Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why Solutions Are Illusions or There Is No Way Out of This

On the idea of Top Down vs Bottom Up solutions, It appears that both fail to relate to what will be possible in a world of decline and localization.

Since the current form of trade and commerce depends on cheap fossil fuels, it will be crippled by rising energy costs. This will eventually bankrupt nations and lead to revolution or dissolution as they are forced to localize.

From the Bottom Up perspective, it forgets the true dependency of the masses. It only works when there is enough land in the locality to support the population living on and around it. Food will become very local.

But that assumes we survive the mass exodus that will occur as food stops being imported into major cities and their starving masses begin to spill out in search of anything edible.

It will be amazing if deer and boar survive the decline.

So from a resources and ecology point of view, neither approach can work for the amount of people currently living on the planet. The complexity and energy requirements of that kind of governance would not be possible. Culture is the only thing that can provide any hope. But it will not avoid the pain.

Small farms, permaculture projects, and other natural food production oriented lifestyles and the people those systems support will be the only thing that survives. There will be no city or urban lifestyle where electricity powers almost every aspect of daily life.

Water and food and the ability to utilize and transport them ultimately determine what is possible for civilization. There is a definite maximum at which we could utilize the most sustainable and hospitable areas of the planet in an agriculturally formed lifestyle. If we were doing more then simply trying to find a solution for our cultural paradigm and instead, thinking about a solution for the long term, we would be focusing more honestly on what is possible by cataloging what is available in finite form and renewable form.

Let’s get the numbers, but I am afraid the numbers would not provide the answers needed to walk the current population through the resource bottleneck. This is the reality that we must accept. Once we do, more reasonable approaches can be made as to what is possible in the long term, and how we can mitigate the crisis in the meantime.

The primary goal is to increase organic, sustainable agriculture and thus increase the amount of people occupied with that particular activity. This is where culture plays an important role. We can pretend that we can keep being a culture of consumers, or we can accept the culture that is available to us via our realm of possibility.

But alas, the current culture is deeply engrained in the modern human psyche of developed nations. Often people speak as if humans never have or could survive without the luxuries of only the last century. Given the entirety of the human experience, our modern experience is a mere exception to the rule of what has been and is possible for life on earth. 



In the evolution of life, there are many dead ends, and Industrial Man is only one. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

ENERGY PRIMER

>INTRODUCTION

The what is energy, the question is not who, when, where, or why, but how.

This is a quick and dirty primer on our energy situation. It is simplified, but I have tried to cover the most important concepts and explain them and their relationships compared to one another and to society. I believe the energy issue is somewhat complex, but it is THE critical ‘issue’ for our globalized, growth based, consumer society and that will become painfully obvious in short order. We need to have informed awareness about the problem if we expect solutions.

This is not politically suggestive, nor does it propose solutions on how to deal with the energy issue, I leave that up to you. This is strictly observational.


>EROI/EROEI

“It takes money to make money” – Energy Return on Investment / Energy Return on Energy Invested is fairly straightforward. In the first years of commercial oil production, it took one barrel of oil energy equivalent to produce one hundred barrels of CRUDE oil. Now days it is between ten and twenty to one and getting worse. The difference is that EROI focuses on the monetary investment where as EROEI focuses primarily on the actual physical energy required (usually measured in btu’s).

EROI or EROEI, in a sense, represent the profitability of oil extraction, or the economically recoverable amount of oil (or any finite resource) that can be extracted.

>ECONOMICS (Supply & Demand)

“I can’t afford it.”
“Well then I can’t afford to produce it.”

This is the cycle that plays out as the EROI number goes down and the economy struggles to grow with the high costs of energy. As the costs get higher, the oil industry can invest in more production and so ‘excess’ energy is once again delivered to the economy. But soon the abundance drives the price back down and the oil industry can no longer afford to discover and drill for more.

At some point this imbalance could level out, but always with energy availability in over all decline. As the Super Giant fields around the world that still provide the vast majority of the worlds Crude oil continue to decline.

The economy depends on a growing and cheap supply of energy to feed the machines of modern industrial society. The problem is that the supply is getting smaller and less productive.

>ENERGY DENSITY

The different types of fossil energy sources vary, but they can be broken down into Gas and Oil. Each have their own subtypes but are the primary differentiators when it comes to their use in our civilization.

The “Low Hanging Fruit” applies to all energy exploits. People go after the mother load that is easiest to get to. But also there is the issue of Energy Density. As some resources are mined, such as coal, the resource contains less of the material that makes it energy useful, and more of the material that does not. In short, it doesn’t burn as hot.

So as we expand our reach for fossil energy, we are forced to resort to lesser and lesser quality sources of energy that are more and more costlier to extract and refine.

>ENERGY USES

Knowing the different types of oil is a prerequisite to understanding their uses.

Conventional Crude Oil is the black gooey stuff we all think of, but it is ‘fully matured’ and energy dense, where as the ‘Oil’ like substances coming from Fracking are not always fully ‘cured’ and require expensive treatment to make them available as gasoline or other useful oil based byproducts.

The process of Hydraulic Fracturing (I am lumping Tar Sands in with these fuel types even though it is strip mined) (Fracking) produces Gases like Methane and Butane as well as ‘tight oil’ and gas that is trapped in rocks and must be blasted out. There is quite a bit of energy available around the world with this method and resource types. However it still only buys us a few decades, and that is if the economy can continue to adsorb the increasing costs of the energy.

Our primary uses for Crude and some types of the Fracked oil is transportation, as well as other things like plastics and pesticides.

Our primary use for gas (Methane, Propane, Butane, and many others) is in some small and larger vehicles as well as fertilizer, cooking and heating and producing electricity.
It does not contribute to transportation in any significant way and our infrastructure isn’t set up for it.

Though we have a ‘lot’ of natural gas in the US, Natural gas does not have the kind of global market like Crude oil and therefore is primarily subject to local costs. Although there have been talks about building more Natural gas ports. But Natural gas is expensive to transport due to it needing to be very cold and under very high pressure.

We are setup to run on highly energy dense, combustible liquid fuel, or Gasoline.

>ALTERNATIVES

Alternative energies such as wind and solar have the potential to provide energy for a few decades longer, but only in limited areas, and subject to sunlight and wind variations. We would have had to divert all of our efforts for building our infrastructure around that type of energy decades ago.

It is highly unlikely we will reach that level of renewable capability before the costs of energy make it impossible. Developing these technologies requires that the fossil fuel dependent backbone of the global economy continue to be greased with cheap, abundant energy.

>CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate Change forces us to look at the humanity side of the coin. And it doesn’t tell a pretty story. The climate changes naturally, the Sun has warm and ‘cool’ phases, we can see it in the data. But the data also tells another story. A story of rapid acceleration of many recent data points that do not occur in the available historical data, ever.

Humans are certainly impacting the climate, but whether or not we are causing the damage, Climate Change is still a game changing issue, not merely for our convenience, but for the survival of almost every multi-cellular life form on this planet (which includes humans).

The newer methods of extraction and fossil sources not only prove more expensive and of less quality, but they contribute more of the chemicals that scientists tell us are the main culprits of our environmental and climate impact.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cell Phones - A Preppers Guide
by Timothy Dicks

The short:

1) GSM device
2) Full knowledge and operational control of all of the devices communication capabilities
3) The applications and databases that will be useful in a long or short term prepper scenario.

Technology is always adopted slowly in the prepper community. It’s an instinct to stick with what works and can be easily maintained and controlled. But admittedly, technology works much better in some ways to ease the burden of temporary or even long term distress.

Cell phones fit the bill, they are definitely a, if not the most important tool in an emergency situation in which someone elses assistance is needed who is not currently available.

However, there is a perspective in which cell phones can easily become our worst enemy, tracking our every movement, purchase, communication and interests, knowing all, all the time. It is the same world that brings us all the wonders of technology, but demands our obedience.

This is the system we have created for ourselves, the very system that is teetering on the brink of ecological, energy, resource, monetary, political, and religious upheaval. It is a very delicate system that depends on the quivering masses, struggling to keep it afloat, meanwhile we give it more control with every new submission of indulgence.

So how do we take advantage of a cell phone in a safe and effective manner? With any technology, the issue of security mainly comes down to what you don’t let the system do, or in other words, turning the machine off is THE MOST secure way to operate the machine. Now this is very basic, but that is really all it needs to be to understand the cell phone.

What you do not ‘allow’ the device to do is what determines how secure it is depending on the situation.

To cut it short for those using feature phones or lesser cell phones, your best bet is to simply keep them off unless you need to use them and giving up your location and identity are not a concern.

For the more advanced phones like the iPhone, Android devices, or the myriad of other devices with cellular and wifi capabilities, we need to exercise a bit more control.

These amazing devices with life saving information storage capabilities could be priceless in certain scenarios. Many of the preloaded apps have several useful tools for practical tasks, such as a calculator, level, barometer, and temperature, and many more can be downloaded and operated locally on the device.

The trick is in what information is stored on these devices versus what information you are remaining vulnerable to severing by way of the internet.

So lets build a survival Cell Phone, and lets assume we want maximum security at all times.

Maximum security implies that we are at the highest level of security and our location cannot be given up at any time without actively engaging a known risk communication.

Security -

As stated, we are operating at Maximum security and we must be able to retain control at all times. In this case, you have done the first and most important process of removing your sim card. (If you had a CDMA phone, you would have already known to get a GSM phone without the identifying hardware built in by skipping down to the hardware section.) Once the SIM card is removed from the GSM device you would no longer have your device be at risk of being identified by the surrounding cell towers. However you are not in the clear. You will still need to disable the wifi. If there are any open wifi networks in the area, your device may connect and ‘identify’. Oh, but wait.

RFID/NFC,

Yes, RFID is old news in the tech community AND the prepper community by now, but NFC is the new RFID, and it’s out there offering up its conveniences at the price of our willing submission. Keep your eye out for the NFC functionality of your device, and believe it or not, the RFID ability. It was rumored a while ago that the new thing in phones would be RFID, but hey, the RFID tech could already be there simply for inventory purposes, so look out for that. I couldn’t find anything specific to my phone on a quick Google search, oh wait… ;)

The point is to know what your device is capable of and make sure you can maintain control over that ability at all times. Having a cell phone with you but hidden, could still jeopardize your security in close quarters, even if it’s turned off.


Applications -

What we are looking for is applications that can provide extremely quick and useful results to queries that we might have relating to a range of issues including medical, location and survival, among others. Applications that involve communications, and remotely stored databases are of lesser importance and can take up valuable space.

The best advantage in terms of the technologies interactive features is the GPS, hands down. You can download the app, download the maps for your region and never even need a network connection. You would have a fully zoomable GPS mapping device. You can determine your location without risking your location.

There are many information databases available online, but make sure their databases are downloadable and that you have plenty on and off device storage. At this point, entire family albums, modern DVD collections and valuable information can be stored on a handful of small microSD cards.

Think utilitarian and even think outside your thinking box by downloading advanced apps that you might never use but could be useful to advanced tinkerers and other brainiacs you may run into in the new world.

Hardware -

Choosing your hardware usually means choosing something you want more for it’s communication abilities than it’s ‘unconnected’ abilities. But this is really the least important feature in a long term survival scenario. Assuming the worst, your cell phone/tablet becomes a repository for information and a tool for advanced mathematics. Oh and even a GPS. That is if you can keep it running that long without grid power. So you’ll need a portable solar charger, (or two) to keep it going.

Long term you want a powerful processor and possibly a decent way to document the new history that arises out of the ashes of our technocracy.

In the way of security, a GSM device is your priority as you can simply remove the SIM card to no longer identify you to the Cellular network. With a CDM device, it will attempt to identify itself as soon as you power it on.


A Cell phone is a computer today, and a computer is an awesome thing to have. But it’s functionality has long since been overlooked by its ability to perplex humans with endless, random, and sometimes just downright BAD information. In a long term collapse scenario, that ability will more than likely subside as the remaining technology is put more and more to use as a tool rather than a playground.


Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dickshttp:\\FutureReferenceOnline.com
futurereferencefarm @ gmail.com
Video of the farmhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIxyyGW5RKs

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Environmental Inactivism

Let's face it, Environmental Activism is dead. It's not for lack of effort, rather it is because Environmental Activism is an oxy-moron in a growth based system running up against the limitations of a finite planet.

I propose that we align the name and the tactics to fit what would for all intents and purposes be a more accurate description of the movement and it's goals. So, I came up with an easy change, Environmental Inactivism.

Why? Because it makes sense, why else?

Think about it. Let it settle in for a moment.

All of these various NGO's exist to protect the environment, but what are they proposing to protect the environment from? It would appear that they are intending to protect the earth from the same system they are actively engaged in and in effect, supporting.

What should I do to protect the environment? Should I give money to organizations that proclaim to have the environments interest in mind? Maybe I should start my own NGO?

Both of these paths of action involve supporting and contributing to the same system that is causing the issues we are concerned with in the first place. So how can you be an Environmental Inactivist?

Stop supporting the system, stop supporting all industrial, non-local systems. Stop spending your money. Grow and preserve your own food. Provide for yourself. Do everything you can to NOT be an active participant in our decaying industrial society.

Being a conscious and concerned citizen has much more to do with what you DO NOT do than what you DO do.

DO less, BE more.

Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dickshttp:\\FutureReferenceOnline.com
futurereferencefarm @ gmail.com
Video of the farmhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIxyyGW5RKs

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Peak Oil Resources

This is a post mostly to provide a list of websites that focus on Peak Oil and the coming collapse of industrial civilization. They are sites that I visit frequently. I will put them in order of hopeful to hopeless (Sort of).

http://www.resilience.org/

Resilience is a great site for what is known as the 'Transition Movement'. The transition movement aims to provide ideas and actions around the concept of transitioning into a low carbon future. There are many good articles on this site, but it primarily assumes that much of the current operating paradigm will remain as is.

http://ourfiniteworld.com/

Our Finite World is the blog of Gail Tverberg. Gail is an actuary for the insurance industry. Her articles are factual and concise. No nonsence, just the facts mam. Mostly they are based on the idea that Peak Oil will cause financial collapse long before said resource is in terminal decline.

http://www.shtfplan.com/

Shit Hits The Fan Plan is more of a scare tactics kind of website but they do have interesting information from time to time. The comments on this site really aren't worth reading in my opinion as the majority of posters are severly right-wing, overtly religious, and lack the general understanding of things like climate change and resource depletion. They (the posters) mostly think the current resource and energy problems are simply a matter of liberal interference in the market and foriegn policy.

http://kunstler.com

This is James Howard Kunstlers blog. He has written several books concerning Peak Oil and resource depletion.

http://www.doomsteaddiner.net

Doomstead Diner is probably one of the best sites for intellectual reading and the theories and issues surrounding resource depletion and societal collapse. All manner of issues are discussed and they have an excellent podcast page as well as an extensive forum.

http://www.collapsenet.com/free-resources/collapsenet-public-access/news-alerts

Collapsenet (From The Wilderness) is the site originally created by Michael Ruppert, author of Crossing The Rubicon. Michael may have been the leading Peak Oil prophet of the nation at one point. They have a good free article collection related to the energy predicament updated daily. However they are a pay site for other features and discussion.

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/

This is Dimitri Orlov's blog. Dimitri is an established author of collapse material and his work is based on his extensive experience with the collapse of the USSR.

http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/

This is Ugo Bardi's blog and is an excellent source for Peak Oil/Resource depletion related articles.

http://guymcpherson.com/

Guy is the guy who thinks it is the last inning for the human race and nature, being the bigger opponent is going to win out (Due to climate change) over man leaving him in the large dustbin of failed species.

http://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/

This site publishes new articles regularly that are well written with excellent tid bits of information here and there.

And finally...

http://dieoff.org/

This is Jay Hansons site. It is worth visiting and reading in its entirety. There is a lot of useful information that is well referenced. He even has a plan for how to deal with the issues we face although his plan is a bit communistic for my taste.

_____

As this list may evolve, other sites may be added in the future so check back often.

Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dickshttp:\\FutureReferenceOnline.com
futurereferencefarm @ gmail.com
Video of the farmhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIxyyGW5RKs

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who’s To Blame For The Coming Collapse?

The short answer is, we all are. We have all been willingly led down the path of progress and unending growth. We continue to push the limits of our environments ability to provide for our needs.

Many people like to blame poor governance, lazy people, or even go so far as to blame a conspiracy of central bankers and the elite. But reality would suggest something much different and more fundamental.

Energy. Plain and simple. It has been shown through studies that our ability to grow and expand is directly proportional to the availability of affordable energy.

It is understandable that people want to blame politicians, governments or elite cabals for the worlds problems. They want to place the blame anywhere but upon themselves and the lifestyles of never ending consumption and debt that they have chosen.

Now why we are not being encouraged to live more simply and sustainably can easily be blamed on the powers that be as they will milk us for every consumer dollar they can while the dollar (or money in general) still has value. But they are not forcing us to buy their products or to take on debt. That is our choice.

Occam’s razor states that: ‘All things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.’ Energy IS the simple explanation and it makes perfect sense.

So if you are looking for someone to blame, look no further than the closest mirror. Ask yourself how much you can provide for yourself rather than depending on the energy hungry systems of transportation, manufacture and global exchange for your needs.

Thanks for reading and for joining me on the journey of life.

Timothy Dickshttp:\\FutureReferenceOnline.com
futurereferencefarm @ gmail.com
Video of the farmhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIxyyGW5RKs

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Preppers Doom

Prepping has been a prevalent subject in the media these days and Prepper blogs are filled with people expressing their concerns and sharing their progress in storing of goods and materials. It is a big party and everyone is happy to have four hundred rolls of toilet paper and hundreds of triple A batteries, pounds upon pounds of rice and beans, etc. This is great, it's smart, and it should be encouraged, but it is also a blatant admittance of defeat.

Yes, we should all be prepared to survive for a week or better when the power goes out, or when a large scale attack disables infrastructure for some time. But in reality, these are short term events and the stores of resources that most Preppers have are for short term survival.

You're not going to live off canned beans and bags of rice for ten years. I follow these blogs, I watch people, it is somewhat of a hobby as I too consider myself a Prepper. But I am also a realist, and I realize that I am not going to live forever on what I have stored up in my pantry. I realize that the future that confronts us will demand a different set of expectations and methodologies for survival.

It is my opinion, based on reason, that if your goal is for long term survival in a resource constrained environment, then you need to be able to produce resources, not just pull them out of a limited store in your basement. If that is all most Preppers have done is stashed away dried food, water and weapons, they are in for a big surprise. They are still suffering from the 'on demand' delusion that has gotten us into this situation.

Unless you have a system in place to grow food, preserve it, collect seeds and replant in the next season, unless you have fruit and nut trees, you are going to be in big trouble. All of these Preppers who have only stored items and have not put in place a system to produce items will be among the starving beggars before long. It is another collective psychosis of our culture to think we can survive from a closet full of stored goods for the rest of our lives.

I write this because I have an affinity for the Prepper mindset, it is one of survival and determination, but it is not without the same shortsightedness that plagues our current culture. I hope if you are a Prepper, you will read this, get out of your closet and into your yard. The future is green, and no, it's not solar or wind power green, it's human power green.