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26 June, 2010

Eat Up – We May Soon Witness The Decline and Fall of a Food Empire

Eat up – we may soon witness the decline and fall of a food empire - The Globe and Mail: "The history of the decline of world powers is also a history of hunger.

In their new book, 'Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations' (Free Press) Canadian agriculture expert Evan Fraser and U.S. journalist Andrew Rimas examine how societies from the Roman empire to imperial Britain crumbled as their food supplies crashed.

And we may be facing the same fate, warns Dr. Fraser, a specialist in food security, senior lecturer at the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds and soon-to-be professor of geography at the University of Guelph...

... Food empires tend to emerge in periods of time when, over a couple of centuries, the climate's really quite nice. So the first assumption is that there is good weather, and there is always going to be good weather. Unfortunately, there isn't – human-induced climate change completely aside, the weather is cyclical.

The second one is food empires tend to expand when there's abundant unplowed, fertile, virgin soil all over the place. They expand by cutting trees down, plowing the fields, and grow quickly based on that initial explosion of productivity. That also isn't a sustainable, long-term strategy. In our society, we have masked this with our technology [in fertilization and irrigation], but there's serious doubts whether we'll be able to continue to do that.

The third assumption is more of an economic and ecological one. Farmers specialize on one or two things that they have a unique advantage in. That works on a relatively small scale. But when you say, 'Let's turn all of the Midwest into a grain belt, and California into a tomato field,' you end up with highly efficient systems, but no resilience. Pests, droughts, fires, that sort of thing cause very, very big problems'...

... In our world, we don't keep very much in the way of food in reserve from one year to the next. It's very expensive to store food, so business people and governments don't want to do it for any longer than they absolutely have to. But what that means is we don't have much of a buffer.

In 2008, which had come on the heels of a couple of bad harvests globally, when food prices started to go up, there were very few days left in the reserve of the global food supply. We were down to a very small amount of soybean stocks, and similarly, wheat and rice stocks were very, very, very tight that year.

It's the difference between having your grandmother with tons of food in the cold cellar, or me with a tiny little fridge and one bag of pasta on the shelf. It's that sort of thing on a grand scale..."


23 June, 2010

How to Survive a Solar Storm

How to survive a solar storm: "Scientists at NASA have been warning for some time of the dangers of space weather affecting the earth, and particularly the danger of solar storms. With the sun due to reach the top of both its 22-year magnetic energy cycle and 11-year Sunspot cycle in 2013, there's real danger of magnetic energy damaging electronic equipment.

'We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be', Dr Richard Fisher, the director of Nasa's Heliophysics division, told the Daily Telegraph, adding that preparations were similar to those in a hurricane season, where authorities knew a problem was imminent but did not know how serious it would be.

The match-up between the two cycles isn't guaranteed every 22 years, because the 11-year solar cycle is only an average, and sometimes lasts 9, or sometimes lasts 13 years. The last time it did, in 1859, it wasn't such an issue because the earth wasn't anywhere near as technologically developed. This time, however, with a mobile phone in every pocket and a PC in every home, the damage could be rather more severe..."


21 June, 2010

Letter Re: Lessons From The L.A. Lakers Basketball Victory Riot

Letter Re: Lessons From The L.A. Lakers Basketball Victory Riot - SurvivalBlog.com: "I know that several readers have mentioned that they decided to hunker down in the city in their homes rather than bug out if the SHTF. A recent article and video shows what mobs will do when they are happy. Imagine what they will do if they are, hungry, thirsty, and without power for heating or cooling. Fire seems to always be a common denominator in such situations. The last place I would want to be is in or under my house when someone sets it on fire or it catches fire from a nearby house. The bad guys would not even have to use guns.

I worked the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles as mutual aid officer from the northern part of the state. That was a real eye opener. I will never forget being at a housing project (Imperial Courts) with 30, two man units. We were quickly surrounded by hundreds of people screaming at us. We were ordered to flee and we did. We were told that if we had not left, we would of been shot at from the rooftops within a few minutes. After that experience, I always tell people it only takes 1% of the population to disobey the law and the police cannot cope and the situation is totally out of their control.

Hunkering down in the city might work for the short term [in a societal collapse], but long term it is suicide..."


18 June, 2010

Eating Well On $1 A Day

Eating Well On $1 A Day - Grocery Coupon Guide: "I was talking with my sister and explaining to her that with couponing, I think that I could live on $1 a day for food and have plenty to eat. She looked at me skeptically thinking that I was exaggerating.

'No, really, I could live on $1 a day and not be hungry,' I said.

'All you would eat is cereal and junk food,' she countered. That is not a healthy diet for a month.

'I think I could have a fairly healthy diet on $1 a day,' I replied. “At least a lot healthier than you think.”

'Including fruits and veggies?' she asked, the skepticism in her voice coming through again.

'Including fruits and veggies,' I said.

'You couldn’t last a month,' she said sure of herself.

Thus the 'Eating Well on $1 A Day' challenge was born with the following rules in place..."


15 June, 2010

Flash Flooding Once Again Impacting Many, Including My Home State of West Virginia

Luckily for me, my homestead is located on top of a hill. Some are not so lucky.


Flash flood swamps region - Local News - Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV: "A sudden storm surge early Sunday morning pushed already swollen streams out of their banks in McDowell County [West Virginia], and sent scores of families out of their homes in search of shelter.

'The water inside our home was knee deep when my 3-year-old daughter woke me up in the middle of the night,' Elmer Hankins, 32, of North Welch said. When he realized the immediacy of the situation, Hankins got his daughter and two young sons out of their home, but they couldn’t go far.

'I lost everything,' he said. 'We lost everything in our home ... all our food and our vehicle. We were lucky to get out.' Hankins lived in a home on Stewart Street, or Route 16 [in Welch, West Virginia]. Most of the road in front of his home had been washed away by the flash flood..."


Flash flooding impacting many | WSLS 10: "Southern West Virginia has also dealt with heavy rain. Cleanup continues after heavy downpours. Homes, businesses and roads were destroyed and mudslides even occurred. Some business owners that lost their entire inventory say they will not open back up and deal with this again..."


West Virginia Prepares for More Flooding - WVNS-TV - WVNSTV.com: "We're not out of the woods yet when it comes to flooding in the state.

West Virginia's Division of Homeland Security is taking a look at the overall damage from this weekend's rains and what steps the state needs to take to address the possibility of even more flooding...

... And, according to our meteorologist Ari Salsalari, it won't take much to produce round-two...

... The danger isn't over and they're urging residents living near streams and in flood prone areas to be vigilant..."


12 June, 2010

Peak Oil and Apocalypse Then

Peak Oil and Apocalypse Then | Miller-McCune Online:
"Based on the past experience of Japan, North Korea and Cuba, an Oxford researcher identifies three possible responses to peak oil: Predatory militarism, totalitarian retrenchment and socioeconomic adaptation.

Oil is the backbone resource of industrial society, but the Oil Age will come to an end, someday. The pessimists say the world reached maximum oil production in 2008. Middle-of-the-road optimists say peak oil won’t occur until 2030. Either way, production is already past its peak and on a terminal decline in 54 of the 65 largest oil-producing countries in the world, including Mexico, Norway, Indonesia and Australia. It’s been declining in the lower 48 states of the United States since 1970.

What will happen when cheap oil is no longer available and supplies start running short? In an interview with Miller-McCune.com, Jorg Friedrichs, a lecturer in politics at the University of Oxford, examines how different parts of the world would likely react to a peak oil scenario..."


10 June, 2010

Societal Collapse Due to Peak Oil ‘Inevitable,’ According to Researcher

Societal Collapse Due to Peak Oil ‘Inevitable,’ According to Researcher : Gas 2.0: "In a new article, an Oxford researcher has examined what will happen when peak oil hits. According to Jorg Friedrichs, the outlook is not good. In his article Friedrichs doesn’t attempt to answer the question when peak oil will happen (or if it already has). Instead he imagines that it has happened and the world has to deal with it.

His conclusions: the world will have a 'slow and painful' adjustment to peak oil lasting a century or more with the inevitable collapse of industrial society and the disintegration of free trade. How cheerful."


06 June, 2010

Goodbye,Limitless Oil; Hello, Primitive Dystopia?

NYT: Bye, limitless oil; hi, primitive dystopia? - The New York Times- msnbc.com: "... In bleak times, there is a boom in doom. Americans have long been fascinated by disaster scenarios, from the population explosion to the cold war to global warming. These days the doomers... have a new focus: peak oil. They argue that oil supplies peaked as early as 2008 and will decline rapidly, taking the economy with them.

Located somewhere between the environmental movement and the bunkered survivalists, the peak oil crowd is small but growing, reaching from health food stores to Congress, where a Democrat and a Republican formed a Congressional Peak Oil Caucus.

And they have been resourceful, sharing the concerns of other “collapsitarians,” including global debt and climate change — both caused by overuse of diminishing oil supplies, they maintain.

The effects of peak oil, including high energy prices, will not be gentle...

... 'Our whole economy depends on greater and greater energy supplies, and that just isn’t possible,' he said. 'I wish I could say we’ll quietly accept having many millions of people unemployed, their homes foreclosed. But it’s hard to see the whole country transitioning to a low-energy future without people becoming angry. There’s going to be quite a bit of social turmoil on the way down'... "


Vanishing Farmland: How It's Destabilizing America's Food Supply

Vanishing Farmland: How It's Destabilizing America's Food Supply: "Food security. Sounds boring, eh? It's not something talked about very often, but the fact is America's rising population is creating no small amount of peril in the food-supply chain. Farmland is disappearing at an alarming rate as farms are sold off and developed into suburban housing, shopping malls and transportation systems.

The American Farmland Trust is the only national environmental organization devoted entirely to preserving farms. On its Web site are the following statistics:

• The nation lost farm and ranch land 51 percent faster in the 1990s than in the 1980s.

• We're losing our best land -- most fertile and productive -- the fastest.

• Our food is increasingly in the path of development.

• Wasteful land use is the problem, not growth itself...

... 'We're losing about a million acres a year, so over the course of the last 30 years since American Farmland Trust has been in existence, that's about 30 million acres'...

... In the 1990s, according to the Farmland Trust, prime land was developed 30 percent faster, proportionally, than the rate for non-prime rural land. Marginal farmland depletes a greater percentage of natural resources than prime land when it is farmed. It requires more water and irrigation to grow crops and produces a lower yield.

The Farmland Trust also reports some 86 percent of U.S. fruits and vegetables and 63 percent of dairy products are produced on prime farmland in urban-influenced areas, or near cities. That means much of that land will soon be consumed by development, too, if present trends continue..."