span, that I have real doubts as to our ability (as a species) to even be able to answer these kinds of questions... much less to simply trust that we're getting it right. The bottom line is that this planet was making weather long before the earliest days of mankind and it will likely be doing so long after we are a dim memory. To think we know it all is hubris.


28 August, 2009

Sun's Magnetic Field Fading, No One Knows Why

Visits to sites like spaceweather.com confirm the unexpected and somewhat disconcerting quieting of the sun of which this article speaks and of which we've all been hearing lately as a linchpin of the argument against the veracity of theories about Climate Change/Global Warming. I say 'somewhat disconcerting' because, while it is true we are supposed to be heading into a period of greater solar activity, human existence (and especially documented history) represent barely a blip in the lifetime of the sun, therefore whatever behavior we human beings have managed to observe doesn't really represent a meaningful amount of data upon which to base any definitive idea of what is 'normal' behavior on the part of the sun. All we can really speak to is what has been normal over the past few hundred years.

The fact remains, however, that the sun has been seemingly asleep for the most part for many weeks now, during a period when it should be quite active. One prevailing school of thought is that we could be heading into another era like the "Maunder Minimum" of 1645-1715, a period that "coincided with the middle — and coldest part — of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America, and perhaps much of the rest of the world, were subjected to bitterly cold winters." The article linked-to in the first paragraph seems confident that whatever cooling the lack of sunspots causes won't be enough to counteract Global Warming, but in my opinion all bets are off when it comes to such an extensive drop in temperatures.

And, in the long run, perhaps we should be grateful.

Just look at this article from December 2008, citing that there is reason to believe there are huge breaches in the magnetic field that acts as our planet's solar defenses and predicting a flurry of solar storms that should be happening right now.

Perhaps the sun falling oddly quiet is a blessing.


27 August, 2009

Playboy Magazine Jumps On The 2012 Party Train...

... and, believe it or not, they A.) somehow managed to interview a guy who isn't a complete nutter, and B.) made it through the entire article without being overly condescending. Heck, the reporter even ended the thing with the idea that he himself should make it a point to be better prepared in the future. Read the article here.

By and large, I would call this one a win for the survivalist/prepper community as a whole with respect to public perception. Of course, I say that while fully believing that all the hoopla surrounding 2012 is just a bunch of hokum.

Here are a few articles I've written previously on the subject:
2012 is B.S.!!!

In the long run, however, I have no problem with people prepping their butts off for 2012. Emergency preparedness is a lifestyle choice I wholeheartedly recommend, and so prepping for a non-existent disaster that is supposedly going to hit us in 2012 just means these folks will be well-provisioned in the event of any other calamity. All in all, I don't care why folks prepare, just that they are prepared.

It makes just as much, if not more, sense than taking out an insurance policy. I only wish it was as widespread a practice.


The Climate Change Climate Change: The Number of Skeptics is Swelling Everywhere

Here is a link to a pretty decent article from the Wall Street Journal regarding recent movement in areas of the public consciousness against the idea of so-called 'man-made' Climate Change/Global Warming.

As I have written previously, the jury is still out for me - not on the inescapable reality that the climate is undergoing a change, but rather on whether or not human activity is the cause.

The fact remains that most climatologists support the theory. According to the article, "Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers," which is true; but what they fail to tell you is that a great many of the 'scientists' they are referring to are physicians, marine biologists, dentists, geologists, etc. What they are not are climatologists.

However, it is not lost on me that the article also pointed out "Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, [who] expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief." Truthfuly, who knows how many closeted skeptics there really are within the community of actual climate scientists, afraid to speak out and alienate themselves and possibly ruin their careers?


25 August, 2009

Mexico's Cantarell Oil Field Likely DEAD By The End Of 2010

"The eighth largest oil field in the world will be dead by the end of next year."

Cantarell, one of the largest oil fields on the planet and, by far, one of the most secure sources of oil for us here in the United States, is now officially in its death throes AND this news is coming much sooner than it was expected. The inherent implications for the U.S. economy and for the potential future decline of other super-giant fields is nearly unimaginable.

"The result is that Cantarell was pumped out effectively and hard, especially after the technique to re-pressurize the field was adopted. This allowed for a spike high of daily production to be captured for several years, late in its life when a field would otherwise go into gentle decline. The result? Quicker monetization of the oil for the benefit of the Mexican state. But then the price: a catastrophic, fast crash."

Why is this important? Nevermind that it signals the death of the eighth largest oil field on the planet and, geographically, the most secure source of oil for the U.S. in a world that promises to be rife with future chaos. All that is required to clearly see
why this is a disastrous development, even in today's world, is to understand that Cantarell makes up a big chunk of Mexico's overall oil production and Mexico is ranked third among the countries from whom we import oil. Therefore, you can expect higher prices, whether you believe in Peak Oil Theory or not.


23 August, 2009

Old Knowledge Database

One of the users over at the LATOC Forums took the time to painstakingly compile an amazingly detailed database of pre-1917 (that means no copyright protection) books on subjects ranging from how to make farm tools to natural health care to raising animals. Some of the books he rounded up are from all the way back in the 1600s:

LATOC Forum Old Knowledge Database: Hundreds of Books *For Free*


20 August, 2009

New FEMA Administrator’s Message For Americans: Get In Touch With Your Survival Instinct

Returning visitors to my blog are no doubt aware that I have had few positive things to say about President Obama's administration since they took office, but I must give a rare pat on the back when it comes to the appointment of Craig Fugate (pronounced few-gate) to the post of FEMA Administrator. This guy seems to be a real straight shooter.

Here is a quote from a recent article spotlighting the man in the Atlantic:
"... A bear of a man with a white goatee, an aw-shucks accent, and a voice just slightly higher than you expect, Fugate has no university degrees but knows enough to be mistaken for a meteorologist by hurricane experts. He grew up in Alachua County, smack in the middle of Florida. Both of his parents died before he graduated from high school. As a teenager, he followed his father’s example and became a volunteer firefighter. Then he became a paramedic, earning the nickname “Dr. Death” for having to pronounce more people dead on his first day than anyone before him. But he found his calling when he moved into emergency management, in 1989. Obsessively planning for horrible things he could not really control seemed to inspire him. “He is emergency management,” says Will May Jr., who worked with Fugate for more than 20 years and is now Alachua’s public-safety director. “That’s what he does. He spends practically all his waking life working in it, thinking about it, talking about it, planning how to do things better.”

Fugate is well respected, which is not the same thing as being well liked. “If they wanted a politician, Craig’s not your man,” says Ed Kennedy, who drove ambulances with him in Alachua. “Craig’s personality is more ‘Speak straight, don’t powder-puff it.’” Already, Fugate is saying things most emergency managers say only in private.

“We need to change behavior in this country,” he told about 400 emergency-management instructors at a conference in June, lambasting the “government-centric” approach to disasters. He learned a perverse lesson in Florida: the more the federal government does in routine emergencies, the greater the odds of catastrophic failure in a big disaster. “It’s like a Chinese finger trap,” he told me last spring, as a hailstorm fittingly raged outside his office. If the feds do more, the public, along with state and local officials, do less. They come to expect ice and water in 24 hours and full reimbursement for sodden carpets. But as part of a federal system, FEMA is designed to defer to state and local officials. If another Katrina hits, and the locals are overwhelmed, a full-strength federal response will inevitably take time. People who need help the most—the elderly, the disabled, and the poor—may not get it fast enough.

To avoid “system collapse,” as he puts it, Fugate insists that the government must draft the public. “We tend to look at the public as a liability. [But] who is going to be the fastest responder when your house falls on your head? Your neighbor.” A few years ago, Fugate dropped the word victim from his vocabulary. “You’re not going to hear me refer to people as victims unless we’ve lost ’em. I call them survivors.” He criticizes the media for “celebrating” people who choose not to evacuate and then have to be rescued on live TV—while ignoring all the people who were prepared. “This is a tragedy, this whole Shakespearean circle we’re in. You never hear the media say, ‘Hey, you’re putting this rescue worker in danger.’”

At his first all-staff meeting with FEMA employees, Fugate asked for a show of hands: “How many people here have your family disaster plan ready to go? [If you don’t], you just failed your first test … If you’re going to be an emergency manager, the first place you start is at home.” Already, Fugate is factoring citizens into the agency’s models for catastrophic planning, thinking of them as rescuers and responders, not just victims..."

Sounds like a great choice to me!!!


19 August, 2009

Mish Shedlock: FDIC Bankrupt as of Friday August 14, 2009

Five more banks bite the dust, bringing the total number of failures for the year thus far to 77. Here is the link to Mish's blog post.


18 August, 2009

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UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon: Four Months Remain to Secure the Future of the Planet

Yep, you read it correctly. According to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, we now have only four months before global warming kills us all, rendering mankind extinct.

Okay, okay... I'm being facetious. I suppose what he meant was more along the lines of arguing we have four months left to do something to reverse the process, which is much more reasonably, yet just as false. The truth is that climate doesn't turn on a dime; it takes decades to be able to look back and see palpable shifts. So, if you are among the folks who believe in Global Warming/Climate Change, then sit back and resign yourself to the fact that any changes made now will not even be obvious for many, many years and the effects we are experiencing now are the direct result of the choices made by folks 20, 30, or maybe even 50 years ago.

Personally, I'm still on the fence about the whole thing, but I must admit I am swayed by the fact that most climatologists support the theory. I mean, yeah, there's a petition floating around that was signed by gobs of "scientists" who say Global Warming/Climate Change is hokum, but a quick bit of research shows you that a majority of these "scientists" are dentists, biologists, geologists, etc. but what they aren't are climatologists. So, for me, the jury is still out.

What I find laughable though (or is it terrifying?) is that even very seemingly intelligent people appear blinded to the obvious truth that this is being used as a means to ram disastrous Cap & Trade laws down our throats. Fear and worry are being drummed-up as a means to sell these measures as being necessary for survival. "It's for the good of the planet and we have to hurry before we all die from the effects of Global Warming brought on by the over-use of fossil fuels," is the message as usually delivered by former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore who fervently hopes you forget the inconvenient facts that 1.) he just stepped off of his gas-guzzling private jet so he could give the speech to which you are listening, and 2.) he is personally heavily invested and poised to make billions off Cap & Trade.


H1N1 Influenza A - Swine Flu: Swine Flu Vaccine FAQ for UK Citizens - A Guide To What We Can Expect Soon

As the title indicates, the following is a Frequently Asked Questions document for the A(H1N1) Swine Flu Vaccine as it pertains to residents of the United Kingdom. I thought it might be useful information even for us here in the U.S.


The government plans to start vaccinating high risk groups with the new swine flu vaccine in October. The programme requires 2 doses of the swine flu vaccine to be given 3 weeks apart to each patient meaning it could be early new year before the first faze of vaccinations are complete. It is still unclear as to whether the government will chose to vaccinate the entire population with the swine flu vaccine.

Who will be the first to receive the swine flu vaccine?

1. People who are aged between 6 months and 65 and in high risk groups will be the first to have the new swine flu vaccine.

2. Next the swine flu vaccine will be offered to pregnant women who are in the most suitable trimester to receive the jab.

3. Next group eligible to receive the swine flu vaccine will be people living with someone who has a compromised immune system or over the age of 65 in a high risk group. Frontline health and social care workers will also be vaccinated at the same time..."

To read further, click here.


James Howard Kunstler: The First Die-off

Read the full article by clicking here.

A quote:
"... for those of you already acquainted with some of the classic "doomer" themes, which is that the first "die-off" of The Long Emergency will not be one of human beings but of our beloved automobiles. Personally, I think the car die-off will come on with stunning rapidity as a combination of factors merge to make these colossal traffic jams staples of nostalgia in decades to come. As usual, the public is clueless about this, gulled by a cretinous news media into the earnest expectation of endless techno-miracles.

The funniest of these lately are the glad tidings from ("The New" ) General Motors. They came out last week with a laughable hype-fest for their proposed electric car, the "Volt," scheduled to arrive in the showrooms around 2011 (about the same time that all the mortgage-backed-securities sitting in Wall Street's vaults melt into a monumental puddle of radioactive goo). We're told the Volt will get the equivalent of over 200 miles-per-gallon, at less than 25 cents a charge from the plug on your garage wall, blah blah. They estimate that it'll cost about $40,000. Do we detect a little problem right there? Like, the whole adult US population is going to rush out and buy new cars priced the same as today's Mercedes Benz? Good luck with that, GM, especially when money for car loans will be about as easy to get as a royal flush in online poker. And good luck with changing out the battery for ten grand a couple of years down the road, so to speak. And good luck also with your expectation that the roads and bridges will remain drivable in the years ahead, as every municipality, and county, and state slides into bankruptcy and the paving machines sit rusting in the DOT marshaling yards.

What is wrong with our brains? Are they turning to yeast?..."

James Howard Kunstler is an author and among the leading voices in the charge to be prepared to change how we live as Peak Oil approaches. He is the author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century as well as the fiction novel World Made by Hand: A Novel.

For my part, I try to strike a balance between agreeing with his thoughts on Peak Oil, while thinking him a little naive for his 'sunshine and lollypops' pro-urban vision of the future and his self-professed unpreparedness.


17 August, 2009

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16 August, 2009

The “Second American Revolution” Has Begun By Gerald Celente

"The natives are restless. The third shot of the “Second American Revolution” has been fired. History is being made. But just as with the first two shots, the third shot is not being heard. America is seething. Not since the Civil War has anything like this happened. But the protests are either being intentionally downplayed or ignorantly misinterpreted.

The first shot was fired on April 15, 2009. Over 700 anti-tax rallies and “Tea Parties” erupted nationwide. Rather than acknowledge their significance, the general media either ignored or ridiculed both protests and protestors, playing on “tea bagging” for its sexual innuendo.

Initially President Obama said he was unaware of the tea parties. The White House later warned they could “mutate” into something “unhealthy.”

Shot #2 was fired on the Fourth of July, when throngs of citizens across the nation gathered to again protest “taxation without representation.” And as before, the demonstrations were branded right-wing mischief and dismissed.

The third volley, fired in early August, was aimed point blank at Senators and House members pitching President Obama’s health care reform package to constituents. In fiery town hall meetings, enraged citizens shouted down their elected representatives. It took a strong police presence and/or burly bodyguards to preserve a safe physical space between the politicians and irate townspeople..."

Click here to continue reading.


Trailer for Upcoming New Hollywood Bird Flu Film "CARRIERS"


11 August, 2009

Are We Entering A New Great Depression?

Yesterday, I wrote in The Myth of Economic Recovery that there are still several pending obstacles on the path back to rejuvenating the economy that the current crop of overly optimistic commentators and analysts seem to have forgotten about.

Years and years of loosey-goosey style regulation of monetary policy has served to feed a dangerously-engorged credit bubble that, when it finally pops, will result in a devastating and perhaps fatal shock to the global economy as a whole. In general, the world is now more vulnerable to falling into another 1930s-style slump than ever before.

The signs are definitely there to be seen: "mass issuance of new-fangled credit instruments, soaring levels of household debt, extreme appetite for risk shown by investors, and entrenched imbalances in the world currency system...

... In a thinly-veiled rebuke to the US Federal Reserve, the BIS said central banks were starting to doubt the wisdom of letting asset bubbles build up on the assumption that they could safely be "cleaned up" afterwards - which was more or less the strategy pursued by former Fed chief Alan Greenspan after the dotcom bust." (source)

The Bank for International Settlements, which is the body that regulates cooperation between international financial entities, warned us last Summer (June 2008) that there existed the potential of another disruption the likes of the Great Depression when it pointed out that, "complex credit instruments, a strong appetite for risk, rising levels of household debt and long-term imbalances in the world currency system, all form part of the loose monetarist policy that could result in another Great Depression." (source)

They also took the position that, "The current market turmoil is without precedent in the postwar period. With a significant risk of recession in the US, compounded by sharply rising inflation in many countries, fears are building that the global economy might be at some kind of tipping point." Further, they argued that the actions of the central banks had thus far served only "to put off the day of reckoning." (source)

Fastforward a full year to June of 2009 and we hear from the same Bank for International Settlements that there has been only "limited progress" since the government passed the stimulus packages and that, “as long as financial institutions are hesitant to finance economic activity, the prospects for growth are at risk.”

Further, the report states, "... without a solid banking system underpinning financial markets, stimulus measures won't be able to gain traction, and may only lead to a temporary pickup in growth."

"A fleeting recovery could well make matters worse..." the report goes on to warn, "since further government support for banks is absolutely necessary, but will become unpopular if the public sees a recovery in hand. And authorities may get distracted with sustaining credit, asset prices and demand rather than focusing on fixing bank balance sheets," and called it, "an 'open question' whether the policies will be able to stabilize the global economy." (source)

Reading between the lines, it isn't difficult to see that they believe the stimulus efforts of the United States and the other government of the world will ultimately cause more damage than they helped repair and are only delaying the inevitable result, thus making the situation that much worse in the long-run. And it isn't hard to see why they see it as a simple case of adding more fuel to the fire when you think of the addition of trillions more dollars to the already-massive indebtedness of the global system as a whole, first helping to prop the whole charade up just a little longer and, secondly, to make sure the crash is truly monumental when it finally does occur.


09 August, 2009

Peak Coal in Appalachia by 2020

As usual, by beloved home region of Appalachia can't catch a break. Assuming someone could weasel their way past Obama's Green Dragoons Corp that will no doubt be stationed at the borders of the dreaded and dirty coal fields, I was hoping that Peak Oil and energy scarcity would mean my area might at least get a temporary economic boost before the friggin' New Dark Age hits as folks try to take advantage of coal as the last viable fossil fuel that might keep you alive during harsh Winters. But, alas, it seems we may be barely a decade away from Peak Coal as well.

Previously, we have been told that there was enough coal to last hundreds of years, but that was obviously a load of B.S. shoveled gleefully our way.

From the blog linked above:
"... the U.S. Geological Survey has published its new National Coal Resource Assessment Overview, a detailed report that examines such issues. Erica Peterson over at West Virginia Public Broadcasting had a nice piece that explained parts of the study. But it didn’t hit on what some other experts have pointed out to me as the really important finding …

USGS officials projected that Appalachia will reach “peak coal” (my term, not theirs) in perhaps about 10 years — by 2020. Check out the graphic above … Click on it to get a bigger version, or read Chapter H of the USGS study, Production and Depletion of Appalachian and Illinois Basin Coal Resources."

The blog post at the WV Gazette from which I pulled the above info and the graphic goes into much deeper detail than what I have presented here. Click here to go there and read the full post.


06 August, 2009

The Rise Of The Machines

Just when I think I've heard everything, I get wind of some new and stupendously ill-advised plan that is nearing the final stages of development and about to be loosed upon the poor, unsuspecting people of the world. This time, apparently, it has to do with those new-fangled, space-agey remote control drones the military has been using for the past few years; some are saying that we're now at a point where we possess the technology and might decide to automate the drones completely, removing humans from the process entirely.

"Noel Sharkey, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the University of Sheffield, said drones that could decide when and who to kill were almost here and would lead to a rapid rise in civilian casualties.

US drones, such as the Predator and Reaper, are being armed with cluster bombs and missiles and robot tanks such as the Talon Sword are armed with machine guns and grenade launchers. Besides Britain and the US, another 43 countries have programmes to develop military robots."

The biggest concern is that such robots will be incapable of intuitively telling the difference between enemy soldiers and civilians, as they uniformly use simple heat sensor technology to identify human beings.

"Professor Sharkey said that the role of the human controller was increasingly being phased out with a movement towards one person monitoring a large number of drone craft, with little power to intervene. 'The next thing that’s coming, that really scares me is totally autonomous robots. It could happen now. The technology is there,' he said.

In 2008, the British aerospace company BAE Systems carried out a flying trial with swarms of drone planes that could communicate with each other and select their own targets. The United States Air Force is also looking at the concept of 'swarm technology'."

So, this is the portion of the article where I would usually try to develop my argument for why this is a really, stupendously bad idea, but for once I feel as though the case has already been made pretty convincingly already. I hereby yield to Hollywood and virtually the entire Sci/Fi genre on this one. Let's see: there's the entire Terminator franchise, Battlestar Galactica, The Matrix, War Games, and I Robot, just to name a few. Each and every one of those examples does a pretty good job of detailing why handing over immense power to even a really, super-de-duper smart machine is not a bright strategy.

Luckily, it appears I'm not the only one worried about this one. Recently, according to this article, a group of scientists held a secret meeting to discuss the possibility of imposing limits on their own research because they are privately fearful that they may end up creating machines which could outsmart and maybe even become a danger to people. The group presented their findings at the International Joint Conference for Artificial Intelligence in Pasadena, California, this past month, laying out their fears that the "nightmare scenarios, which have until now been limited to science fiction films, such as the Terminator series, The Matrix, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Minority Report, could come true."

Not that the concerns of a few will be able to do anything to stem the tide with regards to these sorts of advancements, but at least there are respected people in the field who can act as watch dogs. If I was the only one harping about it, they'd just discount it as the mindless ramblings of a crazy survivalist on the internet.

In the meantime, if any of you happen to run into John Connor anywhere, have him email me at the link at the top of the screen, wouldya?


05 August, 2009

Warning: Oil Supplies Are Running Out Fast

The Independent (UK) newspaper recently ran an exclusive interview with Dr. Fatih Birol in which he very frankly stated that the world's reserve supplies of oil are failing at a much quicker pace than was previously anticipated. He also says that the governments of the world aren't anywhere close to ready to deal with the consequences.

A quote:
"The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading energy economist has warned."

The exact wording used in the article seems at odds with a few others online in which he has been quoted but, depending on how you choose to take him, Dr. Birol seems to be saying that either we are 10 years from the actual worldwide peak or that he expects the problems to begin starting in and immediately after the year 2010. Needless to say, I am firmly in the camp that professes the latter as I believe we are experiencing the plateau phase that accompanies the peak and immediately precedes the abrupt drop-off phase RIGHT NOW. Therefore, the idea that next year we may see such a huge gap in production as demand begins to acutely outstrip supply seems right on-schedule to me.

Some more very telling quotes from a different article covering the same interview:
"... the public and many governments appeared to be oblivious to the fact that the oil on which modern civilisation depends is running out far faster than previously predicted and that global production is likely to peak in about 10 years - at least a decade earlier than most governments had estimated.

But the first detailed assessment of more than 800 oil fields in the world, covering three quarters of global reserves, has found that most of the biggest fields have already peaked and that the rate of decline in oil production is now running at nearly twice the pace as calculated just two years ago."

"The IEA estimates that the decline in oil production in existing fields is now running at 6.7 per cent a year compared to the 3.7 per cent decline it had estimated in 2007, which it now acknowledges to be wrong."
[emphasis mine in Bold]

"... the IEA concluded that the global energy system was at a crossroads and that consumption of oil was "patently unsustainable", with expected demand far outstripping supply.

Oil production has already peaked in non-Opec countries and the era of cheap oil has come to an end, it warned.
[emphasis mine in Bold]

In most fields, oil production has now peaked, which means that other sources of supply have to be found to meet existing demand.

Even if demand remained steady, the world would have to find the equivalent of four Saudi Arabias to maintain production, and six Saudi Arabias if it is to keep up with the expected increase in demand between now and 2030..."
[emphasis mine in Bold]

While nothing in the linked article should come as news to those of us who have been carrying the Peak Oil banner all these years, it is a suitable introduction for anyone not yet versed in the subject matter. And, in my opinion at least, it is refreshing to see Peak Oil getting some much-needed and well-deserved attention from the mainstream media.

Of course, that particular coin has two sides: while some small measure of hope still abides within that such attention might help to wake up some of the sheeple from their Big Mac- and Reality TV-induced Perpetual Growth Fantasy coma, I find myself more and more wary with each passing day whenever an issue I care about goes from 'crazy fringe tinfoil' to something you hear about on the news and around the water cooler. The media has become such a propaganda tool, political spin such a new art form that one has little choice but to be wary after being burned so many times.

A perfect example of this can be seen with the recent bold-faced and obvious manipulation of people's fears of Climate Change/Global Warming to push a Cap & Trade nightmare on all of us that, by President Obama's own admission, will soon cause our electricity bills "to skyrocket." What makes it worse is that it's all a game of smoke and mirrors. On paper, Cap & Trade looks like a necessary evil in order to spur an unwilling, apathetic society into making the kinds of monumental changes that need to be made, but really it's just their newest plan to make the rich richer through the creation of a brand spankin' new derivatives market for the buying and selling of carbon credits, and to destroy the middle class by reallocating their wealth up the ladder to the top one or two percent who will comprise the new aristocracy. Al Gore, as payment for his services, will likely be the very first carbon credit billionaire as he has gobs of money already invested, just waiting for the bell, including owning a considerable stake in the company that is developing the software most (if not all) firms will be using to track their dealings in carbon credits.

First, it was 'crazy fringe tinfoil hat' kinda stuff, then Gore endorsed it and got the lefties all riled-up and everybody wanted to 'go green', and now we're saddled with Cap & Trade; the progression is there for all to see, and I'm terrified they'll use Peak Oil the same way.

And, before you get your panties in a bunch, I'm neither endorsing nor denying whether or not man-made Climate Change/Global Warming exists. My hypothesis holds true whether you're a believer or a denier. The bottom line is that, even if it is real and not a wholly-manufactured boogieman, the truth remains that TPTB (see glossary) are going to use Climate Change to make themselves richer and you and I poorer.


04 August, 2009

Washington DC Think-Tank Pinpoints "Seven Terrors" Facing the World

Read the full article: The seven terrors of the world.

A new report called 2009 State Of The Future, has been compiled by the Millennium Project, an international think-tank based in Washington DC, and involved 2700 experts from 30 countries. It highlights the biggest problems now facing the world.

It warns that the environmental crisis is deepening every year. Human consumption is now 30% larger than nature’s capacity to regenerate. By 2015 the number of people suffering climate-related disasters could mushroom to more than 375 million a year. By 2030 as many as 660 million people could be affected, with economic losses rising to $340 billion a year. There are currently 15 wars taking place and the report predicts that 3 billion people will have no access to water by 2025.


Black Death Seemingly Beginning to Spread in China

As if we didn't have enough to worry about with swine flu looming in the shadows, now it seems the bacterium famous for causing the "Black Death" is rearing it's ugly head in China. Apparently 3 people have died and the authorities are enacting a quarantine of the town where all three lived.

"According to WHO, pneumonic plague is one of the deadliest infectious diseases, capable of killing humans within 24 hours of infection. It is spread through the air and can be passed from person to person through coughing.

Pneumonic plague is caused by the same bacteria that causes bubonic plague — the Black Death that killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages. However, bubonic plague is usually transmitted by flea bites.

Pneumonic plague occurs when the bacteria infects the lungs, or after complications from bubonic plague that goes untreated."


The Mogambo Guru a.k.a. Richard Daughty - Inteview - March 2008

Below you will find a 9-part Youtube video of a great interview with Richard Daughty aka The Mogambo Guru with Mike Maloney. Richard Daughty is known as the "angriest guy in economics" and writes a daily column at the Daily Reckoning.










03 August, 2009

A(H1N1) Swine Flu: It Doesn't Have to Kill You to Kill You...

I thought I would take a few moments and respond to those who are unmoved regarding the seriousness of A(H1N1) Swine Flu strictly because it seems to have such a small kill percentage. I wish I could take credit for that snappy title above. I saw it on another site (can't remember which one) and couldn't help but to appropriate it as it was the perfect fit for this article. In the future, whoever you are, if you don't want me to steal from you, then stop being so damn clever!

Consider this: here in the northern hemisphere, we are currently in the middle of summer, when there are typically very few reported seasonal flu cases, yet the swine flu has continued to rage unabated and in record numbers. Imagine then what could happen when the flu season starts up in earnest this fall and swine flu cases explode. We could easily reach a point where there are millions of people out of work because of illness or caring for ill children and/or kids home because the schools have been closed. Retail spending would plummet, not because of consumer confidence, but because the stores and shopping malls would resemble ghost towns when folks are afraid to venture out because they don't want to get sick.

And, we haven't even talked about the JIT (Just In Time) delivery system we employ with regards to such items as groceries, which does a rather thorough job of ensuring that when the store shelves are empty the store shelves ARE EMPTY. There is no backlog. The system is designed so that new stock is automatically ordered by computer when the current stock of a given item is found to have fallen to a certain level. It's all done based on the little UPC codes they scan when you check-out. During BAU (Business As Usual), the process works like a charm. But, in a situation where there is excessive and prolonged absenteeism, the system breaks down. There is no one at the loading docks to fulfill the orders and there are no drivers to drive the trucks full of produce from California and Florida to the grocery stores in Chicago and Phoenix.

Add that kind of stress to a system that is already staggering under the weight of an extended economic downturn and near-record unemployment numbers, and tell me how long you imagine it can hold up under the strain? It could, quite simply, send the whole mess of society into a tailspin from which it may never fully recover.

Are your preps in order?

A few recent articles of interest:

* Are we prepared for flu outbreak?
* Wal-Mart weighs role in U.S. H1N1 vaccination plans
* Children Treated With Tamiflu May Suffer Nightmares and Nausea
* Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak
* Vaccine Plan in U.S. May Endanger Supply
* U.S. unprepared for second wave of swine flu, report finds
* Capitol Hill Swine Flu Scare Continues
* US experts set rules for swine flu vaccines


Economist: "Toward end of 2008, world trade neared 100% collapse"

According to this article, world trade is no longer collapsing, but rather it seems to have plateaued. It just doesn't seem to be getting any better. Data from the World Bank indicates that it all but bottomed-out completely around the end of 2008 to the tune of a whopping 32.6% slump.

"One reason for the rapid fall was that retailers, faced with falling demand, ran down their stocks. With those gone, new orders must be placed to meet demand. This partly explains the end of the collapse. So does the fact that governments have pumped vast sums of money into economies as part of fiscal and monetary expansions. For now, this is propping up global demand for traded goods.

But for a sustainable recovery in trade, global demand has to recover on its own steam. It is not clear where demand might come from. American consumers have lost much of their astonishing appetite for goods ranging from clothes to iPods to computers. American households are now saving 5% of their incomes, up from essentially nothing a year ago. Unemployment in America and elsewhere will continue to rise. The International Labour Organisation estimates that the global jobless tally will increase by between 21m and 50m this year.

More people out of work will mean a further fall in global demand."


The Mogambo Guru: The future made simple

Read the full article by clicking here.

A quote:
"'Do you recommend buying gold, silver and oil because they are sure to go up in price with the roaring inflation in consumer prices that will consume us because the loathsome Federal Reserve is creating so much excess money and credit so that the despicable Congress can spend a third of gross domestic product, or GDP - and deficit-spend a seventh of GDP! - and anybody who says otherwise is some kind of mental defective or has some kind of mutant spore from outer space, or CIA thought-control waves, controlling his brain? Yes or no?' he will say, instead of just answering my simple question, 'What?' which is certainly not responsive!

Naturally, your eyes narrow to suspicious slits, and you wonder why he is evading my simple question! What's he up to?

Perhaps the answer is hidden in his vision of the future, which would be important to someone like you because you are intelligent and clever enough to discover some profitable venture in it, whereas I am too stupid and dull-witted to see entrepreneurial opportunity, and can only look at gold, silver and energy as investments of choice due to the wonderful simplicity of the lesson of the last 4,500 years of history whenever a country was so stupidly ignorant, greedy and selfish as to produce an excess of money."


01 August, 2009

Survivalist/Doomer Satire

I saw this cartoon on the web and couldn't resist.

But... uuummmmmm... he seems to have forgotten to stockpile any water! Bad idea in the desert!

Source: http://www.kitco.com/ind/Istre/jul302009.html