The post graphic shows how many people think climate change is “harming them right now”. Unfortunately, over 50% still don’t think climate change is causing them any harm, or causing any one else any harm.
These are NOT good numbers – not this late in the game. I’ve speculated several times that it would take millions of deaths to “waken” some of the climate denialists. So far, the thousands of people we’ve seen killed by climate change hasn’t been enough. Both cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias are at work here.
I cover a bit of this in the following “talking paper” I prepared for a interview, but we wound up talking about a lot of other subjects too, we didn’t have time for all my prepared remarks.
I’ll post the interview link here later on when the interview is made public, but for now, you can read my prepared comments.
The climate situation is only going to worsen quite dramatically year by year. We’re on the cusp of some truly catastrophic changes in the Earth system. A lot of the ice is gone from the Arctic which has resulted in a very erratic Jet Stream affecting global weather patterns. There’s also enormous quantities of methane being released from the sea bed and permafrost layer which is also rapidly melting away. Ocean acidification, dead zones, coral collapse, fisheries collapse, species extinctions, disappearing rain forests, massive level of insect declines, aquifer depletion, extreme heat waves, and sea level rise. These are some of the climate effects already occurring around the world.
The global environment, the Earth system is destabilizing. The cause is warming, which is happening all over the planet. And the cause of the warming is human activity, we’ve changed the chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere with enormous quantities of greenhouse gasses being released in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. These gasses are now trapping in excessive amounts of heat, warming the oceans, atmosphere and soil – so much heat that we’ve seen a massive decline in Arctic ice, and warming of the world’s oceans. Greenland and the Antarctic are also melting at accelerating rates, raising global sea levels.
It all adds up to bad news on the climate front. The end result will be drought, fires, mega-storms, sea level rise, inundation of coastal regions, even more catastrophic levels of ice melt, glacial collapse, loss of fresh water in many different regions of the world, more permafrost melting and methane being released into the atmosphere, all in a vicious cycle.
I have a very different take on the current prepping meme. The whole “prepping meme” has been overtaken by many different opportunists and hucksters. Several years ago, a bunch of newcomers jumped in to cash in on the prepping / survivalist craze that was occurring. This happened during the run-up to Y2K, and then again, during the Mayan Calendar 2012 run-up. I spoke up against the fear-mongering that was happening with these non-events, but it didn’t do much good and still doesn’t today.
Since then, many of the people involved in the prepping and survivalist movements have been spreading false stories and rumors about what’s going to happen “next” since none of their other fear-mongering claims ever came true. They’re always wrong of course, but that doesn’t seem to change anything.
I don’t find hardly any of their ideas and claims to be valid or factually based. They can be easily investigated and discarded for a lack of evidence.
Most of them are based on manufactured connedspiracies from anonymous sources and engage in various levels of fear-mongering, paranoia, xenophobia and numerous conjecture and straw arguments. There’s really no logic or facts to hardly any of it, but its served them well to keep churning out new stories and twists, because fear is a great motivator to get people to buy preparedness products.
For this reason, most of the “prepping” movement has become highly polluted with ridiculous claims, ideas, ideology and assumptions. What was once based on skills, knowledge and practicality has been largely replaced with conspiracy, fear, paranoia, endless conjecture and some really, really bad ‘advice’ on ‘how to be prepared’. What is noteworthy is that none of their claims and fears and predicted events ever happened, but that didn’t stop the voices in this movement from taking further advantage of people who got caught up into this. They just spun out new stories and claims to try and reinvigorate their followers. And make more money.
In my opinion, the prepping and survival movement is pretty much dead. It’s become something else entirely. It’s now survives on fear and conspiracy. Those that remain in this movement are trying pretty hard to prop it all up, but it’s not working out too well.
I’ve taken a lot of heat for this position of mine over the years, but I reject the dishonesty and propaganda that has permeated the so-called “prepper” movement, also know as the survivalist movement. They’re now blended together and have gone off the rails as to what they once were and should be.
Several researchers have investigated these movements and their growing popularity, trying to understand what makes them tick. They’ve come to the same conclusions I have – it’s mostly just fear, conspiracy, suspicion, paranoia and how to make money “selling” propaganda.
Many of these participants in these memes are engaging in various levels of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias to “filter” what they believe to be true and real, and what they reject as true and real. It’s been very hard to break any of this down and deprogam these people from their distorted views of reality. I’ve spent some time writing about these topics on my blog. They’re completely convinced that they’re the only ones who understand what is going on, despite their lack of actual knowledge, education, experience and involvement in the subjects that they continue to fixate on.
It’s gotten pretty bad. It’s pretty difficult to make intelligent conversation with some of the more extreme in this group because they won’t examine any of their own assumptions or belief systems. Religion plays a large role in this, but so does the propaganda and outright brainwashing that comes with following some of the more extreme cult-like leaders in the movement.
This makes my efforts and position unpopular, but I’ve got direct experience with a lot of this and was once very much a part of it myself. But I realized just how wrong I was when most of the things I believed turned out to be false. So I engaged in a lot of study to try and understand who and what was wrong with the positions I once held. It turned out to be me and so I opted to change and do what I could to educate myself on the topics that needed to be properly understood. In the end, I abandoned nearly all of the ideology and all of the propaganda that continues to be a part of the prepper / survivalist movements. I’ve spent a few decades now writing about all of this.
Being prepared is a good idea – if done with some common sense, diligence and applied skill. But being prepared doesn’t mean to wrap your life around fear and propaganda. You need a healthy dose of common sense, suspension of ‘belief’ and prove all things to learn first and foremost, if they are true or false. Being prepared should be a way of life for all Americans, so that when and if something happens, you’ve got some idea what you are going to do. Unfortunately, being prepared has received a really bad rap from those who have polluted this concept with propaganda and fear-mongering.
THE DREAM OF GROWING OUR OWN
If you want to grow you own food, you can grow SOME of your own, but it’s very unlikely that you could grow everything that you need. Provided that you rigorously apply yourself, work hard and have the available time, land, temperature and climate, viable seeds or starts, sufficient quantities of water and the ability to maintain your food crops from pests and disease. Almost everyone lacks something on this list, including myself, and has to be satisfied with growing a lot less then what we actually need to eat. I cannot grow any grains here for example, which is a staple crop and a large part of our daily diet. I cannot grow sufficient quantities of calories to sustain my yearly diet.
Growing your own food can be done, but nowhere near on the scale that seems to be commonly believed. It’s brutally hard work and requires enormous amounts of time, which few people really have. There is a lot that goes wrong, seeds fail to germinate causing you to lose your seasonal window of opportunity, the climate doesn’t cooperate if you’re growing outside, either freezing your crops and providing too little rainfall or even too much, there are numerous issues with different kinds of pests and plant diseases that can devastate your crops and require constant attention, and when harvests time comes, you are flooded with a lot of crops that must be processed quickly and then preserved through various means, either by canning, blanching and freezing, dehydration or preparation for cold storage.
What we’ve found is we wind up growing too much of a specific crop and we can’t store them properly and tire of trying to eat them all at once. You must rotate your crops and your garden beds, and plant consecutively if you can, to ensure you don’t get everything ripening all at once. This doesn’t work too well where I live because the growing season is just too short. We’ve learned that in reality, we can only grow a little of the food we actually eat. It’s nowhere near as much as some people think they’re going to be able to do. But you might be lucky and live where the soils, sunshine and temperatures are perfect, not many people actually live in those places or have the time to try to raise all their own food.
I did build a fairly sizeable greenhouse, I’ve got pictures of this and the construction project up on my blog. But the greenhouse doesn’t produce as much as we thought it might. In the summer, it becomes too hot to use and so it can only be used early in the season and then again late in the season. I don’t try to heat the greenhouse, but I do try to cool it with large fans, automatic timers and thermostats and I also use shade cloth. It’s amazing how fast a greenhouse can heat up in direct sunshine. I could extend the greenhouse growing season with a heat source, but I haven’t done that as it is not cost-effective. And to be honest, even what I grow in the greenhouse and in the garden beds isn’t cost-effective – the amount of time, watering, planting costs, weeding and composting doesn’t make this growing your own “cheap”. It’s not.
In some cases, I’ve dedicated a garden bed to just one particular crop like cantaloupe. It’s takes a fairly long time before they’re ready to harvest, and then when I do, we don’t get very many. When you compute the time and money spent to get just a few melons for example, they cost a lot more then what I could have just bought at the supermarket.
What do you see happening if the grid goes down for a couple of months, even in just one big part of the country?
Actually, I don’t see it. So far, this topic has been seriously over-hyped and it doesn’t have any strong basis in reality. We both know that anything could happen, but most often it doesn’t happen.
We tend to fear the most what we fantasize about. Our imagination conjures up all kinds of images and concerns. But we have to keep in mind that this is just our imagination and fears at work, it’s not real.
The electrical grid is fairly resistant, quickly repaired and is being constantly maintained. At most, what any of us experience and can expect to happen is localized power outages to occur as a result of some kind of failures caused by fire, wind, weather and so forth. When big disasters strike, it’s certainly possible that the affected area will experience long-term power outages that can last up to a couple of months or even longer if things were really bad, like in a hurricane.
But that’s not the same thing as the ‘grid going down’ which probably won’t happen unless something truly catastrophic takes place, and that is far, far less likely. These are fears that play well in movies and on some websites, and they elicit a lot of useless chatter, but they’re not realistic. They’re outliers at best. I prefer to focus on what we can actually expect, what is happening now and what is more likely to happen next.
If it DID happen – there would be a significant upsurge in crime and violence. All the things people rely upon to stay alive now would be in jeopardy (instantly). Water wouldn’t flow, sewage would back up creating toxic hazardous condition (cholera, typhoid), food would spoil and rot, making canned food in high demand but nobody could produce it. Whatever food that was still around would be quickly horded and fought over.
Violence over water, food, medical supplies, even drugs would jump significantly. Most gardens would fail for lack of water, so there wouldn’t be much food coming from this angle. I’d expect social order to break down fairly quickly as the reality of the situation was more understood. They’d either mobilize the National Guard and nationalize critical assets if they had to, but it would leave enormous areas of the country in severe trouble no matter what. They don’t have the manpower to police the country, or even provide food and water, so localized efforts would be required.
Getting everyone on board and acting ethically and responsibly would be nearly impossible however, there’s just too much social disunity and non-cooperation to expect people to pull together for long. It would come down to an issue of survival – who has food and water and essential supplies, including fuel, and who doesn’t. Bartering and trade would commence because the financial system would have imploded, but money isn’t much use to people who are truly hungry if there isn’t any food to actually buy. Food could very easily become the next currency is this type of a situation, but not gold or silver. These metals trade at junk prices in collapsed nations because they don’t have the same perceived value that they once did. The truly wealthy will be those that can eat, drink and stay healthy and safe.
I also don’t subscribe to the fears of a EMP – electro-magnetic pulse claims either, this has never happened and is extremely unlikely to happen, although it’s still a possibility slightly greater then zero.
State actors would either be involved, which would mean war would be underway with another nation (very unlikely), or terrorism. But terrorists do not have easy access to this type of technology, and if they did, they’d be more inclined to use it where it would do them the most good. Randomly attacking the US with an EMP weapon is nearly pointless from a terrorist tactical perspective. EMP’s are not the threat many assume, but nuclear weapons are and it would actually take a nuclear weapon to produce an EMP.
“A weapon of mass destruction is preferable to a weapon of mass disruption” – Yousaf M. Butt, physicist – State Department’s Space and Advanced Technology office.
EMP’s are “laughable” – https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/would-90-percent-americans-really-die-emp-attack-some-think-24005
EMP’s are Hollywood drama dream story, but it has little basis in reality. Could it happen? Sure, but will it? It’s just not likely. I’m not going to focus on outlier fears because it’s really just a waste of life in my opinion. Pandemic is a much greater threat then the EMP concerns.
If this system just bumps along from crisis to crisis, but the food system remain viable, is food storage a waste of time?
I’m pretty certain that our way of life and our civilization will definitely bump along from crisis to crisis indefinitely now, and these crises will only get worse and worse, I don’t see how it can be any other way considering what we’ve done and what we’ve set up for ourselves. We’ve triggered a massive number of feedbacks that will directly impact our ability to live on this planet, and even threaten our very survival as a species.
This is what we have always done. As civilization developed, we built in various levels of redundancy and safety checks to ensure that we could weather through most “crisis”. However, this is now changing pretty rapidly throughout the world, because we failed to account for things like toxic wastes, pollution, climate change, global terrorism, global resource depletion, world-wide ecological collapse, and even social unrest.
Food storage is never a waste of time. But it can be a waste of money if you don’t learn to actually use it. This is what happens with some of the food kits I’ve seen. People set this stuff aside and then they never eat it, thinking that they’ll keep it just for emergencies. Then it sits and sits and goes bad instead of eating it when they should have. That’s ok if you want to waste money, but it robs you of the experience of actually eating your food storage and understanding how it works, whether or not you even like it, if it’s actually edible and so on.
You can’t believe the advertisements that enticed you to buy food – you have to actually eat the food and experience how well this works for you.
Not all food kits are edible as claimed. Some are pretty bad. And some contains some really weird conglomerate of ingredients that you would never eat in a normal world. They often contain meals that you don’t eat now. And some taste pretty bad. It’s probably one of the things I’ve heard the most over the years.
I recommend that people store what they eat, so buy what you eat for your food storage program. And then actually eat it. Learn to use it. Figure out what works for you. Everybody has unique tastes and diets.
Food storage can come in very handy if you experience a job loss, need to help out a friend or your kid comes home from college. If you have any kind of financial setback, you can divert some of your monthly food budget to other needs while eating some of your food storage. Food storage is not just for emergencies, it’s for any need, any time. Everybody needs to eat, so it just makes good sense to store what you eat.
The basis of civilization is food production and always has been. This is the fundamental building block of civilization. It’s become so mechanized and industrialized that we rarely think about it. But if it fails at any point in the process from factory farm to supermarket – or even if any kind of emergency or personal collapse happens to you or someone you know, you are immediately reminded of just how dependent you really are on civilization to keep you alive.
I think preparing to be a senior has similarities for preparing for social collapse. Older people have less and less energy, and less capability – and so need to build personal systems that will work when we are less able. “Prepping for your senior years”.
The only thing different for seniors versus non-seniors is capabilities. However, everyone has the same basic needs, water, food, clothing and shelter. Water is your most important, critical requirement. Food comes next, then clothing, then shelter. Seniors can set aside these essentials wherever possible, so that they can accessed and utilized as needed. Having a plan in place for seniors is the same as everyone else – know what you are going to do so that you can stay safe, dry, hydrated and fed. Know if you need to go somewhere else, where that might be. Know who you can rely upon for any help that you might need.
Many seniors take different types of medication, some of it absolutely essential for their existing health conditions. They’ll need to keep doing this if at all possible, so securing a safe supply of essential medications will be important. Talk to your doctor about having a ready-supply of critical medications.
They also need to get situated wherever they will be least affected by whatever happens. Move if you have to. Pick an area that offers you everything that you’re going to need. Good services, good doctors, access to essentials and others who you can rely upon for help.
With somewhat reduced physical capabilities, seniors need to consider climate, temperature, access to essential services and supplies and their own abilities. They also need to be even more aware of who they can rely upon for help and assistance. Their need for medication (if any), reliable energy supplies to maintain heating and cooling, access to reliable food supplies and water sources must be high.
Most seniors due to their age will actually experience the least amount of disruptions in the years ahead. Climate change for example, is a slow moving disaster, a true planetary emergency right now, but one which takes a fairly long time to make itself truly felt in negative ways. Precipitation events are increasing, sea level is rising and food prices will continue to climb, but this doesn’t just suddenly happen for the most part. As global temperatures climb, being somewhere that isn’t too hot or even too cold will matter quite a lot, but the food riots of the future and most of the violence I expect to unfold will be years away – unless something else happens first to trigger civil unrest and increased competition.
For this reason, seniors are the least likely group to be immediately impacted – provided nothing urgent happens in the meantime. But if something urgent happens – they’re at a pretty high risk because of their dependency, need for medication, reduced capabilities and easier vulnerability. Society can be very ugly to its senior citizens when it wants to.
What foods to store as insurance, and how long they last.
There are two sites I’d recommend – Food Asset’s Shelf Life page https://foodassets.com/info/bulk-food-shelf-life.html for the shelf life for food storage supplies, and the Still Tasty website https://www.stilltasty.com/ for the shelf life of supermarket food supplies. Both of these sites offer a ton of information on what foods to store and how long they will actually last with proper storage.
There is a Hollywood based myth that survivors of the apocalypse will be eating canned food and robbing supermarkets for their expired food supplies years into the future. This is all baloney, because nearly all of this food will have spoiled or rotted, making it either toxic or unsafe to eat. Foods packed for long term storage will last, and so will some foods packed in vinegar, but that excludes almost everything else. All the packaged and canned products found in the supermarkets will be risky or even deadly to eat decades into the future. It will have either spoiled, gone rotten, disintegrated or become totally inedible. It will also be very poor in nutrition, since mold, bacteria and oxygen will have broken down the food and it will have lost most of its nutrition.
Is prepping just for the middle and upper class, since millions of Americans struggle to eat properly already?
Very few to almost none of the upper class is engaging in any kind of “prepping” despite the stories you may have read. Many of these stories are “plants” – articles designed to drum up fear and gin up sales.
The middle and upper class have the money and the means to prepare but only a few actually are. They are often the same group of people that don’t actually believe that they need to do anything to look out for themselves. In many ways, they’re right because they have the money to buy whatever they need, whenever they need and society will respond to this request – take their money and deliver their goods.
There are a few people trying to cash in on this ability, helping these richer people setup fancy retreats and refuges where they can attempt to hide out and survive, but I doubt it will actually work as planned, because if they were to actually flee to such places, or to their underground survival bunkers, they would be totally dependent on not being exploited by others already there, or who might find them, or who were employed to provide them security. When personal survival at that level is really at stake, anything is possible, including betrayal by your own employees.
But for the most part, the middle class just gave up on preparing, as did the poor when it comes to being prepared. The entire industry has severely collapsed due to a lack of customers, resulting in many business closures. People either do not have the money to make any kind of preparations, or have lost interest.
Burn-out is pretty common in the prepping movement, but that happens because of false expectations and unrealized fantasies that never come true. Most preppers get involved in the prepping idea because of something that they heard or read somewhere and it perks their interest. This leads to years of reading and listening and even talking to others about the need to be “prepared”, but much of the information they’re absorbing is seriously misguided and misinformed, and quite a lot of it is just made-up whole cloth – but they don’t know any better and lack the discernment and experience to separate out the wheat from the chaff and so they buy into it.
Eventually they burn-out on the whole idea and turn away from it. This is what has happened several times before. A number of the fraudsters have been exposed and people are tired of being played for fools. So the whole prepper meme has become tainted by these bad experiences and has suffered as a result. The middle class still have the money to make personal preparations, but most of them aren’t doing anything at all. They’re still engaging with society and civilization like they always have, but it’s not being spent on skills, survival supplies or even land like it once was.
The poor have never been able to do that much for themselves, they’re caught in-between on staying alive and financially afloat and being able to make personal preparation steps which generally cost money. This group may actually have the best chance at survival if something really big were to happen, because they have had to force themselves to learn some of the skills required to stay alive, grow some of their own food, and learn practical skills and doing things for themselves.
Despite them being “poor”, they’re not stupid, they just don’t have the same financial opportunities or rewards given to those who are more wealthy. Many of these people are the “do it your-selfer’s”, with a wide variety of practical skills. They would prep more if they could afford it, but have learned to make do without it. They’ll survive as long as they can find something to eat, but when that ends, they’ll be gone, just like everyone else.
What are the biggest prepper mistakes?
It’s a big list and I’m sure I can’t cover it all today.
Not learning real practical skills. Assuming that they can figure it all out when and if the time comes. Spending most of their time online, reading about what others are actually doing instead of doing it themselves. Watching Youtube videos and engaging in useless discussions and false ideologies. Arguing over topics and irrelevant points and wasting time on discussions that don’t really matter and which they would have no effect upon anyway. Making numerous false assumptions, straw arguments and conjecture about what happens next while doing nothing about any of it in the present.
Buying what they do not need. Preppers seem to hoard quite a lot, most of this is useless junk. I did the same for years, and then got rid of most of it once I realized I never needed it.
Assuming that these food kits sold online are sufficient to meet their dietary needs, most of them are not. It’s surprising how many people have no idea what they actually eat, or even how to cook food or to perform basic food related tasks. When I run into this, I know that this represents someone who isn’t really going to be prepared for much of anything. Food is essential to human survival and human health, and there are a lot of people that take no interest in learning about what they might need. They assume that they can always easily obtain whatever food that they want and that their food supply is “good enough”. This isn’t true, and it is in fact, a pretty dangerous self-defeating position to take.
Other things that I’ve seen often is – Not eating the food that they buy. Not buying the food that they actually eat now. Not actually practicing with their preparations or even their food preparations. Buying strange food that someone told them would “work” isn’t the same thing as actually preparing it and eating it and seeing how you’re going to feel afterwards. Are you still hungry? Are you satisfied? Do you have the energy that you need? Could you put in a hard days work on what you consumed?
The answer is “NO” in many cases. Many of the food units I’ve examined are absolutely terrible and their owners who bought them are going to be in for a very rude surprise. In extreme cases, some of these people will die from their lack of being properly food prepared because they fell for the propaganda about their food supplies. It’s an issue of calories, fats and nutrition and being able to consume enough of all three to stay healthy and active. If you’re tired, weakened and unable to eat what you’ve stored, you’re going to get sick pretty fast. And then you’re done, you’re not going to be able to do much at all.
Assuming that they can “grow their own” when the time comes. This area contains huge misconceptions. It takes quite a lot of time to bring in a crop harvest – do you have that kind of time? What if it fails at any point, or delivers far less then you expected? Do you even know the calorie requirements expended to grow a crop to harvest time? What about the calorie storage value of the harvested crops? Will they be enough until the next harvest time?
Failing to plan for water shortages and reduced water supplies. Wells, cisterns, water filters and accessible water sources are critical. You can also build solar stills, rain barrels and grey water systems, but these are usually for producing some quantities of water at “survival” levels. You can also dig ponds and use natural runoff to supply them, I built french drain systems around my place and redirect the water into ponds, it’s surprising how much rain and even snow melt will accumulate.
Failing to ready their homes and property for storm damage, wildfires. Clearing land and understanding and practicing safe routes of escape. Making sure you have your vehicles ready to go and gassed up. Having food, water and basic clothing and sleeping gear ready at hand. Be prepared to take only the absolute essentials at a moments notice. Indecision can get you killed if you do not know what you will do or where you will go or how you will get there to safety. Having a communication plan to family and loved ones in case emergency does arise so that they can ensure that you’ve made it to safety.
Buying into the ridiculous “bugging out” meme that will get most of them killed. I’ve written on this topic a number of times with a series of articles that explain why this is for almost everyone, a death sentence. It’s a bad idea to make yourself a refugee. You don’t run away from civilization and the support systems that keep you alive – you run towards it if you can. This is the exact position of professional survivalists and survival instructors. They understand the reality of what it is really like to try to “survive in the wild” and do not recommend it. This has become another Hollywood meme, but it’s all scripted, faked and phony for the most part.
What is going on in the prepper “industry”, and the prepper movement?
There was a huge upsurge in people setting up fly-by-night companies and trying to cash in on the prepping craze. Most of these outfits are now gone which is a good thing because they were selling inferior and sometimes absolutely useless products. They also didn’t know what they were doing and spread a lot of false information and fear. Some of this sort of thing is still happening today. There are a number of fake food review websites online right now that are thinly disguised promotions for affiliate products. I’ve reviewed these sites and have not found a single one that I could recommend as honest, ethical, factual or reporting their so-called reviews accurately. Their actually scam sites designed to sell their own products through affiliate accounts and increase advertising revenue.
So you have the whole huckster / profiteer theme that surged forward in the past 20 years, and it’s still at work today. They put together numerous false claims and stories to try and promote the “fear” behind selling their products. It works pretty good too, people are easily motivate by fear and paranoia. But ultimately, these tactics don’t do anybody any good. They buy stuff that they don’t need, can’t use and in some cases, it doesn’t work. But they “think” that they’re prepared now and they’re not, not even close. In effect, they’ve bought into a lie about what it really means to be prepared and what it’s going to require.
The prepper “industry” hasn’t regulated itself like it should either. It’s allowed in far too many profiteers who pretty much ruined the whole industry. A lot of the food that has been sold by these outfits was pretty bad. Nobody was regulating this. All kinds of claims and stories were being made to convince people that they could buy their security and safety just by sending these companies money. A lot of people figured this out, but it was too late, the damage was done. So the industry has a poor reputation in the public eye and for good reason.
Big advertising campaigns meant big dollars for some people. Some talk show hosts were charging over two million dollars to endorse certain companies. The only way those companies could possibly survive while paying out these kinds of fees was to have really huge profit margins and heavy advertising campaigns. The ran up the fear flagpole as often as they could – until they burned everyone out.
Do you think “preppers” are more aware of developing climate dangers, and/or are more climate aware folks starting to consider deep adaption options?
No, I don’t. There are a few of the so-called preppers that have some climate awareness, but the vast majority of them seem to deny climate change. They’re still wrapped up in false ideologies and fantasy fictions that govern their way of thinking and decision making. This makes them very ripe for the picking by the huckster and profiteers still out there. Climate change is the one topic that they generally vehemently deny, having bought into the connedspiracy crowd and fear-mongering that climate change is part of a global conspiracy. They couldn’t be more wrong, but you know as well as I do – they cannot actually see what is right in front of them. Just go outside and pay attention and you will already see the effects of climate change in the world.
In general the “preppers” declare themselves the most “awake” and aware of what is going on in the world, but I haven’t found this to be true. They’re among the same group that operates from a position of fear, paranoia and ideological distortions that supports their confirmation bias. They read what feeds their fear, and they spend much of their time on websites that promotes fear-based decision making. Climate change doesn’t factor in as a real threat or even as a “prepare now” type of threat, and they could not be more wrong on this.
Is the idea of individual (or family) survival actually helping to prop up a dying system?
Not really. Everybody is going to try to survive whatever happens and that effort at staying healthy, and staying alive requires participation at some level into the system. The system isn’t dying like we may think, and probably won’t – it’s collapsing inwardly, and becoming more totalitarian and controlling. This morphing of society has been underway for a long time, but the basic mechanisms of how society functions remains the same as ever.
We’re all highly dependent upon civilization surviving, because it provides us with all that we need to stay alive. Food, water, power, shelter, fuel, transportation, medical care, income and social connections. Americans don’t really seem to grasp the basic idea that we can only exist as long as civilization continues to exist and provide for us. Almost all of us lack the skills to ‘survive’ on our own and would die quickly if civilization were to collapse. It would be bloody, brutal competition for what still remained – because we don’t have the skill set required to survive without the products of civilization. We also lack the social cohesiveness and even the desire to work together at survival.
Would we realize our system is collapsing?
It’s contracting and collapsing right now and many people seem to be, or act as if they are unaware of this. There doesn’t seem to be that many people that actually are aware of what is unfolding. Not that many, so no – I don’t think we would broadly recognize this, we’re too caught up into distractions and entertainment and just life itself to really notice what is happening.
We’re geared to see opportunity – but we are poorly suited to perceive systemic problems.
Systemic risk – Risk increases as the number of linkages and dependencies grow.
Trigger points can be modest events that ultimately produce large, cascading failures.
Cumulative losses can accrue from events set in motion.
Urbanization and population density (cities)
Easily transmit biological hazards / transmission of viruses and disease
Concentration of activities in world epicenters. Financial system is rooted in New York and London, global electrical manufacturing in certain regions of China and Hong Kong, Thailand produce 40 of the world’s hard disk drives, Silicon Valley is the central hub to most IT engineering and innovation
population centers, highly dependent, very low independence. Anything can happen within a larger population, the opportunities and trigger points have increased the greater the population.
We don’t have a good grasp on large existential risks either. There have been a number of studies on this human phenomena, but the end conclusion is that we are poorly adapted to grasp large seemingly incomprehensible problems that might affect our very survival.
We can perceive and respond to the immediate, but not to the long term. The more remote something seems to be, the less we care. Civilization and the climate issues are both in a slow crash right now, both are long term and irrevocable.
Most of us still don’t see collapse like we should. Most of us don’t feel any sort of urgency to respond to it either, so that’s how we act. We go on – business as usual, hoping things will “get better” somehow but not really doing much to change what is clearly broken.
Jorg Friedrichs. 2013. Book – The Future Is Not What It Used to Be. Climate Change and Energy Scarcity.
People frequently treat real problems as if they were non-issues. Denial has a rational core because it minimizes pain, but it often leads to tragic outcomes. Denial is not irrational. When in denial, people follow what they think to be in their best interest by minimizing real or perceived harm, thereby maximizing well-being. Acknowledging a problem may lead to considerable psychological and social cost: negative emotions such as fear, shame, and helplessness; cognitive dissonance; loss of identity, or loss of friends; embarrassment; and social conflict about the attribution of blame and responsibility. Many people are predisposed to minimize such psychosocial cost with denial rather than facing up to their problems. This may be short-sighted, but it isn’t irrational. Denial is based on a self-interested rationale of pain avoidance and harm minimization. Also, deep down, people know that climate change and energy scarcity are existential predicaments that can’t be solved, so denial is a good way to treat these problems as non-issues.
It is unrealistic to assume that human ingenuity is an unlimited resource. A more realistic view is that, at the end of the day, even ingenuity is subject to the law of diminishing returns, with the lowest hanging fruit picked first. If this is so, then technical innovation is bound to become more and more challenging because of diminishing returns to investment in research and development (Strumsky, Lobo, and Tainter 2010; cf. Tainter 1988; Homer-Dixon 2006). Today, technical ingenuity requires escalating amounts of money and time.
We also hope someone else will “fix” what is wrong because we don’t want to take on that responsibility ourselves. In many ways, it’s not really our problem, but in many other ways, it is our problem, because we are all contributors in some way or another to what is happening. We’re “unwilling participants” that are being forced to participate in the mechanics of civilization and planetary destruction just by the virtue of being alive and having basic needs.
We don’t grow our own food, so we buy it, contributing to ecological collapse. We get stuck working for companies that are focused on making as much money as possible, which exacerbates the whole issue of resource destruction somewhere along the line.
And we don’t know how to fix it – or even extract ourselves from these demands made upon our time and lives. We lack the skills, experience, land and resources to pull-away and do something else. And for those of us who have actually tried to do this, we quickly realize that we are still highly dependent upon civilization. We also lack the essential support structure and networks required to sustain ourselves as independently as possible while trying not to contribute to the global system that is destroying the world.
Many different avenues have been tried, including eco-villages, “sustainable” communities, independent groups, communes and individual attempts to “withdraw” and refuse or at least limit participation in a highly destructive society. It’s never been enough to make much of a difference – we’re still surrounded by an indifferent, calloused civilization that almost entirely utterly ignores what we’re trying to do – or even outlaw it. You can’t withdraw very far in truth – you can only go just so far before you’re breaking some kind of law somewhere. And no matter what you do, you still wind up being a contributor to global resource depletion and environmental destruction, even if you are a vegetarian or a vegan.
The reasons this continues to happen is because of how we designed our civilization and society. We’ve made it mandatory now that everyone participates at some level. Everyone is exploited at some level too. We’re now completely dependent upon civilization and what each “specialization” provides for each one of us, keeping us alive. We would not survive very long if we tried to walk away. Many have tried, and many have died, and all who are truly honest about it, quickly realize that what civilization produces is what really keeps them alive today.
It’s more then just food, but food is a huge part of it. It’s also other basics, like clothing, shelter, water, transportation, power to heat our homes and electricity to keep the lights on, fuel for our vehicles and access to stores to buy the things these specializations build and produce. Nobody lives without these things, and they all come from exploiting the natural world and taking irreplaceable resources and using fossil fuels to produce them.
This is why alternative energy sources aren’t the “green” answer they’re being made out to be, which is another topic of discussion altogether.
Who is selling false optimism and why?
Almost everybody is selling false optimism from the markets to the profiteers to many of the climate scientists. False optimism is “hopium on steroids” in many cases. The false hope that we’re going to engineer our way out of this predicament we’ve created with some kind of magic bullet or finally-obtained political leadership. I doubt it all very much.
At the heart of these claims, is the belief that we can somehow “do more of what we’ve already done, but only better this time” to somehow “fix” the damage we’ve caused. This is wrong-headed thinking and it’s highly doubtful that this will actually work. It pretends to hide what caused these problems in the first place, while continuing to still do them. We created a civilization that was energy-hungry and based upon constant exploitation of everything – including people on a global scale, not just the world’s natural resources.
Their optimism presumes itself to be the finally be the final “answer” to what we’ve always done – yet somehow, we’ll fix it “this time” just give us another chance. Historically speaking, this has been endlessly tried and it endlessly fails, leading us to the exact place we find ourselves today. Resource depletion and collapse, excessive amounts of emissions and greenhouse gasses, endless levels of pollution, toxic wastes and widespread environmental destruction and depletion, species extinctions and the constant expansion of human civilization and growth, with the resulting and highly negative destruction of the biosphere.
At no time do they directly address the root causes of what has brought us to this precipice which in truth, we’ve already long since gone over. To do so would reveal the fatal flaws in their claims. They believe that we only need to do “more” rather then “less” to somehow magically “fix” the problems we’ve caused. I disagree. More always leads to less of everything eventually. Taking more from the environment does not address the wastes and destruction this causes. Or the increased demands for energy which we know is actually a negative. More doesn’t increase independence and reliance, it’s causes even more dependency and energy demands. More is a never-ending cycle of increased entropy and eventual collapse, because a finite world cannot indefinitely support endless growth and consumption without something catastrophic eventually happen.
This is what is at the heart of the false optimists. They’re deliberately ignoring what created the very conditions we have today – which were caused by these same optimists and opportunists! They don’t perceive themselves at the very heart of the problems we have now.
Many of those who are preaching the false optimism see themselves as beneficiaries of a new world. They’re actually hoping to capitalize on global development and get richer. It’s the same old paradigm as before – exploit whatever is left to make as much money as possible.
I take a very different philosophy on all of this. We don’t “need” more – we need less, a lot less. First World countries like the United States, England, Canada, Germany, France, much of Russia, Japan and all the other First World countries are creating the most destruction in the world. Through military incursions or capitalistic endeavors, they’re harvesting whatever they can from planetary resources and exploiting them as fast as possible for profits.
We’ve all benefited from this activity, but we’ve also become highly dependent upon it and now, the world-wide ecological destruction is so great because of it, and our future survival is at stake.
If you study their material like I have – they propose to do even more of this activity – not less. Rampant non-stop environmental destruction continues today. They find ways to circumvent laws, regulations and bans, supporting illegal activities and engaging in everything from piracy to illegal harvesting to extract as many resources as possible. It’s all still being driving by enormous profits, and as long as this continues, we’re basically screwed and so is future human survival on this planet, because all this activity is driving up the planetary temperatures and causing enormous resource destruction.
It’s really pretty simple – they’ll keep doing what they’ve always done, which will just make things worse and worse environmentally speaking, and this in turn along with our rampant consumption, drives up greenhouse gasses and planetary temperatures.
In effect, we are now in a civilization feedback loop with enormous consequences for the survival of our species and that of every other living thing in the biosphere. And we are losing this battle because we have categorically refused to change our ways.
What do we need to do?
Embark on a global, planetary emergency for starters. Change the very foundation of how we attempt to live on this planet while doing everything we possibly can to combat climate change. By declaring a planetary emergency, we would finally notify the world that what we are doing – what we have always done – is leading us to disaster.
Of course, this is just complete fantasy thinking because those in power and those who have extreme wealth would never allow such a thing. But to continue with this line of thought, we would:
Immediately reverse course on the most pollutive industries and practices, as fast as possible. The global agenda would be to “use less, and preserve more” as we seek to reduce our human foot print on Earth systems quickly. This would mean the most in First World countries like the United States where each of us has the footprint of 500 other people living in many of the impoverished nations of the world. Our way of life is not sustainable and it is actually the real cause of climate change and most ecological destruction. We would have to willingly stop what we are doing and change everything about our way of life, and then repeat all of this throughout the world wherever needed, especially in First World nations.
Totally revamp and change our existing uses of land, agriculture and water usage. Revert to localized food systems wherever possible. Convert entire industries to restoration of environmental “before” conditions by replanting forests and fauna world-wide. Abandon monoculture plantations like palm oil wherever possible and restore the rain forests as fast as possible. Reduce global emissions as rapidly as possible by prohibiting most travel, tourism, shipping and commuting except where needed. Change the entire focus and effort of civilization and all of humanity to support ecological restoration and balance, local living, limited development and participation to environmental stewardship.
Immediately research carbon sequestering for global deployment, while at the same time, reduce global emissions with radical reductions. Revamp monetary systems, local and global economies by abandoning the growth paradigm entirely. Repurpose, reuse and redesign cities and towns around true self-sufficiency concepts and principles. Restore nature river flows and riverine areas and remove hydro-electric dams. Deploy armies of people dedicated to the natural restoration of Earth’s environment radically impacted by human activities.
Abandon most if not all military activities, the arms race, Empire building and work towards global cooperation and community building instead. Allocate essential resources, supplies, and work force wherever most needed (prioritize what should be done first).
These ideas are clearly incomplete, but it’s kind of pointless to engage in discussion with this sort of thing, but that’s because it’s clearly impossible to change the status-quo that governs the world. We can’t even get world leaders to agree that climate change is real and happening now, so we’re incredibly unlikely to get them to agree to help us change the way we live on this planet.
We also lack the solidarity and social cohesion that would be necessary to embark on such a undertaking, particularly in the very countries that need this the very most, such as the United States. Social capital has been undermined by the effects of economic affluence and mass consumerism. This isn’t going to change until these people are dead and gone. This ultimately all means that we will suffer through and die from “involuntary collapse” because there is no other possibility. Whatever survives this period, if anything, will be at a much lower level of social and political complexity.
It’s now quite evident that world leaders are fundamentally incapable of changing the direction of the world now. They’re far too entrenched and vested in the status quo to change how we all live on this planet – unless it somehow were to serve their own ends, so there has to be a profit-motive. So I do not expect any effective leadership or change to happen anywhere. We’re going to plunge all the way to the bottom now. They’re going to allow it to happen in my opinion while giving a token response on what can be done.
The risk that they are taking on behalf of the entire human race, including all future humans that might have come to exist, are taking is absolutely enormous, but there it is. It makes virtually no sense whatsoever. Our very life-support systems are in jeopardy, but they’re unwilling to do enough about it.
There is a Netflix movie called “IO” that just came out. Humanity has destroyed the planet and must leave the Earth. The problem with this idea is there is absolutely no place to go. It’s science-fiction fantasy that we’re going to find a new home in the stars – we can’t get there, nor can we survive the rigors of space very long. We are a long, long ways from the kind of space travel that would be required to reach a habitable planet – if there even are any. We don’t have that kind of time left on Earth. We should be doing everything we can to restore the life-support systems of the Earth first so that we can survive here. But we’re not.
Would your ideas work?
No, probably not. This is why I developed the Life Project concept. We should have changed course 30 or even 40 years ago, but it’s highly probable that it’s too late now.
Life Project – Strategic Initiative for Reduced Human Survival. This is a project proposal that plans ahead for what I believe is going to be inevitable and totally unavoidable. 7.7 billion humans will eventually become 8.5 and then 10 and even 11 billion, provided the Earth systems do not crash catastrophically first.
However, I think that we experience a catastrophic crash before then, along with massive suffering, starvation and violence. This will reduce global populations levels fairly quickly if these events are widespread. If they’re not, and they somehow manage to keep the “wheels” on, then we will totter along a bit further while still fighting over what is left.
Competition for essential things will be in great demand, and so will the various means and ways in which we will try to get them. Rich countries will fare better then poor, just like they do right now, because there will still be those who will perceive wealth and money as being something to have. So whatever resources are still being exchanged, whether it be food, fuel, water, minerals, raw materials or products, there will still be opportunists at work trying to make profits, even while massive numbers of people are starving to death or being made homeless.
The Life Project anticipates these scenarios as likely to happen. The goal here is to create continuity of life centers where a reduced population of humanity can still survive on the planet, as well as what can be preserved within the biosphere. It’s not even known yet if any of this is possible, but it’s a strategic planning concept that anticipates a coming ecological and environmental collapse that drastically reduces the human population and how we might best plan for this reality.
We’re currently far into population overshoot and resource depletion territory. Most of the proposals and concepts that speak of “sustainability” grossly misrepresent what this term actually means. At present, there is almost nothing humans do that is actually sustainable. True sustainability means to have whatever is taken from the natural environment naturally replaced. That does not describe hardly anything our civilization does today. Even the aquifers which rely upon rainfall patterns to be replenished can take thousands of years to be recharged, and we are are swiftly depleting these water sources using fossil fuels and drinking what is effectively, “fossil water” that has been in the ground for a very long time.
Photosynthesis is the only “sustainable” source of energy on the planet, but we’ve not harnessed this in any way to provide energy sources for humanity. We grow our crops with it, but that’s only after we’ve decimated the natural environment, razed the trees and bulldozed the fields, applied chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides, and then harvested the foods grown using diesel powered machinery. Then we process the food in giant warehouses that consumed even more land and require more resources, all of it fossil fuel derived and then we truck the food all around the country to be sold in supermarkets and stores which we visit by driving our multi-ton machines burning even more fossil fuels to get there. Once home, we eat what we want and wind up tossing out the rest, adding to landfills with enormous amounts of human “garbage”. These toxic dumps can now be found all over the planet by the millions.
These are not the actions of a “sustainable civilization”. None of this is “sustainable” by any stretch of the imagination. It’s an insane system devised by people who simply don’t care what their actions cost. There is virtually no thought for what could happen if this paradigm were perpetuated, but that is exactly where we are today.
What is happening now in the world’s climate is the direct result of what we have already designed and built – highly unsustainable food systems, cities, villages and towns stretching out all over the world while terraforming the planet to suit our supposed “needs”. We call this “civilization”. But now it is all at risk as Earth systems can no longer absorb the these devastating impacts from humanity that we’ve inflicted non-stop. But now we’ve got a another problem to consider – how do we manage our exploding population? What will we do to feed the world going forward?
Climate change reduces the nutritional content of food with higher temperatures. Current farming practices and farming yields are extremely dependent upon the application of fertilizers to increase yields, all of which comes from fossil fuel. If global energy supplies decline, and they most certainly will, we have too many mouths to feed adequately. It’s a situation that cannot last much longer and yet trying to talk about overpopulation is generally taboo. We don’t want to face reality.
We’ve changed the energy balance of the planet with our activities, triggering positive feedback loops that will cause the planet to keep warming up no matter what we do now. Our civilization is poorly designed to adapt to these higher temperatures and bigger climatic events. But what’s even much, much worse then this is the adaptability within the biosphere. Plants cannot adapt swiftly enough to these higher temperatures, nor can they just migrate like some animals do to survivable temperatures and seasons. This is the wet-bulb temperature problem that causes plant respiratory failure – including our food crops. Higher temperatures expected from global warming does not mean that we die of heat stroke first – we die of starvation as our food crops fail.
There is no known substitute for current food production methods. Vertical farms are neither sustainable or “green”, they do not grow sufficient calories or nutrition and require enormous quantities of energy to operate. They’re a modern idea that doesn’t actually solve anything except provide a few low-calorie food offering in the interim period where we still have tolerable temperatures and adequate energy supplies, but that’s it. Definitely not sustainable going into the future.
The current design of civilization has been to take whatever we wanted and to ignore all the waste products and energy consumption. With the discovery of oil, this just got worse and worse, enabling humanity to exploit the planetary resources more and more. Everyone else seems to be pretty much okay with this, but it’s a recipe for disaster on a finite planet. We’re in serious, serious trouble, on multiple fronts right now and it’s only going to get worse as the planet continues to heat up.