All The Farm That Is Fit To Print

Friday, September 30, 2011

Empire Heritage Days


There will be demonstrations in the making of apple cider, ice cream, butter, apple butter, maple sugar candy, sauerkraut, surveying (the old fashion way) and other demonstrations using turn of the century methods.

 Other entertainment and activities will include blacksmithing, woodworking, live music, recorded old phonograph and music box music and player piano demonstrations.

There will also be several old tractors, cars and bicycles spread throughout the museum grounds providing various demonstrations. According to chairperson Dave Taghon, our 38th Heritage Days Celebration marks the end of another great season of keeping our past alive.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hansen's Foods


The mums, pumpkins, and corn stalks have arrived in time to decorate your yards for that wonderful fall color.

There is a delicious variety of local apples in the produce department. Don't forget the Apple Cider.

The deli has a section of ready to eat dishes for your dinner needs.

Stop by the meat department for some sizzling meats for your grill.

Please let us know if there is anything we can help you with.

Enjoy these great days of fall. Its one of the most perfect time of the year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Festive Sale & Happy Apple Days

Traverse City - Downtown

Downtown Annual Fall Festival will take place as usual on the first Saturday of the month. Participating shops will be featuring live mannequin displays, store specials, children's activities, storytelling and entertainment. The streetscapes will be decked with cornstalks and festive mums. Merchants will have bushels of apples to share with their customers. For more information, call (231) 922-2050.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Color in Leelanau, the Sleeping Bear Dunes & Traverse City

by Andrew McFarlane

Fall color season is a great time to visit the Leelanau Peninsula. Our roadsides are lined with maple and oak and while the hillsides catch fire in late September of every year, the pace slows down and gives visitors a little more elbow room to slow down and enjoy it all. Here's a few of our favorite fall features and websites...

•Leelanau Webcams There's a few webcams that can give you a live look at the state of fall color in the region. If you turn the Cove Cam in Leland, you can see some of the color on Lake Street in Leland. Inland Seas has a webcam on Suttons Bay. You can also check in on downtown Traverse City.

•Fall Color Photos You can get some great fall color photos from the Leelanau.com photo group and also through the Leelanau blog's Fall archive. There's some nice fall backgrounds as well!

•Wine Touring The Leelanau peninsula is home to over 20 wineries, many of them off-the-beaten-path. Visit tiny tasting rooms like Chateau Fontaine in Lake Leelanau, or explore the impressive Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay. Each as diverse and interesting as the award-winning wines they produce.

•Fall Surfing! You might not be aware that Leelanau boasts some excellent surfing in the Fall.
•The M-22 Color Tour explores 116 miles of scenic highway winding through the countryside of Benzie, Manistee, and Leelanau Counties.

Over at Michigan.org their fall color tour for Leelanau/Traverse City/Benzie features Leelanau:

"Land of Delight" is the English translation of the Indian wood "leelanau," and it's easy to understand the reason for so naming the Leelanau Peninsula, especially in fall. Circling the perimeter of the place many call Michigan's "little finger" is a color tour that has been popular for decades. An easy and interesting route, M-22 takes you along the shoreline through the quaint villages of Suttons Bay, Peshasbestown, Omena and Northport, with water views almost the entire way. North of Suttons Bay the sign reads: Northport 12 miles. Northport, situated near the tip of Leelanau Peninsula, overlooking Grand Traverse Bay, is a picture-perfect town, with a marina, waterfront, unique shops, galleries and restaurants.

Each port town has its own unique charm, and each is a perfect place for shopping, dining, trying your luck at the casino or just breathing the crisp fall air. Tour the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, a living museum. Along the western coast, Leland and Glen Arbor offer still more options, and spectacular autumn color can be expected in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a 71,000-acre national park that includes 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Go barefoot "one last time" when you encounter the massive sand dunes and stunning sunset beaches.

According to the National Park Service, many of the best spots for viewing fall colors at Sleeping Bear are easily reached by car or by a brief hike. The park's popular Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, for instance, gives motorists a bird's-eye view of areas like Alligator Hill, where brilliant fall foliage is set off by Glen Lake's tropical shades of turquoise, jade and cobalt blue.

Get more at puremichigan.org

Sunday, September 25, 2011

$5 Challenge, McMuffins, and the Cost of Food

by Anna Lappe

I hear it all the time: I can’t eat healthy; organic food is so expensive! Over the weekend, Slow Food USA brought together more than 30,000 people around the country to tackle this lament with the “$5 Challenge,” showing how we can eat well on five bucks. Sure, if you go to a Whole Foods in Manhattan you can be set back $20 bucks before you know it, and with little to show for it. But, as Team SFUSA helped reveal, there are ways to stretch your dollar and eat well.

Still, all this got me wondering: Is fast food really cheaper, no matter how you slice it?

At a McDonald’s in Greenpoint, a friend pointed out to me, Egg McMuffins were going for $2.99. Seems cheap, right? (Of course, if you know much about our modern industrial food system and its costs, you’d know that this price tag doesn’t account for how much you and I are really paying: the billions in health care costs because of preventable diet-related illnesses; the billions more in pollution clean-up costs, largely from the factory farms producing the meat, including that McMuffin bacon. You get the idea.)

But let’s stick with the actual price: $2.99. And compare that with what it would cost to make an organic, homemade Egg Mc-ish-muffin.

I priced out the ingredients from a Brooklyn supermarket (not a Whole Foods, mind you) and calculated the specific price per ingredient based on a comparable portion size. The grand total for the organic, homemade one? $2.59. Yup, that’s forty cents less than the fast food “cheap” meal.

Cheaper and, I would argue, better. Now, we could debate the nutritional merits of a breakfast of bacon and cheese on an English muffin, but I think there’s good evidence that when comparing these options, the organic one is healthier, better for the environment, not to mention animal welfare and worker welfare in terms of decreasing exposure to toxic chemicals. First, the McDonald’s sandwich includes trans fats, those “bad-for-you” fats that the company had promised to phase out of its products, but didn’t. And the bacon, unlike the organic variety, will have come from pigs raised on diets that would most likely include daily doses of sub-therapeutic antibiotics and potentially everything from rendered animal fat to plastics (they say it’s for “roughage”).

Finally, you might not realize you’re eating genetically modified foods when you’re biting into a McMuffin, but think again. Some variation of the soybean is found in every one of the ingredients that make up this McDonalds’ sandwich, except the bacon. (And since pigs in factory farms eat a lot of soy in their feed, well, you could argue it’s in there, too.) And, since virtually all soybeans raised in the United States now come from genetically modified seeds, good chance you’re eating it in here. Why all that soy?

Since soybeans are one of the cheapest crops to grow in the United States, (thanks in large part to federal subsidies), food companies commonly use soy-derived emulsifiers to help ingredients stick together, for instance, or, in the case of your muffin, to help the dough rise easier. Along with the English muffin, soy lecithin is in the cheese, eggs, even in the liquid margarine to cook the eggs.

So, if the homemade version not only helps you steer clear of GMOs and is most likely better for you, but is also demonstrably less expensive, then why does fast food always get presented as so cheap, and organic as so out-of-reach and pricey? Answering that question forces us to talk about more than just the sticker price on a McMuffin or the back-story of its ingredients. It means talking about the food system and, even more importantly, the economic context we all live in, for all of that comes into play to determine the choices we can, or can’t make, about what we eat.

Taking this broader view means asking questions about food access: Who lives near a store that carries organic food and who doesn’t? Why do certain communities have a McDonald’s on every other block and others have farmers markets? And it means asking questions about who has a kitchen they can cook in, one with toasters and stoves, pans and knives. And it means inquiring about who has time to go to the store and cook and clean. (Especially clean, I think, having just done a sink full of dishes myself).

For millions of Americans, especially those living below the poverty line, these are the questions that are just as intricately connected to the question of what we choose to eat as the price at the end of the checkout line. And, we know now, more families are living in poverty than at any time in the past 52 years, when estimates for families in poverty were first calculated in this country. In its latest data, the U.S. Census Bureau found 46.2 million Americans—one in five children—live on annual incomes below $22,113 for a family of four. For these tens of millions of Americans the fact that you can make an organic Egg Mc-ish-muffin more cheaply than buying one at McDonalds is cold comfort when the food system and the economic system—the access, the time, the wages—are rigged against you.

I’ve heard the “food movement” criticized for talking about too many “issues”—poverty and farmworker wages, environmental pollution and animal welfare, health and obesity. We’ve been accused of not being focused enough. But in light of the complex factors that impact what we feed our children, I don’t think this is a weakness; I think it’s our strength. How can you talk about food choices without talking about inequality and government policy? How can you talk about food choices without talking about stagnating wages for workers and longer average working hours? You can’t; we shouldn’t. And, thankfully, food movement organizations like Slow Food USA don’t.

The idea behind Slow Food USA’s $5 Challenge this weekend was more than just to show it’s possible to eat well on a budget. It was to get us asking if it is possible to eat well affordably, then what are all the other barriers that keep so many from being able to choose “slow food”, not fast food, and how do we lift these barriers?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Get A Kit

By Ready.gov

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Local maps

Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

Prescription medications and glasses

Infant formula and diapers

Pet food and extra water for your pet

Cash or traveler's checks and change

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) - PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.

Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.

Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

Fire Extinguisher

Matches in a waterproof container

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels

Paper and pencil

Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ghost Farm of Kingsley's Trails of Terror Haunted Walk

A Kingsley Farm is haunted...driving its Farmer into madness...and this year the Farmer is harvesting your screams...

More than just a haunted walk, come out for Smores, hot food, chilling ghost stories around a campfire, psychic readings by Sacred Grounds, fall games and so much more for a chilling and truly magical Northern Michigan autumn night.

Walks start at dark and run every 5-15 minutes. Guaranteed Walk Time and Group discounts with group bookings (10 or more) in advance-just give us a call to secure a walk time today!

Special Appearances by MAPIT Paranormal Researchers October 28th & 29th.

Just 15 minutes south of TC. Easy to find, just follow the roadside signs.

Pre-sale tickets are being sold NOW by the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's 8th graders for $7. $8 at the gate. Portion of the Proceeds goes to their class fundraiser. Cash only please and thank you!

For more information go to GhostFarm.net or call 231-645-1447.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jacob's Corn Maze

http://www.sleepingbeardunes.com/info/planning_calendar.phpSepember 1 - October 29, 2011

Experience an extraordinary corn maze. The maze theme and design changes every year. This year the theme is pirates.

7100 E. Traverse Hwy. (M-72 West), Traverse City,

Phone: 231.632.MAZE (6293) Located 3.5 miles from West Grand Traverse Bay on West M-72. Our farm

Opens Saturday, August 20, 2011

Closes Sunday, October 29, 2011


Sunday 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Mondays 10:00 am to 6:00pm

Tuesday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Wednesday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Thursday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Friday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Saturday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Single Admission

FREE - Children UNDER 3

$6.00 - Children ages 3 to 11

$8.00 - General Admission

Additional $1.00 for each FSI Experience Card

Group Admission

Group discounts are offered on ADULT TICKETS ONLY. Adult tickets are $7.00 apiece for groups of 20 or more. Each FSI Experience Card is $1.00 (optional but worth the minimal expense). Children are not discounted.

Please call 231.632.MAZE (6293) to book your group. We accept all major credit cards.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Time Is Short Now That We're Past Peak Oil

Chris Martenson

With so much going on with Europe's debt crisis, the continuing disaster and economic contraction in Japan, and the potential for a very hard landing in the Chinese growth miracle (which is in the running as my favorite "black swan candidate" for 2011), I am going to return our attention to oil in this report. The next report will assess the developing and unfolding debt crisis that will drag down most of the developed economies at some point, and this report will provide essential context for understanding why this result is inevitable and when it will occur.

The Next Oil Shock

The only thing that could prevent another oil shock from happening before the end of 2012 would be another major economic contraction. The emerging oil data continues to tell a tale of ever-tightening supplies that will soon be exceeded by rising global demand. This time, we will not be able to blame speculators for the steep prices we experience; instead, we will have nothing to blame but geology.

Back in 2009, I wrote a pair of reports in which I calculated that we’d see another price spike in oil by 2010 or 2011, based on some assumptions about global GDP growth rates, rates of decline in existing oil fields, and new projects set to come online. Given the recent price spike in oil (Brent crude over $126, now at $115) and recent oil supply data, those predictions turned out to be quite solid (for reference, oil was trading in the low $60s at the time).

One part I whiffed on was in my prediction that the world community would have embraced the idea of Peak Oil by now and begun adjusting accordingly, but that’s not really true except in a few cases (e.g. Sweden). Perhaps things are being differently and more seriously considered behind closed doors, but out in public the dominant story line concerns reinvigorating consumer demand, not a looming liquid fuel crisis.

How the major economies can continue proceeding with a business-as-usual mindset given the oil data is really quite a mystery to me, but that’s just how things happen to be at the moment.

At any rate, with Brent crude oil having lofted over $100/bbl at the beginning of February and remained above that big, round number for four months now, we are already in the middle of a price shock. It may not be a perfect repeat of the circumstances of the 2008 oil shock, but it's close enough that the risk of an economic contraction, at least for the weaker economies, is not unthinkable here. Japan, now in recession and 100% dependent on oil imports, comes to mind.

Looking at the new data and reading even minimally between the lines of recent International Energy Agency (IEA) statements, I am now ready to move my ‘Peak Oil is a statistically unavoidable fact’ event to sometime in 2012, which tightens my prediction from the prior range of 2012-2013.

Upon this recognition, the next shock will drive oil to new heights that are currently unimaginable for most. First, $200/bbl will be breached, then $300, and then more. And these are in current dollar terms; any additional dollar weakness will simply be additive to the actual quoted price. By this I mean that if oil were to trade at $200 but the dollar lost one half of its value along the way, then oil would be priced at $400.

Stampeding Into a Box Canyon

In 2009, I wrote a special report on oil that explored the interplay between energy and the economy. At that time, the stock market was in the tank, global growth was in a freefall, and things looked gloomy.

But I knew that thin-air money is not without its charms and that we’d experience a rebound of sorts. Here’s what I wrote:

I am of the opinion that these trillions and trillions of dollars, which, along with their foreign equivalents, are being applied to “ease the credit crunch,” will eventually find their mark and deliver what feels like a legitimate rebound in activity. All those trillions have to eventually go somewhere and do something.

For now, debts are defaulting faster than the various central banks and governments can inject new money and borrowing activity into the system. Banks aren’t lending because there are very few compelling loans to make, especially if future losses have to actually be carried by the bank making the loan.

But this won’t be true forever. Sooner or later, all the trillions of new dollars will trot out of the barn, begin to gallop, and then thunder off, creating the appearance of a healthy advance.

It will be a cruel illusion, though, as this stampeding herd of money is headed straight into a box canyon.

Money is only one component of growth. As we’ve strenuously proposed, energy is a necessary prerequisite for growth.


Well, here we are a couple of years later, with those trillions and trillions out of the barn and stampeding off trying to create some real and lasting economic growth. As we score these efforts, it appears to us that the amount and type of growth that has been achieved is underwhelming, to say the least.

Housing remains in a serious slump, wage-based income growth is poor, Europe remains mired in a serious debt crisis, Japan has slumped back into recession, and the US fiscal deficit is a structural nightmare. Worse, GDP growth is relatively tepid and would be negative, deeply negative, without all the deficit spending and liquidity measures.

As predicted, all that thin-air money, once released into the wild, had a mind of its own and created a serious bout of commodity inflation, especially in food and fuel, which is now seriously impacting the poor and middle classes.

So it’s hard to call the trillions and trillions ‘well spent.’ I was hoping for better results.

Yet we can’t call the re-flation efforts a complete failure, as we are not in a serious, destructive deflation, and we’ve all been granted a bit more time to get ourselves prepared in whatever ways make sense. The gift of time has been invaluable, and for that I am grateful. But in terms of creating a true and lasting economic miracle? It turns out, once again, that 'printing' money electronically is no more effective than calling in the silver coin of the realm, making each unit slightly smaller, and then re-issuing it. Real economic growth has not been created.

What has happened is that false demand, spurred on by trillions in thin-air money, has also spurred on renewed demand for oil, hastening the day that a geologically inspired supply/demand mismatch will finally arrive.

We are driving at a high rate of speed into a box canyon.

World Crude Supply

Before we get into the specifics of where I think the immediate trouble lies in the world oil data, let's take a moment to look at the big picture.

There are a number of ways to look at the petroleum data. The one I prefer to look at is something called 'crude + condensate' (C+C), which leaves out things like ethanol and natural gas liquids, both of which are converted to 'barrel of oil equivalents' (BOE) and added to the C+C to yield total liquid fuels. The reason I like to focus on C+C is that this is mainly conventional oil, the cheap and easy stuff, and it gives us a better idea of where we are in the Peak Oil story.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preparing for Life in a Peak Oil World

By Gail Tverberg
We know that peak oil will be here soon, and we feel like we should be doing something. But what? It is frustrating to know where to start. In this chapter, we will discuss a few ideas about what we as individuals can do.

1. What will the first few years after peak oil be like?

It is hard to know for certain, but a reasonable guess is that the impact will be like a major recession or depression. Many people will be laid off from work.

Gasoline is likely to be very expensive ($10 a gallon or more) and may not be available, except in limited quantities after waiting in line for a long time. Fewer goods of all types will be available in stores. Imports from third-world countries are likely to be especially unavailable, because of the impact of the oil shortage on their economies.

Gasoline prices may not rise as high as $10 gallon; the problem may be that at lower prices than $10 gallon, oil prices send the economy into recession. There may actually be a glut of oil supply because of recession or depression, because many cannot afford the high priced oil. For example, state highway departments cannot afford high priced asphalt. This is related to low "energy return on energy invested". If the goods and services made with oil aren't great enough to justify its high price, high oil price can be expected to send the economy into recession. Countries that use a lot of oil for purposes other than creating new goods and services are likely to be especially vulnerable to recession.

Money may not have the same value as previously–opinion is divided as to whether deflation or rampant inflation will be a problem. Investments, even those previously considered safe, are likely to lose value. Things we take for granted–like bottled water, fast food restaurants, and dry cleaners–may disappear fairly quickly. Electricity may become less reliable, with more frequent outages. Airplane tickets are likely to be extremely expensive, or only available with a special permit based on need.

2. If a scenario like this is coming, what can a person do now?

Here are a few ideas:

• Visit family and friends now, especially those at a distance. This may be more difficult to do in the future.

• Learn to know your neighbors. It is likely that you will need each other’s help more in the future.

• If you live by yourself, consider moving in with friends or relatives. In tough times, it is better to have others to rely on. It is also likely to be a lot cheaper.

• Buy a bicycle that you can use as alternate transportation, if the need arises.

• Start walking or jogging for exercise. Get yourself in good enough physical condition that you could walk a few miles if you needed to.

• Take care of your physical health. If you need dental work or new glasses, get them. Don’t put off immunizations and other preventive medicine. These may be more difficult to get, or more expensive, later.

• Move to a walkable neighborhood. If it seems likely that you will be able to keep your job, move closer to your job.

• Trade in your car for one with better mileage. If you have a SUV, you can probably sell it at a better price now than in the future.

• If you have two cars powered by gasoline, consider trading one for a diesel-powered vehicle. That way, if gasoline (or diesel) is not available, you will still have one car you can drive.

• Make sure that you have at least a two-week supply of food and water, if there is some sort of supply disruption. It is always good to have some extra for an emergency–the likelihood of one arising is greater now.

• Keep reasonable supplies of things you may need in an emergency–good walking shoes, boots, coats, rain wear, blankets, flashlights and batteries (or wind-up flashlights).

• Take up hobbies that you will be able to continue in a low energy world, such as gardening, knitting, playing a musical instrument, bird watching, or playing cards with neighbors.

• Join a local sustainability group or “permaculture” group and start learning about sustainable gardening methods.

3. Do I need to do more than these things?

It really depends on how much worse things get, and how quickly. If major services like electricity and water remain in place for many years, and if gasoline and diesel remain reasonably available, then relatively simple steps will go a a long way.

Some steps that might be helpful to add once the crunch comes include:

• Join a carpool for work, or make arrangements to work at home. If public transportation is available, use it.

• Cut out unnecessary trips. Eat meals at home. Take your lunch to work. Walk or jog in your neighborhood rather than driving to the gym. Order from the internet or buy from stores you can walk to, rather than driving alone to stores.

• If you live a distance from shopping, consider forming a neighborhood carpool for grocery and other shopping. Do this for other trips as well, such as attending church. If closer alternatives are available, consider them instead.

• Plant a garden in your yard. Put in fruit or nut trees. Make a compost pile, and use it in your garden. Put to use what you learned in sustainability or permaculture groups.

• Meat, particularly beef, is likely to be very expensive. Learn to prepare meals using less meat. Make casseroles like your grandmother’s, making a small amount of meat go a long way. Or make soup using a little meat plus vegetables or beans.

• Use hand-me-down clothing for younger children. Or have a neighborhood garage sale, and trade clothing with others near you.

4. Should families continue to have two, three, or four children, as they often do today?

With the uncertainties ahead, it would be much better if families were very small–one child, or none at all. The world’s population has grown rapidly in the last 100 years. Part of the reason for growth is the fact that with oil and natural gas, it was possible to grow much more food than in the past. As we lose the use of these fossil fuels, it is likely that we will not be able to produce as much food as in the past, because of reduced ability to irrigate crops, and reduced availability of fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides. In addition, manufactured goods of all types, including clothing and toys, are likely to be less available, with declining fossil fuel supply. Having smaller families will help fit the population to the available resources.

If couples have completed their families, it would probably be worthwhile for them to consider a permanent method of contraception, since birth control may be less available or more expensive.

5. Are there any reasons why steps such as those outlined in Question 3 might be too little to handle the problem?

Besides the decline in oil production, there are a number of other areas of concern. Hopefully, most of these will never happen, or if they do happen, will not occur for several years. If they do happen, greater measures than those outlined in Question 3 are likely to be needed.

• Collapse of the financial system. Our financial system needs growth to sustain it, so that loans can be paid back with interest. Once peak oil hits, growth will be gone. Economic growth may even be replaced with economic decline. It is not clear our financial system can handle this.

• Collapse of foreign trade. Many factors may come into play: The cost of transportation will be higher. Airline transport may not be available at all. Fewer goods are likely to be produced by the poorer countries of the world, because of power outages related to high oil prices. Rapid inflation/deflation may make monetary transactions more difficult.

• Rapid climate change. Recently, scientists have discovered that climate change can take place over a very short period of time–as little as a decade or two. Temperature and precipitation changes may cause crop failures, and may make some areas no longer arable. Sea levels may also rise.

• Failure of the electrical grid. The grid tends to be vulnerable to many kinds of problems–including deterioration due to poor maintenance, damage during storms, and attacks in times of civil unrest. Maintenance is currently very poor (grade of D) according to the “Report Card on America’s Infrastructure” by the American Society of Civil Engineers. If we cannot maintain the grid, and upgrade it for the new wind and solar capacity being added, we will all be in the dark.

• Water shortages. There are several issues–We are drawing down some aquifers at unsustainable rates, and these may be depleted. Climate change may reduce the amount of water available, by melting ice caps and changing storm patterns. City water and sewer systems require considerable energy inputs to continue functioning. If these are not provided, the systems will stop. Finally, systems must also be adequately maintained–something that is neglected currently.

• Road deterioration. If we don’t have roads, it doesn’t matter whether we have cars. In the future, asphalt (a petroleum product) is expected to become more and more expensive and less available. It is not clear whether recycling asphalt from lesser-used roads will overcome this difficulty.

• Decline in North American natural gas production. Natural gas is especially used for home heating, making plastics and making fertilizer. It is also used in electrical generation, particularly for extra load capacity when demand is high. Conventional natural gas is declining, and it is not clear that supply from other sources can make up the gap.

We now have shale gas and other unconventional making up the gap, but there are uncertainties how long it will stay with us.

• Inadequate mineral supplies. A number of minerals are becoming less avaialble, including copper (used in electric wiring), platinum (used in catalytic converters), phosphorous (used in fertilizer).

• Fighting over available supplies. This could happen at any level. Individuals with inadequate food or gasoline may begin using violence. Or there may be fighting among groups within a nation, or between nations.

6. Are there any reasons for optimism?

Yes. We know that people throughout the ages have gotten along successfully with far fewer resources than we have now, and with much less foreign trade. Financial systems have gotten into trouble in the past, and eventually new systems have replaced them. If nothing else, barter works.

We know that among the countries of the world, the United States, Canada, and Russia have reasonably good resource endowments in relation to their populations. They have fairly large amounts of land for crops, moderate rainfall, reasonable amounts of fossil fuels remaining, and populations that are not excessively large.

We also know that Cuba successfully made a transition from high oil usage to much lower oil usage, through the development of local gardens, increased public transit, and bicycles. A movie has been made about the Cuban experience.

7. What should we do, if we want to do more than described in Question 3?

Some web sites (such as Life After the Oil Crash and wtdwtshtf.com) advocate moving to a farming area, buying land and hand tools, and learning to farm without fossil fuels. Typically, an individual purchases an existing farmhouse and adds solar panels or a windmill. The web sites generally recommend storing up large supplies of food, clothing, medicine, tools, guns, and ammunition, and learning a wide range of skills. These sites also suggest storing some things (liquor, razor blades, aspirin, etc.) for purposes of barter.

This approach may work for a few people, but it has its drawbacks. Making such a big move is likely to be expensive, and will most likely involve leaving one’s job. The individual will be alone, so security may be a problem. The individual may be dependent on his or her own resources for most things, especially if the farm is in a remote location. If the weather is bad, crops may fail. Living on the edge of a small town may prevent some problems, but such a move would still be a major undertaking.

8. How about Ecovillages? What are they?

These are communities dedicated to the idea of sustainable living. These communities were set up in response to many issues facing the world, including global warming, resource depletion, and lifestyles that are not fulfilling. They were generally not formed with peak oil in mind.

Each ecovillage is different. Organizers often buy a large plot of land and lay out a plan for it. Individuals buy into the organization. Homes may be made from sustainable materials, such as bales of straw. Gardening is generally done using “permaculture”- a sustainable organic approach. Individuals may have assigned roles in the community.

The few ecovillages I investigated did not seem to truly be sustainable–they bought much of their food and clothing from outside, and made money by selling tours of their facilities. The ecovilliage approach could theoretically be expanded to provide self-sustaining post-peak oil communities, but would require some work. Some adventuresome readers may want to try this approach.

9. Is there a middle ground? What should be people be doing now, if they want to do more than outlined in Questions 2 and 3, but aren’t ready to immerse themselves in a new lifestyle?

As a middle ground, people need to start thinking seriously about how to maintain their own food and water security, and start taking steps in that direction.

Food security. We certainly hope our current system of agriculture will continue without interruption, but there is no guarantee of this. Our current method is very productive, but uses huge amounts of energy. If we can keep our current system going, its productivity would likely be higher than that of a large number of individual gardens. The concern is that eventually the current system may break down due to reduced oil supply and need to be supplemented. Vulnerabilities include:

• Making hybrid seed, and transporting it to farmers

• Getting diesel fuel to the farmers who need it

• Transporting food to processing centers by truck

• Creating processed food in energy-intensive factories

• Making boxes and other containers for food

• Transporting processed food to market

If diesel fuel is allocated by high price alone, farmers may not be able to afford fuel, and may drop out. Or truck drivers may not be able to get what they need.

It is in our best interest to have a back-up plan. The one most often suggested is growing gardens in our yards–even front yards. Another choice is encouraging local farms, so that transportation is less of an issue. It takes several years to get everything working well (new skills learned, fruit trees to reach maturity), so we need to start early.

One type of crop that is particularly important is grain, since grain provides a lot of calories and stores well. In some parts of the country, potatoes might be a good substitute. It would be good if people started planting grain in gardens in their yards. There is a lot to learn in order to do this, including learning which grains grow well, how much moisture and nutrients the grains need, and how to process them. If the grain that grows well is unfamiliar, like amaranth, there is also a need to learn how to use it in cooking.

Individuals (or local farms) should also begin growing other foods that grow well in their areas, including fruits and nuts, greens of various types, and other more traditional garden crops, including beans. For all types of gardening, non-hybrids seeds (sometimes called heirloom seeds) are probably best for several reasons:

• It makes storing seeds after harvest possible, and reduces dependence on hybrid seeds.

• There is less uniformity, so the harvest is spread over a longer period.

• The reduced uniformity also helps prevent crop failure in years with drought or excessive rain. Some seeds will not grow, but others will. (Hybrids are all or nothing.)

Imported foods are likely to shrink in supply more quickly than other foods. If you live in a country that is dependent on imported foods, you may want to consider moving elsewhere.

Water Security. Here, the largest issue is whether there is likely to be sufficient supply in your area. Another issue is whether there will be sufficient water for your garden, at appropriate times. A third issue is whether there will be disruptions in general, because of poor maintenance or because the process of treating fresh water (and sewage) is energy-intensive.

With respect to sufficient water in your area, if it looks like there is a problem (desert Southwest, for example), relocating now rather than later is probably a good idea. Transporting water is energy intensive, and new efforts at developing energy (like shale oil or more ethanol) are likely to make the water supply situation even worse.

With respect to water for gardening, consider a rainwater catchment system for your roof. Runoff water is saved in barrels, and can be used for irrigation in dry periods.

General disruptions of water supply are more difficult. Keep some bottled water on hand. You may also want to consider a tank for greater storage supply. Rainwater catchment can be used for drinking water, with the correct type of roofing (not asphalt shingles!) and proper treatment, but this is not generally legal in the United States.

10. What kind of investments should I be making?

A person’s first priority should be buying at least a little protection for a rainy day – some extra food and water, comfortable clothing, blankets and flashlights. I suggested two weeks worth in Question 2. If you have money and space, you may want to buy more.

Paying down debt is probably a good idea, if only for the peace of mind it brings. There are some possible scenarios where debt is not a problem (hyper-inflation but you keep your existing job and get a raise). In many other scenarios (deflation; job lay-offs; rising food and energy prices) debt is likely to be even harder to pay off than it is now.

Land for a garden is probably a good investment, as well as garden tools. You will want to invest in gardening equipment, some books on permaculture, and perhaps some heirloom seeds. You may also want to consider a rainwater catchment system, to collect water from your roof.

You may also want to invest in solar panels for your home. If you want round-the-clock solar energy, you will also need back-up batteries. Buying these is questionable–they tend to be very expensive, require lots of maintenance, and need to be replaced often.

There is a possibility that the financial system will run into difficulty in the not-too-distant future. Some ideas for investments that may protect against this are

• Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)

• Bank accounts protected by the FDIC

• Gold coins

• Silver coins

If you want to invest in the stock market, we know that there will be more and more drilling done for oil and gas done in the next few years, so companies making drilling equipment are likely to do well. Small independent oil and gas companies may also do well, doing “work-over” business. We know that there are likely to be shortages in some metals in the years ahead (copper, platinum, uranium), so shares in companies mining these types of metals may do well.

Investments in biofuels should be considered with caution. Most ethanol from corn appears to be heavily dependent on subsidies. If it should ever have to compete with other fuels on a level playing ground, it is likely to do poorly.

I would be cautious about buying insurance policies, except for short-term needs such as automobile coverage, homeowners coverage, and term life insurance. If we encounter a period of significant deflation, insurance companies are likely to fail, because bondholders cannot pay their debt. If we run into a period of rapid inflation, the life insurance or long term care coverage you buy may have very little real value when you come to use it.

11. Should I move to a different location?

There are many reasons you might want to consider moving to a different location:

• To find something less expensive. If times are going to be difficult, you do not want to be paying most of your income on a mortgage or rent.

• To be closer to friends or family, in the difficult times ahead.

• To share a house or apartment with friends or family.

• To be closer to work or public transportation.

• To be closer to a type of employment that you believe will have a better chance of continuing in the future.

• To have better fresh water supplies.

• To join a community with similar interests in sustainability.

• To leave a community that you feel may be prone to violence, in time of shortage.

There are disadvantages as well as advantages to moving to a new location. If many others are trying to move at the same time, you may not be welcome in the new community. You will likely not have friends and the support group you would have had in your prior location. Because of these issues, it is probably better to move sooner, rather than later, if you are going to move. If you balance the pluses and the minuses, it may be better to stay where you are.

12. We hear a lot about various things we can do to be “green”, like buying fluorescent light bulbs. Do these save oil?

Most of the “green” ideas you read about save energy of some kind, but not necessarily oil. Even so, they are still a good idea. If there is a shortage of one type of energy, it tends to affect other types of energy as well. Doing “green” things is also helpful from a global warming perspective.

Here are some green ideas besides using fluorescent light bulbs:

• Move to a smaller house or apartment.

• Insulate your house, and have it professionally sealed to keep out drafts.

• If any rooms are unused, do not heat and cool them.

• Keep your house warmer in summer, and cooler in winter.

• If you no longer need a big refrigerator, buy a smaller one. Be sure it is an “Energy Star” refrigerator.

• If you have more than one refrigerator, get rid of the extra(s). Refrigerators are a big source of energy use. For parties, use ice in a tub.

• Separate freezers are also big energy users. Consider doing without.

• Eat less meat. Also avoid highly processed foods and bottled water. All of these require large amounts of energy for production.

• Get power strips and turn off appliances that drain energy when not in use.

• Turn off lights that are not needed.

• Rewire lights into smaller “banks”, so you do not need to light up the whole basement when all you want is light in a small corner.

• Get a clothes line, so you do not need to use your clothes dryer.

• When cooking, use the microwave whenever possible.

• Reduce air travel to a minimum. Air travel results in a huge number of miles of travel with corresponding fuel use.

• Recycle whenever you can.

• Eliminate disposables as much as possible (coffee cups, napkins, plastic bags, etc.)

13. Should we be talking to our local government officials about these problems?

Yes! At the local level, there are many changes that would be helpful:

• Laws permitting people to put up clothes lines in their yards.

• Laws encouraging gardens to be grown, even in the front yards of homes.

• Laws permitting multiple occupancy of houses by unrelated individuals.

• New local public transportation plans, particularly ones that do not require large outlay of funds. For example, a plan that is more like a glorified car pool might work.

• Allocation of funds to study the best crops to be grown in the area, and the best cultivation methods, if energy supplies are much lower in the future.

It would also be helpful to make changes at higher levels of government, but these are beyond the scope of the discussion in this chapter.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Surviving Peak Oil, The Economic Meltdown and A Possible New Great Depression:

By Peak Oil News Stories

The following survival strategies are for the possibility a post peak oil world that is truly in chaos. No one knows if we will see such a scenario come to pass and I hope that they won't. As a self described "survivalist" and a Red Cross Volunteer who has spent time at the epicenter of category 5 hurricanes, I have first hand knowledge of what you need to stay alive. You need clean water, food, shelter, medicines and communications, basically in that order and last but not least, a good plan. Save these crazy, crackpot ideas for, God forbid, future use.

If you are one of the lucky ones and can afford to keep your home during the current financial crisis or an even worse one that could happen, what kind of neighborhood will your home be located in? Already, in the early stages of the mortgage meltdown some of our suburbs are turning into suburban slums as the homeless and criminals occupy foreclosed homes and mosquitos breed in abandoned swimming pools. Chances are that there are abandoned, bank owned homes near where you live. Who will buy them, even when the new government bailout plan buys them up and what shape will they be in on auction day? The situation now gets worse as the treasury secretary has decided not to use TARP funds to buy up foreclosed properties.

Now there are nearly 12 million U.S. homeowners (and growing) who are upside down on their loans. They owe more than those homes are worth and many people are walking away, bad credit be damned because they can now rent for a fraction of what they were paying the bank. For those who choose to hang on to their homes it will be a challenge to keep that home safe as the crime rate increases.

Strategy # 1: Standing Your Ground In The City

If you are able to hold onto your home and can find work in the area where you live then your home will become your fortress against the increasingly dangerous urban world around you. Residents of "bad neighborhoods" such as parts of East Los Angeles already have experience in protecting their castles against invaders. But for those of us accustomed to living in "nice" neighborhoods the learning curve will be steep. You can start by spending some of the money you might have left on security bars for your windows, a shotgun, and a fence for your yard. By this time property associations will be bankrupt and won't be able to enforce rules so make your fence as high as possible. You'll be building the fence to keep thieves out and a dog in. Dog food is an added expense but a good watchdog can be worth their weight in gold. See the book "The Secure Home" for more ideas on how to protect your property.

You'll need a backup source of power since the power grid will become increasingly unreliable and power may only be available for certain hours of the day. A tri fuel generator that runs on natural gas, propane and gasoline is a good choice. So is a diesel generator since you can store barrels of diesel more safely than gasoline. Ideally a large propane tank, in an area away from thieves, is the best way to go. You can run a tri-fuel generator several days straight on a 150 gallon propane tank. You will need at least 5000 watts of power to run your appliances.

A more lasting solution is to invest in a solar power system of at least 500 watts for battery charging and to power an inverter to run small appliances. If you can afford a larger backup solar power system of at least 3KW, with multiple deep cycle batteries now is the time to buy one before prices skyrocket. An Air Marine wind generator can provide additional power when the sun is not shining.

A wood stove can burn waste wood and lumber to keep your home warm in winter. Choose one that has a cooking surface. You will need a flue cleaning kit to clean your smokestack regularly when burning anything other than clean firewood.

For water you can divert your gutters into a 1000 gallon or larger fiberglass tank and use a solar panel and RV type demand pump to pressure up your plumbing if city water is interrupted. Broken water mains will be a frequent problem as cities go bankrupt and can't afford to pay for repair crews.

If your yard is big enough you will want to replace much of your existing lawn with food producing plants including fruit trees. There are many varieties of greens such as mustard, collard and kale that grow in marginal soil and shade. You can plant pinto beans, straight from the pantry to produce green beans in spring and summer. Choose hardy varieties of plants such as hybrid tomatoes that are resistant to blight and fungus. Plant the eyes of russet potatoes in deep flower beds or stacked up tires filled with soil. You can kill pests with diluted dishwashing soap and by picking them off by hand. It is unlikely that you will be able to produce enough food on your own city lot to feed your family but your garden will fill in when other sources are scarce. You can also trade for different varieties of vegetables with your neighbors. An excellent book about self sufficiency is: "The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It". In "The Self Sufficient Life and How To Live It" methods of food canning and preservation are described that will come in handy.

Since food supplies will be disrupted having a good supply of food on hand is a must. Buy canned staples such as corned beef, evaporated milk, brown rice and beans and keep them in airtight containers such as Rubbermaid trash cans. Rust is the enemy of canned food so add dehydration packets which are available at boating supply stores. Keep a stock of dehydrated and freeze dried food for more long term storage. One good tasting brand is made by a company called Mountain House. Also keep a good supply of multivitamins to supply the nutrients you may be missing. Body-builder's protein powder made from soy or whey also keeps well.

Skills like sewing will be needed again to mend items. Get a good quality sewing machine, a supply of thread and spare parts for it.

You'll need a source of news and it is unlikely you will be able to afford or even get cable at this point. A simple solar powered radio may become your entertainment center. A small portable TV that operates on 12 volts can be operated from your solar battery bank.

You may not be able to afford medical care. Keep a good supply of broad spectrum antibiotics such as Cipro and pain killers. You may want to consider stocking up on essential prescription medicines that you need but do so with caution and always store medicines in a cool dry place sealed in airtight containers.

Communications Gear For Survival

It is unlikely that you will be able to afford cell phone service in a severe depression if it is even available. Instead you can utilize long range handheld radios to keep in touch with family around your neighborhood. There is a new type, that blows away the previous GRMS/FRS radios and gives about the same range. It is called a 900MHz FHSS 2-Way Radio and it uses a new type of frequency hopping to provide up to a billion privacy codes so your transmissions are just between you and the other party. Read More about them here..

. High power SSB CB and ham radios can reach out for thirty miles under the right conditions and using "skip" or bouncing the signal off the atmosphere can talk around the world. More About High Power SSB CB Radios Unlike some peak oil "doomers" I don't see high tech going away in the near term. There are enough garage inventors out there to scavenge and come up with all kinds of technology to fill in the gaps when the grid goes down as we have seen in third world countries. In Thailand entrepreneurs pedal around neighborhoods with solar powered Wi-Fi. As in India, neighbors may also agree to set up and share a single secure wireless connection across several city blocks with long range wi-fi antennas. Internet telephony services like Skype may replace traditional phones as land based networks become increasingly unreliable. There are now handheld phones that allow you to talk on the Skype network for free with any open WiFi connection in the world. Read more about how to set up a free internet connection with super long range WiFi antennas and boosters: For more see: How High Power WiFi Panel Antennas Can Help You Pick Up Free Internet

Someday you may have to decide to either hit the road or stand your ground.

Should you start buying guns? Should you start a neighborhood watch organization or patrol? Should you put in a garden for extra food or buy emergency rations? What about the infrastructure? Will power keep flowing down the lines with no money to fix our upgrade our electrical grid? Should you put in an auxiliary power supply such as solar panels or a generator? Maybe you should just pack up and hit the road.

Strategy #2: Going Mobile, Mad Max Style

For each of us our personal survival strategy may be different. For some it may mean leaving the home behind and taking to the road to find a less violent place to take shelter or an area where work can still be found. An RV, travel trailer or even a large tent might become your new residence as they have become for so many evicted homeowners recently. For those who choose the mobile path traveling smart and light are essential. See How to Make a Survival Backpack for some good info.

You'll want a good supply of freeze dried food or MRE's, tools, a multi - fuel generator for power and some communications gear such as a ham radio or CB in you vehicle for emergencies. You'll also want a number of water storage containers and a pump system for filling from streams. You will need a good water purifier to deal with contaminated sources. You will need a means of buying food so you will want a hiding place in your vehicle or RV for cash and small denominations of silver and gold coins in case the dollar becomes worthless. A versatile gun that can also be used for hunting, such as a shotgun is a must . You'll want a good supply of ammunition. Just remember to keep that gun in a safe place, both from thieves and your kids.

"Here's your burger sir, that'll be two twelve gauge shells and five 22 calibers please". It is very possible that ammunition will become a currency itself so carry a large supply of the most commonly used sizes including 12 gauge shotgun shells and 22 caliber bullets. The barter system may replace currency for most transactions. Items such as disposable razors, cigarettes and hand tools will be good for trading for gas and food. Sticking with a group of like minded people will be good insurance against trouble. This means finding safe RV parks and campgrounds where law and order still prevails. You'll need good neighbors to watch your things while you leave to find work, if there is any.

For those without a car you'll need a good frame backpack and everything you need to survive in miniature. Weight is your enemy so choose lightweight tents, sleeping bags, water purifiers and take along freeze dried food and MRE's to live on. Carry your cash, silver and gold in a money belt or shoe hiding place. You'll want to avoid crime ridden cities and find shelter and camping in safe campgrounds or on farms where you can find work. Setting up camp near a body of water has advantages for bathing and catching fish. Since you may be crossing many jurisdictions carrying a pistol may not be wise. Consider large pepper spray - dye spray containers instead. You'll need a lightweight crank or solar powered radio for news and if traveling with family a couple of GMRS radios to keep in touch with each other plus a solar battery charger. Consider a high power SSB CB radio for long range communication.

There are other options. A small sailboat is one of them. A self contained sailboat can provide shelter and mobility without the use of fuel. It can allow for movement to areas where there is work and safety along the vast Intercoastal Highway and navigable rivers as well as a way to leave the U.S. if necessary. There are many books that have been written about self-sufficient living aboard sailboats. In a post peak oil world sailboats may be one of the only affordable means of covering long distances. A fuel efficient motorcycle is another. The same packing strategy for backpacking applies to traveling by bike. Carry spare motorcycle parts, tire tubes, a good toolkit and extra gas.

For More Info See How To Make A Survival Backpack For Your Family

Strategy #3: Rural Survival

If you are lucky enough to own your own farm you will be in the best position of all for survival in a post peak or post economic meltdown world. You will be able to produce not only enough food to supply yourself but also for trade. Since the supply chain will be disrupted and parts hard to find you will want to have spares of everything and the means to can and store your own food. Farmers will undoubtedly form closer alliances with other nearby farmers and cooperative groups for tasks like firefighting and crop harvesting. Home canning and self sufficiency skills as described in the aforementioned books apply both to urban dwellers and rural residents. It will be essential for small farmers to re-learn the ways and the wisdom of the old timers before they pass on, such as growing crops without expensive chemical fertilizers.

Take The Middle Path, Be Prepared In The Early Stages Of The Crisis

I have met quite a few other individuals who call themselves "survivalists" in the hurricane ravaged areas where I have volunteered with the American Red Cross. Although it is never a good idea to try to ride out a hurricane, the ones that made it had electricity, water, food and medicine plus communication gear such as CB or Ham Radio. Unlike the common image of survivalists as gun toting hoarders, these individuals often became excellent volunteers, helping their less prepared neighbors and beginning the rebuilding of their community.

Recent Food Riots In Burma, Mexico and Somalia. Unloading care kits in Louisiana

A total economic meltdown caused either by peak oil or something else will bring out both the best and the worse in people. I'd like to think that most will choose to work to keep their community intact but those who are inclined to take advantage by looting and stealing instead of cooperating will do so. I believe, cynically perhaps, that many of our citizens would react differently than they did in the Great Depression of the 1930's because now many of us see having certain possessions and lifestyles as a right and therefore any means of getting them is justified.

I think that we would seem like a spoiled nation to those people of the 1930's if they could have looked into the future and seen us now and the excessive energy wasting lifestyle that we take for granted. Once this is ripped away from us how will Americans react and who will they blame? Surely not ourselves. When the full blown crash comes there will be calls for more government bailouts or even wars to punish whoever caused us such hardship. Few will realize that it was living beyond our means and failing to have a plan of energy self sufficiency behind it all.

The current economic situation could go either way. There are many signs that point to it getting worse and all it will take is some type of unpredicted event to send the economy spiraling downward toward total collapse. The best thing to do right now is to prepare for the worst case scenario that could happen. Tailor your personal survival plan to either one of staying put or going mobile, based on your home ownership situation. You may want to prepare on both fronts, by having a ready pack of supplies in case you are forced to leave and at the same time preparing your home for a long term crisis.

Start by preparing your home to be a safe place when outside support systems fail. If you can afford to add things like solar backup power and rainwater collection now is the time to do it, not when it is too late. Invest in things that make your home more energy efficient and vehicles that use less fuel. Stock up on freeze dried food and MRE's now before they become unavailable or extremely expensive and have things like home medical kits and supplies already in place. In case paper money becomes worthless you should keep a savings of small denomination gold and silver coins in a good hiding place to buy food with.

Whether our nation turns a corner and is able to establish a renewable energy future and avoid a severe peak oil crash remains to be seen. Yet investing in home energy efficiency and more efficient vehicles is a win-win way of preparing. Having a stockpile of food and supplies is a cheap peace of mind insurance policy, regardless of how things turn out.

Ultimately it all comes down to preparedness and keeping one step ahead of the tide. Those who make fun of your survivalist ways will be the ones coming to you for help when the poop hits the fan.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Time To Get Out Of Dodge? - Relocate Ahead Of The Collapse

by: Mick Winter

Peak Oil? Economic Collapse? Maybe the universe is trying to tell you something. Maybe it's Relocation, Relocation, Relocation.

With many people predicting a serious economic depression, and others equally--or also--concerned about the approaching depletion of oil production ("Peak Oil" - For full information, see Dry Dipstick at www.drydipstick.com), you might consider moving to a quieter, more sustainable, less oil-dependent location.

Of course you might be fine living exactly where you are now. It's certainly easier to stay where you are than to move. No one can predict, certainly not with certainty, where the best places might be to deal with the future. Many observers think that large cities are definitely not the best location. Others suggest that any town dependent on water and food that comes from a large distance may not be ideal. They suggest a small town with adequate water and nearby farms. When it comes down to it, no one really has the foggiest idea, so you're on your own.

If you wish, you can run off into the hills, create a mountain fortress, and be a dyed-in-the-wool, nobody-come-near-me loner. Others believe that if a true survivalist is someone who wants to survive, the best way to do that in the 21st century is in a community. (If you're really into survivalism, we suggest you check out www.survivalist.com.)

The choice is yours. If you still have the time, we can suggest resources for finding a place to live both in the United States and in countries around the world.

Inside the United States

If you currently live in the United States, you might want to consider simply moving to another state rather than going abroad. Things generally get much cheaper when you move away from the coasts, and the quality of life can be very good. Plus, they speak English there (more or less) and you can usually get all the stuff you're probably used to. (Assuming stuff is still available.)

There are a number of excellent web sites to help you in your search for a place to move to. Moving.com's (www.moving.com) city profiles provide information on hundreds of cities. The profiles include cost of living, taxes, home costs, insurance costs and quality of life factors such as population, crime, weather and education.

Moving.com can also help you find real estate and arrange for moving logistics. You can even compare the profiles of two cities of your choice.

BestPlaces (www.bestplaces.net) lets you compare two cities from a list of over 3,000 places in the U.S. You'll see a comparison of nearly 100 categories. BestPlaces offers neighborhood profiles for every zip code in the U.S., in-depth profiles on over 85,000 schools, a cost of living calculator that compares cities and determines what salary you'd need at a new location to maintain the same standard of living as you have now. Plus you'll find crime rates for over 2,500 U.S. cities, most and least stressful cities, and climate profiles for 2,000 cities worldwide.

You can even take a "Find Your Best Place" quiz to determine your own recommended best places to live. BestPlaces also publishes the book "Cities Ranked and Rated", with detailed information on over 400 metropolitan areas in the U.S. and Canada. You might also find the Most Livable Communities website helpful (www.mostlivable.org/).

Our favorite resource is FindYourSpot (www.findyourspot.com). It offers a fun quiz (it'll take you less than 10 minutes) with great questions, and it produces a list of two dozen cities that fit your quiz answers. Results for each city include an attractive downloadable four-page report with an insightful overview of the character of the area and information on climate, arts and culture, recreation, education, housing and cost of living, crime and safety, health care, and earning a living. You'll also find links to currently available jobs and housing, roommate services, recommended city-specific books, and travel deals if you'd like to personally visit the city.

Outside the U.S.

Wondering where the best country is to move to? We suggest that there is actually more than one "best country" for you. You find them by:

1) visiting every possible country and seeing which ones you like best, or

2) researching every possible country, zeroing in on those you feel most attracted to, and then visiting those countries. We suggest that the best way to begin is to use the Web, particularly the sites we list below.

Bottom line? Visit a country and spend some time there before making the actual move. Most experienced expatriates suggest living at least six months in your host country before permanently moving there. And remember, you're not going to live in an entire country, just in one specific place in a country. You don't have to love the entire country to be able to find that one special place just for you. You're looking for a region, a city, a town, even a neighborhood where you can find the qualities you want in a new home.

Here are some websites that should help in your quest for a new country.

Boomers Abroad (www.boomersabroad.com)

A website devoted to giving you the best and most comprehensive information available on the Web about beautiful (and affordable) warm coastal countries, how to get there and how to live there. Whether you're looking to be a retiree, a working expatriate, or simply a visitor, Boomers Abroad is your place on the Web for Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Uruguay.

Expat Communities (www.expatcommunities.com)

A directory of more than 110 countries with sizeable English-speaking (and usually international as well) expatriate communities. English-language websites, organizations, online forums, meetups, local newspapers, and books of interest to current and potential expatriates. These websites will give you, or link you to, all the information you'll need to decide if a particular country might suit your needs and deserves future exploration.

Expat Stuff (www.expatstuff.com)

Wherever you end up living as an expat, you'll need stuff. And information. And services. This website is an excellent directory with a focus on the endless variety of information, services and tools you'll need to enjoy life and create your own income while living abroad. You'll also find information on such things as communication, health insurance, obtaining a passport, links to country information, and general expatriate blogs and websites.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fun Things to Do in Leelanau

By Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

The Leelanau Peninsula is located in the Northwest corner of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Surrounded by water on three sides, the Leelanau Peninsula offers a wide variety of recreation, attractions and culture. Here are just a few ideas:

Wind through the county's beautiful roadways for a winery tour.

Ride your bike on miles of dedicated trails.

Hike through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with spectacular views of Lake Michigan.

Spend quality time with your family at Empire beach

Play a game of chance or see a concert at the Leelanau Sands Casino.

Wander the shops and galleries of Suttons Bay, Glen Arbor or Northport.

Catch your limit of Salmon on a Charter Fishing Trip.

Explore Historic Fishtown or watch the sunset in Leland.

Take the ferry out to the Manitou Islands for the day.

Dance the night away at the Cedar Polka Festival.

Take the kids to the Great Lakes Children's Museum.

Learn about the ecology of Lake Michigan onboard the Inland Seas Schoolship.

Pick your own cherries at a local farm.

Go boating on Glen Lake or Lake Leelanau.

Ski at the Homestead Resort.

Attend a play at the Northport Center for the Arts.

The list is endless. No wonder the Leelanau Peninsula is a favorite family vacation destination! Those of us fortunate enough to live or work here enjoy the beauty of Leelanau every day.

The Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce has the mission of enhancing the economic well being of Tourism, Business, Industry, Agriculture, and the Arts, while striving to preserve the amenities of the Leelanau Peninsula. The Chamber also acts as the Visitor Information Center for Leelanau County providing visitors, residents and people interested in relocating their home or business with any information they may need.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leelanau Peninsula Color Tour Highlights

By Fall Color Blog

Leelanau Harvest Tour - September 18, 2011

[ September 18, 2011; 7:00 pm; ] This event is hosted by the Cherry Capital Cycling Club and is a benefit for TART Trails. On Sunday, September 18th, the Cherry Capital Cycling Club will host the 2011 Leelanau Harvest Tour, an annual bicycle road ride through scenic Leelanau County.

The Homestead - Fall Dunes Eco-Photo Tour - October 14 - 16, 2011

[ October 14, 2011 to October 16, 2011. ] Participants are treated to one of the most beautiful areas in Michigan. The splendor of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the quaintness of the Leelanau Peninsula offer outstanding scenic view of sweeping dunes, vast Lake Michigan shorelines and Wyeth-like farm scenes.

The Homestead - Harvest Wine Tour Weekend - October 28 to 30, 2011

[ October 28, 2011 to October 30, 2011. ] A best seller...this event includes two nights' lodging, breakfast buffet each morning, a tasting tour of four Leelanau County wineries on Saturday. The tour includes transportation to/from the wineries and a to-go lunch. On Saturday evening enjoy a five-course meal prepared by Chef John Piombo at Nonna's Loft.

Harvest Stompede - Annual Vineyard Run & Walk - September 10 & 11, 2011

[ September 10, 2011 8:00 pm to September 11, 2011 8:00 pm. ] The Harvest Stompede takes place September 10 & 11, 2011. This annual weekend features a spectacular race through Leelanau’s vineyards followed by a self guided wine tour of LPVA member wineries featuring world class wines and culinary delights that reflect the season’s bounty.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The post-oil energy economies of the future

by Gordon Brown

.... to set ourselves on a new energy path - a path from our economies that are today over-dependent on oil towards the post-oil energy economies of the future. And moving towards this sustainable energy economy helps us meet our economic, political and environmental goals.

At this summit the 27 nations of the European Union and our Mediterranean neighbours pledge ourselves to take action to promote our mutual prosperity, security, liberty and democracy.

We must now leave behind the old wasteful, oil dependent ways of yesterday and embrace the new cleaner and sustainable energy future of tomorrow. The increases in oil and food prices we have seen over recent months are causing hardship to families and businesses in Britain and throughout Europe. They threaten economic instability and their production is environmentally not sustainable.

The years of cheap energy and careless pollution are behind us. We need a new strategy. Past total dependence on oil must give way to a clean energy future.

I have called for a better dialogue between oil producers and consumers and a more transparent market, and for measures to increase investment in oil production and refining. Following the meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last month we will take these initiatives forward at the meeting in London in December, endorsed this week by the G8.

But improving the functioning of the oil market can be only one half of our strategy. The other must be to set ourselves on a new energy path - a path from our economies that are today over-dependent on oil towards the post-oil energy economies of the future. And moving towards this sustainable energy economy helps us meet our economic, political and environmental goals.

Today in Europe more than a third of our energy comes from oil, and a further 40 per cent from other fossil fuels - gas and coal. Only around 20 per cent of our energy comes from low carbon sources - renewables and nuclear. None as yet comes from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage.

With our ambitious climate and energy package - which we must commit to completing under the French Presidency this year - Europe is on a path to increase the proportion of renewable energy in its energy mix by 2020 from under 10 per cent to 20 per cent. And if we are to meet our long-term climate change objectives - to reduce our emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050 - Britain, alongside our European partners, will need to do even more.

And at the same time as we move to clean energy sources, we must also become much more efficient in the way we use energy. Over the last forty years the energy intensity of the British economy - the amount of energy we use per unit of national income - has been halved. But as our economy continues to grow we must reduce that still further.

So let me set out the five main points of an oil replacement strategy.

First, since 70 per cent of future oil demand is from transport, we need a step change in the fuel efficiency of vehicles. So Europe must push ahead with mandatory fuel emission standards for new cars. But to drive innovation in the car industry we need not just a target for 2012, but a target for 2020 to match those in the rest of the energy package. The UK is urging that this should be an average of 100 grammes per kilometre, a cut of 40 per cent from the 164 grammes today. This could reduce road fuel consumption in Britain by an average of 2 billion litres of road fuel a year and save the typical British motorist around £500 pounds a year in running costs.

To achieve such a target we will need to see the mass production of electric vehicles - conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are now available on our roads - but they are specialist cars and vans available only in small numbers. I want to see the mass production of hybrid and electric drive technology in ordinary family models.

And I want to see those cars manufactured in Britain. So I will be meeting with leaders from the British motor industry next week to discuss their plans for hybrid, electric and other low carbon car technologies.

Already initiatives are under way in several countries to accelerate the commercialisation of electric vehicles by supporting the required charging infrastructure and automotive technologies.

At the European Council in June we agreed to explore the scope to accelerate the introduction of commercially viable electric vehicles - and the infrastructure that their widespread use would require - in the EU.

And today, as a next step, Britain is discussing with other countries - including Denmark, Portugal, Israel and Germany - how we can create a strong policy and consumer environment to promote the development of electric vehicles. And I will propose that we convene a meeting of energy, automotive and planning experts to exchange key information on infrastructure requirements and technology standards in advance of the London energy summit later this year.

Second, we need all countries to commit to taking rapid action to improve energy efficiency in households and businesses. The G8 nations this week committed to implementing the IEA's 25 recommendations on energy efficiency. If implemented globally these could cut oil consumption by 15 per cent and energy-related carbon emissions by 20 per cent, equivalent to the emissions of the US and Japan combined. Europe must therefore commit to implementing its own energy efficiency action plan.

The UK is the first European country to phase out energy inefficient light bulbs - which we will do by 2011. We want the rest of the continent to follow. We need agreement on lower levels of VAT for energy saving goods, as proposed by Britain. And we need to move faster to develop energy efficient standards for appliances, such as phasing out inefficient standby on electronic goods.

In Britain we will also introduce new measures to encourage the installation of household insulation and energy efficiency appliances, which can together save a typical British family up to 20 per cent - £170 pounds a year - off their energy bills.

Third, I am convinced that we need a renaissance of nuclear power. Britain is now moving quickly to replace its ageing fleet of nuclear power stations. And all around the world I see renewed interest in this technology, as countries contemplate the alternative - continued oil dependence and unchecked climate change.

So Britain will work to make possible the best arrangements for security, safety and disposal. Last week the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority announced a preferred bidder for the clean up contract at Sellafield. We are also collaborating with France in this field, and stand ready to do so with others.

Fourth, we need a massive expansion of renewables. Britain is fully committed to the EU target that 20 per cent of all energy must come from renewable sources by 2020. Last month Britain set out its strategy to meet our own 15 per cent renewable target - a $100 billion investment programme over the next twelve years.

As a result of this strategy Britain will become the global centre for offshore wind. We will see major investment in energy from waste and biomass and in new forms of microgeneration. We are pushing ahead with the development of marine and tidal technologies, including an examination of a tidal scheme on the River Severn, which could supply 5 per cent of all the UK's electricity.

And now I believe it is time for a major investment in the development of solar power. The IEA suggests that additional investment of up to 215 million square meters of solar panels will be needed every year to 2050. And particularly in the Mediterranean region, concentrated solar power offers the prospect of an abundant low carbon energy source. Indeed, just as Britain's North Sea could be the Gulf of the future for offshore wind, so those sunnier countries represented here could become a vital source of future global energy by harnessing the power of the sun.

So I am delighted that that the EU is committing at this summit to work with its neighbours - including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and the League of Arab States - to explore the development of a new 'Mediterranean Solar Plan' for the development and deployment of this vital technology from the Sahara northwards.

Last, and because we recognise that fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of our energy supplies for years to come, we must make good our commitment in the EU and globally to the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage. I am pleased that last month the European Council asked the Commission under the French Presidency to develop an incentive mechanism, which would enable the EU to meet its target of up to 12 demonstration plants by 2015.

The UK and France committed earlier this year to work together on an action plan to work towards not just demonstration but the EU's aspiration to move towards deployment of CCS by 2020. Britain is already working with Norway, Canada and the Netherlands on how to do this. And we are discussing this weekend how we can collaborate with Spain in this field, bringing together British and Spanish companies and experts to examine and exploit opportunities.

The development and deployment of all these low carbon technologies will require a partnership between government and the private sector. Governments can and will provide the right framework of regulation and incentives. The private sector will have to provide the investment. But we can support this too.

So I call on the European Investment Bank to use its 3 billion euro sustainable energy fund to support a clear strategy for the reduction in global dependence on oil and traditional fossil fuels and for the development and deployment of new low carbon energy technologies. And we need to see a similar refocusing of EIB spend within the EU.

We live in a new era. Today our globalised, energy-hungry and warming world requires a shift from oil dependence to sustainable energy.

Only with political leadership from all of us will we be able to move towards a new sustainable economy. This is now Britain's goal. It must be Europe's destiny. In this unique partnership of European and Mediterranean nations, let us commit ourselves to realising it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Leelanau Harvest Tour

by Leelanau Blog

On Sunday, September 20th, the Cherry Capital Cycling Club will host the Leelanau Harvest Tour, an annual bicycle road ride through scenic Leelanau County. Over 900 riders (families and individuals) from all over Michigan are expected to participate in this non-competitive event. Proceeds from the tour benefit the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, a Traverse City-based nonprofit trail and bicycle advocacy organization. TART Trails owns, operates, and maintains the Leelanau Trail, a 15-mile trail that stretches from Traverse City to Suttons Bay.

The Leelanau Harvest Tour is known for its unique food stops every 20 to 30 miles. Each stop is on a lakefront park with a menu that includes specialties donated by area merchants and restaurants. Pre-registered riders will also enjoy a post-ride pasta dinner, included in the registration fee.

Route options cover 15, 25, 45, 67, or 100 miles through beautiful Leelanau County. All of the routes cover hilly terrain and riders are rewarded with great views at the top of most hills.

The event starts and ends at Glen Lake Schools. Cyclists may register for $35, and families may register for $80.

To sign up online or to find out more information, please review the Leelanau Harvest Tour's web site, leelanauharvesttour.org

Or, if you have other questions, please feel free to call the TART Trails office at 941-4300 to speak to someone about the Leelanau Harvest Tour.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Economy and Mother Nature

By Jason Bradford

I want you all to imagine Mother Nature, in the personified sense. Now, and I realize this may be a stretch, think of her also as a banker, perhaps a matronly Ben Bernanke. Got that image in your head? Okay…

Several generations ago our forefathers walk into “Bank of Nature” and get a loan. Mother Nature approves our loan and offers us plenty of credit. Our ancestors are now endowed with the riches of ancient forests, prolific fisheries, fertile topsoil, clean water, concentrated mineral ores, vast reserves of fossil fuels, and a splendidly stable climate. These assets, Mother Nature’s credit slip, are the source of our wealth and comfort. Every widget, gizmo, thing-a-majig, do-dad, wach-a-macall-it and Winnebago produced in our factories, sold in our stores, stuffed in our closets, piled in our landfills and spilled in our waters originated as a loan from Bank of Nature.

Why are we having economic troubles? Because loans, as we are now discovering, are not just slips of credit, they also come with debt. While we gleefully liquidated the Natural Capital loan Mother Nature approved for us, we failed to develop a business plan that could pay back the debt. This ecological debt is the underlying drag on our financial system.

What this means, practically, is that as soon as the economy tries to heat up again, which we like to call increasing DEMAND, it will be capped on the knees by the henchmen Mother Nature hired. She will not extend us any more credit since we have done a poor job with the first loan. If you are unclear about what I mean here, I’ll explain this a bit more when I talk specifically about oil.

I have seen pictures of some great protest signs over the past couple of years that state this very succinctly: Nature doesn’t do bailouts. This is why the current policy of all central banks and governments to deal with the financial crisis, which is to essentially create and inject more money into the system, has no chance of success. More money doesn’t solve an ecological debt crisis, because money is a claim on resources and not worth anything by itself.

Oil is Special

Okay, now I want to highlight the special role of oil in our economy.

Over the recent decades, we have built what is called a “globalized economy” where materials, labor and services are readily exchanged across the globe. This feat has only been possible due to cheap oil. The “cheapness” is key. Transportation costs are assumed to be only a small part of doing business.

Some economists have calculated what is called the Goldilocks Zone for oil prices. Below $70 per barrel and it makes no sense for oil companies to explore and develop new supplies, while prices above $80 per barrel lead to a curtailing of demand, basically cutting off prospects for U.S. economic growth. And as mature oil fields deplete, the price to explore and develop new oil wells goes higher than $70 per barrel, essentially locking the U.S. into economic stagnation.

Step back for a moment and think about how potent and special oil is. Oil is highly energy dense and easily portable. A gallon of oil contains enough energy to do the work of hundreds of people simultaneously or a single person for hundreds of hours. You can drive a 4000 lb car at great velocity for tens of miles on a gallon of gasoline. Try pushing a car that distance (but before doing so, ask your doctor if that’s okay).

So when you hear the term peak oil, what does that mean? Peak oil is simply the point in time when the global supply of oil stops growing. Peak oil is not a theory, but an historic fact for 2/3 of oil producing countries, including the United States, which peaked in 1970.

What we experience is less supply leading to a spike in prices. High oil prices then choke off economic growth because our globalized economy is structurally reliant on cheap oil. And without economic growth loans are not paid back sufficiently and a financial crisis ensues.

This is essentially what happened between 2005 and 2008. We had a credit bubble because of lax lending policies PLUS a flattening of oil production at the same time.

Connecting to Food Security

Okay, so what does this have to do with food security?

1.Globalization and cheap energy led to the development of centralized processing and distribution channels, with what is termed “just in time delivery systems.” The typical grocery store, for example, only has a 3 day supply of food on the shelves, and relies on daily trucking from distance warehouses to restock basic supplies. An oil supply shock would disrupt getting food to stores.

2.Because of cheap and reliable transportation, it has been possible for entire agricultural regions to become highly specialized in production for export. So the Willamette Valley evolved into a grass seed capital, which replaced a diversified farm economy that contributed significantly to local consumption. Since we no longer have the local farms feeding us, we depend on global trade for basic sustenance.

3.Farming methods themselves rely on cheap energy, such as tractor fuel and imported fertilizers. Beyond the farm energy is used extensively in processing, distribution, storage and cooking. All told, about 7 calories of fossil fuel go into each calorie of food we eat.

4.Modern farming is highly connected to the financial system. A depressed economy makes credit scare. Many farms that are in debt and require bank credit to operate will likely go out of business. And some financing is going to be needed to help farms restructure for the transition towards new crops, new methods, and new markets.

What to Do

This brings me to the question of “What to do?”

I’ll first address this towards individual persons and families. As energy flows to society decline, our social systems will become less complex structurally, but our daily lives more complex. What I mean by this is that we will become less of “specialized cogs in a big machine” and instead have to take on more diverse, practical, and flexible roles.

The kinds of work we do will shift too. Consider whether you specialize in a “nice to have job” or a “need to have job”. Jobs are going to be more and more about securing basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, health, and security. Fewer paid jobs will be available. This will require people to rely more on the informal economy, which means getting paid through reciprocal exchange relationships. Start by getting to know your neighbors, joining social networks, and developing a few basic skills, such as gardening, bike repair, and inexpensive health care.

As our formal economy declines more work will be done in the informal economy, as is true now in so-called developing countries. Graph from Post Peak Living based on World Bank data.

This all may sound extreme, but it is already the reality for a growing subpopulation of tens of millions of Americans, and most of the 6.7 billion humans on the planet.

Now I’ll talk about what I’d like to see society do. Instead of thinking about policies and programs, I will talk about values and paradigms.

Primarily we need to recognize that the environment is our primary form of wealth. Bank of Nature, not Goldman Sachs or the Federal Reserve, is our master. It is far more important for us to pay back our ecological debts since these are non-negotiable, whereas financial ones are among people and can be forgiven. If you manage public funds, always ask whether allocating money is going to rebuild natural capital or further its liquidation.

I’d like to see community leaders ask people to consider themselves as contributors rather than consumers. The whole consumer identity should become passé. We will thrive by creating an ecological identity, which is a deep appreciation for our relatedness and absolute interdependence with other people, other forms of life on this planet, and the fundamental forces of sunshine and geology.

What I have said may provoke anxiety, and is certainly an immense undertaking, but ultimately we have no choice so let’s not whine and delay. Let’s take it on as a great adventure, a thrilling challenge. Our success or failure is going to hinge on our attitude. We need to take control of the circumstances and become active participants in transition. I can assure you that doing so is tremendously energizing, healthy, and rewarding in so many ways.