Not the Monthly Post

Before Winter Comes

I didn’t think it would be necessary for me to start talking about energy issues quite so soon. Granted, industrial civilization remains hopelessly dependent for its very survival on dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, which are being used up at breakneck paces to prop up the absurdly extravagant lifestyles of a handful of rich nations.  Granted, the “green energy revolution” that soaked up so much investment money in recent decades turned out to be yet another gargantuan giveaway to corporations, while plenty of more modest investments that might have done some good got deep-sixed because they didn’t make the kleptocratic rich even richer. Granted, our governments have wasted decades we didn’t have to spare and squandered resources that might have enabled us to cushion the descent into the deindustrial future ahead of us.

Even so, I thought we had a little longer before the remorseless mathematics of depletion tipped us over from rising prices to actual shortages. Of course I didn’t expect the Russo-Ukrainian War to break out, or for Europe to respond with a flurry of shrill denunciations and ineffective sanctions while still demanding that Russia keep supplying it with oil and natural gas.  Russia’s angry riposte hasn’t just driven energy bills across Europe to unprecedented heights. It’s also shown just how brittle global energy markets have become—and that in turn offers fair warning of how little spare capacity the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves have left.

Watching the gyrations of the EU leadership must be entertaining.

Those of my readers who remember the energy crises of the 1970s, as I do, may be forgiven a certain sense of déjà vu.  Back then it was a war between Israel and an alliance of Arab nations that caused a major fossil fuel supplier to yank their product from the market, sending prices skyrocketing.  The reactions of the affected countries, however, is much the same:  confident assurances that such things can’t possibly have a significant impact on the world’s wealthy nations, followed by blind panic and ineffective flailing once the impact shows up anyway. Plenty of ordinary people have already hit the second stage, while the politicians and the chattering classes of the world’s rich countries are still mired in the first.

I wonder whether the politicians, in particular, have any idea what’s coming their way. Here in the United States, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter aren’t among the presidents most people remember fondly. Their personal qualities (or lack of same) contributed to that, no question, but they also got dealt an extraordinarily difficult hand by history, and ended up taking the blame for events over which they had very limited control. It’s one of the occupational hazards of the full contact sport of national politics.

You must admit, he gave it a very good try.

That said, I have to admit that any one of the three would be an improvement on what we’ve got just now. Poor Joe Biden, whose cognitive impairments are becoming uncomfortably obvious, apparently forgot he was president of the United States a few days ago and decided to audition for the part of the Mouth of Sauron instead.  Expecting anything useful from his administration just now is an exercise in futility.  Meanwhile officials of the G-7 group of countries—that is to say, the United States and its inner circle of client states—announced with straight faces that they are going to impose a price cap on Russian oil exports, by refusing to allow American or European financial services to support shipments at a price they don’t like. I gather it hasn’t occurred to any of them that Russia can very well afford to stop shipping fuel to any country that tries to abide by the price cap.  Midrange estimates suggest that if this happens, the price of oil will shoot up to $190 a barrel or so, around twice its present level, and at that price Russian exports via the black market will more than make up for any lost income.

When governments fail to do anything useful, as so often happens, individuals, families, and communities have to step up to the plate themselves. That was one of the lessons of the energy crises of the 1970s.  As noted above, I was there at the time, and I took a more active part in the response than some: down at the bottom of my file cabinet is a certificate I earned back then by completing Washington State’s Master Conserver program.

Master Conserver?  Yes. Many people nowadays know about the Master Gardener programs offered by many state extension offices, which run classes and offer exams for gardeners who want to up their game and contribute some volunteer hours to helping others do likewise. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Washington and a few other US states had a Master Conserver program, which taught people from all walks of life how to do basic conservation retrofits and simple lifestyle adjustments in order to save energy and cut expenses. I  took the classes at the old Seattle Public Library downtown, an easy walk from the cramped little apartment where my wife and I lived in those days. I still have the handouts I received as part of the training—you can download a scanned copy of the whole set here.  More to the point, I still have the basic concepts down cold. They’ve provided the foundation of a surprisingly large amount of my writings since then, including fields with no obvious connection to energy conservation.

One of the things I’ve discovered in the years since then is that astonishingly few people know even the simplest rules of energy conservation. Since quite a large share of my readership is scrambling to deal with soaring energy prices, it strikes me that a refresher course might be very useful just now.

Let’s start with the most crucial lesson, the thing that should be written in letters of fire in your brain right at the outset:  it is always easier and cheaper to conserve the energy you have than to bring in more energy to replace it. “Weatherize before you solarize!” was a slogan we heard a lot back in the day, but the rule can be extended much more broadly. Conservation is the key to getting by in a world where energy is expensive. That’s the thing the green energy revolution we all heard so much about never grasped, and that’s why it failed. Learn to squeeze each erg of energy until it yelps, and you can thrive.

Intermittent power sources like these can’t support our current habits of energy use. Deal with it.

With that in mind, let’s talk about heat, the most important form of energy in terms of sustaining human life. (You can get by just fine without light or telecommunications, but getting too cold and staying that way will kill you.)  Heat always flows from hotter things to cooler things. If you want it to do things for you, you need to keep it from flowing away too fast. Heat flows in three different ways, convection, conduction, and radiation, and each of these has a medium.  The medium of convection is a fluid, such as air or water; this picks up heat in one place and carries it somewhere else. The medium of conduction is solid matter, which absorbs heat from a source and carries it somewhere else. The medium of radiation is infrared light; it moves in straight lines through air from something that emits heat to something that absorbs it.

Radiation isn’t usually much of an issue in home weatherizing, but the other two are major. If you want to stop heat by flowing away via convection, you need to reduce air leakage between a warm place (such as the inside of your house) and a cold place (such as the snowy landscape outside). Warm air leaking out and cold air leaking in are both thieves of heat—and most buildings these days leak air like sieves. Add up the cracks and gaps around doors and windows, along the foundation plate of your house, where cables and pipes come into your house, and so on, and it’s as though you had a hole in the wall a couple of feet across, letting in the cold winter air. Plugging that hole is the easiest and cheapest way to save a whale of a lot of energy.

Time to break out the caulking gun.

How do you plug the hole? Caulking and weatherstripping.  Your local hardware store can sell you the supplies for both. You caulk any gap that doesn’t need to move—for example, the hole in the wall where your internet cable comes in, or the gaps along your foundation plate.  You weatherstrip any gap that has to move—for example, the gaps around your front door or between your windows and window frames.  The handouts posted above talk about how to do this, and you can also find detailed instructions online or in many books on home repairs.

That’s convection. Conduction moves through solid matter. There’s a convenient measure of how easily heat moves through different kinds of matter, and it’s called the R value (R for resistance to heat flow). The lower the value, the less resistance the matter puts up to heat flow. The differences are considerable. A single sheet of glass has an R value of 1, which means heat flows through it very, very easily. An ordinary uninsulated wall of standard wood-and-plaster construction has an R value around 9.  A well-insulated wall can easily have an R value of 30.

Easy to do, and it saves a lot of money.

Insulating your walls is usually pretty difficult. On the other hand, if you live in a house rather than an apartment, insulating your attic is usually very easy—just get some fiberglass roll insulation and go to work. Since heat rises, furthermore, insulating your attic will usually benefit you more than insulating anywhere else. If you have a basement or an under-floor crawlspace, putting insulation under the floors will also help a great deal. There are details you need to get right, but here again, the handouts have instructions, and there are plenty of good books and websites that will set you straight. Go to extremes here: some of the most comfortable homes I’ve ever been in had R 60 insulation in the attic. It keeps out summer heat, too.

One thing you can do to keep heat from leaking out through walls is very simple. If you take off the plastic plate that surrounds electrical sockets and light switches in the walls, you’ll find a nice gap on all sides, which allows heat to flow unhindered. Your hardware store can sell you foam gaskets that fit around the sockets, plugging the gap.  Put the plastic plate back on, and the gasket is invisible. You’d be surprised how much warmer that alone can make a room feel.

Even easier. Every little bit helps.

That leaves the windows. Even a double-pane window only has an R value of 2. How do you fix that?  Insulated window covers. Instead of the flimsy blinds or thin curtains that are standard these days, get thick warm shades or curtains with insulating layers in them. (If you don’t have a lot of money, you can get the same effect by taking several curtains and hanging them together in the same window.) If you can, get the kind that have little magnets on the sides and an iron strip running up and down the edges of the windows, to stop convection. R 9 is easy to get with insulated window covers, and they will save you plenty of heat and money. (By the way, if this hasn’t occurred to you yet, all these points can also be applied to your workplace, your church or other place of worship, and so on.  Keep that in mind as we proceed.)

While we’re talking about heat, let’s discuss cooking a bit. Stoves waste a great deal of energy to cook your food. That’s why slow cookers aka crock pots became so popular in the 1970s—they do the job with a much smaller amount of energy. An appliance much less common in the 1970s, the automatic rice cooker, is equally efficient, using a trickle of energy. Did you know that you can fry, roast, and steam food with a rice cooker?  There are entire cookbooks on how to do that.

Fireless cookers like these were common a century ago. If you want to get by with less energy, they’re well worth using.

The upper end of energy smarts when it comes to cooking is the fireless cooker, aka haybox. It’s a box or other container full of insulation, shaped so that you can plop a pot into it. You put food into a pot, bring it to a boil, put it into the haybox, put more insulation on top, and walk away. The heat in the food can’t get out because of the insulation, so it stays put and cooks the food. The best book on fireless cookers, Fireless Cookery by Heidi Kirschner, is unfortunately long out of print, though a publisher I know is trying to get the rights and get it republished; there are older books on the subject all over the various archive sites, however.

Oh, and you should always have at least one way of cooking food that doesn’t depend on having access to electricity or natural gas. Chafing dishes are a good choice for apartment dwellers, rocket stoves and the like may be better of you have a house. There may be long blackouts in your future, and one way to put heat to very good use is to take hot food and put it inside you where it can radiate its warmth into your body core.

A chafing dish. Dion Fortune fans take note: this is what Vivien Morgan used to cook those amazing meals.

From here we can segué neatly into electricity. A great many people these days waste more electricity than they use. All those appliances, computers, et al. that keep a little light burning to tell you that they’re still there?  That light also tells you that they’re still slurping up electricity that you have to pay for. Wherever you can, put a surge suppressor bar between the appliance and the socket, and turn it off when you’re not using the applance. Yes, that means that the clock will be wrong. Get a cheap wall clock that runs off a couple of batteries and use that instead.

Lights are easy these days. LED light bulbs use a tiny fraction of the electicity that old-fashioned incandescent bulbs did. Even so, turning off any light you’re not actually using will cut your bills. If your fixtures splash around more light than you actually need, go to lower wattage light bulbs or simply leave a bulb out. With the same principle in mind, look at the items in your home that use electricity, and ask yourself whether you actually need the powered version. You can do most of the same things by hand almost as quickly and conveniently, and there are cases where the handpowered version is actually easier and more fun. (I hear from a lot of people these days who’ve abandoned computer games for board games, card games, and tabletop roleplaying games, and never want to go back.)

Just pop the insulation onto the pipes. It’s as easy as that.

Hot water is another major energy use—many households put around 15-20% of their entire energy use into heating water. Obviously you can use less, and if you have leaky faucets, fix them or get them fixed—the rats in the drains can do without the warmth. Less obviously, if you can get to the pipes through which hot water flows from heater to faucet or shower head, see if they’ve got insulation on them. These days, most pipes don’t. You can get foam insulating jackets for hot water pipes at your hardware store, and they make sure that much more of the heat gets to you. If you have a tank-style water heater, get an insulating jacket for that, too—here again, the more insulation, the less heat gets wasted. Your hardware store has the insulating jackets, too.  Measure your water heater before you go, so you get the right size.

Those are some of the basics. There are plenty of further details, some of which you’ll find in the handouts linked above and more of which you can find in books on the subject, especially old books from the 1970s and 1980s. (The publisher I mentioned above is hard at work getting the rights to bring a bunch of the best of these back into print; I’ll make announcements as soon as they start rolling off the presses.) It’s entirely possible for most people, with only a very modest investment of time and money, to shave 20% off  their household energy consumption using methods of the kind I’ve described here.

Sleepwear back in the day. That hat kept you nice and warm all night.

Can you go beyond that? Of course, but at that point you’re looking at returning to ways of living that were standard before fossil fuels flooded the industrial world with cheap abundant energy. Your ancestors, if they lived in temperate climates, wore hats indoors, not to mention many layers of warm clothing, and when they went to bed they had caps or kerchiefs on their heads. (Your body loses around a third of its heat through the head, because the brain burns so much energy.) They were up by sunrise because daylight was a resource not to be wasted, and they knew a galaxy of tricks for making energy go further that most people have forgotten. Find a local historical reenactment group and you can recover much of this knowledge. How far do you want to go?  Well, you might start thinking instead about how far you have to go, because it may come to that—if not this winter, then in the years ahead.

You’ll notice that I haven’t yet talked about ways to generate more energy. You can do that, but there’s a very good reason why it’s crucial to control energy losses first. All the energy sources you can provide for yourself—sunlight, wind, wood fuel, and so on—are diffuse, irregularly available, and much less convenient than the energy resources you’re used to using. If you live in the industrial world you’re used to having huge amounts of highly concentrated energy any time you want it. That’s exactly what alternative energy sources can’t give you.

Solar water heaters were already a mature technology a century ago.

So, yes, you can put solar thermal panels, a sunspace, or a solar greenhouse on the south side of your home, get some thermal mass to store the heat, and use that to harvest sunlight on cold but clear winter days. You can get a solar water heater up on the roof to assist your other water heater during the cold season and give you hot water for free in the warm season. If local ordinances permit, you can put in a fireplace insert or a woodstove so you have a way of generating heat that isn’t dependent on fossil fuels or the electrical grid. All those things can help. None of them will let you continue to treat energy as casually as you could when natural gas was cheap.

You can also slap photovoltaic panels on the roof or, if you happen to be in a very good location, put up a wind turbine. If you do that, however, you’re going to find out in person what Europe is finding out as a continent:  sunlight and wind are diffuse, irregularly available, and inconvenient, and converting them into any other form of energy imposes conversion costs that eat most of what you get. As a result, they won’t support a modern lifestyle. They might, if you’re lucky and smart, yield a modest amount of electricity for you to use, but you’ll pay through the nose to get that. If you’re not so lucky or smart, they’ll eat your money and give back very little. Most people are better off avoiding that trap, and going for as many non-electric options as they can.

Murasaki Shikibu writing The Tale of Genji. Those multiple layer kimonos were there for a reason.

Does all this sound unspeakably grim? Most of the people who have ever lived were fine with it. They knew perfectly well that energy was scarce and had to be conserved, though most of them never phrased it in those terms. Keep in mind that Jesus and the Buddha taught their disciples, Plato and Confucius created their philosophies, Sophocles and Shakespeare wrote their plays, Murasaki Shikibu and Jane Austen penned their novels, and Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton revolutionized humanity’s knowledge of nature in societies that lived under such conditions.  They never dreamed that human beings would someday have the dubious privilege of wasting fantastic amounts of energy during a brief, self-terminating era of wretched excess.

We’re headed back to a world they would have recognized. Yes, I know a lot of people are still stuck on the failed fantasy of perpetual progress, and will insist at the top of their lungs that we’re on our way to the stars, no matter what. I trust, dear reader, that your mind isn’t held hostage by that delusion, and that you’re ready, willing, and able to get ready for the energy shortages we’re facing. If you are, you might want to get to work, because we don’t have much time before winter comes.


  1. “how little spare capacity the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves have left.”

    Has anyone calculated how much we actually have remaining including offshore, shale, sand, 60, 70, 80 years left?

  2. Re: ” (I hear from a lot of people these days who’ve abandoned computer games for board games, card games, and tabletop roleplaying games, and never want to go back.)”…I will try very hard not to be annoyed by the way my youngest grandson’s favorite game boards and tokens sprawl all over one of the major tables and stay there until the game is finished. I have never heard one word about him getting into video or computer games, thank Minerva.

  3. There’s a story of a Russian academic in Petrograd after the Revolution and during the Civil War, when eveyone was freezing to death. He went into the library, spread a load of blankets over a table and down to the floor, crawled into his cosy fortress, lit a candle, and wrote a history of Japan.

  4. Before the Dutch winter comes, I have been taking measures akin to what you describe, including slow cookers, a rocket stove and candlelight. I am not new to going without heating, and I have been insulating the house over the past few years.

    I also tried to find a solar thermal panel, but they are impossible to source in the Netherlands due to a combination of COVID supply chain disruptions, new Chinese lockdowns and increased demand. The companies I contacted told me to try again in 2023.

    Somewhat hilariously, local governments are planning to ban wood burning, no doubt with the encouragement of the central government. Wood prices have gone througn the roof and in the media, people who warm their house with wood are being slowly designated as “enemies of democracy”, together with no-vaxxers, right-wing populists and Vladimir Putin.

    As a final anecdote: the newspaper I read reported the news that Russia stopped gas supplies from Nordstream 1 (the most important news of the day, and probably of the month) at the bottom-right corner of page 36.

    By the time the Russians stop deliveries through the remaining “Brotherhood” pipeline, the newspaper will probably have ceased publication anyway.

  5. @jmg, your quote “or for Europe to respond with a flurry of shrill denunciations and ineffective sanctions while still demanding that Russia keep supplying it with oil and natural gas”

    I am starting to chat with people IRL (in real life) that are complaining about this. Usually bringing up WW2 and that we did not ask Japan for rubber, or Germany for grain makes people go “oh”

    But I hear that talking point when the wife listens to NPR, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    and thanks for the commonsense conservation suggestions — it is easier to not waste that crank it up.



  6. Capitalism will receive a firm blow as well in our new world, but might it be wise to invest a few thousand Euro’s in a barrel of ripening whiskey in Ireland or Scotland? (Such programmes exist). In a few decades that might be some sort of useful capital once one is really too old to work.

  7. Hope you two are not in danger from the deluge of water in and around Providence.
    I have been doing much of what is in those books for years and in several houses along the journey. Comes a point though that a plateau is reached given the actual structures at hand. There are still people coming up with tiny measures that cumulatively make the gas and electric bills almost survivable! But there are way too many people who claim that aesthetics trump functionality, thus limiting us even further.
    Looking for exterior door floor accessories that limit air flow through the bottom, and any other small items that can help. Plastic coverings on windows over winter have been a cheap and useful item for years – cheaper in the long run that expensive window replacements – even on good windows since I live at 53.5 degrees latitude.

  8. Several thoughts…

    You may have to go to a vintage book website to find one but whole cookbooks were once written with instructions and recipes for chaffing dishes.

    I’ve only tried it once but some of the best rice I’ve eaten came from a YouTube chef (I wish I could be certain which one.) Rinse the rice to get rid of the extra starch, which is probably optional but gives fluffier rice. Put it in a pot with the usual two parts water to one part rice. Cover and bring to a rolling boil and then remove it from the heat and let it sit for twenty-five minutes covered. Light fluffy rice, no scorched pan, a fraction of energy use, no extra heat in a summer kitchen.

    Get used to being “in the dark.” Not literally sitting around in rooms where you can’t see, but sun light coming in a window is usually more than enough light for most purposes. As I like to say, “Before the invention of electric bulbs, nobody ever walked into a sunlit room and said, ‘for heavens sake! Don’t sit here in the dark, light a candle!” My brother, who turned on every light in every room he was in, and I were roommates for several years. I actually don’t like electric light and only use it when absolutely necessary and no more than I have to have. When he moved out, my electric bill fell from close to $250 a month to less than $100 (with gas heat).

  9. Thanks JMG,
    this is a great refresher, except for one thing.

    For anyone trying to insulate, please don’t use fiberglass! It’s toxic and it doesn’t work when wet. And if there is a fire, it will produce noxious fumes.

    I used rockwool – better insulation value, works when wet and animals don’t chew it. It’s at most 10% more expensive than fiberglass, but most people don’t know about it.

  10. Thanks for the practical reminders!

    A few added thoughts from personal experience:

    1. How you make heat matters a lot. Electricity vs. gas. vs. oil will be impacted variably with shortages/blackouts, and heat pumps (which don’t *make* heat but rather *move* it from outside to inside) create up to four times the warmth for the same amount of energy. They may not last all that far into the Long Descent but at the moment they are still a good investment. (Does replacing a heat source with one that uses 4x less energy count as “conserving” rather than “generating?” I’m not sure…)

    2. Considering that we are likely to be dealing with shortages/interruptions as well as just high prices, redundancy is helpful, along the lines of having some wood for the fireplace if the gas is turned off, or having a way to power the well pump if the power goes off. This includes making friends with neighbors who have alternative systems in place.

    3. Wasted electricity in the house all turns into heat. If it’s winter and you have electric heat, there is actually no point to conservation measures as all of those incandescent bulbs and idling computers just reduce the workload of your baseboard heaters proportionally. Along those lines it is actually helpful to move any appliances that generate waste heat (water heaters, refrigerators, chest freezers) inside your living space rather than having them in an unheated garage. If added heat is not needed, then by all means focus on conserving electricity.

    4. Crawlspace insulation can be a bad idea unless your crawlspace is truly sealed against rodents. It can rapidly become a favored creature habitat.

    5. There is still a window of opportunity for wood heat in some areas. It is clearly insufficient on a societal scale and a few years or decades from now firewood will be in short supply (I hear it already is in Europe), but in many parts of the US most perfectly good firewood from arborists is getting chipped into landscape mulch, and it can be had for reasonable prices or even free if you are willing to cut and split it yourself. There is nothing quite like standing next to a completed pile knowing that it means a snug winter ahead.

    6. *Heating less space* is an effective way to conserve without compromising comfort. You can shiver in a sweater in 1500 square feet, or you can combine sleeping and living space and heat 300 square feet to a cozy temperature while keeping the rest just warm enough to prevent the pipes from freezing (or not heating it at all if your plumbing permits).

    7. Radiation is significant to a home’s energy balance inasmuch as it arrives directly from the sun, and the low winter sun angle actually provides more radiant energy to windows than the summer sun. Opening curtains wide or raising blinds on south-facing windows during sunny winter days will provide a surprising amount of natural radiant heating which is then trapped inside the insulated space.

  11. Not to seem like a complete imbecile, but today was the very first time I’ve ever seen the foam gaskets for fitting behind the switchplates. Thank you!

  12. @JMG

    Thank you for this insightful essay!

    Regarding alternative energy sources, I have a question – could atmospheric electricity generators of the Nikola Tesla variety support the quality of life that, say, the average middle-class Victorian did? I have seen a lot of ‘Free Energy machines will save us and launch us toward the stars!!’ types on the Internet talk about Nikola Tesla approvingly, and while I take their claims with a bucket of salt (given that they range from the conspiratorial to downright lunacy), I still am open to considering the idea that Tesla’s ‘atmospheric electricity generators’ could have actually accomplished something, albeit on a far humbler level than his fans would like to accept. Maybe they could even help deindustrial societies grow crops in soils damaged by modern civilization…

  13. A couple of technical notes:
    1. Insulation is great, but you need to be aware of water vapor. In cold conditions, water vapor from the inside of a warm house may diffuse through the insulation until it reaches a point where it condenses and soaks into the insulation and surrounding materials. This can lead to damage to the insulation, mold, and rot of wooden structure. The countermeasure is to put a vapor barrier between the warm space and the cold, and also to avoid creating highly humid air. (A long, hot shower isn’t just wasteful of the fuel used to heat the water, but can create damaging vapor.) Condensation can also be an issue between an insulating window covering and the cold window frame, leading to mold on hard surfaces, and rot of wood.
    2. Historically, solar water heaters have had corrosion problems (just as conventional water heaters do.) If my water heater rusts through and starts leaking, water will harmlessly run across the cellar floor into a drain. If I had a storage tank in the attic, the leak would cause water damage to ceilings and floors on its way to the drain. Those of us in cold climates also need to prevent the system from freezing on long, cold, dark winter nights. That usually means using a freeze-proof liquid in the collector, with a heat-exchanger for the water to be warmed. That implies higher complexity and cost, and lower reliability.
    3. Another option for energy-efficient cooking is the microwave oven. According to Scientific American magazine: “According to the federal government’s Energy Star program, which rates appliances based on their energy-efficiency, cooking or re-heating small portions of food in the microwave can save as much as 80 percent of the energy used to cook or warm them up in the oven.” The article also says, though, that heating a cup of water for tea on a stove-top vs. microwave is about the same, with the stove-top having a slight advantage. I get good results rewarming small portions in a covered frying pan, with the electric burner set to Low. We may not have microwave oven technology in a hundred years, but we have it now. If a microwave oven is convenient enough to prevent going out for a meal, then that saves travel fuel. (Honestly, I just love putting raw food into the microwave, selecting a cooking program, and letting it go, while I focus on other parts of the meal.)

  14. Thanks for the lesson, John. I appreciate it. I sent the Master Conservers PDF to a friend in England who is getting concerned.

    It looks like we’ll need to continue to get ready for some retroduction and retrovation as well.

    I hadn’t thought of my wife’s catering equipment as being useful in an emergency per se… but I realize I could stock up on some extra cans of sterno for those chafing dishes we have in the basement, should we need to use them. I’d always thought of using our camp stove, and our metal fire pit which can also be cooked in, if we didn’t have access to our stove. Of course I remember fondly the chaffing dish meals you conjured up in book 2 of WoH, but I hadn’t thought of the catering stuff we have in terms of that. Good reminders.

    All the best to everyone in their preparations.

    BTW Douglas Rushkoff has a new book coming out, Survival of the Richest. His work on memes in his late 90s book Cyberia was very prescient, and as a media thinker, I like a lot of his insights. In the article I read that is excerpted from the new book he really lances the ideas of these billionaire bunker bros. I’d much rather be hanging with poor & working class hillbilly knowhow any day, sans the bunker, and their bros.

  15. It’s not just Rod, I got an instant Hitler at the Reichstag vibe from that picture. Claiming to be against fascism when you are duplicating a famous fascist motif, who thought that was a good idea?

    On energy conservation, my favorite trick is with the upright freezer door. The freezer is outside in the covered porch. This is great in the winter, but in the summer more insulation was needed. The biggest area to work with is the door. So I bought a sheet of 1.5″ styrofoam, cut out a door shaped piece, glued that to a door shaped piece of cardboard, then stuck it to the door with recycled hard drive magnets. The magnets slide between the styrofoam and the cardboard.

    Pretty it’s not, but it works surprisingly well.

  16. I think that your list is hard to argue with. I trust you will be kind when I presume to add a couple of things.

    I think that, provided the electricity keeps flowing, the one thing that I like to point out is that baking and cooking in cold weather also serve the purpose of heating a dwelling. A loaf of bread serves the double purpose of feeding you and heating the dwelling. Brewing a batch of beer will warm a place nicely. Just remember that winter is the time for dark ales as they are much better served ‘not cold’.

    Cooking without a delivered energy source can be a touch dicey. I like your chafing dish idea, but I think that a propane camping stove and a spare bottle of propane might be considered. Chafing dishes are safer, and use of propane indoors is not without risk, but anyone who has used a gas range are aware of those risks and they are manageable.

    The other thing that I would recommend is having alternate lighting for those upcoming times of ‘intermittency’. Intermittency is the road leading to”got nuthin'” and I would posit that having a couple of the USB ‘power banks and a string of camping lights will make life a little easier in the cases where electricity is out for a while. I suppose that an oil lamp would also serve as an alternate lighting source, but they come with fire risks that have to be taken into account.

    I think that simple planning like you have outlined is a kindness. I don’t think that folks should go all daffy and think that the world is going to be unrecognizable tomorrow, but I think that over the next couple of years the idea if intermittency is going to be coming more and more to the fore.

  17. @Rod #2

    No, you’re not seeing things. I didn’t watch the speech but looking at the photos, the lurid backdrop was far from subliminal to me. They could probably be less subtle, but I don’t see how.

    In regards to power conserving, my electric bill dropped by an average of $10 a month after my elder brother was finally accepted into a nursing home. I had been keeping his bedroom lamp on overnight as the nightlights in the wall didn’t throw enough light for him to see when he made his trips to the bathroom. I also kept a floor lamp next to his easy chair lit when he was in it so he’d have enough light to read. Just keeping two lamps turned off now made that much of a difference.

    Going to bed earlier helps too. If I need to get up during the night, I have two little battery operated night lights I use (one by my bed and the other in the bathroom). Much easier on the eyes when turned on.

  18. JMG said: “it is always easier and cheaper to conserve the energy you have than to bring in more energy to replace it.”

    I actually lived through a transition from an energy poor environment (communist E. Europe) to the modern rich world.

    For people that paid attention, the changes were obvious. Energetically, this is caused by going from a EROEI of 1.X:1 to an EROEI of 100:1. Think about how you would treat money if a bank, instead of giving 1% (or 0%!) interest, would give you 100% interest all of a sudden. The same happened with our energy sources – for a while.

    Here are some observations that might help people as we make the transition:
    – Expect durable goods to start being expensive again. Nowadays, cars and appliances are incredibly cheap relative to human labor. At some point I would expect that to change so people will HAVE TO maintain them for decaded the same as Cubans did during their difficult times.
    – Lots of work will start getting done in the home, as JMG mentioned many times. Cooking, gardening, cutting firewood etc – all this can save a lot of money by being done directly.
    – Again, like JMG said, expect the whole propaganda machine (MSM, TV, internet) to be reduced to almost nothing, simply as a cost saving measure. Once USD is not world currency, there will be precious little money for the TLAs (three letter agencies) and their propaganda organs. Think about the poor factcheckers left without a job!

  19. I don’t think I can describe in words the depth of dread I felt when I watched Biden’s speech the other night. The people in charge of the visual effects either knew exactly what they were doing or absolutely did not.
    I live on a boat. My hull sits in Puget Sound. So I have a water insulator under me. My hull temperature is probably around 40 or 50 degrees most of the year. When it snows, the top of boat is insulated. If you live aboard, leave the snow on the boat unless it starts getting too heavy! I also found a guy who can make a tarp for my boom that is clear. If I get one of these, I can get some greenhouse effect on my cabin top.
    Some of my windows have exterior edges so I’m going to put window film on them and turn them into double panes. Last night I was thinking about how to make insulated window coverings.
    Costco has down comforters in King and Queen size right now in their warehouses. About 100.00 each. I’m thinking of getting one of them.
    For everyone who doesn’t sleep with their dogs and kitties it’s worth a thought. My three tiny dogs are like three tiny hot water bottles. In an emergency they can keep my body core warm, I think, and my body mass can keep them warm. As long as we have enough food to keep all our furnaces burning, we’ll be ok.
    I bought a forty pound bag of dog food last week and packaged it up into smaller parcels. It’s fuel.

  20. As a counterbalance to my previous comment, I have to say that most people that lived through the fall of communism have learned nothing.

    Just like others have mentioned in JMG’s blogs, I tried to convince my family and friends to at least get sleeping bags, store some durable foods in the pantry and prepare for a time when the government won’t help them.
    The reactions are dismissive and somehow angry – it’s obvious they don’t want to think about it.

    From a group of people that were used to frequent blackouts and waiting in line for days (no exageration!) to get butter or a bag of frozen chicken feet, this dismissive attitude is almost insane. But such is the power of propaganda that they cannot imagine we might get back to those days.

    One more thing – just like in W. Europe, many people have switched to electrical heating and removed their old masonry stoves (that in a pinch could burn wood instead of gas). I cannot imagine what they are thinking.

  21. I’m glad that social convention does not require women to dress in Victorian style heavy woolen garments anymore. I don’t know why women didn’t just expire more often from heat stroke back in the day.

  22. Thanks, JMG. Your post makes one feel better about the escalating crisis. I do have four small comments to offer, as I seek to help in some small way: (1) Some years ago, when I was still living in Canada rather than in Estonia, I found it helpful to buy a small device which measures electricity consumption at the power plug. One would put this device into the wall receptacle, and then into its socket one would plug the power cord of the appliance of interest. An LCD display showed how many watts the appliance of interest (as it might be, one’s computer) was at the given instant drawing from the grid. Maybe I can this winter find a European equivalent of that handy thing. In Canada, it was marketed under the name “Kill-A-Watt”. (2) Also when still living in Canada, I devised a single-person alternative to the full-family fireless cooker. One puts an ordinary 300-millilitre laboratory beaker into a widemouthed thermos, with a plastic canister containing hot water filling the space between beaker top and screwed-on thermos lid. This works fine for pasta. It also proved possible to cook rice with the thermos, as follows: (a) Put rice and water into the beaker, and raise the rice-water mixture to the boiling point through a brief use of a microwave oven. (b) Put the beaker into the thermos, with the insulating plastic canister on top of the beaker. (c) Twenty minutes or so later, take the beaker out of the thermos (its water will have cooled to perhaps 70 degrees Celsius, which is not too good for cooking rice), and raise its temperature to around 95 degrees Celsius, through another brief use of the microwave oven. (d) Put the beaker back into the thermos, with its insulating plastic canister. (e) After another twenty minutes or so, remove the beaker from the thermos, noting now that the rice has assumed the correct soft texture, its water duly absorbed. (3) My current disaster preparations include not only the study of radio science and of Russian – как приятно, господин полковник – but also a “Kelly Kettle”, as at In theory (I have yet to test the thing, yikes, despite having bought it years ago, in Canada), one can boil a litre or so of water not with ordinary firewood, but with the twigs and pinecones that abound here in Tõravere. (4) I am finding these days that morale can be bolstered by viewing British wartime public-service ciné clips. Various such clips can be found in YouTube by giving the YouTube search engine the string ((STRING))world war 2 home front britain((/STRING)). It is uplifting to see such old government films as “Two Cooks and a Cabbage”, or again a set of government directives on the brewing of tea. – The tea vid is really fun. A sinister Tea Scientist, in white lab coat, does much of the lecturing. At one point it is made clear how at perhaps 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., after Gerry comes over and people got bombed out, a tea van arrives, providing a kind of psychological first aid. – Btw, people who do not fancy wartime British tea-making directives could get a lift from a 10-second clip, safely outside the context of the Hitler war and yet still in a kind of lab-coat setting, showing how those other useful British devices, the Daleks, serve tea: – Sincerely, Tom = Toomas (occasionally blogging at toomaskarmo[dot]blogspot[dot]com)

  23. Folks in some corners of the internet began referring to Biden’s Philadelphia speech as the Red Sermon; a tongue-in-cheek reference to George R R Martin’s Red Wedding in the Game of Thrones series. I can’t unsee that now.

  24. I’ll add a tip. If you like to have a bath, and can afford the hot water, take off the side panels from the bath and put loft insulation under and around the tub, the put the panels back on (obvs). The water will stay warm for a lot longer that way.

  25. We have solar panels and equipment put away in a steel horse trailer and Faraday cage. It is a very simple system that will run our freezer and some lights for as long as the equipment lasts.

    Why not use it now? It might help with electricity cost, but not much. Besides, we are saving it to help transition to a much simpler life.

    We covered some vents to our crawl space with painted plywood. Wow!! We felt an immediate difference. We didn’t cover all because we wanted some air flow. We also fixed our outlets. Big difference.

    The thing is, we plugged along doing these things over a few years. Now, we are inspired to get to it and find all sorts of things to fix.

    I have a neighbor who has a handle on all of this. He grew up in a very rough and tumble world out in the middle of nowhere. He’s a bit of a catbird, too. But one day he said, “You know, I just wish the grid would go down so things’ll just calm down and we can get back to living again.”

  26. Rod
    Various people have calculated the amount of remaining fossil fuels and not all come up with the same answer.Obviously there isn’t enough to continue as we are for long. A lot of the issue is what is affordably available. I think the best place to follow that debate is at I also think Mike Shellman’s site is good:
    Hope that helps.

  27. #Rod It’s not how much we have left as if we have a draining bathtub of fossil fuels but it’s our usage rates. We could do fine **for centuries** with what we have left if we learn to conserve. As an example, there is a well in Pennsylvania that is still pumping crude. It was dug around the mid 1800’s.near Col. Drake’s first well. If it’s still pumping in 40 years, it will be a 200 year oil well. However, I would not base an energy policy on a 200 year old well or going back to whaling.

    Exxon-Mobil has a graph showing the peaking of world crude supply. You can find it here:
    The graph I am referring to is about a quarter way down. It shows that Conventional Crude and Condensate peaked in 2005; just as many petrogeologists predicted. Deffeyes said Thanksgiving 2005 as a tongue in cheek comment. That’s as good as any date that year. The graph below it says we are close to being net exporters by 2050 but look at Europe, Russia, and Asia Pacific to get a feel for the energy dynamics and thus the politics of oil supply and demand. You can understand why Russia and the Middle East are in the catbird seats with regard to energy and it’s strangle hold over Europe and China.

    Deepwater, Tight Oil, and Oil Sands make up the other sources and their EROI is not very high. But you can see that the graph **SLOWLY** goes over around 2040. By 2040 and beyond, we need to become net energy exporters instead of importing roughly 5 million barrels of crude each day.

    I drive electric per my online name mainly because I can refuel from the sun. It is not cheap, not always “there” and there is the fragility of the electronics. Still, I might be able to drive into the country-side to pick up eggs, meats, veggies and fruits but trade them for what? Will I be able to pick up something from a big box hardware store, etc. and drive it on out??? Lots of unknowns to think about. Will electrics be common enough that we will still have some resemblance of what we have now?

  28. Hey JMG, great post! Like you, I recall the energy shortages of the 70s, and the stuff my dad did to weatherize our house. I also remember the thermostat being set to 68, and turned down to 65 at night; the family rule was, “If you’re cold, put on a sweater” and my mother made personalized lap robes for each of us kids to curl up under while doing homework in the evenings.

    I can’t resist posting the incomparable Flanders and Swann turning the first and second laws of thermodynamics into a jazz song:

    Also, for sleep hats? I’ve found that ordinary knitted watch caps — either wool or acrylic, or a blend of the two — do a great job, so long as you don’t have a fancy hairdo to be crushed by them. (I don’t.) They’re easy to find in the stores, and easy to make for yourself if you knit or crochet, and either way they’re pretty inexpensive. I knit my own out of $3-$5 worth of yarn (prices based on yarn I bought before the shutdown began in March 2020, probably $5-$8 worth of yarn now), from a six-hat pattern I bought for $7 (probably $10-$12 now) and have used for over a decade. With good care they last for years; I’ve knitted four of them for my husband and myself, and we’re still wearing the oldest pair, made in 2011, and using the newer pair (2013) to swap out while the older ones are in the wash.

  29. On the first home I owned I upgraded the windows to double pane glass, added siding with insulation, and tripled the attic insulation. This cut the heating bill in half the following winter. The improvements have probably paid for themselves a couple times since they were done 20 years ago.

  30. Oof… Should have paid better attention to all the times my dad try to make a handyman out of me

  31. John–

    I’ll be curious to know what (if any) pushback you get from the cornucopian crowd on this one.

  32. I used to work in a mountain hut. We had a fireplace, but unfortunately many tourists came to see the snow (I live in a place where it only shows up the mountains), so they would come in and out every 5 minuets (per person, not collectively), and very often they left the doors open. The same people would then tell me the fireplace does not work. I started asking people to keep the doors closed, only to be meet with blank stares.

    So I agree with you most people are hopelessly ignorant in those matters. By the way, the guests complained about the mean guy who kept insisting they keep the doors closed, which led to my termination.

  33. I am going to suggest your readers review a website or two dealing with current RV technologies. The energy intermittence issue is common to RV owners, as is insulating and lots of caulking due to moving seams and joints. RV folk also have limited space, so dual-duty or even triple-duty appliances and gadgets are more accepted – as are human-powered devices.

    The RV conservation issue was decided long ago – not enough roof area for usable solar and battery costs excessive – versus parking under a carport to offset the summer sun or 3 walls and a roof to shield from winter wind losses…conserving won handily.

    Glad to see you roll this one out. Your local electric company may also offer ‘thermal snapshots’ of your home to show you where you have heat or cooling losses (hot/cold depends on your location).

    Personal experience for me is solar water heaters – in sunbelt states these are enough to reduce water heater usage to near zero for most of the year. Perhaps the best investment for homeowners outside of weatherizing, and they have no moving parts…

    Looking forward to comments on this one, JMG…

  34. JMG – your second to last paragraph is one of the finest I’ve read from you. It’s quite amazing how sometimes, just a few words can convey such great insight, and of course as this week’s essay proves, how just a few simple actions can have a great effect.

  35. Thank you for sharing this information. What amazes me is how few people actually know it in its fullness. I have passed this along to my friend who has European and English connections. Seems their governments are not emphasizing this at all, though they are warning their citizenry that they will have to suffer in order to sustain the sanctions against Russia. Still, that is only a small part of the energy impoverishment to come.

  36. JMG, another fine and timely post. It does feel like the decline has gotten steeper lately, and as they say down under, it’s time to “get a wriggle on” for addressing the less reliable and more expensive sources of energy now here. I’ve moved this month to North Dakota, and with the price of propane skyrocketing and lack of backup options for water and heat, I’ll be trying to figure out what needs to be done pronto. Staying warm can be in my control, leaving more bandwidth for doing rain/snow dances (the property is right on the 100th meridian.

    I don’t recall too many folks getting serious about energy conservation in the 1970s, as the crises were somewhat short-lived. This time the shortfall in supply will have a larger and more lasting impact.

    @Rod # 1 – I recently ran down some numbers for oil, and came up with 47 to 54 years remaining supply left – from “known” reserves of about 1.6T barrels, and a daily burn rate of about 94M barrels per day. Of course we won’t be able to continue burning oil, coal and natural gas at the present rates, due to the higher cost of extraction – which will reduce demand. So my best guess is that with no major wars, economic contractions or political upheavals, we have only about a decade left of “normalish” times when it comes to consuming fossil fuels. Since I believe much of that will be prioritized by military and agriculture use first, our time of happy motoring may just about be over.

  37. Nice! I live in a 100 year old apartment wooden building that has terrible insulation and faces West to the water. There is a broken pipe from the old heating system that very efficiently draws all the heat to the street outside. I’m going to plug that hole with fiberglass.

  38. Rod
    Was going to add that for oil the estimates for peak run from Nov 2018 to 2028 or 30. I tend to believe the 2018 date, as do most of the posters that I trust.

  39. If I may post a follow-up to last week’s discussion, I suspect that the event, or factor which causes us plebs to send for the tumbrils will be the coming debacle in Ukraine and attendant hardships this winter. Moon of Alabama has up a most sobering, brief article on the subject,, the most interesting part of which is reports from a Washington Post article by a reporter who interviewed injured Ukrainian soldiers. If the Washington Post is abandoning the official narrative…I begin to think that the insolent neo-con/humanitarian (you should excuse the expression) interventionist coterie might not be long for this world, or at least, soon be permanently out of power.

    Ian Welsh is predicting yet another spike in energy prices either after the fall election or next spring.

  40. Very timely post JMG, I’ll be passing it along, especially to those I know with family and friends in Europe.

    Regarding the warm clothing, do you or any of the other commenters have any recommendations for where to buy quality long underwear? I’ve been googling around but would appreciate opinions based on experience, regarding durability and comfort.

    -Jason P

  41. What a joy to see you repurposing such timeless practical wisdom for our collapsing times, John Michael. As always, Connie and I find reading you such a prophetic pleasure. Thanks, again!

  42. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re putting an insulating blanket on your tank-type water heater and that water heater is fossil fueled, make sure you don’t block the air intakes at the bottom or the draft hood at the top. You’ll destroy the water heater’s efficiency at best and may even cause an explosion which is fully capable of destroying your entire home.

  43. JSYK I quoted about half this post (from “Let’s start with the most crucial lesson” to “in the years ahead”) on my Tumblr, joanspoliticalposts, with a link back here. Then I linked that post on a post on my main blog, joanhello2, because Tumblr has this feature/bug where, if a post has a link to anything other than another Tumblr post, it won’t show up in searches. (This is a deliberate policy to limit the reach of spambots.) It seems to me that the basic conservation wisdom you laid out is in need of a wider audience, so I do what I can.

  44. Good stuff as usual!
    Because I’m a total nerd on this stuff, I have to put in my 2 pence on heat. My geeky correction and rant (I’ll try to keep it short cause, well… Just don’t get me started!):

    Convection is a function of heated fluids. Heat (itself) DOES NOT RISE! I have known many builder/innovator types who, operating under the “heat rises” myth, thought that pushing heat into the ground under their house would be a good idea. Sometimes it is a good idea but sometimes it isn’t and often the “heat rises” myth is at the crux of the failure. Heat flows from hotter places to cooler, in straight lines. As long as the ground below remains colder than the house above, it will act as a sink and draw heat away. This heat will not rise again, at least not until the house becomes colder than the ground. At that time and all too often, most of the heat pumped into the ground will have already run away or become too diffuse to efficiently or effectively return.

    Also, all of the strategies you’ve mentioned for saving home heat are for homes that store heat in the air. Granted, most of our homes do just this with central heating systems and the like. Air is very convenient to heat and pump around but it’s also about the worst heat storage medium that one could think up. As a Natural Builder, and Rocket Mass Heater innovator, I spend a lot of time working with thermal mass. Thermal mass storage of heat generally bypasses air storage and transport of heat. Most mass storage will heat you by radiation (or conduction, like sitting on a heated bench) and does very little in terms of convection. Air is generally transparent to heat radiation and tends to be heated only in direct contact with warmed surfaces (conduction). Even after many years of working with this, it still amazes me that one can stand shirtless in 40°f air, with the front door wide open and be sweating because radiation from the mass stove body is so intense.
    In this situation, all of the things you mentioned are still good to do but they mean a lot less because the air itself is less of the heating equation.

  45. @Jason P. – try Wintersilks. That’s where I got my cold weather underwear.

    Re: Winter is Coming: to keep warm and spread the message, you can buy sweatshirts or T-shirts with exactly that message, and a white-on-black semi-abstract dire wolf facing you and coming right at you. (Heraldry experts – what’s that position called?) The shirts are black and the message is in white.

    A quick look showed me another with the wolf’s head passant. And many more, all hoodies, but not the design I have, apparently out of style. The key word is “Stark” or “Game of Thrones.” $40-$50@

  46. Layers are a key detail. Fortunately we practice a number of these already (it helps being only a generation away from what were effectively medieval living conditions, and having relatives reminisce about those conditions). One thing I took away from such discussions: long-cooking food seems to have been routine, likely because of energy restrictions.

    An aside, regarding the note on conserving energy: I sometimes wonder, seeing humans jogging down the streets, if our modern compulsion to exercise isn’t the “burning off” of excess energy by (at least in the West) wildly overfed and over-energized organisms.


  47. Hi JMG

    Informative and practical advise. Been a few years since I remodeled my cousins home employing everything mentioned in this article. We were heated by wood stove and on well water. Amazing reduced wood use by over 30% that was mostly construction site collected and pallets that otherwise be headed to a land fill. Water use also reduced and power usage cut with LED lighting and lifestyle changed.

    Been following since Arch Druid Report days and joined AODA back then.

  48. Thanks John for all your years of common sense. I’ve done major self reliant focused upgrades to my liveaboard sailboat over the last few years of pandemic insanity. Life as a second class unfoxed has kicked my complacent cnd behind in a good way.
    Three solar panels provide sufficient 12v for ship’s systems and small food cooler. Propane 3 burner stove cooks everything inc hot water for 3 months on one 20lb propane tank ($28cnd refill ). Almost that time to install winter film on skylights and portals. Insulated the hull years ago with a proper nautical hemlock strips over that. Winter small hvac fan circulation costed $80cnd/month at-16c during the worst of winter in combo with my diesel fireplace (1.5 litres per day diesel). Will be installing a Quebec fireplace oven designed for tiny homes or RV shortly as backup. I do love a crackling fire. Polar fleece jammies and down filled duvet toasty as no ships heat needed overnight.
    Past month major effort on learning art skills has done wonders to recover my mental health from all the very unhealthy anger I felt from our health stazi dictate. Sketch pads, pens and pencils and occasional art classes cost peanuts.
    Life, young feller, is good.

  49. On this topic, I recently had an interesting, slightly humorous, experience while trying to reduce my home’s energy consumption.

    A little over a year ago, sick of the heat, the family and I moved out of Phoenix and into a house located under the ponderosa pines up here in the Arizona mountain country. The move was a step up in all ways although the outside A/C condenser unit was no longer working as rats had made a nest inside and chewed through the wiring. The previous owner had passed, and so the unit sat idle for nearly a year making it an ideal home for rodents apparently. We’ve been here through two summers now with no air conditioning and suffer only a mild physical discomfort for a few hours a day during the summer months. We’re absolutely fine with this arrangement and decided that we simply don’t need A/C while living under the shade of the pine trees in this cooler climate.

    About a month ago, I had a local company come out and check the furnace – you know, before winter comes. The furnace ended up getting shut down because it was emitting dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide. This was not a surprise as the it is about 16 years old and gets used regularly during the winters. When discussing a replacement they, of course, wanted to replace the outside condenser unit as well. I told the service technician “no thanks” in no uncertain terms. I let him know that we’ll probably just add insulation in the attic and eventually get a whole house fan installed up there to create a cross breeze throughout the house. It is a dry climate after all.

    I guess you’re not supposed to say all this out loud. Mouth agape, the service tech was visibly shocked! He then tries to reason with me that I haven’t been here long enough to know how hot it can actually get and that a whole house fan wouldn’t cut it. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting the push back, and perhaps he’s right. However, I really do want to at least try and reduce my energy consumption and this seems like a prime opportunity to do just that. I tell him I only want a quote for the furnace replacement. Two weeks later, as if our conversation never happened, I get a quote for a full HVAC system replacement. I guess they know what’s best for me.

    I called up a competitor and they told me whole house fans are common up here. Ha!

    My takeaway here is that there will be tremendous bucking and kicking among people and industries here in the U.S. as we are forced to transition to a more conscientious approach to usage and conservation.

  50. Jason P
    I don’t know where you are, but in northern California, one could get great waffle weave cotton long johns for about $20 the set, probably more now. at Big 5 I am sure you can get them on line. One could also get lovely silk ones for about $100. Depends what your budget/priority is. The cotton works fine and lasts well.

  51. “Poor Joe Biden, whose cognitive impairments are becoming uncomfortably obvious, apparently forgot he was president of the United States a few days ago and decided to audition for the part of the Mouth of Sauron instead.”

    The Mouth of Sauron, ha ha, very good.
    Thank you JMG for your ideas on heat conservation.

  52. I always appreciate these posts, as sobering as they sometimes are. They prompt me to think hard about career and business decisions, in light of the coming future. I’ve been thinking about starting an online business to help local businesses with their search visibility and various other marketing needs. I know maybe it’s not something that will be in demand 30 years from now, but I figure – why not go ahead and see what happens? I’m curious if JMG or others have thoughts on how they navigate decisions about making a living in an uncertain future?

  53. Rod:
    According to the research I’ve done, we have maybe 50 years of recoverable oil, 60 years of recoverable natural gas, and 180 years of recoverable coal. Mind you, these are at current rates of use. As we run out of one energy source, we’ll need to use more of the others to make due. This will accelerate the pace of depletion. The reality is that we’re probably looking at something more like 35 to 40 years of recoverable oil, 45 of natural gas, and 90 or so of coal. Baring divine intervention or some other equally unlikely occurrence (I’m looking at you, fusion power), we’re looking at major changes in our lifetime, and a complete reversal of our economic and social situation in the next 100 years. And that’s not accounting for the environmental blowback that we have coming.

    Here are some sources I used to get there:
    A countdown to oil depletion thanks to The World Counts —

    A very good article in an Oilman’s magazine called Drillers —

    Worldometer (has some good graphs dealing with discovery of new reserves) —

    And, while they’re a bit “rosy glow” about the future of green energy, BP has some interesting energy statistics. The stats on natural gas and coal are located elsewhere, but are easy to find.

  54. Biden’s backdrop reminded me of The Spy Who Loved Me with the chase through Egyptian ruins during the pyramid light show.

  55. Hi JMG,
    I grew up in rural north Georgia in the 1960s and ‘70s and can personally attest that those caps are very effective in keeping your head warm on cold winter nights. My grandmother made a number of them and they were typically produced from heavy cloth and done in the style of old aviator caps, with string ties rather than the buckle used to secure the aviator version. I can tell you that they were quite useful when the temperature dropped substantially below freezing. I haven’t thought about them in years, but they definitely work. Patterns are available online, as are caps for purchase (these latter for those of us who don’t sew).

  56. Rod, nobody knows. Discoveries are still ongoing, though less and less is found each year, and a good many nations that have fossil fuel reserves publish figures on their reserves that, according to outside experts, are probably inflated. So it’s impossible to know. With regard to the Parteiadler background, yes, I spotted that too. What were they thinking?

    Patricia M, when I was a kid we had a folding table that was assigned the role of the game board table. Any game that was going to last for more than a single session had to be on that table, in the family room, or it got scooped up and put back in the box. It worked quite well.

    Yorkshire, ha! That’s the most quintessentially Russian story I think I’ve ever heard.

    Disc_writes, you can build solar thermal panels. Here’s one of many sets of instructions:

    As for the woodburning ban, I’m really starting to wonder if the Dutch political class has a death wish.

    Jerry, that’s an excellent point. I hope many of my readers start using it to pound some common sense into heads that could use it.

    Nicolaas, maybe, but I don’t recommend focusing on the kind of collector’s items that assume there will be a lot of people with ample money to spend on luxuries.

    Bruce, we’re fine — we were careful to rent a place on a hill, so the flash floods and the general sogginess are all elsewhere. With regard to energy, of course there’s a plateau — that’s why I noted that most people can cut 20% off their energy use with the sort of methods I’ve discussed, but you have to make major lifestyle changes to go further.

    Btidwell, here are 58 chafing dish cookbooks free for the download from Thanks for the tips — very good advice.

    NomadicBeer, I’ve used fiberglass with good results, but of course your mileage may vary, and rockwool is another good option.

    Mark, many thanks for all of these.

    Christina, you’re most welcome. It astonishes me that so few people know of that.

    Viduraawakened, I’ve never seen meaningful quantitative measurements of how much electricity you can get that way. I’d also point out that we don’t know what function atmospheric electricity plays in the balance of forces in the atmosphere, and it would be rather awkward if, say, draining electricity from the atmosphere caused a steep drop in rainfall…

    Lathechuck, the issues with condensation are discussed in detail in the handouts I got — trust me, we all learned about that back in the day. Vapor barriers are your friend! As for solar water heaters, yes, but there are steps you can take to counter that; one of the reasons that so many current models have the tank above the roof is that if you get leakage, why, it just lands on the shingles and runs off like rain.

    Justin, if you’ve got catering gear already, amd know how to use it, you’re ahead of the game. Many thanks for the Rushkoff essay — it’s nice to see a point I tried to get across in Retrotopia being picked up and taken seriously.

    Siliconguy, a good functional kluge!

    Degringolade, thanks for all of these.

    Nomadicbeer, many thanks for this. Those are certainly things I expect to see.

    Elizabeth, you weren’t alone in that reaction to Biden’s Red Sermon. Thank you for the conservation tips!

    NomadicBeer, that’s got to be bitter to watch. The myth of progress still has its claws into too many brains.

    Danaone, you’re missing the point. Those layers of clothing were popular because they kept people warm. Remember that normal wear for men at the time involved nearly as many layers of wool! In warm climates — which, of course, Victorian England wasn’t — the woollens got swapped out for lighter fabrics; old-fashioned Southerners in seersucker suits and cotton gowns may come to mind.

    Toomas, thank you for all of this! The beaker trick sounds worth developing further, the Kelly Kettle’s a classic, and the old films sound fun — my wife and I have an anthology of cooking advice from Britain’s wartime food ministry, We’ll Eat Again, which is great fun to read, and has useful tips.

    Edward, so that’s where that’s from! Thank you.

  57. Was that photo of Biden altered? How much? I admit to not actually watching his speech. It’s been a long time since I could abide presidential speeches; maybe Kennedy.

  58. I used this Warm Window (TM) fabric to make Roman Shades back in 2012. On the room side of the shade I put a neutral fabric to match the room. The outward window side is just this fabric. It works so so well when it’s below freezing outside. It also keeps the sun out in the summer. We get actual frost on the outside of the window when it’s 25 degrees or lower. I’ve taken the shades down and washed them and they’ve held up well. One of the best investments of time and money I made for sure.

  59. Do you have any suggestions on how to encourage your landlord to let you do things like weatherstripping, adding insulation around pipes or gaskets behind electricity plate covers etc?

    As it stands, my landlady is a wonderful person I’m very fond of who is nice enough to rent to me for a lot less than she could charge and lets me grow a big veggie garden, but she is reacts to things like chickens, rainbarrels, or me doing anything whatsoever no matter how minor to the building by defaulting to an automatic NO!!!

    I think I might be able to make and get away with the window covers. I should go learn more about them.

    I tried the slow cooker. I ran into the problem that nothing I cooked that way tasted good to me, so I stopped using it. Maybe I should try making a haybox. That doesn’t look hard.

    One thing that will automatically drop my electricity use this year… my very elderly and rickety pictus gecko died about a month ago. This is sad, but not unexpected. I’ve banned myself from getting any pet or combination of pets that uses as much electricity and buying live food as he did. I just made a mini-pond in a 2L from a local lake. Small invertebrates, micro-organisms, algae and some very common plants. No vertebrates. It uses a tiny trickle of LED light for part of the day, and that’s it for energy use. Also helps light the room, and it’s fascinating to watch. I just discovered yesterday that it contains a free-living leech I somehow hadn’t spotted over the previous couple of weeks.

  60. Do you think Biden got the part? Being the Mouth of Sauron is probably a pretty competitive position…

  61. At the “victory lap” years of 63, much of this seems so familiar. And observing the missteps of the 70s energy crisis, our clan, despite my technical dependence on digital technologies and the feckin’ Interwebs, our household has been irregularly but steadily downsizing for the past two decades, perhaps three. I am rubbing the beard considering my next computer, which will very likely be the last professional machine I will every buy, as I do not see my income supporting it’s successor, or the technical infrastructure or consumptive culture to support my profession enduring in it’s present form. I have a drafting table in the basement, waiting, and have been slowly re-accumulating the physical tools of my largely forgotten craft.

    As a Space geek from way back, I have been observing with both disappointment and some resignation that the the United States and NASA’s halting and painfully corrupt efforts to return to the moon seem doomed to failure. If we had kept on n the 70s, there might be robust human presence in space. But we clearly no longer have the ability to get it done, or the resources to support it. Whoever succeeds Joe Biden, this term or next, will probably cancel Artemis, or choke it’s funding to failure. Not that Boeing still builds Aircraft or Spaceships – having had their engineers replaced by financier class jackals on their Board of Directors.

    But nope, I have not seen any sign of the flying cars or jetpacks, or gods bless ’em, Fusion energy that the experts promised us. In the meantime, I have brought a chainsaw.

  62. Regarding remaining fossil fuel reserves… it’s a very complex question because it actually has more to do with economics than the actual resources left in the ground.

    Since economic growth is directly tied to energy production and energy production growth is essentially over, well, economic growth is in fact over. More importantly, given that 99% of the world’s economy is fiat-based — and thus absolutely contingent upon endless credit expansion — the global economic machine is already FUBAR and we’re seeing the symptoms of that everywhere.

    We’ll never run out of reserves per se but the change in cost structure will entirely reshape our world. Debating a depletion timeline is somewhat pointless.

  63. Bacon, a very useful trick, though you need to be sure the insulation doesn’t get moisture trapped in it.

    Sebastian, it’s very often the simplest things that do the most good. As for your neighbor, I suspect there are many more people who think that way than our would-be lords and masters have any idea.

    Danaone, again, that’s what seersucker and cotton calico are for!

    Card Geek, thanks for this! Back when I was doing the posts on the old blog that got turned into my book Green Wizardry, I tried to find that Flanders & Swann song online, to no avail. Delighted that it’s available — everybody interested in energy should give it a listen.

    Piper, that’ll do it!

    Chris, hey, never too late to learn…

    David BTL, so will I. So far there hasn’t been a whisper.

    Four Sided Circle, one of the things that makes our current situation such a mess is that so many people are so defensive of their right to be stupid.

    Oilman2, that’s an excellent point, and one I hadn’t thought of.

    James, thank you!

    Clarke, it stuns me that nobody’s talking about simple conservation measures. Those could save lives and livelihoods, for a very modest investment.

    Drhooves, no question, the curve’s getting steep for a while. Interesting that you don’t remember people being serious about energy conservation in the 1970s; as a teenager, I recall most families I knew doing at least the basics, and a fair number of people doing much more. It may have varied by region.

    Augusto, get that plugged, and then see if a little caulk might help with any gaps around your windows.

    Mary, we’ll see. Here in the US, I don’t expect tumbrils so much as local and state elections — those have been veering hard populist for a while now and will veer harder as things proceed. Europe? That’s a much more complicated matter, and the possibility of governments being overthrown by mob action isn’t small.

    Jason, I’ll turn that over to the commentariat, as I haven’t looked into it. Since I work from home in a sedentary job, my approach to layering on cold days usually involves ordinary clothing, a thick fuzzy sweater over that, and a bathrobe over the top.

    Stephen, thanks for this.

    Michael, and thanks for this.

    RPC, of course. There are all kinds of details I didn’t include in the posts due to lack of space, which is why I recommended that people learn the details from the handouts, books, and websites.

    Joan, thank you!

    Donkey, fair enough. In a warm space, convection causes hot air to rise, and so insulating the attic helps hold in heat that would otherwise be conducted away. I get the impression that the basic level of knowledge about energy out there is much, much worse than I thought; you can use an underfloor space for heat storage if it’s thoroughly insulated on all sides and contains thermal mass, but — obviously — not otherwise. As for air as a thermal medium, unless you have the time and funds to build in some thermal mass, that’s what you’re stuck with — and between now and winter, that’s what most people will be stuck with. If we had more time, I’d have a lot to say about thermal mass, as I’ve had similar experiences with it.

    Fra’ Lupo, you know, that would make sense!

    CL, glad to hear it. This stuff works!

    Longsword, and glad to hear this, too! If life gives you lemons…

    Aaron, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Those firms are in the business of selling systems, not providing options.

    Chuaquin, it’s literally the first thing that came to mind when I saw the photo.

    Sam, always have a plan B, and always cycle some of your profits into skills and tools that will be useful to you once the current gig falls out from under you.

    Chronojourner, hmm! Those sound comfy. I’ve always just used a knitted watch cap, but I may try one of these.

    Phutatorius, as far as I know, no, it wasn’t altered at all.

    Denis, thanks for this!

    SimP, I’ll have to look into it. As for Trump, I can’t imagine him doing something that sensible. Still, I’d be willing to be proved wrong.

    Pygmycory, you can put the gaskets in by yourself, and they leave no trace, so your landlady doesn’t need to know. As for the rest of it, you may be stuck. Slow cookers take different recipes — you can’t just use standard recipes with them — and so do hayboxes. Condolences for the loss of your gecko! It would have made a better president than the one we’ve got, though not so good of a Mouth of Sauron…

  64. @Rod, and others. It is certainly true that nobody, and especially not me, knows how much fossil fuel we have left. But I have noticed that pretty much from the beginning “experts” have predicted the imminent end of those fuels. And always, much more was discovered. So I suspect that in the near future (50 years, a few hundred years?) we will be using very little fossil fuels, though that could be for any number of reasons. We may be living in a miserable dystopia, or we may have really solved alternative energy sources and continue to maintain a high energy lifestyle. But in either case, I suspect there will be a lot of fuel left in the ground.

  65. “With regard to the Parteiadler background, yes, I spotted that too. What were they thinking?”

    Well, well I guess I wasn’t imaging things!

  66. Being the Mouth of Sauron is probably a pretty competitive position…

    Poor Joe Biden. Gods watch over him, he’s trying. It’s painful to realize that he was chosen by the Corporatists as the single acceptable choice as the candidate that would do the least to upset the neoliberal kleptocracy. And yes, he’s kind of terrible, but likely no less inept than the rest of the Dems, and the Republicans seem to have lost their collective minds, and have become rather horrid in their pursuit of power. Not that they seem to have much interest in actual governance beyond grievance.

    For those of us who still vote, it’s become something of a rear-guard action, praying for divine guidance to choose “less worse” and perhaps ease the slope of decline. Most people I know have lost ANY faith in the Political Class, who do not represent the vast press of the citizenry in any meaningful way. The Bad Orange Man [sarcasm mine, I’m originally from NYC, his reputation precedes…], while a world-class grifter and con man, at least had the talent to pretend to be the champion of the brutally immiserated, largely Wage Class who were betrayed by establishment Republicans and abandoned by corporatist Democrats.

    But regardless of the results of the horse race cage match, it would appear that both American Empire and the Republic’s bast days are past. Sad to see, raised on the social optimism of the 60s and 70s, but every historical example teaches –  THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS.

  67. The other thing about that the Biden backdrop that focused my attention was the use of the color “red”. That color as I am sure you know is used to represent of all things, agitation, anger, power, aggression, war, violence, blood. As you said, what were they thinking? I read that CNN even picked up on the overpowering red and softened it with a little pink.

    The Mainstream Media to the rescue! 🤓

  68. Great post❗️Thank you‼️


    My husband and I cashed out and escaped Northern California two years ago, partly because for thirty years we waited in vain, and waited, and waited, for others to “conserve💡.” Conserve what? ANYTHING‼️Water💧, heating🥶& cooling🥵, gasoline🚙& natural gas (and the like), electricity🔌, clothing👚 (choosing judiciously), repurposing clothes👖, wearing out things📱instead of throwing them in landfill — any and every way one can conserve.

    Response of others: blank stares😑and the middle finger🖕🏼. They partied the years away🥳 — ignoring consequences. To “talk conservation” was to “speak evil🙊.” Had they shown “concern🥺,” I would have felt assured that our region would be okay. But nothing — they were, and are, zombies🧟‍♂️. Now consequences are here. And I am gone. I am no longer around to kick around. My fortune (however little that may be) is no longer available to plunder. I “have goned myself” to a place where others around me haven’t forgotten that winter cometh and we live accordingly — conserving — conservatively.

    There certainly are regions around the USA who are paying through the nose for letting infrastructure rot — Flint, Michigan’s water supply — Jackson, Mississippi’s sewage plant, among them, &tc.

    Zombie adults will scream bloody-murder — as consequences encircle and trap them — a trap they themselves set. They will lament “How could this happen? Why was I not told? When is the government going to bail me out? Where is my free stuff?” They are beggars. Heaven forbid others expect them to “do for themselves,” like in the olden days.

    The olden days.

    The olden days were not so bad. I am of an age where I remember the tail-end of the olden days. We were poor, but we got along. Households were relatively self-sufficient because that was what our forebears passed down to us. All that is largely forgotten.

    What to do with beggars? Do-gooders will do what they can, but I see in the news that do-gooders’ stores are getting bare. I intend to “not donate food.” Beggars need to hit bottom.

    I am aghast when I see on mainstream news beggars as they exist today. Videos show beggars arriving by vehicle in their no-more-than-three-year-old-car — no junker-vehicles in sight — they stop the car and open the trunk/boot — they pile in boxes of non-perishable foods — they drive off, knowing that what they would have had to pay for food, now they are able to pay car loan, Internet service, smart phone bill, electricity bill, heat bill, rent or mortgage bill, &tc.

    A month or two later, after they must tighten their belts more, they will beg from some charity to pay their heating or electric bill. Begging will go on for some time, until eventually, no-one can pay others’ heat/electric bill — charities’ funds will run dry. The game is up. If people come begging-on-foot-with-their-nine-kids-in-tow, maybe I would listen — until then, no.

    They are a bunch of drug addicts. They are addicted to having others provide the taken-for-granted-affluence of having a refrigerator. A cooktop and oven. A furnace. A car. Clothes. Shelter. Food.

    They haven’t hit bottom. They need to hit bottom. We need to see that they hit bottom. Until they truly hit bottom, their recovery can’t start. Their “recovery” includes stopping the behaviors that got them to the “nowhereland they are in today.”

    And all the while, they will BLAME OTHERS for their predicament. Nope, not gonna fall for that again. No more will we be suckered into “taking care” of people who don’t know how to take care of themselves. In the olden days, people relied on themselves FIRST (not last).

    In the olden days, if the parent(s) did not provide food, kids starved. So it was.

    In the olden days, if the parent(s) did not provide shelter, kids went cold. So it was.

    In the olden days, if the parent(s) did not provide clothing, kids went in rags. So it was.

    In the olden days, extended family helped “catch as catch can,” on an emergency basis only — temporarily. Certainly “society” did not feel itself responsible for chronic statuses (things that didn’t go away).

    Maybe five years from now, they will have hit bottom. In the meantime, people will tear their hair out — blaming others. In the meantime, they need “to conserve” and do for themselves.

    All this “do-for-me-ing” started with President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s (LBJ) 1965 “Great Society.” In the USA, The Great Society was supposed to END ALL POVERTY FOR ALL TIME. The idea was that if one threw enough money💰at poverty, poverty would disappear. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, poverty is still here.

    We, as Americans, need to regain what we lost prior to LBJ. The Great Society was (and is) cock-and-bull — the money went/goes to grifters💸. We need to stop “do-ferring” (do for me) and stop “the gimmees” (give me this; give me that) and get back to doing for oneself. If one doesn’t provide for oneself-and-for-loved ones, it doesn’t magically “get provided by others.”

    Conserving helps stop the learned-helplessness which accompanies expecting others to do-for-me BEFORE doing-for-oneself. If one wants to stop being a zombie🧟‍♀️, do-for-yourself. Conserve.

    But, by me saying that people need to pay consequences for behaviors they have acquired over a hundred years, I am just being mean.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA
    age 70

  69. Just a little observation here: I am seeing some markedly increased reception to some of the ideas discussed on this blog, as of just the last month or less. Like a switch, people in my life who have been ever dismissive of my quips and me pointing out the failure of ‘progress’ have been initiating conversations and agreeing with me. It’s almost kinda surreal. Though I know that anecdote is not the singular of data, it feels like something deep is rapidly shifting.

  70. Just to quickly mention that while preventing random airleaks will certainly prevent heat loss, it may also prevent the indoor space from being properly ventilated, which can be damaging to health. What is actually wanted is to prevent “heat leaks”, not “air leaks.” The high tech way to accomplish this (which, luckily, was built into my wooden, highly insulated, triple-glazed window, house from the get-go) is a “heat recovery ventilation system”. This consists of a single fresh air intake which brings outdoor air past a heat exchanger which warms it using the heat of the outflowing stale air enroute to the single air outflow. I have not personally had to research a lower tech way of preserving good air quality as well as conserving heat, but this cannot be a new problem, and hopefully good low tech methods and designs for heat friendly ventilation are also out there.

  71. SamuraiArtGuy, along the same lines, I have a very nice typewriter handy in case it no longer works for me to keep writing via word processor. It’s time, and past time, to think in those terms.

    Rod, nope. There it was. What was it Marx wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon? History repeats itself — the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.

    Northwind, thanks for this. You’ve got a decade on me, but I still remember quite a few of those things.

    Selkirk, hmm! Thanks for this — that’s very good to hear. BTW, anecdote is in fact the singular of data — the people who say it isn’t are invariably trying to hide something.

    John, thanks for this.

    Scotlyn, that’s a valid concern, but most buildings these days leak air so freely that you have to do a whale of a lot of caulking before you get to a point that that’s an issue. Heat exchangers can be made relatively low-tech, for what it’s worth.

  72. Just a reminder for folks trying to scry the energy future…

    Jevon’s Paradox, with numerous backing data at this point, is factual.

    As things tighten up, and people attempt to maintain current consumption lifestyles, I can see where this paradox might be too tame…

    Also, as petroleum becomes more front and center with rising costs, governments and corporations will lie and obfuscate to the upside (lingo used is “forward looking” statements or estimates). Also look for terms that lump crap in with good – another way to ‘pump’ numbers.

    Just far too many games played everywhere

  73. >Not needing A/C in AZ

    I’d agree. In fact, for the cost of running a water pump and a fan, you can almost get the same cooling out of an evaporative cooler as you can out of a traditional A/C unit. They only work in places that get dry in the summer though. If it gets moist at all in the summer months, they’re pretty much useless. But my experience has been, if you live out in a dry West state, the hotter it gets, the better those coolers work.

    The only downside to them, is they’re prone to corrosion and crud buildup. Since all the water entering is tap, and it all leaves by evaporation, all the solids in the water have nowhere to go and after awhile they build up on everything inside the unit. Those solids also tend to promote corrosion on any metal that’s even slightly exposed to the crud.

    You can work around these issues, putting a water filter to get rid of the crud before it gets into the unit and a sacrificial anode to draw corrosion away but neither one gets rid of the problem altogether, they just mitigate it.

    >wood for heat

    What I’ve seen down here, a lot of people like to do things the old fashioned way still and run wood fired heaters during the colder months. HOWEVER, only hardwoods burn clean enough to be usable in such stoves, and what you see lot of around these parts, is all the hardwoods are gone and all that’s left are the pines.

    I tell you, if someone could find a way to burn pines for heat, there’s an opportunity there…

  74. Having been a Marine, 1970’s ish I can tell you pretty much what the two Marines were thinking as President Biden spoke: “76 days to go, tomorrow 75 days to go, then I’m outtahere.” Or whatever the numbers are. Also, “can’t go to sleep, gotta stay awake”. But seriously, the speech means nothing. Few herd it, no one believed it, the staging failed, the gap between the competence of Joseph Gormless and Joe Biden are at opposite ends of the spectrum. No needles were moved on any gage, anywhere. I’m sure it tookawhile for the President to sleep it off — that’s about it. Futhermore, whatever facade Nazism takes, frack’em, they’re doomed to failure. They always misuse magic. And science. Now if it had been two generals from the Joint Chief of Staff, in their all black uniforms — I would be scared. (Just kidding, they just need to be scratched on the head like good puppies)

  75. @JMG:
    Schlepping away at caterings has been one of the ways we’ve earned some extra dough over the years. My wife is a chef, and it’s grueling work, so she doesn’t always advertise that we can cater. Kind of a word of mouth thing through her work running a kitchen at a private school, though she had her own bohemian restaurant when we first met and started seeing each other. I usually end up doing dishes on catering, prep, and some of the assistant cooking. I’m definitely glad we have the skills and gear. Audrey hopes to do some other work in time, and as a couple, we prefer to cook for our family and friends than the people who can afford to pay us to cater… but it’s been good work for the most part, when she gets it.

    As for the Rushkoff article, obviously you’re right about him taking up a theme from Retrotopia! When he talks about, the rich people being nice to their employees, especially their highly trained & deadly security teams, being a good idea. I hope he reads your work, and I’ll be curious to read his whole book.

    Rushkoff is what I would call a mainstream fringe thinker if that makes sense. He’s close to the mainstream, but kind of on the fringe still. I hear that’s a good place to be.

  76. Use the windows you already have to warm up your spaces!

    We do the Window Dance.

    It’s simple and adapts to every season of the year. What makes it not simple is someone has to pay attention and actually perform the Window Dance.

    In the morning, in the winter, open all the drapes and let the sun shine in. As soon as sunset nears, close the drapes (all layers).

    In the morning, in the summer, close the drapes and keep the sun out! As soon as sunset nears, open the drapes and open the windows.

    In spring and fall, adapt as needed to let heat in or keep it outside.

    This is not hard.
    If you can see light pouring out of a window at night in the window, you’re seeing heat fleeing to the outdoors.

  77. Explaining the problem in houses (convection and conduction) is essential to determining a solution. Providing a solution by itself will likely result in rejection or inaction. I started a building company in the early 80’s using the building methodology of the Saskatchewan Conservation House. My late partner, Nick Dalton, continued to modify this appraoch over 35 years. Building double, staggered, airtight exterior walls can reduce heating bills by 75-90%, proven by over 150 projects. What would be really useful is a manual or a series of videos which clearly show how to overcome the conventional building envelope weaknesses. These might include:
    =redusing the conductivity of the basement slab
    – properly insilating and sealing basement walls
    – insulating and sealing the joist spaces above the basement walls
    – eliminating 100% leakage around electrical outlets
    – properly sealing and insulating the intersection of interior walls flppr structures with the building envelope
    – modifying the upper floor ceiling on the sides with the eaves to provide more insulation and air flow and
    -sealing the ceiling of the upper floor from the attic.
    Many of these critical areas can be fixed with little money and little skill.
    What’s needed first is understanding and then motivation.
    Most of the answes are staring us in the face
    David Braden, retired from Braden Homes

  78. @Chronojourner – where are such caps available? Please let me know. As for back-to-the-past warming items, I bought a long fleece cloak at the last Hoggetowne RenFaire in early 2020. Nice and warm.

  79. Btidwell, does that work for brown rice? I have to use the rice cooker to get properly cooked brown rice.

    My dad grew up in rural Pennsylvania during the (first) Depression. We still have the oil lamp he used to do homework on winter nights. It’s surprisingly bright! To the end of his days Dad hardly ever turned on lights, so of course Sonkitten, who always emulates Grandpa, doesn’t either.

    Fortunately Sonkitten does tip. Dad tipped a dollar. If he ordered a $1 coffee, he tipped a dollar. If he ordered a $20 dinner, he tipped a dollar. (This was the same person who had no trouble calculating artillery trajectories.). But I taught Sonkitten how to eyeball 15%, and he thought that was a nifty trick.

    Sonkitten and I used to go to ChiChi’s once a week, and one day our nice young waitress said “You guys must have a tip calculator card, you always have the exact amount of the tip.” So I showed her how to eyeball 15%. I like to think she’s out there somewhere, teaching her grandchildren how to figure 15%.

  80. @Sim P. re: “Then, what if Trump was elected again and had Carter era energy saving measures installed to White House as his first act and then started talking about such things to the public?”

    Odds on that happening?

  81. One of my favorite shows on the television I watch while I work from home (it helps me understand British geography), is “Escape to the Country.” The shows I get to see stopped filming about 2015. Just about everyone in it is looking to escape their “tiny” urban spaces (some of them quite large enough by my standards) for more spacious ones in the country, for whatever they can get from selling their urban spaces. Now, I’m generally in favor of rustication when done intelligently, but these people aren’t like the fellow in another of my favorites (“Mossy Bottom”) about a Brit who located to a tiny smallholding in the west of Ireland) who is even now seriously trying to create a low dollar, low energy lifestyle that involves growing most of his own food.

    Nope. The fashion then was to go into what I would call ruined country spaces, into “barn conversions” which means formerly working farm buildings converted or broken up into semi-developed spaces, or adjoining country cottages or farmhouses made into one much larger space, etc. They all want to live large, American-style, only with “charm,” which means beams and ancient-looking walls. Kitchens the size of my whole house. “Kitchen-diners” is the term. Or “open plan living,” meaning living in a gigantic space with no room divisions whatever, except for bedrooms and bathrooms. Plenty of beams, though. Never mind cleaning or maintaining these gigantic spaces. Or they want a gigantic outdoor space, with lots of land available for “glamping” (glamorized camping) or the like. I don’t know. It’s just a promo for the British version of the real-estate industry likely enough. Charming presenters, of course. Still, I learn about the nice parts of the counties, the parks and so forth, and since I’m likely never to go there, it’s a bit of free travel for me.

    Point being, that the idea of retaining real smallholdings and real farms to do real farming in is almost never presented (it is occasionally, to be fair), and the idea of real conservation other than with a government agency or a quango (quasi-non-government agency) doesn’t seem to be a big thing. Lots of volunteering for these organizations. There’s lots of that however, in a virtue-signaling way. Little wonder that when the idea of real conservation measures is presented to this blog’s commentariat’s friends and family, people give the mentioners of said things the stink-eye. It’s not being shown on television so it can’t possibly matter! And, unlike in the U.S., occasionally multi-generational families go searching with the goal of each of them having their own spaces (each of them usually wanting a large space apart from their pesky relatives).

    It’s not fair of me to pick on the British, who have problems enough and occasionally the show is better than I’m describing, but the same pattern has taken hold in the “first world” just about everywhere. As a boy (in the 1950s), I lamented the waste of space around suburban houses, used to create gardens you couldn’t live in and that were just for show. Then again, I knew we were in trouble when (also as a boy) I learned that in remoter parts of Indonesia and Bali and suchlike places, every subsistence farmer was being transformed into a cash-crop dependent individual. This was spoken of as being a very good thing. In the process (apparently no but me one cared) destroying cash-free “subsistence” lifestyles that were decent and enjoyable that had lasted since the previous Ice Age.

    Please pardon my ranting ramble. The topic of this post got me to thinking about this stuff.

  82. I had two surge suppressors spectacularly burn out this week because of a power outage/voltage spike. Luckily my sensitive equipment was okay. As the grid gets more sketchy it’s going to get riskier to plug something into a wall unprotected. As my AvE (my favorite foulmouth YouTube Canuck product tester) might say: some of the angry pixies in the wall have monkeypox.

  83. Keeping a house “airtight” to prevent energy loss via convection can be problematic for the health, as Scotlyn just pointed out. Back in the days of the old Ruhrgebiet, the lost industrial heart of Germany, people would frequently burn coal in small ovens usually to heat the kitchen. Windows were taped shut, for example with old newspapers, to prevent convection and from time to time people died, I think mostly because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Today, convection losses are especially a big problem for newer, highly insulated, lightweight houses. If the air in your house is the only carrier of heat, you will obviously loose all the precious energy if you open a window (I know first-hand of “low energy houses” that actually consume more energy than older, uninsulated houses). What’s more, if there are cold and poorly ventilated rooms in your house that you probably can’t afford to heat, moisture will condensate in those places and furniture, clothes and – depending on the materials used in your house – even the very house will start to molder and rot. The high tech solution to this is the above mentioned heat exchange ventilation, but there are other strategies – although their feasibility depends on the type of house and living situation.

    What I can say from first-hand experience, too, is that it is very convenient to keep the air temperature as low, as possible. We usually don’t have room temperatures above 19°C (66F) in the living room, in the sleeping rooms there is almost no heating. I think this winter, we will try to get even lower and especially to increase the temperature gradient between kitchen and the rest of the house further. Heating is provided by the radiating surfaces of rather heavy wood stoves. All I can say is that the combination of cool air with the radiation of hot surfaces is a very pleasant one. And we use very little firewood.

    The optimal solution to conserve heating energy is very individual and depends on many variables. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-it-all-approach possible. But a look into the past definitely seems to be in order. There were times, when people had woolen wall-carpets, for example. Those haven’t been hung there just to look nice…

    Black Elk at some point talks about events that happened “in the moon of frost in the tipi”. To many this sound frightening but I find it to be rather comforting. He could tell us about it, after all 😉

    Greetings and many thanks for this interesting post to JMG and to all other commenters for the many interesting comments!


  84. Great information as always. Since I’ve dabbled around in this realm a bit I wanted to offer a few comments. First, I originally got the idea for the insulated window inserts from you, reading your Green Wizardry book. I did make some and found them to be quite effective. Some time back I wrote a blog post about what I used and how it worked that others here might find of interest.

    One thing I did for that blog post was try to get some actual temperature data on how well they worked. Early one morning after a bitterly cold night I measured the temperature on the outside of a window. It was -13.5 degrees F! Immediately inside the window, behind the insert, it was 6.5 degrees F. So the double paned window itself gave a 20 degree difference. On the insulated window insert where it was facing inside my heated home it was 56.3 degrees F after that bitterly cold night. So the insert itself resulted in a difference between 6.5 to 56.3, or 49.8 degrees F, roughly 250% more than what the window itself provided. They were easy to make and didn’t cost that much so certainly worth doing!

    I see Donkey already mentioned rocket mass heaters. I’m assuming Donkey is actually The Donkey of RMH fame, truly one of the innovators of these. I built one about 4 years ago. Mine is actually rather inefficient based on what these can do, but I still easily cut my firewood use in half and all but eliminated any supplemental propane use to heat my home. We’ll say my propane use was slashed by 80 to 90 percent. Given the future we are facing more people really NEED to be building these, if for no other reason than to get the knowledge of this form of appropriate technology out there around the world where others can see and copy it as the Long Decent continues.

    Since building mine my home is way more comfortable. It’s much cheaper to heat my home (basically free given the abundance of wood where I live). I also have direct control over sourcing my fuel supply! No concerns over foreign wars or broken supply chains as far as home heating is concerned. The firewood has been coming from my small property with some waste wood gathered from the immediate neighborhood when available. A RMH also conserves my personal energy in that I only have to cut and split 1/2 to 1/10 of the wood that a wood stove would typically use. These can be fairly cheap to make too, though I will admit I spent more on mine than most do. I recall one of the RMH innovators, it might even have been Donkey, saying that a rocket mass heater is basically a peasant style masonry heater. It works in a very similar way, but you don’t need to be a skilled mason to build one, nor do you need the high costs. Anyway, I documented the building of mine for my blog as well if anyone wants to see.

    Just a couple other quick comments. I recently learned that the old style 4 post canopy bed wasn’t just a home fashion thing. If you drape down curtains on all 4 sides then along with the overhead canopy and bed underneath what was created was a smaller “insulated” space to sleep in which would help retain more body heat.

    Along these same lines of thought where one reduces the space needed to heat, I’ve found one of the simplest things I can do in the winter is just close the door to any rooms I’m not really using and don’t need to heat. I know this is effective simply because when I do go in there during the winter the room is distinctly colder compared to the rest of my space!

  85. In terms of efficient cookware, I recently purchased a tao burner. These are promoted by the government in n Thailand since they use so little fuel. The smaller size I got takes only 8-10 briquets of charcoal to get screaming hot, and you can set a 10″ or larger wok, grill, pan, or cast iron piece on top. Makes it possible to grill for 2 on a weeknight without electricity. It’s tiny–perfect for a campsite, a picnic, etc.

    I got this little one for $65:

    Unfortunately, it’s out of stock and probably won’t be as cheap in the future.

    The bigger cousin takes more charcoal, but cooks more food, and has a convenient bucket handle. In fact, it’s literally made inside a metal bucket. It, too, is out of stock and seems to be way more expensive now. I think it went from about $90 to $138.

    Maybe someone more clever than myself can find another source to order from, but it really is a fine piece of cookware, smaller than a regular grill and more fuel-efficient, making good use of woks and pans you already own.

  86. Safety tip. Don’t leave a live bulb fixture with an empty bulb slot. Put a dead bulb in its place.

  87. Hi JMG,

    Thanks for this excellent article. Some of these things we’ve done here based on your recommendations, but not all, and I like how achievable you make the other ones sound. The situation in Europe has made me want to push further ahead on preparations generally.

    I didn’t listen to the Biden speech but saw a picture and just shook my head. The optics were as bad as that weird image of the papal throne that was going around a few years ago.

    It also seemed so weird to me that he was focused on this anti-Trump message. It makes Trump seem so powerful considering he hasn’t even announced he’s running yet (has he?). I was reminded what you have said about how negative affirmations do the opposite of their intention. The time of unintended consequences rolls happily on…

    A few quick garden updates: I saw a praying mantis this morning on some of our plants. It was about 4 inches long and seemed to be hunting, perched still as a branch (it was a golden brown) and silently waiting. I’ve never seen one around here before, but it noticed me and turned its head to stare at me with its blue eyes for a bit before returning its attention back. Such a cool little moment to have in the middle of the downtown of a city.

    Last week I saw a monarch butterfly drinking from the same bright red bean flowers the bees are loving so much this year. It let me get close to it so I watched it feed for a little while. I’ve seen them flying about here and there over the last couple years, but never feeding. I have some milkweed coming up so hopefully in coming years there will be more around.

    I found a few half-eaten roma tomatoes lying around. I didn’t notice ones missing from ours, so it might have been brought over from a neighbour’s. I treated them as more “offerings” and buried them in my new pile in the center of some of my plants to see if I could add them to the mix of what comes up on its own – we’ll see.

    The phase the cherry tomatoes are in right now is interesting. Because I try to “go with the chaos” a bit, I leave many of the suckers growing, so the exponential nature at the heart of that strategy becomes quite apparent at this time of year. We harvest about 2 pints a day now, and who knows how high it’ll go before it’s all over . I have started to clip the tops of the plants though, as a few of mine broke last year, snapping their supports and folding over onto themselves from their weight during storms. My supports seem better this year, and things hardly move at all in the wind, but there is a fair bit of upkeep to even just twisting the various vines on their respective strings each day. It had me thinking about the collapse of complex systems, both because of the literal collapse of the plants under their own mass, and as the workload of tying, twisting, pruning and harvesting becomes increasingly demanding. Not bad problems to have compared to what is going around these days certainly, but despite loving the feeling of lushness with so much growth, there is probably diminishing returns, and I may have to accept planting and supporting less – even if it means just sending plants to the compost.

    Notes for next year are being made =)


  88. (Note: I wrote this on my old blog back in 2009)

    Staying warm is a spendy thing. Unless I am completely out to lunch, it will probably get more so in the future.

    With those antecedent premises, and an already too high electrical bill, I am going to discourse on the mistaken concept of central heating. The house I live in runs on a heat pump. These are one of the cheapest possible means of central heating available. It is still too expensive and wasteful by a long shot.

    So this year we are heating the North Dakota way. We pick out a couple of rooms, heat them when we need to, and leave the rest of the house cool to cold and just pass through. We choose the kitchen as one of the rooms, it has a fireplace and it can be separated from the rest of the house with a simple curtain. Since I cook in 99% of the time, that heat is conserved. A $30 ceramic heater from Costco keeps the temp nice for the most part, and when I cook or bake, the room is toasty.

    My room stays cold around, 40-50 F and I just sleep in there. The boys room has the TV and the games so we have a ceramic heater in there as well. It stays on at night until bedtime, then turns off when they are in bed. I turn it back on in the morning when I leave for work and I leave the heater on to keep the kitchen warm when they wake up. It limits the use of the living room, but the only thing there is the TV for football on Sunday.

    When I think about it, this is how my friends in China live. I was always amazed about how cold they kept their homes. But the kitchen was warm there and everyone congregated to make it even warmer.

    The winter won’t last forever, we will get through a couple of months of inconvenience and we will be plenty warm enough. Hell, because we are stuck together, the boys and I are talking more than we used to. All in all, these might actually be the good days.

  89. When I read that the French government was mandating that airconditioned shops keep their doors closed (as in literally, to keep the airconditioned air in), my immediate thought was “This needs a government mandate? How cheap _was_ electricity there?” Where I live, leaving the door to a refrigerator or an airconditioned room ajar is a guaranteed way to get yelled at by the person who pays for the electricity!

    Speaking of clocks, back in the 90’s I remember us receiving an alarm clock radio from a relative who lives in the States (a common ritual in my part of the world would be getting a box every so often full of old junk from relatives living in the USA or Japan or some other rich country). As a kid, I thought such a thing was useless, since we lost power so often that the clock would never be set correctly. I never imagined that a time would come that I’d eventually end up having more reliable electricity than the aforementioned relative!

  90. Hey jmg

    Something which I think also needs to be done in terms of energy-conservation is fuel efficiency in cars.

    There is an entire sub-culture called “hyper-milers” who devoted themselves to extracting every last mile possible from their fuel, and it is likely that a lot of us who have to drive could learn from them in the future.

  91. @Augusto #39

    Do not plug the hole with fiberglass unless you also cover it with something that stops air flow ! Fiberglass insulation is not a barrier to airflow. In an enclosed area, like a wall, it does keep air currents from happening. If there was no fiberglass in the wall, the outer wall surface would be cold, the inner wall surface would be warm, and a circular convection current would form inside the wall cavity that will carry the heat to the outer wall. But, if you have an actual hole or gap in the wall, the fiberglass acts more like the air filter in your car, air goes thru it, and if you were to look at it, you you would likely see the insulation is dirty from that happening. Now if you put a piece of fiberglass in there and also cap off the opening in some way, like glue a PVC pipe cap over it, fill it with some type of agent that hardens, look at the hardware store. Spray foam would be better, but even there, you will get a rodent gnawing thru it without a covering of some sort. If you are talking about an area around a pipe thru your wall, so the opening is larger than the pipe, then you can spray foam around that pipe, but then you realy should also see if you can patch the wall surface there over the spray foam

  92. I have a friend who inherited a treadle sewing machine, which replaced both an exercise bike and an electric machine.

    In regards to air vents, we discovered that one exists because the fill soil is contaminated with radon under a crawl space. Insulating between the joists rather than the easy block-the-vent is required. Much more expensive and a pain to do, but fortunately only a small part of the house is affected.

    The biggest problem I have is convincing the rest of the family it is urgent to act now.

  93. Mr. Greer, wonderful article as always! My partner and I were grinning ear to ear reading this weeks post as we sit in our offgrid, woodstove heated shipping container tiny house run with solar (when needed). The entitlements we Americans have enjoyed have really blinded us to the simple pleasure of collapsing now to avoid the rush. We are so glad to have done so with yours and Kunstler’s guidance. The fact that you wrote about this topic today indicates to us that you see collapse picking up speed as we do too.

  94. radiant heat transfer

    In most homes, this can sometimes lead to discomfort even if the average temperature in the room would otherwise be comfortable. For example, my living room skylights do not have shades. When the summer sun hits the correct angle and the sun is in line for where I am sitting, it is very uncomfortable. If I move over, out of the sun, I feel much better. The overall room temperature is the same no matter where I sit. Same will happen with windows. Now, in the winter when you want to get warm, sitting in the suns rays feels good, or being in direct line with a wood stove will warm you up even though the overall room temperature is chilly.

    Same but other way around for winter. The average room temperature can be fine, but if you are in line with a window with no shades, you will be radiating heat to the night sky. You will feel less comfortable.

    I have a used copy of Bruce Harleys book Insulate and Weatherize, and on page 13 he has a couple drawings and summarizes this effect. ” Mean Radiant Temperature. The mean radiant temperature in a room is the average temperature of all the surfaces in the room weighted by the percentage of the room each surface occupies. ” He shows diagram a. Where a person is sitting in a room with a room temperature of 70’F, the ceiling is 72’F, the floor 64’F, the wall 68’F and a large window 59’F. “The person sitting in the middle experiences a mean radiant temperature of 67’F. The window, because it is both large and cold, is the surface that has the most effect in lowering the mean radiant temperature” Diagram B. ” If the room has twice as much window area, the radiant temperature drops to 63’F — Too cold for comfort ! This happens even though the room temperature is 70’F. To keep this room comfortable, the thermostat will need to be set higher to compensate”.

    Like Denis says. Curtains. I need curtains too, especially for my skylights, which is harder for me to figure out, but it is “on the list”

  95. Hi John,
    We’ve been reluctant to switch to LED lighting due to some European studies that link them to irreversible retina damage. I don’t know what to believe so for now we’re playing it safe rather than sorry. Just wondering if you or others here have an opinion on this. Thanks.

  96. Rod (no. 1) , PeterEV (no. 29), JMG (no. 59)–I agree with TJandTheBear (no 67). This is like, Gail Tverberg’s big thing. So it’s not the size of the oil reserves, it’s the, uh, motion of the economy.

  97. The Japanese “kotatsu” is an amazing demonstration of this principle. It’s a low table with a heater inside and blankets all around the sides to the floor. You kneel or sit at the table with your legs underneath the blankets and the heater heats that space, while the blankets keep the heat in. Snug heating, very low energy consumption.

  98. Awen Brother Greer!

    Mate, this talk is like catnip to me. And wind power – I gave that a go at serious expenditures of mad cash, put the machine up on an 8m tall mast, and the thing produced as much electricity in two winter months as a mildly loud mouse fart. That’s when you discover first hand that wind power is best at the top of mountains, ridges or along coast lines.

    Replaced the wind machine with some solar panels and they produced more in their first morning, than the wind turbine did in two months. Get thee from my sight I may have said to the machine – and sold it off to some other sucker, and reused the steel in the mast in other projects.

    Solar photovoltaics are good, but I’ve been developing a theory that if plants aren’t actively growing, don’t expect much in the way of solar derived electricity. It’s a simple explanation as to the expected output. Europe is toast betting the farm on this technology during the winter months – it’s utterly idiotic, and candidly hard to explain, but they might need to learn the hard way. It’s enough for us during winter, but we’ve adapted our lives to this arrangement, and even then it fails on at least 2% of the year – which is worse than the grid.

    For your info I reckon the power systems here owe me about AU$3 per kWh for basically not much energy at all during the winter months (about maybe 7kWh per day – which historically is a huge amount of energy). I don’t see anyone else willing to pay such amounts for their environmental concerns.

    Any strategy which doesn’t begin with using less, is toast. Nuff said.

    Out of curiosity, was there any one incident recently which changed your mind in this matter?



  99. Oilman2, funny about that, I plan on talking about Jevons’ Paradox at some length as we proceed. 😉

    Mark, I’m far from sure that you’re right that Biden’s Red Sermon means nothing. My guess is that future historians will point to it as the moment when the Biden regime finally, conclusively lost the support of the electorate.

    Justin, my wife’s great-aunt used to run an under-the-table catering business the same way, so you and your wife are in good company. As for Rushkoff, yeah, I’m quite familiar with the Respectable Fringe. I don’t have any interest in being part of it, but it’s worth watching ideas filter into it.

    Teresa, good! Sara and I do that as well.

    David, have you written a book on how to do that? If not, are you interested in writing one? I can think of a couple of publishers who would snap that up so fast your head will spin.

    Clarke, yeah. I have to tell people all the time that running away to the country is not a solution. Here in the US, at least, I don’t have to tell them that running off to glorified suburbs is no better!

    Honu, yowch! That’s got to have been unnerving.

    Nachtgurke, coal stoves went out of general use here so long ago I don’t know anyone who has experience with that kind of thing — though there are plenty of warnings about not cooking over charcoal indoors! As for the condensation, it sounds to me as though nobody’s using vapor barriers properly.

    David, many thanks for this! Insulated window coverings, be they inserts or one of the other options, are one of the easy secrets to staying warm with less energy; we had ’em in our home when I was growing up. Canopy beds — no, you’re quite right, those aren’t fashion, they’re very comfortable on cold nights, and in the summer you replace the drapes with mosquito netting.

    Kyle, fascinating. I hadn’t heard of these before; they do indeed sound like something that could easily be manufactured by anyone with the necessary skills.

    Quick Comment, er, why? I’ve had empty bulb slots in my homes throughout my adult life.

    Johnny, praying mantises are lovely creatures! We used to find them perched on the walls of our home in Maryland, grass green in early summer changing to slightly greenish brown in the fall. Glad to hear that everything’s going so well.

    John, thanks for this! Very timely advice.

    Carlos, and that’s just it. After the 1970s most people in the rich countries went out of their way to forget everything they learned about energy conservation. Now that folly has circled back around to kick them hard in the rump.

    J.L.Mc12, for those who actually have to drive, yes, that’s an important skill. Thanks for mentioning it!

    BoysMom, I know. I consider myself very fortunate to have a spouse who understands just how deep of a crisis is gaping open before us.

    Christopher, delighted to hear it — and yes, it looks to me as though we’re nearing a steep part of the Long Descent.

    Atmospheric, hmm! Thanks for this. Harley’s book isn’t one I was familiar with; do you recommend it generally?

    Peter, that’s a new one to me. Can you point me to some data?

    Bei, fossil fuels are the handle but the economy is the whip, and it does look as though it’s going to snap hard.

    Kfish, the Japanese have been getting by with minimal energy use for millennia, and they have a lot to teach the rest of us.

    Chris, it wasn’t a single incident, it was the steady drumbeat of testimony from people like you who’d tried solar PV and wind, and got results best measured on the mouse-fart scale.

  100. Denis, can you share the pattern you used for the Roman shades? Did you add a vapor barrier? We have cellular blinds, which do help insulate but tend to fail over time (the spring and cord elements are not as robust as one might hope.)

  101. Longsword,
    I hear you on taking up an art form and classes in it improving your mental health after the worst of the pandemic restrictions fade and you’re left struggling with the fear and anger.

    For me it was music rather than art, but it had much the same effect on my mental health.

  102. I had the benefit of cheap-energy-fueled travel was able to live in countries the West deems “underdeveloped,” where I learned many a low-energy/low-input trick to maintaining quality of life when the elements are not held at bay by energy-sucking gizmos. Thermoses and hot water bottles, layers (silk-down-filled, puffy, suits that were amazingly warm!) including the wearing of hats and coats and scarves indoors (and stepping into the sun when possible to warm up outside), and drinking lots of tea to concentrate the heat where it was most needed, internally. These were the things folks could do when state-owned housing couldn’t really be retrofitted.

    In summer, we used woven reed mats (and slept on cotton-fiber batts topped on strung-rope beds) to keep cool at night. My mother-in-law sent us home one year with four of these reed mats. We don’t frequently use them because our area usually gets cool evening breezes and the air circulation aided by the woven structure under your sleeping body then causes you to get cold — but this week, 6 or 7 (?) days of 108+F and 80F nights and we are all exclaiming over our luck at having gotten and kept these mats for 20+ years. I’m not sure they’re even made anymore – China’s flush with AC in the region they’re traditionally from… and those old, good quality, traditional things are hard to come by.

    (When I daydream about winning the lottery, my dream-intention involves creating a workshop to find those old crafts-folk and bring them here to teach dumb Americans how to really live like biological beings.) Anyway…

    I have a question about heating vs. cooling. JMG, you say: “but getting too cold and staying that way will kill you” — but I’d like to point out that the opposite is true, too — getting too hot and staying that way is a sure way to suffer, perhaps severely.

    Yet it seems to me that staying warm can be more easily accomplished without fossil fuels (dress warmly, eat warmly, heat (with all manner of non-fossil-fuels) small spaces that are weatherized), but I’m not sure how to accomplish the same for cooling PARTICULARLY when high humidity is involved. We could sure be miserable in the 4th floor brick apartment in China when sweating was of no use (so, evaporative cooling, that most conserving of methods, didn’t work). When there’s no breeze and the relative humidity (and wet bulb temp) is high — what can you do? There were a whole lot of cows (Missouri? Alabama?) that died recently after flooding saturated the ground and the weather turned treacherously hot.

    My time in Thailand unfortunately didn’t introduce me to low-tech cooling in a humid environment, other than a palm-frond fan I suppose. AC was used by the homeowner where I lived most of a year and I was not in the decision-making chain, elsewhere we had ceiling fans (electrically powered of course).

    Am I wrong here, to think that in some ways it’d be better (from an energy use standpoint) to live somewhere where the climate can get cold, but less than ideal to be where it’s warm unless you’ve got a) water enough to evaporatively-cool what you need to cool and b) the physics to support that with a relatively dry climate?

    Danaone – linen is your friend in hot weather. Also, though, reenactors, when they’re not wearing linen and light cotton, have noted that wool can be temperature moderating rather than always “wool-blanket-insulating” like we’ve come to think.

  103. I’m really glad that you’re making the Master Conserver handouts available again, JMG. My family’s planning to pursue some of the steps included in the near future, like fitting foam gaskets over our light switches and insulation over the pipes and water heater; with luck, we’ll both cut down on our energy bills and be more prepared for when energy stops being so abundant.

    I’m also interested to hear that so many people are ditching video games and returning to tabletop and card games. I wonder if it’s like the resurgence of live theater in the wake of cinema, like you had mentioned a while ago — the phenomenon where people realize that they liked the older technology better, thank you very much, and go back to it. There are even some modern tabletop RPGs that can be played by a single person, potentially serving as a more sustainable way of scratching the itch for more solitary players.

    As for the situation in Europe, I’ve heard that old-growth forests are rapidly being burned over there and elsewhere in the world to provide extra power, to the point where some forests are now considered net carbon emitters instead of carbon sinks. While I can certainly sympathize with the poor Europeans who’ll have a cold time of it this winter, it’s kind of a microcosm of how we got into this mess in the first place: the pursuit of short-term gain at the expense of the future.

  104. I’d like to encourage anyone with stories and ideas that you think should be of long-term, stand-alone interest, post them to the web site! Find the right category and your ideas may be more accessible than being part of this stream.

  105. Canopy Beds…

    In the south, we have skeeters that need aircraft carriers to land. Canopy beds and mosquito netting were part of coping here until central air took over. One skeeter can literally ruin your night and following morning.

    Now that we are reverting to attic fans again, the netting is needed for the occasional skeeter that evades the window screening.

    I’m still shocked Bill Gates is farming skeeters in Colombia – proof money makes one stupider?

  106. I’ve moved to a tropical climate, and would like to add suggestions on how to live in comfort without air conditioning. We have no heat waves, but stable temperatures in the high 80s.
    First of all: Observe traditional housing, they’ve based on millennial experience. Don’t ever live in a closed box in the tropics, let the air circulate. Tall roofs thatched with palm leaves let the heat rise up and dissipate. Palm trees and porches around the house are essential. At night, sleep with no or few clothes, wrapped up in a mosquito net. Linen is too hot.

  107. Owen, you said, “I tell you, if someone could find a way to burn pines for heat, there’s an opportunity there…”

    You definitely want to look into rocket mass heaters! Part of why they are so efficient is that they are designed to burn VERY hot and VERY clean. One should be just fine burning pines in them, though soft woods generally don’t have as much potential heat per unit of volume because they tend to be less dense. As I understand it the issue with pines is generally the rapid build up of creosote. A RMH will safely burn all that, along with the “smoke”. As I understand it they mostly release water vapor and CO2.

    With mine I see a bit of smoke when I first start a fire, while the burn chamber is still cold, but after that you generally can’t even tell I’m burning anything based on what is coming out of the chimney. When my neighbors are using their wood burners I’m generally just seeing all their smoke and thinking of all the potential heat it represents if they could burn it.

    I generally am burning hardwoods because they are abundant by me and have the higher heat density, but I never worry when I’m burning pine too. I still check my chimney each year, but since switching to a RMH I haven’t seen any creosote build up at all after 4 winters of burning as my primary heat source.

  108. I believe a couple of years ago someone predicted that “renewable energy” was going to be the next boondoggle that the overdeveloped world would look to for its salvation. I wish I could remember his name!!! 🤔🤔😉

  109. @Longsword: what is a “Quebec fireplace”? My search engine didn’t turn anything up. I have a small Morso wood stove for a backup heat source in my house. It has a small footprint, but the wood has to be cut to 9 inch pieces and the refractory panels inside it can crack making it useless until they can be replaced.

    On insulating water heaters: I think heat lost from my water heater isn’t really lost. It escapes into my basement and helps keep the pipes down there from freezing. Generally in the winter my basement stays at about 60 degrees f. The same is true with incandescent bulbs, at least in the winter; the heat they generate isn’t really lost. And the light is easier on my eyes than those NASTY LED bulbs.

    JMGs tip about electrical outlet gaskets is something I will look into.

  110. All good points.
    May I add that if you don’t have pelmets above your curtains to stop heat loss from draughts, a blanket rolled up on top of the curtain will do the job.
    Also, we use wrist warmers to help keep warm. A lot of body heat is lost at the wrists. Cut the tops off old socks and slide them over your wrists, underneath the shirt cuffs. An old musicians’ trick still in use when we have to play out doors.

  111. Here in South Australia, it gets cold in winter, but nothing like the Northern Hemisphere.
    Our minimum winter overnight may occasionally get to 0°C but that’s about it.

    Having said that, my house, being solid brick and plaster is like a mini castle. Wooden flooring doesn’t help either.
    My solution? Snow gear – IE ski pants. And layers. I’m like a puff pastry 😁. Beanies are a necessity.
    Do I like feeling a bit like the Michelin man? No, but suck it up sweetheart is kind of my attitude.
    My weakness is coldness due to poor circulation in my hands and feet if I’m seated for too long, which, can be the case as my job is at a computer.
    Does anyone have any suggestions for cold feet?
    Layers don’t really make any difference, only direct heat via a little fan heater. And getting up and walking around, which I try to do at every opportunity.

    Spring according to the calendar is here, but the weather is still quite cold and damp.
    I’m not complaining about the showers though, our summers can be brutal, with months without a drop of rain.

    At least the daylight hours are increasing. More than cold, I hate short days.

    I invested in another rainwater tank earlier this year, my total capacity is now about, at a guess 25000 litres, including all the ‘water barrel’ style ones I have which aren’t connected to any gutter downpipe, but which I manually fill via a hose from one of the big tanks.

    I mentioned before, sorting out my vegie bed drip irrigation properly, the first test one, when I ran it of a tank seemed to work.
    My aim is to run it as much as possible off the tanks via the force of gravity, rather than from mains water.

    Two things that don’t seem to have as much prominence in the US as here, are rainwater tanks, or “cisterns” as they were commonly known, and clotheslines.
    Adelaide is where the “Hills Hoist” was invented and made for many years.

    Dr. Hooves, re ‘get a wiggle on’, I would say a more commonly used term is ‘get your arse into gear’. 😉

    Anyway off to do a bit more of that irrigation system. Only two days left of my holidays. 😐

    Helen in Oz

  112. Also, the firebox is back! Thermal cookers, magic thermal cookers or non-electric thermal cookers are the modern equivalent: a stainless steel inner pot to put on the stove to bring to a rolling boil, then put into the insulative shell (vacuum-insulated, like a thermos) to sit for 6 – 8 hours and cook. Like a slow cooker, best for stews, soups, curries and other liquid based meals.

  113. Electric clothes driers, ubiquitous in western countries, are an energy hog that can easily be eliminated – I’ve lived without one for more than a decade, as does most everyone in my current country of residence.

    “a brief, self-terminating era of wretched excess”
    Wretched? Hardly. I enjoyed the hell out my time in the age of cheap energy, which of course helps explain the self-terminating aspect.

  114. Bei (#102) I’m not convinced that Gail is completely right. Yes oil and gas are vital to our type of civilization but what happens if our civilization moves away from using these hydrocarbons in current quantities? At one point, I thought I read where we were using 21 million barrels of oil a day. I just looked and we were averaging about 19.7 million barrels per day in 2021 of which 8.795 is gasoline. Here the reference link:

    What would it take to reduce that amount to where we become “energy independent” and stay ahead of the decline? How many electric vehicles would need to be manufactured along with other changes in our civilization to reduce our consumption before the 2040 peak? What would be needed in the way of reducing solar cell costs and upping their efficiency? What would we need in the way of storage to store that energy? If any of this comes into being in a viable way, this would throw off some of Gail’s assumptions and calculations. The Perovskite solar cells have an efficiency of around 30% but a short life span. Lithium Iron Phosphate have reported cycle lives of around 7,000 (A123) but not as much energy density as some of the more energetic Lithium based chemistries. The electronics are another Achilles Heel where they need to be durable and cheap to manufacture. I know we are working to improve upon them all.

    My experience with EVs and solar cells, is that I can generate enough solar electricity to power my car year round but I don’t generate enough power to stay warm in the winter electrically. In summer, I could be a net energy exporter with the addition of a few more panels. However, all this does **not** include storing the electricity on site (other than in the car). We have along ways to go.

    How all this plays out will be interesting to watch but in the meantime, becoming a Master Conserver and gardener would not be a bad idea.

  115. Peter (#101) I found this link:
    This is part of the summary:
    “But before you throw out all of your electronic devices (ha, yeah right!), Dr. Singh says the jury is still out. “Thus far, there is no true, strong study to show either way that it is harmful or beneficial,” explains Dr. Singh. “We haven’t had a marker of structural damage to the retina from these lighting technologies. So right now, we can’t recommend that people stop using them.””

  116. Great and timely essay!

    Funnily, the coldest winter I have ever endured was in southern Brazil. Temperatures sometimes dropped to the freezing point, and when they dropped outside, they dropped inside to a similar degree, since the house was built more with summer heat than winter cold in mind. Still, a few layers of clothing and warm blankets were enough that I could read comfortably in bed.

    For contrast, a hikers’ refuge in Northern Norway without electricity was one of the most splendid places I have ever been to. Candle light can actually be brilliant, and a well-built toilet doesn’t need to be flushed.

    Many are commenting on preparations for the coming winter in Europe. I have asked my parents about their and their acquaintances’ preparations. My parents’ house has been well insulated for decades (and a recent inspection found hardly any leaks), so their plans involve heating only a single room and working there and in the kitchen. Friends of theirs have started to take only cold showers to get accustomed.

    The members of the EU have been incredibly stupid to confront Russia when they depended on Russian gas (and this has nothing to do with the clerisy, it was simple obedience of the political class towards their American lieges). Yet the general mentality of preparing for the coming winter seems to me to be somewhat akin to the famous “Keep calm and carry on”.

  117. One more thing: I completely agree with your sentiment that great and enduring things of beauty were created under much less energy-rich conditions than today. However, it can’t be denied that Plato, Confucius, Sophocles, Murasaki, Jane Austen, Galilei and Newton had access to much more energy than most of their contemporaries had. Jesus hadn’t, and Gautama, in later life, voluntarily turned away from the life he could have had.

    So if the average consumption of energy were to return to pre-fossil fuel levels in our lifetimes, we would have to prepare for a much lower energy budget than most of the luminaries you mentioned.

  118. It seems to me that incandescent bulbs, stoves, etc that emit “waste” heat are getting a bad rap in a cold climate or season, if they are positioned where the heat is useful…Actually, the waste heat from a bulb on the ceiling very efficiently heats the room, and reduces the energy required from other heat sources..Same for Franklin stoves, which are often positioned in the middle of a space for that reason…

  119. For insulating an attic, a very useful thing, a method being used these days is installing a layer of old clothes rags, which trap heat in air pockets…We used this in our house in the Chicago area very successfully…It also dampens nice effectively…

  120. Helen –
    suggestions for cold feet. Warm loose slippers, and warm somewhat loose wool socks. You don’t want tight because it will cut off your circulation and make things worse. I love my wool socks for winter. I’m in a basement suite in Canada. Winter temps indoors for me are 58-68F 14-20C

    For hands I like handwarmers. I made a nice loose pair out of a dead pair of wool socks. They work for computer work and playing wind instruments, although not harp.

    I like throwing a fleece vest or an alpaca poncho over whatever sweater I’m wearing.

    A hat is also your friend if you are cold. For indoors a simple, lightweight beanie works nicely if I find myself cold. And I like sticking perfectly ordinary leggings most people wear as pants under another pair of trousers on really cold days.

    Earflap hats are way overkill, as are warm coats, outdoor scarves or gloves. Of course, if I were to have to deal with sub 10C temps or a long power outage, then I’d use them.

  121. I was very lucky to have taken a couple of very useful courses when I went to engineering school at the end of the 70’s. They were all taught by the same professor. The first was an introduction to Engineering that had as it first text, ” Small is Beautiful” and went on in that same direction. Then I had Thermodynamics 101 and 201 from the same elderly bus-riding PHD. He had a warning he used regularly with regards to home based green energy sources like wind, or solar. We studied them all in depth but not with out his frequent warning, ” powering your home with wind or solar yourself is for funky people.” He was an old school guy and by this he did not mean fans of “Chaka Khan or George Clinton. He meant people who would embrace the unreliability, crankiness and improvisation that was required to make your life fit around the whims of the sun. I think this is just as true today, but people act as if technology has made living off the grid as easy as making toast, until they try it.

  122. I haven’t got through all the comments yet, so if I’m being redundant, I apologize. Regarding wood heat, there are many books on the art of “coppicing” and “pollarding”. Pruning trees to increase the tree’s lifespan, while obtaining some firewood, used to be done all over the world. It involves choosing the right species of tree (ones that don’t “bleed” a lot of sap), pruning at the right time of year so the tree won’t be attacked by pets or disease (which also varies by species), and knowing the schedule that is best for the tree (every 5 years for fast growing, or every 20 for slow growing). The correct angle and height of the cuts also matters. If everyone who heated with wood got even a small portion of their firewood from the tree(s) in their own yards, the volume of available firewood for everyone would increase. And if it is done correctly, it is actually in the best interest of the tree—sometimes doubling the natural lifespan! I wish community colleges, permaculture classes, and park boards would teach these techniques adapted locally. I have heard that for people not able to use chainsaws or axes, that the technique can be adapted for pruning bushy species like hazelnut or willow, as well.

  123. One of my student’s moms was working in a grocery store 20 years ago. She was from Alaska and she made an offhand comment about the precious nature of bananas because I had them in my bag at checkout. I had never thought about how precious bananas are before that day, how much care they need and the difficulties of growing them and getting them much farther north than their place of origin. I used to take bananas for granted.

    I think that’s the primary issue Northwind Grandma’s “beggars” face. Neither can they see the forest for the trees nor can they envision the bananas for the trucks it took to get them to a banana-eater 2000 miles or more away.

    Now some people would react to my story by eschewing bananas for the rest of their mortal lives out of aescetic purity and I think that may be just as wrong-headed as overlooking the specialness and preciousness of bananas. I believe the secret of happiness lies in appreciating bananas for the ephemeral, extremely temporary fruits they are. We truly live like kings and queens because of cheap petroleum, don’t we? Which empress had the luxury of chocolate-covered almonds in ancient Rome? Of course the answer is “no such empress”. Those Roman empresses have no idea what they were missing! Yet I had chocolate covered almonds today because I bought them on sale at freaking Walgreens. I bought two bags for under $10.

  124. Temporaryreality, I’ve never lived in a really warm climate — nor do I expect to — so my skill set for keeping cool involves relatively simple methods that won’t do much in a genuinely tropic climate. I’d encourage others to contribute their experiences.

    Ethan, the flyers have been available on the Green Wizards site all along — I just point to them now and then when it seems opportune! As for solo RPGs, back in the day there were quite a few of those — the Tunnels & Trolls RPG system, basically D&D with a sense of humor, had a whole line of them, and they were immense fun. As for Europe’s forests — exactly. And what are they going to do next winter?

    Oilman2, I think Gates grew up watching too many mad scientist movies, and now that he’s getting old and reverting to childhood, he’s imitating them.

    Per, many thanks for this.

    Pygmycory, yep. I wonder if it’s even begun to sink in to most people that that’s what’s happening.

    Steven, there really isn’t a graceful way to say “I told you so,” is there?

    David, thanks for both of these!

    Helen, and thanks for these suggestions also.

    Kfish, delighted to hear this. For those who can’t or don’t want to make their own, buying one is certainly a good option.

    Karalan, well, I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.

    Peter, thanks for this.

    Aldarion, I’m very pleased to hear this. So many of my other readers in Europe have noted that their friends and family are unwilling to deal with the problem at all. As for the list of people, er, Jane Austen was a poor clergyman’s daughter and had to pinch pennies all her life, though she probably had it better than Jesus. Had I been minded to, of course, I could have included more people who started out, or remained, very poor and still lived interesting, creative lives.

    Pyrrhus, sure, if you make arrangements to get that warm air down from the ceiling, or use vents to direct it to the second floor to heat rooms there. As for old clothes, that’s an option, though it might become a fire hazard; many other insulation materials have flame retardants in them.

    Clay, it’s absolutely true today. Do you still have the book lists from those courses? Those would be worth their weight in light sweet crude…

    Pat, those are arts vastly worth learning, preserving, and passing on just now.

    KImberly, exactly. Middle class people in the industrial world have privileges right now that emperors and empresses didn’t have five centuries ago. Treating that as the improbable situation it is seems much more sensible to me than assuming that it’s just the way things are and should be. (With me, it’s books — I can still remember when finding obscure out-of-print books on magic wasn’t a matter of going to an archive site and downloading a PDF!)

  125. @Aaron (#52),

    I got a similar reaction when I bought my current house and had it renovated. I live in a tropical climate, and the various “retrofits” it got from the previous owner(s) made the interior dark and muggy. Living in the tropics, I made it a point to try to make the house as “climate-cooperating” as possible, installing a skylight, roof insulation, big jalousie windows, etc.

    The living room had a split-type airconditioner installed. The previous owner took the old AC unit, and I decided to replace it with… NOTHING! Well, not literally nothing, I have a big 52″ ceiling fan in there now, but everyone insisted that maybe at least I should have a breaker and some other hardware provisioned so I can install the AC again in the future? I said no, and everyone thought I was crazy lol.

    My electricity bill is only 1/3rd of the previous owner despite the fact that there are twice as many people in the house now. Go figure.

  126. Re the internet and information… it sure has made it a lot easier to find sheet music to play. Also video instruction on some instruments via Youtube. There’s some surprisingly good ukulele beginner courses out there. And one very determined bassoonist has put together a quite extensive collection on how to play the bassoon, where to find a decent instrument, what to avoid etc., aimed at people who do not have access to a bassoon teacher. It’s a rare instrument so having no bassoon teacher in your town is a common problem for people taking up the bassoon. There’s an interesting recorder channel called TeamRecorder, although that isn’t really a course, just lots of videos on assorted recorder-related topics. I’ve found it useful, but it certainly doesn’t replace a teacher. There’s several on flute, and some on harp. I like Josh Layne’s harp technique videos. They are not very organized, but there’s a lot of them, and they helped me correct a couple of issues I was having. When I have more free time, I want to go back and look at them in more detail, as I’m sure I could learn a lot.

    Man, I am going to miss free sheet music archives covering hundreds of years, is the link for that. Out of copyright music: classical, baroque, renaissance etc etc for all sorts of different instruments, and lots of obscure stuff you’ve never heard of before. Some of it is originals, which are often hard for modern eyes to read, just to warn you. But it is an absolute treasure trove of the western musical tradition, and it is utterly fascinating to those interested in old music or music history. Want to see a facsimile of a John Dowland madrigal, or a handwritten Bach concerto? This is the place for you.

  127. “Also, we use wrist warmers to help keep warm. A lot of body heat is lost at the wrists. ”

    My winter computer gloves are a pair of cheap cotton jersey gloves with half of each finger cut off. It’s the same idea, keep the wrists and the back of the hands warm but you can still type and mouse.

    Often last year’s regular use gloves are still in good enough shape to use as the feed stock. Holes in the fingers don’t matter if they are going to be cut off anyway.

  128. @ JMG – A few weeks ago in a post on the other blog, you mentioned the topic of moveable indoor insulation for apartment dwellers. Are there any online sources on that subject that you could point me to? I’d like to try my hand at designing and making some.

  129. I find sleeping caps conveniently attached to hoodie sweaters. A bike helmet over a hood is a fine winter hat.

  130. @JMG

    Yes, I do think it is a good book. I have the 2002 version, I bought it in 2018. Excuse the swampy river link,

    He also has an updated version of the book from 2012, which I have not seen in person ( click on his name to go to his page of other works), but I just looked at the swampy river listing for the newer one, and if anyone here goes to that and does the “look inside” you will see a few of my pet peeves on energy savings covered in that preview, the drawings on mean radiant temperature, and a few “tip” spots calling out how fiberglass insulation acts when it is not in a sealed area…..

    I have alot of years of readings and study on the issue, so sometimes it is hard for me as alot is not new to me, well the theory is not, but how to translate that into practical solutions for our homes is what I am looking for and I just relooked at the book I have, the 2002 one, and yes, I think it does a good job of explaining the issues and some potential solutions in an easy to understand way. And it does not cost much to get a used copy. ( I also thought I would work in the energy savings or solar world, and I am a similar age, I graduated univ in 1983, BSEE with extra coursework in heat transfer and direct energy conversion from the ME department. My thesis project was a controller for a parabolic solar thermal that was mounted in the quad to track the sun. The countries interests changed and energy limitations were ignored and I went and got a job doing something else….)

    The book was recommended somewhere, maybe the build it Solar site ?

    I do recomend the build it solar site for everyone, and lots of links to free DIY plans to energy retrofit and build some solar thermal solutions

    A good place to begin is to look at the site owners “half plan” where he retrofitted this house to use half the energy it did before, that was the goal, which they exceeded. He breaks it down with charts on how much the various projects cost and how much they saved and where the most bang for his buck was. Go to the tab projects for so many projects to read about that have been done by lots of people.

  131. Wool clothing can actually feel cooler than modern clothing – for the “video-able”, here is a somewhat silly video comparing the two from a historical reenactment perspective.

  132. JMG > “BTW, anecdote is in fact the singular of data”

    Indeed, for ‘never-events’ like “the surgical team left the clamps inside the patient at the end of the operation” then one anecdote is enough to act on.

    Where the threshold for action is not so extreme – so, for most circumstances – then some more judgement needs to be taken as to the point at which anecdote grows up into data (much detail omitted).

  133. I want to repeat here another idea that can save lives: the subsoil stays at about average yearly temperature.

    The area where we live has an average temp of 50F. Our unheated first floor is partially underground on one side (no more than 4 feet). That is enough that the temperature of the first floor stays between 50F (winter) and 60F (summer). When we bought the house it was winter and the electricity was off (no heating anywhere) so I could confirm that.

    While 50F is not comfortable, it is survivable with no more than a sweater or a blanket.
    Now I understand why most traditional societies always build a cellar under the house. You can store food in the summer and it helps warm the house in the winter.

    For people that own a typical modern house with no basement, I suggest looking online for plans on how to build a root cellar – it’s a small investment and it will help you stay hot or cool as needed.

    (Observation: Isn’t it amazing that people think nothing of paying a million for a ticky-tacky mansion but balk at spending a couple of thousands on small things that can save their lives?)

  134. Clarke aka Gwydion #87

    >”open plan living,” meaning living in a gigantic space, with no room dividers whatever, except for bedrooms and bathrooms…

    Yeah, this “great hall” interior style is all the rage on renovation shows in the USA — people knocking down walls to make the kitchen, dining-room, and living-room all one big space. Hence, great hall. Yuck. Granted, rooms of yesteryear were smaller, but (1) the thing is, one humongous room is hard to heat (and cool). As the price of fuel keeps going up, it may (eventually) dawn on people that they need to put walls back up in order to keep heat (or cooling) in — that there is no way they can afford to heat/cool a humongous room. Humongous rooms are a casualty of cheap-energy-gone-awry.

    (2) Another thing is that one humongous room is noisy. Walls keep noise within one room, and without walls, noise abounds. It is difficult to have a human conversation happening in the kitchen in a gigantic room while TV is blaring ten feet away (in the supposed living-room). TV wins. One humongous room is less “person”able and more “tech”nical. Flesh loses. Relationships suffer.

    (3) One huge room affords no privacy by sight or sound. One cannot ‘retire’ to a quiet corner of the living-room (to regain one’s equanimity), for example, because everyone can see everyone else and it cannot possibly be a quiet place if several people are milling around, doing whatever.

    Gigantic rooms are not a well-thought out design. I think gigantic rooms either must be a fad or exist only in TV shows’ producers’ minds. One would think it goes without saying, that houses consist of separate rooms because they have stood the test of time.

    There is nothing to like about enormous rooms: they are difficult to keep at a pleasant temperature, noisy, public, and expensive. Ask any lord of the manor how often they frequent their own “great hall.” At their next costume ball?

    By the way, Gwydion, I enjoy your rambles.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  135. high temp + humidity

    In Texas, heart of sunbelt, there have been several solutions we have tried.

    First, there is no replacement for air evaporating skin when humidity is high. Up the air velocity and things stay pretty good. Misting and big fans always work.

    A double roof system, with about a foot between them, will maintain 70ish temp in the house with small window unit AC. The double roofs work better than deep insulation as the hot air can get out quicker.

    Attic fans are a must, as are transoms that work and 12-15′ ceilings. Shade trees are also required, both tall (60-90′) and mid-size (20-40′) planted all around buildings. Transpiration works!

    Roofridge misting systems (solar pumped) can drop temps by 15 degrees easily, especially if the water is run through the ground to drop the heat load.

    Combine lots of moving air inside, one roof to shade another and misting of top roof to lower working temp of roofs – it works pretty well.

    You can also put in a cool air intake if you have a creek bed, ravine or other such feature nearby – tie that into your attic fan intake path and get instant relief.

    Our next foray is to drop the little window AC units and put in a Costco heat pump, likely this November…

    Needless to say, current build-outs have none of these features. Many of them are expressly forbidden by HOAs as well – so you have to do a stealth build or just punt city life.

    One good thing is that as money tightens up, HOAs and other similar things (like county inspectors) lose their funding. The control freaks usually get other concerns on their plates and let go of their hyper-controllng urges.

    Destruction of the various levels of clerisy will happen…the timeline is most uncertain.

  136. @JMG @here

    I love your energy conservation > production maxim. Taking it a step further, geography > conservation. Most of your readers would be better served by re-locating to a walkable city in a mild climate. I know there are political arguments about any one region, but when looking for the big wins, this is the most obvious.

  137. Temporaryreality about cooling,
    I have relatives in Thailand and I saw traditional ways to keep cool. Go to the poorest parts of your region and you might still find old houses and people that know traditional building. Even better visit an old temple and you will notice how much cooler it is inside.

    In general you will see houses on stilts (with a shady area underneath). The house has cross ventilation and huge overhangs. Kitchen is always in a separate building (or just a shady spot).

    One other observation from my experience: don’t use AC if possible. Every time I was in a place with AC I either got sick or felt too hot outside. If I let my body adapt to the heat I was fine even in over 100F days.

  138. If you live in a two-storey house it’s a good idea to thermally separate the downstairs living area from upstairs bedrooms. Convection of warm air generated downstairs may make bedrooms warmer than necessary or even comfortable, even if they have no heat source in them. My grandparents lived in a small house heated by one coal fire – with an oven built into the wall next to it – and shut off the bottom of the stairway with a thick, floor-length curtain to keep warm air in the downstairs area.
    Nobody seems to have mentioned hot water bottles yet! They make the coldest bed cosy if put in half an hour before retiring. My other grandfather would always drink a half-pint of hot water before going to bed, which I guess acted as an internal hot water bottle.
    In general terms, it seems to me that political leaders in the UK and EU have not yet really processed the data on energy costs and availability resulting from their sanctions against Russia. Certainly in the UK, Truss’s plans to cap energy prices with £100bn or so of borrowed money while cutting taxes look certain to cause a Sterling and debt crisis as in the late 70’s, in fairly short order.

  139. Hi, JMG. with regard to energy saving, it always amuses me that everyone has electric lights and then puts lampshades around them which of course limits the amount of light emitted. The heavier and denser the shades are and the more light they prevent from escaping, the more appealing they seem to be to many people. Then of course the users have to put in higher wattage bulbs to be able to get enough light.

  140. Wood Burning for heat.

    I have been heating my home for 24 years with a freestanding woodstove. The one that came with the house was inefficient, an aquaintance bought a house in the city and did not want to heat with wood so I bought that one used, it was a Jotul series 8 with a catalytic converter. I used alot less wood for more heat, it was a good woodstove.

    Fire is an oxidizing chemical process, the fuel in the fire oxidizes. Rust is an oxidizing process. Fire will oxidize metal it is in contact with, it will rust it. It takes a while, but things like your ash grate at the bottom of the woodstove and metal plates inside will need to be replaced. I did this once on the Jotul, that rebuild work, and by the time it was needed a second time, I replaced the woodstove. That was just year before last. I think we all need to get good sturdy sources for our basic needs now while it is not too difficult. The one I have now is a Lopi Endeaver, Lopi Woodstoves are built in Washington state. The Endeaver has a fire brick lining, and the fire bricks are a standard size and easy to get, my daughter has an older Lopi that is her families only source of heat, so she told me that it is rare to replace one, but easy. I am considering getting a few to keep in the garage, get now while the getting is good. Anyway, no grate and inner metal panels to burn out. The Endeaver has reburn air tubes built in that cause the smoke to burn in the firebox, so doesnt have a catalytic and is very clean burning. I am happy with the heat output for amount of wood used, very easy to light and get a fire going, etc…

    Lopi intelligently gives every stove purchaser a moisture meter, so you can check if the firewood is actually dry, seasoned enough. This is realy important for not using too much wood. Wet wood has to use heat output from the fire to dry the wet wood you put in, so you get less heat into the house for the wood amount burned. This will only get to be more important as getting wood is either expensive or alot of work and will get more so.

    I burn all kinds of wood. Lumber cut offs, pine, fir, eucalyptus and lately I even have some oak and madrone. To keep from getting creosote buildup you want to burn dry wood that is seasoned. I store the wood in a shed, out of the rain, I make sure it is seasoned, which can take a couple years for realy dense eucalyptus. I burn the wood hot, I do not damp it down. Yes, I do reduce the input air some, of course, but I make sure it is a going good fire, not a smoky smoldering one. I have a thermometer, it is magnetic and sticks to the outside of the stove pipe, and I can see the flames, how the fire is doing. In addition, the reburning tubes on this stove, and the catalytic converter on my previous one, both cause the smoke particulates to burn, so they dont cause build up. This is all much more important than the species of wood you burn. Burn what is available in your area and appropriate to how much heat output you need for the time of year. Never burn cardboard, paper, trash ( a piece of paper to light, of course )

    If you are handy you can build a rocket stove. I am realy impressed with them, and I have been in a house with one fired up and operating years ago. I have seen a video of one that is built in a manufactured home, the mass being a box filled with pebbles I think ? rather than cob. See Paul Wheaton ipermies for that one. They burn clean and dont use too much wood and dont cost and arm and a leg if you are able to do this type of work.

  141. Kyle #91

    > tao burner

    I never heard of a tao burner. Thanks for the info. Glad I know.

    Before your note here, I had never heard of a tao burner. Sounds nifty. Like you said, cooking devices like tao burners are getting more expensive over time. They, and other small cookers, are a timeless investment, never going out of style, and ever so practical‼️These cookers will outlast us.

    I come from the perspective of cast-iron grills, like from Lodge. Every time I look, the price has gone up $10. I surmise that people are catching on how great this category of cooker is. I absolutely flip over cast-iron anything. My favorite company is Lodge (shameless plug). Lodge’s relatively new Kick-Off Grill Portable Charcoal (L12RG) is a cast-iron counterpart to your tao burner. Not cheap. Oh, but do I ever love these diminutive grills. (They are just so cute, I could pinch their cheeks.)

    These little cookers will be so valuable, they will be up there with “cows” in farmland. Who gets the grill after one dies❓

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  142. The Artemis moon rocket project mentioned above, seems to me one of the more bizarre hubristic megaprojects in the current landscape. The technology seems to have only moved half a step forward in 50+ years since the Apollo era, for a cost of $100bn and counting. It will be amusing to listen to the screams of the Progress (TM) and PMC lobbies for whom it has presumably generated tens of thousands of well-paid jobs, if/when it is axed. I wonder if a future leader of any partner nation will have the courage to pull out of funding ITER!
    Of course Britain has its own white elephant at about the same price and for much the same job-creation purpose, the HS2 express rail line that 95% of the population will never use and has already been cut back in length and destinations. Unfortunately that will likely survive, on the basis that it’s low-carbon, will reduce short-haul flights, etc.

  143. There are so many good comments here about haybox cookers, turning down thermostats, wearing hats in bed, wearing multiple layers of clothes indoors and so on. Yet in Britain, as if on a different planet, a metric known as the Basic Decent Standard of Living is being adjusted – on the basis of focus group input – to include a Netflix subscription.

  144. For hot climates:

    When there is no power to run the air conditioner a good trick to deal with the heat is to sleep in a nylon camping hammock. This works because it doubles the surface area where heat radiates from the body.

    Similarly getting wet either with a spray bottle set to mist, a wet wash cloth, or wetting clothing helps when the humidity isn’t too high and the water can evaporate. Pair that with a fan and you have a winning strategy. Consider showering outside it keeps the humidity down in the house.

    Opening all the windows late at night and closing them early in the morning will bring down the temperature of the house. If you’re not comfortable with leaving your windows open overnight consider installing security doors and opening your regular doors and locking your security doors for a similar effect.

    Another tip is to hang dry clothes. It uses less energy and removes a heat source from inside. I strongly recommend hanging them up in a shaded area because the uv damage from direct sun exposure reduces the usable life of fabrics.

    Cook outside.

    When it comes time to get a new roof consider installing a ridge vent. This will keep heat from accumulating in the attic in summer and cold air dissipates faster in the winter.

    Shading the south side of the house helps. Trees are best because they can shade the roof, but overhangs, awnings, or even shade curtains help.

  145. Clothing:

    For winter.

    I used to have a pair of german angora blend long underwear. I was very ill and this was so helpful. At the time, I bought it form Sierra Trading post, a mail order with an online site, I do not think they have the deals they used to, I doubt they carry that now, but that is how I got it. Right now I have a set of Duckworth Ramboiliet wool long underwear, Maverick or Maverick Peak depending how thick you like it This is very nice wool, not scratchy, untreated so you have to hand wash, you just rinse it out in the sink once a week, and lay over the stair railing to dry, it drys quick. Montana grown wool, total USA made, spun yarn, woven cloth and sewing. They do have sales, they just finished one. But this is my splurge, I feel so much better with a good baselayer like this, and then the other layers can be used. Yes, I wear this when I am inside the house too, under my jeans and tops. I layer. I often wear a knit wool hat indoors. I am partial to used cashmere sweaters in all kinds of out of date colors. At night I drape the baselayers over a chair to air, I dont wear them to bed of course. I just bought a used cardigan sweater at goodwill for this winter, it has a retro 1990s feel, that oversized thing that was in fashion then, nice vintage, about $7, 100% smooth thick wool, it will be my around the house outer layer instead of a bathrobe, it is long. Warm slippers for the house . wool socks.

    That 1970’s look was not realy for fashion. We did not heat the insides of the homes that much, especially after the Oil embargo, rise in heating costs, etc… And, alot of housing stock at least where I grew up just had a wall heater, sometimes a second location too for a larger house.
    No central heating. Turtlenecks. The back of the neck is a good temperature regulating area, so the turtleneck covers that. It was tucked in, that kept air currents from taking heat away. we wore undershirts ( camisoles for us ladies), also tucked in. We had long socks, not no show socks. There were knit vests. Down coats if you were so lucky.

    I do not heat the house at night. I like a down comforter with a wool blanket or throw over it on the colder nights. The last 2 winters I was not in my house, I was in an uninsulated travel trailer. That I did not heat at night, so it was even colder than the house in the morning. Same bedding, as it does not go below freezing here, it does go down to that alot, but not realy below or not by much. Getting up in the trailer was tough, I recomend having the next days clothes at the ready and I sit up and dress my top half while keeping the rest of me under the comforter, as many layers as the temperature requires, then get out and do the bottom half. The wool Maverick bottoms are fantastic especially when living in an uninsulated trailer. Then plug in and start up the space heater and start the tea. At home I have insulation, so it is not as jarring to get up. But also, yes, start the fire, start the tea.

    Someone I think mentioned blankets over a table for winter shelter indoors. Yes, if your heater or wood stove breaks and you cant get to a neighbors, make a fort, if you have kids they will love that game. Nail blankets over the windows and doorways of the room you are going to shelter in. Make a fort in the room, put the couch cushions on edge around the kitchen table, and a few blankets, and put all the people, pets and rest of the blankets inside. Or, set up your tent indoors in that room, everyone inside it. Etc….


    It was a heatwave weekend last weekend where the outside temps got to 115’F and it did not cool down at night. I do not have air conditioning. Luckily it is not like this always, it was an especially hot heat wave. Inside the house was about 100’F downstairs. But, by today, it is a bit cooler and so the inside the house did not get over 90-95’F downstairs. I cooked today. Getting wet helps. Just stick your head under the tap, or just splash your arms and face. The back of the neck being kept cool helps the most, so a damp bandana on the back of your neck. Wear one layer of loose cotton, a dress or loose pants/top ( think what men in India Wear). A quick cold shower rinse before bed to get to sleep makes it all good. Drink water often, I think it is good to put a splash of juice in the glass of water when having to drink so much. To be honest, on the worst day I did not try to do anything but keep hydrated and read with the box fan aimed at me as it is not usual to be this hot indoors here, over 100, and I am not used to it. Eat cool food

  146. Great post John.

    We have been quietly planning for a more energy scarce future for a while now.

    Travelling in the developing world was an eye opener and gave us both useful practical tips on conserving water and energy and a new found respect for what we have in the UK (up to now at least!).

    A friend of mine said recently we live a quasi 70s lifestyle which i think is broadly correct.

    We have already “collapsed” quite a bit.

    I’ve looked into solar panels and think they could work for my house. We have a reasonably sunny climate, south facing and have a v modern, highly insulated house. So, will probably go for it next year (when supply chains for solar are still in existence!).

    Thanks to two PMC incomes, very prudent and modest lifestyle, we are in a financially comfortable position going into this crisis.

    We can afford it.

    Our mortgage debt will be cleared by 2024 which is also great news.

    I’m aware my PMC job is reliant on financial globalization and that doesn’t have much of a future left. But, I’ll keep at it as long as its around.

    Wildcard is the dreaded v word. Bulk of my colleagues are double or triple jabbed and should we see serious long term side effects than, even in a rapidly contracting industry, i might remain employable just by the fact I’m healthy.

    End of 2021 my boss congratulated me for not getting sick like the rest of my team (who before 2021 rarely got sick). Didn’t tell him why that probably was. Hint hint, I’m unvaccinated!

    We will see.

    Majority of people in Europe are in denial about the scale of the crisis and our politicians will bankrupt Europe trying to artificially sustain a lifestyle that can no longer continue.

    Interesting times.

  147. Shedding unnecessary bureaucracies would be a tremendous source of energy conservation, and would remove a tremendous source of inflation as well. A BS job is probably worse than directly inflating the money supply because you have workers doing destructive things (often unwittingly) rather than merely being idle.

  148. @ PeterEV #122

    but what happens if our civilization moves away from using these hydrocarbons in current quantities?

    Can’t happen and couldn’t happen fast enough if it did. First, there’s no real viable alternatives. Second, the fossil fuel complex has been built out over the last century and the replacement(s) would take longer to field… after they’re identified and proven. Not to mention the fact that over 6000 common use items are made from petroleum.

  149. Helen #119, I have my laptop on a bed table over the settee (the kind with a base that slides under the furniture), and a wireless keyboard and mouse in my lap. I’m currently lying with a quilt up to my nose and as soon as I stop typing, only my hand on the mouse will be exposed. 🙂 Laying down is by far the most comfortable way to use a computer, it prevents the biomechanical problems of sitting and it’s easier to stay warm.

  150. I’m glad to see you getting your readers to start thinking about energy conservation again. I recall my first two winters in Japan. When I left the US in July 1984, it was within close memory of energy crisis of the 70s and people on the left whom I was hanging out with, still placed high value on conserving energy, and we were appalled that Generation X was so materialistic (they weren’t, but Hollywood and other corporate forces were busy trying to shape a more profitable mind frame in them, so they made it fashionable).
    In Japan no one had central heating. Millionaires might get fancy and install heating wires under the floor in part of the house, but for everyone else there was the kotatsu (low table with an electric heater under it and a blanket over it. In my tiny apartment there wasn’t even that. I had a tiny electric space heater, which I quickly gave up on. My one luxury was gas service to heat the bath water up once a day.
    My first year, I freaked out and spent so much time at a friend’s house that he was accused of cohabitating with me and lost his job. In February we used so much gas to heat his room that he had an enormous bill. (He was a repeated drunk driver, so I split up with him later, but not before getting a hair-raising first experience driving in central Tokyo.) I realized I had to learn to tolerate the cold. For years afterward I had nightmares over the degree of austerity I lived with in that first apartment–dark and dangerous with alcoholic or hostile neighbors. Later I moved much further from the center of Tokyo and got a second-floor flat with a nice sunny southern exposure. I bought an oil heater with a little fan and a timer which I’d set for 30 minutes before getting up each morning. That and the bath in the evening was all I really needed. I had good memories there.
    Currently, my brother-in-law heats the dining room with a kerosene stove or two and on extremely hot days he’ll turn on the air conditioner there. Otherwise we don’t heat or cool any other part of the house. I use passive solar in winter and a small swamp cooler in summer in the second-floor room where I work. I warm my hands using a small can full of hot water from downstairs.
    I also installed reflective film on the windows to reduce my exposure to external radiofrequency radiation (see, and that also reduces heat loss/entry.

  151. Instead of several layers of light curtains, you can do what I did and hang an old sleeping bag over the larger windows. I always keep an eye out during the Summer at yard sales for them. They make great insulating curtains and if you work an evening shift like I did for a while, they darken the room well too.

  152. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in a two-bedroom duplex rental. There is only so much you can do for permanent conservation.

    I often recommend people take a look at where they stay the most in their homes, then establish zones of comfort and energy expense. As an example, I spend most of my time during the Winter in my office, seconded by my bedroom. I keep the house in the mid-60s during the Winter, but use a small electric space heater and wear added clothing, like a sweater or a hoodie, in the office. This makes it livable for me and the pets.

    I like sleeping under several blankets anyway, but if it’s particularly cold, I’ll keep the hoodie on in bed and pull the hood up to keep my head warm.

    During the Summer when it is hot, I move to the basement, where I have an old futon bed. Even on the hottest days, the basement stays a cool 70. You can feel the difference when you walk upstairs.

    I’m a month or so from moving in with my sister for my retirement. I’m building out her basement in her home, as a small apartment. In the new place, I first put in 1″ foam insulation on all of the exterior walls, then in the walls of the bedroom and office, I added an additional 2″ foam insulation. I put the same between the ceiling joists. You can really feel the difference.

    The attic is getting a whole new layer of insulation before it gets cold as well.

  153. Do you think the energy crises this winter will be the end of the NFT/ Web3/ crypto fad? It always felt like a hollow fad to me but man were people all in on it. I say were because it feels like a much smaller group now compared to this time last year, but I still see people claiming it as the next thing. All the energy and creativity that went into NFT’s and Web3 we could have used as a society in so many other ways!

  154. @Issac If you go to Joann Fabric they have a Roman Shade kit with all the parts and instructions at a beginners level. The company website also has directions. The fabric if you look at it is coated with something for the window side to keep moisture off of it, has quilted layers, and a silver mylar layer to reflect heat/cold. It’s amazing stuff.

    I can’t get over how much more comfortable the bedrooms are in particular not having that constant cold or summer heat coming in. We didn’t realize how bad it was until we installed them.

  155. @Jason P. (#42) My preferred long underwear are surplus Army polypros. They are extremely warm and last a long time, and are very inexpensive. I picked up a three-pack of bottoms from eBay for about $8 about a decade ago, and I wear them all winter. They’re a little on the bulky side, but fit fine under jeans.

    Checking eBay just now, they’re more expensive than they were – more like $20 for a top and bottom set. The tops are bulkier than I like and I run hot anyway, so I never got any of those.

  156. @JMG: Glad, we are in good company… & I’m glad we have those skills in our arsenal. Could come in very handy… I like the term Respectable Fringe… though I agree with you and would rather be in the Fringey Fringe, not sure about the Lunatic Fringe, though one of my favorite stations when I was a kid, WEBN, used that as a slogan, so I’d be in good company there too, just not to excited about straight jackets or thorazine! I guess as long as I don’t get institutionalized, that’s the main thing!

    @Kyle #91: I love these charcoal stoves, I can see how efficient something like that would be, and in a convenient bucket.

    @Temporaryreality #108:

    Just chiming in that I think it would be nice to have some more info too on staying cool in the hot and humid parts of the country. Here in SW Ohio, it gets so fracking humid in the summer. I’ve been thinking for awhile I should scour how people got by in the south and other hotter areas before… It’d be a good research project.

    This would be a good topic too for a short book for someone to write that publisher JMG has working on reprinting appropriate tech books…

    @Ethan #109:

    Solitary RPGs: When I was a kid I got hooked on the Choose Your Own Adventure books, and the D&D versions of the same idea put out by TSR. Those were my favorite reading material in grade school. Later I found the Lone Wolf series of books by the late great Joe Dever. These had the same format as a choose your own adventure, but with added rules for combat & magic. I think there are a number of other type solo game books too… in any case these helped me cope with the long two to four hour church services and many sermons I had to endure growing up.

    Drawing mazes and my own dungeon maps in church was fun too!

    Speaking of games to play by yourself, this is a cool and creative book, and its cover art mimicked the choose your adventure books:

    To 10 Games to Play in Your Head By Yourself:

    “Top 10 Games You Can Play In Your Head, By Yourself, is a collection of visionary author J. Theophrastus Bartholomew’s most cherished mind-games, edited and updated by filmmaker and storyteller Sam Gorski and author D.F. Lovett.

    No peripherals needed. No controllers. No pens. No dice or boards. Everything you need to experience the forefront of game design is right here between these pages.

    What is a mind-game? Great Question!

    A mind-game is a game where you control the characters, the world, and every thing in between – a breathing, living story. A story that you can create on your own, and come back to time after time. A story with surprises that you will plant for yourself to find later, and never be the wiser!
    What will happen in your game? It’s up to you to find out!”

  157. I’d be interested in thoughts on solar panels + Tesla Powerwall (or equivalent). Does this produce a useful amount of electricity (obviously not to reproduce current middle class lifestyle)? Are powerwalls robust (solar panels being a proven technology)? My thinking being that, while expensive, as an “investment”, it can’t “lose value” (will work for decades with some degradation), and continues to “pay dividends” – electricity. Not the most efficient or cheapest, and complex, which has its risks, but reliable for at least a couple of decades. $20,000 sunk into this kind of setup may be a lot less risky than left in a pension fund or equivalent (and a good solution for someone older and completely useless with practical stuff!!).

  158. Adding to the conversation.

    I was pondering the Tower Time folks – Neo-Pagans panicking over climate change. Nobody seems to mention the lack of heating and cooling i.e. energy shortfalls. Hmmmm. I wonder why.

    Then I was watching “Dr. Phil” (I was laid up with a bad foot.). The people on the show were all in their late teens, early twenties. They were all social media influencers. Pondering that along with Tower Time, makes me wonder — are there all this excess money laying around to fritter away?

    Why are not people saving for emergencies and expensive fuel? How are social media influencers able to make a living? It seems that more and more people are turning to the Internet for funds. But if we have an energy shortage – then what? Is this all an illusion that people are participating in?

    On another thought – Biden’s Red Speech reminds me of Capt. Ahab of “Moby Dick” when he spears the Great White Whale. “From Hell’s Heart, I do stab at Thee.” I seem to recall the ending of the book was that the whale won.

  159. Helen – For cold feet (since I often sit at a computer, too), I wear fleece-lined slippers, and when it’s too cold for them, down-filled booties. Cold feet are also a good reminder to get up and stretch, walk about, and crank out a few push-ups to get the blood circulating again.

  160. A timely post. Our twenty year old fridge freezer uses 1kWh per day. I am looking at ways to add insulation as described in this German website where they were able to halve electricity consumption by superinsulating an old fridge


  161. @Helen in Oz – where I came from, the phrase was “get your rear in gear,” since we like snappy saying to rhyme.

    Just got a Tornado Warning by email and on my landline. Will see how my building stands up to high winds.

    Another source of light that seems to be safe in most conditions is a tall votive candle in a jar, that has partially burned down, as they do, at the center. I just snuffed a little one at my altar and have resolved to look for some big ones. Not as readily available at the supermarket in the South as they were in the Southwest, where every store carried a bunch of them, dedicated to the region’s favorite saints. Guadalupe being a big favorite. But – FYI for when the power goes out.

    However, the strike-anywhere matches I’d been using have been replaced by “strike on the box” matches, because, oooh, SAFETY! You can light the strike-anywhere’s on a rock or a small chunk of urban rubble if the surface is abrasive enough. Just FYI for when TSHTF – or (Hail, Thor) TFHTS…

  162. Michael – I’ve had roof-top grid-tied solar panels for about seven years, but no battery storage, and it seems like a very good decision. The panels have out-performed their estimated production, and my electric meter is net-negative. I have about 20 panels, each with a “power optimizer”, and one of the optimizers failed last year. The system has a web-based monitor, so I noticed about a month after the failure that one of the panels was not producing. It took another two months to get it working again, but it only diminished the output by 5%. (A bigger hit was the time I turned off the system just so I could operate my ham radio station on the 80m band, one day, and forgot to turn it back on again for two weeks!)

    As for battery storage, think of it this way: is your grid connection so unreliable that you need a battery backup (without solar panels)? I doubt it.

    In addition to the cost savings, and incentive subsidy tax breaks, we collect several hundred dollars for the sale of our Solar Renewable Energy Credits. It’s hard to say what they’ll be worth in the future, but they’ve been much more valuable than projected.

    Our local utility informed us that the generation charge will be going up 52% in October, which is just the kind of shock I was trying to avoid with the panels.

  163. Owen: I think the idea that you can’t put pine through your wood stove is hilarious. Just what do you think all the ruralites in western North America burn? Properly seasoned wood, burned sufficiently hot, is very usable. I put 4+ cord through our stove last winter, as it is our primary heat source, upon sweeping, very few deposits were in evidence. You can’t choke your stove down and smolder it with pine, but you surely can burn it, as many, many westerners can attest!

  164. After the 2008 crash, a group of like-minded folks got together to meet and discuss everything from peak oil to the end of finance. We called ourselves the Post-Carbonites and met weekly over potlucks at the local community center to watch movies, share what we were doing to “collapse early,” and generally be convivial! At the same time, a few of the farmer/gardeners from our group started The Learning Garden, a place where they could teach the people from our rural area, who had the land but had lost the know-how, to grow food and use medicinal herbs. It was glorious while it lasted, but it dwindled as things went back to “normal,” and although I miss the gatherings and, less so, the Garden, which took too much of my precious weekend time from my own garden, I learned enough in those years to be well on my way to being collapsed. Now that things are lurching down again, will we regroup? I’m not sure. But I do know it’s my one weak spot: relationships with more than my immediate neighbors. So perhaps I need to start prodding. There’s an old and (I believe) abandoned Grange Hall in my small town. So we’ll see.

    Viridian Nocturnal Platypus

  165. Heh. I don’t know if anyone will recall my questions a number of weeks ago about wood stoves; as I type, I’m sitting next to the woodstove that I ordered, hoping that the installation guy will get to it before winter. (I assume he will, it being only September.)

    But it’s interesting, you know I had been asking questions about whether you could heat a whole home with a single wood stove, whether anyone does this, and so forth. I believe I’ll be very thankful to whichever internet commenter it was who made the point that should be obvious, and yet isn’t, because we don’t tend to default to being energy-aware, which is:

    Modern homes aren’t designed with this sort of energy conservation in mind. The reason you can heat an old farmhouse like mine with a single stove, but not a modern McMansion, is because old farmhouses are often very “open concept”, while homes built in the past several decades are a warren of unconnected rooms, poor air flow, etc.

    As for the stuff about foam insulation in electric outlets, etc. – my province has a program where they’ll send someone out to your house and do a free energy-savings estimate and even give you some of this stuff, like the foam inserts, some weather-stripping, and so on.

    There’s a psychological effect here though, that I wish could be tackled, which is that let’s be honest, these little tips and tricks just seem so uncompelling, like they’re not glamourous, you know what I mean? So I think what would be useful, is something like some hard numbers on how much these things really save. Tell a person he’ll save $50 a month or whatever and it starts to sound more impressive.

  166. As someone living in Singapore (where it’s basically summer all year round) I guess there’s not much I can say or do with respect to the plight confronting fellow humans in Europe and America as winter approaches. All I can really do is extend my goodwill and hope things will somehow turn out well for them. (If it’s any consolation, know that Singapore’s merely a little higher above the waterline and otherwise we’re all on the Titanic, meaning we’ll all go down together, in the best of company.)

    None of this is to say that there aren’t some useful energy tips a halfling from a tropical island can pick up from the article above (for the sake of hopefully extending his tenure a little longer on the Prime Material Plane). I loved the fireless cooker. As for lighting, I think I might use candles and oil lamps more often in future. They’re so much more ‘romantic’; their warm orange glow seems to bring you back to a bygone time and age. (I must try and find some scented oils for my oil lamps.)

    By the way, I’m not sure how reassuring it would be to point out that Jesus, Plato etc all lived without the wretched excess provided by fossil fuels. Their contemporaries still knew how to live off the land — how to hunt, forage, grow food etc. Most of us have forgotten how… (And also, there are WAY more mouths to feed today than during those good, old times…)

    QUOTE:***Yes, I know a lot of people are still stuck on the failed fantasy of perpetual progress, and will insist at the top of their lungs that we’re on our way to the stars, no matter what.***

    I actually like to entertain my own special idea of progress, being that after a few more thousand or million rebirths we’ll collectively evolve spiritually to a point where we rise above the material plane of existence — like the sentient blue spheres encountered by Father Peregrine in Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, who were actually once Martians in physical form — and acquire all sorts of powers which the Hindus would term siddhis, including the power to astral-travel to any part of the Cosmos we please, like Ingo Swann did. That’s how we’d reach the stars. This would be Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men but with a much, much happier ending — which would be actually just the beginning!

  167. Hi JMG
    I live in the very warm part of Northern California. Almost daily during the summer months and weather permitting the cooler months I use my solar cooker to prepare our meals and reheat leftovers. I started out making my own from plans on the internet but now own several types. It’s like a slow cooker in the cooler months but during our warm months it cooks like an oven especially if I’m vigilant on repositioning as the sun moves. When the food is ready I close the reflectors and it stays warm until serving time.

  168. I have a copy of The Weird of Hali Cookbook to give away, first come, first served. Being in a position where doing my own cooking is overkill. Email me at mathews55 at msn dot com with subject line WofH Cookbook.

  169. The new LED lightbulbs are, indeed, incredibly efficient, but if you have some of the old incandescents around they can be useful as long as you treat them primarily as a heat source. (Remember, they were the magic ingredient in the Easy-Bake ovens that a generation of children used to bake cookies safely). Paul Wheaton has pointed out that, for instance, if you have to use a computer in the winter, it’s more efficient to heat the house to 55 F and then aim an incandescent desk lamp at your hands than it is to heat the whole house to 65 and type away in summer clothes. I’ve found that to be true and, similarly, used the funnel-shaped clamp lights with incandescents as a heated light source to seed vegetables and do woodworking in an unheated garage in the winter. Just a tip to share.

  170. OT: for JMG. You have written a lot about peak oil (and other energy), where in history our civilization is at, and the current mess we’re in. Of course, many of the books repeat themselves a lot, being issued at different times and for different reasons. If you were to pick the most important handful (other than Beyond the Narratives, The King In Orange, and the Twilight of Pluto, which are already on my short list; and the 11-volume Haliverse series, ditto), which ones do you think would make the best summary?



  171. @Fra Lupo, #49:

    “I sometimes wonder, seeing humans jogging down the streets”

    Heh, there was a novel I read a while ago, called The Mandibles, and I think some other people here have mentioned it, revolving around a future American economic collapse.

    There’s a scene where one of the characters is reminiscing about times before the collapse and marveling that her dad actually used to get home from work and have TIME to “go for a jog”!

    Now I’m a big proponent of physical exercise and staying fit in a general way (I do it), but it is true that “jogging” may be destined for the scrap heap in many cases.

  172. @Michael #166

    “I’d be interested in thoughts on solar panels + Tesla Powerwall (or equivalent). Does this produce a useful amount of electricity (obviously not to reproduce current middle class lifestyle)? Are powerwalls robust (solar panels being a proven technology)?”

    Useful for what exactly? The electricity produced and stored in this way won’t go very far at all toward heating, cooling, heating water, cooking, drying clothes, etc. But it will be overkill for lighting, running a laptop and wifi router, listening to music.

    I think it’s more useful to decide what you really need to power (electric well pump? CPAP machine? fridge/freezer?) and what you would like to power, and then size your system from there.

    Solar panels themselves are a proven technology, but powerwalls not so much. As a manufacturer myself, I am deeply skeptical of anything that claims to last longer than it has yet been on the market. Inverters are prone to failure – sometimes after just 5-10 years – and lithium batteries often decline and fail over that timespan as well.

    Tesla has a LOT of new products on the market with quite a lot of complaints (see e.g., it is vastly overvalued and struggles to turn a profit, and it seems to me that there is a reasonable chance the company will go belly-up after the next big economic downturn leaving product owners stuck without repairs when things inevitably fail.

    If you have $20,000 to spend, solarizing your house will probably work out better than buying NFTs or a new car, but it’s also probably not the best way that money could be spent toward cushioning the effects of the coming energy shortages. If you do solarize, I would recommend staying away from Tesla’s proprietary electronics and voltages and building a system in which a wide range of available inverters and batteries can be swapped in when failure inevitably happens.

  173. Here’s what we came up with through trial and error that kept our January baby comfortable with our furnace set to 60F (note that where we live, this meant the house stayed at 60 through May):

    * Thermal long sleeved “onesie” (has sleeves but no legs), covered by
    * Thermal, long sleeves and legs, “coverall” or shirt and pants set, covered by
    * Polyfleece, sweat fleece, or French terry pants, and
    * Flannel, French terry, or cotton ribknit long-sleeved shirt, covered by
    * Acrylic or polyester sweater, plus
    * Polyfleece booties (Zutano style so they stay on; the Hudson Baby or Luvable Friends ones are cheaper)

    (This is a baby who unfortunately turned out unable to tolerate wool.)

    Sometimes she’d need an extra sweater on a damp day or one that was just barely warm enough not to make the furnace kick on. (Feels warmer when warm air from the radiators is wafting through the space.)

    (No hat because, especially for babies under 6 months, that’s considered a suffocation or overheating (SIDS) risk.)

  174. @Patricia Mathews, JMG. re:

    Trump could do it to annoy his opponents by talking about energy saving measures in general, such as insulating houses, bicycling etc. That way he would take over one political issue of his opponents and make them even angrier. Such policies could pass as job creation program as well especially within construction industry.

    JMG, this is off-topic, but have you heard of that case?
    It was tragic of course, one of many such. Interestingly, the victims father is a high ranking EU official who was deciding policies regarding 2015 immigration crisis. Was it quick karma or something like that?
    Whose interests it serves to bring hostile and hard to integrate populations to Europe anyways?

  175. Thanks for pointing that out about Jane Austen! There sure are people with enduring legacies who lived very (energy-)poor lives, though actually the first ones that came to my mind voluntarily turned away from wealth: Columbanus, Francis of Assisi and so on.

    It is just a very widespread conviction in premodern literature that a life worth living can only be lived when you have servants who do the hard work of planting, reaping, woodcutting, spinning, weaving, washing, cooking etc. for you so you can write, read, make music or draw. We have energy servants to do much of this work for us. If we want a large portion of people to have the chance to participate in such activities in the future (not that most of them will ever take up that chance), total available energy need to be somewhat higher, or distribution needs to be more equitable, or both, than e.g. in Plato’s or Murasaki’s time.

    Otherwise (and that may be the only option…), these creative activities will again be restricted to a rather small minority. A larger minority may be creative while weaving, woodworking and so on.

  176. JMG: You said ‘I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.’

    The relatively brief era of bountiful cheap energy provided the most luxuriious lifestyles in all of human history. Air conditioning, central heating, refrigeration, cheap flights to any exotic destination, exciting cars, trucks and motorcycles, electric or ICE servants for almost every task imaginable.

    At one point I embraced, unconsciously and without question, the narrative of endless progress, the inevitability of flying cars as it were, the myth that we could ruthlessly exploit the earth without limit or harm. But reality intruded, as it does.

    Those luxuries are mostly no more in my life, for good reason, and I miss them less than I thought I would but dispute that the lived experience of them was wretched.

  177. How this guy isn’t in handcuffs and off to jail is beyond me. We have become lab rats. There was a funny cartoon clip that could have been mistaken for one of Larson’s Farside cartoons where one lab rat asked the other if he took the vaccine and the second lab rat replied, “no i’m waiting for the human trials to end”

    Fauci on COVID Boosters: “We Don’t Have Time to Do a Clinical Trial” 2min video

  178. Thanks JMG!

    I used to see praying mantises in Trinidad, but honestly can’t remember if I saw any here. They are around though!

    Speaking of my time back there though, my Uncle worked as an accountant for the oil company, and so I was able to attend the school there (a rule changed that permitted it, so I was moved from a different school – my guess now is that this was a step taken to increase revenue). This gated community was owned by the company (Texaco originally, but a public company when I was there), and so it provided homes for all the employees with all sorts of ammenities: a fancy club, a huge pool, golf course, tennis & squash courts (etc etc).

    At that school I was from one of the poorer families, but where I lived (a small development of a couple streets of 1950s style suburban bungalos) we were so much more wealthy than some people around us, some even living in shanty towns of galvenized shacks. I think the way this was broken in two helped me to understand something about class and perspective.

    Anyway, I discovered, after a feeling of familiarity struck me around the topic of collapse, that Trinidad’s oil production had been in steady decline the whole time I lived there. A trajectory that did not change, naturally. The reason I am writing about this is that my mother just sent me an article about someone from her generation who grew up living there (she also did, as her father held the same position prior), basically an idyllic boomer childhood of freedom and comfort, in a luxurious development of mansions, and what it looks like now. I thought you might appreciate having a look:


  179. neptunesdolphin #167, I read an analysis of Moby Dick that said it’s a metaphor for the spiritual life and the seeker has to want enlightenment as much as Ahab wants the whale. Furthermore that he succeeded and it’s actually him telling the story. I’ve never read it, only watched a beautiful paint-on-glass animated adaption, so couldn’t judge – but it was an interesting idea.

  180. Where we live, it used to be easy to get loads of wood chips for very cheap or free. We used MANY pickup truck-fulls of them on our garden. Then suddenly they became much more expensive and harder to get. We found out that they are now sent to the garbage-burning plants to increase the BTUs of the waste which is burned to make electricity. Strange, you’re not allowed to put branches in with your garbage (where they would be directly burned to make electricity), you have to bag and send them separately to a yard waste facility where they get un-bagged and chipped and then sent off to be burned to make electricity. Seems like a waste, perpetrated to allow the politicians to say they are doing something ecological. Also, sad to see good biomass turned into incinerator ash which must be landfilled. Leaves me longing for a more sophisticated approach to things.

  181. @NeptunesDolphins If I may, I’m not sure about social media in general, but YouTube creators with 1 million subscribers are known to make $4-$8million a month from the ads Google runs on their channels. It varies by the type of content and how much advertisers will pay to be on those channels. Many of these YouTube creators are individuals and they employ a staff of 5-12 people to help with production.

  182. @ Denis #163 – my thought is that the NFT fads will come and go but for the next few decades, the powers that be will do their best to subsidize (by whatever means) Internet access and usage.

    Social media is just too precious as a means of social control; narrative manipulation, and entertainment serving as a pressure blow off value / bread and circus type tool for pacification.

    The energy crunch may severely limit transport options, mandates for thermostat controls may be implemented for the masses and all other inconveniences and expenses but, magically, Internet access for officially approved purposes will be the last to go…

  183. Rod, at my university (Carleton U. in Canada) the most widely quoted research into that field was done by Marion Hubbert, originator of the Hubbert’s Peak theory. He looked at rates of exploration and extraction and extrapolated their rates of acceleration/deceleration to predict the ‘peak extraction’ year for various geographic regions. His theory put peak oil in the states around 1970 and the world’s around 2010 – given what happened there in 1972 and 2008 respectively, I’d venture his model was accurate, give or take two years. And given that the first modern oil extraction happened around 1860, that would mean the ‘back half’ of the curve would be the 150 years following 2010 – again, give or take two years.

    Viduraawakened, I’ve read a sampling of Tesla’s work (reproductions of his actual papers/patents, not what other people said about them), and the vast majority of the disconnect is that Tesla never said what his most ardent fans think he said. Tesla did have a lot of inventions around generating electricity, but the overwhelming majority of them were novel ways of using a temperature difference to spin a turbine. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those, given a cheap source of materials he didn’t have access to, would make for marginal or even significant improvements in our current energy economics, but nothing like the free lunch many people think is out there. The atmospheric generators you mention sound like one of his inventions I did look into, and if they’re the same thing they should more accurately be called atmospheric transmitters[1]. The physics of those look reasonable – most wireless toothbrushes charge using the same principle – and the only thing I find dubious about the claims there is the idea there’d be fewer transmission losses than using today’s ‘wired’ methods (most losses in a modern grid come at the transformers, which Tesla’s system would have required also). Once one accounts for the cost of building out all those wires, Tesla’s vision of an atmospheric transmission system might very well represent a significant energy savings over what we ended up doing. The trouble with the idea is, there’s no obvious way to prevent anyone from building a pirate tower and stealing electricity from whoever put it in the atmosphere and presumably expects to be paid. Tesla was, unfortunately, one of those geniuses whose mind worked in a way where he couldn’t quite grok money, and this was one of the most glaring results. Then again, global communism hadn’t yet been shown to be a failure at the time, so he may have simply been envisioning his towers existing in a world without money.
    [1] Generating electricity from atmospheric static sounds like a subplot from Atlas Shrugged – though in fairness to anyone confusing the two, Rand did probably get the idea from someone real. I’d be surprised to learn it was Tesla though, given how hard he was looking for electrical sources elsewhere.

    SimP, glad to see Coppicing mentioned here! One idea I’d love to see in the real world is what would happen if someone pollarded (which is like coppicing, but one cuts the tree at chest height instead of ground height) a species of tree with harvestable sap, like maple. I suspect it would increase the productivity of a sugar bush significantly even before the added revenue from firewood, but if someone’s in a position to try it out I’d be very interested to hear about actual results.

  184. Anyone else get goosebumps seeing a rainbow appear at Buckingham palace just before the announcement of the death of the queen? No words. Feels like time itself has shifted and an era has ended.

  185. (@karalan)

    You do raise an interesting point with regard to the moral framework that we impose upon energy use.

    There is definitely a tendency to assert that wasteful energy use is “bad” and conservation is “good”. Or that our descendants will look back upon our generation and the ones before us as evil planet wreckers.

    Perhaps humanity could have discovered fossil fuels and decided to leave them in the ground. Or we could have used them gradually over 10,000 years to transition to an ecotechnic society powered by renewable energy.

    Clearly that’s not what happened, and the collective overshoot in both population and consumption has set the stage for a dramatic decline that is currently picking up speed. I’m still not sure that there is much to be gained by adopting the moral worldview that we have sinned (by profligately wasting energy and polluting the planet) and must now repent (by conserving and using energy wisely).

    It will be *necessary* to get by with much less energy in the years and decades and centuries ahead. That is true independent of how we morally feel about it, and I’m not sure that casting judgment upon the actions of our species is all that helpful.

  186. Pygmycory, I get that. I hope people who are concerned about the survival of various information archives make their own backup copies, if possible hard copy as well as electronic, and stash those safely in as many places as possible.

    Kevin, I don’t know of websites on the subject, but you might see if you can find a secondhand copy of William Langdon’s book Movable Insulation, which has all the details you could want.

    Lunchbox, thanks for this.

    Atmospheric, and it’s still in print? Marvelous! I’ll take a look and, if I agree with you, start recommending it as a resource to all and sundry.

    Shewhoholdstensions, hmm! I’ll pass on the video, but this is fascinating.

    Smc, nope. An anecdote of any kind is a single data point. It may be way off on one end of the normal curve, it may even be falsified (in which case it’s still a data point, though of a different kind), but it’s a data point. Of course it has to be added to other data points to be meaningful, but that’s included in saying that anecdote is the singular of data. One of the reasons that contemporary science has lost its grip on the real world in so many fields is precisely the unwillingness of so many scientists to accept the fact that an observation made by someone without a Ph.D. is still an observation, and has to be accounted for — not simply waved away.

    NomadicBeer, that’s a crucial point, of course. I wonder how many people realize that an earth-sheltered home with adequate insulation will remain at a comfortable temperature year round on the heat generated by bodies, light fixtures, cooking, etc.

    Brian, that’s not an option for everyone, and it’s going to become much less of an option for more people as transport fuels become more problematic. If you can do it, sure, but I’m also concerned for those who can’t.

    Robert, oddly enough, I was thinking of the Sterling crisis of the 1970s just now. Truss very clearly thinks that this is going to be a very temporary problem; unless she plans on breaking ranks with the EU and cutting a deal with Russia, that seems, ahem, unlikely…

    Andrew, a good point!

    Robert, there’s no shortage of technological white elephants just now, but yeah, the Artemis rocket is well up there on the list. I don’t consider it even a half-step forward, however — the Saturn V was powerful enough to put a capsule and moon lander into lunar orbit, while the Artemis can only launch one of them (they plan on using two rockets, one with the capsule and one with the lander). As for Netflix being necessary for “basic dignity” — er, I’ve never watched anything on Netflix, and somehow my life doesn’t feel undignified to me.

    Forecasting, are you thinking photovoltaic panels or solar water heating panels? The latter’s usually a better investment, and also provides a more necessary resource. (The introduction of piped hot water was responsible for a really quite dramatic decrease in a range of illnesses.) As for the broader picture — “sleepwalking into crisis” is a good summary.

  187. One comment about COVID boosters. My COVID-kvetch for the week.

    My husband and I watch mainstream news (MSN📺), mainly because he likes it. He takes MSN seriously; I watch for entertainment.

    What I wanted to say is that the TV media continues to lay on thick the getting of COVID boosters, and laying on guilt trips. They don’t know when to stop. Every newscast there is something pissy🔫about boosters. As much as I dislike using this personal tactic on my husband (I use it rarely), I remote-control past the COVID section of news, overriding him. Sometimes he says, “I want to see that,” to which I say something to the effect of, “No, you don’t.” Luckily, he is usually sleepy by this time, so that is that (pretty much) — but for only for that one day. It is a daily struggle to *NOT* listen to COVID-crap. COVID-crap keeps going the next day, and the next, and the next. MSN is relentless: big pharma has things to sell, and national and local MSN does the selling for them. I feel close to vomiting🤮.

    The not-knowing-when-to-stop is like revenge. Party A does something bad to Party B, and Party B knows who it is. Party B acts in revenge, getting even with Party B. But Party A doesn’t know when to stop, and keeps on “hitting in revenge,” ten times over.

    I have if-then-else statements for MSN:

    If MSM mentions COVID once a week or less, then we will watch the TV show, else we will not watch the TV show.

    If MSM mentions COVID more than once a week for at least four weeks in a row, then we will not watch national news TV show (maybe nevermore); and local news only the weather.

    COVID is dead☠️to me. I am so weary of being suckered🐙. My patience is worn thin📈. It is a wonder that I don’t get violent💣(which is why I don’t keep ceramic vases🏺in the vicinity to throw).

    Just this minute, I see that Queen Elizabeth👑died. Prince Charles🤴🏼is happy🥳 although he has to appear somber😥. And QE died the day AFTER she saw the new Prime Minister — how did that happen?

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  188. Phutatorius #117 it’s cubicministoves grizzly model suitable for a 34ft sailboat. Double wall chimney pipes and combustion air system under (as carbon monoxide is not your friend). Love the clamshell oven sits on top for bread making.
    Pygmycory #107 music is also on my recovery plan. But 2 years ago had a bad motorcycle accident and finally my left hand has healed enough to practice cords on my lovely Ovation guitar.
    Stress reduction – as a student of Italian medieval swordfighting I highly recommend it. The sword is a force multiplier so as a 70 year old I can still spar with some fit 20 something pup and hold my own. Shooting the wanker, as per Indiana Jones, with my Sig. 45 is frowned upon at the Academie. …

  189. Someone up-thread mentioned the Warm Company’s “Warm Windows” product– is that something a sewing store in the USA is likely to carry, or do you have to get it by mail order? I’d love to get my hands on a few yards or even a bolt’s worth, but online retailers want crazy prices to get it to my country. I have a relative visiting Buffalo NY in a few weeks. Is there any point in asking them to pop into a fabric store while there?

    (And for those who have seen the product– is it anything more than a sandwich of cotton batting and aluminized mylar? Could I DIY the sandwich?)

  190. Robert, about Netflix as part of basic “dignity” – British government definitely has a deadpan sense of humor!

    For those that really like video, there are plenty of free sites online that stream legally classic movies, documentaries and so on. Just like on TV, they do have ads but you can easily skip them.
    So adding a paid service like Netflix is just ridiculous.

    See for example:

  191. Dear JMG and commentariat,

    I find this weekly post both importance and coincidental, as just yesterday I was musing on exactly these topics (energy conservation) after seeing one of the worst displays of energy wastefulness that I have ever witnessed.

    I had gone for a hike from a popular mountain trailhead in Eagle River, Alaska, and very near the trailhead, on a highly exposed mountainside location at about 1500 feet elevation, subject to frequent and strong winds, I saw a large, cubistic, Howard Roarke-ish house in the process of being built. What really struck me about this particular house, though (aside from its ostentatious size) was the profusion of enormous, uncovered windows, which actually constituted the bulk of the walls of the house. And I can guarantee you, strange as it may seem, and in line with insane current fashion even here in Alaska, that NONE of those windows will have any internal curtains, shades or blinds, but remain totally open, no matter how cold it may be outside. The radiative loss of heat from this house will probably be enough to heat several normal houses by itself.

    Since moving to Alaska in the mid-90s, I have always been struck by the egregious wastefulness, and sheer privacy-destroying insanity, of all the houses here (the vast majority) which do NOT have any curtains, blinds and shades over any of their windows, even and especially at night (which in the winter here is the large majority of the day). I think that most people are somehow simply unaware of radiative heat loss, which is not a minor factor, particularly in a cold climate such as Alaska’s. This was stressed very strongly back in the 1970s, I remember very well (I am the same age as you), but yet in recent years and decades the wisdom and common sense of covering windows in the dark and/or cold has been simply thrown to the wind. And that is even aside from the privacy factor — when I lived in Michigan prior to moving to Alaska, it was virtually unheard-of, it not considered intolerable, to have one’s windows uncovered and open to the views of anyone and everyone passing outside. But for whatever bizarre reason, Alaskans seem immune to that privacy factor as well.

  192. Latest word from Windsor palace, Queen Elizabeth II passed away this afternoon. Unofficially Charles is now King Charles the Third, though I assume there will be an official coronation with all the bell and whistles. If you draw up a chart for his reign, would the time you use be when the queen passed on the crown to him on her death or will it be when he is coronated?

  193. So now all we are reading about is the death of Queen Elisabeth II. Is it just me who views the Royal (insert favorite Clerisy pun) Family as nothing more than the Kardashians with a little bit of class?

  194. There’s still plenty of time to visit your thrift shop. It’s easy to find comforters. They need to be washed and sometimes repaired but I’ve never been in a thrift shop that didn’t have a few.
    If you’re near a Goodwill Bargain Bin, the bargains are better: they sell by the pound rather than the item.

    If you’re concerned about friends and family freezing this winter, stock up on cheap comforters. A pile of them keep sleepers warm. Or hang them on walls or over windows and doorways to trap heat.

  195. With regards to how much fossil fuel is left:

    If everyone used less, say 10 to 20 percent, the reserves would last that much longer.

    Sadly, for many people, only ultra-high cost will make them use less.

  196. Hi JMG! My contribution to this thread is that I walk to the grocery store and carry my groceries home. It is seven blocks downhill, so unfortunately when going downhill my arms are empty, then I have to lug it back up! I don’t drive and am generally of the opinion that if I can’t get to a place by walking, living right in the middle of town, then that place doesn’t need my cash. I tend to pop through each time I pass by, so I’m carrying just a couple things home rather than needing a huge load.

    Getting set up for grocery shopping this winter means good boots and “crampons” for the snow. Of course being able to walk in the winter weather is limited to the young and healthy. But if you’re old or disabled, you’re already among the people society has decided don’t matter, unless you can still drive. Here’s to kinder perceptions and better days, one pedestrian at a time.

  197. Hi JMG,

    Something with regards to heat comfort. A part of it is just a mental thing. In Trinidad people loved cranked AC units, it was especially chilly at my Uncle’s place (filling out this picture for you!). As a result I always associated cold as a luxury item – and it’s products: ice cubes, AC, popsicles (etc), it was interesting moving to Canada where that opinion is not shared. When i get a bit chilly I will sometimes pretend I am back there and I’m just at a rich person’s place. Similarly, when it starts getting warmer than I might like I imagine it is cold and I am near a fire.

    There is a limit to this approach, naturally, as it’s not going to protect you from freezing to death or your pipes exploding, but you can make yourself more comfortable this way I believe, just by assembling mental snapshots of times you liked it when it was chillier or warmer than your ideal temperature so you can refer to them for reference

    We don’t have a central AC unit, although we did buy a portable one that we have right by our bed. My partner was concerned when we had kids about the heat being dangerous for babies, I never thought this seemed a likely risk, since lots of people don’t have AC in truly hot places, like back home, but in a compromise, I preferred a small unit to a whole set up, either window units or complete central air, and we only turn it on on the hottest nights (if my partner wakes up during the night she’ll switch it off too, so it never is on when I wake up in the morning). Interestingly, neither of my sons has ever mentioned the temperature at all, and both seem unbothered by it entirely either on hot and stuffy days, or chilly ones.

    Another garden thing: Twice now I’ve come across completely motionless carpenter bees lying inside these red flowers as if they died feeding. The second time was this morning (first was perhaps yesterday), and so I went so far as to nudge it with my finger to see if I could stir a response out of it, but got nothing, so I decided it had died there. That seemed a nice enough end for a bee, all things considered, and I thought I’d leave it there to decompose just like that, but when I was out again later it was gone. Not sure if it was eaten, if it crawled off, or if it woke up and flew away. A bit odd though. I’ve seen a couple other sluggish bees this year two, crawling slowly across surfaces. One was a very large bee, looked like an inch long bumble bee (or maybe even longer). It had a white ring on it’s back and was just crawling across the grass when I noticed it. My thought was it was injured possibly.


  198. @JMG @here

    Computing tip: if your old (desktop) computer is about the hit the bucket, before you run out to Best Buy, consider a Raspberry Pi for $70. You’ll need an external keyboard/mouse/monitor, but you probably already have those. Does 99% of what most people do on a computer (light web browsing, word processing). An analysis on energy usage: about $0.02 cents a day, a tiny fraction of a normal computer. The units are made in the UK, China, and Japan (China is probably going offline for Westerners, but the other two should be good for a while). They even made a Pi built into a keyboard with wifi ($100). Incredible value, simple design, and a huge hobbyist community. I think they’ll be around long after high-end laptops become scarce.

  199. A lot of the tips here are irrelevant or undoable to my situation, but am avidly collecting those that are relevant and doable. One thing about temperature adaptation in Florida in summer (March – November) is that the outdoors demands the loose, light cotton clothing, but indoors, something a lot heavier – and if you’re adapted to Florida weather, 74 degrees can feel like freezing. Because the way they attain is is to blow ice-cold air into the room being cooled, to keep it down to, say, 77 degrees.

  200. # TJ and the Bear (#157) But we are moving away from them. Just look at the ads for cars. Almost all are EVs. We don’t have to be all EV’s by 2040, we just have to have enough to reduce our usage below what we produce and proceed from there. This does not take into consideration any environment or social needs. If cars are replaced once every 16 years and only EVs are produced after 2024, then the amount of gasoline drops to near zero. It’s not going to happen by 2024 but most car companies announced they will be producing only EVs by 2035.

    Now comes the question of how will we produce enough electricity to power them?? Natural gas and coal are not sustainable. Renewables are our biggest option. Some say nuclear will have a roll. What do we need to do to address this situation?

    Some are looking to create more efficient, cheaper, and longer lasting solar cells. Others are working on battery technology. Others are figuring ways of curbing our usages. Somewhere in all this lies what may happen. We’ve scoured the earth for resources and we will be increasingly asked or even demanded to develop them from within and by ourselves.

  201. I wonder what the carbon footprint of streaming services are. It must be massive. How many servers does it take to host the entirety of YouTube? Music streamers are vulture capitalists harming musicians ability to earn a living by selling hard copies of their music. I will put streaming services alongside Las Vegas, Times Square, Tokyo and other cities that are covered with nighttime illumination as the first victims of skyrocketing energy costs.
    In my own life, I haven’t had a dish washer or a clothes dryer since I moved out of my parents house after high school in the ’70s. Living in hurricane country I often rely on an old Coleman white gas stove. It uses remarkably little gas, and my decades old gallons of white gas still work fine. Seems much more practical than minature propane tanks.
    I cringe whenever I see people promoting cotton and linen. Backpackers have a slogan: Cotton kills! I spent 25 years as a rural carrier in the deep south working in hot 120° vehicles. Synthetics are so superior in many ways. Ditch cotton in heat and cold. In the heat, the natural cotton fibers will tear your skin apart. Cotton can’t evaporate sweat in a hot, humid environment. It is absolutely miserable to wear.

  202. Hi John,

    Thank you very much for the recommendations on energy saving, they will be more and more necessary.

    Regarding Russia and the war in Ukraine, I do not understand why our rulers and a large part of the population think that Vladimir Putin is a brainless imbecile, an irrational fanatic who does not think about the consequences of his acts; Instead, it seems the opposite to me.

    Putin has a doctorate in economic sciences and his doctoral thesis, which he did in the mid-1990’s was entitled “Strategic Planning of the Reproduction of the Mineral Resource Base of a Region under Conditions of the Formation of Market Relations”, so it was, and he is, a profound connoisseur of the true needs of modern societies for raw materials and energy resources, having studied it in depth and each of the steps he has been taking before and during this conflict show that he fully understands the implications of the actions he is taking and its impact over time.

    Apparently, in his doctoral thesis dissertation, he was quite critical of the short-termism in the management of natural resources carried out by the former Soviet Union, and the need to change that model of use in the Russian Federation. .

    Putin is a person who personally experienced the collapse of the Soviet Union as an unparalleled catastrophe, and from that dramatic experience I think he retains a strong grudge against the West.

    The other important thing to note about Putin’s perspective on the Ukraine conflict is that Putin’s family suffered terribly in the German invasion of the USSR, his father was seriously injured in the siege of Leningrad, his 2-year-old brother died of diphtheria in the midst of tremendous malnutrition; 5 of the 6 brothers of his father died on the front fighting against the Nazis, as well as several relatives of his mother, a terrible family tragedy.
    That is why I think that when Putin sees how the squares and streets multiply in honor of the Ukrainian “hero” Stepan Bandera and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, associated with the American neocons, the worst of his nightmares comes true and that is why he considers the fight in Ukraine as “existential” for Russia, and they have to prevail under ANY circumstances, even if that means a nuclear war with USA, which the West has not understood at all.

    Now may be the Putin’s goal has changed and is now the demilitarization not only of Ukraine, but also of Europe through its complete voluntary deindustrialization.


  203. In Norway in the old days they would have “blankets” of sheep skins sown together on the bottom and on the top. Making these used to be a trade of its own. Below would be a layer of straw or hay. I’ve read that the family would sleep together naked with the husband and wife in the middle.

    In the old longhouses there would be a compartment for the livestock, so their heat would help heat up the house.

    Cooking with sticks and a 3 stone platform, it’s amazing how few sticks you need to boil your pot.

    This video of Icelandic traditional turf homes is well worth a watch.

    I like the Native American hogan/earth lodge/pit house as well. Earth is a great temperature stabelizer.

  204. Hi Dave

    We have mandatory recycling around here although the city admits it saves no money or energy. 🙄

  205. There are many competing needs in economy, let me show one:

    Windows may be R1 and double pane R2. However, that is still next to nothing. Meanwhile a old single pane window can last 200 years, and a new vinyl double pane lasts 30 years. It also cannot be easily fixed.

    Clearly for economy and ecology, the old, primitive window is superior even though it is less economical for heat, today. Also old windows have served 50 years, often 25 since last service. It’s not too much to ask of a window to pull, fix, straighten, and tighten it so it doesn’t leak.

    This is true of other economizing. Since much insulation takes a lot of money, the payback may be 2-3 years. It might be cheaper just to turn it down right now rather than lose the money to the insulation salesman instead of the energy company, but come up short in a hard year just the same.

  206. Kind of OT, but the first thing entering my skull was, “One ring to rule them all,…”

    Now you don’t even need to be able to spell, construct sentences or even think to be a writer…

    RE: Refurbing casement windows,,,

    We cut and glazed in separate secondary panes on old wooden casement windows. We left a small weephole in the glazing top and bottom of each pane to let moisture escape. While not as sexy as new vacuum sealed vinyl windows, the old single panes were running within 10 degrees of outside temp while these DIY double panes were 20-25 degrees lower than the single panes.

    That number surprised me – so we did them all.

  207. Given that so much insulation advice involves insulating your attic, how bad is it if your attic is finished? The previous owners finished the attic, and I fear they didn’t do a good job of insulating the area between the ceiling and roof. The attic is quite cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

    On a lighter note, I discovered a few years ago that the original purpose of tea lights was to keep tea warm! Sure enough, the heat from a tea light candle is just the right amount to keep a pot of tea warm for hours. Good way to stay warm on a cold afternoon.

  208. @Epileptic Doomer It was me who posted about the Warm Windows fabric. Of course you could DIY your own. I bought it at Joann Fabric back in 2012 and they were clearing it out then. Since it’s a brand name you could call around. Maybe even a store would order it and ship it to them to pick up. It comes on huge rolls like commercial fabric for curtains and upholstery, not the bolts folded up like quilting and clothing fabric.

  209. For what it’s worth, I went to a big box book store in Vienna last month and stumbled over a nice little book, complete with photos and fancy type. It’s “Cooking without electricity”, issued by the German federal office of civic protection and disaster management, featuring the results of an off-grid cooking competition and other useful hints for survival in a blackout situation (fire protection, water purification, stockpiling…). Unthinkable in the last decade, I guess. I bought it.

  210. @ PeterEV #212

    But we are moving away from them

    Not enough to make a difference, and resource limitations will prevent them from ramping up significantly both on EVs and the infrastructure to support them. You do know it takes 500,000 pounds of mined earth just to get the minerals necessary for a single EV car battery, right?

    As you noted, fossil fuels are also indirectly powering all these EVs and the grid’s already failing everywhere they’ve attempted to move to so-called alternatives.

    You also know that all forms of farming, mining & goods transportation vehicles can’t run on electricity too? Even trains are “hybrid” in that diesel generates the electricity that turns the wheels.

  211. Longsword,
    my sympathies on the injury taking away your instrument. That really stinks. I am glad it isn’t permanent, and that you are getting it back again now.

    I finally admitted that I am never going to be able to play my old flute again, and have put it up for sale… but I also finally had a brainwave that I can still play a curved-headjoint metal flute and that they sound vastly better than the plastic curved headjoint flute I had been playing for the last six or seven years. So now I have a curved headjoint metal flute that is a lot like the very first flute I started out on when I was eight. And I have my main instrument back properly. It only took me what, 18 years.

    And I spent this morning around to all the local music stores telling them I am offering recorder, flute, and piccolo lessons and giving them my contact info. My life is feeling oddly circular right now.

    I hope you find joy in your playing again, and that the shadow of your injury will cease darkening this part of your life.

  212. cs2
    yet elderly and disabled people without cars are getting their groceries somehow…

    Just thinking that I have much the same situation with grocery shopping as you. Downhill on the way there, uphill on the way back, no car, and there is snow and ice sometimes in winter. I use a large backpack with chest and hip belts and generally carry 1-2 weeks worth of groceries for myself up the hill home in it. Granted, I grow some of my own, I’m under 40, I don’t buy drinks other than milk, and sometimes it hurts quite a bit by the time I get home, but I’m not exactly perfectly strong and healthy. I’m a small woman with fibromyalgia and old tendonitis injuries to my wrists.

    A lot of people towards the margins of society do things regularly that people with more money, power and health assume they themselves can’t do. I’m not pointing this comment at you; this is a slightly exasperated comment aimed at the people around me who seem to forget they have perfectly functional legs and could walk to the store for once. It’s irritating.

  213. Greg, no doubt, but try telling the bureaucrats that!

    Patricia O, thanks for the personal data points. I’ve also lived with no heat, but the neighbors were better.

    David T, thanks for these.

    Denis, we’ll just have to see. Speculative manias boom and bust according to their own rhythms, which need not make any rational sense.

    Justin, these days it’s not the fringe that’s lunatic…

    Michael, nope. Unless you happen to be in an unusually favorable location, it won’t produce enough electricity reliably enough to matter, and it will degrade steadily over time — battery-based solar PV systems generally have a shorter working lifespan than the sales pitches claim. This gimmick has been pitched over, and over, and over again since the 1970s, and — as I noted in my post — in most cases it’s a money sink.

    Neptunesdolphins, that’s how you can tell whether people who claim to be worried about climate change are serious about it. If they don’t have anything to say about heating, cooling, and other energy issues, it’s just one more apocalyptic fad. As for Captain Ahab — why, yes, the whale did win.

    Michael, get that puppy insulated!

    Jerry, one of the simple pleasures of making predictions based on the laws of thermodynamics is that they always age so well. 😉

    Julie, you might see if you can get it going again. That might be very helpful to you and others.

    Bofur, sure, but that’s the difficulty. How much you can save depends on a galaxy of details specific to the situation, ranging from the exact structure of your house through this year’s weather to your habits of energy use. Averages don’t help much here.

    G Wang, quite a few spiritual traditions argue that we can achieve that kind of transcendence, but not as a species. The door is open right now — all each of us has to to is put in the hard work.

    Jo, delighted to hear this. The only reason I didn’t mention solar ovens is that for most people in the US, winter’s not a useful time for those, and that was the theme of the post.

    DaveOTn, thanks for this. You can also keep the house at 55 and wear some fingerless gloves!

    Patricia M, I’d say The Ecotechnic Future followed by Retrotopia.

    PW, thanks for this.

    SimP, no, I hadn’t heard of that. Whose interests does it serve? The same classes whose exact equivalents brought barbarians into the late Roman Empire…

    Aldarion, I’m familiar with the trope and it doesn’t really wash. Another example from my original list is relevant here: William Shakespeare. He was a farm boy from Hicksville who ran off to London to escape the consequences of a shotgun wedding, turned out to have a talent for acting and writing, and clawed his way into the creative class through talent and hard work. For that matter, Isaac Newton was a farmer’s son who got the chance to go to school, flung himself into intellectual life as his one ticket out of farming (which he hated), and had to support himself his first three years at Cambridge by working as a valet for other students. Britain in those days was one of the most upwardly mobile societies in Europe, which is why it had a Shakespeare and a Newton!

    Karalan, I grew up in American suburbia, surrounded by all that crap, and found it wretched in the extreme. Your mileage may vary, of course, but that was my lived experience, and so I’m going to keep using the word.

    Rod, I harvested a meme to that effect a week or so ago, and it’ll find its way onto an open post in due time. 😉

    Johnny, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet…

    OEP, I certainly did. Talk about an omen…

    Alan, that may be the best metaphor for the terminal phase of industrial society that I’ve yet heard. Did you by any chance snap a picture of the gigantic absurdity in question?

    Jeanne, neither one. Charles III’s reign begins astrologically when he is proclaimed king by Garter King of Arms after the meeting of the Accession Council, which is iirc scheduled for Saturday. The coronation is also important, and an awkward accession horoscope can be more than overcome by a good coronation horoscope, so I’ll be casting both of those. I wish him well!

    Rod, I disagree. There’s a point to having the symbolic head of state be someone other than the current political leader; the US is an embarrassing example of what happens when they’re the same person, and too many people project too much of their emotional lives onto the president. Britain and Japan have both benefited hugely from the emotional and magical stability you get by dividing those roles. There’s a very ancient and wise tradition involved; it’s not accidental that the English word “king” comes from Old English cyning, “kinsman,” or that “queen” comes from cwen, literally “woman” — the king is the kinsman, the queen the woman, holding down the role of fundamental human archetype as best they may. Of course you don’t want to give them political power, but the ancient kingships were sacred, not political, and the reversion to that in recent centuries strikes me as good thing.

    Cs2, you and me both! I have a wheeled cart — yeah, the kind of thing old people use, but then I’m sixty and so I qualify — and use that to haul groceries back from the three stores and one farmer’s market where I shop. Cars are for wimps. 😉

    Johnny, excellent! Yes, the mind has a lot of power over the body, and especially over the body’s habits of perception and action.

    Brian, I haven’t bought a new computer in my life. I ask around for other people’s castoffs, or go to the local computer repair place to see what they’ve got used but still functional. I’ll check out the Raspberry Pi, though — that sounds very much up my alley.

    Jake, I don’t happen to know the exact scale of it, but yes, streaming services eat a fantastic amount of energy. People will eventually have to start paying for that. They won’t be happy.

    DFC, it’s the great conceit of the current ruling classes of Europe that they’re smarter than anybody else and the world ought to do whatever they tell it, and if anyone disagrees with them, that just shows that the disagreeable person is stupid. In fact Putin is playing this game with extreme skill. He knows perfectly well that all he has to do is draw things out, keep up the pressure, and refuse to negotiate on Europe’s terms, and Europe is going to end up in a world of hurt. Not only that, for the reasons you’ve indicated, he’s got to be looking forward to that outcome with mordant glee.

    Seideman, hmm! Thanks for this.

    Jasper, yes, those are factors that also need to be taken into account where appropriate.

  214. There is a lot of Schadenfreude in Russia right now about the enlightened Europeans shivering in the cold this winter. They won’t feel so superior anymore, say the Russians. European leadership is also a self-terminating phenomenon. The EU has only a few years left in its current form.


    RE: Northwind Grandma #198
    And QE died the day AFTER she saw the new Prime Minister — how did that happen?

    Well, that’s easy; the Queen was so appalled by what she saw that she couldn’t live with it.

    Seriously though, a lot of famous people died this year. Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, died recently too. It does seem like an age has ended.

  215. Hello all!

    Thanks JMG for these wise words. As older X’ers who learned about “Adam the Energy Ant” and turning off lights when not in use, in elementary school, we feel the conservation message got under our skin and never left us.

    However, one weatherizing detail I’ve wondered about, and always wanted to throw out here for ideas from the erudite commentariat, is this: our old yet small (900 sq ft) house leaks like any other old house in winter in New England. Yet, we also have elevated radon. So, with weatherizing, will our radon levels go up?

    When I bought the house, they tested for radon in January (8-10 pico curies I think). Is radon a seasonal concern? The old man who lived here before us died in heart surgery at 85 after 60 years here. But we have a young son who is growing up here….

    So I guess one of my main concerns is how to mitigate radon in the Long Descent. We never put a mitigation system in. And how does that tie in with weatherization?

    By the way, we finally got the illness going ’round. If my words are not quite coherent, it’s because I’m exhausted!

    Thanks everyone in advance for any advice,
    Ellen and Tad in ME

  216. Darkest Yorkshire, my work computer is a 22 inch iMac, with a keyboard and 2 back-up drives, so the bed isn’t really an option!

    When my late mum required constant home care, my shifts included packing it all up and bringing it there to set up in an old bedroom to work and also care for her. Not much sleep as there was an alarm rigged up to go off when she got up in the middle of the night, and I then would get up to help her to the loo, and then back into bed. Usually at least twice and up to 6 times a night.
    My work day starts at 7, I’m an ‘electronic’ part of a factory, so no sleeping in to catch up!
    Then after my 3 days, pack it all up and bring it back home.
    It was not fun!

    David DMC
    I heard recently, that when Putin went to war with the oligarchs, he put his family into hiding.
    The man is by far the most serious and deep thinking leader in the world.
    I have had this opinion for many years, once I realised that the western characterisation of him as Dr Evil was nonsense.
    On a side note, Ive always wondered how much the Kursk submarine tragedy affected his thinking. I remember it vividly.

    Civilization decline and collapse has now become standard rhetoric in alt media of late. They accept it’s a given, but perhaps not fully aware of all that entails.
    Many Homesteading channels are pretty much in full prepping mode.

    Religion and conservatism is also being talked about much more.
    Has anyone watched Jonathan Pageau?
    Dr Steven Turley is another, although I don’t really listen to him.

    Hmm, which druid has been going on about the rise of this for years now? 🤔

    Regarding cold feet and fingers, it only happens in ‘deepest’ winter, when I first get up and start working – at 7am 😉
    Gloves help but keys are hard to press, fingerless ones are better, then only the tips are freezing!

    Helen in Oz

  217. On topic – from my spam box: Roaman’s, a catalog of cheap clothes for fat ladies, posted an ad for “thermal hoodies, $29.99.”

  218. Dear JMG,
    This week’s heat wave in California has been a good chance to educate my family on why CA just trying to rely on renewables for energy is a fantasy. For the past five days, the grid has been pushed to the brink of rolling blackouts around 6 pm. What happens at this time? The sun starts to set and solar is lost, also during a heat wave there isn’t much wind, so the turbines aren’t turning. Natural gas has to be ramped-up and imports (also natural gas ) from other states gets shipped-in. If it wasn’t for the natural gas 30 million people would be without power when the temps are over 110 F for hours at a time. Thinking we could keep this lifestyle going with solar, wind and batteries is laughable and actual dangerous when 98% of people believe the green bs our governor and “science” spews.
    Right now, its 103 F outside, peak sun, and solar in the state is supplying 19% of our energy, nat gas 51%, and imports 15% (nuke at 5%, which they want to close, and hydro at 9% make out the balance).
    Its going to be a rough landing.

  219. Oilman2, now surprise me. I’m glad to hear about the casement windows.

    Johnsonrobin, you might seriously consider unfinishing it. Attics are best used as buffering spaces between the outside world and your living quarters.

    Njura, that sounds worth having.

    Kay, thanks for this. Of course that’s the ultimate response!

    Ecosophian, that’s increasingly my take on the EU.

    Ellen, do you have a crawlspace? Make sure it’s thoroughly ventilated, and insulate between the crawlspace and the floor. Do you have a basement? The same rule applies. Radon mitigation is only a real bear if your house is built on a slab foundation with no vapor barrier and no ventilation access under the floor.

    Helen in Oz, I figure that sooner or later the other religions will catch up to us Druids. 😉

    Karl, I hope more people are figuring out that obvious but heavily obfuscated fact. If it helps, I’ll be doing a post discussing it in detail in a couple of weeks.

  220. Amory Lovins’ classic Stanford lectures give a good idea of what’s possible. The (very long) video is here and the powerpoint (not transcript, it disappeared from treehuger radio) is here . Lovins and RMI have gone off the rails about hypercars and the Hydrogen Economy, but his work on conservation is inspiring. There should be an award, the dullest inspiring man in America…

  221. @ JMG RE: Karls topic

    I don’t know how you plan on addressing what Karl is referring to; ‘hiding the sausage’? ‘what pink elephant’? ‘terminal ignorance’? ‘eternal progress of the slipshod mind’?

    There are so very many things that go into removing critical thinking… but perhaps as critical are the MSM and Alt-media “ignorance delivery systems”? MSM being in your face lying and Alt-media being misinfo and disinfo in equal measure, leavened with heaps of fear sauce and TEOTWAWKI gravy…

    So jump right on that, will ya? LOL

  222. Re: radon

    It’s a gas that comes up from the ground. If you have a crawl space it’s a pretty simple matter of ventilating the space and sealing it off from the house above. If you have a basement it’s more difficult, and reducing the leakiness of the house will increase radon levels inside. However, there are ways to reduce the gas permeability of the basement concrete so less radon gets in. Google “radon seal” for one such option, though I can’t personally vouch for it.

    Re: streaming power usage

    All of the “cloud” services use an immense amount of electricity, which is not just distributed across the grid but primarily occurs in giant data centers where e.g. the Netflix movie you’re watching is actually stored on a hard drive and translated into the digital signals that are sent across the wires and airwaves to your home.

    These data centers compete with local needs in shortages. If there’s not enough power, I wonder if they will turn off Amazon or the town of Umatilla, Facebook or the town of Prineville…

  223. Hi John Michael,

    Mate, I wish it were not so.

    Hydro power is the other elephant in the room, and err Lake Mead and Lake Powell are not looking too good lately. Even down here, we’ve heard of that situation. Given that those two lakes are not a ‘it’s only this year problem’, but a couple of decades long problem, I’d be getting out of there. But you know, that’s me. Nature provides energy when she will, and not a moment beforehand.

    It’s getting wetter here. An inch and a half of rain fell yesterday. I’m adapting, and yesterday in the rain we installed some ground water drains around the chicken enclosure. Expensive bits of kit, but they work.

    The forest is enjoying the plentiful water, but here’s the joke: It’s slowly changing the forest arrangements.



  224. One thing to check out is hard hat liners, designed to be used under plastic hard hats in the winter. They may be funny looking but they are comfortable and stay on with the Velcro front closures. They can even be used outdoors if so desired. From $7 to $20 each on the dirty river.

  225. PeterEV (no. 122) ” I’m not convinced that Gail is completely right.”

    While I’m convinced that Gail is not completely right, but let’s continue.

    “Yes oil and gas are vital to our type of civilization but what happens if our civilization moves away from using these hydrocarbons in current quantities?”

    Gail argues that modern economies, as dissipative structures, must continue expanding in order to survive (she uses the analogy of a shark, which must continue swimming in order to breathe), and that there are no practical alternatives to fossil fuels. (The alternatives implicitly depend on fossil fuel availability, and their cost tends to track that of fossil fuels.) If we are using less fossil fuels, this probably means the economy is contracting, which means we can expect the fundamental calculus of government and society to fall apart: governments collect fewer taxes, and are thus less able to fund the expenditures necessary to hold society together; money becomes less reliable as a store of value; governments and individuals go into debt, creating debt bubbles; pensions can no longer be relied upon–and pretty soon you get Mad Max. A shrinking economy is like removing Leonardo Sticks (a children’s toy, somewhat like Lincoln Logs) from a structure built of them–enough sticks gone, and the whole collapses–so a society can’t deliberately downscale back to the level of a century ago, let us say.

    Gail is reacting to the Peak Oil discourse of a few years ago, which focused on the size of global oil reserves. For Gail the main issue is pricing–too high, and oil becomes unaffordable (hence shrinking economies); too low, and it becomes uneconomical for producers. Right now, there is no “good” price that will satisfy both sides, so the economic problems described above are baked in.

    “How many electric vehicles would need to be manufactured along with other changes in our civilization to reduce our consumption before the 2040 peak?”

    Gail would argue that electric vehicles do not, in fact, reduce fossil fuel consumption.

  226. It’s clear my next step is to rig a permanent clothesline system. I’ve been putting this off because there’s no obvious route from my porch to a tree or post, that also avoids overhead branches and wires (that birds perch on and poop from). Some creativity will be called for. But the electric dryer is by far my biggest electricity use, and it’s time for it to go.

    I’m so glad I started cold showers a few years ago. Before that, having to take cold showers frequently, let alone all the time, would have seemed to be a completely unlivable sacrifice. This reminds me daily that other changes will likely be easier to adjust to than I might fear. The main purpose of the cold showers wasn’t to economize or “collapse now,” but it still counts anyhow. (To be fair, it remains to be seen whether I can still shower cold when the thermostat is set to 55 instead of 65, but I’m optimistic. I’ll report honestly, either way, in a few months.)

    Hmm, I used the word “fear” in the previous paragraph. Perhaps that’s something worth discussing more generally in the context of a coming winter. Winter used to be feared, with very good reasons, but can an appropriate degree of fear be re-introduced without it becoming paralysis (the “I don’t want to think about it” reaction some commenters have seen first-hand) or panic?

  227. I made a Roman Shade for our dining room window with Warm Windows.
    It works great!
    The street side is the muslin lining.
    You’re supposed to use your own fashion fabric for the room side. I used WHITE fabric which sounds boring and it is. BUT, when the shade is rolled down, covering the window, the white fabric reflects the ambient room light, making the room brighter.

    This is something not often considered: white or pale drapes and wall coverings make the room less cave-like in low light conditions.

    The Warm Window shade works summer and winter; keeping in heat in the winter and repelling the sun during the summer.

    They are not hard to sew but you do need to use a sharp needle, BIG stitches (the biggest stitch setting your machine can handle) and you must sew SLOWLY. The hardest part was attaching the rings for the cording. I sewed them on by hand.

    Roman Shades are expensive to buy mainly because of the labor involved.

    If you don’t want to buy Warm Windows (it’s expensive!), many older home furnishing books provide instructions on making the Roman shade using muslin backing, inner lining of flannel, and the fashion fabric for the room side.

  228. @ jasper #217

    Read my posting about casement windows. We literally ran from aluminum windows – the thermal leakage is horrendous through aluminum. So we went retro and used old wood carcasses with damaged outer boxes, replacing the 3/4″ wood with treated 1-1/2″ – and then doing the dual panes using small mouldings to space the panes.The thicker outer box (where sash pulley sits) makes the refurbed windows stout and you can use them as framing support or elements…

    I think this might actually be a possible business for someone unafraid of work…

  229. @Industrial Alchemy #164, and Jason P.

    Wool just doesn’t feel good on my skin, and silk is out of my price range, so I’ve worn poly-pro underlayers a lot over the years. They’re cozy, economical and reasonably durable. However, they’re not durable against snagging or rubbing, so never wear poly-pro as a top layer. And a normal dryer temperature will ruin them instantly, so (even though a “delicates” temperature in a dryer should be okay in theory) I always line dry mine, or doorway-dry them on hangers.

  230. Denis (and others) – I see that JoAnn Fabrics is selling this today:
    Solarize Liner Fabric Craft Pack 22″ x 3/4 Yd, for $5.50 (half-price sale). It’s made by “Fairfield”, and apparently only available by mail-order (at least, it’s not in stock locally).

    Or, if you like the sample, you can get 22″ x 20 yards for $170. That would cover a lot of windows!

  231. Jon, Lovins has always been a frustration to me. He gets some things very right, and then goes right off the deep end — and not just chasing hydrogen bubbles. He’s a better promoter than analyst. You’re right, though, that some of what he’s done — looked at by someone less overoptimistic — is very worthwhile.

    Oilman2, in my experience, you can’t confront that head on. People who get all their opinions from the corporate media are taught, by the same corporate media, that their identity and value as human beings depend on their thinking only such thoughts as the corporate media give them, and if you try to talk about the media to them, they start babbling petunia-speak. (Do you recall the weird paralogic I always field when I criticize television?) The one strategy that seems to work is to hammer on cognitive dissonance until it snaps. The “green energy revolution” was supposed to make fossil fuels unnecessary, and yet those parts of the world most committed to the “green energy revolution” — Germany is one example, California is another — are in desperate straits because they need more fossil fuels than they can get. Take that cognitive dissonance and watch winter tighten his grip, and it may be possible to help some people shake off the mental shackles and grasp what was in front of them all along.

    Chris, I know. If things continue along their present path, the US southwest will be uninhabitable within a matter of decades and stay that way for centuries or millennia. Has anybody in your part of the world started thinking about building extra dams to catch those torrential rains, and turn them into power and irrigation water?

  232. @pygmycory, thanks for your reply and I’m glad to find a fellow walker and grocery uphill hauler here!

    On your note that many people could walk to the store but don’t, I agree. I hope with the younger generations (hello from a fellow 30-something) that more people will walk and use various forms of bicycles and e-bikes. After all, at some point the generations that come after us surely won’t be able to afford cars, and by then local governments won’t be able to keep up all the expensive car infrastructure either. I hope there’s a healthier world coming.

    @JMG, you’re not alone with your rolling cart! That’s standard in Central Europe regardless of age, if we’re talking about the same thing. Like a rolling suitcase, but the bag can stretch a lot.

  233. Walt F, I’m quite fond of drying sheets by hanging them over doors. It takes a couple of days for them to fully dry, but it works just fine when the line outside is out of commission due to weather or being in use by someone else. Which together is most of the time.

  234. Bai Dawei stated:

    ” …a society can’t deliberately downscale back to the level of a century ago, let us say.”

    That is probably true, but individuals, families and small groups certainly can.

    On a different note, JMG, regarding the increasingly uninhabitable US desert Southwest, what do you foresee for the (traditionally living) Hopi and Pueblo Indians? Do you think that they will manage to survive there, as they have for at least the past 800 years, even when most European-Americans-come-lately do not?

    PS: In regards to that monstrously wasteful house, still under construction, that I recently saw in Eagle River, Alaska, I did not get a photo of it, as I do not own or carry a personal tracking device cum electronic leash, a.k.a. an i-phone. But I may have to go back there with a camera, just to get a photo of the bloated monument to excrementalism for you — it really did indeed wonderfully epitomize the Age of Excess and Waste. I could easily imagine it as a Berchtesgaden 2.0 for somebody with an equally monstrous and overinflated ego, such as Der Hoch Klaun Schwab.

  235. Helen #119

    > Does anyone have any suggestions for cold feet?

    I have had cold feet for a couple decades, so have tried a number of things, with several flops. The experiments got expensive.

    The following works for me. I use this method year after year. The brand of heat therapy called Elasto-Gel (Elastogel) I consider the Cadillac of heat therapy — the product line is cushy and soft, holds heat evenly. Heavenly luxurious but expensive. If Elastogel is too expensive, there are cheaper substitutes like flax seed.

    Elastogel by Southwest Technologies ( ( ( Amazon and other medical supply companies have this product line.

    Buy one Elasto-Gel Mitten (“mitt”) for hands (TM7001) (get one to see if you like it).

    Have a small microwave oven handy, let’s say, in the next room over. Wear thick cotton socks (to help keep the Elastogel from picking up dirt from foot). From room temperature, stick one mitt in microwave oven for 45 seconds. Sit. Insert foot into mitt — toasty warm for 20 minutes. Re-stick mitt in microwave oven for 20 seconds. Sit. Insert foot for 20 minutes. Repeat ad infinitum. One time I had surgery, I had an Elastogel on the spot for four days straight — thorough healing in record time.

    Keep Elastogels from getting wet.

    If you like the Elastogel mitt, buy a second one. The reason why to have two mitts is to have both feet in its own Elastogel simultaneously — otherwise, one foot gets jealous when it is left out in cold, and you will have all-out war sibling (oh I mean foot-ling) rivalry to deal with.

    I have not been able to find an Elastogel in the shape of a foot — the heel sticks out — I haven’t solved this — I sorta stuff my whole foot into the mitt, and hope the seam holds. No problem if one has small feet. After searching off and on for years, a mitt is the closest I could find in shape of a foot. A seamstress could cut a large Elastogel to exact shape of a foot, then fashion a cover for it.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  236. More thoughts on windows.

    I have various window issues going on right now, so have talked with many local installers/sellers lately. This are getting harder for the consumer here as elsewhere. Many will no longer due repairs of any type. Others will not replace only one window, they want a minimum of 4, even if you only need one new one, not to mention the cost and delays.

    But, I did find a place where I could bring in a sash of an older double pane window of mine that needs new glazing. First, it helped alot that I took it off and brought it to them. Even so, they could not be sure initially if they could put new glazing. It seems that alot of new windows now are not designed to be able to put in new glass if it gets broken ! You are expected to throw out the whole sash and get a new sash with intact functioning glass. They called me next day, and they can get glazing for mine and ordered it. But, I have been very disturbed by the news. It is not environmental to get incrementally less air leakage for the price if the window is not repairable ! Imagine not being able to put in glass if it gets broken, which almost happened to me ( the seals in the double pane glass had failed)

    And, as far as sash replacement goes, if the window is not that old, likely you still wont be able to get a whole sash that is compatible. It turns out, what they think of as old, I dont. When I bought this house 24 years ago, the main operable windows were in bad shape and realy had to be replaced. I bought very nice windows, thinking it was a one time deal — wood double hung windows, metal clad on the outside due to the weather here, double pane low E argon filled, standard now but very “eco” then. The window industry thinks of my window age as very old. I have been trying for the past few months to figure out how to fix a few minor things, mostly on 2 sashes on the west side of the house due to the heat from the wildfire there. No-one so far has helped or answered questions — for that loose plastic trim on the side of the sash, can it be glued down or is it replaced with a new piece ? can I get a new piece ? can I get the specialized weather stripping on the bottom of the sash and in the window frame by the window ? On different sash, the metal thingy on the sash that hooks into the pulley in the frame is loose, it cant be tightened as it is a wood screw going into the wood frame and the wood is stripped. If I have to, I will go rouge and fix these issues outside of the window specialty sphere, but for now I am trying to see if they will tell me the proper fix. In general I think the manufacturer thinks that windows should be replaced at 25 years. The shops maybe have had all fix it old guys retire or dont see why they want to be in such a low margin fixing business, or both. SInce my windows are wood, structurally they are wood, I could finagle something, I could use weather stripping, off the shelf, and be modified as far as pulley system, or no pulley system and just prop open, I could put in sheet glass the old way with points and putty. That will not be an option later on if you get plastic windows.

    If your windows are sound, it does not make economic sense to replace your windows. You should seal air leakage around your windows, which may mean prying off inner or outer trim and insulating in the space between the window frame and the rough framing, and/or just caulk the heck out of the edges of inner and outer trim and dont worry about the convection currents in the space as the actual cracks letting air straight thru are a bigger issue. Make insulated curtains or shades. And, if you can, you can make storm windows, or the homemade double pane mentioned upthread, which is a type of storm window. In any case, despite what the window installers and lenders say, putting in new windows will not save enough energy to pay for the work, and even more so wont if you end up with windows you cannot repair !

  237. Here is a link for over at Green Wizards from my latest upgrade of a few areas of air sealing and insulation, when You have to do other repairs, look for these issues and fix them. It shows an example of a DIY way to insulate and unvented ceiling cavity, this is a legit documented thing to do. Right now is summer. while I was doing that ceiling, I measured a 50’F temperature difference between the ceiling cavity I had just insulated and the bare plywood inside of the roofing deck next to it. This is mostly due to the radiant barrier. But what I added is also R13 insulation barrier with air sealing that will keep convection currents from forming in there and transferring heat. I am sorry that the photos are all sideways, Dave is busy right now moving things to the new site I think.

    This way of insulating a ceiling cavity could be a thing the person with the finished attic could do, but it would require ripping off the ceiling drywall, so that is alot of waste if that drywall is otherwise good. The other thing to do would be to go to the Build it solar site and see how to do a dense pack of blown in cellulose into that ceiling cavity, this can be done by just making holes in the drywall that can be patched later.

  238. @ JMG

    I did buy that book on the recomendation from Gary Reysa author of the Build It Solar site, on his energy conservation page of links, he plugs the book and since he showed a photo or link of the first edition, that is the one I bought used, Likely the second edition is just as good

    ” Insulate and Weatherize
    Bruce Harley

    Very, very good book on techniques for improving home insulation, reducing air infiltration, and sealing ductwork. The most complete and technically correct reference I have found. ”

    He was featured in 3 articles in the Mother Earth News in 2007 showing all the energy conservation projects at his own home that cut his energy use 1/2, the half plan tab at the build it solar site has the articles. Photos and the cost and energy savings of it all from the bubble wrap on the single pane windows, to the crawl space insulation. Unfortunately, conservation is even more out of vogue now vs. 2007. Economic contraction makes everyone want to hear about saving money…..

  239. Some people here have commented on the death of Queen Elizabeth yesterday. I should not have been surprised at the event but I was. It’s been a painful moment, and feels very much like losing a beloved parent. Something very precious has been lost.

    I don’t think it will be business as usual after this. One of the impacts of profound events is that they often bring a raft of apparently unrelated changes with them via mechanisms that we do not fully understand. I believe we moved past the turning point some time ago, but perhaps this allows it to be acknowledged and instead of trying to carry on as usual, maybe the unthinkable becomes more widely thought.

  240. Resource for very inexpensive storm windows to install inside your window.

    First, if you are in New England you may be lucky enough to join in with the community builds to get yours,

    The instructions for building ones yourself are here

    These are using the shrink film, but instead of stapling that to the window and having to take off each year, it is applied on both sides of an inexpensive wood frame that can be removed and reused.

  241. The passing of Queen Elizabeth II well marks the end of an era, and not just for the UK. It gives me the shudders. Winter is coming indeed.

  242. To paraphrase Vaclav Smil’s criticism of renewable energy. “What we need in this world is a rational use of energy! Not efficiency gains used to make a car that take 6 minutes to walk around or lights so cheap you have houses with 100 LED’s outside!”

    I do hope that folks start to turn off their outside lights and we ration street light usage. I want to see the night sky again!

  243. Bei Dawei & Karl
    Thank you. It is late and you have saved me from trying to marshal my thoughts into a few paragraphs on the absurdity of EVs, wind and grid scale solar. Basically they need an entire fossil fuel fired industrial economy to be of any use. We are in such serious overshoot and people are desperately grabbing at any straw that they think might enable them to continue there present lifestyle by some other means.
    It is quite funny in a sick way. I am visiting in CA now, fortunately in the very narrow coastal strip that is not being baked by the current heat wave. One week after the illustrious governor announced that there would be no more petrol powered cars sold after 2035, he had to ask people not to charge their EVs in the evening because it would bring the grid down. Hey, this is California. Maybe they can run the grid on pixie dust. One sees a lot of Teslas here. They have begun to offend be as much as large pickup trucks. They are both the opposite sides of the same virtue signaling coin.
    JMG et al
    On another note: RIP QEII. She was a woman of honor and did her duty as she saw it. It seems typical that she appointed the new prime minister on the day before her death. She was not one to say ” Oh, you do it Charles. I am not feeling well” I was 12 when she was crowned and got the day off from school to watch it on television. She has represented a certain continuity in my life that I never thought about until she was gone. She seems to have been the last of the ” greatest generation” that I grew up respecting on a subconscious level, regardless of what I thought of them.
    I fear Charles will always be viewed as the interim king: the boomer who became king as a kind of retirement career. I wish him well.

  244. @Selkirk, Smc and JMG,

    I think I first encountered the phrase “the plural of anecdote is not data” back in the early-to-mid 2000’s, at the height of the “rational skeptic” movement on the Internet. It never made sense to me, since an anecdote is literally one data point, so the plural of anecdote is literally data.

    Out of curiosity I did some research on this today, and it turns out it’s a misquote; the original quote by political scientist Ray Wolfinger was “the plural of anecdote IS data” (emphasis in caps mine)!

    Not only that, but the original sense that it was deployed was *totally opposite* to how modern internet smart aleck “skeptics” misquote him:

    > “I said ‘The plural of anecdote is data’ some time in the 1969-70 academic year while teaching a graduate seminar at Stanford. The occasion was a student’s dismissal of a simple factual statement–by another student or me–as a mere anecdote. The quotation was my rejoinder. Since then I have missed few opportunities to quote myself. The only appearance in print that I can remember is Nelson Polsby’s accurate quotation and attribution in an article in PS: Political Science and Politics in 1993; I believe it was in the first issue of the year.”

  245. Thanks for your reply #197. I don’t know how it is in the US or elsewhere, but Netflix and other pay-TV has been used by the PMC in Britain since at least the post-2008 austerity period, as one of several sticks with which to beat the poor. It goes something like: these people – I’ve never heard the term Deplorables used but that’s what they imply – spend money on TV subscriptions and sit on the sofa for hours watching rubbish, eating junk food and drinking cans of beer then get fat and ill then expect us taxpayers to fund the NHS to make them well again, when they should take exercise and make healthy meals from fresh ingredients so they wouldn’t get ill and complain they are short of money.
    Sometimes I’ve heard it come out as fast and foam-flecked as that, though more often it’s spread out through a discussion about poverty and politics but with basically the same content. I’m beginning to hear the same in relation to the expected energy poverty in the coming winter. I suspect only proportion of such people would agree with Truss or vote Tory, but they are quite sure they know how everyone else should run their lives. Although most of the deplorables presumably don’t get this shale flung at them face-to-face, I suspect most are well aware of it. I know of several people who voted for Brexit and for Boris, mainly as a means of hitting back at this sort of attitude rather than in any hope of personal gain. As things get tougher I expect more and maybe nastier responses.

  246. @Walt F
    Winter cold bathing is an austere religious practice in Japan, and I can attest that at 55 degrees F you’ll do fine, but right after cold showering, put on gloves and a double layer of socks and fix up some hot tea. The cold water gets your motor humming and you feel warmer all day for it. You can wind up exhausting yourself, though, in which case take a nap under warm covers.
    Someone upthread mentioned the problem of being too hot. That is an issue I’ve been forced to confront for the first time this year. In Japan, heat stroke is quite common when temperatures exceed 35 degrees C. There are two typical cases: children at sporting events, who are under the direction of people with slower metabolisms so they don’t feel hot, and older people who just don’t realize it when they are getting too hot. A high premium is placed on forbearance and self-denial in Japan, so people are inclined just to tough it out, but fortunately publicity campaigns are being conducted each summer to warn people of the risk of heat stroke.
    If you spend time in Australia, too, they warn you that people have died from the heat when their car broke down. It’s best to stay where there is some sort of shade, like your car, and wait for help.
    In my case this year, I initially had a nice cold waterfall not too far away I could go to, but it turns out there is a guy living nearby with strange sexual tastes so I have had to stop going there. The river where I also bathed before has been too turbid and turbulent due to heavy rains in the next prefecture over, so I couldn’t use that. My relatives are aghast at the thought of swimming in the ocean due to hazards. So I started asking around about what the local options were. There was nothing. In the modern age, the streams are too polluted and diverted through concrete culverts. The ag ponds are off limits. At most there’s one public swimming pool per municipality. Everyone relies on air conditioning. My pride just won’t let me do that. I’ve never had to use an air conditioner in Japan so far, but it’s time for me to figure out how to cool down when we get serious heat and it puts too much strain on the grid and my body at the same time.
    A cold shower is not enough to cool me down. A cold bath might help, but my brother-in-law has a very slow metabolism, and does not want cold water in the bathtub.
    Thank heavens the weather has cooled down a little now. My eyes were constantly inflamed from sweat. Next year, I think I will invest in a little children’s inflatable plastic swimming pool.
    I’ll check through the comments and see if anyone else has brought up good ideas for dealing with heat.

  247. Hi JMG (and @ Alan #202 also),

    My talks with a Russian colleague I got to be good friends with eventually got to the topic of curtains. He was quite surprised by the trend, very common among the wealthy in Canada, for having no curtains. It also really surprised me, too as it strikes me as such a security risk, aside from the privacy issue, and I was happy to hear that it isn’t something done “around the world”. Our neighbourhood has gone from quite poor when we first moved here, with some working class, and retired middle class types too, to a mix of the same (but less of them) with some people who could afford paying 3, 4 (etc) times the housing prices as things went the way they’ve been going in real estate in the area. As a rule these people will put up no curtains on their windows, so they are in some house that came with a staggering price tag, sitting sometimes across from notoriously dangerous low rent apartment buildings, clearly visible to anyone walking by, and they will just never have any window coverings at all. It struck me as a profoundly bad idea always, but I come from a place where break ins and other sorts of violent home invasions are an expected reality, so I filed alongside bizarre behaviour, alongside the way people warm up their cars by leaving their engines running, with their keys in the ignitions, while they have a coffee inside.

    A Canadian guy I was talking to told me that he and another, a person with, let’s say suspect interests, spent a while during the early part of the pandemic just wandering rich neighbourhoods at night, sitting on the curb and watching the dramas play out in mansions by the lakeshore (obviously without curtains on any of them). He found it interesting that none of these homes had any art on the walls (he was an artist so had an interest in that), but mostly just enjoyed watching them stress out was the markets were in free fall. What else they might have been doing is anybody’s guess, but these are the things people invite on themselves with this sort of habit.

    I’m a big curtains person myself, usually double, a light one for when you want light through, and a heavier blackout one for the evenings or when you want to block the sun. I want to switch the light ones out for insulated window coverings, though. I need to get on that!


  248. To continue the thought a little, if you want to send the message: “nothing to rob here”, the vibe around these parts, from what I can tell, is a garbage bag taped to the window, or doing the same with a flattened old cardboard box.


  249. Speaking of basics and prioritizing heating the “rule of three” comes to mind

    You survive three weeks without food,
    three days without water,
    three hours without protection,
    three minutes without oxygen,
    and three seconds without hope

  250. @rod No, they are more like multi-millionaires (billionaires?) with a bit more power. The Queen used her power and influence to ensure legislation was amended, to suit her family and its wealth. One of the most significant being, exemption from The Health and Safety at Work Act (the Royal household employs 1200 people) which put her employees at risk, and meant the fire at Windsor was a lot more damaging than it might have been… and then they expected the taxpayer to pay for the work (until objections and protests changed that)! Clearly I’m a republican, but just to be clear, she seemed to be a nice enough person, who was genuinely trying to do what she thought best in her role (although “interesting times”, for the Royal Family, now and in the near future). And clearly this is a huge symbolic change for the United Kingdom, that will have significant ramifications. I suspect William is going to have to be very firm to ensure his father isn’t too lax. Apparently Andrew was going to be allowed to be present at an official event (after the latest, huge “scandal”) by Charles and the Queen, and William said if Andrew is going I won’t be going. Andrew wasn’t present!

    “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”
    George Orwell – Animal Farm

  251. @Johnny,
    You mentioned seeing bees acting strangely in your garden. I don’t know about your situation, but I think radiofrequency radiation (RFR) has been increasing in strength everywhere in the past two years. It might be what is causing what you witnessed. Lots of people have been noting this worldwide. I’ve been monitoring an urban area over the past year, measuring levels of RFR and making notes on the very sparse insect and bird life there. Most days I see no birds there at all and can easily count the number of insects I see in over an hour of walking around taking measurements. See Diana Kordas’s paper on the loss of insects and other fauna on the Greek island of Samos, which can be downloaded here:

  252. >a slightly exasperated comment aimed at the people around me who seem to forget they have perfectly functional legs

    I wonder when the electric shopping scooters that started quietly appearing in the late 80s will start to quietly disappear?

  253. Walt F, Put a pulley system in a utility room or a room you don’t use much. If you are in a modern house yes, the sheets will block the room, but so what, it’s only overnight, and you don’t use the room much! No worries about rain or birds! I put jeans on the radiators to finish them off. I’ve never used a dryer, and lived in a flat with three gay men, and we never had a problem getting our many important clubbing clothes dried 🙂 . A little easier in Glasgow where the gorgeous tenement flats with huge ceilings meant even sheets weren’t a problem!

  254. >If things continue along their present path, the US southwest will be uninhabitable within a matter of decades

    Speaking of droughts, there’s a really odd one in your corner of the world, JMG. From Maine to Rhode Island, the farmers are complaining about the lack of rain affecting their crops. I can’t help but think of your post a few weeks ago about how climate change would really play out, where the wet and dry belts of the world migrate north or south and/or merge.

    Too early to tell, I suppose, but it would be rather weird to see Massachusetts turn into something that resembles Colorado – scrubby and dry in the summer and snowy and dry in the winter.

  255. Before next summer comes…

    Okay, as for dealing with the heat, I’ve been curious about how people in Milan, Italy coped with the heat. The reasons for the Milan focus, are that a branch of my family, the Pardi’s hails from that part of the region. The second and more practical reason is that Cincinnati and Milan share the same kind of climate… and so I figured something could be learned from their culture, and tying it in with that Italian side of my family tree could be fun.

    So I found a few details that I thought I’d share:

    Riposo = Similar to the Spanish tradition of Siesta. An extended lunch break “of two to four hours during the hottest time of the day. Smaller shops, offices, and even some museums and large shopping centres put the shutters down around 1 pm each afternoon. Then, they reopen between 3.30 and 4.30 pm and stay open until 7:30 or in some cases until 8:00 pm. This is especially valid for the smaller Italian cities and towns.”

    The afternoon nap here also allows for energy for the later dinner and staying up late too!

    Head to the beach: In Ohio it’s not going to be salt water swimming with people laying about half nude in speedos, but we have our share of nice lakes and creek swimming holes. Some spring fed… maybe take some fishing gear along.

    Eat a gelato at the park and chill in the green: There is no reason to think there won’t be ice cream in the future. One of my Pardi relatives was a dude named Ice Cream Johnny and he got his name making ice cream for the people in the hills and farms around Frankfort, Kentucky. Now of course this will require the knowledge of how to keep ice in the hot summers, but this know-how was around before widespread electric refrigeration. The person who knows how to make gelato is going to have a lot of friends…

    Also, on the Americana side of things, who doesn’t love the roadside whippy dip? Putz’s is the one next to my neighborhood now, and the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s been a family business since 1938… so some retrovation could keep these going back on those levels too.

    Chill on the porticoe: Sit for a spell on the rocker on a porch with a glass of iced tea or some other refreshment. Say hi to your nieghbors. It would be nice to see some large stone porticos on public buildings near public squares. That’s on my new urbanist wishlist for the area 😉

    “They are like tunnels that flank partially or fully many main streets in Italy. The ground floor wall of the buildings encloses the portico on one side. The street-side of the portico consists of a long series of columns. The protruding top floor of the buildings provides the portico’s ceiling.

    Even on the hottest of days, a portico is a nice and cool environment. You can walk around town in the shadow of the porticoes, thus avoiding the blinding glare of the blazingly hot sun.

    The tradition of building porticoes in the Italian cities and towns is ancient. During your explorations of Italy, you will notice porticoes of many different eras and styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Neoclassical. Even many modern-day ones.

    Bologna, Padua, and Turin are the three cities in Italy and coincidentally the world with the longest total length of porticoes. They say that Bologna has 38 km of porticoes, Padua – 25 km, and Turin – 18 km.” [ ]

    Cold drinks: like the iced tea mentioned above. We can rediscover other confections and create new from our own terroir.

    Fountains: Make sure the public water fountain remains and keep topping off your bottle of water. Support your local water works.

    Eat light meals: fresh from your vegetable garden. Salad with pawpaw dressing anyone?

    Wear light clothing, sunglasses and a hat. If you wear longer but lighter cuts, you’ll also get less sun exposure. Head to the library and look for those Italian style books. Milan is a fashion capital after all… (but maybe the more retro classic stuff is better in this context!)

    Carry a fan or umbrella…

    I also learned that a lot of Italian cities become ghost towns during the hottest parts of summer, occupied only by the tourists and those feeding them…

    “The deadest day of all is the 15th August, Ferragosto. Absolutely everything is liable to close down. In an office and residential part of Rome one year I couldn’t even find food to buy, while computer servers all crashed as there was no-one left to maintain them. In an attempt to liven things up, towns sometimes put on Ferragosto entertainments such as firework displays or evening concerts in public squares, although there are few locals left to attend.” [ ]

    For those of us in relative close distance to the great lakes, this might be the time of year when you escape up to one. My wife and I did make it to Sandusky this year, on Lake Eerie. The place is already a wee destination spot, but I could see it becoming one more so again as people have to downshif their lifestyles. Similar places along the lakes I’m sure are already late summer destinations…

    I thought this was interesting…

    “People bring chairs down from their hot apartments and sit on the pavement to try to catch a breeze and the entire street can become a social event where everyone sits outside and chats until the wee hours of the night — it’s better than television and at least you keep cool.”

    and these tips:

    Hang a damp sheet over an open window to block the sun and create a cool breeze as the air passes through the damp cloth.

    Frequent cold quick showers

    And keep a spray bottle in the fridge and spritz your face, chest, neck and arms to cool your body down.

    Okay those are my notes on this… I’ll have to review these again come next spring.

  256. As decline speeds up there is another important consideration ,in addition to ways to minimize household energy use. That is, if your household will have energy utilities or utilities of any kind in the near future. My wife has been in public works ( and especially wastewater) her entire career and is often asked to speak at conventions of public water and wastewater utility managers. One of the things she talks about ( that drives the religion of progress folks crazy) is the coming age of utility triage. Much of this countries, power, gas, road, water and wastewater infrastructure was built out with free federal dollars. Now that most of it is aging ( badly) it needs significant maintenance or repair. But in many places the customers are too far apart, the landscape is too difficult, or resources and money are too scarce to do that. And mind you, this is during our current energy and easy money situation. It is inevitable that that many homeowners ( for any number of reasons) will find themselves triaged like the “goner” patient in an overloaded emergency room. This triage could take many forms. Asphalt roads being ground up and returned to gravel, small water districts losing their water source from an adjoining town, rolling blackouts, or power lines that just never seem to get fixed. Most at risk are rural properties in wooded and hilly areas with low housing density, especially in the west. If you are in such a situation prepare for the worse and sell now, if you are not up to off-the-grid living, or start seriously preparing for such a situation. There is a silver lining, many choice rural properties will lose power, water, fire insurance and sewer, so they will sell for cheap ( or just get abandoned).So if you are up to it, build your skills, stash of hand tools, and off-grid supplies while you bide your time waiting for that perfect “doom stead” on the cheap.

  257. About modern homes, McMansions and the exburbs. They were built based on cheap energy and cheap land. The one McMansion that I know the people has a monthly heating bill in 2018 of 2000 U.S. dollars. Not sure about now. As for the exburbs, people are stranded without cars and roads since you have to travel to where ever you need to go like groceries.

    On thrift stores, my son works in a local warehouse at Goodwill Industries in the D.C. area. Since this is where the rich and technical folks live, one would think that Goodwill would be overflowing with stuff. NOT SO. THEY HAD TO CUT THEIR STORE AND WAREHOUSE HOURS. He used to work a standard 50 hour week, now it is 35 hours. Also, they are cutting costs where ever they can since donations have dried up. He now allowed to wear his own clothes instead of a uniform.

    So underneath all that brave front lies a very frightened professional class, who are hanging on to what they have.

  258. Hi John Michael,

    You betcha: Snowy Hydro will not produce power until end of the decade, adding more pain to energy market woes.

    That’s on the err, biggerer scale of things down under.

    On a smaller scale, plenty of people in agriculture have worked out that getting water back into the soil is not a bad idea. That’s one of my aims here, and certainly the creek at the bottom of the property has been flowing well the last couple of years. The good thing is that all of the plants between here and there get a good drink of water too. It’s a complicated process, but not all that hard to understand. I reckon using the water you have, is better than the water you have to get access to.



  259. I suspect the Stormtrooper Speech, and before that the “Dark Brandon” memes, are part of a PR effort to appeal to The Kids by reinventing Joe Biden as Darth Vader.

    Joe’s big image problem is that he’s widely perceived as senile in the same way Nixon was perceived as sneaky and Ford as clumsy. By making him look like an Evil Overlord, they are hoping to increase his standing among young prospective voters who think Evil Overlords are cool and create a more intimidating and powerful public image among bystanders .

    Today promotional campaigns today are “data-driven,” which means they are built to hit certain numbers. Triumph of the Biden has a designated target audience and a clear objective: make the world perceive Biden as more powerful and less incompetent. Yes, trying to make Jar Jar Biden into a Sith is an idiotic idea. But when it comes to search engine and ad optimization, publicists and promoters will rely on The Algorithm and The Data and ignore The Common Sense every time.

  260. Here It Comes by James H. Kunstler

    Sample: “Labor Day is in the rearview mirror and the long, sickening slide into we-know-not-what (but it can’t-be-good) commences! Well, there are a few things we know, but only in the shaggy outlines because the folks who are supposed to inform us — the news media, the public health gang — like to keep the real action behind a scrim of unicorns cavorting through a rainbow-lit candyland. Of course, we are not all the idiots they want us to be.

    Here’s one thing we sort of know: you-all vaxx-happy Wokesters are about to have a new BA-5 bivalent booster laid on you. The Darwin Award season has been extended at least another six months! You’ll be glad to hear it’s been tested in a trial involving eight lab mice, and quickly approved by our FDA. The bad news is that all eight mice got Covid. The worse news is that the booster was wildly inconsistent in producing antibodies among the eight identical mice, meaning the ultimate effect on their immune systems is a crap-shoot — but, hey, they’re only mice.”

  261. About the Biden Philly thing. I felt disappointed in myself for tuning that out within a minute or so and walking away. Like dumbing myself down… But all artsy-fartsy carrionesque staging aside, Biden’s campaign speech instantly felt like being hit with all the stages of being love bombed at once without the opening salvo of love bombing.

    For keeping warm without fossil fuels: If you or your children don’t have gloves, or an extra pair, put socks over your hands. When seated motionless, place a dry towel under your feet and on your lap. If you heat with wood, put up three seasons worth in case you are sick or injured on year. Have enough12 hour hand warmers for everyone plus 30% for a three-day period at the ready. place them over your heart and lumbar vertebrae with a cotton shirt between them and your flesh. These warmers can be purchased at pajama land (wal-mart) in the spring for 70-90% off. And naturally, invite neighbors into your home and have all children and pets huddle up and sleep together in the same spot. The more bodies in any space, even in rows of chairs around some small heat source, the more comforting heat is shared.

    Black Tuna and Hand

  262. Some recent news:

    – AdBlue is a side product of fertilizer production, something in the way of urine acid. It filters pollutants from modern diesel engines.
    Without them, they won’t run.

    Interestingly enough, the German department of Norwegian fertilizer producer Yara already reduced production by 40% in 2021 already, due to high gas prices.

    – Russia’s military gear and microchips:
    Western pages say Russians cannot produce microchips, therefore they install chips they scrap from household appliances like Washing Machines.
    Also, they are unable to produce good military gear.
    Defence View, a blog from India, says somewhat otherwise:
    Apparently, the guided rockets do not NEED a newer chip than say 1991 in many occasions. Also, where needed in radar systems and automatized units,
    Russia substitutes advanced microchips with specialized analog chips and radio frequency chips.
    Apart from that, an article in Asia Times from a Westpoint academy guy says russian gear and war machinery is often ripped from old parts and patched together.
    After all, the Soviet Industrial Economy has collapsed and capacities are gone.
    From alt media I read that one reason why Russia seems to prevail is superior firepower.
    Now they are obviously buying ammunition from North Korea.

    It’s a material battle between West and East.
    The West has the shinier gadgets, but as we heard, those do not always guarantee victory.
    Russia has the resources, China the low to medium industry. The US up to now has Saudi Arabia as supplier, some domestic gas production and Russia as trading partner.
    Europe and the US together with Taiwan, S Korea and Japan retain the high tech industry.
    Concerning microchips: some chip industry websites report China to have found a way to produce 7nm chips with older equipment. The process is said to be more expensive
    and not scaled up to this day, still the KP of China can draw an advantage of that accepting higher cost. Russia has chip factory production, Mikron, they bought equipment for 93nm, about the commercial standard of 2006. A company in the Netherlands has the monopoly on lithographs, one important part of chip factory equipment.
    Many other components come from an array of specialized industries, apparently in the West.

    I wonder how much damage there is to the Russian economy due to lack of specialized gear and components from the West.
    Are Russians unable to continue refining and exploring their subterranean resources?
    Commenter Oilman at some point explained that some Western oil gear is merely digitally automatized, you can do it with more people and manual labor otherwise as well.
    Apparently Russia lacks the capacity to produce turbines by itself.
    At least in 2010 I was told by somebody versed that modern aircraft and other turbines are the product of +100 yrs of material experience held by several big companies:
    Mercedes, Rolls Royce, General Motors…not even a single rotor blade could be manufactured like that in China. The complexity of global society makes it that an established industrial network still trumps an emerged industrial nation in terms of producing complexity.
    “Could other nations not emulate manufacturing such products?” I asked. The answer was: not quite, they could only produce sloppy products with high fuel use and
    low safety and stability.

    Interesting! But maybe at some point, the lower complexity of the East may trump the higher complexity of the West, which happens to be also energy starved.
    So motors and turbines may be an achilles heel for Russia.
    If Europe collapses, will China try to take all the experienced industrial specialists and engineers from us, maybe even buying specialised factory parts left abandoned in the EU. Or extorting them.

  263. @Bofur, #181:

    Exactly. I exercise routinely, as well–primarily calisthenics–but the idea of heedlessly burning thousands upon thousands of calories would seem ill-advised in an energy-restricted world, where every calorie counts. I think back on my relatives from the old world, all of whom were employed in physical labor of one kind or another (no office work in WW2-era Med), and they all were generally fit (and exceedingly long-lived) without having to run for miles and miles at a time…indeed, they would’ve likely scoffed at such an idea, unless there was some kind of emergency.


  264. @JMG (and Brazilians among the commentariat)

    Is it true that Brazil is one of the leading countries when it comes to biofuels and other biomass-based energy sources? At least, that’s the impression I got while looking up the literature. But then, far too often, academia is totally disconnected from reality, hence my question. These will obviously not be a ‘substitute’ for fossil fuels, but could help us navigate the transition period to a post-industrial world.

  265. JMG, “petunia speak”? Among gardeners, the new, improved ‘tunias are affectionately known as “mutant blobs of color”. There are seeds available for some of the early 20thC varieties which apparently were not bad, and even fragrant.

    Malcolm Kyeyune has some articles at Unherd again. Frugal readers can sneak in under the paywall at the first of any month up until they run into the monthly limit.

  266. I was just going to add a couple of things on the fossil fuel supply issue. These very optimistic estimates of the amount of coal available overlook one thing ( at least).The remaining coal is mostly of fairly low grade and quite diffuse. It relies on huge diesel powered machines to mine and transport it. Once the oil peaks, and diesel seems to be the part of the mix in greatest shortage, a lot of that coal will be stranded. Converting the machinery to run on coal to liquid will take a large part of the product. This isn’t stuff you can just send in the 7 dwarfs with their picks and shovels for.
    On the oil: in the early 2000s they were spending more and more money on exploration and finding less and less oil. Now they are basically spending nothing on it and finding almost no oil. The oil companies’ profits are all going into dividends and stock buy backs. In Europe the banks won’t loan on fossil fuel projects. In the US they are demanding tighter and tighter standards on what they will loan on. Much of the remaining oil that is counted as probable reserves is deep water, arctic, or somehow difficult to access. The companies don’t want to invest a lot of money in these projects unless they are guaranteed a good return. There are also problems finding drilling equipment, which has gone way up in price, and competent workers.
    With natural gas there are issues of pipelines, or liquification, transport and regasification. Lots of pieces to the puzzle, and perhaps the dog has eaten some of them.

  267. JMG, perhaps this is too late, and off topic, but….do you think that the death of Queen Elizabeth is what all those mundane astrology mentions of the death of a major public figure was referring to?

  268. Hello Troy (#212) and Bei (#238)

    Part of the discourse that is missing is the longevity of some of the items going into or could go into an EV. I saw a graph of the cycle life of A123 batteries (Lithium Iron Phosphate chemistry) about 15 years ago where the cycle life was about 7,000 cycles. I still am wary of that graph but if true and the batteries comprise a pack with a 300 mile range, that’s about 2 million miles of usage or 2 lifetimes of driving (2 – 50 years x 20K miles a year of driving) on that pack (but try that without an accident).

    The bearings on an electric motor are estimated to be needing replacement once every million miles. Again, this is a lifetime of driving without an accident. Internal Combustion Engine cars wear out a lot quicker.

    The weak spot in all this are the electronics. Power conversion electronics get hot and wear out. They need to be beefed up. Still, we have reports of Tesla EVs going 300K to 500K miles on the original electronics. We’ve still “early” in EV development.

    With the regards to mining the materials, copper, lithium, iron and phosphorus are fairly common minerals and theoretically only need to be used once per driver lifetime. 500,000 pounds of what material(s)? We still make a lot of earth moving trucks and we still do produce a lot of diesel. The lithium based batteries are still expensive. We’re still trying to develop better and cheaper batteries.

    I think my main concern about **NOT** pursuing a solar/wind turbine renewable based energy system is that we as humans will turn to burning wood. In The Oil Drum, there were articles about using wood and **how long** the supply would last. It ranged by state(?) from a half year to around 20 to 40(?) years. During last oil embargo of the late 70’s and early 80’s, a lot of people turned to burning wood in the SE USA. The smoke was horrendous and there were many old “beater” pickup trucks on the sides of the roads loaded down with firewood and flat tires or other mechanical problems. The TVA did a study and found that the air pollution would reach dangerous levels if there were more than 150 homes per square mile burning wood.

    **I personally do not want to go through that again!!!** So yes, I am rooting for advancements in solar cells, battery storage, and better electronics. Both from an environmental point of view and from a way to ease on into the Long Descent.

    From what I have read, we are headed toward dispersed generating systems. I idea is that I have enough roof and yard space to generate the electricity my household needs. The electricity that is not used gets stored until it is needed. The big however, is that sun does not always shine or clouds could blanket a large area of solar production. The amount produced in winter is about half that which is produced in summer. If such systems are tied to the grid, what happens in winter when there is more demand than supply? What happens in summer when there is more supply than demand (eventually?). Lots of variables and lots of issues to address.

    On a personal basis, my 5kw set of panels (4.4 kw effective) generates an annual average of 22kwh per day. In the depths of winter, I produce about 300 to 400 kwh per month (January) and 600 to slightly over 700 kwh in the summer (July). In winter, I produce a factor of 4 to 7 times less than demand due to it being cold, cloudier, and the kids were home, etc). In summer, I’m close to break even or just slightly greater production than demand. My system is grid tied and I have no battery back up.

    Between conservation measures such as inside thermal shutters for windows, added insulation, etc. and advancements in renewable technologies. I think solar is doable especially in the SE to SW USA. But we will see. I think it will need a change in national mindset, further advancements in renewable electrical generation, storage, and usage along with distribution policies and regulations we can live with. Lots of challenges.

  269. If nobody’s posted this yet, today’s New York Times had an article devoted to King Charles. The gist of it was that the ideas people mocked him for during the Decades of Excess seem like plain common sense now, and that he’s aged into a person who can take the reins and do well. They did note that he could never choose his advisors wisely, and trusted them unduly.

    Finally, to sidestep the England-vs-Britain-and-who’s British discussion, his mother was the very heart and soul of England for 70 years, and probably even longer as a young princess. That is was given to her to preside over the decline and fall of the British Empire was a hard fate to have dumped in her lap, but she rose to the occasion in true Guardian fashion just by being herself. Rest in peace.

  270. @Johnny (#261),

    Yes, yes, yes! I agree with your Russian friend completely!

    It simply boggles my mind that so many people nowadays refuse to cover their (over-large) windows at night. Aside from the huge energy loss due to radiative cooling, I just cannot grasp how they can tolerate the pure loss of privacy inherent in this practice. It is actually creepy to me! But I guess it just goes along with the general disregard for privacy, even one’s own, that prevails in this blinkered, naive, and ignorant digital age.

  271. @Johnny re: “I’m a big curtains person myself, usually double, a light one for when you want light through, and a heavier blackout one for the evenings or when you want to block the sun. I want to switch the light ones out for insulated window coverings, though. I need to get on that!”

    That’s what I always had on the big windows when I had a house. Either the light curtains or the honeycomb blinds, and the insulated drapes that weren’t quite blackout curtains but came close.

  272. @Owen – as someone who from time to time has actually been physically unable to walk, I hope they do not disappear soon. Limping along in a grocery store on crutches while trying to push a grocery cart is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

  273. Viduraawakened
    American corn ethanol has an EROI of about 1 and is useless for anything but shoveling pork into rich farmers pockets. Brazilian and other sugarcane ethanol can have a much higher eroi, up to maybe 5 or 6.

  274. JMG,

    In your reply to G Wang about achieving transcendence, you wrote

    „The door is open right now“

    Is that supposed to mean that the door is always open, we could just walk through it right now if we wanted/were able to?

    Or does it mean that right now is a special opportunity – and if so, which one?


  275. This is the warm window quilted window insulation material at Jo Ann Fabrics

    Jo Ann fabrics and other fabric stores also have other, more light weight radiant barrier material, Insul bright, to sew with, but it is not the same, I have used Insul bright for lining sewn hot pads, which is a great use for it.

    Link to the Manufacturer, this page has the links to detailed instructions for a few easy window shades, also on their site are links to find places to buy warm windows

    Link to Cozy Curtains, they sell warm windows fabric and other supplies and kits to make shades and also have a couple of the instruction videos

  276. Germany’s green economics minister Habeck gets quite a bad press.

    On a TV Show (“Maischberger”) he declares that energy intensive businesses like bakeries do not go insolvent when they stop producing. The political TV host ridicules him, and he himself.

    And Sweden and Norway also threatened to cap their energy relations with Germany, because Habeck denied three nuclear plants to generate further, while the papers claim electricity in Sweden and Norway gets more expensive domestically due to export to Germany:

    Branches of great financial firms like JP Morgan deliberate moving their locations to other European countries from Frankfurt, in case of a black out.

    Meanwhile Vienna experiences a huge hole in the financial business of its main energy provider. Abstract value was lost through speculation, namely shorting on energy prices – expecting them to diminish in the future.

    I suppose, what has shifted is some assets and control of assets, while in a material sense, the promise energy isn’t there anymore.

    Roll on mighty diesel machines! Build uncomely structures while you can.

    My software company in its glass building by the way of energy does the following in summertime:
    lower curtains (to shield from heat), cool interior with water in pipes, and turn on the office lights, because with curtains down, it is too dark.

    This is another grand example of some genius planning.

    I intend to buy a lantern, because I have candles. that will probably save some electricity bills.

  277. @ Curt #279

    I wonder how much damage there is to the Russian economy due to lack of specialized gear and components from the West.

    Doubtful very little damage as most of the world is still trading with them, therefore anything they can’t get directly they can certainly source indirectly. In the meantime the sanctions are just accelerating their independence & resilience.

  278. @JMG,

    “… Lovins has always been a frustration to me.”

    Are we talking about Amory Lovins? Wow, he’s been around for a long time – I saw him speak at a conference in the early 80’s, in his Rocky Mountain Institute days. In one incarnation he was very vocally anti-nuke, and had a couple of zinger quotes that I’ve never forgotten:

    “Nuclear energy is a future technology whose time has past.”


    “Splitting atoms to make commercial electricity is like using a chainsaw to cut butter.”

  279. For those looking to hang dry clothes but without a good outdoor location, consider folding racks and the “Sheila Maid” – a ceiling mounted rack that goes up and down with a pulley. The latter dries clothes more quickly than a folding rack, because hot air rises to the ceiling.

  280. @Disc-writes #5 Did you try Zonneplan ( I’m Dutch too and got solar panels early this year from them. They were the only one of 3 companies that bothered to reply swiftly to my inquiry but gave good service and a good price. Perhaps they still take orders.

  281. Atmospheric River #249

    > windows


    Around here, several enterprising construction-oriented men have started home-based businesses in the category of “handyman.” Handy(wo)men fill in the gaps between “big business” and “the consumer.” Depending on the experience and talents of the particular handyman, they do everything from plumbing to hanging cathedral hall (spanning the first and second floors) window-coverings to cleaning gutters to patching drywall to painting to fixing a washing machine to hanging a clothesline. They bring their own tools.

    In this region, handymen price themselves reasonably. Not so in California — expect to pay through the nose for even the smallest thing ($ hundreds). California workers assume that if a person owns a house, they are cash-rich as well. They do not recognize house-poor (own house-$0 cash).

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  282. Atmospheric River #249

    > window glazing


    Three suggestions.

    Either find a glazer, or an aforementioned handy(wo)man. I would venture that a handy(wo)man could help jury-rig your existing troublesome window(s). If a handy(wo)man knows her stuff, she is experienced at improvising. Residents having to improvise is becoming increasingly common.

    Or — and I never knew this until recently — but there is such a thing as clear/transparent duct tape. As on the PBS TV show “The Red Green Show,” duct tape is a man’s best friend. Worse comes to worse, use duct tape‼️

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  283. Atmospheric River #249

    > window glazing

    You could keep the existing window as is, then, to size, build a cheap-wooden frame, maybe 2-inches wide and 0.5-inch to 1-inch high, with a piece of glass inside it. Attach this wooden-frame-with-glass to the existing window using clear duct tape. There would be an air-pocket between the two panes of glass. Hang a window covering like lace over the window, and no-one would be the wiser.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  284. Some tips to add that I haven’t seen mentioned, one on warming one’s feet and hands, the other on dealing with summer heat.

    I used to have trouble with my hands and feet going white from the cold, sometimes even in warmish spring and autumn weather, even with wearing wool socks and warm slippers on my feet and fingerless gloves and with wearing as much as five layers of clothes above the waist and below the neck, including two layers of wool sweaters, in a 62 to 64F house in winter, even though the house has been sealed and insulated and is much less drafty than most. If I’d been in an MD’s examination room and mentioned it, I probably would have been diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease. But then, after I worked the Awakening the Inner Power exercises in our gracious host’s Dolmen Arch course during and beyond Grade 4, I noticed that I almost never had my hands and/or feet go white again even on the coldest days of winter even in a 64F house. I’m still wearing the wool socks and warm slippers during heating season and sometimes fingerless gloves, but my feet and hands are warmer and I don’t have Raynaud’s disease symptoms anymore. Plus I can get by on four or sometimes three layers of clothes in the winter in that 64F house. The Dolmen Arch book is in paperback on our host’s Bookshop site, if you’re interested. Of course there is no attempt to practice medicine or give medical advice in this comment.

    For summer heat and humidity – and I live in the St. Louis, MO area, so we have it – I find that ventilation is key to avoiding AC as long as possible. We found by experimentation that it’s better to keep the windows open all the time in hot weather rather than open them only at night, that we felt better in a well-ventilated house even if it’s hotter. We do open the doors to both screen porches to allow more air to move through before around 9am and after about 8pm during hot weather. We can generally avoid AC until nighttime lows go to about 75F or above and daytime highs go to 95F and above.

    For sleeping, if electricity is available, a small box or oscillating fan blowing directly on me at night aids sleeping on the warmest nights before we turn on the AC. No need for a ceiling fan; the small fans are a lot cheaper, and apartment-dwellers can use them. Eric Brende wrote in *Better Off* that he and his wife survived Missouri summer nights without AC by sleeping with their heads at the foot of the bed, where the breeze coming into the windows hit their bodies most directly, instead of sleeping with their heads at the headboards next to the wall, where the air is still. I’ve tried this, and it helps.

  285. Cs2, I think our variety is a little different, but you can judge that for yourself. This is the sort of thing I use to haul groceries:

    Alan, I have no idea. I know there have been catastrophic droughts in the southwest in the past, some of which the native peoples survived, and others of which left permanently abandoned pueblos behind. In the present case? I simply don’t know. As for the monument to absurdity, if you do have the chance to carry a camera on your next hike, I’d be delighted.

    Atmospheric, so noted. I’ll definitely have a look.

    Andy, thanks for this. One hopeful point that comes to mind is that the new King for many years put a lot of energy into supporting organic farming, energy conservation, and human-scale architecture. It’s just possible that he’s come to the throne at the right time, and can remind the new government that, you know, there’s something you can do when you have an energy shortage other than bluster and whine…

    Michael, I ain’t arguing.

    Carlos, many thanks for this! The canard “the plural of anecdote is not data” has always gotten me riled up, partly because it’s wrong, and partly because it’s so systematically used by pseudoskeptics to dismiss data points that they don’t want to deal with.

    Robert, one of the things that keeps me shaking my head is precisely the way that the managerial class keeps putting its habit of sneering at the poor ahead of its own survival. Brexit and the recent sequence of Tory victories should have taught them that it’s a self-defeating approach, but they just keep on doubling down. You’re right that more and nastier responses are likely.

    Zak, it baffles me too, but then I avoid both of them and have no complaints about my life.

    Johnny, that’s bizarre. Seriously, off-the-scale bizarre. No window coverings? So there you are, stark naked in your bedroom, and passersby on the street are pointing and giggling?

    Quentin, a useful rule!

    Justin, I highly recommend it.

    Owen, we’ll see what happens in the long run. In the short to middle term, weird variations in rainfall and temperature can be expected as the climate lurches about.

    Justin, fascinating. I didn’t know about most of these.

    Clay, yep. May I preen myself briefly? I’ve been blogging about that process since 2006. 🙂

    Neptunesdolphins, thanks for this. The data point from Goodwill is especially fascinating.

    Chris, glad to hear that people are getting busy. A little help from swales, storage ponds, and the like could make all that water an advantage.

    Kenaz, doubtless. I’m hearing, way off in the distance, the voice of Robby Mook saying, “The data run counter to your anecdotes”…

    Viduraawakened, I’ll leave that to my Brazilian readers to discuss.

    Mary, sorry for that. It’s a sidelong reference to extreme irrationality — think “2 + 2 = Petunia.”

    Lydia, I’m quite sure of it.

    Patricia M, interesting. This would be a very good time for him to push conservation again…

    Milkyway, the door is always open. It was open before time began and it will remain open when time is over.

    Curt, Habeck deserves as much bad press as he can get. And here I thought our politicians were clueless about economics!

    Sgage, that’s him. He was dead right, too. The place where he tripped up was the same place most of the green thinkers of his generation tripped up: he never managed to grasp that there’s no way to maintain current habits of energy use on solely sustainable sources, or if he did, he panicked and backed away from the necessary conclusion.

  286. #286 I wonder if the reason you see massive windows without curtains or blinds, is the occupants are so self-absorbed that they don’t really think of the people outside who might look into their living room as actually real in the sense of being people like them?

  287. @ Northwind #299. You dont deal with broken glazing by adding an interior storm window, but thanks for the thought. Equally, “clear duct tape” sounds like an awful idea to patch a broken window with given the winter weather out here. It is realy important to not get rain into the window frame or the house framing so as to not have rot and mold. Broken glazing has to be taken out and new glazing installed so that the window remains weathertight. And, like I said, if official sources of double pane glazing made to fit a particular sash becomes unavailable, why then I can just get a piece of sheet glass cut to the correct size and put it in the old school way with points and putty, I have done so years ago. Seems like we are not “quite” there yet. but awful close ! (And dont worry, They are replacing my glazing on that window now as we speak, remember ? )

    My point is that my current experience should be a cautionary tale. For someone new to the market for windows now, maybe dont buy new if you dont absolutely have to, if you do, dont buy plastic(vinyl) as then you cannot repair yourself in the future if you have to, and be aware that the window manufacturers do not, in most cases, consider even the glazing repairable, in many cases now I am told they replace the whole sash, and only during the warranty period they specify (if they dont go out of business in the meantime as the world takes its current stair step down) and after this short warranty period, if it makes it that far, expect to be on your own, so keep this in mind when making purchase decisions.

  288. @ Owen #270

    The drought up here in Northern New Hampshire is by no means as bad as out west but rainfall has gotten more erratic with the southern half of my state being affected the hardest. When decent rain does come, it’s often in a rapid burst rather than spreading out over 2 or 3 days. The last weather which went through the other day dropped two and a quarter inches according to my rain gauge, the most I’ve seen from one storm this summer but fortunately this time it spread out over 36 hours giving it a chance to soak in.

    I’ve heard at least one farmer at our local farmers market complaining about the erratic moisture which has been ongoing for at least five years, probably longer. Water restrictions are occurring more frequently, and brush fires are a constant concern. No large wildfires yet, but it could potentially happen if this dry spell goes on. Not a fun thing to look forward to.

  289. @ PeterEV #xxx

    Part of the discourse that is missing is the longevity of some of the items going into or could go into an EV.

    Doesn’t matter. There’s simply not enough raw materials available to put everyone into EVs let alone build the infrastructure to support them… even if that infrastructure is still fossil fueled, which would arguably be a net negative overall.

    Unfortunately, windmills and solar arrays can’t replace anything as their EREOI is already trending towards zero as the cost of the fossil fuels used to build & maintain them rise, and their useful life is way too short in comparison to nuke/hyrdo/coal/gas powerplants.

    With the regards to mining the materials, copper, lithium, iron and phosphorus are fairly common minerals and theoretically only need to be used once per driver lifetime.

    Common in use, not so common in supply. We’re likely near or past peak economic mineral production alongside fossil fuels, and the latter’s costs further shrink the economics of the former. Best investment thesis going forward involves resources.

  290. Our governments are not going to help us; they are driving straight towards a cliff.

    The US continues to drain its Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The new UK Prime Minister wants to double down on North Sea oil (in decline), fracking (very fast decline plus earthquakes), and nuclear plants (years to build). Continental Europe is even worse off.

    When we fly over the cliff it will be every man, and nation, for themselves. Good luck this winter.

  291. @JMG,

    “The place where he tripped up was the same place most of the green thinkers of his generation tripped up: he never managed to grasp that there’s no way to maintain current habits of energy use on solely sustainable sources, or if he did, he panicked and backed away from the necessary conclusion.”

    Yes. When I perceived that he had ‘tripped up’, I stopped paying much attention to him. Such faith in Progress and Technology! And yes, so many promising thinkers and interesting paths forward just sort of fizzled out at that time. I am still trying to figure out what happened as the 70’s moved into the 80’s. The Reagan Counterrevolution was far reaching. Some just plain sold out (looking at you, Stewart Brand). Some I think actually came to the brink of seeing the reality of the situation and, as you say, basically panicked and backed away. In fact, sometimes that’s what I think happened to American society at large. Came to the edge, looked over, trying to figure out how to deal, started to panic, and then an avuncular character with a soothing voice came along spouting ‘morning in America’ and gave everyone an excuse to just forget about limits.

    And I think the whole computer thing plays into this, too. It came on strong during the 80’s. As the technology developed, and made a lot of people very wealthy, and nothing commands respect in this country like great wealth. Tech would solve everything! And the culture started to seriously confuse virtual with actual.

    And that’s where it stands today.

  292. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, there’s nothing new about any of that stuff. The dirty little secret is that if you can import water, seeds, fertilisers or whatever, yields are higher. It really got down to the economics of the situation, but that’s going away and inputs are more expensive, including water. And my gut feeling is that we’ll all run short, long before we’ll run out. People don’t necessarily want to deal with that arrangement, and I can understand that.

    As to this week’s topic, the climate here has a variance of temperatures between -2’C / 28’F to a maximum of 45’C / 113’F, and I drew the line at installing AC. You won’t find it here. The house is well insulated and deep verandas mostly shade the external walls and windows. Cross flow ventilation is a possibility. No system is perfect, good enough is an admirable goal.

    My experience of the 1970’s was similar to yours. In these days of extremes, people forget their roots (or perhaps don’t want to recall them). But back then, I recall that only a single room in a house was heated, you just dealt. And AC was not heard of, again you just dealt. I don’t recall anyone complaining about it back then, the complaints seem to be coming from the present.

    You know, I encountered someone a few months ago banging on about the Ukraine situation, which I won’t go into. They were irate and it was a first class high emotional state dummy spit. So you see, they were older and the lady’s father had fought in WWII and suffered. My gut feeling, after much cogitation was that she had an underlying belief system which suggested that if we’d sacrificed that much back then, how dare it get to where it is today. The idea of conservation of wins and maintenance of the status quo, hadn’t even crossed her mind, but there you go. I tend to believe that a lot of the noise we hear about loss of this and that, is that we’re going backwards, people know it, and the fear of loss of perquisites far exceeds the reality. It’s really deeply sad the old greenies gave up and settled on nukes as a least worst option. Where is gumption to be found today? It’s a fun challenge trying to navigate this world, and sure, I’ll probably fail, but you know it’s easier to do this stuff when you can fall back easily, regroup, then trying something else – not so easy to do when resources and energy are tighter. But you know, what do I know, the cool kids are spruiking nukes.



  293. Alan – You may not want to carry one of the modern “smart-phone” tracking devices, but now that 3G mobile telephony service has been replaced with 4G/5G, you may find that an old 3G “phone” is still a very serviceable camera, even though you can’t make phone calls with it. You may need a USB cable to move the pictures between the camera and a host computer with Internet access.

  294. For those looking for better clothesline options, I recently installed this: and am completely happy with it. It is built incredibly solidly and makes line drying much more convenient.

    I had previously used a simple cord strung between my back porch and an oak tree, but unfortunately the fire ants found this to be a very convenient highway for their own business and after the second time my husband got bites from them hiding in his clothing, he vetoed line drying until I got the umbrella system.

  295. Jeff, it can be every community, neighborhood, church, and extended family for themselves and their neighbors, you know. The sooner people get to work on this, the more likely that sort of outcome becomes.

    Sgage, yep. I remember the panicked backpedaling painfully well. Off in the realm of might-have-beens is an alternate future where we collectively demonstrated some guts.

    Chris, I’ve seen the same sort of thinking in operation. It’s our old friend the myth of progress: once any given point has been passed, how dare you suggest that we could end up there again? And here we are.

    Breanna, thanks for this. Good to know that they’re still made.

  296. By the way, I’ve fielded several posts from brand-new commenters who seemed to be interested solely in posting a sales pitch for a more or less green product. Those are fine from regulars, and I’ll take ’em from newcomers to the list who also contribute to the discussion, but if you’re just shilling for a company, please don’t waste my time. This is a space for discussion among human beings, not for sales pitches from corporate flacks, and I will ban repeat offenders. ‘Nuf said!

  297. I want to defend grocery store go-carts. If you ever have foot surgery, you’ll think they’re one of the best uses of electricity ever!

  298. @Northwind Grandma #73:

    We, as Americans, need to regain what we lost prior to LBJ. The Great Society was (and is) cock-and-bull — the money went/goes to grifters💸. We need to stop “do-ferring” (do for me) and stop “the gimmees” (give me this; give me that) and get back to doing for oneself. If one doesn’t provide for oneself-and-for-loved ones, it doesn’t magically “get provided by others.”

    I am in my mid-to-late sixties myself, and I know how you feel. I, too, was raised to regard welfare dependency with horror, and to believe that such fundamentally dishonored a man. I still feel that way today.

    However, I read this in the “psotcards from Barsoom” Substack blog:

    Western civilization depends on the widespread perception that there are rules, that those rules are fair, and that if we all play by them we can all have a decent life. Diversity, equity, and inclusion has put that perception to the sword. When it’s gone, there’s no longer a cohesive social order in which we all work together for personal and collective benefit. There’s just a carcass from which you’d best strip what meat you can before it rots.

    It isn’t just my brother who’s happy to advance his familial finances by exploiting this system. Most of the young guys I know, the ones who understand the full dimensions of the anti-justice that’s been foisted on us, have exactly zero loyalty to the system and are dead set on extracting whatever benefits they can from it, with no intention of doing anything more than they absolutely have to to feed back into it. This generally takes the form of finding ways to get whatever monetary benefits they can from the social welfare state. There’s a stark contrast with the ethic of previous generations, for whom reliance on the welfare system was shameful, and who therefore wanted to avoid even the appearance of freeloading. It’s not that the younger guys don’t understand that a system weighed down with parasitism must ultimately collapse. They understand that very well. That’s the point. They don’t see that system as their system: it’s a system controlled by their sworn enemies, who have repeatedly and publicly declared their intention to marginalize and displace them. The choice they have is between being hardworking taxpayers, whose taxes get diverted to supporting the burgeoning families of their replacements while their hard work is ignored in favour of promoting said replacements … or instead, maximizing whatever benefits they can extract from the system while it still lasts.

    Nothing is more destructive than a society constituted in such a way that practicing the classical virtues literally makes no sense, and is furthermore suicidal to those who so. Weimer Germany faced the same situation in the 1923 hyper-inflation, and we all remember what came out of that, don’t we?

  299. patriciaormsby #266

    I am a newbie but, and if I understand correctly, from what I have been reading about native plants, a main reason (if not the main reason) why fauna is not present is the lack of flora and fungi. Increase native plants (flora) then fungi will come, then insects, worms, birds, amphibians, mammals, &tc.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  300. “I’ve fielded several posts from brand-new commenters who seemed to be interested solely in posting a sales pitch for a more or less green product. ”

    Fine I will put in my sales pitch!

    Sick and tired of always feeling like you are incomplete and that, “one more thing” will just solve that hole in you? If so, I have the solution for you! It is call – ‘You don’t need it!’ (TM)

    That new sports car that you think makes you look real cool but is just a cry for help – ‘You don’t need it!’ (TM)

    The latest phone gadget thing-a-majigy that will let you hyper communicate via meta verse AI/AR/Blockchain something – ‘You don’t need it!’ (TM)

    A new investment opportunity in the space mining economy of the year 3150, you guessed it – ‘You don’t need it!’ (TM)

    ‘You don’t need it!’ (TM) is available in all locations, available today.

    Side effects include – Free time, spare money, more presence in the moment, higher intellect and a better sense of contentment. May cause financial issues for those that dictate tastes.

  301. @Northwind Grandma,
    Thank you for sharing your views on the loss of fauna. The area in question has plenty of flora. While I cannot attest to fungi, as they would be microscopic, everything looks normal until you try looking around for insects and listening for birds. I jotted down about 20 varieties of flowers along the street in front of the station, including daisies, begonias, thyme and sorrel, which all attract pollinators elsewhere. The sorrel, underlying the planted flowers, did manage to attract a few small blue butterflies, but as of last week, they were almost entirely gone, and the few, sparse, small ant colonies I’d seen in July along the stretch of street with lowest EMR readings were completely absent. If you go three blocks away on the side streets, you start to encounter birds and insects again. But the once ubiquitous, abundant swallows and pigeons (I can see where they once nested in filthy rafters above the sidewalk) are nowhere to be seen in that city anymore. I cannot recall the last time I saw a city pigeon. We still have swallows in our rural area, where we do not have 5G yet.
    Other people remark on the loss of fauna, and each has his or her own opinion on the cause. Most people just don’t notice or care.

  302. Just have to place this here due to its potential relevance to my central to eastern Euro colleagues and beyond:

    The nuclear plant of Saporishshya is obviously damaged and cut off from external electricity supply. Without such electricity supply, nuclear catastrophy is incoming.

    The IAEA is sending out a dire warning:
    There are diesel fueled backup generators, those will not hold for long. Shutting down the last active reactor is considered due to the heavy combat in the area.

    A thermal plant in the nearby city has already been damaged.

    The nearby settlements are already without running water – that’s where the employees of the plant live….

    Will I actually live to live in a life action movie? It looks like it.

  303. Excuse me for writing in French, although I am a Russian woman. I have a dream – international ecovillages. I really want for us, Russians and Americans, to dream of the future – together.

    Mon rêve d’écovillages

    Je me suis abonné à ce site, je me réjouis de votre amour pour la nature et je pleure de votre inquiétude pour l’avenir.

    Je vous écris de Sibérie, où depuis 30 ans je suis en rapport très étroit avec une forêt de bouleaux, qui m’aide constamment, surtout qu’il sait réconforter et donner des conseils.

    De nombreuses années de communication avec la nature, j’ai vu que l’homme peut influencer le temps – pour les mots persuasifs
    (s’il ya des nuages – répétez les mots de remerciement
    et s’il ya une sécheresse – se mettre en colère contre les ennemis).
    J’ai aussi appris à marcher sur de longues distances sans fatigue. Et pour maintenir une longévité active (100 ans est un minimum, mais en général – 120-150).

    Et je voudrais aussi vous consoler: Oswald Spengler, tel un prophète, a prévu l’émergence d’une nouvelle culture – la sibérienne russe, mais pas de sitôt. La culture européenne s’est aussi longtemps façonnée sous l’influence de Rome et du christianisme.
    Jusqu’à présent, les relations entre nos pays sont très mauvaises (zéro avec un moins), car nous vivons dans des systèmes idéologiques et économiques différents.
    Mais moi, un simple professeur d’école et mon ami, ayant très peu d’influence, je veux promouvoir progressivement une nouvelle idée : créer ici une communauté de peuplement, où se rassembleront des personnes ayant des valeurs spirituelles communes : créer notre propre système de survie , aussi une oasis culturelle dans notre pays, malheureusement, jusqu’à l’environnement sibérien rude.

    Mais le peuple russe a toujours apprécié la supériorité occidentale en matière d’organisation et de responsabilité sociale. Sous Pierre le Grand, des «colonies allemandes» ont été créées et ici, à NovoKuznetsk, des spécialistes allemands ont été invités à construire une usine métallurgique.
    Sans votre rationalisme et votre organisation, nous ne pourrons pas construire une nouvelle culture.

    J’ai un ami proche en Espagne, PhD, spécialiste de la musique wagnérienne. Je lui ai envoyé vos articles, il est convaincu que l’occident a besoin de se lancer dans quelque chose de radicalement nouveau. Il a des amis partout dans le monde. Ce sont des Européens très éduqués.
    Je vois aussi beaucoup d’amis potentiels sur l’Internet européen pour une telle entreprise (à Londres et à Paris – dans un milieu instruit d’intellectuels), j’ai commencé à commenter leurs sites, citant Spengler, décrivant notre idée.
    Alors, ne vous inquiétez pas, le jour viendra – nous nous rassemblerons sur notre riche terre sibérienne, mais mal entretenue, et construirons un nouveau type de village – avec une nouvelle culture, avec nos propres écoles (dans différentes langues) et même un université (pas pire qu’Oxford), avec aussi notre propre café pour les soirées musicales, avec ses propres clubs sportifs. Et le plus important – avec des personnes en bonne santé sans hôpitaux ni produits pharmaceutiques, sans tests ni vaccins. Nos enfants sauront se protéger des maladies de la civilisation urbaine, entretenir leur immunité et leur tonus.
    Autour de notre ville, il y a des forêts de bouleaux, d’excellents champs pour les cultures céréalières, les légumes et les baies mûrissent bien, peu de fruits.

    Je vous souhaite la santé sibérienne. Prenez soin de vous. Et rêvez avec nous de l’avenir radieux de nos enfants.
    Наталья З.Ш. и Галина Ю.Г
    город Новокузнецк

  304. Michael Martin #315

    I read the barsoom article. Thanks for the link.

    “classical virtues make no sense”

    Oh sh_t.😢

    Look what our generation did — they had kids. And those kids had kids. And those kids’ kids had kids. Too many people. Too few resources.

    It appears the “doofer” disease (do for me) and the “gimme” disease (give me this; give me that) are far more widespread than I ever imagined.

    Holy cr_p.😑

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA
    age 70

  305. JMG,

    About German minister Habeck… this is even worse than you think.

    Compare Habeck to two other well-known German ministers: Lauterbach (health) and Baerbock (foreign affairs), and you will notice that Habeck is a shining beacon of intelligence, knowledge, common sense and language skills. And he can finish a grammatically correct and understandable German sentence, even if the content makes your hairs raise!!

    And yet a lot of people are still defending this clown show.

    I‘ve resorted to humour. The alternative would be madness and despair.

    The irony is that some German greens like Habeck and also some other politicians do, in some weird way, realise that peak energy is hitting. Alas, their solutions are „green energies“, global governance, treating people like toddlers, and micromanaging every aspect of life with as many rules as possible through technocratic means.

    It‘s like there is a weird disconnect between what they know, and how they deal with it.


    About the clothes drying issue: In Germany, foldable laundry racks are quite common. We‘ve got two of them, and that‘s plenty for our family under normal circumstances. The older one is almost 30 years old, and despite heavy family use is still doing ok (we had to replace a screw or bolt at some point, and it is getting a bit rickety, so I might replace it soon while stuff is still easy to get). I.e. they are very durable, at least the metal ones.

    What I like about them is that they are movable. I can put them up where the sun is or isn‘t, can take them in when it rains, or hang up clothes inside at night and put them out in the morning. The trick is to have two bricks or similar stones handy for windy days – simple put them on the floor bars on both sides, and your laundry won‘t topple over.

    And they can easily be used either inside or on a small balcony, for people living in a flat in the city, and they fold up fairly small.


  306. On wheelie bags for shopping, ours also has hooks that attach to the front of the shopping trolley so you don’t have manage it separately while you go round the supermarket.

  307. Michael Martin Interesting that the comments you quote focus on the poor and the less well off. The point is that they look at the system and see that that is exactly how the people at the top behave (and therefore something to aspire to, the way to get on) as any analysis of the transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the rich, from the beginning of the Thatcher / Reagan era, shows. As Thatcher said “There is no such thing as society, there are only individuals and contracts” (I paraphrase, but it’s what she meant). So our *only* responsibility (as consumers, not citizens anymore) is to maximise value from all our contractual relationships, to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of the market place. Someone else commented earlier, and seemed to approve of just letting people die in the street, if they, or their family, didn’t have the resources to support them! What a bleak, vile society, and certainly not the kind of society I’ve worked for (clearly unsuccessfully) for my whole adult life. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” always seemed to me the way to go. And our societies do have a problem with people (at all levels) taking the benefits, and not fulfilling their responsibilities. A serious Land Value Tax, a wealth tax and a social wage, which would reward work, ensure people didn’t die in the street, and reduce rentier profiteering, would go a long way to disincentivising those behaviours (not going to happen of course). A situation where those working full time for Walmart, but eligible for benefits, while the Walmart family is creaming off vast profits because they are paying poverty wages, with the government effectively subsidising billionaires… and then the poor get blamed, is unconscionable. (European examples welcome!) Let’s be quite clear, the poor, the immigrants, the single mothers (Christ had a lot to say about them) are not responsible for the state of our societies!

  308. @Jeanne

    You know you’re describing the climate of Colorado. Infrequent deluges in the summer, brush fires from all the dry veg and snowy cold dry winters.

    Might want to look into cattle ranching and oil drilling 😛 Never thought I’d see any part east of the Mississippi go dry, usually you’re trying to get rid of water because there’s too much of it everywhere. I’ve occasionally thought that a good long term project would be an aqueduct to transport the excess water on this side of the continent to where it’s needed on the other side.

    But that’ll never happen at this point. And JMG’s version of climate change may render it all moot anyway.

  309. While we’re on the subject of alternative low energy ways of doing things, here’s a clever idea of putting an air dessicant in front of an evaporative coooler to cool the air in places where a swamp cooler wouldn’t work. Water pumps, fans and a heater to regenerate the dessicant, built out of low voltage parts you could conceivably scrounge for or get at the local hardware store.

  310. Two things.

    One, riffing on post 169, here is another way of getting more efficiency from a fridge – convert a chest freezer to a fridge. It’s simple to do. The basic idea is that when you open your freezer-turned fridge most of the cold air stays in the fridge, rather than spilling out. Obviously there’d be no advantage using an upright freezer for the conversion.

    Two. There’s been some talk about walking to the grocery store. I’m hopeful that we’ll see a return to the neighborhood grocery store. Looking at old city directories I see that my neighborhood used to have a half dozen grocers within a short walk of my house. That’s going back to the 1920s. There was one on the next street over, 1 block north. The building is still there, sitting empty. It would be wonderful walking two blocks to get groceries.

  311. My turn to feel stoopid – it never in my life occurred to me that curtains had anything to do with keeping in the warmth! I’ve only thought of them as shutting out the light.

    On a different note, but in line with the general topic of energy – It’s interesting, I was in the garden yesterday with my kids harvesting potatoes, this being the first year we’ve done this. I was reminded of a thought that I’ve been having lately, which has to do with food production and a lesson that I think many people get backwards.

    That lesson being, that many people who think the simplistic country life looks appealing, will try it out and find that growing food is way more labour-intensive than they imagined, and give up on it, saying, “Shucks, this is harder than I thought.”

    And I really think this conclusion is backwards, and what I mean is, if you try out growing your own food, and it turns out to be more labour than you expected, well then – just think how fragile the WHOLE SYSTEM of food production must be! And so I think the proper lesson is, not that it’s so hard that one ought to give up on it, but rather, that it behooves everyone to develop some food-growing skills right now (however meagre) because even a little supplementation may help.

    On yet a different note, earlier this summer I was at an open-air museum, the kind with historical re-enactors and so forth. One of the things that struck me, at one of the displays of agricultural equipment from over the years, is how you can trace the sense of optimism over the decades. The 1920s, 40s, 60s, etc… it’s particularly apparent when you look at it in a museum display – you can see the ever-more-clever technology and sense of everything-getting-better-and-more-efficient…

    … until sometime in the past several decades, the feeling of eternal progress sort of peters out.

    At that museum, we rode in a horse-drawn carriage, and I asked the elderly driver how he learned how to drive horses. He said, “I started doing this on the farm when I was 7 years old.” That’s how fast the energy age has gone by, within a single man’s lifetime.

  312. I apologize, JMG! My post did read like a sales pitch. I have no affiliation with either company and won’t even mention them again.

    Your post got me thinking about next steps for me. I am in northern Massachusetts so winters are still real for the time being. We have the house insulated and sealed. We also have a cooking wood stove on one side of the house but have had trouble moving the heat to the far side of the house without electric fans. I’m hopeful that a heat powered fan that sits on top of the stove will help with energy efficient convection!

    Sorry again…

  313. Dear John Michael Greer,

    Thank you for this timely post! You got me noodling about window coverings…

    “Weatherize before you solarize!” Thank you especially for these 4 words which I expect will end up helping me save a heap of clams.

    I second the recommendation other commenters have made for Low-Tech Magazine–
    Over the years I have found so much fascinating and useful information in there. For example, they weren’t kidding about the power of a hot water bottle. It doesn’t seem like much heat when you hold it in your hand, but when you put it under a blanket for 10 minutes, wow.

    I find that hot drinks with fat in them are little miracles of heating. The fat can be milk, butter, olive oil, or coconut milk, or from meat, for example, chicken soup, beef broth soup, etc. Hot chocolate, if you can take take all the sugar, also works well.

    Something that has stayed with me for years is the memory of using a solar camp shower while out at Laguna San Ignacio on the Baja California Pacific coast in winter– it was just a plastic bag with one side painted black, left outside to absorb the sun on that cool (maybe 55 degrees F) windy day. By 3 PM the water was warm enough to take a reasonably comfortable shower. As best I can recall, it was not the Coleman solar shower (approx USD 17) but something very similar:
    There are many sellers of solar showers that are more complex. But that simple black plastic bag worked just fine.

    Solar ovens can be complicated and expensive, or super simple DIY and cheap as the dickens. Alice B. Obvious has a splendid blog post in this very subject:

    Finally a comment on electricity becoming less reliable. For decades I have lived in Mexico City, where it’s not unusual to lose power for anywhere from 2 minutes to an hour or so a day, or longer, especially during the rainy season. A few times the transformer for the neighborhood exploded. This isn’t the end of the world. After bumbling around in the dark a few times, I finally figured out that what works best for me is to:

    * keep flashlights and batteries, and candles in glass (to protect the flame) and matches in every bathroom, and in the kitchen.

    * have a battery operated reading light available

    * make sure to have nonelectric alternatives for cooking (I have a gas stove and oven)

    * take opportunity to cultivate patience and sense of humor

    * use an actual bell (like, a bronze bell) for a doorbell

    Fortunately, when power blinks out in Mexico City nobody’s going to freeze to death.

  314. @Eucyclos

    Thank you for your reply. That’s interesting; it confirmed my suspicions about Tesla’s electricity-generating inventions. I didn’t know about the Atlas Shrugged part; that was a bit of a surprise to me.

    @stephen . pearson

    Thank you for your reply. So maybe it’s true that Brazil is ahead of most countries in this domain.

  315. #TJ and the Bear (#306)

    John Michael Greer: I found a copy of the A123 cycle life graph I have been talking about on my hard drive. I would like to include it below but I’m not sure it is necessary since I found another cycle reference for Lithium Iron Phosphate cells. However, if you think it will add to the discussion, is there a way for me to send you a jpg of the graph for posting there?

    I’m not saying EV’s will replace every ICE out there. I’m saying they are a solution away from burning fossil fuels out the tailpipe and they can be directly or indirectly refueled using solar. They can be a solution to making us “Energy Independent” and then maybe a net exporter.

    The core materials of an EV have the potential to last a lifetime of driving. Musk’s goal of a million mile battery pack are possible with a decrease in range using the Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries; similar to A123 batteries. If you can believe the A123 chart showing 7,000 cycles and using a 300 mile range, that’s about 2 million miles.

    [John: Insert A123 graph here?:]

    Tesla is using the CATL Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries and from the CATL site:
    CATL mentions a cycle life of 3500 cycles which could produce a million mile pack.

    With regard to solar cells and wind turbines. I put on a set of solar cells on my roof back in 2012. So far so good. The S&P 500 has done better. During that time the cost of producing those cells has dropped. They are a better investment today than in 2012 and their electronics has held up so far.

    Research is ongoing on Perovskite cells. Their maximum efficiency is just over 30% and there is a possibility of them layering for tuning for additional solar conversion to electricity. Their main weakness is their durability as I had mentioned before but their cost is estimated to be about a tenth of silicon cell costs. So basically, you have about double the efficiency for a tenth of the cost if researchers can achieve the same durability as that of silicon cells.

    Everyone talks EROI as the hallmark standard for investing but there may come a time when Congress supports worthwhile endeavors through fiscal efforts. In the 1920’s, it was airports and radio airways to support the nascent aircraft industry. In the 2010’s, it is NASA supporting the commercialization of space. It’s also the $7500 tax credit for each EV sold up to a limit on the number sold by each company that produced them. In the future, I could see Congress and maybe the electrical power producers incentivize home and business installations of thermal shutters and/or Pervoskite solar cells with battery backup. My utility partially subsidizes installation of heat pumps and promotes LED light bulb sales to save energy. It may come down to the point where we place solar cells on roofs and pipe the electricity to a central management point for better care and monitoring of the packs. The tricky part will be how to manage the distribution of electrical power in winter when production is lower than demand and curtail production in the summer when excess power is not needed.

    All fossil fuels will be peaking this century and Congress (for the most part), the utilities, you and I see the writing on the wall. We have to get off of fossil fuels and there are and will be concerted efforts to do so.

    I have only a vague idea as to what will transpire with regard to natural resources. For EV’s there are plenty of sources for iron and aluminum. I like to think that we have drunk enough sodas from cans per family that all those cans could be recycled to build a car. That may not be true but there is the growing use of carbon fiber and plastics in vehicle to where iron and aluminum could be replace by them. Copper maybe an issue but once dug, smelted and installed in an EV or in a charging station, it should be there for a good long time.

    It appears there are ways to slow the descent down now and on the near horizon. But we will see what happens. There are many ways to descend a mountain.

  316. Hi Patricia (266),

    I’ll let you know if it’s something I keep seeing. For context the busy sections of our garden have bees of all sizes at a rate I couldn’t count, more than even last year which was the first year I remember it being very busy around here. When you approach them you can hear the buzzing of so many just busy at work. They didn’t show up for me until some time in June, but I think I maybe just didn’t have enough on offer for them prior to that. I planted a few perennials I hope to help that next year. I’ll keep your comment in mind though, because perhaps this is the start of a more serious trend.

    Hi Alan and JMG,

    Yes, a very weird development all around – I feel it’s a concept that must have come from interior designers. I assumed it was like this all over the USA too, but maybe it’s just a northern thing? The the higher price tag, and newer the place, the less likely they are to cover the windows. There is a place around the corner being worked on right now. It was gutted, renovated, and recently big new windows went in, and I would bet money they don’t see any curtains when people move in (their neighbours don’t have any either). This same place by comparison, about 10 years ago, was maybe the scariest spot on the street, with a very different vibe: stacks of bike parts on front lawn, spray-painted address and buzzer notes in huge letters all over the walls, front door always open (although you probably wouldn’t want to walk in), and a couple scary looking dogs that would run out and bark ferociously at passerby’s.

    My expectation is that it will return to something like that former state at some point, the big windows will be smashed (etc), and most of the curtainless crew will be forced out of the neighbourhood due to debt. I guess we’ll see though!


  317. OFFER: Winter Is Coming T-shirt, all cotton, heavy duty, adult size M, white design on black. Will mail.
    Why? (1) I look horrible in black and (2) In this environment of a lot of diversity and very little waving it around like a banner, message T-shirts feel intrusive.

  318. @JMG & the readers – I dug out of an obscure corner of my bookcase, your “Blood of the Earth: Magic and peak oil.” The print is small enough to turn a reread into a chore for me, though I can read small print. Am thinking of finding it a new home. Readers, anyone interested? Same terms as before – free, and I mail it. JMG – any reason a reread would be valuable right now? And of course, any thoughts of republishing it? (in the same size type as WofH, I hope.)

  319. >It’s not that the younger guys don’t understand that a system weighed down with parasitism must ultimately collapse. They understand that very well. That’s the point. They don’t see that system as their system: it’s a system controlled by their sworn enemies

    There’s an ebook out there _Enjoy The Decline_, the author more or less elaborates on this very theme.

    Shrug, if the Late Bronze Age Collapse repeats itself, 300 years from now there will be another set of civilizations, smaller in size and number, with maybe one holdover from this era (Egypt). But it won’t be anything like it once was and it will be a dystopia barely hanging on to what it has. Everything else will be gone.

  320. I find that if I am becoming uncomfortably chilly, munching a jalapeno pepper or two works wonders.

    Antoinetta III

  321. Michael Martin #315:
    There is a term for the logic of being a maximum burden on a system you want to see collapse: Accelerationism. Given the rate that the tax donkeys are shedding their loads, choosing to instead become a burden, I’d say that this feedback loop is, indeed, accelerating.

  322. Hi Patricia,

    Today’s bee update… I discovered another one like this this morning, and again it didn’t motion when nudged although was moved very subtley, so not dead. I saw another bee fly over to try to feed on that same flower and the still one suddenly moved up and out of its way. I had wondered if they might just have been asleep and discovered this when I searched:

    I suspect what I’ve seen is a lot of what they describe here: “Male bees can also be found resting late at night or early in the morning on flowers”. I think the very large bee I saw was a queen bee: “Queen bees are notorious for being mistaken as tired/struggling bees as they spend most of their time grounded after only short flights.” That said I’ll keep an eye out, and thanks for the information!


  323. Re dealing with heat, in the UK this summer we had it a great deal warmer than we’re used to. Where I live, in the middle of England, the average summer high is around 22.5C (72.5F) and this summer we had weeks of heat with some days reaching 37C (98.6F). On a few days it got to 30C by 9am. Not being adapted to that *at all*, having almost no AC in this country and houses designed to keep heat in rather than disperse it, it was horrible. I used a number of methods to cope – we have west-facing windows, so as soon as the air outside started to warm up, the windows were closed, blinds pulled down and the curtains shut. Everything stayed closed until late in the evening when we opened up again. I flung all the windows wide at about 5am to let in the breeze. For cooling indoors, I don’t find electric fans that good so used a traditional hand held one which was very effective. Drank water, lots of it, wore a wet towel like a scarf and regularly ran cold water over my lower arms. Incidentally, the postie turned up one day sweating and red in the face, so I gave her a wet towel/scarf too. She loved it and told the other posties. We did most of our cooking outdoors, so no extra heat was generated inside the house. We also used a giant sunshade outside the west-facing windows, which provided a little shade to the house and was pleasant to stand under. I have occasionally watered the concrete path that runs alongside the house and that makes a difference if done in the late evening, as it takes some of the heat out of the concrete – as long as there isn’t a drought, of course. We have a weather station and noted that the indoor temperature on the hottest days stayed around 10C below that outside, still uncomfortable but bearable.

    For winter, we’re about as prepared as we can be. The house used to be a stable block and isn’t that well built, but it has thick walls of around half a meter. Great in summer, but in winter it’s like living in a cave. The windows are double glazed and have roller blinds and the curtains are full length and well-lined – I made them myself some years ago in preparation for a cold winter. There’s also a full length curtain between the front door and the hallway. What’s good for us this winter, what with the fuel prices, is that we have an antiquated heating system and plenty of fuel. I don’t know if they’re made any more, but it’s a Parkray. Basically, there’s a fire box fitted into the wall with a back boiler that does the radiators and hot water. A bit of a faff as if we want heat or hot water in winter (we use an immersion heater in summer) we have to light the fire, but the water stays hot all winter and I appreciate every moment of that. The chimney breast also warms up and since the fireplace is in the middle of the house, that wall provides a little extra warmth. Me and my partner both work outside so we have a good selection of cold weather gear. Finding decent clothes, jackets, gloves, hats, scarves and boots has been something of an obsession over the years, but worth the effort. Seeland ( make the best winter trousers I’ve ever worn. Made for shooting but excellent for working outside, or even inside when it gets very chilly. Not cheap, but they’re also wind and water proof and worth every penny.

    We don’t have many white goods indoors, mainly because the house is so small but also we think they’re ugly and don’t really want to be looking at them. There’s a fridge and freezer in the garage, but I could see that melting butter was going to be an issue indoors this summer, so got a butter bell ( It’s like a big eggcup, where the butter goes, which is then turned upside down and placed in a pot of water. The butter does get soft but because of the water, it doesn’t go rancid. As long as the water is changed every day or so, it works very well and I’d recommend them. The butter bell is only for summer, mind, in winter the butter dish needs to stay in the living room for the butter to remain spreadable. It’s similar with the sourdough starter – in summer the dough rises over night by an open window, in winter it sits near the fireplace.

    All in all, it seems to be about many small changes in adapting to conditions and being diligent in paying attention and working around whatever’s happening.

  324. Hi John,

    In regard to solar, I’m open minded. I would be interested in solar thermal but have heard some negatives in regard to freezing.

    I will definitely look into it and see what local service providers can do.

    Currently reading Zeihan latest book, I think you would find it interesting. I do think some of his specific country/regional predictions are questionable (in particular China and Russia) but overall his themes are very similar to what you have been writing about for years.

    Would love to see you provide a review of his book and where you see he gets right and wrong at some point in the future.

  325. patriciaormsby – In addition to 5G, and much more likely in my opinion, is the prevalence of systemic insecticides in commercial flower plantings. Neonicotinoid insecticides can be used when the plants are young, and remain toxic for months afterward. Those flower beds could do more harm than good for the local pollinators (and the ecosystem that depends on them).

  326. One of the most cost effective energy conservation measures that I have used is an insulated attic door tent which is very easy to install. The pay back was less than six months with an immediate and ongoing monthly electric bill reduction of $30+.

  327. Here are three links, unfortunately Audio only in German:

    – gist of this: even the *official* scenarios of German grid agency (“Bundesnetzagentur”) expect gas&electricity to be turned down for the bigger part of households and industry, ranging from controlled down turning to black out.

    Especially the french nuclear plants are also at risk of not getting enough electricity – you heard right – to guarantee the cooling pumps for the spent fuel for the next years where this is necessary – uncontrolled fire is a likely possibility!

    And these scenarios are horrifying by themselves already, yet do not even include:

    – diesel shortage and AdBlue shortage due to gas shortage, so no running modern diesel machines
    – other EU countries getting into trouble and denying Germany extra capacity delivered when needed
    – shortages of … well … ALL kinds, systemic disruptions ahead!

    If have followed the topics of resource shortage and energy since decades…I may have not always been right with every prediction, too early at times for serious systemic disruption…but never in my life have I seen such clear numbers, such open official statements, and even the journalists in mass media swallowing and sweating around their necks already..

    …and the list of disruption in progress doesn’t end.

    People of central Europe especially but also those around – the clock has chimed loudly, deafeningly, in hammering resonance.
    Get ready in whatever way, this article being a good start.
    According to the calculations, Germany may expect major disruption by *Christmas* time!
    regards and good fortune to all of you!

  328. @jmg: Thanks for the information on Shakespeare and Newton! I have seen images of Newton’s birth house and imagined him to be wealthier than he apparently was, if he had to work as valet. In fact, Martin Luther was also a farmer’s son who went one to become (if nothing else) a genius translator and prolific poet and prose writer, the greatest wordsmith of the German language. It seems I would have to rephrase: For a majority of our descendants to have the chance to do great things in a fossil fuel-free world, mobility or distribution of income would have be nearer early modern England (or Germany) than Plato’s or (especially) Murasaki’s time and place.

    @cs2: I also use a cart like that (plus bags) to bring the groceries for our family of three home. Used to be by bus, now I can walk, and sometimes my daughter pulls the cart (she likes it). I haven’t seen anybody else below 60 use such a cart here in Canada, though.

  329. @ Owen #326

    Given that we’re still burning fossil fuels like they’re going out of style and cranking more CO2 into the atmosphere, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that maybe the climate will shift back in our favor again though I have to admit it doesn’t look encouraging right now.

    New Hampshire is pretty much a dry well when it comes to any oil or gas reserves; too much granite, I guess. Cattle ranching might work but I’m getting too old to herd dogies.

    (no herky-jerky figures, just a classic old tune)

  330. JMG et alia,
    One more metaphor that I found very useful in thinking about a house is to see it as a living, breathing being.

    For example, in most climates you want a good hat (wide overhangs) and good boots (high concrete or rock foundation). That way you avoid water damage.

    Another example: can the house “live” without being on life support all the time? If the electricity, gas, water and sewage stop working, can you still live in it?

    I have seen many giant mansions that had a sump pump in the basement – if the electricity goes off for more than a day, they just get flooded. Other places need a pump for sewage (they are downhill from the city sewers!). A lot of new houses will start getting moldy as soon as the AC/heaters are turned off.

    If you live in a place like this, the fixes are so expensive, I would rather move.

    On the other hand, a traditional house can stay dry and livable even if abandoned for decades – I hope builders of the future will rediscover that lost art.

    One more bugbear of mine – make the kitchen a separate room, with a door and windows! Cooking causes steam, smells and unwanted heat in the summer. Having a way to separate it from the rest of the house with a door and windows that open outside will help your comfort a lot. Add to that an outdoor kitchen (as simple as a covered area or a carport with a stove or grill) and you can actually enjoy living there.

    The “open floor plan” of most american houses shows how few people actually USE their kitchen – for most this is just a bar with a microwave where they can heat up their TV dinners.

  331. Atmospheric River and JMG,

    Hmm to plug or not to plug the hole with fiberglass. I must’ve omitted it with my second rewrite of the comment after the first one was lost to a page reload but I was planning on making a fitting for it to be used as a cap to stop convection, thanks Atmospheric! The pipe is literally sticking out of the hardwood, below the current heating system, and goes straight to the street, there are even drafts in that room. I think it was the exhaust part. It isn’t too bad as Seattle’s doesn’t get that cold and I’m not too sensitive to weather but I do expect a couple weeks of snow this winter. The central heating system is way too powerful so I don’t use much, I have a small electric one to heat my room. Despite that it is a good place with decently sized roofs and a good notion of space so I will weatherize it modestly before moving out of the state.

    I take this same principles can be applied to etheric energy but using silk or linen instead of fiber glass? Say, an altar space with cloth on the back to reflect back at you instead of the wall?

  332. That is a really fancy chaffing dish! I have wanted to try the dishes from Kingsport since I read about them. Does the WoH cookbook have chaffing dish recopies?

  333. Antoinetta III,
    And you can down that with a sip of tequila or mezcal. Or even better, you can macerate a few sliced jalapeños with pineapple and slices of orange on them for a week and it will make a really nice tonic for winter!

  334. Oilman, JMG, et al,

    re: canopy beds

    Thanks for this! I hadn’t thought of that, and I think it’s the missing piece in our new/trailing edge heating and cooling plan.

    I’ve lived all over the U.S. (except the NE), but mostly in Georgia and Florida, and I have to say, the biggest skeeters I’ve ever seen were in Michigan! Hypodermic needle for a proboscis. Pretty sure one of them had a tattoo.

    These days I’d be concerned that those buggers were insectoid drones delivering COVID-1984 vaccines to the unsuspecting…man, I’m glad my wife and I stuck to our guns on that one. In the face of a shocking amount of social pressure, too. What country is this again?? I think I made a wrong turn somewhere back around the junction of US ’19 and Hwy ’20.

    Timely and informative post.
    Cheers, y’all.

    in Lower Appalachia

  335. From my gazillion years subscribing to Home Power magazine, a cute bit of terminology. Try referring to the heat they produce as DTU or KTU—Doggy and Kitty Thermal Units.

  336. Michael, now that’s a product I’ll always be glad to see promoted here.

    Andy, thanks for this! In this case, at least, there doesn’t seem to be any question. Mind you, the interesting thing about Liz Truss’s inaguration chart is that it doesn’t matter which of the times I use, the planets are all in the same houses and the house cusps are all in the same signs. Charts incoming!

    Curt, wars are like that. It’ll be interesting, in the apocryphal-curse sense, to see how this plays out.

    Natalya, thanks for this, but please be aware that ecovillages have been tried, and tried, and tried again for more than half a century now, and the success rate is pretty close to zero. There are very good reasons why this is the case; I’ve discussed them in this post from last year:

    Milkyway, that’s really unsettling. To have crazed pseudorationality in power in Germany again — brr.

    Yorkshire, hmm! I wish ours had those.

    Christopher, here in the US northeast the old neighborhood groceries haven’t quite gone away, and ironically some of the local dollar stores and gas stations are carrying more and more of the products corner groceries once had. So there’s definitely some hope in that direction.

    Bofur, yep. It’s been a very fast shift, and I’m not surprised so many people are still suffering whiplash from the end of progress.

    Matt, thank you! I have to be careful because there are lots of commercial interests who like to hijack social media to make a quick buck.

    C.M., many thanks for all of these.

    Curt, there’s something profoundly ironic about that…

    Peter, next time include a URL for the image and I’ll see what I can do.

    Forecasting, where you are, you need a solar thermal system that uses a freezeproof working fluid and a heat exchanger to transfer the heat to the water. That’s normal wherever winter temperatures get close to 0°C. As for the Zeihan book, I’ll put it on the look-at list.

    Curt, I’ve been watching this whole business in a state of stunned disbelief. It’s as bad as anything I could have anticipated back when I warned about the corporate green energy scam.

    Aldarion, oh, if you’d like to talk about the importance of social mobility you’ll get no argument from me. That’s generally the difference between periods of cultural efflorescence and periods of cultural stagnation. You can achieve social mobility in very modest economic circumstances; you can also fail to achieve it in a relatively prosperous age.

    NomadicBeer, that works for me. Stewart Brand, back before he sold out, did a fine book titled How Buildings Learn which approached buildings with this sort of thinking.

    Augusto, no, chafing dish cooking is an art all its own. Fortunately I posted a link to 58 chafing dish cookbooks free for the downloading in comment #59 above.

  337. Quick story about window coverings and shade trees:

    Some time ago I was driving through a country town here in southern Australia. It was afternoon in mid-summer and we were travelling down a long, straight road full of weatherboard houses that must have all been built in the 1950s. Every house had eaves, awnings and, most notably, a large tree perfectly positioned to provide maximum shade to the afternoon summer sun. Every house except one. It was a new house, completely out of character with the others as it was built in the modern style: no eaves, no awnings and no shade tree; just a box with windows sucking in the afternoon sun on a hot summer day.

    I can’t think of a better description for that house than JMG’s “wretched excess”.

  338. Wow,
    See this kind of article :
    From mainstream sources…
    Is it possible that the situation will “help” European countries to become more resilient, just like sanctions have done for Cuba and for Russia?
    Except that this resilience will entail lower prosperity and lower influence abroad. And more vulnerability to foreign occupation unfortunately…

    This article includes photos of a Lada plant in Russia, which shows you just how much damage and isolation has been wrought on them:
    Quite surreal to see in “isolated Russia” a car factory that looks just like it’s prospering!

    European resilience will not be that shiny, because it won’t have what Russia has: energy reserves.

    By the way, do you expect heat pumps to remain useful machines going forward? Is it economically sound to repair them in a context of energy scarcity?

  339. JMG,

    A lot of people seem to think of the Germany of 2022 as the same as the Germany of last century‘s ’30s, but the end of the 2nd WW and the subsequent years have been a big caesura in the German national self-perception and worldview. Being at fault, and being responsible that nothing like that ever happens again, has consistently been hammered into everybody‘s brains for decades now.

    So while I fully agree that having crazed pseudorationality in power is bad, I‘m not sure why this should be worse in Germany than elsewhere – and we’re seeing a lot of that all over the world right now. At least Germany doesn‘t have any nukes to throw around…

    The crazedness of our current crop of „leaders“ (and maybe also the crop before that) is directed against Germany itself more than against anybody else. You might not have heard what foreign affairs-Baerbock said about supporting Ukrainia vs. what her voters want:

    ### Begin quote ###
    „If I give the promise to people in Ukraine – ‘We stand with you, as long as you need us’ – then I want to deliver. No matter what my German voters think, but I want to deliver to the people of Ukraine,” Baerbock said at one point.

    “I have to be clear that this holds on as long as Ukraine needs me,” she said, referring to the EU embargo against Russia.

    “We are facing now wintertime, when we will be challenged as democratic politicians. People will go in the street and say ‘We cannot pay our energy prices’. And I will say ‘Yes I know, so we help you with social measures.’ But I don’t want to say ‘Ok then we stop the sanctions against Russia.’ We will stand with Ukraine, and this means the sanctions will stay also in wintertime, even if it gets really tough for politicians.”
    ### End quote###

    Link to source: (the video is embedded in the article, and I grit my teeth and watched it to double-check the transcript, but she really said that. Of course, German fact-checkers insist that she was quoted out of context, and it‘s all Russian disinformation propaganda anyway… 😉 )

    That tells you about all you need to know. I‘m not sure if it‘s any consolation to me that at least Scholz isn‘t senile and thus should, in theory, understand what he is doing…

    In a way, what is going on over here is self-destructive more than anything else.


  340. “Tesla is using the CATL Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries and from the CATL site:
    CATL mentions a cycle life of 3500 cycles which could produce a million mile pack.”

    The flaw in lithium iron phosphate batteries is that they have to be above freezing to charge. Down south this isn’t a big deal, up north is a different story. You will have to use a resistance heater to warm up the battery before you can charge it. If you go on a trip you can never let the battery cool down, you will have find a plug or sacrifice some amount of charge to keep the battery warm and hope you can get to the charger in time.

    If you are charging at home you can either pay the power bill to keep the battery warm or plan your day so that you can plug in the battery heater X hours before you need the car.

    There might be a business opportunity there. A jumpstart rig with a diesel generator on a trailer to warm up cold dead EV batteries and put enough of a charge in them to get to the charger.

  341. Another tidbit relating to the Goodwill donations drying up….Back in the beginning of 2010 I took a scout troop on a tour of a landfill. I know, sounds crazy, but when you live in rural areas, that’s what they put here. The company that runs it does tours in a little bus for PR. It was really interesting how they line it, monitor it, and trap the methane to use for some electricity generation (don’t worry, it’s worse than solar for output).

    Anyway, the tour guide was very excited when we went because the state had just extended their permit for operations another 10 years based on steep fall off of trash coming in because of – you guessed it – the 2008 crash. We were really astounded that a couple of back economic years made that much impact.

  342. Re: cooling (and re comments from Justin Patrick Moore, Oilman2, NomadicBeer, Misty Friday, etc.)

    Interesting that so many of the suggestions for cooling are structural/building related and require a very different infrastructure mindset than what we have in place in hot parts of the US. That leads me to look, then, at the “personal cooling” side of things.

    These include 1) eating and drinking chilled things so long as you’ve got power to cool food – though I suppose in hot places where the groundwater is relatively high, you’d plunge your watermelons and tightly-wrapped balls of butter (etc.) into the well to chill. Eat lightly.

    2) Reconfiguring work hours / and arranging to inhabit work and living space according to which side of building is shaded, etc. Additionally, create more slack in your schedule to “chill out” literally and figuratively.

    3) Wear light, loose clothing (linen is attested-to by some) – or nothing at all (or something in between, or, as in high-sun-intensity hot places, cover up completely to work with mobile shade. Likewise, for bedding, less is more – the hammock is one option – or any other way to minimize surface area in contact with things that warm you (like the reed mats I mentioned).

    4) Fans and parasols/umbrellas for more mobile breezes/mobile shade.

    5) Water is still useful for cooling if your relative humidity allows it (wet scarves/towels, mist on the roof or at porch-edge, etc.)

    Personally, at my house, we already do the window dance, cook outside when possible, and have a well-insulated house shaded by trees and with cross-ventilation. We’ve been eating a lot of chilled (or low-cook) Asian food during this heat wave: Vietnamese summer rolls, Korean japchae, Chinese banmian, and some grilled dishes as well.

    I know this post was focused on winter, but energy-needs in summer will be an issue next year, so maybe this’ll be useful to someone here (there’s also the fact that it’ll soon be summer south of the equator).

  343. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but reading all of this makes me even more grateful that I live where I do. I live in a small city, where I can walk to anything I need in a few minutes. The house I live in was built in 1889, before all this new-fangled HVAC stuff. It can get a little warm in the summer, but not bad. And one year I had no heat for an entire winter, so I know that’s survivable. I would wear lots of clothes. Like, come home from work and put on more clothes to be inside. Lap blanket. And if I ever just got chilled to the bone (maybe coming home from work wet), I have a nice clawfoot bathtub.

    It’s comforting to know I can survive here without many inputs. Be nice if they can keep the water and sewer working (and garbage collection: I shudder to think how fast things get ugly when that stops!).

  344. The biggest skeeters I ever ran into were in Ontario, Canada. Even the local Wiccans were using citronella candles in their rituals. And, yes, they can bite through blue jeans.

  345. in reply to Northwinds Grandma, it all depends on how hte big room is situated relative to the rest of the house.
    We live in NW Tasmania, where it can get to 38 deg C in summer and winter nightime temps drop to minus 2 or lower depending on what southerly blasts are powering through.
    Our lounge room and kitchen are one space with glass on the west, north and east sides, double glazed with 45 degree corners and the lounge ceiling is pitched at 15 degrees . the space is 12 metres wide and 14 metres deep and in winter the sun touches both back corners at the begining and end of the day. That solar gain helps immensely in keeping the rest of the house warm.
    Construction is slab on ground on polystyrene pods meaning only about 10% of the concrete is in contact with the soil, under hte open space. On the south side there are a laundry/toilet/shower, a stairwell leading to upstairs bed rooms, a large pantry, and an office on the Westernr end. The south wall is bermed into the bank 2.5 metres high, and the wall is waterproofed, faced with polystyrene sheet and heavy plastic sheet and the gap filled with small rock, the slab for that part of the house is direct contact with the soil. All the walls in this part of the house are concrete block .2metre thick and filled with concrete.
    The upstairs part of the house is 3 bedrooms. There is ducting from the apex of the lounge ceiling to a manifold (rescued from a scraped printing factory) that can either direct warm air into the bedrooms or outside. Its walls are conventional timber framed and well insulated.
    On the eastern side of this structure is a skillion roofed space 20 metres long by 6 metres wide that has concrete block walls, the south and western corners being bermed into the bank. the southern half is a workshop, the northern half is a one bedroom self contained area we lived in while we built the main house. It is in the process of becoming a Garage and entertining area.

    Our heating is a single barrel type wood heater I brought for $40 dollars 25 years ago when we were living in the “garage”. It keeps the whole house at between 17 and 21 degrees for our winter on around 20 cubic metres of wood, usually a mix of hardwood and pine. It is rarely run above half way and it is not a particularly efficient firebox. The house is always warm to come home to, except if we have been away for a week in the middle of winter. Wood use actually decreased when the house was finsihed as the original portion had a large conrete wall exposed to the prevailing westerly winds.

    The trick is understanding how heat moves, the value of thermal mass, and the maximisation of solar gain.

    All that said, I did have the advantage of spending several years operating an infrared camera professionally, and I started from scratch. It is a big house, but it is situated with a commanding view over magnificient terrain, and it has been built to last for centuries, not decades.

    The hot water system is currently gas, boosted by a repurposed pool heating evacuated tube solar system into a rebuilt storage tank salvaged from an old dairy hot water system my son and I built. In the middle of winter that still manages to preheat the water going into the instanteous gas heater to 45 deg C. In summer the gas will ignite initially then turn off once the cooler water in the pipe between the heater and storage tank has been replaced with hot water from the coil in the storage tank.

    This blog just prompted me to call my son, a boilermaker who has just finished his apprenticeship, and point him in the direction of rocket mass heaters as a side hustle he could pursue. We could certainly put one in the “garage”, next to the conventional wood heater which could be replaced with something more efficient with an oven and cooktop, and a wet back which provision has been made for on the hot water storage tank.

    JMG, my sense is that things may unravel far quicker than anticipated. That sense is mitigated by the steady, largely unacknowledged actions that are being taken by Russia, China and the rest of the “not the West” world to form an alternative system of finance, trade and geopolitical discourse. Those actions seem to be happening at a very rapid pace, if Pepe Escobar’s Telegram channel is any guide. Do you have any thoughts on that particular vector and where it may lead?

    Great column as always, the 70’s alternate tech literature helped greatly in designing our home.

  346. I agree with the people on here defending the use of mobility scooters and the like. I’d imagine it makes an enormous difference for those who can’t walk.

    My comment about people forgetting they have perfectly useable legs was aimed at able-bodied people who choose to drive rather than walk for the littlest thing, and when you suggest they try walking to the store when they complain about lack of exercise or the price of gas lately they make all sorts of excuses as to why they can’t/don’t.

  347. To Kfish (#103) When my wife and I lived with her parents in Japan, I’d often wake up in winter to find my mother-in-law sleeping under the kotatsu!

  348. 358, Milkyway. That’s hilarious. They dont want to deliver to their actual citizens just those of the Ukraine even if it is ruinous. When have they showed such integrity before?

  349. The new heat pump everything.

    Yes, I have been wondering about the pros and cons of these. They are being heavily, heavily promoted, people are being told to ditch the gas heater and put in mini-split heat pump heaters. New homes built in CA must include the wiring for an electric stove, heat pump water heater, (and I think the wiring to a spot for electric car charger) even if outfitted with gas stove and heater.

    I live in CA in a county and neighborhood that lost alot of homes to fire 2 years ago, and finally there are rebuilds going on. The homes that burnt would have had propane or electric heat and water heaters built in, and most would have had a wood stove too. Many are having mini-split heaters and heat pump water heaters put in. Alot of existing homes are being remodelled with heat pump appliances.

    Ironically, a lot of homes did not have air conditioning before, but when you put in a heat pump heater, you also now have an air conditioner ! So now there are more homes using electricity to air condition that did not before. So, I do wonder about the actual energy savings. I have looked into certain other aspects of them, due to the heavy promotion and installs, and here are my thoughts. They have filters, each wall wort in each room has a filter and a fan. There is usually one large central compressor, outside ( a large box, like an air conditioner) the fluid is distributed to each separate heater to output to each room. Yes, there is alot of opportunity there for breakage and maintanance. Electronic controls, remote controllers, wi-fi connection sometimes, etc… The filters replaced a couple times a year. Fans do not last forever, and I have never seen a fan that didnt start out quiet and get noisier over times. We all know how everything electrical has a shorter shelf life these days too. Then, how will people heat their homes if these cannot be fixed or replaced ?

    My house was built with built in electric heat. Basically, there is a radiator, fluid filled baseboard, very long in each room. The electricity is hardwired to each and directly heats the fluid in each location. Yes, that does use more electricity than the new heat pumps. These old electric hydronic heaters have no maintanance, and they have no moving parts, and they do not break. They last so long I dont know of any thrown out because they have broken. They are completely silent too. My next door neighbors house had propane heat in a couple rooms, not a forced air furnace. Her main propane heater was so nice, it was like having a wood stove, it was a large square heater, no pumps or fans or ductwork, like the old natural gas wall or floor heaters we had in the city when I grew up. Her heater did not need maintanance, it just kept on going. She moved, and. the new owners immediatelly tore it out. Now, up here, most of us realy just heat with wood. But, I have been thinking of the changes and I dont think anyone has run the energy return on investment numbers on throwing out “inefficient” working heaters of the type I just described with, lets say, 100 year lifespan, and replacing with a made in China Mini-split electric heater systems and their likely short lifespan. We never seem to factor in the manufacturing and mining etc…

    The worst problem for people though will be that they will break and then what are they going to do as I think it is going to keep getting worse on being able to fix these new complicated things.

    I would imagine that a site built, rocket stove burning coppiced tree trimmings would be the most efficient fuel and manufactured goods ( the designs I have seen do use metal too ) user. But at least get something that is going to last a long time without needing work or replacement and with best guess as to fuel in your area. And tighten up the house to need less.

    ( I just bought a 20 year old truck today that is 4 cylinder, manual transmission, roll down windows, with those little fold down jump seats behind the bench in the cab. They made alot of ford rangers, so hopefully it can keep getting repaired for the next decade. 2 days ago I came across and bought a used made in Germany Bulova wind up small alarm clock with the most quiet, delicate ticktock, keeps time, the alarm works)

  350. Johnny @261:
    No curtains? At night? Now that you’ve mentioned it, I recall many instances of this in affluent neighborhoods near me in the US Pacific NW, and your comment clued me in that this is A Thing.

    At night, if you’re indoors with lights on and no curtains, people outside can see into your lighted rooms, but you can’t see out; all you see is reflections of your room and you. Think of blindfolded prey advertising itself to any predators with a spotlight.

    To engage in this practice means your common sense, to say nothing of your survival instinct, is not functioning. I wonder how far this mindset has generalized and insinuated itself among the PMC, and how far up the ladder it goes… and … why? (JMG?)

    Even I shudder.

    —Lunar Apprentice

  351. Its time for night caps to come back into fashion.

    “Women’s night caps usually consist of a long piece of cloth wrapped around the head. Men’s nightcaps are traditionally pointed, with a long top, sometimes accompanied by a small ball of some sort, which is used similar to a scarf. It keeps at least the back of the neck warm while not being so long that it could wrap around and become a strangulation hazard.”'s_Ghost-John_Leech_1843-detail.jpg

  352. Patricia Mathews,

    In regard to mosquitos, yes, those monsters I saw in Michigan were also present in Windsor, Ontario when we did a day trip over the border…I’m fairly thankful for the relatively puny ones we have here in N. Georgia. My wife and I also make a fantastic essential oil bug spray, if anyone’s interested.


    I’m with you on living in town in a small town. We did the escape to the woods thing when we first moved to this area, and lived a very modest lifestyle for 7 years. VERY modest. Still, it became obvious eventually that we were as car-dependent as ever out there, and decided to buy a house right downtown 3 1/2 years ago, just before the housing boom got cranked up here. Now we can walk to just about anything we need (except our cabin), and I’ve been biking to work since the first of August. We have let ourselves slip back into the overdeveloped nation pattern a bit too far in that time, but we’re working steadily to find a happy medium. Sounds like you have a pretty sweet setup, too.

  353. JMG,

    One of the improvements we were planning to make to our house was a new and improved set of storm windows. The ones that came with the house are modern aluminum monstrosities that are ouglie devils, don’t look right on our 1936 clapboard, and prevent us from being able to clean the windows. We were thinking about building a wood-framed pair for each window, like we had in Spokane, one glass and one screen, easy to hang in place.

    Now I’m wondering if that might not be wasted money. From the sound of it, better thermal curtains might be easier, cheaper, and much more effective.

  354. Patricia Mathews,

    If no one else has claimed your book, I’d love to have it.
    My email address is trippticket at gmail dot com.


  355. Hi JMG – I second Forecasting’s recommendation of Zeihan’s latest book. There are strong echoes of your work and he contributes details from his areas of expertise – demographics and supply chains.

    He speaks of the end of progress, though he calls it the “end of more”. He rejects the techno-utopian fantasies and the green-tech mumbo.

    He deploys cold, rational argument to show how and why industrial civilisation is in its fall. His thesis is that global trade is ending. The demographic boom that drove it has gone into reverse. And the US military that facilitated it is going home for good.

    His wears his blind spots on his sleeve and are immediately recognizable to readers of your work.

    But his insights into the broad currents of our time are well worth exploring.


  356. I’ll sprinkle some gas on the fire of the mobility scooter debate. Those things are an abomination. The people using them I’ve run across are both anti-social and self-centered at the same time which is quite the combination. Perhaps if someone can’t get physically walk then the thing to do is ask someone they know for help. One of the most degenerate things about American culture is the inability to show any weakness and ask family or friends to assist. Oh sure, people will play the victim, but that isn’t the same as requesting assistance in the short term. The scooters are yet another way we have machines step in for what used to be a common societal experience and expectation – taking care of others.

    Stop using them and start talking with people. You are giving others the opportunity to make a difference in your life and if your first instinct is “I must have machine” then consider the impact of that in the depth of your relationships.

  357. Regarding solar electricity, it’s worth looking the other way from diminishing returns to “increasing returns,” i.e. what are the most valuable things electricity can do for you. I’m considering a solar electric installation or electric vehicle for the main purpose of keeping my refrigerator running during extended power outages. I can keep the house heated enough to keep me alive, but I’d rather not lose a fridge’s worth of food if I can help it!

  358. All these steps (sealing, insulation, etc.) are great and worthwhile, but are unlikely to save more than a third to half of energy. It may be worth thinking about the next step: drain the pipes, fill the toilets and traps with antifreeze, and move in with someone else. Three of the dozen houses in our little neighborhood feature multi-generation families and I expect that’s a wave of the future.

  359. “I’ve been watching this whole business in a state of stunned disbelief. It’s as bad as anything I could have anticipated back when I warned about the corporate green energy scam.”

    I remember reading about what it takes to make wind turbine blades. The bottom line is you still need lots and lots of fossil fuels. Solar panels? The same. Batteries for EV’s? Do we even have enough rare earth materials to build millions if not billions of batteries to make the switch? According to the experts including Chris Martenson, the answer is a BIG GIANT NO!

    Yet we have goofballs posing as experts in decision making capacity around the world, driving a spanner into the works. My belief is that it is either outright incompetence or willful malice. Currently I am of the belief that it is both. The crooked Keystone Cops got us all into this mess and now it appears they are just blowing things up on purpose as an excuse to start over. Because hey if they make life so difficult for you and everyone else, maybe you won’t notice it was them who started the fire and rang the fire alarm.

    “Build Back Broken” should be Klaus Schwab’s new meme.

  360. Johnsonrobin,

    Ditto on the attic question. There are plenty of problems with the construction of our 1936 house here in the hot, humid U.S. southeast, and a “finished” attic space is one of them. I use the quotes here because, like a lot of other design details, it wasn’t very well done. And there is NO insulation between the ceiling and roof. The floor is also quite weak for daily use. My guess is 2X6 floor joists spanning 12’+ support walls below…

    We’re planning on adding a master suite downstairs for us and turning over the jack-and-jill to our two children. That’s our bedroom and the den currently, while the kids rooms are upstairs in the summer inferno (they both need dedicated AC units up there to keep it habitable – so excessive).

    Should make a much better attic!

    We’re even going to take out the stairs and stairwell to add space to the jack-and-jill suites downstairs and create a new very large pantry; and replace the stairs with a pull-down ladder.


  361. If the reign of Charles III can definitely be said to begin at 10:00am London time on September 10th, then the poor man could use your prayers, as he takes the throne under the curse of Heaven. Every planet in the chart suffers at least one major affliction. The chart itself is ruled by Venus, who is both in detriment and square to Mars. As the ruler of the first house, Venus would represent both the reign of king charles, and the fate of the common people. Given that, the affliction to the planet of force and violence, in the Eighth House of death, is more than a little troubling. Mars also rules both foreign nations and the British economy, and he also squares the Moon and the Sun– that is, the King and the People (or, rather, the politically active class who claim to represent the people.) The Moon and Sun oppose one another, foretelling the opposition to the king by the political class. Venus herself occupies the same sign as the Sun, suggesting that the king will enjoy support from the average Briton. But again, Mars afflicts all 3.

    The location of Venus and the Sun in the 11th House of hopes and dreams suggest that the people do indeed have a great deal of hope for their new king, but the various afflictions of the Sun and Venus do not bode well. The sun is also opposed by Neptune suggesting that many of these hopes are mere delusion.

    The entire chart also takes place under the Uranus-Saturn Square, which has been the symbol and driver of the chaos of the last several years. Interestingly, Uranus makes a trine to the Sun, suggesting that the king is on the side of the disruptive forces– which I take to be the populist movement, Brexit, and the opposition to more Covid lockdowns in the like. But the chart as a whole is very baleful; let’s hope that they can find a better time for his coronation.

  362. A few rambling thoughts in reaction to this week’s wonderful post:

    Kfish (#103) – your mention of the Japanese “kotatsu” just reminded me that back in the ‘80s ago I was friends with an Irani family who told me a lot about how they lived life ‘back home’ on the outskirts of Tehran. One thing that they mentioned was exactly your description of the “kotatsu” though, of course, they had a Farsi word for it. The “small is beautiful” fan in me thought that it sounded delightfully energy efficient and practical. It would be interesting to figure out how widely this technology was used in traditional societies in temperate climate regions of Asia.

    Passive solar – some years ago when we renovated the main floor of the house, I demanded that we install floor tiles in the kitchen and hall that are very dark in colour. During sunny winter days the afternoon sunlight floods in through the kitchen’s double sliding-doors all the way to the base of the front door. The floor is a delight to step on with bare feet and the tiles radiate heat for hours afterward. In summer it is not much of a problem due to our “window dance” (which I had learned as a child from my dear old Mum).

    Rocket stoves – for years we have tried to find a house that has a fireplace and (a) is in our neighbourhood; (b) is affordable; and (c) we like more than our current house. Never happened. Oh well. Fortunately, Canada is endowed with a ridiculously large supply of natural gas, so the only way I can see the gas being turned off our gas-reliant home is if our government decides to exterminate us (which, these days, doesn’t sound as insane as it would have five years ago). We cook with gas. But if worst comes to worst, I’ve got a rocket stove outside behind the kitchen which we have been using for about a decade now, and I’ve stocked up with a huge amount of well seasoned wood over the years (just from our own property) just in case it is required.

    Living without heat in a chilly clime – I had the great good fortune of spending my teen years living year-round in an uninsulated cottage that was heated only by a small pot-bellied wood stove. Winters would sometimes get so cold that when I brought the buckets of water up from the river into the house (after cutting a hole in the ice and ascending the 114 steps up the cliff-face), ice had formed thickly around all sides of the bucket. That’s -40 degrees (same thing in Celsius and Fahrenheit)! At night I slept with thick wool socks on my feet, a woolen toque (“beanie” in modern lingo) firmly on my head and eight thick wool blankets (from the ‘30s or ‘40s: ugly, but work wonders – I still have, and use, a few of them!). Warm as toast! So, I know that since I presently live in Canada’s “banana belt” – where winter temps rarely fall below -20 degrees Celsius – I know how to survive, though burst pipes are not a pleasant thought. Too bad I don’t have a clean river nearby where I would be the only “running water” around and avoid putting water down the drain in the cold months like when I was a teen! (Oh, ya, we used an outhouse, too: at -40 degrees, there was no reading material in there!)

    Old-style houses – a few weeks ago, my spouse and I visited the city of Kitchener. The main attraction for us was “Schneider Haus” – a farmhouse built in 1816 by the Schneider family, who were among the original German Mennonite settlers of the region (Before 1914, “Kitchener” was actually “Berlin” Ontario). Whenever I am in an old farmhouse in original condition, I always look for energy-efficient means of living. What I found interesting was that the house had no fireplace: instead the big ‘country kitchen’ had a ‘4-burner’ wood stove with a clamshell-style mini-oven above it (made in Toronto). All other bedrooms had small wood burning stoves except the one directly above the kitchen, which must have been kept warm from the heat of the stovepipe. Every room on the main floor had doors to conserve heat. I was, however, surprised to see that the house did not have a door at the bottom of the stairs to the second floor: this is a common feature in old Ontario farmhouses in order to conserve heat – the bedrooms can be cold all day (keeping the main floor warm) and in the evening the stair door would be open and all the warm air would move upstairs.

  363. A few random comments @ various people,

    The Window Dance is also useful for lighting. Years ago, staying in place during a five-day winter power outage (result of an ice storm) in a typical suburban home quickly taught me why many temperate cultures preferred their main meal at midday. That’s when you have light to cook by. In general, natural light that changes through the day is a benefit worth the effort of adjusting shades and curtains for.

    One thing to consider about some people’s seeming dependence on air-conditioned temperatures at home is that, not by choice, they’re adapted to over-air-conditioned workplaces. In previous years, when my wife worked a retail job at a place that was kept downright chilly all summer, she just couldn’t come home to an 84°F home and be comfortable, regardless of appropriate clothing, fans, etc. Since she now works shorter hours in a more economy-minded store, we turned on our AC only three times this summer, set at 80°F, and one of those times was for guests.

    My thanks to everyone for all the suggestions about clothes drying, both indoor and outdoor. I’ve used moveable folding racks indoors before, and getting some (and also using them outdoors) is a good idea. Indoors, we have 800 square feet and a fondness for tools, board games, and books, so we don’t have anything resembling a spare room, but our main room has a sloped ceiling 11′ high on one side (8′ on the other) which leaves a potential uninterrupted 30 foot long air corridor overhead, just missing the hanging ceiling fans and overhead lighting. A line of drying long underwear isn’t conventional living room decor, but I did mention getting creative.

  364. Grover – Re: mosquitoes in Michigan. I grew up in Michigan, and one of the local folk tales describes three convicts that escaped from the prison up in the UP. They were back at the front gate in three days, begging for protection from the mosquitoes.

    Sounds about right.

  365. Just read your Libra Ingress predictions for Britain and my word. This is your most extreme set of predictions yet. I was going to ask “are you sure?” reflexively, but obviously, you wouldn’t have published it if you weren’t. I’ll have to read the one for the U.S. with my eyes closed so I can sleep.

  366. A possible beginning of no curtains. When you dont live by roads or other homes, they are not needed for privacy, the trees are the privacy screen, or the miles of distance. I wonder if the initial curtain less places were places like that, not needed for privacy, lots of money to not care about energy conservation. Then, as always, the next step down in wealth copies what they saw in a magazine or film of the house of the rich and famous, the beautiful, modern clean lines of no curtains, not thinking about how their own home is not in the same type of location.

  367. Hi all

    I have been thinking about the position of Western European governments regarding Ukraine and the damage they are willing to inflict on its industry and population and I can only find one valid explanation: we are, in fact, in the WWIII, no kidding.

    I think the XXI century has started in 2022 (or 2014), with the crisis in Ukraine, and we are in the first steps of the WWIII against Russia and probably China.
    For the moment is an economic and proxy war, but it could develope to a hot war in any moment.

    I think the Russian elites are not full aware what they are facing, and continue with the “limited” SMO in Ukraine, but I think after the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kharkov they will start to pay more attention to what is coming…

    I think the plan of the Empire is to form a gigant army of probably few millions of Ukrainian soldiers + foreign mercs fully trained and armed with modern weapons and managed by NATO officers with all the ELINT-HUMINT-OSINT tools to throw them against the over-extended Russian forces in East and South Ukraine “to bleed white” the Russian Federation in the process to achieve the social collapse and then to “de-colonize” Russia (as they call their neo-colonization “project”)

    I think the RF have only two options:

    a) Change the actual course of events and increase significantly their forces and scope of attacks in Ukraine to disrupt the logistics lines and the will to fight of the Ukrainian army
    & society, and also gaining enough time to the situation rot in Western Europe (industrial and social collapse). This is a very bloody choice also for Russia.

    b) Make a deal now, before the blue avalanche change the tide (if it is possible)

    I think now the RF is in a path to defeat.


  368. JMG, I read with great amusement Peter EV’s thesis that if we can only adopt the latest whizzy battery and solar technology we can keep happy motoring going with EV’s. I see this often, and the thinking seems to be that if everyone ( or at least the good people) can keep driving around in 5000 LB living rooms on wheels then the decline of industrial civilization won’t happen. Keeping the cars rolling is like a kind of talisman that says ” look we can still go wherever we want in modern luxury vehicles so things can’t be that bad.” Kind of like if the Roman nobility could pretend the empire was still in good shape as long as they had slaves who could fire up the hot baths for them, never mind the Visigoths pillaging the granaries. If people realized how little total electrical power could be practically harnessed from the sun ( which includes wind) they might realize that if we had the brains god gave a squirrel we would channel every last bit we could get in to growing food, making fertilizer for the 50 years it will take us to transition to real organic agriculture, and transport that food while rebuilding local food networks. Our descendants will not look back on us kindly when they learn that we spent the last of the juice from the fossil fuel era to build battery cars.

  369. Austria’a storage is 60 percent full, yet apparently only 20 percent are actually owned by Austria ie legal property to use:

    The official news of countries like France reach us, controlled black outs are already planned:
    At this point it is questionable whether knowing these things even makes much of a difference – everything spells “catastrophe” with a capital ‘T’.

    I suppose “doomerish” is now realistic;
    I estimated my own chances of surviving this winter as “low”, and surviving next Winter as “very low”. All I really hope is, I don’t want to turn an animal when things get real, and not try to steal from others before I die. I hope to go in dignity.

    Meanwhile, I am not giving up, preparing as much as I can.
    One of my friends has been on board with me since a longer time in the dire expectation, while three of my other friends are starting to grasp the gravity of our predicament. Close to a predicament, there is not much wiggle room left.

    Back in 2021 when I was threatened by unemployment, I got this job for 30 hours a week. My pharma industry mathematician stepfather insulted me for not wanting to work 40 hours a week.
    In general, even though it is dawning on many that we may see a dire situation approaching, most are neither really informed nor wanting to believe in anything remotely as extreme as what is undeniable expecting us.

    People still talk about holiday air travel, computer career and other things years into the future. The mere notion that there may be an end to life as we knew it is preposterous to a majority of people still.
    To middle classes everything seems as was – things are a little more expensive, yes, but there are still tourists flocking in Vienna, people dining in cafes, nothing seems off.

    Back when I took this financial business software job I did it to sustain and to have the means to continue my preparations. When my grandmother started getting demented, I knew it was due to loneliness. I could have applied for half a year of paid care for here (being paid to care for here), and back then already felt guilty for not doing so. Everyone congratulated me on the job, it was the logical thing to do.
    I want to quit this job by October or latest, in November. I want to stay with my brave 96 year old grandma, she has always cared for everyone with unconditional love.

    I don’t care anymore about any second thought on a career, and as is for now I have money, and if I have no money, I still have plentiful storage of food, tools, clothing, batteries, camping gear….I am deliberating to move all this to the suburb where she lives and soon.
    Vienna like all modern Western big cities is a dirty place, social conflict just waiting to escalate now, the wealthy suburb of Vienna where my grandmother lives has much a better energy.
    I’d rather die there than in Vienna, and that one prepping buddy of mine lives already there.

    After too much experience of muggings and violence in Vienna, he left the city for that suburb some time ago.
    In my financial software job, theres the corporate contractor of my project, managers used to decades of success and “progress”, blind people.

    Verily, while my family will be feckless when I quit this job, at this point I don’t care anymore. Maybe the prospect of death makes me a little more courageous and independend thinking than used to be.

    A few preparations I still need to complete – but during October or latest of all, November, I want to eject from this illusion of an orderly life and take care of the person who has been best to me and everyone, always.

    I hope to go in dignity.

  370. “Regarding solar electricity, it’s worth looking the other way from diminishing returns to “increasing returns,” i.e. what are the most valuable things electricity can do for you. I’m considering a solar electric installation or electric vehicle for the main purpose of keeping my refrigerator running during extended power outages.”

    That is very doable. My refrigerator pulls 200 watts, the freezer is 125. A small inverter can power both of them at once. That is only about 3 amps at 120V or 30 amps at 12 V, plus a bit for the inverter. It’s not difficult to manage that scale of a system.

    It’s when you want to run the microwave that things get interesting. Now you need 15 amps at 120V which is 150 Amps at 12V, so those scale systems start being 24 or 48V to keep the current draw and the wire size down.

  371. @Bofur #175
    Re: Heating a full sized home with a single woodstove

    Hi Bofur,
    I did this accidentally once, for most of a winter. Before I moved, I had a woodstove in the family room, and also a ceiling fan in the same room. We would burn a fire occasionally when it was cold, but in January that year, I found that I was constantly burning wood in the stove. To try and move the heat around a bit, I switched the fan direction on the ceiling fan (small black switch on the motor casing with most such fans) and this blew the air upward, across the ceiling, and down the walls.
    The rest of the house was a bit colder, and the blower fan for the furnace was running continuously–The air intake for the furnace was at floor level in the same room as the wood stove.

    In the Spring, we found that ice had broken the coils on the heat pump outside. Warm air from the woodstove had been sucked into the furnace air intake vent and distributed around the house. The family room was about 85 F, and the rest of the rooms in the house stayed at 60 F or above.

    If you want to do something like this on purpose, it would probably work if you can use the air intake on the house furnace to re-distribute warm air through the house. The electric bill for the fan was high though…

  372. @Simon S – no eaves, no awnings, no tree – that doesn’t sound like excess to me, but brutalism corner-cutting. Here in Florida I’ve seen one-story apartment complexes with a token roof overhang – just wide enough to accommodate a sleeping dog. Unless the house was one of these all-windows-all-around?

  373. @Grover #374 – the cookbook has been claimed and has been sent off. Sorry! I should have posted that sooner. And Blood of the Earth has also been claimed and is packaged for mailing.

  374. Science: The Cozy Eskimo
    How does an Eskimo keep himself warm? Arctic Expert Vilhjalmur Stefansson, in Natural History, explains: he fits his jacket tight around his neck and wears nothing but pants underneath. Dressed in clothing that follows this plan, an Eskimo is comfortable at 40° below. A Minnesotan, who wears three times as much clothing, says Stefansson, is rarely happy outdoors at this temperature.

  375. Simon, thanks for this. Darwin is clearly going to get busy on your end of the planet…

    Jean-Vivien, Europe could have embraced resilience while it had the chance. It chose collectively to do otherwise, and now the bills are starting to come due. As for heat pumps, as legacy technology they may be worth keeping functional as long as possible.

    Milkyway, er, it’s going to be a good many centuries before anybody else in the world is willing to assume that Germany really has changed at a deep level. As an American musical comedian liked to sing:

    “Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
    But that couldn’t happen again,
    We taught them a lesson in 1918,
    And they’ve hardly bothered us since then!”

    Denis, thanks for this. That makes a great deal of sense.

    Slink, I get that. The building where I live — three rental flats, a “three-up” in Rhode Island parlance — was built around 1900 and also functions just fine without air conditioning; it’s in a walkable neighborhood with all the necessities close by. It’s late in the day to suggest that people relocate in a hurry, but if circumstances permit, that’s always a helpful option.

    Lunar, nope. A chafing dish has its own subtleties, and you can cook things on it quite promptly if you know how.

    Grover, as long as you’ve got decent caulking and weatherstripping to keep air flow down, the window coverings will do you much more good for less money.

    Darren, duly noted and thank you.

    RPC, just be sure you have a backup power source that isn’t dependent on the weather! As for “more than a third to half of energy,” er, you might want to try rereading my post, which addresses that very detail.

    Rod, exactly. The whole thing was an exercise in handwaving from the beginning.

    Steve, good heavens, it’s not that bad. To begin with, Venus is in mutual reception with Mercury, so both planets have the dignity they’d get in their rulerships. Of course we may be looking at different charts; mine has a different rising sign.

    Denis, these are harsh times, and the ingress charts show it.

    DFC, I think you’re quite mistaken here. The Russians are using only a very small fraction of their total military force in Ukraine, leaving the rest (including all their best divisions and their strategic arms) to respond to any NATO incursion, and their commanders are entirely willing to cede territory temporarily when appropriate for tactical reasons. It seems most likely to me that the Russian side is deliberately stringing this out, because the longer the fighting and the sanctions continue, the more destructive the impact on Europe will be. Meanwhile the Ukrainian army on the Izyum front is pouring thousands of troops into a pocket surrounded on three sides by Russian artillery; I doubt that will end well. This analysis is fairly close to mine, if you’re interested.

    Clay, it’s inevitable. I’ve had people like PeterEV posting stuff on my blogs since The Archdruid Report got its first commenters. Boundless optimism propped up by a careful lack of attention to net energy and the other hard limits — it’s a heady brew. The point I’d make in response is that we’ve been hearing this same shuck and jive since I was in my teens, and EVs are still just status symbols for green yuppies. The lure of what Jim Kunstler calls “the paradise of happy motoring” runs very deep in some minds.

    Curt, er, from what I can see things are not quite that bad. Concentrate on essentials and you can get through this alive.

    Martin, thanks for this.

  376. Northwind (offlist), if a comment does not follow house rules do not send it to me. It’s not my job to play nanny for those who can’t be bothered to keep a civil tongue in their heads. If you want to fling venom do it somewhere else; if you do it again here — even if it comes with a pro forma warning like this one, daring me to delete it — you will be banned from this blog. I trust I make myself clear.

  377. @Clay Dennis #272

    “If you are in such a situation prepare for the worse and sell now”

    Heh, well, speaking as someone living in a rural and hilly area (although not west), I appreciate this admonishment. I don’t know though, I mean at the end of the day if the energy age IS closing and living “normally” just Is No Longer On The Table, then I guess we all have to make our choices, and to me, if living without power is the price of being Left The Frack Alone, then I guess, like our forebears, I’ll take it.

    (Realizing that it’s one thing to SAY, “Oh yeah, I’ll live without power, no big deal bro,” and another thing to actually live it.)

    I do think as a caveat though, that I am not so sure rural land will become so devalued even in such a situation. One of the things I’ve learned from living here is that there is a big difference between farmland that is in good condition, and farmland that is in a state of semi-disrepair and requires a good deal of effort to rehabilitate. I think that in any potential future, farmland that has been well-maintained will be of value to the right buyer. I say that I’d be willing to live here without electricity, but even if I change my mind I think there would be people who really would.

    @PeteerEV #334:

    “Everyone talks EROI as the hallmark standard for investing but there may come a time when Congress supports worthwhile endeavors through fiscal efforts”

    Thanks for this. I agree, I’ve thought this for a long time, I don’t know why people never factor this into the equation unless there is some real reason why not.

    @NomadicBeer #349:

    Thanks for this useful comment, with which I have one disagreement, and that is:

    “The “open floor plan” of most american houses shows how few people actually USE their kitchen”

    In fact, I disagree with this most strongly. It has always been my impression – I grew up observing this at a relative’s house and I have the same experience in my current home – that when you have a very open floor plan including an open kitchen, the point is to facilitate socializing even as you prepare dinner. That is what I’ve always seen, anyway.

    All of this talk about maintaining your home triggers a thought which has never occurred to me until just now, and that is, like many older homes, I’ve been told that I may have vermiculite – viz., asbestos – in my attic. For those who don’t know, this was used as attic insulation during a certain era.

    Now, I’ve been given to understand that the best solution to this problem is just leaving the attic be and never going up there. But it does occur to me that if one wanted the issue professionally remedied, then it would probably be best to do it while the companies are still in business…

  378. Industrious and wise Archdruid, and esteemed commenters, I’m a bit late on this comment cycle but wanted to share a, to me, delicious little tidbit of irony related to global weather and to the volcanic eruption in January of this year. Please see exhibit A (from National Privileged Radio):

    where the NPR article predicts the eruption will warm the atmosphere, and Exhibit B, where European weather professionals actually look at what’s happening in the Southern Hemisphere, and predict noteworthy cooling in the Northern Hemisphere this coming winter just as we’ve been seeing in the Southern:

    Both these articles are from August. Seems NPR is a bit weak in their research, but resolutely strong in their agenda. Gee, I’m the opposite of surprised…

  379. JMG– It looks like the actual announcement took place at noon, which makes Scorpio the rising sign. I need to look at the details again, but just based on that one detail things are much better. Mars is one of the only planets with any dignity in the chart, and it also strengthens the king against his opposition by placing the Sun in the Tenth House. There are still a number of issues, but it’s not at all as bad as I originally expected– it shifts it from “This will all end in tears” to “Given patience and prudence, the new king can triumph over the forces massed against him.”

    Apparently the proclamation was broadcast live, though– I wonder if anyone saw it live and can confirm noon as the time?

  380. JMG,

    Before the winter came a stormy summer.

    My problem these past months has been “How to get water away from the foundation?”

    Any recommendations on DIY drainage solutions?

  381. From The Telegraph: “Is there any point to posh salt?” Yes, folks. Bragging rights.
    From the BBC: “How many people can Earth handle?” A lot less than it has now.

  382. From the S.M. Stirling fan list: Steve is convinced that Russia is weak, as weak as Tsarist Russia, and in a state of decline. Especially population. And Steve is an old-fashioned Tory in the original sense. Speaking of which, my daughter Carol translated “worse” when Lix Truss was mentioned, as “more conservative,” = “more loathsome.” I refrained from pointing out the original meaning of Conservative as being the party of the status quo. Nuance is not her strong point, at least politically, Well, she’s an Xer, and hits all the PMC buttons except that of unfitting her children for real life. She’s adamant about making them as resilient and multi-skilled as possible. But she still Knows Only One Story in this.

    And, of course, nuance was a specialty of my own contemporaries. Nuance and mild but pointed satire. Despite the jokes about us turning the red, white, and blue into salmon, ivory, and aqua, at least it wasn’t hard black and white.

  383. @DFC, I would guess that the Russian military can not believe their good fortune. They probably knew that the Ukrainians had a force of about 30,000 fairly well trained troops with decent equipment left. After the rest had been wiped out on the Eastern front and in Mariupol. This force would always be a pain in their sides and they did not relish having to cross the Dnieper deep in to Western Ukraine to finish them off. But once they figured out there would be one big last ditch offensive to impress Blinken ( who was visiting Kiev) they pulled back and let them gain some territory in the handy shape of a pocket. I would guess that these Ukrainians ( along with their Nato advisors) will learn the same lesson as Napoleon did when he marched on Moscow and found it empty. Getting there was the easy part, but trying to get home will be Tragic for them, and few will make it.

  384. #SiliconGuy (#359)

    The only temperature limits that I have found in the Tesla Model 3 with LFP batteries is this statement:

    “For better long-term performance, avoid exposing Model 3 to ambient temperatures above 140° F (60° C) or below -22° F (-30° C) for more than 24 hours at a time.”

    I’m wondering if your reference is to an older condition that has been solved?

    Clay Denis (#389)

    I did **NOT** say we are going to continue with “Happy Motoring” via EVs. EVs are a way of getting around our deleting world crude oil supplies. They are a way of us gettting us away from high fossil fuel usage and if need be, they are a way of going out into the countrysides to trade for meats, veggies, and fruits. Hopefully, we will not fall apart that quickly to where the latter is common place.

    There are also ways of getting around from using cobalt such as going back to Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries instead of using higher energy density cobalt based lithium ion batteries.

    EVs in the past have been run with just an electric motor, battery pack and an array of resistor switches.

  385. Hi Walt,

    You raise a good point. Women, including me, have been complaining about frigid offices for decades. Maybe as energy grows increasingly expensive, office workers will finally be able to strip down to their clothes. (I used to have to wear a parka.)

  386. @ Patricia Mathews

    It was a box with as good as floor-to-ceiling windows. Short of having a glass roof, you couldn’t design it to absorb more solar radiation. Bear in mind, in this part of the world days above 40 degrees celsius (104 F) are not uncommon in summer. So, in order for that house to be habitable on a 40 degree day you’d need a huge aircon system running full tilt. More than anything, though, it was just ugly.

    @ Milkyway

    “…what is going on over here is self-destructive more than anything else.”

    But if Germany self destructs, it takes the rest of Europe with it.