Monthly Post

Running On Empty

Well, we definitely seem to have passed a threshold of sorts. For most of the sixteen years since I started blogging, one of the things I had to point out constantly to my readers was the slow pace of historical change.  Whenever I posted an essay on the twilight of industrial society, I could count on fielding at least one comment from a reader who expected the entire modern world to crash and burn in the next few months.  I’d have to patiently remind them that Rome wasn’t sacked in a day—that it takes years of breathtakingly moronic decisions motivated by mindless greed, vicious partisan hatred, blind ideological dogmatism, and a total unwillingness to think about the long-term consequences of short-term decisions, to bring a civilization down.

Now of course all through the years while I was telling people this, decisions of the kind I’ve just described, guided by motives of the sort I’ve just characterized, were standard operating procedure throughout the industrial world.  Those proceeded to have their usual effect. I still don’t expect modern civilization to crash to ruin in the next few months, but it’s reached the point that I no longer have to tell people that the Long Descent won’t show up as soon as they think. No, at this point it’s my ironic duty to suggest that they make whatever preparations they have in mind sooner rather than later, because the world shows no signs of waiting for them.

Lots of bad days on the markets recently.

As I write this, the most obvious set of problems has to do with the economies of the United States and its client states. Those of my readers who follow financial media already know that signs of economic trouble are elbowing one another out of the way to get to the front pages. The cryptocurrency market has racked up gargantuan losses; the stocks listed on NASDAQ have shed something like $7 trillion in value so far this year; the massively overinflated US real estate market has sprung a leak and is showing signs of deflation, and layoffs are spreading through the economy as corporations shed jobs at a rapid pace. It’s shaping up to be a real mess.

Part of this is the ordinary rhythm of idiotic excess followed by equally idiotic panic—up with the rocket and down with the stick—that sets the beat of economic life in a neoliberal economy. That said, I think there may be more going on here than that. I don’t know how many of my readers are aware that the simmering hostility between the US government and the oil-producing nations of OPEC is coming to a brisk boil just now. The steady rise in oil prices over the last year or so has caused stark panic in the White House, since increased gas prices correlate rather nicely with the fading of Joe Biden’s last dim hopes of reelection. Repeated attempts to pressure the OPEC nations to increase oil production and drive prices down have gotten no response, not least because the Biden administration isn’t offering anything in return, and has been noticeably hostile to the interests of several leading OPEC nations.

Cue the gibbering inmates of the US Congress to draft a bill that would make it possible for plaintiffs to sue OPEC nations for price fixing in American courts. Normally there’s a thing called sovereign immunity—in plain English, the governments of other nations can’t be held accountable to US laws—but this bill, the cutely named NOPEC Act, would strip OPEC nations of sovereign immunity in US courts for any decision that some US lawyer could label price-fixing. The target of this project, of course, is the gargantuan amount of money that OPEC nations have invested in assets in the United States and its client states, which could be seized to pay off judgments under the new law. Since governments in the US and Europe have engaged in exactly that sort of piracy toward Russian assets this year, this isn’t an empty threat.

So, dear reader, if you were a high-ranking official in a petroleum-producing country, and you picked up the newspaper and read about the NOPEC Act, what would you do?

“Can the Americans really be that stupid?”

That’s right. You would start quietly cashing out of your investments in the United States and its client states, so those investments wouldn’t be available for US courts to seize. Those asset sales would of course result in a general softening of market conditions, and might well trigger a crash in asset prices, but at least you’d get some of your money back, you know. Meanwhile there are countries outside the US sphere of influence that would be happy to provide a home for your investment money—Russia, China, and India come to mind, just for starters—and if the US and its client states get obstreperous, why, you can always do what your grandfather did in 1973, refuse to sell petroleum to the American market, and watch the price of oil soar in response.

I don’t know for a fact that this is what’s happening to asset markets in the US and Europe. Nor do I know for a fact that this is part of what’s behind the remarkable robustness of the Russian economy in the face of US sanctions:  that would make perfect sense if there was a covert flow of OPEC wealth into Russian banks and securities, but doubtless there are other factors involved.  If the OPEC nations have the brains the gods gave geese, they’re using plenty of financial shenanigans to camouflage their reallocation of assets as long as possible, and so it’ll be very difficult to tell what’s happening until a lot of money is gone.  It could just be that the markets are insanely overinflated and what went up is now on its way back down.  It could be that China is doing the same sort of asset shuffle to free up funds to deal with its imploding real estate sector and the long term costs of its Covid policies. It could be that something completely different is going on.

Still, it’s pretty clear that it has never occurred to anybody in the US Congress that OPEC nations might, you know, have their own interests in mind, and might respond to a hamfisted attempt at bullying by doing something other than groveling at Uncle Sam’s feet. I’ve noted before that the elite classes in the US and Europe today seem incapable of understanding that the rest of the human race doesn’t consist of little automatons that will always and only do as they’re told. That failure of basic reasoning is fairly common in senile aristocracies, and it very often plays a large and colorful role in the collapse of empires. It may well play such a role in the collapse of ours.

One way or another, of course, sky-high energy prices are an important element in the fix we’re in, and that brings me circling back around to one of the themes I sketched out last week—the complex twilight of fossil fuel resources summed up in the phrase “peak oil.”

There’s only so much, and then it’s gone.

Let’s start with the basics. Petroleum is a nonrenewable resource. Yes, I’m aware that there’s a cornucopian fringe out there insisting, under the label “abiotic oil,” that the Earth is full of oil and any oil field drained of oil will promptly be replenished from further underground. Do you recall the 2008 oil spike, when old oil fields in Pennsylvania, California, and a hundred other places that had been capped decades ago were opened up again, since crude oil was worth upwards of $100 a barrel?  Not one of those fields had refilled, as the abiotic oil theory predicted.  There’s a good simple word for a theory that makes predictions that don’t pan out. That word is “wrong.”

Petroleum is a nonrenewable resource.  It provides around 40% of all energy used by human beings on this planet, including nearly all the energy for transportation. (Electric cars and trains have a negligible share worldwide.) It’s fairly rare in the Earth’s crust, all things considered, and it’s been extracted at a breakneck pace for more than a century. The rate of new discoveries has been far behind the rate of annual extraction for decades.  Do you see the problem there?

The obvious solution, if you happen to want to sustain an industrial society of the current sort, is to find some other energy source to replace petroleum. The other fossil fuels won’t cut it—they’re also being used at breakneck rates, and facing the same depletion problems as oil. More coal is being mined and burnt today, for example, than at the peak of the coal age a century and a quarter ago, and most of the coal that’s being burnt now is low-quality brown coal because all the good stuff got shoveled up and burnt decades ago.

That means that some new energy resource has to be discovered and deployed in a hurry. That’s why scientists have been hard at work on that project for well over fifty years now, and the one minor difficulty is that they haven’t found one yet.  More to the point, they’ve found any number of supposed replacements for petroleum, which have soaked up a great many investment dollars and then failed to perform as advertised. There are two primary reasons why all attempts at a substitute for petroleum have failed: scale and net energy.

One more bankrupt ethanol plant. My longtime readers will remember when these were going to make oil obsolete.

Let’s start with issues of scale. To cite one example that took up a great deal of attention and investment money back in the day, you can grow corn, ferment it into ethanol—that’s spelled “corn likker” in the flyover states, and it’s great stuff if you don’t mind the hangover—and burn that in an engine along with, or instead of, gasoline. Back when I was first blogging, there were ethanol trolls all over the peak oil end of the internet, loudly proclaiming that all us peak oil bloggers were as wrong as wrong could be, because corn-based ethanol would make up the shortfall. The one small problem with this analysis is a matter of scale. If you planted every acre of farmland in the United States with corn, leaving no room for food or anything else, and turn it into fuel ethanol, you’d replace only a small fraction of the gasoline we use every single year. (And that doesn’t even begin to deal with the need for diesel fuel, jet fuel, or any of the other fuels made from petroleum.)

Similar difficulties show up with many other proposed replacements for any of the fossil fuels, because fossil fuels are far more concentrated than any other energy resource on this planet. You get petroleum when huge accumulations of dead sea life in anoxic conditions get squeezed and roasted deep inside the earth for millions of years, a process that soaks up vast amounts of energy that no human being has to pay for. That’s why to match the energy in a single gallon of gasoline, for example, you need around one ton of fully charged auto batteries. That’s one of the problems with renewables, by the way: they depend on the diffuse and intermittent flows of energy we get from the sun right now, instead of the highly concentrated resources the earth has stashed away in her sediments over the last half billion years or so.

Issues of scale, though, are only one set of challenges that have to be faced to replace petroleum. The second is net energy. It takes energy to extract, process, and transport energy, and to build the devices that use energy. Take the total energy in a resource and subtract the energy that has to be used for all these purposes, and what’s left is net energy. It’s exactly the same, conceptually, as net income: take your gross income and subtract your expenses, and you’ve got your net, which is the amount of money you can actually do something with.

Remember Pets.com? A fine example of what happens when income doesn’t keep up with outgo.

You can have a huge gross income and still go broke.  All that’s necessary is that your expenses have to be just a little bit larger than your income. (Watch the tech industry over the next few years if you want to see that assertion proved in a very colorful manner.)  In exactly the same way, your gross energy doesn’t matter two farts in a Cat-5 hurricane if the energy inputs you need are too high. The poster child here is algal biodiesel, another supposed substitute for petroleum that boomed and went bust a decade ago. On paper, it looks great: you farm vast amounts of oil-rich pond scum, process it into diesel, and away you go. In practice, the net energy ranges well into negative numbers—in other words, it makes exactly as much sense as trying to get a profit by buying dollar bills for $1.50 each.

Net energy is very difficult to calculate. Fortunately there’s a convenient proxy, which is price. The more expensive an energy resource turns out to be in practice, the worse the net energy turns out to be. Nuclear power is a great example here. Yes, I know there’s always some exciting new nuclear technology that’s sure to change that, and provide abundant, cheap electrity into the far future.  There’s always one of those on the drawing boards, or more than one, and it’s funny how reliably it turns out that every nuclear technology is affordable until it gets built. Then it turns out to be another gargantuan white elephant that can only keep going with huge and ongoing government subsidies.

The secret is that the net energy of nuclear power is very, very low. You have to process vast amounts of raw material to produce the fuel rods, and that takes energy; you have to build and maintain a huge and complex power plant, and that takes energy; you have to deal with the wastes, and that takes energy, and so on through a very long list of energy sinks. That’s another problem with renewables, by the way. Most renewable technologies yield very modest net energy, because so much energy has to go into gathering and concentrating the diffuse energy flows that power renewables. That’s why they require the same sort of constant subsidies as nuclear plants.

The future of nuclear power. This is one of the bankrupt WPPSS plants in Washington State.

Keep track of the economic dimension, in fact, and you can filter out most of the nonsolutions to the accelerating depletion of conventional petroleum. Keeping track of the economic dimension, in turn, is something that cheerleaders for purported replacements for petroleum inevitably will not do. They love to talk about technical feasibility, and of course it’s quite true that you can come up with any number of technically feasible gimmicks to replace petroleum. The problem is that none of them can pay for themselves.

It’s usually about this point in a discussion of peak oil that somebody gets angry and starts yelling, “Look, there has to be some replacement for petroleum!” That’s an understandable belief. Unfortunately, it also happens to be dead wrong. No law of nature requires another cheap, abundant, highly concentrated energy source to pop up in time to save us from the consequences of wasting the one we had. Most people figure out fairly early in life that if you spend your entire paycheck on booze, no good fairy is going to come up with the rent money in time to keep your rump from landing on the street. The same rule applies to energy, but for complex reasons rooted in our collective psychology, this isn’t something that most people want to hear.

That brings us around to our current situation. Despite the crumbling economy, petroleum is running well above $100 a barrel these days, because—ahem—we’re running out:  not all at once, but slowly, one dry oil well at a time. The fracking frenzy that briefly boosted US oil production over the last decade is sputtering, because oil is a nonrenewable resource, and even if you don’t have to worry about the bottom line because the Fed is printing money hand over fist and funneling it to you, eventually you run out of shale deposits that can be fracked.

Again, this doesn’t mean that we’re going to run out suddenly. It means that oil production firms have to run faster and faster, invest more and more money and resources, and struggle harder and harder against geological reality to keep the market supplied with oil—and this means that an ever-growing share of economic output has to be funneled into the energy industry, leaving an ever-shrinking share for everything else.

Welcome to the future. (It’s here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.)

That’s the future we’ve backed ourselves into. We’re running on empty, and the last gas station is somewhere back there in the blue distance.

I mentioned two weeks ago when I announced this sequence of posts that I was going to talk about what individuals, families, and community groups could do about all this. Fortunately, what to do about an energy crisis was explored in great detail half a century ago, during the oil crises of the 1970s, and before then in the severe shortages during the two world wars. The difficulty we face is very simple.  Energy—all forms of it—will become much more expensive than you expect, and everything made with energy—in other words, most goods and services, across the board—will also become much more expensive than you expect. Meanwhile jobs will become scarcer and economies will contract as energy costs bite deeper into every form of economic activity. That’s called stagflation: stagnation plus inflation. It’s what happens when the price of energy spikes, and it’s happening now.

So you have two straightforward tasks ahead of you, dear reader. The first is to use much less energy than you do right now. The second is to cut your expenditures on everything you can, to free up the money you’ll need to deal with soaring energy costs and price inflation generally.

Using less energy is easy if you’re American. It’s easy because we waste energy so profligately. Go here and you can download a set of basic energy conservation papers that were drawn up during the oil crisis of the 1970s. (They’re the lessons I studied when I was getting my Master Conservers certificate in the very early 1980s. Yes, they had Master Conserver programs back then.) If you rent, you can use weatherstripping and cheap window insulation; if you own your own home, there’s much more that you can do. You can change your habits to cut energy costs, and you can also pick up the grand old 1970s habit of doing more for yourself instead of buying things, since here again energy goes into most goods and services, and prices will rise accordingly.

Great stuff back in the day. Pity that it (and the counterculture that supported it) sold out.

If you have the chance to pick up some do-it-yourself books from back in the day,  you’ll be better off still. The self-sufficiency books listed for sale in old issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and other resources of the same era?  Worth their weight in gold.  It also helps to know people who can teach you how to do things for yourself, and to put plenty of time and effort as soon as possible into applying that fine old country saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”  People thought they could afford to neglect that during the heyday of the fossil fuel era. Now we get to learn better.

Oh, and make sure to have backups for anything that depends on energy you don’t produce yourself. With its usual monumental stupidity, the US Congress is already talking about price controls, and those are among the best ways known to our species to turn price hikes into actual shortages. (The US isn’t self-sufficient in energy resources, not by a long shot, and nobody will be in a hurry to sell oil to us at artificially low prices, you know.) If price controls go through, expect gas stations to run out of fuel, diesel shortages to play merry hob with product delivery to stores, and rolling blackouts if the price controls get applied to natural gas. Fun times!

One more detail. This isn’t going to last forever; energy crises never do.  My working guess at this point is that the US and Europe are facing a decade or so of economic crisis and soaring energy costs before demand destruction, sharp increases in energy efficiency, and a modest helping of new technologies bring renewed stability in energy markets. Mind you, by then we’ll have other things to worry about. I’ll discuss those in the posts ahead.

389 Comments

  1. Just two quick comments.

    First, I’ve been fortunate perhaps because of where I live but also I’ve not bought lots of things that were unneeded so hadn’t noticed shortages or inflated too much. The past weekend though when I went with my parents to a local bar to get a burger after a carry permit class, we all noticed the bottom of the menu had an insert stating that prices were all fifty cents higher than the menu showed due to inflation. It reminded me of your Weird of Hali series! We are indeed over the precipice of the ride.

    Second, with the gas prices now higher than I remember back in 2007, I expected to see people cutting back. On the contrary, it seems people here have been going on with life as normal. Perhaps with a bit more focus at trying to enjoy things as normal. That does not bode well. Not only are our elite senile, but collectively we imitating that senility. Or perhaps people subconsciously know and are trying to enjoy one last hurrah…

  2. Biden tossing out the rule of law to seize the assets of private citizens who happen to be Russian is going to go down as a huge mistake. If Congress had passed a formal declaration of war that’s one thing, but “l don’t like your government so I’m stealing your money” is just wrong. US dollar assets are no longer safe, so where will the money go now?

  3. On a somewhat more personal note, but interest in general, how do you think the railroad industry will fare in this time of upheaval? It’s been getting a bit more attention due to shortages, with Class I Rail providers making testimonies before congress. I’ve noticed a huge uptick in the amount of hires in the railroad industry and might be one of those lucky enough to get onboard. There’s also talk of passenger rail services being expanded, the most recent being in Lakeland country. Perhaps it is all too little and too late.

  4. “That’s one of the problems with renewables, by the way: they depend on the modest flows of energy we get from the sun right now, instead of the gargantuan amounts the earth has stashed away in her sediments over the last half billion years or so.”

    It’s not so gargantuan really; the entire store of fossil energy is equal to 1-2 months of solar energy input to Earth. That’s why the direct heat output of fossil fuel combustion has an essentially undetectable impact on our planet’s thermal budget. The problem is not one of absolute availability but of conversion and concentration.

    Perhaps the closest that the Earth comes to providing concentrated energy in real time is through the funneling of the hydrologic cycle into large cascading rivers. That is the one renewable option with high net energy (especially when we utilize natural waterfalls rather than building massive dams) but the total amount is modest and geographically limited relative to our current demand.

    “eventually you run out of shale deposits that can be fracked.”

    Given our chosen alternative profanity that has some other meanings :-).

    “Meanwhile jobs will become scarcer and economies will contract as energy costs bite deeper into every form of economic activity.”

    It will be interesting to see if that first one actually happens. For various reasons, which seem to center around a large scale exit from the labor force, there are more jobs than willing workers at the moment, and the trend seems to be accelerating. And failure of industrial supply chains will create a need for much more human labor in agriculture and other areas. So I think this particular crisis may not feature a lack of available jobs, although it will still be tough to get by and a lot of white-collar/office workers are going to need to get their hands dirty if they want any income to cover basic necessities.

  5. Hello JMG,

    Interesting post as always.

    I want to ask your opinion about what I need to work on for preparation, and remaining livelyhood risks this decade.

    What I have done so far is to move to a latin america country to reduce my expenses, and to live in a rural area where there are other foreigners, some of whom I know well.

    On the plus side, here half the population still produces food, it is possible to live with little, though inflation is creeping in, I make money with clients in the US and Europe, I am part of a real small community of friends that could help in a crisis. Also luckily this country produces something like 60% of its energy from biomass, hydro and its own oil& gas sources, and energy per capita use is still low.

    On the risk side, I am a foreigner and crime may increase this decade, it may become harder to find clients online in western countries, and I do not produce food or own land here. My capital to buy land is still low.

    I do not think that the online economy is going to stop in the next 15 years, yet I could be wrong.

    What do you see as my most significant risk, and what I need to work more on?

    Gracias.

  6. The fun never stops. t’m having to think twice on taking a 400 mile round trip to see family who I havent seen in two years. That’s 10 UK gallons of fuel at £7.50 a gallon right now =, £75 (92 dollars) even in my small 1.2l gasoline car. That will basically become my annual holiday real quick – forget abroad!.

  7. Thanks JMG,

    In reference to your last points on conversation, I was talking along these lines with my Da a few days ago. He was brought in 1950s Dublin so pretty poor from our standards. He was making the point that there doesn’t seem to be much inbuilt conversation, or redundancy, in people these day. Perhaps it is because he’s lived long enough to see Ireland transform itself from a 3rd world country to one of the richest in the world, but he was recalling how people back in the 50s, 60s, would make things last longer, or repair them if they broke, notwithstanding pawning the wedding suit to buy Sunday dinner. While I’m not sure if I’m exactly replicating the nuance of what he was saying here, but I think there is a large difference in how people perceive an item as a unit of necessity that they have to take care of, rather than an item that is bought out of compulsion or because you were following a TV advert.

    Looking forwards, there does seem to be a need to educate people in how to make things last longer and repair them if needs be, but that requirement is competing against the expectation that if you lose, break or grow tired of an object a new one is just a click away.

    I wonder do you have any thoughts on this,

    Thanks.
    A.

  8. Gas is up to $5.15 a gallon almost overnight in the far western suburbs of Chicago. The price recently jumped.
    Around April 1st it was $4.00 after hovering between 3 and 4 almost all of 2021. This is crushing the local economy and will continue to force most of us into austerity, starting with the lower and middle classes. At this rate we will have $12 a gallon gas by 2023 I think.

    It’s really weird living through this. I couldn’t have imagined it as a kid even though I remember Carter’s presidency and gas shortages in 1978.

    Outside of discursive meditation, I’ve been dealing with it by trying to up my gardening skills. This year I’m trying to grow potatoes in bags, making tinctures and salves, fermenting, that sort of thing. Do you ever save your tea grounds? I’ve been doing it in order to figure out how to make Burmese tea salad. It seems to basically be like making sauerkraut but instead of cabbage you use spent tea leaves. As you can probably tell, it’s a very gentle and boring collapse for me. I am very fortunate to own a small home in a good climate.

  9. Ah, yes. This “shale” is about to get real.

    Excellent post, as always. There are many moving parts to the net energy equation, but a closer look at many of the miracle green sources quickly takes the shine off them.

    I poked around a bit on the Internet looking for numbers related to crude oil, and came up with something like this for the world:

    known reserves: 1,600 Billion barrels
    annual burn rate: 27-35 Billion barrels
    number of years remaining at 30B bbl/yr burn rate: 53.3
    annual percentage of newly discovered oil reserves – 4-5 %

    It’s my opinion that new discoveries, higher efficiency, and alternative sources of energy will help to some degree, but will be offset by the higher costs of extraction and delivery. Oil reserves are similar to how JMG describes the coal supplies – the best and easiest to get are long gone. The real wild card in the mix is how much can be conserved from cutting back on our current lifestyles? And then how much of that savings is consumed by war?

    I don’t think Uncle Sam and other governments are dealing with this very well. From what I can tell about the Climate Change/Green Jobs industry, the major goal is grabbing funding, ala Elon Musk. There is no magic source of energy waiting in the wings.

  10. Having worked in the oil and gas industry, and with some top geologists, I have been pointing these things out to people for quite some time, particularly your analysis of net energy..I have also pointed out the issues of declining topsoil and draining of aquifers….The denial or even angry responses I get from most people has convinced me that people simply will not accept the reality of diminishing returns or diminishing resources until it bites them in the ass…Excellent analysis, JMG, but your readers are the minority who will face reality…

  11. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. My back of fag packet calculation following the UK government’s broad aim to switch all heating and transport (like for like, car for car) to electricity suggested we would need a five fold increase in generation. I can’t see that happening.

    My bigger concern is food. Not only are the costs of production soaring as much of it is petroleum based but we are seeing shortages due to Ukraine; these will be added to by India’s recent announcement. Add in Brexit which is decimating the farm workforce in the UK and we have a perfect storm. We have seen a huge rise in foodbanks over the past 10 years and it will just get worse.

    I think food is what we need to concentrate on in the short / medium term.

  12. A really excellent post, thank you John Micheal! In 1971, when I was a senior in high school, my parents gave me a copy of the Last Whole Earth Catalog for Christmas. I loved it, it was fascinating. Imagine my surprise when I found out so many of those people doing really cool things had sold out! What a disappointment. My husband and I were true believers and tried to live that life as we had our four kids. My husband tells me he still hasn’t forgiven all the sellouts, I’m just glad we are being forced back into those times, but unfortunately, a lot of the younger ones don’t know how to live like that, but they will learn. We learned because our parents were Depression era kids and were afraid to spend money, my Mom was always shocked at how profligate more modern people were with their money.
    Thanks again, John Michael, for your always excellent posts.

  13. I’m wondering if it’s time to buy a new bicycle to replace the 1960s vintage Schwinn that I rescued recently from my mom’s garage, keeping in mind (of course) that bicycles are almost as easy to steal as catalytic converters.

  14. You mentioned the tech industry as an example of how even with very high incomes you can still go bankrupt, and I suspect that it will be earlier than later. It wouldn’t surprise me if the process got started later this year, and I think it could spread very quickly too.

    I happened to have a very large windfall in 2018, and when I looked for somewhere to put the money, I realized there is no safe place because the entire market is overvalued. However, the tech companies fundamentals are insanely bad, even by current market standards. After I deducted their income earned from selling shares and bonds, none of the companies that sell primarily internet services or software I looked at (Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, among others) made a profit in 2017. The companies that primarily sell hardware (ex: IBM) look to be in better shape, but this is largely because they benefit from the enormous amount of demand for their products because of the software it can run, and they would likely run into major problems if the software went away.

    I went from there to looking the the non-profits (ex:Wordpress, Mozilla), and saw the same thing: none of them seem to be able to break even with their services. It looks like all of the organizations that provide internet services or software, based on the publicly available data, are dependent on rolling over debt regularly (and, in the case of the nonprofits, massive donations made by sometimes very sketchy people and groups), and I’ve been watching them ever since because when this stops, the internet will very suddenly become a lot smaller as an enormous number of services currently on offer suddenly go away.

    I expect governments to intervene, because a complete overnight crash of the internet would be too disruptive, but I doubt they’d be interested in maintaining things like Tumblr, personal blogs, or the like. All of which is to say that while the things essential for keeping society functioning would be bailed out (for a while), but that once the internet has to make a profit, it will end up looking very, very different from now.

    A lot of people are blabbing on about how rising interest rates may affect companies, but to my mind the most dramatic effect could easily be the sudden stop of much of the internet shortly. In fact, in some of my more cynical moments I’ve wondered whether this played a major role in the way interest rates have been kept so low for so long: breaking the internet would be a major blow to the collective psyche, and this would be something best avoided.

  15. Hi, John, thank you for this article. I look forward to more like it as this descent continues. In addition to reducing consumption and spending, on one hand, and working on improving self-sufficiency, on the other, are you a proponent of any sort of investing at all as a way to try to keep up with this crazy level of inflation? I don’t mean the stock market, necessarily, as that’s obviously a big mess right now, but just anything—bonds, for instance—other than just keeping money in a savings account? I have no interest at all in trying to make significant money through investing and probably couldn’t even if I wanted to, especially since like many Americans I struggle just to get by and don’t have much left after paying the bills. It’s more about just trying to not get totally destroyed by inflation. Reducing consumption and spending will definitely help with managing the soaring costs of energy and everything else, but can those things be enough on their own? Thank you.

  16. Truths we need to know and absorb. Thanks so much for your work. Are your blogs copyrighted? I’d like to send this on to friends, etc., so do I have your consent? Thanks again for your bravery.

  17. I’ll point out that diesel fuel is the same as home heating oil. Home heating oil is dyed a different color. It’s also taxed differently.

    As diesel fuel prices rise, so does home heating oil. Lots of us in the northeastern U.S. use home heating oil to keep from freezing in the winter.

    If I knew then what I know now, when I had to replace our fuel oil tank in summer of 2001 when we moved in, I’d have gotten the biggest tank I could fit into the space rather than a same-sized 250 gallon tank.

    Insulation is *KEY*, closely followed by temperature setting.

    I’ve never used as much heating oil as I did the first winter.
    How much do I use in a winter? It varies, based on how cold the winter is. I’ve lowered all my other variables.

    Which brings me back to the size of my home heating oil tank.
    An easy winter is one tank, run until empty.
    A hard winter uses more than 250 gallons.

    If I had a 1,000 gallon tank, I’d be good for three winters. I could take advantage of the dips in price to fill the tank. Home heating oil doesn’t go bad.

    As it is, I’ll be topping my tank in July, when home heating oil is at its lowest.

    How many people think like this?

  18. Wow! I can feel the denial, anger, bargaining and hopefully acceptance coming on! It’s all quite terrifying, I hope that’s the depression speaking. Thanks JMG, lots to think about. I feel a little paralysed.

    As a culture/society/world we collectively have no idea this is coming down the tracks i.e. indistrial society running out of fuel. I think you’ve alluded to the complete black out this problem receives in your books. It’s going to hit us all like a train. I’m unsure how to brace for impact! I’ll try L.E.S.S!

  19. I’ve been seriously reducing my consumption and downscaling my lifestyle the past 18 months or so. I’ve planted a garden, forage in my decently sized yard, etc. Driving less, walking more. My sewing skills are getting better. I’ve even located a local honey farm, and I’m hoping to buy beeswax for candle making. I’ve been reducing my use of electrical appliances, including light bulbs. As it turns out, it was very easy to cut the power cord off my floor lamps, remove the shade, and rig the area around the socket to become a candle holder.

    It has been interesting to watch how my thinking has changed. Take the floor lamps-turned-candle stands. During my time as an apocalyptic prepper, I would have driven to my local Walmart or Hobby Lobby, or maybe visited Amazon, to buy some kind of tall candle holder stands. Brilliant thinking, since I could so do that for replacement parts in the post-apocalyptic world, after all. Perhaps I was the lone idiot, I don’t know. But now I’m focused on learning new skills as the core of my strategy to survive the coming hardships.

    The best part of this is how much better my life has become. No longer watching TV has improved my mind. Reading more has expanded my knowledge. Participating in the Great Resignation has reduced my anxiety and improved my mental health. Spending lots of time outside, working in my yard, has improved my physical and mental health. And so on. What saddens me is how few members of my family and circle of friends seem interested in this. The word “Amish” has been used as part of some mild ribbing.

  20. “No, at this point it’s my ironic duty to suggest that they make whatever preparations they have in mind sooner rather than later, because the world shows no signs of waiting for them.”

    In response to this observation, I have been doing a lot of preparation in my own life, but one of the preparations that I have been procrastinating on is making more local and personal connections with people who are interested in preparing for the sort of future we are likely to face. So in, the category of “better late than never”, if you are in Washington state, reading this comment, and are interested in personally connecting and discussing the future/sharing ideas/etc., shoot me an email: squirecincinnatus (at) protonmail (dot) com. Thanks!

  21. Brother John,

    It seems forever ago when you first trod the path of this series of posts. One fifth of a normal lifetime. Gads time has flown. As always many thanks for helping us understand where we are on history’s map.

    My oversized compost bin and ever improving garden owe a lot of thanks to your blog posts and books. My orchard full of good cider making apples & pear trees, as well as my grape vines look to bear well this year. It takes time for this to happen and you helped motivate me to quit worrying and start moving. None too soon I think.

    Your clearly thought out posts/books have helped me to organize my thoughts and understand our situation. As with anyone there are areas I have a different take than you. But not many. I wanted to take a minute to thank you. When I turn this year’s grapes into some yummy mold wine in a few months I’ll send a toast in your direction.

    Will

  22. The NOPEC Act is not a new idea: it was first floated in…2007-08, during the previous spike in oil prices. Dubya’s veto threat killed it. According to Wikipedia, “At the time of passage, U.S. motorists were paying $3.21/gallon for gasoline”. Ahhh, the good ole days!

    I ran across a book titled “The Oil Depletion Protocol”, from 2006, by Richard Heinberg, at a used bookstore. The protocol involves nations agree to reduce their oil production and imports according to an agreed formula. Of course, that never happened. But the reduction in use will happened, just in an irregular, uncontrolled way.

    Instead of Demand Destruction, people may, you know, Demand. Destruction. Check out Sri Lanka.

  23. You always come up with very effective phrasing, JMG, in the model of using a bit of sugar to blunt the taste of medicine. An especially apt one this morning was: “Most people figure out fairly early in life that if you spend your entire paycheck on booze, no good fairy is going to come up with the rent money in time to keep your rump from landing on the street.”

    I’ve mentioned Low Tech Magazine (https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/) here before, but today’s essay seems to make doing so again appropriate. Kris De Decker and his co-writers provide some excellent advice about how best to cope in a low aggregate energy world.

    Another excellent resource available online are Geoff Lawton’s talks and videos about permaculture. (https://www.permaculturenews.org/author/geofflawton/)

    My husband and I and many of our friends remember the 70s well. When we lived in Vancouver, BC back then we participated in the start-up of Greenpeace, opened the first city-wide food co-op, free clinic, built a children’s playground, art and craft co-op, and associated in ventures with people on communal farms. It was a wonderful time not destined to last unfortunately. The goals were right but the timing was off.

    I’ve long been appreciative of your wisdom, insight, and great patience.
    Thanks again.

  24. Great post! I think what’s increasingly being exposed is the difference between money and wealth. In the western world (particularly the US and the UK) we have a lot of money (QE!) but in terms of real wealth (physical assets (oil, metals), skills, manufacturing capability, spirituality) we are a lot poorer than previously. In other countries it’s the other way round, and they look to be in for a less bumpy ride.

    I’ve noticed here in London (UK) that despite the fuel price rises there still seems to be a lot of car journeys/congestion, only now there is a lot more honking and road rage. Based on this observation of the working class neighbourhood that I live in, I wonder if adaptation isn’t a voluntary action but one where people will be dragged into adapting whilst kicking and screaming? I really hope that the kicking and screaming is only metaphorical.

    Our oil supply woes could worsen because Big oil has spent the past few years been chastised (by the short-sighted feel-goodery aristocracy of course) into doing less exploration, and so even now they are not keen to invest despite the high prices. This self-imposed dilemma is summed up in this recent Bloomberg news story: ‘Big Oil Spends on Investors, Not Output, Prolonging Crude Crunch’ (7th May 22).

    As a personal note: your book The Long Descent opened my eyes to our predicament, and so my late twenties has been enjoyably spent adapting in the ways that I can manage. Many thanks 🙂

  25. I had a coworker who in the 80s was working for a major energy company that worked out a whole infrastructure to turn coal into a pumpable slurry (just a little water w/ detergent) that went into bladders that could be shipped then folded up when empty. I’m not sure what the application was. (Maybe power generation?) He said they were just ready to introduce it commercially when the OPEC countries upped production and slashed prices, which killed the roll out. Climate change aside, it’s interesting how such a technology gets killed off.

  26. Every time I’m in the car now I hear the clopping of horses hooves on the macadam. Could the one of the four riders of the apocalypse but I like to think that its a premonition of the not so distant future transportation. Investment opportunities in Amish buggies coming soon.

    People I talk to at the farmer’s market and grocery store are a mix of scared and angry. The 180 from when Trump was in office is giving people whiplash. My PMC class peers are convinced that any day now the economy is going to return to normal. State governments still have millions of covid relief money to spend, after all. All I can think is – do you have any idea how much anything costs? Our tiny local public school district has a budget of $72 million now (It was $55 million twenty years ago when we moved here. No change in study enrollment, but plenty more staff and admin.) Even if the state had $500 million it would be like pissing in the ocean to make it warm (One of my grandfather’s favorite sayings and so appropriate these days.). No one is buying that it is Putin’s fault (even the PMC’s).

    I’m glad I have a dark sense of humor. Really helpful during these times. Hope everyone is keeping a journal!

  27. Hey JMG. Its so odd. I don’t regularly check in on your posts, however, today you randomly came to mind and I decided to check and see if there was a monthly post today.
    Such an odd sensation to check the website seemingly right as you posted. (Do you send out a homing signal on purpose?? lol)
    Cheers ya’ll to the decade ahead, Im looking forward to enjoying the “simpler things” to pass my time and save some cash for the days ahead.

  28. I was hearing about the NOPEC bill, looking confused and wondering exactly what useful it was supposed to accomplish. I hadn’t picked up that it could be used to grab Saudi etc. investment assets in the USA, and that fear of this would likely cause a rush for the exits from assorted US investments by investors in Opec nations. I had picked up that it would make OPEC mad, and that they might react by cutting oil exports to the US, and that in the current climate of high oil prices and the war in Ukraine NOPEC would be a bad idea for the USA economically, and give OPEC a lot of reason to go hang out with Russia.

    I really can’t see NOPEC or the threat of it helping the USA on balance, and there’s at least two ways it could make things worse for the USA. This is dumb.

    You’re absolutely right that the elites in the USA and Europe are behaving like everyone else will just do what they want, and it isn’t working and isn’t going to work. You can add Canada to the list. Ours are just as bad.

    When I see people in the west who aren’t elites following along where they’re led, more and more I want to ask “Why? Why do you trust these people? They keep lying, they show no signs of considering your interests, and what they’re doing isn’t working and is downright dangerous!”

  29. JMG – I’m not sure if this is something you would answer or not. I’m curious for your thoughts on how to handle financial assets (dollar-denominated savings, for instance) over the coming turbulence. Of course, we want to pay down debts, reduce expenses, and reduce dependence on energy. Furthermore, as you explain in Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, the cosmos favors flow over accumulation. Applied to assets and income, this suggests being capable of generating continual income via value-added services, rather than trying to live off a large savings. Nonetheless, for people who might have a significant amount of savings, what are smart ways for them to manage that in the near future? Using it to invest in those things mentioned above seems smart. But, then what? Thanks.

  30. JMG,
    Like you I am old enough to remember the 70’s and what seemed like a more reasonable response to energy crisis of that time. I was thinking about why there is so much more magical thinking now than back in the days of the Whole Earth Catalog and Rain Magazine. It occurred to me that one of the big problems is the misinterpretation of Moores Law and how it has turbocharged the cult of progress. Back in the 70’s semiconductors were progressing steadily but did not really effect normal people much nor get that much attention. But for a short burst from the Apple II until the iPhone X electronic stuff did get cheaper and more powerful at a remarkable rate. But so many people in our current era have interpreted Moores law as all technology gets better and cheaper with time. They think that just because solar panels got cheaper for a few years because they were being made in China with cheap labor and cheap coal fired energy that they will keep getting cheaper. So now instead of cutting wood,putting up insulating curtains and taking up canning like people did in the 70’s they are content to sit back and let Elon Musk save them. I keep thinking how much better off we would be if Peak Oil had really happened in 1978 and the North Slope and North Sea oil did not exist. If we had started our energy decline back then I think we would be in a far better place. Perhaps Mother Nature is just a trickster and wanted to give Humans one more chance to do the right thing ( a second wave of abundant oil to use wisely instead of wasting). I am afraid we failed that test and now a trip to the woodshed is in the offing.

  31. It has been interesting to watch ( from a coldhearted academic perspective ) the shortages and price increases, in Europe especially, due to the poorly thought out and self destructive attempts to sanction Russia into submission, and realize that the same shortages would have occurred in another five or so years from resource shortages alone. Nothing like a war to get people to accept hardships they would otherwise make much more fuss about.
    I read one post saying that Biden pushed the present war agenda as an attempt to keep his party in power in Nov. and 2024 by cultivating a ” patriotic ” vote of not changing government in the middle of a war. It is pretty horrible if that is even part of his reasoning, which I fear it is.
    JMG, what is your opinion on the closing of European nuclear power plants before the end of their recommended life cycle? I agree with you that nuclear is a loss in both energy and economic terms. It would seem to me though that most of the damage is done at the construction and decommission,and that closing them 10 years early without any solid plans for replacing the energy might have been a bit short sighted.

  32. JMG,

    “Those of my readers who follow financial media already know that signs of economic trouble are elbowing one another out of the way to get to the front pages.”

    Headline in today’s NY Times: “Stocks resume their rout as falling profits reignite fears of inflation.” A few months ago in your blog, you advised: “Get out of stocks. Now.” Shortly after reading that, I moved most of my 401K into “interest income” (a low but guaranteed return), and did the same with the rest of the balance a couple of weeks ago. While I didn’t act quickly enough to save all the balance, it didn’t go down nearly as much as it would have otherwise. So thank you for that advice!

  33. A different twist to the NOPEC situation.

    The reason why the US is the world’s reserve currency is because so many countries like to use us as their full-employment plan. They cut their currency value to make their products cheep to us. This means we buy a lot of their stuff in US$.

    They then have a problem of what to do with all that US$. If they spend it on US products, the dollar will start to go down, and they will loose their pricing advantage: no more full employment.

    So they do various things that will make their US$ useful without effecting the currency balance. They can buy US Bonds. They can buy real estate. They can buy up businesses. They can also use the $US to trade back and forth so they have so many of them: thus our reserve currency status.

    If you take away these countries ability to do useful things with the US$, they aren’t going to want it as much. They will try other options. This will be bad for them because it means they won’t have the sinkhole of the US economy to keep throwing products at and keep people employed. But its worse for us because the price of imports will become very expensive, and we aren’t able to make all the stuff we use anymore.

    In the long run we (in theory) rebalance our economy. But paraphrasing what Keynes said about prices of stocks going up in the long run: In the long run, we are all dead.

  34. @Prizm #3 re: railroads

    The Class I railroads, in an attempt to maintain shareholder returns at all costs and in the usual boneheaded corporate way, have implemented new attendance policies and other schedule modifications that are causing huge numbers of lifelong railroaders to quit or retire early. That, rather than an actual increase in freight, is what is leading to service problems and angry customers.

    Before hiring on I would recommend reading Trainorders and other industry discussion sites, and maybe letting the current meltdown burn through (and hopefully lead to a change in management). If they can successfully fill their openings on their new morale-busting, burnout-inducing terms them they will have no motivation to change.

    One recent discussion: https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?1,5474780

    Long term, I expect the railroads to do rather well given the 2-5x fuel efficiency advantage over trucks.

  35. The seizing Russian assets and now this NOPEC nonsense gave me a flashback to the Greek bail-ins. After observing what happened back then I always expected the same phenomenon would come to our shores as well and it seems that the day is rapidly approaching when we will go to the ATM and discover half our money was stolen by the government. Cutting expenses definitely makes sense, but I’m questioning the logic of putting more than a moderate amount of cash aside. Even outside the banking system it will rapidly lose value. I usually try to keep 3 months of expenses in reserve and then spend the rest before inflation eats it away. Maybe it’s time to think of terms of investing in grid-independent tech rather than just “spending”. Thanks as always for your thought provoking commentary.

  36. I’m prepping as fast as I can although in my 80’s I’m not as fast as at 19.{~;> Still, I use a woodstove so am armed against power outages (have oil furnace back-up) and grow a lot of my own food so likely won’t be among the first to go. I do think we’re going to lose the grid at some point and people who do not prepare for non-electric heat for winter will not do well. Need to grow our own food organically and support local organic farmers

  37. The globally pervasive industrial civilization is a tower of cards, made using cheap, highly ecosystem-destroying dense energy supported by individualism and social fears of not keeping up. Every part of every supply chain is fragile having been optimized only for moving more money to the already wealthy during an historic period of relative calm (for the middle classes anyway). I don’t see how this does not collapse quickly and badly. For example, do we even have enough shovels manufactured for the coming necessity of much more manual farm labor? Yes, live simply, build community.

  38. Hi JMG,
    We live on a small farm and often graze our sheep on other people’s land. We use electric fences and my husband wants to get a solar system installed. I want enough solar to charge the fence batteries and leave it at that. He wants a much larger system that might power lights, computers, a heat pump for cooling in the summer and a freezer. I have my doubts because the larger a system, the more vulnerable it is to needing replacement parts that may, or may not, be available.

    What do you think? Would you go the smaller or the larger system? I am content to just go back to how my grandparents did things back before our district in Manitoba was put on the electric grid.
    Maxine

  39. For those interested in wealth preservation, Barton Briggs has just published “Wealth, War and Wisdom”, a book about how various asset classes performed from 1914 – 1945.

    It’s an entertaining read and has a good amount of historical detail from a wide range of countries. Spoiler: if your country gets invaded, your stocks aren’t going to be worth spit for a while.

  40. Thanks for this JMG. A timely reminder.
    As an aside on renewables, I follow the work of the cornucopians over at the Energy Transition Show fairly closely, as they have some interesting data from time to time, particularly on how energy markets actually work, as opposed to how people imagine they work.
    One theme that’s been emerging for a couple of years is that of new renewables being cheaper than coal or gas for electricity generation, expressed as $/kWh, and how that guarantees a fuss free transition.
    I suspect that the need to replace a wind or solar farm every 20 years, as opposed to a fossil power plant every 40 to 50 has not been factored in.
    They’re also big on renewables + storage, because Moore’s “Law” applies to batteries too, dontcha know? I always laugh when that particular canard comes up…
    I’ve been trying to get them to interview Tom Murphy for a while now, to inject a bit of reality, but I’m not sure they’ll do it…

  41. In terms of my personal collapse… I’m on a low income, and so don’t have as far to fall. I have been peak oil aware since 2009, and that has shaped a fair number of my choices over the years. There’s some preps I don’t have the resources to do, like buy a home with or without land. But I have no debt and more savings than I really should have been able to manage on my income.

    My landlady lets me grow food in her yard, and I’ve been doing so for the past 11 years straight, and have gained a lot of skill and experience from that, plus lower grocery bills. My cooking skills have improved, again leading to lower grocery bills. I can’t make a bike work with my physical issues (I’ve tried) but can and do walk and use a kickscooter. No car; I can’t afford the ongoing costs of running one. I’ve gotten much better at mending clothing, making it, and finding it for cheap second hand. I’ve learned to fix various other things; including some work on musical instruments.

    I’m pretty happy with what I’ve managed to do. Yes, I could have done more. But I’ve done a lot, and that stood me in good stead the past couple of years, and I suspect it will become even more important in the years ahead.

  42. This post again reminds me of “The Law of Receding Horizons” wherein the EROEI on so-called renewables fade as the cost of fossil fuels increase since the former are entirely dependent upon the former. SRSROCCO had a post up the other day about how rising costs are pushing the wind turbine industry to the brink.

  43. The “market” is getting brittle. From Barton’s;

    “It was a day straight out of investors’ nightmares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,164.52 points, or 3.6%, while the S&P 500 declined 4%, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.7%. The S&P 500 and the Dow had their worst days since June 11, 2020, while just seven S&P 500 stocks finished higher on the day.

    And it was mostly, if not all, due to earnings from Target (ticker: TGT). The big-box retailer not only missed earnings expectations but also said that margins would continue getting squeezed due to inflation. It was the latter, more than the former that caused investors to panic, sending the stock down 25% on Wednesday.”

    And a hedge fund manager at Melvin Capital tossed in the towel;
    “and now that the Fed no longer is backstopping him and every other mediocre fund manager [with 0.25% interest rates] who is clueless how to navigate a market that – gasp – doesn’t always go up, Plotkin decided to take the easy way out and return what little money was left in Melvin while naturally keeping over a decade’s worth of “performance” fees, which amounts in the billions, even if the average return of someone who put money into the fund on day one has underperformed the S&P”

    It’s easy to make money when the Fed is cutting rates, much harder now that they are raising rates. The manager was doing fine for several years, but the problem with leverage is one wrong guess and your business is dead.

  44. Les,
    those are the exact same arguments one of my friends uses about things will be better in the future, and decline and collapse are not and will not be a thing.

    re: grid price parity of renewables… I’m pretty sure that doesn’t include battery storage, and that the numbers are much worse for renewables if you include that.

    Also, the increasing prices for raw materials over the past year are starting to feed through and should be visible in a substantial jump in prices for things like solar panels this year.

    I do think that renewables have a critical role to play in world energy supplies, but I don’t think we’re going to be able to run the sort of society we’re used to on them once they’re all we have. Not at the current european energy per capita level, let alone the north american one.

  45. Hey JMG,

    you’re sounding a little bit like a broken record 😉 But it’s true, of course, and important. Observing the flow of fossil energy on the world has some predictive qualities, I think. At least I was relatively early very certain (unlike most of my peers), that there will surely be a war in eastern Europe. My feeling is that the empire is backed against a wall and is running out of options, so the current events seemed necessary. Unfortunately for the empire it does not seem to turn out exactly as planned. I very much doubt that anybody with the power to do so will come running to the rescue. Nobody likes schoolyard bullies, after all – at least when you constantly have been sitting on the receiving end for a very long school-year. But the most sad part, maybe, is the role of the empires flunkies on the other side of the Atlantic. As the former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt once said: “The price for the defense of the Federal Republic is it’s complete destruction.” It’s easy to see, isn’t it? But like peak oil it seems to be one of these things most people just don’t want to see.

    Cheers,
    Nachtgurke

  46. JMG: Have you considered posting audio versions of these articles to YouTube? I’m sure there are valid reasons not to, but it could reach potential followers who for whatever reason prefer an audio format.

  47. Wonderful post. Bravo!

    A niggle: “China’s.. imploding real estate sector and the long term costs of its Covid policies” are, as always, grossly misrepresented in our media.

    As home ownership approached 98% in 2017, Banks warned developers to de-leverage, and most did. A few, like Evergrande, switched their borrowing to Hong Kong and remained under the radar. But even Evergrande’s debt is well covered by assets. It’s just that their debt maturities did not align with real life.

    And the question asked of every Chinese triumph, “At what cost?”: Of 15 million Covid deaths to date, 5,000 were Chinese.

    During the Covid peak in 2020-2021, China grew its economy 10x faster than the US and kept deaths 99.9% lower.

    Expect China to maintain that lead.

  48. Prizm, ouch! A 50 cent markup pinned to the bottom of the menu — yeah, that’s starting to get serious. If it’s up to a dollar in a couple of weeks, hang on to your hat. As for people not adapting, keep in mind that they’ve had dozens and dozens of chances to adapt already, and many good reasons to do so. At this point, I expect those people who haven’t begun to adapt to refuse to do so, no matter what. I know that leads to some very bleak outcomes.

    Siliconguy, exactly. The US for a century was the safe haven for money, the place you could invest safely no matter what happened elsewhere. Now that’s no longer true. I foresee a lot of downside.

    Prizm, I think the US rail industry is going to go through a lot of turmoil, and then go through a wave of reorganization and recapitalization as it becomes clear that it’s one of the few efficient transportation options we’ve got.

    Mark, so noted! I’ve made a correction or two. For what it’s worth, I expect to see layoffs outpace resignations for a while as the crisis really bites, and of course you’re right that office fauna are going to face a really harsh job environment as we proceed.

    Tony, that’s an excellent question to which I don’t have any answers. Since I’m not personally familiar with the politics, economics, and culture of the country where you live, and I also have no way of gauging trends in the economic sector that pays your bills, you’re much better positioned to come up with answers to those questions than I am.

    Jay, get used to it. In a few years you may not be able to get that much fuel for any price.

    Adrian, your Da is a national treasure. If he and others of the same generation can teach some of those skills of getting by to a new generation, there’s a good deal more hope for Ireland.

    Kimberly, I’d be astonished if the price of gas doesn’t rise past $6 a gallon in the very near future. As for spent tea leaves, I composted them back when I had a garden, and will doubtless do that when I have one again. I’d never heard of Burmese tea salad — thanks for the heads up.

    Drhooves, yep. One of the reasons why I think we’re in for a very rough decade is that so much of the money that’s been put into alternatives has been looted — no gentler word is appropriate — and its only contribution to the energy equation is that it’s insulating the already well-lined pockets of the absurdly rich.

    Pyrrhus, trust me, I know that. At least a few people are willing to listen.

    Stuart, the UK government’s stated policy is a schizoid delusion masquerading as a plan. That is to say, you’re right — it would take a fivefold increase in power generation and, er, where is all that power going to come from? Nukes don’t pay their own bills, renewables are diffuse and intermittent, and fossil fuels are running short. As for food, well, yes; it’s been a couple of centuries since Britain has been able to feed its own population, as shown by the frantic efforts that were necessary to keep food on the table during the two world wars. You might want to revisit some of those measures…

    Heather, I know the feeling. I was a decade behind you, and graduated in 1980; I was just getting seriously into appropriate tech and green living as the selling out began. It was a bleak time.

    Phutatorius, no, not at all! Repair and refurbish the Schwinn — you won’t find comparable quality these days.

    DenG, ha! Now there’s a blast from the past.

    Anonymous, good. You’re paying attention. The internet is a fantastically elaborate Ponzi scheme; I don’t doubt that some form of it can be kept going in the future, but you’re right — most internet businesses, and this includes the very biggest of the lot, are incapable of making a profit. As that reality finally sinks in, a lot of the internet will go away — and yes, that’s going to be a tremendous psychological blow to a lot of people.

  49. Stuart–it’s the same in the USA..going to an all-electric car fleet would, at a minimum, require a tripling of electric generation in the country, and a corresponding multi-trillion dollar buildup of the already overstressed transmission network..As it is, we will be very fortunate to maintain existing generation levels, and I doubt we succeed…

  50. “But for a short burst from the Apple II until the iPhone X electronic stuff did get cheaper and more powerful at a remarkable rate. But so many people in our current era have interpreted Moores law as all technology gets better and cheaper with time.”

    Clay Dennis makes an excellent point. A Raspberry Pi micro computer is hugely more powerful that a Apple II and uses much less power. A flat screen TV is both larger and more power efficient that the old 25 ” CRT that was the trophy of the living room in 1970.

    With that evidence in your line of sight it’s harder to notice the things that are running out, especially since you can make more new gadgets for the same amount of materials as one old gadget. (Apple II 11.5 lbs, raspberry Pi 2 ounces; my 2004 30″ widescreen CRT, 105 lbs, 42″ LCD TV, 21 lbs. )

  51. JMG,
    your reply to anonymous – did you actually mean “but you’re right — most internet businesses, and this includes the very biggest of the lot, are INcapable of making a profit.” You said they’re capable of making a profit, but that doesn’t fit with what Anonymous said.

  52. On the Schwinn, first of all, I recommend that the owner fix up the ’60s bike and buy a spare to boot, if they can. One of my pet peeves is that for all the hand wringing about climate change, bait bike programs have been largely quashed by left-wing activists. Bait bike programs are a simple law enforcement measure where bikes are left in various states of “locked to an immovable object”, and plainclothes officers are there to arrest any thieves. A sane response to our times would involve serious measures to remove all obstacles in the way of cycling, one of which is theft.

  53. For Maxinerogers

    The weak spots in a solar power system are the batteries and the inverters. The inverters don’t like the power surges that result from starting motors. And the problems with batteries are legendary.

    A 12V DC system that can keep the lights on does work rather well. See your local RV dealer for examples of what you can do with 12V power. But make sure to ask if the gadget in question runs without shore power. My camper came with a microwave and AC, but neither works on just the battery. But the battery will run the furnace, lights, stereo, and the range hood fan. My typical trip is four days boondocking, no external power, and the size 27 battery can manage that.

  54. Popmythology, investments won’t keep up with inflation. The reason we have inflation is that the amount of notional value in circulation has outrun the amount of real wealth available, and the only way to bring that back into balance is for a vast amount of investments to lose most or all of their value. The only way to prosper in inflationary times is to produce real wealth — that is to say, goods and services that people value — because the ability to produce wealth always keeps its value. Thus you can develop skills that will help you produce wealth, or — the tricky one — you can invest in something that will actually produce more wealth.

    Nancy, thanks for asking! You can certainly forward this — all I ask is that you include a link to the original posting.

    Teresa, how many people think like this? Not enough — yet. You can still buy a new tank, you know.

    Chuaquin, I know. Dumb as a box of politicians…

    Steve, Less Energy, Stuff, and Stimulation is still the best option we’ve got.

    Brenainn, glad to hear this! Salvage skills are among the most important skills you can have just now.

    Cincinnatus, glad to hear that you’re making preparations.

    William, you’re welcome and thank you!

    DaHoj, oh, I know. Some ideas are just too stupid to die. Richard’s protocol was a lovely daydream, not a realistic option — now we get the realistic options, and yeah, Sri Lankan scenes may show up here in the US in due time.

    Susan, thanks for this! Kris de Decker’s work is always worth close study; I’m not familiar with Lawton but I hope the permaculturists among us get something useful from his work. As for the timing being off, true enough; have you considered looking into new ventures along the same lines now? You know how to dop them, after all.

    Essex-boy, square on target! We’ve got vast amounts of money chasing a shrinking supply of real wealth, and shortsighted feel-good policies have helped play a huge role in that. You’re most welcome, btw.

    Bradley, there were a lot of things like that. It’ll be interesting to see if any of them get revived.

    Denis, I wonder how long it’s going to take them to realize that “normal” was a temporary and self-terminating state of affairs, and life will never be “normal” again.

    Lynn, just one of the services I offer!

    Pygmycory, you’re quite right, of course. I should have said “the US and its client states” there too!

    Shastatodd, gosh. I’m sure I’ve heard that before… 😉

    Erickson, that’s a common question. On average, in a contracting economy, all investments lose money, but some lose it faster than others. If you invest in learning skills and acquiring tools that will allow you to produce goods and services that people (not businesses) want and need, that’s one good choice; if you can invest directly in businesses that produce goods and services for sale to individual customers, that’s a trickier choice. Even so, it’s a risky proposition. If a rising tide floats all boats, a sinking tide leaves ’em all aground…

    Clay, remember that it took serious economic pain to get people to the point of doing sensible things in the 1970s. It’ll take a good solid helping of that this time, too. Wasn’t it Churchill who said that the American people can always be counted on to do the right thing, once they had exhausted every other alternative?

    Stephen, watching the sanctions boomerang has been entertaining as well as educational. It reminds me of the last physicians’ strike in the US, which took place in the 1970s; the death rate dropped nearly 20% — and all of a sudden physicians stopped talking about striking and hoped nobody had noticed. In the same way, we’ve just seen conclusively that economic relationships between Russia and the West did not help Russia — they were purely parasitic in nature, and now that Russia’s cast them off, the ruble is booming and so is the Russian economy. As for nuclear power plants, bad as they are, it was idiotic to shut them down without making sure there were adequately stable replacements already in hand — and a gas pipeline from Russia, when you’re planning on bullying Russia, is not adequately stable!

    Yavanna, you’re most welcome. Delighted to hear that somebody took my advice.

    Russell1200, yes, those are also factors involved in that very tangled situation.

    Aloysius, that seems very sensible to me.

    Nancy, I ain’t arguing!

    Greg, lots of people can’t see why the system doesn’t undergo a sudden collapse — and yet, time after time, the collapse doesn’t happen. Decline, on the other hand, does, and it’s happening right now, of course. May I suggest revising your expectations on the basis of repeated experience?

    Maxine, I have no idea! You’d want to talk to people who have experience with both approaches in your climate conditions.

    Kfish, fun! I’ll have to have a look at that.

    Les, if I need a good belly laugh, I’ll be sure to check them out.

    Pygmycory, that’s exactly the sort of step-at-a-time approach that generally works best, so I think you’re doing very well indeed.

    TJ, can you post a link to that analysis of windpower? That’s exactly what I’d expect, but it will be worth citing.

    Siliconguy, yep. My guess, for what it’s worth, is that we may be a matter of a few days to a few weeks from a really epic stock market crash.

    Nachtgurke, I know. Europe is going to be left twisting in the wind when US power implodes. I wonder if the EU has any clue what they’re facing.

    Cardinal, I don’t have the time, the inclination, or the necessary equipment and skills to do that. If someone else wants to tackle the project, we can talk.

    Godfree, it’s not as though we can trust the Chinese media, you know — they’re just as heavily censored and government-controlled as ours!

    Pygmycory, thanks for catching that — I’ve corrected it.

  55. @Denis re: #28 –

    I think part of the problem is that people get confused doing math – especially division – on large numbers. They see “$500 million” and think that’s a huge amount. Which it would be, for an individual or a single town or even a medium-to-low-end-of-large company, but to a US state-level entity it’s not much. For a state with 6.5 million people, which is about the average, that half-billion – even assuming 100% of it actually goes to aid – equates to all of $76.92 per head.

  56. To chime in on the bike issue: some of the new bikes are very, very good, but they are also very, very expensive and very, very apt to get stolen. I know someone who has recently spent $8,000 for a top end electric assist mountain bike. In the small college city my daughter lives in, bike theft has become an epidemic and the high end ones are the most in demand.
    Depending on what you use it for and the availability of parts, I would go with the Schwin unless it has “retro” value.

  57. PopMythology:

    Well, I don’t know if it’s a GOOD idea, but: I figure even in a dramatically contracting economy, there will be some sectors that – by necessity – will manage to perservere. Diesel imports drying up? Trucking getting expensive? Rail was king for a long time, and it still is a very efficient way to transports lots of goods. Food imports dropping? Well, even though they’ll struggle, domestic local-scale agribusiness is going to need to step up, though I have no idea what that’ll look like with fertilizer shortfalls. More people gardening out of necessity? More people canning and preserving their own food? Well, Ball has been around forever and they’re public. And finally, vices will always do well in hard times, and with the US still on the the brink of legalizing dope and psychedelic therapy picking up, I’ve bought into some cannabis and psychedelic stocks (yes, the latter does exist, oddly, and I have a friend who’s done ketamine therapy for trauma with good results with clinics popping up around my state, so…hey, at least in the short term it seems to be a decent idea). If I knew any companies that specialized in riverine barge transport, I’d be putting money on them too.

    One that I’m very unsure about but have shares in anyway is medical equipment. I believe that the medical industry is headed for a lot of crap, but with the sheer number of people MyStErIoUsLy developing new cancers, cardiovascular problems, auto immune problems, and neurological issues, I figure there’s going to be a wave of sickness and death…and big pharma needs to die but it it’s not likely to completely disappear.

    Basically a significant chunk of my portfolio is tied up in rail transport, food production, medical stuff, and counter-culture friendly drugs. I may have bought too many shares of Ball though…To be fair, none of this was actually my idea, it was my wife’s idea as we were discussing ways to beat inflation. It’s a risk, but so is just letting all my assets sit in savings accounts drawing 1% interest so at the very least I’m putting stuff in sectors that will likely have some longevity.

  58. If anyone here lives in a climate that requires home heating at some point during the year, and it’s also a region with a reasonable supply of trees I’d like to seriously recommend you look into rocket mass heaters (RMHs). From what I can tell these are a newish development of the Appropriate Technology movement. Many people who have switched from traditional wood stoves to a RMH found they used as much as 90% less wood!

    I made one for my home 4 winters ago, retiring my Hearthstone, soapstone woodstove. These past 4 winters I’ve used between 1.25 cords to 1.5 cords of wood each year to heat my place to a much more comfortable temperature. For me this was a wood reduction of about 50% to 60%. In addition I have all but eliminated my need for supplemental heating with the traditional propane furnace, reducing my propane use by 80%-90%. I most just use propane for the cook stove and when I’m away from home for multiple days, thus unable to do a burn in the RMH.

    These are related to masonry stoves but much cheaper and easier to construct. You don’t need to be a master mason! They certainly won’t work for everyone’s situation but in my opinion you would be doing yourself a favor to look into and learn about them at least. I found most of the educational resources to build mine over at permies.com. They have a forum section dedicated just to rocket mass heaters. https://permies.com/f/260/rocket-mass-heaters I also documented the construction of mine on my blog which some might find of interest. Here is a link to that entry. https://theartisthomestead.com/rocket-mass-heaters-increase-your-wood-burning-efficiencies-50-to-90-percent/

    While these can be made in a future that is much rougher than where we are at now, it would be far easier to do before collapse gets seriously underway, while it’s still fairly easy to get access to higher quality materials like fire bricks and ceramic insulation. You’ll likely have a more efficient RMH as a result too. Is it worth doing? Consider how much happier you would be only needing to chop 2 cords of firewood a year to heat your home instead of say 10 cords! Then consider you might find yourself needing to do this by hand if you can’t keep your chainsaw operational! If collapse happens really slowly where you are then you just get to save thousands of dollars in home heating instead.

  59. First of all I would like to sincerely thank you Mr Greer for all your prescient warnings. It has allowed me to help people around me to prepare by giving good advice to them. I never talk of peak oil directly, like you’ve probably often experienced yourself people go blank or straight up deny it’s possible and stop listening. Instead I go the route of giving sound financial/lifestyle advice. ”Interest rates will probably go up, pay off as much of your mortgage as you can. Install solar panels now when they are still cheap. Homegrown vegetables taste better and gardering is a rewarding hobby, you should try it!”

    Not everyone has taken my advice but many have. Giving them increased chances for a slightly less harsh descent. I thank you on behalf of those people, and myself.

    Now my two cents on oil production:

    The problem with oil production is even worse than it was in say 2008. Not only is there no US shale oil coming to the rescue. Oil companies, atleast in North America, seem to be much more focused on deleveraging and shareholder returns while in the last ”supercycle” they were throwing money at anything with even a hint of oil. Now you see lots of ”breakeven at 40$ is our cutoff”. Many of them are making record profits and barely raising capex and aiming for low declines or stable production at best. Their discipline will break eventually, but the energy crisis is already in full swing and it hasn’t happened yet.

    All this seems to indicate to me that peak oil probably happened in late 2018. Production probably could have been raised a bit further in more favorable circumstances but the pandemic and subsequent bottlenecks in labour markets, industrial supplies and refinery capacity made it impossible. And now we are beginning to slide down.

    It will probably take several years of high prices and an absolutely brutal industrial depression to drive costs down enough (labour and industrial machinery, steel and so on) for oil companies to start investing heavily in new production. Meanwhile Opec is tapped out, Russian output in free fall due to problems with storage capacity and getting it out of Russia due to sanctions. Many producers in the third world will likely see falls in output due to social unrest (like Libya recently).

    In the ”best” case scenario there might maybe be a partial recovery in the early thirties if governments get their act together and the mother of all capex cycles is unleashed. But it would probably just buy a couple of years of stability. At the price of turning half of Alberta into a wasteland of toxic sludge, most likely. However my personal hunch is that political, financial and industrial dysfunction will be too big by then to allow anything like the gargantuan projects in the 2000s and early 2010s to be undertaken. Which hopefully can save Alberta and other places that might get destroyed for so little gain.

    Buckle up folks, a wild ride ahead awaits us all.

  60. Regarding the discussions on bicycles: If a steel frame gets damaged you can back into shape but aluminum just breaks.

  61. I’m honestly wondering if OPEC hasn’t raised production not merely because of imperial bullying, but simply because they actually can’t – i.e., that they’ve peaked, whatever they claim in reserve.

  62. @ Maxine RE: solar…

    We installed a full solar system at our farm almost a decade back – we have now sold off lots of the panels, primarily because the battery expense was ridiculous. Homeowners insurance does NOT cover hail damage to solar panels – you have to buy a separate policy for that, and the deductibles are ridiculous – and hail is not a thing we can control with all the weather patterns changing.

    We are in the USA sunbelt, and have plenty of sun, but also use the AirCon 4 months out of the year. Running AirCon is hard on inverters and batteries. We had to replace after 5 years – the economics anyone quotes you are hopelessly optimistic in my personal experience. Also, all the inverters are made in China, and their quality is spotty – and few places even offer warranties due to this fact. Final killer is that our electric co-op requires auto switching if the system is grid tied – which is NOT cheap either. That is why we just ran separate wires for the LED lighting all over the farm.

    At this point we have installed a 4 ft diameter fan into the eaves of the house, and it cools things fine until the overall temp remains above 90 deg F. That’s when we use the AirCon. The primary use for the remaining solar panels is lighting in the buildings, which we have swapped to 12VDC LEDs run on their own circuits. We also use 2-3 12VDC deep cycle batteries tied to panels to move rainwater and creek water water for irrigation – nothing fancy, just small pumps and garden hose. If we have to move a lot of water, then it’s the 3″ line and a gasoline pump for a few hours.

    If it were me, I would use solar for fencing and other things requiring low amps. That way your battery expense is livable and you can just gang up boat or RV batteries instead of buying a big one.

    You can do as we did and use a YUGE fan pulling through your windows to cut cooling expense immensely compared to AirCon. It also helps to put the beds next to the windows to get the breeze – you will find that you want to be under the sheets more often than not with a big fan setup.

    Plant LOTS of shade trees, particularly on the sunny side of the house. Trees surrounding a house is something most people did back in the 1800s as standard practice before electricity Same thing with ceilings – they were usually 10-15 ft high to let the warm air rise up and exit the open transoms above the doors. None of this is done any longer, but I am confident it will all come back into use for my grandkids.

    If winter is your issue, then as JMG has often said – seal things up, insulate and put some big tanks or barrels of water where they collect heat/sun in front of windows. These will hold your heat in the house, radiating it at night.

  63. My old Schwinn is HEAVY! But that sounds like good advice; a spare set of tires, tubes, a spoke wrench and a spare chain would probably be very good investments, if they are available.

  64. My PMC daughter said this evening “Things are rough right now, with Covid rates climbing so fast, the recession, and the war.” At the most overpriced gas station around here, $4.89/gallon as of 8:15 this evening.

  65. Taking into account all of these economic factors, what would you say would be a good kind of place to relocate to within the next year? In the metro area I live in (in a purple corner of a blue state), walkable neighborhoods with sufficient amenities are almost always overpriced managerial class / wokester enclaves; the social atmosphere simply isn’t tolerable, despite the neighborhoods being walk and bike friendly. Other parts of the city are all run-down ghettos. Really, all of the city might be prone to social unrest if things really get bad soon.

    Sane working class areas are usually older suburbs, built up from about 1945-1980; amenities are close by, but the road layout isn’t particularly pedestrian or bike friendly (aside from a few long bike paths), and rising gas prices will really make these places a lot more expensive to live in and maintain. You have to drive to get anywhere, though the driving distances between places are not nearly as bad as the father out suburbs and semi-rural areas. I have no skills that would translate well into self-sufficient rural living. And for moving away from the area, I were to move to some small town, I’d have zero social network. It seems like all the options are cruddy right now. I’m leaning toward the working class suburb option, where a sizable backyard to grow a few things and quick drive to whatever amenities might still be around seems like an workable balance.

  66. @ JMG & @ John #62 RE: oil production

    8 years is a long time in the oil patch, but what is happening now is literally a splitting apart of the global oil industry courtesy of the USA. We have angered MENA countries, proven we will confiscate assets from anyone that dares to challenge us and brought this crazy ESG philosophy into board rooms (where shareholders literally try to change the core business away from O&G and into renewables).

    I formerly had business in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Libya – USA actions have literally destroyed both me and my customers OFS businesses. I have basically walked away at this point, and know many others that have done the same. Knowledge, steel and manpower are the current bottlenecks in North America for increasing production. In other places it is sanctions, but be assured workarounds are in progress already.

    I see non-USA entities (Petronas, Sinopec, and many smaller outfits) ready to dive back in once the steel issue in China is resolved. Now that our business and government policies are mirrors of each other, it does not look good for US being well received in international operations. When a President can kill any deal the way we have done recently, it does not attract investors. The logical solution is to avoid involving USA money and investors – which is already beginning.

    I believe the fallout from sanctions and asset forfeitures of foreign nations is going to affect this country more than people realize – especially if Russia completes their SMO successfully… we are daily proving ourselves to be “not agreement capable” in every theater.

    Interesting times for sure. I wonder what will happen in Guyana in the next year or two?

  67. With the inflation and having spent way too much time staying at home on the computer, I’m finding myself spending more money on nonessentials than in the recent past. There’s a little voice in the back of my head saying ‘get the musical instruments you really want and need now, while they’re available, you’re not sick or in lockdown over whatever weird disease shows up next, and before the money you have inflates away. You don’t know what will be happening a year from now, and you’ve wanted that specific harp for years.’ Besides, used harps hold their value a lot better than money does of late.

    I suspect other people may be hearing similar metaphorical voices, and this is part of why people are still buying stuff and travelling despite the higher prices.

    Is anyone else feeling this itch? (And yes, the harp in question is on its way and I’m really excited about it)

  68. Brenainn – Think carefully about burning candles. They’re incredibly inefficient as sources of light, and present a risk of fire. A candle-equivalent LED camping lantern, and small solar panel, should be a one-time expense and a much cheaper and safer solution. Eventually, the rechargeable battery in the lantern will wear out, however. In the long run, we might revert to nickle-iron wet batteries which need a little maintenance, but no exotic materials. As long as the electric grid is available, though, LED electric lighting is incredibly inexpensive. You may have more valuable uses for beeswax, too, than burning it.

  69. Phutatorius, re #13

    One of my brothers, as well as myself, collected bikes for several years. Nothing of real value – just whatever we fancied. I second JMG’s view that 60s Schwinns are good high quality bikes. Today’s Schwinns, by contrast, are Chinese made junk. Another bike you might consider is the English made 3 spd. Good sturdy bikes. The gearing leaves a bit to be desired if you’re used to 10 or more gears but they are good for around town. If you live in a hilly area you’ll probably want a larger sproket on the back wheel.

    The biggest mechanical problem I have with bikes is tires/tubes. When I was a lad we pumped our tires up in April and forgot about tire pressure until October. Now you have to check at least weekly. I’ve seen old Schwinn branded tires hold correct pressure for years.

  70. erickson and PopMythology.com – Not to disagree with the previous advice, but I’ve written in previous weeks about inflation-protected investments which you can purchase from treasurydirect.gov. I-bonds (Series I US Savings Bonds) accumulate nominal value according to the Consumer Price Index, and TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities) pay semi-annual dividends on a principal which tracks the CPI. When the TIPS matures, you get the inflation-adjusted value back. (However, you’ll be paying income tax on the increases every year, which takes much of the fun out of it.) Still, it’s better than a bank deposit earning 1%, or a stock that can lose 25% in a single day (Target stores), if you don’t mind waiting for maturity. If you need the money sooner, I-Bonds can be sold back to Treasury, and TIPS can be sold on the secondary market.

    Personally, we put discretionary cash into attic insulation and a rooftop solar system before we put any into TIPS, but as defensive financial moves go, they’re worth a look.

  71. “Anonymous, good. You’re paying attention. The internet is a fantastically elaborate Ponzi scheme; I don’t doubt that some form of it can be kept going in the future, but you’re right — most internet businesses, and this includes the very biggest of the lot, are incapable of making a profit. As that reality finally sinks in, a lot of the internet will go away — and yes, that’s going to be a tremendous psychological blow to a lot of people.”

    I think there are at least four factors which will make the collapse of the internet hit a lot of people really, really hard:

    a) We don’t actually know how much of the internet is viable, since nearly all of it is attached to some part of the Ponzi Scheme, which makes planning for a post-internet future a little more challenging. I figure what’ll happen is a reversion back to something like the internet of the 1990s, but that’s only a guess.

    b) There are a lot of people, myself included, who are adults now but have no memories of the world before the internet. I’ve always had internet access, and while it’s possible to look at old books and read up on how people did things before the internet, to a very real extent practice is needed, and at the moment that practice is rather hard to arrange. It’s one thing to go a day without internet (I do so once a week now), and quite another to go a month without it.

    I’m still making preparations, but I’m still expecting to get hit rather hard by things I didn’t anticipate; and a lot of people won’t have made any preparations at all.

    c) Ponzi schemes tend to very suddenly implode in a very messy end. What this means is that it’s quite possible the internet could be functioning fine, and then without any kind of warning, one of the tech companies files for bankruptcy, and then within a few months they all are going bankrupt.

    d) The internet is in many ways the Last Hurrah of Progress. I’ve come to think that this is what distorts so much thinking about the topic: the internet is the only remaining proof progress is possible, and this also means that the end of the internet will mark the end of Progress. This will be severely damaging for a lot of people, although how bad is hard to say in advance.

  72. The sticking point in my imagination of cottage industry (patching clothes, fixing tools and appliances, sending radio-grams (3rd party traffic that would be illegal under current regulations)) is that I need customers who can afford to pay for the work. It wouldn’t have to be cash, but they have to have something to exchange for my work, materials, skills, and capital equipment. So far, I’ve begun assisting with a community “Tool Lending Library”, by machining replacement parts for broken sewing machines. (Three machines repaired, so far.) My motto is “for want of a nail, the shoe was lost…”; I can make just the nail you need, if you’ve got the horse and shoe. But if your only asset is a portfolio of awesome web site designs and an annotated list of your favorite local restaurants, I’m not sure there’s anything for us to talk about.

  73. M.r Greer, All –

    I don’t know what else I can add that would enhance me and mine, where softening the hinky rollercoaster ride of future survival is concerned.. I grow some food (some of which is seasonal – weather permitting), raise bees – with all the attendant issues & worries pertaining thereof, and keep a few hens – for ovum protein and their much coveted ‘compostable quotient’. I repair what I can .. with consideration for what’s beyond my ability to accomplish; whether due to cost, physical constraint, or equipment needed to do the job. I & the fam live where the climate is generally reasonable, in a small city, but a ways from the larger megalopolis – less a helping of urban ills and crazyness .. still … Future tectonic events are another thing entirely! – guess I’d have to settle on doing the Wilhelm Scream, should things shake, rattle, and roll ‘:] Our water sources are mountain (yeah – tectonics) snow derived. We are towards the end of the shipping nodes being on a peninsula .. so supply chains in more ways than one, if you get my drift. Trying to always keep in mind of the basics needed to maintain, where all possible, a general dignified existence ..whether that means soap, spices, or socks.
    The thing is, for all .. even the most fortunate among us ..one can’t devine the perfect, risk-free plan. When it gets down to brass tacks, we’re all basically wingin it.

    Oh, and Siliconguy – when the U.S. Dollar goes PooF .. one’s assets may very well come down to some whitelighting and a 6gun.. reversion to the mean and all that.

  74. Hello JMG and everyone,

    A great post, always good to be reminded that we need to keep collapsing!

    Kimberly, re: Burma fermented tea leaves, if you haven’t, check out Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journey. In this book he features recipes from his travels and not just the usual sauerkraut, etc… He has a recipe for the leaves, I think.

    And David Huang, thank you for the post about your rocket mass heater. We are in Maine and looking into a wood stove now to supplement our oil heat. I will definitely look into the RMH. We already have a rocket cookstove we enjoy using.

    Ellen

  75. Hi, JMG. I would like to post a link to the Master Conserver material on one of my blogs. Would that be okay?

  76. @maxinerogers #41 Isolated/dedicated solutions, ideally with redundancy available, are typically the most resilient. I’d suggest a solar system for the fencing and another (or more) for the other purposes. We use a small self-contained solar energiser for one of our electric fences, which works well, but it’s only for controlling native wildlife that decimates fruit crops. I’ve got a backup solar energiser waiting in the shed, both were picked up secondhand for nominal cost or gifted when people upgrade. Having said that, fixed fencing has been an important investment, and reasonable quality materials are often dumped at the tip or will be given away by people upgrading their fences. Of course, it doesn’t fit every situation.

  77. Apologies if this is too conspiriscist but Gonzolo Lira is reporting from Ukraine that Russia is fed up with the theft and threats and will shut off the hydrocarbons and food exports to all hostile nations no later than this September. Ouch! That’s gonna leave a mark.

  78. More jaw-dropping, self-destructive stupidity from the Biden administration towards Russia, which is likely to end up hurting the US far more than the intended target.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/treasury-likely-to-prevent-u-s-investors-from-receiving-russian-debt-payments-11652893435?tpl=br

    As our host has pointed out, the all-out campaign of economic warfare by the American neoliberal elites and their European lackeys (what the Russian blogger Stanislav Mishin has dubbed “Mordor on the Potomac and its European Slaves”) has failed miserably, and I doubt this will work either, except to ensure that American bondholders who invested in Russia get cheated out of their investments, which is going to do all kinds of wonders for an American economy already sliding towards a major crisis.

  79. @Ellen You are most welcome. Maine definitely sounds like a good state for rocket mass heaters! Awesome that you have a rocket cookstove. I’ve been thinking I need to try making one of those myself.

  80. JMG,

    I wouldn’t expect anything to come through the coming storm unscathed. It’d be wonderful to hear the sounds of the engine horns on the other side though. Hopefully there isn’t enough boneheadedness to let all the rail go to waste.

    Mark,

    Thanks for the insight into what’s going on with the Class I rails. I thought there was a bit more to it than just the attendance policy changes that were made causing lots of workers to quit, since most of reading about those policies mentioned BNSF, as did your link. Your point about waiting until things settle makes some sense, but at the same time, a person has to do what they can to make ends meet for their family. I have the feeling that a lot of the railroad carriers are not only trying to make their shareholders fill their pockets but to also break up the unions, which granted do have a lot of graft to them, but after hearing a story over the weekend about how regulations were changed in the Regan years to break up the hold the Teamsters had on trucking, I am seeing similiarities to what’s happening now. A lot of the rail unions combined with the Teamsters, and it’d be interesting to see how well they’ve learned from recent history. Or if they’re all about filling their pockets too.

  81. David, thanks for this.

    John, delighted to hear that you’re getting the word out. Any way that works! As for your petroleum assessment, yes, that makes a good deal of sense. I’m sorry to say, though, that I expect to see the big projects in the 2030s.

    Brendhelm, that’s another very real possibility.

    Phutatorius, an old heavy bike will stand up to wear and tear, and it’s also much less tempting to thieves. Get those spare parts!

    Patricia M, good. She’s noticed.

    Pseudo-Celsus, it’s far too late in the game for you to try the rural self-sufficiency approach — that takes at least five years of hard learning curve. Have you looked into smaller cities with walkable bedroom communities closer in? That’s the route I chose.

    Oilman2, and that in turn is part and parcel of the shattering of the global economy. Wave goodbye to free trade — it’s every nation for itself and its close allies. As for Guyana, definitely one to watch!

    Pygmycory, enjoy your harp! Synchronistically enough, Sara’s playing her harp (a 22-string Stony End model) as I type this.

    Anonymous, good. I’m expecting to see something very like a 1990 internet with better graphics — but of course I grew up without the internet, and I still know how to look things up in a dictionary, do research at a library, and buy things at a store. You might consider doing some of those things!

    Lathechuck, granted. That’s why I’m busy encouraging people to learn how to provide actual, non-virtual goods and services — the more people get started now, the less ghastly the changeover will be.

    Eric, good question. I haven’t had time to read it.

    Polecat, of course. One of the reasons I’m located where I am is that I expect decline to proceed at different speeds in different places, and this is likely to be one of the slower places.

    Ellen, thank you.

    Joan, of course it would be okay. I want those in as many hands as possible.

    Gawain, I’m surprised they’re waiting that long. Since the Russian economy is weathering the crisis tolerably well, cutting all economic ties with the EU is a slam-dunk win for the Russians and their allies — not least because the US no longer has the resources or the wealth to fill the gap.

    Sardaukar, exactly. At this point the Biden administration is just flailing blindly, trying to hit something. I don’t think it has occurred to them just how serious the blowback could be.

    Prizm, I have high hopes for the future of rail, and in the longer term, for the rebuilding of the canal system. We’ve got assets well suited to the deindustrial future, we just need to use them.

  82. I did hear about the NOPEC nonsense, but I assumed sovereign immunity would remain in place and so the measure would only be more virtue signalling without any real impact on those countries. I never considered that the US would do away with sovereign immunity and seize their assets. If the US is really so far gone as to do this, then it’s clear there’s no longer any policy stupid enough that the idiots in DC would be unwilling to pursue it.

    I wonder if there might not be another oil embargo in store for the US as a result of all this.

  83. Pygmecory – Yes I have and I just upgraded to a professional version of the instrument that I play….

    John Michael Greer- “Backups for things you can’t make yourself that use energy” Do you mean like extra shoes, solar panels, etc.? Would you say stock piling this much food is going overboard?

    1. 100 lbs of rice
    2. 75 lbs of beans+lentils
    3. 100 lbs of oatmeal
    4. 100 lbs of pasta
    5. 50 cans of Chef boyardi
    6. 20 cans of beans
    7. 1 tub full of coolaid
    8. 50???? cans of Tomato sauce
    9. 36 cans of fruit
    10. Candles…. Solar lights….. Rechargable Lithium batteries
    11. Extra shirts, shoes, underwear
    12. Toothbrushes, toothpaste
    13. Brown Sugar 50lbs
    14. 50 Boxes of Mararoni and Cheese…..
    15. Toilet Paper it’s at the bottom of the list….
    16. Extra shoes, shirts and pants.

  84. JMG, thanks for the good wishes. Fingers crossed it works out well. I had no idea Sara plays the harp. That’s really neat. Stoney End makes nice harps. The one I’m getting is a second hand fullsicle special edition. So a very lightweight 26 string lap harp with full levers. I want something I can take on the bus comfortably, and play in whatever keys the other musicians want to use once I’m there.

  85. Oh and get this: while the Biden administration wastes tens of billions on its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine and pursues policies that are practically guaranteed to cause a major economic crisis in the US and its allies, the Chinese are developing next-generation hypersonic missiles with advanced infrared guidance systems that can hit small, fast moving targets. Meanwhile, the US military still doesn’t have any operational hypersonic missiles of its own.

    https://www.ibtimes.com/china-developing-advanced-hypersonic-missile-can-hit-moving-car-report-3511815

  86. @ JMG – This is an intentionally vague question, and maybe you plan to offer an answer in upcoming posts. Since the Long Descent will be just that, with plateaus of stability sprinkled around the next two hundred years; it stands to reason that there is still time to pursue meaningful reforms or projects to both improve our lives today, and hopefully push useful knowledge forward to succeeding generations. As the Millennial generation (of which I am at the leading edge, in terms of age) reaches roughly the same age as the Boomers when they broke and voted for Reagan (among other poor choices), what advice might you offer us, both what to do, and what not to do?

  87. Thank you again for another great article. There is one point here that I hope you can expand on. It seems to me that the reason why the 1970’s was followed by a period of stability was a series of short term jerry rigged solutions like the petro dollar, limited debt allowing for super high interest rates, a handful of additional off shore oil sites, the timely collapse of the Soviet Union, and most recently, fracking. I imagine none of that is controversial among ecosophians.

    So let’s just say for the sake of argument that none of these things were available. Let’s say that Ronald Regan becomes president, inflation is roaring, and he has no way to raise interest rates and no deal with Saudi Arabia to smooth over the price of oil. Then what? How could we have had a recovery under those circumstances? That sounds more like a 25 year depression at best than a ten year stagflation.
    More to the point, those are the current circumstances, so how can we have a semi timely recovery now?

    If I understand your position correctly you believe we will all suffer a massive reduction in our standard of living and after ten years or so adjust to the new normal, but wouldn’t this new normal involve limited access to electricity, food, law enforcement, and a collapse of education and medicine? That sounds more like collapse then decline, so what makes you reasonably confident that this step down won’t be large enough to make us trip and suddenly fall in a way more reminiscent of Retrotopia and less like The King in Orange?

    For whatever its worth, the garden spikes I use to nail down my garden mats have gone from $3 a pack to $5 in a year…

  88. One of the sad things about the imminent economic and energy collapse is how much worse off we are adapt to such circumstances than we were just a few years ago. 5 years ago I could ride my bike ( or in most cases walk) to the following from my shop: A tool sharpener, 2 wholesalers of machinist tooling, a welding store, a power tool repair shop, an electronic component shop, three specialty metals distributors, an electric motor repair shop and a shop that made bike wheels from scratch. Now all of them have gone online, or scattered to the distant suburbs. I cross my fingers that the huge old time hardware store with crusty skilled salesmen and 2 basement levels full of hard to find stuff ( springs, 2 man cross-cut saws, peavy’s etc.) stays around till we really need it. I spent 10 years running a one man metalworking shop where I could get everything I needed by bike or on foot but now I find myself having to get more and more from an increasingly unreliable online delivery network. We may have very hard times until business’s that need each other can once again cluster together in close proximity as has been the sensible custom for 100’s of years.

  89. Regarding the questions that several posters have raised here about where to store their savings in the face of increasingly inflation, possible asset confiscations, financial and/or monetary collapse, I am greatly surprised that nobody but nobody here has seemed to consider the ages-old obvious choice: gold and silver.

    Yes, yes, Mr. Greer has rightfully pointed out that investments do not generally keep up with “inflation” (misnamed currency depreciation). But gold and silver are fundamentally NOT investments, they are the most basic and truest form of money, all the Keynesian brainwashing of the past century to the contrary. And yes, their values do in the long run keep up with ‘inflation’, otherwise they would be vastly cheaper in real terms than they were 50 or 100 years ago, which they demonstrably are not.

    Having said that, some fiat currency supporters (explicit or otherwise) will point out, truthfully if misleadingly, that the prices of gold and silver can and have crashed along with stocks and other markets in the past couple of decades. But they have always quickly rebounded back, as they must in the longer term, unlike stocks or bonds. To try to prove that gold and silver have no utility as long-term savings due to temporary price swings during financial crises is just a particular disingenuous form of strawman argument.

    I think it is a sad reflection of the pathetic state of Americans’ knowledge of both history in general, and financial and monetary history in particular, that keeps them from considering putting at least some savings into (physical) gold and silver. Billions of others around the world, who have witnessed financial and monetary collapse in their nations’ recent history, if not during their own lives, are not so ignorant.

  90. @Prizm

    BNSF was, at least until recently, widely regarded as the best of the Class I railroads to work for. UP, NS, and CSX were rated as the #1, #2, and #5 worst companies to work for in 2020.
    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/17-worst-companies-america-170000191.html

    My brother in law is a locomotive engineer, and I have always had a keen interest in the industry though I so far haven’t gone that route for employment.

    In the current landscape railroading is probably not a bad way to earn cash if that is your goal, and the industry is not going away and should actually gain market share as fuel prices rise. The pay is good, and there is pride to be had in moving the lifeblood of civilization. But there is a serious lack of respect from upper management, and the unpredictable schedules with a random mix of day and night shifts is rough on bodies, especially with the new attendance policies that effectively prohibit any reasonable amount of scheduled time off without using vacation days. So it seems that more and more people are deciding that they can’t deal with it for an entire career and are heading for the exits.

    Hopefully the coming recession will shake loose the shareholder stranglehold on decision-making and free the railroads to once again focus on providing reliable service and treating their employees with dignity and respect.

  91. Fracking has very steep depletion rate, and is very dependent on growth from new fields just to stay on an undulating plateau, growth in new fields is dependent on drilling, which is capital and resource intensive, capital is dependent on the financial markets.

    Given this logic is true we should expect some steep cliffs in fracking production with the additional consequences…

  92. After reading the oil drum many years ago and then talking about it around the fire, my friend and I started talking about things we could do. We got an old massey ferguson tractor built in the early 60’s and rebuilt the engine to run on ethanol. The idea being that we could plough enough land to keep the tractor running indefinitely assuming we could get modest amounts of oil for the engine and gear box. I planted olives to run all the diesel machinery, and between the two of us we think we could keep our farms going, we would have to set aside some land to put to tractor fuel crops, but at least we could still grow everything, it would only take 10 or 20 percent of our land to keep us still running.

    There are a lot of old tractors, and old mechanics like my friend. It’s not that all agriculture will stop if there is no fuel trucks as some farms will keep on farming, it’s all the extra stuff that will stop. At 5:00pm we will not be driving to the pub for a beer, no fuel, maybe walking on Friday night, or riding the horse. Trips to town will be once a month, not once a week.

    The thing is, if everyone only drove once a month, small fuel supplies can be pushed a long way. A fuel crisis is only a crisis if everyone keeps using excess amounts of fuel.

  93. Here in the UK the already-large dichotomy between the upper-PMC and the poorest seems to be rapidly widening, though that probably cannot last much longer. Upmarket travel agencies have been reporting a big increase in sales of family holidays costing over £50,000 and even a rise in those costing over £100,000, as the wealthy who have accumulated huge savings over two years when overseas holidays were difficult or impossible and expensive commuting unnecessary as they could work from home, splash out. One example was a family of four who recently booked a £60,000 Caribbean holiday. At the other end of the scale, there have been reports of families spending evenings in Macdonalds as they have turned off their electricity and heating at home due to the cost – here it’s now 28p/kWh for electricity and 7p/kWh for gas with these due to go up 30-40% in October, just in time for winter. Indoors at the Golden Arches, they can keep warm, use the free Wi-Fi, buy some of the cheapest things on the menu to justify a few hours table occupation, then take turns to brush their teeth in the bathroom before going home to bed in a cold dark house. Apparently when such people go to food banks they have been asking for items that don’t need cooking or fridge storage as they can’t afford power for either.

  94. All we need to solve the oil shortage is a bit of mind-over-matter. I’ve come to believe that all of reality is just “mind” – even the supposedly physical world. If you’ve ever done healing using your mind or “chi”, you’ll know it’s true. And JMG certainly knows that.

    Trevor Constable was some kind of shaman who was skilled at rain-making. If one mind can do that, just think what many minds can do. The more minds that work in unison, the better. So I suggest that JMG and his fellow Druids set up a League of Oil Well Healers. If they requested a 2 million dollar bill from the US government first, cash down, they’d be more likely to be taken seriously. Then off you go and Bob’s your uncle – problem solved! I will modestly accept five percent commission for my brilliant genius idea. Howzabout it, JMG?

  95. @JMG

    Regarding India’s decision to ban all wheat exports –

    I have been following this for a while now, and the reaction of First World citizens (at least on online forums) to our government’s decision is not surprising when we keep in mind your analysis of First World PMC types (not just the elites), that they think the rest of the world is simply a bunch of automatons who obey without questioning. Recently, Germany criticized India’s decision to ban all wheat exports, with the comment that it’s ‘making things worse’. Guess the German elites and middle/upper classes never thought that the Indian Government (irrespective of political parties) would put our interests as regards food security first…

    Also, I have noticed foreigners, particularly Westerners, attempting to hold India responsible for the Ukraine crisis with the lame argument that ‘India funds Putin’s war on Ukraine by buying Russian oil’. This usually is in response to Indians saying that “we’ll look at our food security first, we have nothing to do with the war anyways”.

    India’s move might seem ‘cruel’, ‘parochial’ and ‘inhuman’, but we remember what happened the last time India supplied food to Europe when a general European war was ongoing – the 1942 Bengal famine. Famines are a sensitive topic in India, and even if one manages to let off the Brits for their handling of the famine in 1942, it’s difficult to do so without resorting to the use of highly questionable logic, when talking about famines in British-ruled parts of India in the late 18th century and the whole of the 19th century. In all those cases, the British Government’s handling of the situation ranged from incompetence to downright callousness. While I’m not a person who believes in blind British-bashing (a cottage industry of sorts in India), I’m aware of this dark aspect of the history of the British Raj. It’s not surprising then, that the Government of India took this step…

  96. Hey JMG,

    well it seems countries like Turky do have an opinion for their own and are following their own agenda. Which is not to say that I like everything they do – but it seems that there are people in key positions who have a better grip to reality than most of their European fellows. “One” is certainly a number that plays a key role for those in power. Everything they act is monocausal in its reasons, one-dimensional in the analysis of the conditions on which they act and linear in their prediction on what the results will be. It makes me wonder if all of this is fall-out of materialistic monism in some way…

    Cheers,
    Nachtgurke

  97. @Pygmycory #70 – Me, too. I’m buying replacements for worn-out things, and buying things I I think I’ll need, while I still can.

  98. Talking about peak oil, resource depletion etc. with others can be frustrating, particularly involving net energy. Talking about the downsides of things like electric cars and solar panels can feel like you’ve broken some sacred taboo in some circles.

    In my experience, pointing out the fact that renewables and electric cars depend heavily on subsidies reliably elicits the response that “fossil fuels are subsidized too!’ – as though all we had to do was force the government to switch from subsidizing fossil fuels to “green” energy and our problems would vanish. I guess in that mindset, the only reason that hasn’t been done is that the folks in government are evil and enjoy polluting the environment and making as much money as possible.

    I’ve tried several ways to counter this view but with limited success to be honest.

    Thanks for the essay JMG.

    Reggie

  99. @pygmycory #47 – you’re absolutely correct in your assessment that renewables will be a critical component of a much lower energy using society. This is the bit the cornucopians never get. They always assume that the future will be just an electrically powered better version of today. Complete with billionaires tossing giant electric space p3nises into orbit, electric Boeing 777s, electric container ships and all the rest.
    I’m sure there are things I fail to think about logically, but the electric blind spot so many people have just beggars belief…

  100. I’m practising gardening at a frantic place, not just gardening for food, but growing the toxic plants which were used back in the day instead of anaesthetics. Hence the title of my blog “Toxic Plants”. I’ve made a particular study of the plants which were grown during and between WW1 and WW2, when the UK and large swathes of Europe were subject to German blockades, and I hope to make a couple of the original documents from that period available for free download via my blog next month.

    https://toxicplantsblog.blogspot.com

  101. INTERNET….

    Due to the lack of investment in old copper wires, I do not think there is going to be a return to ‘ye olden days’. The locals have begun actively ripping out the old copper phone lines to sell for scrap – they put on contractor looking gear and just go and get the wires.

    I don’t know if there will be actual money in the internet world that isn’t speculative. That speculative money is going to dry up as the economy slows to a crawl, and shipping costs are already on the way to ruining many internet businesses. My daughter just shuttered her weaving business for the time being due to crazy regulations and shipping costs.

    I don’t know if the cell network will work out long term, or if there is enough fiber optic to keep things going that way… I just can’t see going back when the infrastructure has been gouged and ripped out. But we are likely to see a return to paper files more for security and access than many people understand. I understand the Russian MoD has returned to paper for those very reasons…

  102. 1) Other countries used to prefer trade with the USA to trade with China or Russia because the USA had transparency of a sort and would not seize assets. I suppose it’s turned into the wrong sort of transparency, really, where there is too much bad news and too many factions have access to that bad news.

    2) NOPEC is just a House bill, and largely symbolic until it evolves into a real bill, passed by somebody. Was the House of Representatives always such a school of interpretive dance in politics? Under Obama I got annoyed with people changing the TV channel or flipping off the radio just as somebody was about to say something interesting, and I started paying attention to politics. I’ve got Librarian Brain to the nth degree though, and it won’t let me just choose a side like most people. As the USA has grown to dislike corporate fat cats, the rest of the world has grown to hate the USA (and banks, and things associated with banks like Jews and the Chinese.) So, maybe members of OPEC have decided to pull up their assets because of the talisman of NOPEC, but there are dozens of other reasons and I’d have to go to Saudi for months to have a theory what really did it. Was it Bob Woodward’s ridiculous book about Trump and a Saudi prince and Putin on a boat, planning how the world would go? Was it things heating up with Iran and Turkey? A hit show in Arabic? Surely not NOPEC: I just can’t believe the OPEC countries are that nerdy.

    3) I’m looking forward to $6 oil. I can’t help it. I walk around big parking lots and I see all of the awful cars that shouldn’t be on the road at all. And sure, there are Teslas near me, and some Chevy Bolts, but there are way more luxury SUVs that could’ve at least been hybrids. Nope. And these are the same people who say none of my job experience is any good. I will watch the price of gas go up with quiet joy.

    4) There is phantom oil. There’s been oil for so long that everyone is certain that there must be more of it. I wrote papers about peak oil back in the day, and 20 years ago we still had 50 years worth, and more beneath the seas of Indonesia. POTUS has become the God of Oil and he controls the flow. After so many Bush years where oilmen Bush were blamed for high oil prices, it’s nice to see a democrat getting blamed for it at last.

    I have to take some little joys where I can. We live on too little land around too many people. I and too many friends and relatives are just waiting for our parents to die and leave us a little something that will save the day. It’s a bleak prospect for me as I expect to get nothing. Watching the gas prices go up will be more fun than watching the damaged psyches of those who expect to inherit their parent’s lifestyles but instead find the cupboard is bare.

  103. On Bikes, as a part time bike frame builder and bike transportation wonk I would recommend the following. #1 is get a bike that fits you. There is plenty of information on the internet about this and can be simple with a couple of measurements from your body that translate to target measurements on the bike. You don’t need to be exact but a badly fitting bike will cause you much misery. Second make sure you get a bike with a steel frame. Steel holds up the best, absorbs vibration and can be repaired. Avoid aluminum frames like the plague. In a perfect world find a good Japanese made bike from the 80’s as these had excellent quality frames, good components that are still easy to get and were built on one of the two tire sizes that are still common. Schwinns are durable but can be hard to get parts for and they used a tire size that is slowly turning in to a specialty item. Once you get a bike buy several sets of tires and three times as many tubes and store them in a lightproof container. I have 6 sets of tires stashed away for my current ( and hopefully) forever bike.

  104. Our collective futures seem to surely involve:

    Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Splice

    So many good comment as usual, and a great revisiting of the theme that first got me hooked here (aside from having encountered JMGs occult writings before the peak-oil writing). Glad I’m more psychologically prepared, and prepared in other ways than when I first started reading ADR and its sequel, but there is more yet to do and continue doing. My wife and I have more slack in our lives than we did a year ago, thanks to some luck, as well as the habit of living within/below our means. I think that extra slack came just in time, even though we’d been working towards that goal for awhile, it just would have taken a year or two longer than anticipated.

    Now I’ve been using some of that slack to stock up on supplies for the pantry ahead of this fall, getting some extra shelf stable food, and also investing in some tools, etc.

    We put an extra garden bed in our yard this year and are now almost read to plant our sprouted veg in that one. It’s a hugelkultur design, which was fun to build. We’ll see how this one works, compared to our other beds.

    It definitely seems like we are on a threshold. And despite the tension in the air, there is also a sense of adventure, not to discount that suffering that is and will ensue as this all unfolds.

    Wishing everyone here luck and blessings in the coming months as the challenges of the long emergency make themselves more widely known.

    @Lathechuck #73: Thanks for the TIPS! (I agree investing into tangible things for home & hearth first, and then defensive moves like this are worth looking into.) [With the solar cycle on the up, and with hopefully some better antennas as one of my investments over the summer, hopefully we’ll be able to make that elusive HF contact between each other this year. Even though ham & radio have taken a back seat to my writing & other work I still want to stay in practice and a bit radioactive.]

    May Peace Abide on this Net!

    /|\ .:. /|\

  105. This is another good time to revisit my 2007 article, The Freezing Point of Industrial Society. I ought to have called it Boiling Point, since it’s about oil prices, and when things boil over. But for what it’s worth:

    http://theoildrum.com/node/3228

    I predicted 2015-25 as a time of crisis. Was I smart, or just unlucky to be right? Or are the real crises not here yet?

    What I missed was that long before oil becomes unaffordable at a national level, its price causes economic crises – the oil price was a contributor to the GFC just a year later.

    Still, the article’s essential point is that oil (etc) are used because they’re cheaper than the alternatives of animal or human power, and thus remains true. Affordability is proportional to income, which is why Laos is not an industrial powerhouse despite having cheap oil.

    And so in the West we would have to see a huge drop in income and/rise in oil price before things were as proportionally expensive as a Third World country.

    For example, in the US there’s a per capita GDP of some 60k, vs gasoline being $1.20 a litre, for an affordability of 50klt. Australia’s GDP is $10k less but petrol costs $2 a litre, giving 25klt. And Australians drive just as much.

    So there’s obviously some slack in the system. The issue, I think, is that the slack is like the slack in ropes on a circus tent – as the wind blows, it pulls some cables tight, and others go slack. But there are limits, if enough different cables are pulled at the same time, up come the pegs and the whole circus is exposed to the storm.

    The West can weather an oil price storm. But throw in some debt crises, capital flight and a war or two, and the circus animals better get ready for a drenching.

  106. @Maxine
    I third the suggestions to have a dedicated DC circuits for the fence, and a separate DC circuit for lighting, as the most practical applications for solar electricity.

    Apart from these two, I am reading my way through “Take back the Power!” by Marvin Motsenbocker, and he makes the case for DC to DC solar electricity, skipping the Charge Controller-Battery-Inverter train. The most interesting part are the circuits diagrammed in the latter part of the book for interrupted DC, DC to AC square wave inverter, and a heat pump box, that allow the reuse of existing nominally AC powered equipment (with the exception of certain transformer based equipment such as microwave ovens), vastly reducing the expenditure and opportunity cost of household conversion to solar energy.

    The book is a bit uneven, at times kludged from several presentations, and you’ll probably need to look over the associated website in order to make sense of the first (and busy) set of schematic diagrams. If you build the circuits, they offer for sale the circuit boards for you to populate and solder.

    http://yugeshima.com/diygrid/technology/
    http://yugeshima.com/diygrid/guides-answers/

    The bright green approach is normally derided as an overly expensive specialized product of abundance industrialism dependent on a continuous stream of inputs to keep running. I find fascinating that while the philosophy is bright green (electric everything!), the implementation is more in line with scarcity industrialism and salvag, catabolizing the electric grid and salvaging devices from abundance industrialism.

  107. @stuart jeffrey, @viduraawakened, @JMG
    Please note that the Indian government has NOT banned wheat exports. That’s a ridiculous lie spun by western governments who are desperate to drive up prices and ensure their citizens remain well fed at the expense of the rest of the world.

    The Indian government WILL export wheat, but only on a government to government basis at reasonable quantities to reduce speculation and arbitrage. The wheat commodity exchange in Chicago is rife with this and at has times led to catastrophic famines in East Africa when in reality there was enough wheat to go around.

    India already sent several thousand tonnes of wheat to Egypt under this arrangement. As usual, India’s generosity and adherence to its dharmic values is being abused and insulted by the greedy western capitalist PMCs. Please note, we have no obligation to feed the rest of the world, particularly Europe, and have little interest in prioritizing Europe over the rest of the world when they continuously characterize India as a country full of starving beggars.

    Same goes with India’s stance on Ukraine – while the Europeans buy as much Russian oil as they need to keep their citizens warm, they will bully and preach to India which imports a tiny fraction – but the goal is to browbeat India into submission as some kind of vassal and force us out of our tried and tested relationship with Russia, who has supported us during the most difficult times, such as when Europe looked the other way during the horrendous Bangladesh genocide.

    I am in India right now (as a person who has lived in Europe for about 2.5 years now) and I can sense that the Indian population is getting very tired of this kind of humiliation. I expect nothing better of arrogant colonialist Europeans, and I will not be sympathetic when shelves in Europe start to wear thin (even if I am at the receiving end of this shortage). It’s what Europeans deserve, frankly.

  108. Alan, in densely populated areas, impoverished city neighborhoods in particular, gold and silver are thief magnets. Far better for some of us to look like scruffy nobodies and invest in useful tools, which are kept well hidden when not being used.

    My fear is that newly out of work PMC busybodies will attempt to take over (and ruin) local workarounds. Maybe best to keep such, whether community gardens or buying clubs, informal and unlabeled. Beware the person who says I can hook you into federal or foundation funding if you make me the manager.

  109. Our future in the U.S. has become much easier to intuit lately. It’s clear that our aristocracy understands the realities you’ve laid out over these many years. All the hand-waving and technophilia is just PR.

    The fossil energy we have left will be exploited for the benefit of the upper classes. It doesn’t have to be economically feasible in the truest sense of that word, as long as the lower classes can be forced to subsidize its use via repressed wages. This can go on for a surprisingly long time, especially in an environment where travel can be effectively and efficiently restricted.

  110. RE: bike restoration / theft

    Years ago I read a blog post with pictures (I apologize, I don’t remember where) by a man who specialized in making his expensive equipment look unworthy of theft. He showed pictures of his expensive digital camera and bicycle. They looked terrible but functioned just fine. He said in the post that he travelled in sketchy places and didn’t want his things to get stolen. You could restore a bike that works very well but looks kind of old and crappy. Maybe obscure the brand name, add some ugly stickers, leave all the scuffs and dings intact.

  111. Sometimes I am glad to have traumatic brain injury. The TBI has taught me a lot about limits and conservation. Also, I can’t use technology like others. Recently, I had a go-around with my insurance company about using a smart phone for insurance business. I finally said to the agent, I will give you a note from my neurologist to excuse me from using a smart phone, and you will continue to use paper for me. Or I am not paying insurance and I will sue for accommodations for disability.

    I never realized how reliant people are on technology. At the garage, if the computers are down, they can’t work on the modern cars. They love my ancient Chevy since it has little if any computers.

    So my take way is that a lot of people are going to be left high and dry since technology cannot be sustained in its present form. I say that from my experience of taking my daily walks and having to dodge people on their phones or bluetooth devices. I actually saw someone walk in front of a car not knowing the car was there. If people are that dependent on technology then they are going to be in a world of hurt when it goes.

  112. This reminds me of the Chrystal Cathedral put up by Robert Shuman in Orange Calif. It was built in the cheap energy days of the 1980s. The Catholic church that bought the Cathedral about ten years ago had to retrofit it since it gobbled up energy. They had to cover a number of the windows and divide the rooms to conserve energy.

    Meanwhile, those big houses that people built in the 1980s and 1990s have huge energy costs. One that I know about costs about 2000 U.S. dollars a month. In contrast, my condo electric bill is 50 U.S. dollars. I live on the top floor of a garden condo and get a lot of heat in the summer. I am working on ways to decrease the electric bill such as closing curtains from the direct sunlight.

  113. I’m laughing here, because I just had this discussion yesterday with a co-worker, who is *very* pleased with his perspicacity. He is buying precious-metal coins (copper, silver, gold) and investing in specific crypto-currencies that are “ISO20022 compliant” and this will be the next big game-changer in finance &c. &c.
    I told him I just bought another book on how to use and sharpen tools (which is really useful already) and fleshed out my library on gardening, so I can help my GF in her vegetable garden (my place doesn’t get any sun to speak of). I increased my knowledge and ability.
    He’s talking about escaping to his cabin, I’m talking about moving to a small town community.
    I mentioned the reality of peak oil causing price increases, he intimated it’s being ‘held back for profit’ by TPTB.
    Almost down the line every standard objection you’ve ever written about or I’ve ever read as to why we aren’t going to live in the grand style to which no one should ever have become accustomed.
    I comforted my GF the other day as the markets dropped again… if your money was in a lock-box at home, and hyperinflation hit, what would it be worth? Down to nothing, per the Weimar Republic, or Argentina, or… Even if you had gold and silver, how could you spend it if everything else fell apart and there was nothing to buy with it? (It’s only valuable if someone else values it, too.)
    Would we still have our houses? Yes, we would. Would we still have the skills and knowledge to grow food in the garden? Yes, she would. I know about composting. Would we still have tools and a high degree of self-sufficiency and an ability to work within a community? Yes, we would. We are also, following the advice of Epictetus from 2000 years ago, keenly aware of those things which are beyond our control, and therefore not worth our concern, and what is within our control and therefore worth all our attention, and we attend to that. From that perspective, the turmoil becomes almost a comedy.

  114. John,
    As a long time reader of the Arch Druid and many of your books I want to thank you for your continued work that at times must feel rather thankless given the general myopic state of western civilization. Your ongoing efforts have had the positive effect of keeping me focused in collapsing now in order to beat the rush. Two points I would offer. I started transitioning in 2007, building an energy efficient home, large garden, small orchard, permaculture, laying in tools, learning skills, putting up a DIY library, etc. The point is this takes years and is a life style. If you have done nothing to date it will now be a mad scramble. The second point is that there is no downside to this effort in my view. Forecasting the future, particularly timing and granular local details is simply not possible. I did not see the impact of shale oil in delaying Peak Oil for example. If there is still more can-kicking by the Federal Reserve that keeps BAU going a bit longer than I suppose, I am good with that. The transition life style is healthier in many ways. I eat healthier, I am more active, my stress level is much reduced with my feelings of self reliance and independence, I feel closer to the Earth and my spiritual roots. So there is no downside. In this it is much better to be a few years early, than a day late in doing all you can. Readers, do not delay.

    Thank you from my heart
    Tom

  115. @JMG

    Europe is going to be left twisting in the wind when US power implodes. I wonder if the EU has any clue what they’re facing.

    Suicide by going to war with Russia has been a popular sport among the European elites since, well, 1812, when Napoleon decided to invade Russia.

    This is just as well because Europe desperately needs to change its elites, to someone more sensible and less geriatric. And the United States could do with that as well.

  116. @ Doomsday Locker re #87

    Make sure you store that rice, beans etc. in tight containers that bugs and other vermin can’t get into. Canned goods will last a while but eventually give up the ghost in terms of edibility. Learn how to do your own canning and lacto-fermentation.

    Candles are okay but as someone has already pointed out here, they are not really safe and need to be monitored to prevent fire. The same with hurricane lamps. Don’t count on 911 to come to the rescue as things beginning going downhill.

    Rechargeable lithium batteries. They don’t have that great a lifespan either. I have a small Panasonic Lumix camera which I’ve owned for a while (maybe about fifteen or twenty years). One day I found the rechargeable lithium battery (a little one about 1 and half inch square) would not pop out of the camera for recharging. It took a fair amount of winkling with an Exacto knife to finally pop it out. I found the sides of it bulging outward, so I knew it had given up the ghost. I did manage finding a replacement online. But anything techy is really not to be relied on. Keep it as simple as you can.

  117. Re: Internet

    I would assume that the basic Internet services providers (cable, local wireless, DSL) cover their costs through monthly fees. (I’m highly doubtful with regard to StarLink and other satellite services.)

    The same is true, I would expect, for many web hosting services that charge substantial monthly or annual rates.

    The question for me, then, is how much of the back end, behind the scenes traffic routing is dependent on the big Ponzi scheme players (Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.)?

    If Google and Amazon were to disappear, could my computer still access a hosting server in Rhode Island or in the UK via an IP address and DNS routing as it could in the 1990s, or have the big players taken on system-critical functions that will fail when they fail?

  118. Just want to chime in on the bicycle thing.
    One thing to keep in mind with a using a very old bike is that the standards/dimensions for mounting things like bottom brackets, headset, brakes or even the hubs have been changed many times and “improved” since a bike from the 60’s was made. So it can be hard to find replacement parts when something breaks. So you might have to search far and wide online to find the parts you need, and a local bike shop might not be able to help you either. So stock up while you still can.

    If you don’t have a old bike around that you can use and are planning in investing in a bicycle and don’t need to go very very fast i would seriously consider a Long-tail bicycle like a Big Dummy from Surly.

    Disclaimer, yes i have a Big Dummy myself, built it in 2011 and i use it to work everyday all year, its still going strong. And for hauling groceries and sometimes longer trips.
    Normal maintenance during a year consists of a new chain, maybe brake pads and some grease and oil for the bearings and chain.

    Its a steel frame so if it breaks its not hard to get someone to weld it back together
    Its basically a normal 26 inch mountain bike frame that’s just longer, so parts is very easy to get, The only difference is you need to buy 2 chains instead of one. And it can run both disc and rim brakes.
    And it handles like normal bicycle, and its not to big and unwieldy like some other cargo bikes. You can get it up a flight of stairs alone if you really need to.

    And the amount of cargo this bike can take is nearly limitless, just bring enough straps. 😉
    Hers is some of the things i have hauled with just the standard rear rack and a front rack
    4x car tires with the rims.
    3×100 liters bags of per-lite
    Fruit trees
    50 liters of water
    A friend
    Lead acid battery for PV system.

  119. To Commentariat…. & JMG…

    I have lived and continue to live my life around this quote:

    “I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do” – Robert Heinlein

    This is an outlook and attitude I consider to be both normal and logical for most things in life. The key to this is the last sentence – “..I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” For me, the disconnect within populations and particularly among governing entities is this last bit, as most (if not all) officials refuse to accept responsibility for their actions and words. Instead, they obfuscate, play the blame game and point fingers back in time or to other geographies.

    This owning of actions and words has deserted the commons and most of the internet. What I dearly love about this little corner of the commons JMG has curated is that many here, along with our host, are willing to OWN their words. Concurrently, retractions and changes in opinion actually have a safe space here – whereas elsewhere, once you utter something outside of the current ‘normal’ you are forever forced to own that. Trolls and the usual internet parrots are excluded from this of course.

    I have observed over this last decade that JMG will alter his thinking based on new data or based on events transpiring around us. Many long time followers have done the same. People change, as they should, in a changing world. In the current world of falsehoods and outright lies, we should all allow people the space to incorporate newly discovered facts and ideas into their thinking.

    Allow people the time and space to change their minds and it is amazing what can occur.

    Thanks JMG…

  120. In regards to internet traffic routing,

    The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) operates servers for one of the 13 IP addresses in the root zone and delegated operation of the other 12 IP addresses to various organizations including NASA, the University of Maryland, and Verisign, which is the only organization that operates two of the root IP addresses.

    https://www.cloudflare.com/learning/dns/glossary/dns-root-server/

    There are multiple physical servers assigned to each of those 13 addresses.

    I learned something today, so the day is off to a good start. On the other hand the on-sale listing at the grocery store is particularly pathetic.

  121. @ Renaissance Man & Tom Clough RE: attitudes…

    I am with you wholeheartedly! It is like watching a series of Monty Python sketches when one reads the headlines…

    I believe everyone should be practicing the ‘control circle’ exercise, where you list the things you truly exert control over and then share them with another. The end result is always that the only thing truly within your control is your self…

    Having been a “prepper” and cheapskate most of my life, I am relaxed at this point. I am just wondering how steep and often the lurches downward will be. It doesn’t matter really, because I cannot be more ready than I am. This also affords me the luxury and fun of helping others come to grips with the current slow motion apocalypse. I hope those similar in situation to me will extend a hand to those who ask or are obviously struggling – there is no better use of your time than helping others avoid mistakes and perils.

    @ Doomsday Locker re #87

    In addition to Jeanne’s recommendations, you ought to put several whole bay leaves in any dried beans, rice, etc. you store as that precludes itty-bitty insects you might miss gobbling up your food. My grandmother stored anything dried with bay leaves, and they do not impact the taste.

    @ Mark L re #123

    You might want to search for info about “mesh nets”, as it seems likely to me that when the big backbone suppliers and server farms become spotty, mesh nets are easy, non-centralized and mush lower cost to operate – they are likely to become the go-to solution locally. I see centralized anything going the way of the dodo as costs increase and service collapses. Centralized = vulnerable in the coming years from where I sit.

  122. @ Valenzuela and JMG:

    I don’t think the senile, drooling, inbred idiots in the US Congress have thought through the likely implications of the NOPEC Act. Sovereign immunity has been one of the bedrock principles of international law for centuries. If the US government abrogates that principle, what’s to stop other nations, including Russia, China, OPEC members and the many countries the US has victimized since the 19th century, from responding in kind?

    After all, look at the damage that has been caused around the world by US regime change wars, American instigated color revolutions and the predatory neo-colonialist economic policies that the American elites have used to plunder most of the planet. Or the way that American intelligence agencies have used political and religious extremists ranging from Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Latin American fascists to Islamic extremists throughout the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia in the pursuit of dubious geopolitical games. And what about the lawsuits the US government could be exposing itself to here at home, perhaps via foreign venues such as the International Criminal Court if the US government tries to block such suits domestically? Come to think of it, what’s to stop Native American tribes, many of which are technically sovereign nations that have treaty relations with the US government, from pursuing similar remedies if this goes through?

    We are are talking potentially trillions in legal liability. Are the US Congress, the Biden administration, the American court system and all the rest prepared to deal with the possible fallout from getting rid of the doctrine of sovereign immunity? Do they really want to open that can of worms?

  123. @ clay dennis # 33.

    People in the 70’s were also more in touch with reality.

    Life wasn’t as abstract.
    You couldn’t live online.

    More people were poor and *had* to do for themselves anyway. They had some practical skills. They had relatives whose living memories included the Great Depression and the rationing of WWII.

    Everything was different, including supermarkets. It was a lot harder and more expensive to buy strawberries out of season.

    Today, you can get fresh strawberries in February.

    That feeds into the idea that anything is possible if only you want it hard enough.

  124. @Kimberly & JMG – regarding used tea (leaves) bags…

    There is a funny story still doing the rounds in my family, where my parents opted to become missionaries and go live in what was seen as a “poor, third world country” in Central America. An uncle of mine (now an emeritus UCLA college professor), poked quite a bit of fun at the lifestyle sacrifices he reckoned they’d be making.

    My mother laughs at the jokey gift my uncle posted to them for their first wedding anniversary after arriving “on the mission field”. It was a box of used, carefully dried, and carefully re-packed, teabags. My mother tells this story deadpan, and then adds… “the funny part was that we used them!”

    PS, I do not think that the missionary life I was raised in was particularly deprived, by the way. But we certainly practised many frugalities which are still seem to me to be the height of sense. 😉

  125. @ Chris in VT, comment 115

    I recall that Charles Hugh Smith, who was one of the leading lights in the Peak Oil scene back in the day, talked about using that same approach in some of his blog posts and books. His blog, Of Two Minds, is still very much worth reading. In addition, in the Weird of Hali novels, the worshippers of the Great Old Ones used a similar strategy to make their communities look run-down and nondescript as a form of protective camouflage.

  126. Replacing our oil tank is on the list, along with replacing the last of the #*%& leaky replacement windows and installing a free-standing wood-burning stove.

    I don’t want the wood-burning stove to cook on (although I can boil water and make soup). I want it to keep the pipes from freezing in a lengthy winter power outage.

    We’ve insulated, insulated, insulated, including wrapping ALL the pipes both hot and cold.
    That may not be enough, not if winter temperatures drop super low for days and there’s no power.

    For those of you who don’t know: oil-burning furnaces need electricity! Ours dates back to 1986. It’s got an electric ignition and an electric blower.

    No electricity, no heat from my oil-burning furnace. Gas furnaces may work the same way.

  127. For everyone asking what to do to prepare.

    Visit the library and look for The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.

    If they don’t have it, get a copy via the interlibrary loan. Then read it.

    Afterwards, you may want your own copy as a reference you can write in. There are loads of copies available at secondhand book sites like abe.com and alibris.com. I expect the prices to rise as inflation grows.

    I’ve read dozens of thrift manuals dating back to the 1950’s up to current day.

    Amy’s book is loaded with Clinton-era prices and the internet doesn’t exist. Yet her book is still the best thrift book I’ve ever read, bar none. She sets the gold standard.

    It’s not just tips and tricks. It’s philosophy. Why are you making this choice? Why do you want to spend this money? Is the cost worth the value received? Very few thrift writers consider the whys as well as the hows.

    If you can’t cut back on your spending after reading The Tightwad Gazette, it’s because you don’t want to.

  128. @ Ecosophian #121 – Imperial suicide by invading Afghanistan has been equally popular, and has had the same results over and over again. If the U.S. had been able to learn from the fate of the British Raj and later, the Russian, attempt to rule Afghanistan – IIRC, we were rolling on the floor laughing our heads off at the Russians sticking their hands into that briar patch! – then we’re totally incapable of learning that 2+2=4.

  129. JMG, the bias to pessimism is warranted. Yet drilling, capturing, transporting & using petroleum products also involves huge, accumulated infrastructure. We’re just used to it.

    Funny you don’t dwell more on innovation & integration of existing infrastructure, aka inventing snowmobiles from repurposed parts made for other purposes. Evolution history indicates that success = the sum of all possible adaptations, never just a few. That, and you don’t mention the most needed adaptation of all: political reform. UK is still working on a quasi-colonial model and that has reinfected the USA for over 120 years. A little change in the most important places removes the most frictions. It’s gonna take more than just swapping out Boris-Biden for Truss-Pelosi.
    If you have a national hernia, a truss is not an adequate solution. Surgery is. 🙁

  130. Good day JMG,

    I am in awe of the complete lack of understanding of the energy systems by governments in Europe that think they can just stop using Russian oil, and especially Russian gas without having massive impacts on their economies.
    Normally there are experts who know where the oil & gas is coming from, and they know it cannot be replaced within a few months by LNG, or within years by renewables or nuclear (or ever ..) .

    I guess the politicians just did not listen to them and decided/were forced to follow the US government’s confrontation with Russia?
    Or is there a mass psychological event that makes people completely unaware of how economic activity comes about thanks to carbon energy?

    There is a serious thesis I heard that there will be a revolution – violent or not so much – within France within one or two years.

  131. I have learned something unusual recently from Vedic Astrology. I recently discovered Abhigya Anand. Supposedly, “The world’s youngest Vedic astrologer.” I think he’s famous mostly because he’s willing to go out on a limb and make actual predictions. His interpretation are not that awe inspiring. A lot of his predictions seem obvious even to non-astrologers like me.

    Nonetheless, it’s because of him I learned about Kala Sarpa. Though I know it’s a bit of a deviation from the main theme of this week’s essay I hope JMG will be ok with posting it. If nothing else perhaps to inspire people to learn new skills and make whatever tiny preparations they might in line with this week’s theme.

    Apparently Planet Earth is caught up in a grand Kala Sarpa right now that will last for several more years.

    Kala (Time) Sarpa (Serpent)

    The great Serpent of Time has come again to the Zodiac.

    Kala Sarpa – all the planets get locked between the nodes (rahu & ketu) of the moon within 180 degrees in the Zodiac.

    Kala Sarpa – or rather this particular kind of Kala Sarpa (of which there are 12) unleashes 5,180 years worth of pent-up consequences. You have to go back 5,180 years to see this same type of Kala Sarpa the Earth is experiencing right now. The geological stresses alone during such a time create a lot of problems for all living beings on the planet, not just for humanity alone. In Vedic astrology it’s considered a highly inauspicious time for the entire planet. Widespread famines on many continents become a real possibility according to Vedic astrological lore. These famine conditions will affect all kinds of species, not just humans. That is, many other species may be experiencing their own famines too.

    In this kind of Kala Sarpa even auspicious planets will find their auspiciousness suppressed or dimmed even when in otherwise auspicious arrangements.

  132. It has occurred to me that if famine across many species happens over the next few years planet earth seems to be responding to the great serpent with a great culling. I wonder what the knock on effects will be of famines across many species? what if worms and insects and soil microbes experience a great culling?

    Maybe this is one reason why Sadhguru is on his Save Soil pilgrimage across many nations.

  133. Valenzuela, an oil embargo is a real possibility at this point, especially if the NOPEC business goes any further, or if the Biden administration tries some other dumb stunt in an attempt to bully OPEC.

    Locker, if you have the storage space for that, sure. I’d also suggest making sure you have the tools and raw materials for whatever you plan on doing to support yourself, the appropriate low-tech health care gear of your choice, and something to do in your spare time, but a full pantry’s a classic hedge against trouble.

    Pygmycory, that sounds like a very nice harp! Sara plays harp, fiddle, and lap zither — she’s the musical one in the family.

    Sardaukar, the hypersonic missile race is one of the most fascinating issues just now. Russia and China both have them, but the US arms industry hasn’t been able to produce one that works. BTW, when you’re thinking of small, fast moving targets, don’t think of cars. Think of incoming ICBMs. That’s the ugly jackpot at the end of the hypersonic-missile rainbow: an end to effective nuclear deterrence and the coming of a new age of great-power wars.

    Ben, I’ll consider doing a post on that. The core message, though, is don’t sell out. You know what a mess the existing system is. Don’t settle for moving into the First Class section of the Titanic.

    Stephen, that’s the $64 trillion question right now. Is there some new gimmick the US can use to pull itself out of the oncoming mess? Or are we in for it, in a big way? I suspect the latter, but then neither I nor anyone else in the peak oil scene anticipated the way fracking propped up by money-printing would be used to delay the inevitable by a decade or so. As for the ten year span of the crisis, the US has one significant resource left — its own absurdly wasteful habits. We could get by easily on much less energy than we do these days, and once that’s been enforced by crisis, we can get by fairly well. Mind you, we’ll have the energy per capita of one of the poorer Eastern European countries, but that’s a good deal this side of total collapse. (Of course there are more troubles incoming, but we’ll get to that.)

    Clay, er, part of that’s a function of the city where you live, you know. Other places haven’t necessarily had the same skyrocketing real estate, tax, and regulatory costs…

    Alan, maybe you’ve forgotten this, but the US government seized all privately held gold in 1933. That could happen again, and quite possibly will do so, once the current fiat currency system collapses. Silver might be less vulnerable to sudden confiscation, but we’ll see. Of course gold and silver both attract less official thieves the way a dead rat draws flies, so if you’re known to have either one in a financial crisis, your life may not be worth much. Alternatively, you can do what a lot of people are doing now, buy precious metals without actually taking delivery, and run the serious risk that the metals won’t actually be there when called for. Those are the reasons I don’t recommend gold or silver. Learning marketable skills and making sure you have the tools to use them will get you a lot further, with a lot less risk.

    Eduardflo, yes, that’s another serious issue to factor into the equation.

    Old Will, excellent! Yes, and that’s a great example of a creative response.

    Robert, ouch. I wish I could say I was surprised.

    Mei, funny. What’s even funnier is that this gets seriously suggested to me every time there’s an actual energy crisis.

    Viduraawakened, it’s a perfectly sensible move as the age of free trade ends. I note that your government has made an exception for special arrangements with friendly nations — another very sensible move. Now that the American imperium is collapsing, control over resources is a basic measure of power in the global political arena, and India is exercising its considerable and growing power in a very moderate way. (And yes, I know about the Bengal famine, and all the other famines India suffered as a result of British rule. The British did that a lot; you and somebody from Ireland should have a conversation someday, if you haven’t already.)

    NikoB, thanks for this!

    Nachtgurke, that’s a fascinating suggestion. How much is materialistic monism and how much is simple crazed egocentrism: a question worth exploring.

    Reggie, I know. The cornucopian mindset is very, very deeply entrenched.

    Toxic, thanks for this! That’s a seriously valuable project and I commend you for pursuing it. Please go ahead and post a comment to this blog when they’re up.

    Oilman2, the ultimate fallback is BBS systems operating via amateur radio. I know people who are working on reviving that right now. As for paper files and typewriters, well, yes — how many ransomware problems do you have to face before it becomes obvious that scrapping your computer system and hiring some file clerks and typists instead is a better option?

    Pesci, no, there I’m sorry to say you’re mistaken — the NOPEC Act is Senate bill and it’s already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. There’s still hope that it’ll be derailed before the worst happens.

    Justin, delighted to hear this.

    Kyle, thanks for this. That’s a good useful metaphor.

    YCS, I’m quite aware that what India has done is the sensible move of shifting its wheat exports out of the sphere of “free trade” (meaning trade controlled by Western multinationals) and into the sphere of political arrangements among friendly countries. Of course Europeans are whining: “What do you mean we don’t get to tell the rest of the world what to do?” I hope they get used to it; as India rises to great power status and Europe sinks to its pre-1500 status as a relatively impoverished backwater, such shocks are going to come more and more often.

    NoHype, I’m far from sure you’re right. There are any number of moves the current US elite could have made to secure their power in an age of resource shortages, and they’ve made very few of them.

    Neptunesdolphins, excellent! If you can afford it, see if you can get insulated window coverings with a reflective layer next to the glass — those can spare you a lot of heat.

    Renaissance, thanks for this! A fine breath of cool clear air.

    Tom, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Ecosophian, 1812? Not at all! The Great Northern War of 1700-1721 was another fine example of national suicide by Russia. Before then, Sweden was one of the great powers of Europe; after it tried to conquer Russia, well, you can fill in the blank.

    Mark, I’ll have to toss that one to the commentariat. Any feedback from the tech-savvy?

  134. JMG,
    thanks for this update!

    I remember long ago when, as a young and naive adult, I started reading about peak oil and I saw all the ways that humans can deny reality.
    At the time, one of the things that popped to mind is the many, many folk tales that features three wishes (https://interestingliterature.com/2018/11/a-summary-and-analysis-of-the-three-wishes-a-curious-fairy-tale/).

    Isn’t it interesting that we got those three wishes for real in our industrial civilization: coal, oil and gas.

    And just like many of the people in those stories, we wasted them all without ever thinking about the future.

    Thanks again

  135. I have felt almost gas-lit in recent months whenever I try to tell some of my Progressist friends and families that our fossil fuels are running out faster than we think, that renewable energies have consistently failed to prove to be viable replacements, that we clearly will never colonize Mars etc. I don’t try to tell any of them about the Long Descent all at once, since it took me a few years myself to come around to accepting it, but even just bringing up specific examples of the decline I get so much resistance, so much of the usual hand-waving “renewables will save us, the electric cars are here, batteries for storing solar and wind are right around the corner, fusion will work” that I start to question myself. I know so many people have said it here over the years, but it really is like I’m trying to leave a religion; as I openly question key tenets of the faith it’s almost like my family who are still believers then quote a scripture of progress and technology at me. Your firm, plain statements of the fact that there are no viable renewable alternatives to our dwindling finite fossil fuels are a cold but helpful reminder of reality for me–thank you John Michael.

    It’s impossible for Progressists to ignore all the chaos around us currently, but they still are treating it like an exception to the rule, just a bump (albeit a major one) in the road of progress that will surely keep on going after we get past these potholes. Mainstream news is blaming the current economic and energy issues only on ongoing supply chain and workforce issues stemming from the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, or climate change issues in various regions (and indeed those are all contributing factors to an extent), but none are mentioning that this is ultimately a result of diminishing fossil fuels, and the failure of renewables to make up for it.

    The jazz radio station I listen to puts on the NPR update several times a day (the only downside of public radio stations), and I used to groan last year and switch the station, but now I let it play out of morbid curiosity. One of my friends (another reader here) remarked that NPR’s headlines make it feel almost like an alternate reality, with how out-of-touch they are with the average working American (often the main focus is on COVID measures or Ukraine); I’ve started referring to it as National PMC Radio (an acronym within an acronym?). Sometimes though the news that actually matters to most people in the US is just too big to ignore, so this morning NPR started off with some general updates about the economic woes, gas prices and shortages, inflation, recession, etc. But then of course they had to end the broadcast on a positive note! So they talked about how Boeing is launching some new spacecraft to the ISS today. On earth things may be in the crapper, 2/3rds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, but in space it’s business as usual! It was horrifyingly hilarious–so much of that scarce fuel being wasted on costly technological adventurism. Really drove home the narrative that the economic crisis is just another routine recession, that the energy crisis is just a temporary setback but that the march of progress to the stars continues.

  136. There is one article of an obviously dedicated woman (journalist?) using draft horses on a small farm in Minnesota.
    https://pethelpful.com/horses/Using-Horses-for-Draft-Power

    Seems some of those have persisted in the US over the decades:
    https://modernfarmer.com/2015/12/draft-horses/

    Recently I have fussed over my mental image of horses and how we need them.

    This weekend I was on a middle level corporate jubilee celebration which probably has cost what is the cost of building an average single family house.
    On the main evening, we were on a farm that pensions animals.

    Everyone was absolutely amazed by sight of the draft horse they had there. It had giant hooves and massive muscles.
    Most of us had seen actual horses, from leisure riding outlets, but not this traditional tank of an animal.
    Cuba it is well known has already bred oxen. A smart move! By some standards, Cuba is ahead of the curve.

    It seems that Europe is backing off a little of the oil sanctions against Russia / veiling its imports via Hungary and Serbia. The industry is complaining….Germany’s attempts on energy alternatives at this point seem pathetic.

    But it may turn that Russia reroutes its exports to the East and we’re faster without than we thought.
    Sri Lanka already is reported to be at point zero of oil imports, probably an early model case…
    Various states deliver to the EU as you can see on visualcapitalist.com, coal from Columbia for example,
    from Australia, oil from Nigeria….

    Thinking in terms of systems theory, the loss of one supplier may trigger problems with the rest of them.

    Well, this weekend I shall travel to the quietous Austrian highlands (actually resembling scotland’s geologically), to a hinter-garden of legacy farming and more importantly forestry (difference to Scotland in land use).

    Maybe I will meet the farmers once again, those who have become the machine lords of the surrounding region.They’re working what other farmers have abandoned and are renting out, also their are doing various jobs driving construction machinery, doing mechanics, blasting rocks for building houses…

    The region allegedly has the biggest net of horse riding tracks, and I can attest that in these steep hills you are utterly unhindered riding far by European standards.
    There are of course many horses there. Maybe I should visit one of these horse renters there and ask about this business.
    .

  137. Hot update I got just moments ago!

    I just found out (from one of the Ukrainians I talked about in an earlier post a few months ago) had returned to Ukraine for a while to see his family and finally got back. Says he sat in a plane full of returning (and bragging!) U.S. troops. Says he also saw for himself on the ground that U.S. troops are engaging in hot war directly now with Russia but doing so on the downlow. They pretend to be “Ukrainians” but it’s really U.S. troops doing the fighting (according to what he saw himself).

    No wonder Congress is rushing to pass this “in perpetuity arms to Ukraine” bill…it’s really arms to “U.S. troops dressed up in Ukrainian military drag” aid. So yes, according to one of the Ukrainians who just got back from one of the warzones…the direct hot war between the U.S. and Russia – long feared – has finally come.

    Kala Sarpa indeed…

  138. Oilman2, you’re most welcome and thank you for contributing to this space.

    Sardaukar, exactly. I honestly wonder when the American League of Senile Drooling Inbred Idiots will issue a formal statement distancing themselves from Congress, saying, “Look, we’re dumb, but we’re not that dumb!”

    Scotlyn, funny. Thanks for this.

    Teresa, good. Very good.

    Roger, au contraire, it’s because I’m aware of the potential for repurposing or salvaging infrastructure that I’m predicting a long ragged decline rather than a sudden crash. (See my paper on catabolic collapse for the details.) As for political reform, let’s just say I’m much less sanguine than you are about the possibilities there. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” has been the inevitable result of revolutions all through recorded history.

    Tony, I’ve been dealing with that same stunning inability to grasp the basic realities of energy throughout my adult life. Yeah, it’s baffling.

    Panda, fascinating. I may see if I can find the time to look into that.

    NomadicBeer, you know, that makes enormous sense…

    Gray Tuesday, you’re most welcome. I somehow managed to avoid joining the religion of progress; it’s good to hear from those who’ve extracted themselves from it.

    Curt, I would definitely encourage you to look into horses!

    Panda, thanks for the data point. If that’s confirmed, things could get very messy in a hurry.

  139. JMG said:
    “Mind you, by then we’ll have other things to worry about. ”

    I started my exploration of peak oil and collapse issues as a “doomer”. I am psychologically more inclined to see the worst and I was easily swayed by the apocalypse scenarios. It took many years and a lot of help (a lot from reading JMG’s balanced posts) to help me get away from panic and see this as a multigenerational problem. Plus I realized that people survived worse and there can still be joy and good living even during bad times.

    And now, this! I thought 2020 was a big inflexion point and this is confirmed by your warnings.

    One thing that I would like to say for all people that might panic is don’t! Do something small every day and achieve something and you will be okay.

    Thank you!

  140. @JMG

    Thank you for your reply. Regarding Ireland, I’ve read that it was plundered at least as thoroughly as India, and that the Irish people lived an absolutely sub-human (I do not intend to say this to insult the Irish people, so if any Irish Ecosophians are reading this, please do not take offense) life under the British rule, and that too for a much longer period than what India had to endure.

  141. @Gray Tuesday Man

    I feel exactly the same as you do, that’s one of the downsides of getting red-pilled on just about anything. But freeing myself from the shackles of the religion of Progress has been a great relief to me. It has given me a new way of looking at most things. One of the minor irritants I find is when conversing with anybody, and that person says stuff like ‘this is backwards’, ‘there are no limits to X’, ‘we need to progress on A’, etc. and I have to keep reminding myself that most people are believers in Progress in at least some aspects of it.

  142. The info about Americans directly fighting on the side of the Ukrainians is believable. There has been a lot of talk about American, French and British officers ( both current and retired) being captured by the Russians in Mariupol and elsewhere. There have also been some reports ( hard to verify) of talk by captured Americans ( blackwater mercenary types in most cases) of their surprise and horror at fighting in a situation without air cover or heavy weapons superiority. I don’t think Americans fighting on the Ukrainian side will make much difference as there is very little chance of the Ukraine getting back air superiority over the Skys of Ukraine given Russia’s proximity, technical advantage in anti aircraft systems and stand-off missile systems. The last time the U.S. military fought a battle without air superiority was Pearl Harbor so even several thousand Americans on the battlefield won’t make much difference in the long run, but it will make for much embarrassment in the aftermath when many of them turn up as POW’s.

  143. I don’t know if this is off-topic but for people that want to focus on small positive steps in order to fight the fear, here are some things to do right now:
    – Prepare health syrups, sodas or dry for tea: elder flowers, dandelion, pine buds (any evergreen actually), cottonwood buds, alder buds etc
    – Cook or in a salad: nettles, dandelions and some fern fiddleheads (check first, not all are edible)
    – Plant vegetables and herbs
    – You can still get chicks in most states (some have blocked sales for a made up reason). Eggs are the most efficient way to convert food leftovers, bugs and grass into protein.

    Doing something – even if it seems too little, too late – will help you on many levels, giving you confidence to keep trying. It’s very important to understand what we cannot control but also to feel that some things we CAN control.

  144. Sardaukar #131

    Good point! I enjoy Charles Hugh Smith’s books and blog, and the Weird of Hali series too. I didn’t bother to crap-ify my bike because I don’t use it anymore. But I took that way of thinking to heart for my personal appearance and my house/yard. It looks lived in but kind of shaggy. Looking prosperous and showy may have been a good idea before. Definitely not now.

  145. JMG,

    Why am I getting the feeling that a war in the current news could be the real life equivalent to a certain book of yours…

  146. One more comment on the bike question: some local bike stores would be quite interested in your requirements and helping/advising you on them, and even putting together a bike to your specifications. Others just want to sell you the most expensive gear they can. You have to check around and see. In a small city I used to live in and still have connections in there is one shop that was going to build up a bike from various components they had for an off road trip a friend was going to do in Mexico, though he ended up finding a perfect one used. There is another non profit that specializes in restoring old bikes, primarily for poor kids. You can use their workshop and tools and they will work with you. Bike clubs can help. It just takes having some idea of what you want and some perseverance. Definitely steel over aluminium, no more gears than you need( the more gears, the more fiddley to adjust), and keep it as funky looking as possible to deter theft. Even painting it matte might help.
    On the Nopec issue: most US congress critters are no more intelligent than their constituents, which sets a rather low bar, but they tend to have a rat like cunning at knowing how to appeal to said constituents.” Those dirty Arabs are conspiring to make your gas more expensive and are refusing to obey us, and we are going to punish them” sells very well with their voters, most of whom are probably confused as to why God put their gas under someone else’s country.

  147. JMG: Yes, we are in decline, the question is “how fast?” What makes this point in human history so unique is that on a planet 8,000 mi in diameter, and atmosphere 7 mi thick, we’ve increased the amount of CO2 50%. That’s staggering. It speaks of both the scale of industrialization’s scope and power and the scale of ecosystem destruction. 70% of the planet’s land mass has been altered by humans. Wow. Not sure there is any time in the past comparable to now.

  148. Re: NOPEC… I will be surprised if this actually passes. It has gotten through committee in the Senate, but I don’t expect it to get much further. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin would vote for. Then again, it would not be the first time I felt certain cooler heads would prevail in the government, but was later shown to be wrong.

    NOPEC is just a symptom of a larger problem, of course. Our soi-disant betters have no idea what they’re doing, and I question how seriously they are even taking the whole situation. I am remembering that time back last fall when Jake Sullivan went to visit Crown Prince Mohammad bin-Salman in Saudi Arabia with the purpose of asking that OPEC ramp up oil production (gas prices seemed high even back then, high enough to send high-level flacks to Saudi Arabia, hat in hand, to beg their favor). During the meeting, Sullivan started lecturing MBS about the 2018 murder of Jamal Kashoggi, and MBS blew his top, shouted that he can forget about OPEC raising production targets, and proceeded to throw Sullivan out of the country. Not sure what Sullivan thought would happen. Anyway, that obviously didn’t work, so now we’re going to threaten them with this NOPEC silliness. Surely that will make them more inclined to do us a favor. Ha.

    @Cardinal (#49), re: audio versions of these articles… I would be willing to help get these articles on YouTube if there is any interest. I can do some simple video editing.

  149. @ Panda (# 143) – That certainly is big new if true. I worked with a former army medic who went to Ukraine as part of the US training effort there. He had some, interesting, stories to tell…

    While I’m well aware that eventually, the enemy stops distinguishing, but are you sure your friend saw Americans on the front line, rather than in a support role?

  150. “Anonymous, good. I’m expecting to see something very like a 1990 internet with better graphics — but of course I grew up without the internet, and I still know how to look things up in a dictionary, do research at a library, and buy things at a store. You might consider doing some of those things! ”

    Oh, I am doing all of these things. I’ve also got an address book, a printed calendar, an agenda, and a lot of other old fashioned things which people used before the internet took over. What I’m worried about is that I still need to use the internet (email for work purposes), and while I’m able to get offline one day a week, I’ve never tried an extended break. What it means is that with all of my preparations, I’ve never had the chance to give it a full field test.

  151. @ JMG – Yes, ‘don’t sell out’ is a good maxim. I think it would be instructive to put out such a post. It’s one thing to look around at any given moment, knowing that so much of what is going on is a fluster-cluck, but to do so with a general road map, from someone who’s lived through such times, would help. I know when I talk to friends and coworkers (ones that are amenable to such ideas), I always try to coax some idea out of them, like a trade-able hobby. I don’t have much use for the shopworn cynicism, no matter how accurate it sometimes is, of ‘the people in charge will always try to screw you over’. That said, it also feels quite tired to throw in the cliche of ‘well, if we just elect the right people.’ To use the Titanic metaphor, it’s hard to suggest to people that it’s time to start building a lifeboat, when, to many my age (40) and younger, it feels like we’ve been drowning for quite some time.

  152. @David Huang, Ellen, anyone else interested in rocket mass heaters:

    I have some free gift codes for informational stuff on rocket contraptions on permies.com. Fair warning, you have to create a free permies account to access them.

    Basically just follow the link, and if someone else from the comments here has already claimed it, try the next one in the list until they are all used up.

    Building a cob style rocket mass heater video (2 hrs 20 min):

    https://permies.com/g/j52em0fent

    https://permies.com/g/96w3ag0nrv

    https://permies.com/g/ec0q25iuyf

    https://permies.com/g/5dja5kxpou

    Care and feeding of rocket mass heaters video (30 min):

    https://permies.com/g/qr08l2mlb5

    https://permies.com/g/o1mxqhi54z

    https://permies.com/g/xfid45alqe

    Cooking with a rocket oven video (19 min):

    https://permies.com/g/wtcxoyzirm

    https://permies.com/g/k1n7ijco0e

    https://permies.com/g/rx2m202w85

    https://permies.com/g/fmqtc130li

    Hopefully I copied and pasted all those correctly! If there’s one you want and all the links are used up, let me know, and I may be able to scrounge up some more!

  153. JMG said

    “BTW, when you’re thinking of small, fast moving targets, don’t think of cars. Think of incoming ICBMs. That’s the ugly jackpot at the end of the hypersonic-missile rainbow: an end to effective nuclear deterrence and the coming of a new age of great-power wars.”

    It was the article itself that used a car as an example of what kind of targets these new Chinese hypersonic missiles can hit. Maybe part of the thinking is that if a hypersonic missile with an infrared guidance system can pick out such a small target with a relatively dim IR signature and lots of nearby clutter, then it will be even more effective against other, brighter targets, like ballistic missile reentry vehicles. Defense against ICBM’s would be an obvious application, especially considering that a ballistic missile RV puts out a lot of heat as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere. Using a hypersonic missile to take out a car would be ridiculously wasteful, especially when a conventional missile or drone will do the job just as well and with a much cheaper price tag.

    Another obvious target for such a missile would be small, stealthy warships such as guided missile corvettes, which the Russians have shown can be extremely effective weapons systems. A swarm attack involving large numbers of modern corvettes armed with hypersonic missiles could do massive amounts of damage to an enemy while being difficult to defend against due to the sheer number of corvettes and hypersonic weapons a navy with access to the resources of a great power could field. From a strategic perspective, hypersonic weapons capable of defending against ballistic and hypersonic missiles are becoming a necessity these days. It’s been reported that the US and Russian militaries are working on such systems, such as the Russian S-500 Prometheus and the American SM-6 Block 1B, which is an advanced hypersonic version of the US Navy’s top of-the-line multirole missile, one that the US Army is planning to use from truck mounted launchers.

  154. @Sardaukar @JMG re: NOPEC

    The senile, drooling, inbred idiot theory may be correct…but another take is that they know it won’t pass. It’s just a virtue signaling/bash the opponent maneuver. That’s why it hasn’t become law all those other times it was introduced.

    Same thing with the Windfall Oil Profits tax. It couldn’t be more moronic (don’t take that as a challenge, O senile, drooling, inbred idiots): any company that produces *or imports* at least 300,000 barrels of oil per day would pay a 50 percent tax on the difference between the sale price of a barrel of oil and roughly $66. So…wouldn’t a large oil company or refiner, you know, produce or import less than 300,000 barrels of oil per day to avoid the tax? Resulting in less oil, gasoline, and other refined products? Again, I’m thinking this was done just to bash those who oppose the tax: “My opponent voted with Big Oil…”.

    As the Joe Pantoliano character in Risky Business advised: “In times of economic uncertainty, never ever **** with another man’s livelihood”. Lots of CongressPeople and Senators facing, like, economic uncertainty (unless they were smart enough to trade stocks in advance of impactful legislation, but that’s another story).

  155. JMG…. earlier in the comment section you told someone it’s too late to learn homestead self sufficiency in time. My dilemma is I grew up in the countryside, I have that skill set.

    I’m still living at home with my parents and the garden hasn’t been started for the year yet. I have enough food stockpiled thought, and a bunch of plants that I’ve grown to seedlings, to fill said garden.

    Working a 9-5 job I don’t have the time for the garden. If I quit the 9-5 job I would. The 9-5 job doesn’t pay enough to live on. (Im a full time manager.) and I don’t see the company surviving the next downturn.

    In my view, the only way forward is for my father to use all of his 401k now and pay off all his debts pertaining to real estate. Transfer the house to both my sister’s name or my name. (I can see medical expenses in the future for aging parents and the health care system is a racket.

    Does anyone have any thoughts?

  156. Hi JMG, many thanks for the post, I did know about the NOPEC bill, uff!!

    So now the US elite has decided to:

    + Bleed white the Russians in Ukraine witth unlimited amount of weapons and money to Ukraine to destroy both countries and ruin the US and European economy .

    + Rearm Taiwan and lure the Chineses to another Ukraine, also to bleed them white and destroy both countries, ruining the world economy in the process.

    + Increase the pressure on Russia and China expanding NATO in Europe and increasing military assistance and alliances to “friends” in Asia: Australia, Japan, South Korea, etc….Increasing the rik of a nuclear war with the Sino-Russian block.

    + “Discipline” the OPEC countries with the new NOPEC bill, so they will know for sure who is the boss. As you said this could be the end of the USD as “the” world currency and the end of the City and Wall Street as “safe havens” for the oligarchs all around the world.

    + Sending troops again to Somalia and increase the “special operations” all over Africa, destabilizing again the continent.

    So all of this reminds me the famous phrase of Dubya:

    “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

    On the other hand a worthy successor of Dubya, Joe Biden, has recently said:

    a) “Inflation is my top domestic priority”

    b) ” I will address baby formula shortage”

    After hearing this if I have some USD I will use them to buy something useful asap, and if I had a baby I will go to Mexico or Canada to feed him/her safely.

    After Trump the Empire Strikes Back, as the Biden promised: “America (the Empire) is back”, and in full force!

    Cheers
    David

  157. In the interest of eliminating the ambiguity arising from welcoming a new member of the commentariat with the same name, I have revised my own moniker as noted.

    The problem with hoarding money in any form as a hedge against economic disaster is that money is not wealth. You need real wealth to survive the downturn; money won’t do it. Neither will silver, gold, stock securities, or any other form of ‘liquid’ asset. Here’s why:

    1. To use it, you have to find yet another poor sap willing to pay as much as you did for it. If you can’t find someone to trade you something useful for it, it’s worthless.
    2. If it does have value, there will be someone out there who wants it, but there will be no guarantee that you will get anything in return for it – someone who wants it bad enough can just kill you and take the stuff.
    3. In order to find someone willing to trade for it, you have to advertise the fact that you have it – which invites the temptation contemplated in #2.

    The best investment against the coming decline is real wealth: I would start by filling the pantry and paying off debts, starting with the house mortgage and anything else carrying a lien. Then invest in low-tech solutions like a woodstove and a manual well pump. And learn useful skills, like gardening. Scrapping the television helps, too – mostly by freeing up your time and limiting your exposure to advertising.

    As for keeping the internet, don’t rely on that staying alive for very long. The reason it went public thirty years ago was because the institutions that it served at the time – mostly academics, government offices, the military, etc. – were unwilling to continue paying for its escalating costs. Its dirty little secret is that it can’t survive without the advertising, gambling, and porn that have become the bane of its existence. As the decline proceeds, loss of these forms of traffic will dry it up and the relentless demand for upgrades will kill it.

    Steve

  158. For those who are concerned with energy economics, I can’t recommend the work of Gregor McDonald enough (start at https://gregor.substack.com). He’s been startlingly correct in his oil-price predictions and his work on the economics of renewables. He’s also really strong on EV adoption and its effects, some surprising. His conclusions often differ from those of our host but he is never offensive nor uninformed.

  159. Dear JMG,

    For the past five years or so I’ve had a practice of gifting useful plants all throughout the growing season. At first I started with native perennial bee plants, but soon branched out to include all sorts of medicinal and edible plants as well. For the last three years, I’ve gifted many trees too, maples, oaks, apple pippins, and peach pippins, and fruiting shrubs and vines.

    Something I’ve noticed is that as the crisis has grown, fewer and fewer people have contacted me to acquire useful plants for free. This I find very strange: after all, having a nettles patch and some peach trees could make a significant difference in the lives of folks. And yet, as the crisis has deepened it seems that many individuals have basically lost interest in the sorts of activities that might actually help in that very crisis! I noticed a similar loss of interest in herbalism in the same time frame. Frankly it seems to me that for individuals caught in a certain egregore there is a nearly self-conscious desire to refuse adaptation to changing circumstances. This I find eerie: I would imagine that with times getting worse, there would be more victory gardens and more interest in plant lore. This has not been in accord with my experiences. Rather I’m reminded of your essay about ‘Faustus and the Monkey Trap,’ from the Archdruid Report days. Sometimes I still gift plants, but now it’s at about 20% of the amount I did so in 2019.

    Point being, the sort of senility we see so much of in the political class in the United States appears to me apply far more generally to what we might term the “overseer” class. Frankly it appears to me that an uncomfortably large number of Americans basically refuse to come to grips with the sort of future we’ve made for ourselves. It may even be that many of the politicians from my region at least might even do a decent job of representing the will of their constituents, a collective will which strikes me as increasingly unhinged, unfortunately.

  160. @JMG: In one sense, I hope I’m wrong. If I am, we will all have more voice in our own future. On the other hand, elites don’t go down without a fight. I’m not looking forward to that.

  161. @Mark L.

    According to this report: https://broadbandnow.com/report/google-content-providers-submarine-cable-ownership/

    Google owns 8.5% of international underwater data transfer capabilities.

    My understanding is that part of the motivation for Google, Facebook and Amazon to do so was to shield themselves away from internet operators that were trying to get a bigger part of the pie. The irony is that they were trumpeting “Net Neutrality”, aka non-discrimination of content in delivery over Internet infrastructure, when they did not have their own infrastructure but they are now perfectly happy to censor and discriminate content when that content is not aligned with The Narrative pushed down everybody’s throats.

    My take is that long-distance text and low-resolution images at low bandwidth can be done with wireless infrastructure that should be affordable even at the rock-bottom of The Long Descent to maintain international communications, independent of big companies or governments. Some of the internet protocols as well as new ones will be quite compatible with this. I expect we should be able to do more than manual telegraphy at that point.

    Right now, communication is still too cheap and people expect high-bandwidth applications. Moreover, the legal environment makes it complicated to develop in a grassroot manner because encrypted communications over amateur radio must be reported to the authorities in the US and other countries. The fact that encrypted communication over Wi-Fi and the Internet backbone don’t need to be reported raises some questions on either the true privacy of communication on the Internet, and/or the incoherence in the policies.

  162. @JMG, @Ecosophia readers

    You know what’s so odd when I consider what my Ukrainian friend told me?

    The deafening silence across all media about the Ukraine-Russo War now being a full-on American-Russo War.

    I scan through all of my usual news sites – mainstream plus more obscure, alternative sites and I’m astounded that there’s no mention of what my friend saw with his own eyes. Flying home he sat beside 2 of those U.S. servicemen. The majority of the plane was filled with U.S. troops. He was one of the few non-military passengers.

    No one even tried to hide the fact from him that they had engaged in direct war with the “Rooskies”. He says some of them even bragged about it on the flight home.

    But if I try to hunt online for news reports of similar kinds of things….it’s just…silence. Not a peep in U.S. media. I don’t want to give his name so as to not get him in trouble. But if what he said is true the U.S. is now in yet another defacto war and the fall in standard of living for U.S. citizens will be even swifter than I formerly thought.

    Furthermore I have zero hope that a Republican congress would do anything different other than to probably argue we need to pass an even bigger “emergency” bill on top of the one already being worked on.

    I wonder if Wer sees anything in Polish news about U.S. troops in a hot ground war with Russia? Of course my understanding is that U.S. troops are dressing up as “Ukrainians” but it is trained U.S.troops manning a lot of that military equipment. And it is the U.S. calling the shots of what can and can not be done by the Zelensky Gov. I suspect they will never allow him to proceed with ceasefire talks. Now I understand better why I keep reading about how the U.S. GovCorp (thank you to the reader who coined that term – it’s perfect) wants to punish Russia as harshly as they can. I’ve always been baffled by that when I read about it in the news. What could possibly be gained by U.S. GovCorp elites by being that harsh?

    U.S. PMC must be deathly afraid of what a negotiated ceasefire with Russia would do to their own power worldwide so they are determined to make Russia an example – especially an example for the Chinese to see. Something along the lines to China of, “You’re Next, Bubba Jinping.”

  163. I’m an architect, and many of my clients are franchisees of a large corporation. Said corporation has a website with all the latest information for our use. Recently, I have been unable to log onto the website to check for updates, so I asked for some help from their IT department.
    “Try refreshing your browser multiple times until it lets you in.
    This has worked for me and others.”
    Didn’t work for me, though.

    @ Maxine Rogers #41 Read the many posts by Chris at Fernglade Farms here, or at his blog. Chris has years of experience with an off grid solar system.

    @ Sardaukar #82 If the Treasury blocks Russian debt payments, I will never receive the final payments on the bonds from the Russian Imperial Railroads. I inherited the bonds from my father, who inherited them from his father, and I still have the coupons from mid 1917 on. I doubt whether President Putin will honor the debts of the Russian Imperial railroad, regardless.

    @ Ecosophian #121 RE Suicide by war with Russia: my grandfather’s grandfather’s was on that little excursion to Moscow in 1812. Unlike 9 of 10 of his colleagues, he crossed the Neman River twice. My ancestor, OTOH died in the Peninsular War.

  164. Hi Teresa from Hershey,

    I’m glad the Tightwad Gazette is still around! I used to read it religiously (at the library, of course!). Also had my own personal Tightwad Gazettes in the form of relatives who’d lived through the first Great Depression.

  165. Pygmycory – yes indeed, I’ve been spending more while the money’s still good and there are still goods to buy that will be of use as we bump down. The most recent was a homescale oil press to go with the Arbequina and Arbosana olive trees I planted four years ago. I’m also looking to buy and plant some bamboo that grow decently in my area (for food and construction purposes). Then there’s the mimeograph project (still lagging way behind where I wanted to be, but them’s the breaks) with a recent purchase of hard-to-find stencil sheets. I’ve also been upping my skills-base (learning to pressure can, and to spin fibers and to dye them with plants sourced locally), gardening as much as I can, and learning to hand sew. We’re also getting some repairs done on the house that we can’t do ourselves.

    We’ll see how far this carries our little suburban-ish household while the machinery around us hits some sort of critical oscillation where the parts really do start falling off.

  166. Panda,
    If that is true about US troops being undercover in Ukraine, we would’ve taken some casualties by now? How would the US military handle that.

  167. Hmm…

    I could clearly see Xi Jinping replying to the U.S. GovCorp elites,

    “Bring it. You’re clearly losing the Mandate of Heaven.”

  168. I second the advice of people who are recommending DC appliances, etc. Skip the inverters, for goodness sake. When I worked in telecom, our central offices used so many rectifiers, inverters, and DC/DC converters, often for redundancy, that it was astounding. Most of the switching and transmission equipment ran off of -48v DC from big strings of batteries that were being continuously charged as long as the commercial power was on. The commercial power, of course, needed to be run through rectifiers before being stored in batteries. But then we had racks of inverters running off the batteries, converting DC back to AC for certain essential equipment that needed AC. Often that equipment would convert back to DC internally. One good thing was that your conventional land line was powered from the central office over copper cable pairs so all that redundancy located in the central office kept your landline working, even during power outages. Ah, the good old days! For additional redundancy there were big AC generators in every central office. Some people might have complained that we were “gold plating” it with all the redundancy.

    The RV folks and the boaters are good resources for DC powered stuff.

  169. @JMG – one thing I’ve underestimated from your posts regarding the Long Descent are the foolish, illogical decisions made by ….. humans. The human factor. The corruption in the scramble for climate change funding is of course just one example. How long do you think it takes before people wake up and expect more from our leaders?

    @Alan #93 – another aspect of precious metals, IMHO, is the lack of distribution. PMs could serve as money with smaller populations, but it would be more difficult today. I also think the Decline ahead brings the pragmatic use of materials to a higher priority. PMs can be used in electronics and as jewelry, but not much else pragmatic (though I think silver has some medicinal uses). Lead, as part of ammunition, could be the better choice.

    @Mark L #123 – as noted, the DNS servers are few and far between – and without a doubt come equipped with a kill switch. The recent directive/executive order from the White House mandates cars not only average 49MPG for the 2026 model year, but come equipped with a remote kill switch. Since .gov is the biggest of all the Ponzi players on the Internet, I think it’s safe to say workarounds to communicate will be hampered if .gov wants that – electricity and cell phone service have kill switches as well. S/w radio, mechanical printing devices and such may be useful soon.

    @Curt #142 – I would agree that draft animals will eventually be quite prominent in transportation and farming again. I’m just hoping that the existing herds can be protected from the hordes, and not end up on the dinner tables of the roaming war bands.

  170. Hi JMG,

    Something that concerns me, is whether a focus on skills like agriculture and textiles isn’t simply preparing us to be the next serf class, left with just enough to survive by groups more willing to use violence to fill their stomachs than know-how, in the way it seems feudal orders are often established. I guess at the very least, we’d be more valuable/better able to avoid starvation than those unprepared, and I hope it’s unlikely things fall apart to quite that extent for a very long time yet….

  171. @Mark L, #123

    You are not going to like what I am about to say…

    >If Google and Amazon were to disappear, could my computer still access a hosting server in Rhode Island or in the UK via an IP address and DNS routing as it could in the 1990s

    Sure, if the so called “hosting server” you are thinking about is an actual physical machine in Rhode Island, the TCP/IP technology stack will keep going on and on as long as there’s electricity. It was designed to withstand a Soviet’s nuclear first strike, after all.

    The crucible you have to look for is Virtualization. From a technical point of view it makes absolutely no sense: A single heavy duty computer pretending to be dozens of weakling computers whose combined processing power comes short of reaching even half (or was it a third? a quarter?) of the processing power of the original, physical, computer. As most of the CPU cycles are wasted simulating hardware devices through software components, or marshaling each tiny computer and preventing it from invading the memory space of other computers which rely on the “fact” that they have “sole access” to the “machine” they think they are running on, this is an informatique nightmare that only mad scientists could have birthed into this world.

    But the Behemoth was built and put to service anyways, because it serves an economic (and a social) purpose. If you keep your computer infrastructure “in Da Cloud”, you can fire most of your IT department. If you are a small or even middle sized company with no particular expertise in ICTs, this is a extremely tempting option. Not only do you get rid of those expensive rapidly depreciating/amortizing fixed capital assets, but you can outsource the expertise needed to keep them running as well. For a monthly bill, the Big FAANG Lords will take the problem from your hands; which in turn will allow you to retain a skeleton crew of (mostly) housebroken techies that will handle the configuration of the virtual hosts and act as liaison with the actual nerds and dorks who run things behind the curtain from Silly-con Valley.

    So if your service provider has given in to the siren’s song then a glitch in, let’s say… Amazon, will leave them with no resource beyond getting in line and suing the zombie corp along thousands of other claimants.

    … and don’t get me started on micro-services.

  172. #74 Anonymous said,
    “b) There are a lot of people, myself included, who are adults now but have no memories of the world before the internet. I’ve always had internet access, and while it’s possible to look at old books and read up on how people did things before the internet, to a very real extent practice is needed, and at the moment that practice is rather hard to arrange. It’s one thing to go a day without internet (I do so once a week now), and quite another to go a month without it.”

    I hadn’t really considered your point of view deeply enough before. No memories of the world before the internet, wow. I have never had a facebook, twatter, or instagram account. I still prefer to read JMG and chew on various parts than watch someone elses video straight through. I have an emotional attachment and response to books while my kindle is a rarely used appliance to me. I would miss easy access to my favorite bloggers and writers. I am at an age that does not need much more information and really would do fine without it. My god 6 I’s in this short note.

  173. On the topic of what we might turn to as our fancy stuff becomes less available, it’s always useful to look to the past. Here’s a 16th century book with “apps”.

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1526958530028351489.html?s=09

    My family ask me why I have a barometer near my desk when I can just look up the weather ahead on my phone. So far my predictions have not been worse than the official ones!

    And of course, since I walk the children to school and walk to the shops, just what the weather will be like is pretty important to me.

  174. JMG, Ben, and Mark

    The points all of you bring up tie together in the idea of not selling out. The coming turmoil will provide plenty of opportunities for folks to stand their ground or to sell out to the elite ideas. There’s going to be plenty of give and take in the coming years. Are there any suggestions for standing your ground yet keeping your job? Following your values yet making compromise in the right places? I’d personally like to find a way to both provide comfortably for my family yet also allow my family have the opportunity to also provide comfortably for theirs. Making the most efficient use of things will require efficient communication and understanding between politics, jobs, and personal lifestyles, not to mention the rest of life. Finding a right balance will be a chore.

  175. drhooves,
    given the toxicity of lead and its ability to be absorbed through the skin, I would not want to use lead coins as a currency.

  176. Thank you, JMG and Commentariat, for providing such an informative, supportive, and helpful space. Out and about today, I had an opportunity to load up on a year’s supply of 2-quart bottles of olive oil for myself and husband, and a couple flats of diced tomatoes which are good well into 2024. Long-ago me would’ve passed it all up. Current me didn’t hesitate one moment to add it to our deepening pantry.

    A shout out to the commenter who mentioned adding bay leaves to stored beans and such to discourage critters. Love those tried-and-true tips!

    Best to all,

    OtterGirl

  177. Den G,

    It’s a bit of a blindspot I’ve noticed with a lot of people who are aware of the reality of the internet’s inevitable decline and fall: those born even just a few years before me are able to draw on the knowledge of how things were done before, and so tend to be able to approach it easier than I can. I was born in the middle of the 1990s, and my parents got internet access before I was born, and so I literally cannot remember what it was like before.

    My generation was shaped by social media, video games, and I am not exaggerating when I say I quite literally cannot remember a world without the ability to stream videos, play games online, or use social media. I’ve cut down dramatically on all of these, but even so it’s hard to know for sure how well it will pay off.

    If we get a gradual ratcheting down of the internet I think I’d be able to cope no problem by moving my preparations a little further as the internet shrank, but it’s increasingly looking like the end of the internet will be one of those sudden changes complex systems sometimes do. I think I’ll still be able to manage, but I expect to run into problems because the world without the internet is completely outside of my experience.

  178. Millennial, if you are going to have your father transfer the house to your name, do it now, as if he goes into a nursing home within 5 years of the transfer it will probably be disallowed. And consult a lawyer before anybody does anything.

  179. @ Milennial (#164) – I don’t know what you’re growing, how much space you have, or where you are, so anything I say may not apply. I live in northeast Oklahoma, and have some of the most consistent success with my cool weather plants (carrots, peas, spinach and kale), and my hot weather plants (watermelon, cherry tomatoes and okra). For my garden, which at this point is two raised beds, and a number of various size containers, the lean time is early to mid summer. Once I accepted that was just the ecology of my back yard, I’ve planned accordingly. I blundered into this knowledge after several years of growing as much as i could, focusing on quantity over quality. Then having three kids plopped in my lap, and realizing that I had only so much time to grow. Might I suggest, cut back plants you don’t ‘need’ and focus on a few things that grow well?

    Additionally, I planted a number of low-maintenance perennials. Asparagus, blackberries, strawberries, four pawpaw trees, two apple trees and a peach tree. This was one of the best gardening decisions I’ve made. Especially the blackberries. Just a little soil acidifier every six months or so, and a good layer of mulch, and I’ve only had one year with a less than bumper crop.

  180. @ Violet:

    Why aren’t people asking you for plants? One theory is sheer mental exhaustion. I had a food garden, which got completely wiped out in the floods that hit Australia earlier this year. I just haven’t had the heart to re-start, even though the rain has been good and I have some planks left for my raised beds. Some of the plants have even come back, but I haven’t so far. Maybe people are just too burned out for another project.

  181. About US trops in Ukraine, it occurred to me a while ago, before I knew about American mercenaries in Ukraine, that the Russo-Ukrainian war is a strange, new mexture between a proxy war and a Third World War, so to speak, a Third World War as proxy war, because the fighting occurs only in Ukraine, but two big powers, which are enemies to each other, are involved.

    And the foreboding sense of doom, which the current mess provokes, is not small,

  182. @Ben #156, @DT #175

    It’s possible my friend was making more of the situation than what is actually going on, of course. All I know is that he was saying the soldiers on the plane were saying they’d engaged Russia directly. Not via training, not instructing Ukrainians – although that was going on
    too. But themselves getting involved. If that’s true Peter Zeihan’s oft-repeated phrase, “Seriously over-performing Ukrainian military…” is over-performing because a lot of those “Ukrainians” aren’t actually Ukrainians. He did insist all the fighting was on the ‘downlow’ – likely so that it gives the U.S. plausible deniability.

    *shrug*

    Supposedly.

    Not having been on that plane myself I can’t tell if what the soldiers were actually saying and what my friend interpreted (not always the same) match. I am crossing my fingers and hoping that maybe my friend was interpreting what was said in a manner more than what was meant. Would be understandable since his home country is the latest battleground for an angry, dying empire (America).

    That’s why I went on a hunt to see if I could find any other corroborating info elsewhere on the web. Which of course I didn’t.

    I suppose we’ll all know one way or another in a few years hence.

    *musing*

    I note that Abhigya Anand is saying the Vedic stars are predicting some kind of large-scale war (he himself actually said WW3) sometime in the next few years and China (not Russia?! wth?!) will be a major factor in that kickstarting it. Apparently the star situation for China in the next
    few years – most especially in the northern half of the country – is quite inauspicious and I guess…warlike. Perhaps China will dust off that old tried and true method for shaky regimes everywhere throughout history: In Case of Emergency – Start a War.

    Anyway, these escalating problems will have cascading effects for all kind of world-systems…According to Anand, especially for energy and food. All of it because earth is caught like all the other planets within a highly inauspicious Kala Sarpa that hasn’t been seen since 5,180 years ago.

    Weirdly, I note that Armstrong Economic’s program Socrates (based on the number Pi) is (supposedly) also predicting escalations into eventual large scale war within the next few years.

    I have a bad feeling Sadhguru is right. He once said if humanity doesn’t start looking with clarity at many of the situations in the world today Mother Nature will do it for us and when She does – She will do it in a far more brutal and heartless manner. He then gazed out at the audience and said, “Famines have happened many times in the past and they will happen again. Don’t think they can’t or won’t. When people are hungry rich people will die too. Whoever has the biggest guns will get the food. It won’t just be the poor to die. Rich people will die too.”

  183. NomadicBeer, thanks for this. Exactly; it’s a long slow ragged process with a lot of inflection points.

    Viduraawakened, the Battle of Plassey was in 1757, right? So English rule over India lasted for 190 years. The extension of British control over Ireland was iirc a lot more gradual, but the sources I’ve read name Cromwell’s campaign in 1649 as the point at which Ireland was reduced to a British colony, and the Irish Free State was proclaimed in 1921, so English rule over Ireland lasted for 272 years. Somewhat longer, yes, but comparable, and the level of misery inflicted by the English on both countries seems to be comparable too. Maybe the Irish and the Indians should start the process of founding the Commonwealth of Nations Plundered by the English…

    Peak Singularity, I expect the price of gasoline to soar well past $6 a gallon before summer’s out, and it’ll take a minor miracle to keep it below $10 a gallon in the next couple of years.

    John, I keep on telling people that I didn’t intend Twilight’s Last Gleaming to be an instruction manual!

    Greg, “but it’s different this time!” is the perennial cry of those who expect the world to cater to our preferred cultural narratives. Tell you what; you make preparations for a fast crash, I’ll keep on making preparations for the Long Descent, and we’ll see who turns out to be right.

    Troy, I know. What the frack did Sullivan think was going to happen? You don’t go to ask a favor from somebody and then read him a patronizing moral lecture!

    Anonymous, then schedule that field test!

    Ben, fair enough. I’ll put some thought into that.

    Nachtgurke, yep. It baffles me that nobody in the West foresaw this.

    Sardaukar, yep. The thing that makes me roll my eyes is that the US contender, the SM-6 Block 1B, depends on the GPS system for guidance. I can see a very simple way to make it useless…

    DaHoj, I hope to the gods you’re right.

    Millennial, if your father’s willing to do that, make it happen now, while the 401k still hasn’t lost too much of its value.

    DFC, I know. And it’s never occurred to anybody in the US government just how rapidly all those birds could come home to roost.

    Old Steve, thanks for this concentrated dose of common sense.

    Tim, duly noted and thanks for this.

    Violet, I’ve noticed the same thing in another context: the way that people who used to be all over the idea of taking care of their own health using natural means abandoned that to hand over their health care to Pfizer et al. in the face of the Covid outbreak. It’s frankly eerie — and yes, “unhinged” is another good description. Thank you for the data point!

    NoHype, of course the elites won’t go down without a fight. The question is whether anyone will obey them when push comes to shove. That’s always what dooms elites — the only power they have is the power to give orders, and as Louis XVI, Nicholas II, and plenty of other former rulers found out the hard way, that doesn’t count for much if the flunkeys whose job is to carry out the orders decide that they’ve got a better option.

    Panda, of course it’s not in the media. The corporate media in the US and its client states is as subservient to power as Pravda and Izvestia were in the heyday of the Soviet Union, spewing out the party line du jour irrespective of whether it makes the least sense.

    Drhooves, I don’t expect anything of the kind. What typically happens in the collapse of an empire is not that people start demanding more from their leaders; it’s that people realize that they’re not going to get anything positive from their leaders, withdraw their support from the system, and let it fall.

    Samothrace, that’s why I’m not suggesting a focus on peasant skills. Skilled crafts are another kettle of fish entirely. In the pirate colonies of the Caribbean, some of the most lawless and brutal societies in human history, shipwrights, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, physicians, and other skilled craftspeople led charmed lives; nobody hassled them, because everyone knew that that their own lives could depend on having those crafts available. Similarly, one of the crafts I’ve recommended here repeatedly is learning how to brew beer. If Attila the Hun rides up to your door and you can offer him a cold one, you’ve got a friend.

    Kyle, thanks for this.

    Your Kittenship, and thanks for this.

    Les, you’re most welcome. It would be kind of silly for me to do so, since I don’t do visual media!

    Hackenschmidt, excellent! The skill of low-tech weather prediction is an important one.

    Prizm, that’s a helluva question and one that I’m not well equipped to answer, since my approach was to stand by my ideals and accept a good deal of poverty in order to achieve the career I wanted, and let prosperity wait until that career took off. Anyone else?

    Ottergirl, excellent! Glad to see someone taking this as seriously as it deserves.

  184. Thanks all for your responses regarding details of the internet. It seems that as usual the folks with the speculative money have taken on essential tasks that should really viewed as public utilities such that the whole thing has become unnecessarily fragile.

    I’m still curious to know if/when the Amazon/Facebook/Google data centers go offline and the “cloud” goes down, if it will still be possible to access websites hosted on servers that remain operational. I guess we’ll find out if/when it happens, but I would personally suspect that online retail alone will generate sufficient margins to keep a decent amount of hardware operational – enough to maintain email and basic web browsing for at least a few more decades into the Long Descent.

    @Millennial #164

    If you work 40 hours per week, there are still another 72 hours in each week during you are awake. Would it not be possible to dedicate 4-5 of those hours to gardening, which would be enough to grow a good deal of food?

    Time is a funny thing. Some people work full time, raise kids, farm on the side, and still somehow go hiking on the weekends. Some of my best friends are that way. As for myself, I’m sure a time budget would reveal exactly how much unproductive time I spend staring at screens. Creating effective structure and consciously choosing how to make use of my time has never been one of my strong suits. So far though I have never found that I have to choose between gardening and full-time work, but that may be because I could not imagine myself enjoying a life in which I did not garden. Ironically part of the reason I enjoy gardening (and bringing in firewood and beekeeping and food preservation etc.) is that they impose a natural structure on my spare time – one that cannot be procrastinated like knitting or writing. The potatoes must be planted by the end of May, or there will be no potatoes…

    @Cutekitten #191

    In my experience working with this property transfers will not be “disallowed,” but if your parents run out of funds and need state-sponsored medical care within five years, they can place a lien against the house and potentially force you to sell it.

  185. JMG,

    I suppose I should define comfort as not being frozen to death, and having enough to eat. I didn’t mean for it to be a helluva question, since people usually find their way around turmoil and I am not hoping to find my way into prosperity but only to find myself in a position to give my kids hope for the future. To be honest, my kids ironically enough, are choosing paths for themselves. My son will soon be baptized as a Catholic. My daughter likely as well but she is more hesitant realizing that baptism is a major obligation. Without a doubt, I see the Catholics making it through this coming turmoil. Community is key. What should one be willing to sacrifice though?

  186. Mark L,

    DNS resolves a url eg. ecosophia.net to an IP address. If DNS went away but JMG was hosting the site from a computer connected to the internet, we could all access it by just typing the IP address of that computer into our browsers. For example, here is the IP address for duckduckgo 20.43.111.112

  187. I’ve been reading your warnings since August 2008. During that time in the spirit of self-reliance I’ve tried making paper, making ink, making candles, have studied basic bookbinding and even planted a rather ambitious vegetable garden, a totally new-to-me enterprise, with some success. But the landlord destroyed my garden, and I am doubtful that these other skills, handy though they may be, will actually protect me and mine from dire economic consequences now looming ever larger above the horizon. In short, my efforts all seem to have been in vain and I know not what to do.

    Over the years I’ve learned how to design a parabolic reflector and a Fresnel mirror, and could probably manage to build either of these as a cooker or as a solar furnace, depending on configuration. I’ve taught myself how to make geodesics and an octet truss, and even tackled the most difficult math involved in the making of an astrolabe; but how practical are these skills really, in the reality bearing down upon us? It’s not as though I were surrounded by a community of like-minded counterculturalists and Schumaker enthusiasts all working together, which I imagine is what it would likely take to make that work. I’d probably be better off if I came by a good set of tools for, say, repairing eyeglasses, and a manual for using them; I can’t say it really interests me, but that skill set is sure to be in demand.

    Given tight material constraints, it’s really very difficult to know what action is best to take at such a time as this. You can have many skills, yet lack the one that could really save your bacon if you had it.

  188. Panda & DT, The saker, moon of alabama,and Andrei Martynov all refer to US,UK, Canadian and European troops fighting with the Ukrainians. There were supposedly quite a few in the Azovstahl plant in Mariupol. I know of at least one US mercenary killed and two British captured. I don’t think any so far were still actively serving in their own armies. The Russians are currently sorting the Azovstahl prisoners as to who are regular POWs and who are mercenaries or from the Nazi regiments. I realize all three of those sources are quite biased, but I feel there is more truth to be found in them than the mainstream western media. It sure does seem a slippery slope though.

  189. @Panda, re: Northern China,
    I think it likely that China will invade the loser of the battle in Ukraine… If the US loses by proxy in Ukraine, the US will be attacked by proxy in Taiwan. If Russia loses, China will attack Russia in the area of Outer Manchuria. China is most definitely paying attention and taking copious notes right now, so it is ready to fight either side when the time comes.

  190. @JMG – I see the failure of systems and their leaders going hand-in-hand with the replacement leaders being more responsive, ala the “rebels” vs. the “tyrants”. By no means did I imply we’d ever solve much with the current process and leadership in place. That’s why I’m a proponent of the Constitutional Convention or Convention of States – a nuclear option that retains the basic definition of the republic.

    @CR Patino #180 – I agree with much of what you say about virtualization, but for me the big concern is security. Anyone having root/admin access to a hypervisor on the physical host controls the resources (and data) on the VMs. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the data was encrypted everywhere, but this is not always the case. Having lived through the evolution of IT and working on Mainframes, Vaxxes (from Digital), Unix, Windows and Linux over the years, I never loved virtual environments, though they do reduce costs by being able to standardize the h/w. In theory, anyway.

    @pygmycory #188 – I agree lead coins would be bad. That’s why I specified it in tandem with ammunition. You can handle that by the brass/steel/aluminum casings with less issues, and ammo is pretty handy for a number of other things. I just finished reading the novel “One Second After”, about how the world changes after an EMP event. Ammo was used for barter and as money, with the going rate of a squirrel at two .22 shells, and a possum at seven .22 shells….

  191. “Similarly, one of the crafts I’ve recommended here repeatedly is learning how to brew beer.”

    I started brewing beer last year during a lockdown. What I found remarkable is the number of brewers who have ditched the low tech ways and become dependent upon a whole bunch of other businesses. I am thinking here especially of those who have adopted kegs instead of bottles and are now dependent on a supply of CO2 gas.

    Things to do if you want to keep it low tech:
    – learn how to harvest your yeast and reuse it
    – learn about ‘farmhouse’ brewing techniques (like no-boil) and yeasts (like Kveik)
    – get your own malt mill and get used to hand-cranking it (why almost everyone uses an electric drill to power their mills when it is so quick and easy to hand crank it is beyond me)
    – learn how to do the calculations in your brewing software by hand

    And if you really want to go whole-hog:
    – grow your own hops
    – learn how to malt barley from scratch using your oven

  192. Re: the internet’s future

    It is worth noting that almost all global communications technologies that are reliant on network effects have ended up being run essentially by monopolies (often government monopolies). For instance, the phone system and its related technologies (faxes, telex, the internet), and the mail system (also note how the courier parcel system is dominated by monopolies – and even Amazon is muscling its way in there to take some of the profit from the volumes it puts through the parcel companies).

    At base the internet is currently reliant in most countries on the phone networks for infrastructure. In many countries the government has heavily subsidised those networks to upgrade to fibre optic cable. Expect the big internet and internet-dependent companies to lobby the government to regulate or continue to regulate pricing by the phone networks so as to ensure it does not eat into their profits. Among internet-dependent companies I include the banks in many western countries – in New Zealand, banks no longer process cheques, everything is either electronic (cards or internet) or cold hard cash. And they’re trying to get rid of the latter as much as possible. Take away cheap computing and these banks will have to charge a lot more for their services. Note also that price regulation of networks may mean that over time their reliability will decline as they stop investing in maintenance. If you live out in the wops, then expect to be the first to lose reliable internet access (and maybe also power from the grid), assuming you’ve ever had it.

  193. @Mark L #123

    I suspect that it’s not very widely appreciated just how much of of modern government infrastructure is hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS). In the UK it was an official secret until a few years ago – but it is openly talked about now:

    https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252499036/HMRC-signs-reworked-three-year-public-cloud-deal-with-AWS-worth-94m#:~:text=HM%20Revenue%20%26%20Customs%20(HMRC),supplier%2C%20Computer%20Weekly%20has%20learned.

    HMRC are the tax people here, like the IRS in the US. I cannot know for certain but I suspect the UK is far from alone in this.

    It’s certainly true that any number of of commercial services actually run ‘in the cloud’ which is jargon for ‘somebody else’s computer’. A very substantial proportion are on AWS. This is why the occasional very serious problem at one of Amazon’s data centres can briefly halt large numbers of diverse services worldwide. These situations are rare at the moment and their overall record is extremely good. Probably rather better than if services hosted their own equipment. In fact if some physical disaster along the lines of ‘an unexpected comet wipes out West Virginia’ were to befall AWS, the other data centres around the world would pick up the load. In theory – seamlessly – although in practice there would probably be glitches and things would certainly slow down.

    @JMG

    Stories like the one I’ve linked to here suggest to me that the Ponziness of various get rich schemes on the Internet are essentially irrelevant to its future. For all intents and purposes AWS and its smaller peers really are the Internet as it is commonly understood. If any of the very big cloud providers did go bankrupt, the governments involved would be forced to either take over or more likely force one of the remaining providers to take over. You’ll be well aware of how this strategy was applied to banks in the UK during the 2008 financial crisis and how Lehman Brothers was chopped up followed a very similar pattern in the US. There’s precedent, it appeared to work up to a point, and I doubt there is sufficient imagination available for them to come up with an alternative approach during a crisis. At this point AWS really is too big to fail if fail is a synonym for ‘suddenly go away’. Ownership is an entirely different matter.

    But that simply covers the sudden unexpected event. What has driven the growth of AWS is the fact that systems that required thousands of dollars to set up a few decades ago can now be had for a few cents an hour. If prices rapidly increase, that incentive vanishes and in the long term those prices will have to cover energy costs. So I fully agree that the future will not look like the past. I think the canary in the coal mine will be when governments and large institutions start offering incentives for people to submit information via paper rather than ‘conveniently’ online. That is, the precise opposite of the current approach.

  194. JMG,
    I rolled my eyes when I read that the hypersonic missile developed by US uses GPS. I think GPS is to the western military what The Field was to the Fleet in Arthur C. Clarke’s short story Superiority.

    When I look at how global trade is coming apart, I am guessing that the countries that have a chance to do reasonably well (by the standards of a declining world) are those with significant resources – arable land, water, timber, coal, oil, metal ores etc. Countries who have enough of everything can be self-sufficient in most aspects, and use the surplus trade to get the rest from neighbors. USA, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Russia are of this type. Then there will be countries who have some resources in large quantities, but lack others. They will have to form mutually beneficial trade relationships with other countries. For instance, India and China would trade food for oil with the Arab nations. Then there are others who do not have much of anything. They will have to settle for a much lower economic standard of living.

    Of course, I have not accounted for political instability, impact of climate change, and other factors unique to each region. This is a very simplistic analysis. Countries may attack and conquer others for their wealth. I hear that used to happen regularly(!). The “Resource curse” seems to be quite a long-lasting one.
    Interestingly, the USA has a great chance of thriving in the post-industrial world, at least on paper – geographically protected, rich in farmland and resources. But the imperial overreach and addiction to finite resources has brought it to the brink. I can understand why you are predicting that a century or two later, there will be moderately prosperous societies in the American continent.

    A data point on India’s wheat exports. India will continue to supply wheat to their top oil & natural gas suppliers, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Neighbors like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will also get their supply. Egypt will also get wheat, presumably to ensure that the Suez canal trade route remains stable. It looks like India is using food exports as a tool to preserve critical trade supplies and maintain political stability in the region. Let us see how it works out.
    https://gulfnews.com/business/retail/uae-saudi-arabia-will-still-get-wheat-from-india-despite-export-ban—and-foodstuff-retailers-are-relieved-1.1653019470179

  195. Japan’s TV broadcasters mostly toe the CIA line during prime time, but there is a dissident faction that manages to get its points across in subtle ways (and very rarely, overtly during prime time, before going back to normal run-of-the-mill fare). A few months after 911, for example, they ran a documentary on demolition late at night, in which the point was stressed that to get a building to fall down neatly is a feat requiring careful planning, and much celebration afterwards.
    Recently, I see they are rerunning the Korean historical drama, Empress Ki, set in the Yuan dynasty during its decline and fall. My husband was watching it, and exclaimed, “That’s just like Ukraine!” or more properly, what America has turned it into, with extreme degrees of corruption and ill-advised military scheming.
    We are considering further ways of preparing for what is ahead, and I read with great interest what that participants in your forum are discussing.

  196. Hi JMG,

    In the background of learning to garden I have been working on a slow project to cultivate my weeds. What I mean by this is that I imposed a value system on them of “are they edible”, and I let the edible ones grow, and some amount of them go to seed each year, and I only pull up the ones that can’t be eaten. It takes years (I’ve probably been doing this for about 9 years or so now, although I started off slowly as I only knew a little), but this is very effective, and with each round I get less of the weeds I dislike and more of the ones I do. I have also introduced a few that I wanted (purslane and amaranth).

    The weeds I can’t eat I just toss onto piles to rot or just pull up and leave right there to rot in place. I have developed a fondness for the feeling of finding the sweet spot in terms of force and angle that pulls them up from the earth, and this game, and my larger project of “cultivation” seems to make weeding much less annoying for me than for people I talk to. All of them “work for me”, in some sense. Also I only do this after they are big enough to know what I’m dealing with, so the conflict is less frequent, and this also leads to discovering many young plants that are not weeds but are actually coming from fallen fruit (etc) from previous years.

    This came after I went through an earlier Peak Oil panic phase where I pictured myself having to survive purely off foraging (prior to discovering your work!) and started to learn what these plants all around me were. There were many interesting results from this focus, but for the most part it was fun/humbling to think about myself as an adult doing my best to learn about these things that likely toddlers would have known by heart 1000 years ago here (assuming the plants were roughly the same!).

    Anyway, I am still determining the best way to use these weeds, and mostly I am just committed to them as cover crops to keep the sun off the earth (mostly clover/wood sorrel/purslane), but this year we may have passed a milestone when I served steamed lambs-quarter “microgreens” on mother’s day, harvested from our yard. I even made them look fancy with some violet blossoms (being a bit cheeky there). Everyone agreed they were quite delicious (my parents, and even my partner, who isn’t the biggest fan of this particular hobby of mine, enjoyed them), and I had to admire this plant that had, without any particular input from me this year, already filled a few pots with hundreds of seedlings.

    I make a point of never watering any of the weeds, mostly out of morbid curiosity, and it never makes a lick of difference to them. My feeling is that this is some “slack” in my system; the idea is still to eat lettuce, bok choy, swiss chard (blah blah blah), but in the background there are these fallbacks that are far more resilient, and many of them, it has to be said, are even more nutritious than my highfalutin’ crops.

    What I am trying to do more and more, is connect the dots between weeds and my annual plants, and this has led me mostly to sowing seeds and trying to emulate the way they do things, with tons of plants growing in far less space than is recommended.

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  197. Great post. Would you be able to share some sources on 1. How the fed is artificially propping up the fracking industry due to inherent unprofitability (or at least low profitability) and 2. The low net energy created by nuclear? I’ve not heard these arguments before and would be curious where you’re getting the figures from. Thanks!

  198. Hello JMG. You wrote in a reply above: I expect the price of gasoline to soar well past $6 a gallon before summer’s out, and it’ll take a minor miracle to keep it below $10 a gallon in the next couple of years.
    Are you saying you expect oil to be $200+/bbl within two years? If so, does that assume a complete Russian embargo on exporting to the West?

  199. Hi Violet,
    Maybe one reason that people aren’t so interested in your plants these days is to do with their rigid mental boxes: ‘gardening’ as an activity is the in mental space labelled ‘hobbies’, and when time and personal energy are short, hobbies are one of the first things to go. If the recipients are still very much in the ‘Progress’ mind-set, they won’t be seeing these plants in the same way that you do; they are seen as a nice little fun-thing, not as part of a resilient future.

    It may also be that people are flaky and will say anything to seem friendly: when you were new to the area people gladly took the plants to build up social connection with you at no cost to themselves, but actually doing something long-term with plants is a cost to themselves (in time and energy), without the benefit of establishing a new social connection. Talk and smiles are cheap and enjoyable. Plants can be sheer work.

    I would advise that you carry on making the offers regardless – it keeps up vital social connection, and establishes you in everyone’s mind as ‘the person who has plants’. Eventually word of mouth will find the people who value your plants. Also, if giving away plants is part of who you are, then keep true to yourself, don’t give up being who you are just because other people don’t always react the way you want them to react.

    best wishes to you
    Christine S

  200. @stephen d (post #91) . spot on! I prefer to think of the long descent the way our host does, a series of steps. How so? when I read the article, I googled master conserver — this is what I got https://www.resilience.org/stories/2008-04-09/master-conservers/ I started reading the article and was like “whoa — this is JMG from 2008!” (before my time reading him).

    I think fracking was a pause, but we are continuing on the descent. I prefer to think about how people 2-3 centuries from now will view this time — and I think this part will be thought of much like the “30 years war”, i.e. we really haven’t improved since 2008, but are just continuing the process and this is all the same event (the long descent) Of course, in the back of my mind I am like “is there another rabbit that be pulled out of a hat to delay this?”. I wonder…..

    @jmg — I have to say — thx for the 2008 article — I hope stuff like this can stay accessible (lots of conversations on that this week in the comments 🙂 )

    pss – lake Mead broke 1050 https://mead.uslakes.info/Level/ — that is tier 2 — it is now MORE than beginning to get real.

    thx

    Jerry

  201. @ happy Panda and everyone

    I have a similar story about flights filled with combatants and media silence. I live in rural Minnesota. One of my neighbors flew home from Sacramento a few days after George Floyd was killed. He said the plane was filled to capacity during the height of the lock downs. The gentlemen he was seated next to told him all about the pay he was getting to go ‘protest peacefully’ in Minneapolis complete with free airfare hotel and bonus’s if he could get arrested. He said everyone on the plane signed up for the same deal. Now I can’t confirm this story but I trust the source. There was also Zero mention of any of this anywhere on the inter web. I looked.
    I think these stories show how easy some things are easy to hide in plane sight if the powers that be find that useful.

  202. On the “repair old Schwinn?” topic, getting parts for older bikes can be challenging. The churn of standards in the bike industry has reached a fever pitch, with varying chain widths, numbers of cogs on the back hub, wheel sizes, drop-out spacings, etc. Just this week, I had a spoke hole crack on the back rim of my 12yo gravel bike and it took two hours of web shopping to find a close enough replacement.

    It is unfortunate that bike choices currently seem to be mostly narrowed down to “good, but weirdly specific current flyweight standard, soon to be obsolete” and “big-box store junk.” I wish a bike maker could step back from the bleeding edge and build a line around solid, long-term standards.

    That said, whatever you’re riding, keep a small stock of tires, tubes, chains, etc. – the stuff you’ll generally wear through over the course of a year or two – to keep your bike rolling through at least a few more years. I suspect as gas prices edge toward $10 a gallon, the roads will become much more bike-friendly.

  203. Hi John Michael,

    Ain’t nothin’ wrong with accepting a reduced income and lower status, if ya can get the job that needs doing, done. 😉

    Someone mentioned developers over in the land of stuff, and I note the third largest is apparently sorry to announce that they will miss their scheduled bond payments. They seemed very polite about it, and I noticed that the bondholders may not have been in that country. Are you getting any news about that in your country?

    We’ve got a Federal election tomorrow – always exciting. And I’ll be very interested to see how the Senate ends up. I cannot find it in myself to forgive the left for the lockdowns, and it was seriously eerie and unnerving to have to show your ID and papers to military and police personnel. And who can forget the poor lady pulled from her home for saying stupid stuff on the interweb? There is a part of me which suggests that the presumption of innocence was flipped on its head, and some left leaning countries do take that approach.

    The electricity system down here seems to be facing the shut down of several large coal fuelled generators. Some folks are cheering this on, but I dunno whether it is a good idea, and maybe we need to be a touch more prudent about turning away from that electricity source. You can tell I’m only a month out from the winter solstice, and one week from the highway to the danger zone (when the winter sun is low in the sky).

    Hey, just wanted to chirp in: I like that song too! And you thought I was half asleep. 😉 I’m only three quarters asleep!

    Cheers

    Chris

  204. JMG
    I’ve decided to haul the family back to the Midwest. No I’m not going to take up farming, but I have secured a job that pays a little better, and the cost of living will be much less there than on this long island.
    One thing I have learned from you is not to expect the apocalypse. Certainly things will get tough, but we will prepare and adapt.

  205. @ Prizim (#187) – Agreed. The choices ahead over the next decade will not be easy ones. I’ve got a garden, a very full pantry, and solar panels on the roof, and all that could be gone tomorrow if we can’t make the mortgage payment. And my wife and I purposefully bought a house that could be paid on one income, but if the financial collapse gets real bad, well, even being sensibly conservative with our money may not be enough. I don’t think it will come to that, but who knows. At least the peoples of the FSU didn’t face mass evictions after the collapse of communism. I’m not optimistic about what might happen here, but I’m ready to be proven wrong on that count.

  206. @ Panda (#195) – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if your friend was 100% correct, but I’m skeptical. For one, I would think that as soon as the Russians killed or captured US mercenaries, they would absolutely parade them around for the cameras.
    That said, I’ve seen a number of stories about US and European ‘volunteers’ going to fight in Ukraine. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out their volunteerism was being, shall we say, monetarily rewarded?

  207. Violet, et. al. re: people not wanting plants anymore.

    It doesn’t take that much skill and experience to garden well, but enough that most people probably don’t stick with it unless either they need to grow their own for financial reasons or they really do take a liking to gardening for its own sake. Spring 2020 was a boomtime for new gardeners, when lots of people were at home with time to spare and the toilet paper nonsense had people considering where their stuff comes from for a minute. I remember garden centers and seed suppliers selling out.

    I suspect a lot of would-be gardeners got it out of their system then. Most were probably too inexperienced to get a bounty of tomatoes or whatever, discovered the amount of effort it requires to get even a little food, and turned away. If you don’t enjoy the process, it is a lot of work for what’s still just a few dollars’ worth of vegetables. Certainly any idea that you could sit pretty in a real crisis by throwing some seeds out back was dispelled by the experience. I’ve spent years building good soil and knowhow in our little yard, and I still consider what we’ve got a very modest hedge against total vitamin deficiency in a tight situation. We would still be in bad trouble.

    Maybe, then, it’s less a matter of getting it out of one’s system and more of having glimpsed how grim one’s situation will be if things keep unraveling, and closing one’s eyes hard against that thought. Too scary a road to start down, maybe.

    My wife and I have also been noting all the little ways people are being discouraged from doing absolutely anything at all for themselves. The latest was scare stories about some drug-resistant mold that grows in compost bins. From growing food to self-treating illnesses to exercising, “doing your own research” to buying land to living as though gods are real, there’s always some expert voice warning you off it. I was watching the baby formula shortage and wondering how they’d work that. I haven’t seen anyone discourage women who can breastfeed from doing so, but that option hasn’t been in the messaging much; no stories about solutions to common breastfeeding problems, or anything like that. Just, “don’t”: don’t water down formula, don’t make your own at home, don’t order it from Canada, and definitely don’t decide that you’re going to buy a bunch of it when you finally find some to make sure your child eats. And then, of course, we start hearing that Gates and them have been investing billions in lab-produced milk.

    If you’re living in that world, yeah, growing vegetables is probably not the sort of thing you’re supposed to be imagining.

    Violet, do I recall correctly that you used to offer to mail seedlings here? If you’re doing that still, I might take you up on it this year! In any case, thanks; I always appreciate your contributions here.

    Good Friday, everyone!

  208. NomadicBeer @149, you mean any evergreen EXCEPT Yew, surely. Yew is highly toxic, needles and berries are lethal when ingested, could almost be thought of as vegetarian cyanide.

  209. @ Happy Panda #195

    Your comment about Vedic astrology predicting a Chinese war has reminded me of the Tui Bei Tu, a Chinese book of prophecy dating from the Tang dynasty and predicting events up to the present day. According to what is unfortunately the only English translation I’ve been able to find (http://alexchiu.com/philosophy/superichingtuaybaytu.htm), the text’s 56th poem says:

    Flyers are not birds, swimmers are not fish,
    A war does not depend on soldiers. It’s a game of technology.
    Millions of miles of deadly smoke, on top a mushroom and at bottom a fountain.
    A sight out of people’s imagination. Big trouble not solved, but greater trouble arrives.

  210. Hi! Yes things are really getting interesting these days!

    Me and my american wife recently relocated to the US from Norway. We used to homestead running sheep and pastured layers on my family farm there. We are now looking for a good place to settle in terms of community and resiliency.

    We are gonna travel to Washington, Idaho, Montana and possibly all the way to Wisconsin. If anyone have advice on places or people to visit that would be greatly appreciated!
    Send me a messge here, just take out the T’s when typing the adress:
    TsTpTgTleTirmo@gmail.Tcom

    Is anyone else going to the Saskatoon Ancestral skills gatheringin WA?
    I will be teaching movement and wrestling there
    https://saskatooncirclegathering.com/

  211. I too was a “The Tightwad Gazette” reader although I didn’t discover it until she published the complete collection of her newsletter. I created the price book to track the prices of goods when I first read about it and while I haven’t maintained it for a very long time, it is interesting to look back through it.

    The book that turned me on to ” The Tightwad Gazette” was “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robins and Joe Dominguez. Both of these books offer ways to examine why you do the things you do with your money, or life energy, as well as how to do it. The financial information in “Your Money or Your Life” is dated, but it is not the most important thing you can take away from the book.

    Teresa has also published a very useful book, “Fed, Safe and Secure” that is full of how to’s and why to’s.

  212. (JMG feel free to delete if this is getting too far off topic)

    Continuing the Internet discussion…

    So DNS resolves an IP address, but what then resolves the IP address to an actual computer somewhere and establishes the connection?

    I’m less interested in the “how” (the specific technology, which I could research for myself if desired) but more in the “where” and “what” and “how much energy/maintenance”.

    If I type a URL or IP address into a web browser, or send an email, there needs to be an electrical connection established between my computer and the remote host or webserver. The wires or waves on either end are easy enough to understand, as are the massive data links under oceans or across mountains, but the switching hubs that perform the actual routing are a black box. Like electrical substations, they are essential and probably quite fragile but no one ever talks about them.

    Given that the wires are in place and may last 50+ years, the system could stumble along for quite some time with the first failures in outlying areas, but if the routing hubs require truckloads of new hard drives or other high-tech components each year, then we could see a more wholesale disruption of the Internet in the near future, disregarding the possibility of a socially- or politically-motivated Internet shutdown.

  213. Another aspect of decline is our healthcare system. Preventative care and learning basics is worthwhile. Keep a decent first aid kit well supplied. Medication shortages are so common the FDA has kept a list since long before COVID struck. Most medications remain fully functional for many years, even decades, though marked as expired after a year. Consider keeping unused or out of date meds (but do not discontinue a round of antibiotics prematurely). If you travel outside the country, some medications that require a prescription here can be had without one elsewhere.

    Thank you JMG for your emphasis on both mental and physical conditioning.

  214. “Skilled crafts are another kettle of fish entirely. In the pirate colonies of the Caribbean, some of the most lawless and brutal societies in human history, shipwrights, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, physicians, and other skilled craftspeople led charmed lives; nobody hassled them, because everyone knew that that their own lives could depend on having those crafts available. Similarly, one of the crafts I’ve recommended here repeatedly is learning how to brew beer. If Attila the Hun rides up to your door and you can offer him a cold one, you’ve got a friend.”

    Just as important is how to most safety transfer your skills and allegiances to the best Warlord on the block in terms of character.

    A Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great is preferable to Attila the Hun or any of the more bloodthirsty and sadistic Warlords that may arise.

    Knowing who to serve and whose branch you perch on is just as important.

  215. Hi JMG. I don’t think you should write off those two farts in the hurricane TOO quickly! Chaos theory and the Butterfly effect suggest they could have caused it or make a difference between a landfall in Florida or New Orleans 😉

  216. Sort of off topic but if you live in the D.C. area and want to talk sustainability and resilience, Bill and I will be vendors at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday, 21 May 2022. It’s from 10 am until 6 pm in Bohrer Park.

    We’ll be somewhere in tent B. Look for the Peschel Press banners.

    There’s hundreds of authors but I’m probably the only one who hangs out laundry on a regular basis.

  217. Another timely “threshold” observation –

    Within the past hour from me writing this (12:45 p.m. Eastern, Friday) the S&P 500 has dropped below the 3855 level that marks 20% down from the high and the threshold of a bear market. The Nasdaq, of course, was already well within a bear market.

    The Dow Jones is still holding up – I think it has to dip below around 29,600 for that – but it’s close. I’m pretty sure the rush you were supposed to collapse now and avoid is now here…

  218. Ramaraj said (#207):

    Interestingly, the USA has a great chance of thriving in the post-industrial world, at
    least on paper – geographically protected, rich in farmland and resources.

    But will it be Americans taking advantage of that I wonder? If Abhigya is right then even if
    Americans are doing the work it might be a newly minted Chinese Imperium taking advantage of
    all that pristine wealth (U.S. natural resources have had a lot of ‘resting’ time since so
    much polluting industrialism was outsourced to other countries).

    I keep picturing waves of Chinese ICBMs raining down across a huge number of American (and
    possibly Canadian) metro regions so that the U.S. looks like Germany right after WW2. And
    them doing to same to the EU and UK. Anand did say the stars are predicting global war – he himself actually said WW3 is coming. Good gods I so badly want him to be wrong.

    Let’s see:

    Horseman No. 1 (Disease)

    – Covid and now Monkey Pox
    – unusual number of children dying due to new, unknown hepatitis strain
    – huge numbers of Chicken flocks being decimated by their own pandemics
    – unknown long-term consequences of Long Covid and of experimental vaccines

    Horseman No. 2 (Famine)

    – a real possibility during this Kala Sarpa due to multi-year, successive crop failures
    around the globe (Abhigya says this kind of Kala Sarpa kicks off odd, detrimental geological
    and weatherological problems that effect the entire planet according to Vedic astrological
    lore that don’t dissipate until the Kala Sarpa is done)

    Horseman No. 3 (War)

    – a possibility as several disparate sources I follow all seem to indicate WW3 is on the way
    – War and crime are also things that kick into overdrive during this kind of Kala Sarpa according to Vedic astrological lore

    and last but not least:

    Horseman No. 4 (Death)

    -Perhaps the ultimate effects are about be unleashed from multiple century-long gestating
    causes – once again a real possibility during this kind of Kala Sarpa according to Vedic astrological lore

    The great Serpent of Time has come again to the Zodiac that has not been for 5,180 years.

  219. Prizm, I wish that was much simpler. We’re heading into very challenging times and depending on the fine details of your choices, even so simple a thing as food on the table and a roof over your head may not be easy to be sure of.

    Kevin, I know. Those are among the challenges we all face. I’ve focused on learning skills that have historically been useful in hard times — you’d be amazed how many occultists got through the Great Depression by casting horoscopes, for example — but it’s always a crapshoot.

    Drhooves, and who would dominate such a convention?

    Kerry, thanks for this! Hops are easy to grow, btw — I’ve done it — and I’ve known brewers who malted their own barley at home, with very good results. All these points, in other words, are good ones. With regard to the internet, thank you for the contribution to my knowledge of slang — “out in the wops” is a new one to me. (On this side of the planet that’s “out in the boonies.”)

    Andy, I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t expect the internet to go away all at once. I expect it to unravel a bit at a time, with functionality decreasing, costs increasing, and access becoming more and more inconvenient and expensive over time. Fifty years from now there’ll doubtless still be an internet, but it’ll be used solely by government, big business, and whatever fraction of the university sector survives the coming crash of the higher education industry, and the ongoing costs will be an increasing burden to the users. As for AWS, I expect to see it split off from the rest of Amazon in the next few years, probably by way of an antitrust settlement, precisely to make sure that it stays financially viable when the rest of Amazon tanks.

    Ramaraj, exactly — India is being very clever with its wheat exports. I wish the US could get equally clever, but it’s got to chuck the current ruling class of global plutocrats and start managing its trade for its own benefit rather than theirs.

    Patricia O, that sounds very, very Japanese. 😉

    Johnny, excellent! One of the other advantages is that other people won’t recognize those as food crops, so your risk from pilferage is much lower.

    Greg, I’ll encourage you to do your own research here, since one of the basic laws of the internet is that you can find citations to back up everything there. Look into the funding sources of the fracking industry, especially in the context of the profitability of fracking. As for the very low net energy of fission power, as I noted in my post, net energy calculations are fantastically complex, which is why price is a good proxy: the higher the financial costs of a power source, the higher the energy costs, and if your power source can’t pay for itself without massive ongoing government subsidies, you’re looking at a very low net energy. (If nuclear power had the kind of net energy its proponents claim, every utility in the world would be clamoring to build reactors; here again, I’ll let you do the research.)

    Robert, yes, I think it’s quite possible that oil could break $200 a barrel, and no, that doesn’t require a Russian embargo, though we may get one of those anyway. The ongoing depletion of frackable shales, combined with the ongoing depletion of conventional sources, combined with speculative money flowing into the oil market as other speculative vehicles run into trouble, can do the job all by themselves.

    Jerry, you’re most welcome, and thanks for the Lake Mead data. Unless something changes, it looks as though Las Vegas has only a decade or so left.

    Chris, I’ll be interested to see the results of your election — and yes, I’ve been seeing stories on the new default in China. It’s being seriously soft-pedaled, for obvious reasons.

    Piper, that strikes me as a very sound idea. Best wishes with the move!

    Seideman, I hope it all goes well.

    Susie, all these are good points.

    Info, I see you don’t know much about Attila the Hun. Did you know he had a Greek secretary? As a fine bit of historical irony, the last emperor of Rome was the secretary’s son…

    Panda, of course. Very little of that money is going to Ukraine — most of it will end up in the pockets of US politicans and bureaucrats, via kickback arrangements and other gimmickry.

    Nobodyspecial, nah, I think they just determine whether New Orleans gets hit by the eastern side of the storm or the western side.

    Brendhelm, climb aboard the sled and hang on. We’ve got a long wild ride ahead, down, down, and down!

  220. All–

    Off-topic, but I wanted to ask the community for their prayers, if possible. I just learned that the daughter of a co-worker lost her first baby at about six months. If you all could pray for Ashley and Joe and their families as they mourn and heal, it would be appreciated.

  221. Hi John,

    https://info.gorozen.com/2022-q1-commentary-the-gas-crisis-is-coming-to-america?utm_campaign=2022%201Q%20Commentary&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=213691717&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_-bDQUEGeBZDOwVUkrw33EBiXgy0NTNN1ujnYN8tPU9M2lPkr8L83xWt83y5ilnLO5oWbycE1Y6UyDA40z09qXuf9SuWjG8KorwQ35CIg53KtMjlI&utm_content=213691717&utm_source=hs_email

    This latest research might interest you.

    Essentially shale gas production in America will start to collapse from 2023 onwards and US natural gas prices will rocket from as early as this year as a consequence.

    I have also read research, from French government scientists, who have concluded that by 2024, the amount of energy required as a percentage to get energy output will leap from 10% around now to 25% by 2024.

    This will place huge pressures on the global economy. Beyond that it gets worse into the 2030s.

    The report suggests that Europe could be facing state collapse by the mid 2030s (on the basis that states disintegrate roughly 15 years after they become largely energy importers.

    As for the stock markets, my personal view (formed by elliot wave theory and how central banks operate) is that once stocks fall further in the short term, they will bounce back later on in 2022 and into 2023 once the Fed makes clear they are pausing the interest rate cycle.

    That will be partly political as the Fed won’t want to put America into a recession during a mid term election year.

    The EW experts i follow (and yes they do have a v good record), suggest exiting stocks once the S&P 500 hits 5,500 area in 2023. Why? Its going to collapse after that, starting around late 2023.

  222. Kevin #200 May 19, 2022 at 11:55 p.m

    You are in a hard place. Sometimes the solution is to look “up” and seek help from whatever spiritual forces you are willing to believe in, or are willing to seek help from even with no belief whatever. There’s no telling just how powerful such things can be, but as one who has tried them, at times they work when nothing else will.

    Damon Brand at “The Gallery of Magick” has a number of inexpensive how-to manuals that may or may not prove attractive to you. I know how disheartening it can be when it seems like everything and everyone is against you. Um, you could also pray for divinely guided discernment/wisdom. That, too, has been know to yield surprising results. As our Fearless Leader has been known to say, TSRW (this s*** really works). But it won’t work unless you try it.

    If you have a faith system you nominally believe in, try doing what it counsels instead of just feeling helpless. I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Doing something rather than nothing is my counsel in your case, even if you have to go in a circuitous route instead of attacking your issues head-on.

  223. John, call me irritable, but I think have finally gotten exasperated with the attempts at fear porn. Is the WHO really going to try to scare us into submission with “monkey pox”? Really? Now? They’re really flinging poo at the wall to see what sticks, aren’t they? Tell me if I’m off base, but the crisis du jour just seems ludicrous to me at this point.

  224. Archdruid,

    What is and isn’t economically viable is less linear than our culture makes it out to be. Corporate culture especially considers any project that doesn’t provide ever increasing quarterly profits to be economically non-viable, which is why every time they’ve tried to scale up some alternative source of energy concentration/extraction they’ve failed so spectacularly.

    As you’ve pointed out, on smaller scales many of their failed projects are pretty useful. I’m thinking here specifically of solar steam and heating systems, or small scale wind-turbines. What’s really interesting is that Faustian culture defines a successful economy and powerful country as one that can provide maximum energy across every conceivable sector. Even particularly useless sectors like tourism, mass media, or generally consumerist life styles of the average citizen must be attended to or you’re not considered successful or powerful. The result is that many countries invest their finite energy resources into trying to compete everywhere, all the time.

    I can very easily imagine that changing in the near future where countries invest in things like algae based bio-fuel to only provide potable fuel for their military, or where hydro-electric capacity is limited to supply the defense industry. That is to say that governments will start narrowly defining national interest, and decide that expenditures to support the government and defense sectors are economically viable. Not viable in the sense that we use the word, but viable in the sense that national security is the foundation upon which all other economic activity is built, so the citizenry can suck it up and deal with their reduced access to luxury.

    Even further down I can see the production of bio-fuel as a taxable commodity the way feudal farmers used grain to pay taxes. Maybe in the future we’ll have fuel brewers as a skilled trade?

    Regards,

    Varun

  225. Worry more about a weaker dollar than about political posturing about OPEC. Last time the dollar crashed it was because of de Gaulle calling the USA’s bluff about the dollar just being pegged to the dollar and faking being pegged to the value of gold. The USA has never respected the sovereignty of other nations.

  226. Hi Violet (and JMG),

    I have to say I haven’t seen this drop off of interest in gardening around here. I am up in Canada, so perhaps it’s different, but where I am It’s a reasonably big thing.

    The feeling I get is greater interest in the group that were on the fence, with people actually starting them too.

    Many of our neighbours are retired Italians, and/or their children, who are in their 40s/50s now. They all grow their own food growing way back, there is a whole culture around it, and they are just continuing the same. I grow Sicilian longsquash sometimes just because it makes them happy (I respect how well it does, but don’t love it). I had a conversation just last week with a guy up the street about them, though (I had two seedlings), and I learned that I was harvesting them too late, and are best taken early when the seeds are small. One of the interesting characteristics of these is that they can grow so long but I hadn’t tried harvesting early.

    I don’t know any of the older Portuguese people up our street better than saying hello or nodding, so I couldn’t say for certain that it’s the same situation with them, but the place here that sells the seedlings are two Portuguese shops, and I see people buying seedlings who look to be also. So my guess is that it is the same in their backyards.

    In the case of our situation, our neighbours next-door are immigrants, Indians coming from Malaysia. The dad grew up fairly poor back there, and so basically has turned the backyard of their rental property into a farm the way he learned when he was a kid. We exchange seeds and seedlings, but also fruit and vegetables and even cooked meals. At the start of the pandemic I had a fairly long talk with their kids (one 20s, one 30s), while their parents were trapped in Malaysia (during the initial, quite strict, lock down) about how I was making a greater effort in the garden because I thought it was going to become an essential skill in the future, if not for me, then definitely for my boys. One side effect of the initial, strict, lockdowns here was that there was a long stretch where you couldn’t really see anybody other than your neighbours which had it’s benefits as it was a more serious time. I think back to that conversation sometimes, as it seems like my “decades away estimate” was maybe quite naive in retrospect! One of the two kids was out yesterday tilling their backyard with his boyfriend, and I said I was glad to see it, and I thought it was a good idea (them getting into it). “I pity the millennial who doesn’t understand seeds”, he said. I don’t know if other immigrants are doing the same thing, many spots here have high wooden fences particularly at the back, so I wouldn’t know.

    The rest are what you might call “generic”, second generation, white/black/Asian Canadians, many of whom moved here in the last 5 years, and likely spent a fair bit on their properties/rent. I would fit ourselves into this category, although we were here a decade before this really kicked off, so beat the big price tags. Some are very nice, although half or more of them though (it seems), don’t really want to know their neighbours, and will actively snub when I smile/nod/wave to them – some I wore down and some I gave up on. The folks I talk to either are in favour of gardening but not planning to start yet, still a vague “someday”, some are just starting and are eager to learn it, and the others are actively into gardening. Then that divides again into two groups, one that is very much into growing native flowers to help pollinators and butterflies, and another that grow their own vegetables. I will say there that the “native” crew have impressed me with the difference their actions made, as monarchs became a common sight in the garden this year after having not seen any for years – it’s impressed me enough that I took a milkweed seed pod in the fall and planted a bunch this year to pitch in. People grow decorative stuff too, which I contribute more now too, we have a huge trumpet vine, which the bees love, and I planted a bunch of tulips during the pandemic, at the height of the economic bubble, as a joke for maybe my grandkids.

    My neighbour (on the other side) is a new landlord, but lives there with his tenant sharing the house with him. He has offered my up a space in his backyard to plant something. I might stick some tomato seedlings there as he uses a sprinkler so the only thing I’ll need to do is tie them up to a stake every few weeks. Either they work or they don’t.

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  227. Kerry Nitz,

    Do you have any easy to follow guides on how to brew beer?

    I’m currently doing it via the packages you order via Amazon or by the big beer producers but would love to go full on DIY as you are doing.

    Cheers
    FI

  228. > Andy, I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t expect the internet to go away all at once. I expect it to unravel a bit at a time, with functionality decreasing, costs increasing, and access becoming more and more inconvenient and expensive over time.

    Yes you have. I’d be the first to acknowledge that you’ve been entirely consistent about whereas my own thinking has been all over the place about timescales from ‘it’s all switching off tomorrow to ‘my distant descendants will see internet wonders beyond the dreams of analysts’. In truth I only really grasped the central importance of AWS to our civilisation a few years ago. Partly I think because its importance truly has been an example of an exponential change, and an extremely quiet one too. There are real risks in the current approach and nobody will publicly talk about the risks, but the cost savings are simply too great not to take them.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed about your fifty year horizon because my immediate income needs are perhaps half a decade long and it provides much of my family income. I’m trying to acquire alternative skills as quickly as I can. I’m on my third season of trying to learn vegetable gardening, I’ve picked up some simple welding skills and I am currently completely obsessed with food preservation in general and cheese making in particular. The latter is particularly odd because I’ve spent 56 years out of 60 treating cheese as a variety of spoilt milk. As has occasionally happened since 2016 it feels like many of these urges are somehow imposed, or coming from the outside. I suppose the world is getting stranger and it requires responses that are strange even to the people responding.

  229. >Second, with the gas prices now higher than I remember back in 2007, I expected to see people cutting back. On the contrary, it seems people here have been going on with life as normal.

    Gas isn’t where you’ll see the cutbacks, since it takes time to find more fuel efficient cars, etc. Where you’ll see it is in everything else.

    And high gas prices aren’t what you should be worrying about – it’s price controls. That’ll take a bad situation and make it 10x worse. Hello, late 70s, haven’t seen you around, how have you been?

  230. >Do you have any easy to follow guides on how to brew beer?

    There’s plenty of guides on the internet on how to do it. You can make it as complicated or as simple as you want to though. I’d collect all the jugs and bottles you’re going to need first. And I’d start with the simple methods, the ones that use the canned malt extract and then work up to the more complicated recipes. It’s not that hard to do, just requires attention to detail and cleanliness.

  231. Just thinking that the skills people take up are going to differ wildly, and in order to have a functioning society, that’s how it needs to be.

    I tried woodworking, but it’s very hard on me physically and I tend to not do a very good job (lack of strength due to physical issues). Minor musical instrument repairs and maintenance, or anything textile-related, or jewelry making, or playing musical instruments, or art, though… those I can do. And gardening. That’s physically hard on me but the results are worth it, and I manage well enough.

    I’ve never tried brewing beer, since I a) don’t like beer, b) attend a church that disapproves of alcohol, and c) it doesn’t play well with some medications I used to be on. I’ll let other people take that one. If Attila needs his socks darned or music to keep the troops happy, though, that I can help with.

  232. forecastingintelligence #242: there are plenty of guides to brewing beer on the internet. Sounds like you are working with what are known as extract kits. An easy way to start with all-grain brewing is Brew In A Bag (BIAB) – see https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/how-to-brew/ for some guides.
    The go-to-guide for many people is John Palmer’s How to Brew – an older version is available on his web site for free: http://www.howtobrew.com – it is really comprehensive.
    I use a BrewZilla 23L system – essentially a BIAB system made of metal with a built-in pump for recirculating (and for transferring to the fermenter). The forums for all-grain brewing around the web are full of helpful people with good advice.

  233. Thanks JMG,

    I also grow a certain amount of food for the neighbourhood. I grew a lot of tomatoes on the front fence of our property last year, and didn’t harvest from there unless I absolutely had to. I was able to do this because I was replanting suckers every time I pruned them, and so the number of plants I had was exponential and exploded (I had over 200 going by the end). I hoped people would get the idea they should take whatever they wanted, and they did get eaten, so I guess they did.

    I want to establish a grape vine on our back fence for the same reason, so people can take it when they are going by. A few years ago I got to know a woman who came to get mulberries off our neighbour’s tree. Our neighbour’s tenants were just college kids at the time, and could care less about them, (which was also true of previous tenants going back a long ways). She was a recent Chinese immigrant and couldn’t speak English, but I was able to convey to her that it was no problem that she took them, and we could communicate to each other a bit about gardening. I thought it was pretty cool she harvested forgotten produce around town.

    An unexpected benefit of gardening, I’ve found, is that everyone seems to like it. It’s similar to the response we’ve experienced since we had children, people of all kinds are happy to engage with you. Across a wide spectrum. We used to have some kids that were junkies (I think) living by us and one of the guys there was really interested in my gardening. He talked a lot about growing things but his own plants died due to neglect – I think he was too far gone for that project really, but even he approved strongly of it. I think he may have stolen a tricycle another neighbour gave our son, at least he got very withdrawn from me right when it disappeared from our yard one night. Our relationship was bad for a bit, so I gave him some fruit from my garden I had discussed with him before, and then he cheered up and it went back to being good.

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  234. ” No, at this point it’s my ironic duty to suggest that they make whatever preparations they have in mind sooner rather than later, because the world shows no signs of waiting for them.”

    This prompted me to finally order some wool socks from Darn Tough. Best get them before people realise having warm socks that don’t need anywhere near as much washing and long outlast the cheap cotton ones is incredibly valuable…

    On that topic, my brother is getting married at the end of August. Weddings are one of the opportunities where useful gifts are not frowned upon, so what suggestions do people have? Given they’ll be on a tight budget after the wedding (he’s a new police officer, she’ll be a student midwife — in the home counties) and a lot of money sloshes around with wedding gifts (probably the most most people will receive as gifts in their lives), I’m hoping they’ll take my advice about what to put on their registry. Definitely think they should ask for egyptian cotton — and soon, before the price goes even higher.

  235. I would like to point out that even if some kind of large-scale war happens in the next few years and even if there are crop failures the world still will go on. I don’t expect things to go all Mad Max.

    Sadhguru is on his Save Soil pilgrimage. I don’t think he’d do that if humanity were scheduled for a mass extinction in the next decade or so. If nothing else that signals to me plenty of people will continue living and be part of a response that starts helping themselves, their neighbors and the planet too.

  236. cutekitten #191

    Massachusetts extended the ‘look back’ to 7 years. Your state may be just as bad or worse. Double check. Good Luck!

  237. Dear Kfish, that may be.

    Dear JMG, you are most welcome!

    Dear Christine, Thank you for the kinds words! That said, over the past five years I have gifted hundreds if not thousands of plants and packets seeds to many dozens of individuals and institutions, who had no problems with mental categories. As I noted in my first comment, between the years of 2016-2019 I gave away these plants at a rate of about five times the amount I can now. Quite literally for the years of 2018 and 2019 I worked something like 20 hours a week during the growing season on this project and had little difficulty finding folks to take the plants. In my own experiences, something has changed which I do not imagine as dependent on mental categories of the sort you speculate on.

    Dear Jonathon, that may be, but why then did I work 20 hours a week gifting plants in 2018 and now can hardly find any one to take plants for free? 2020 was considerably slower for me than 2018, so I don’t think your speculation apply to the experiences I have described. As for seeds, if you were to want me to mail you some I would be delighted — please get in contact me through my blog —- https://violetcabra.dreamwidth.org/

    Dear Johnny, I’m glad that your neighbors seem as sane as they do.

  238. Here’s a look at the population center of the US and how it’s moved since 1790.

    https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2020/geo/center-of-population-1790-2020.html

    It has moved westward with every new census, but the westward movement from 2010-2020 looks to be the smallest ever, although 1910-1920 looks pretty close. My guess is that 2020 is the farthest west it will get, and the 2030 center will be east of the current one. The southward movement that’s been consistent since 1920 hasn’t changed as much, and I think that may continue for a bit longer. Certainly the trend during COVID has been movement southward where there’s been more freedom, but sometime in the next few decades I expect the effects of climate change and energy depletion will lead to more northward trends of movement.

  239. @Neptune’s Dolphin,
    Thank you for bringing up your run-around with the insurance company. Lately I found myself unable to obtain a service that I’d taken for granted all my life (sending parcels overseas) because I cannot use a smartphone, so I will be eager to hear how it works out for you with the insurance company. The community of electromagnetic illness (EMI) sufferers has been simply too overwhelmed by other, more pressing issues recently to try to deal with this latest form of discrimination. Under the WHO, EMI is recognized as a disability, but electromagnetic fields are not recognized as the cause (which is “unknown”), despite lots of evidence. They cherry pick the science to claim EMF is not the cause.
    It appears it would be very hard to travel without a smartphone these days to allow the authorities to track you. I know people travelling without the vax, but they all have smartphones. This is becoming an issue for me as my mother has developed cognitive impairment and other neurological issues since last year (i.e., since the you-know-what was administered, and she is still a true believer), and has started asking me to visit.
    I guess I will have to look into it and see what is possible and not for me.

  240. JMG (no. 233), “boondocks” (or “boonies”) entered US English during the Phillipine-American War (1899-1902) from Tagalog bundók (“mountain”), referring to mountainous rural areas where the Americans were fighting. “Wop Wops” is the New Zealand equivalent, probably from Australian English “Woop Woop” (imaginary name for a small remote town, perhaps in the outback; the nearest US English equivalent is fictively situated in Alabama, and incorporates a slang term for sodomy).

  241. Valenzuela (no. 222), the poems and pictures of the Tui Bei Tu (推背圖, “backwards-pushing pictures”) are often compared to the quatrains of Nostradamus. They are vague enough that they could mean anything. The link you give imagines that these Tang Dynasty astrologers are particularly interested in 20th century Chinese politics for some reason! Presumably somebody in the 24th century will re-interpret all this, so that it refers to Federation relations with the Klingons, or whatever the issues of the day are. That is, if they do not simply rewrite the text to suit the events (as has happened regularly; there is no “original” text). Here is another, more sober English blogpost about the Tui Bei Tu:

    https://blogs.loc.gov/international-collections/2021/04/mysticism-and-prophecy-in-tui-bei-tu-%E6%8E%A8%E8%83%8C%E5%9C%96-back-pushing-pictures/

    In last couple of decades, I’ve heard a lot about Baba Vanga of Bulgaria, and Siener van Rensburg of South Africa. Many of the same issues apply.

  242. Will Oberton (no. 214), this has the ring of an “urban legend.”

    DT (no. 202), surely you must realize that Russia has nukes…?

  243. Thought for the day,

    “On Thursday, in London, at a Financial Times Moral Money conference, Stuart Kirk, global head of responsible investing at HSBC Asset Management, questioned the risk climate change plays on financial markets, arguing investors shouldn’t worry about it.

    Kirk said the drumming up of climate change problems is similar to Y2K, explaining that “some nutjob” has always told him the “end of the world” is nearing.

    Titled “Why investors need not worry about climate risk,” he asked: “Who cares if Miami is six meters underwater in 100 years?”

    Kirk noted: “Amsterdam has been six meters underwater for ages and that is a really nice place. We will cope with it.””

    If you are wondering what HSBC might be, from Wikipedia,

    “HSBC Holdings plc is a British multinational universal bank and financial services holding company. It is the second largest bank in Europe behind BNP Paribas,[6] with total equity of US$206.777 billion and assets of US$2.958 trillion as of December 2021. In 2021, HSBC had $10.8 trillion in assets under custody (AUC) and $4.9 trillion in assets under administration (AUA), respectively.”

    I’m sure he has a super yacht he can live on very comfortably.

  244. @Mark L, @Andy, and everybody else discussing Internet feasibility

    IMHO, I might be talking out of my area of expertise, but I think routing equipment is hardy enough to withstand for a resonable number of years. It also is procured by Telcos, which means there’s no incentive to overburden it with all the crazy stuff you see in the final consumer’s hardware market. At most, it addresses the needs of operators, which are to make it convenient to maintain.

    Back in 2000, I worked in a new spread spectrum radio (actually, the next generation of a well established radio) which was intended to provide data access to rural communities in hilly terrain where wiring would be too expensive. It used a processor (a microcontroller, actually) derived from the Motorola chip used in the first Apple computers from ~1980. The software features we where developing had to do with remote maintenance (the big pitch for the project was the reduced number of hours technicians would be paid to traverse ill maintained dirt roads). IF this limited experience is in any way representative of the field, this things are built rugged to endure rough conditions.

    @drhooves,

    Agreed on the security issue. Maybe we need to go back to the 80s and 90s ethos. Everything one does online is nice and convenient, but also self filtered so that if it is hijacked/shadowbanned/stolen, it will not affect one’s real life.

  245. Out of curiosity I went looking to see if Stuart Kirk had a yacht, and if he does Google doesn’t know about it. Maybe someone in the UK might have better luck.

    I did find this fine boat designed by a different Stuart Kirk,

    https://www.jacobsbros.com/img/news/urchin-review.pdf

    And the first Mr Kirk has roiled the narrative and faces cancellation.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10838065/HSBC-faces-calls-sack-financier-speech-saying-cares-Miami-underwater.html

  246. Excellent post. As someone who pays close attention to major media outlets, it’s fascinating how they can disguise the issue of inflation as anything but high oil prices (lockdowns and government spending, though responsible, miss the major underlying issue).
    Your comment on nuclear energy is most timely. Oliver Stone has a documentary on the benefits of nuclear power, and blames environmentalists for the obstruction of nuclear production. Not once does he consider that nuclear plants need to be built and maintained.

  247. Hi John Michael,

    I’d heard the number of 7 million people have already voted (you can vote up to a week early at pre-polling stations). The result may not be known this evening, although it could be indicative. Of interest to yourself is that I have canvassed opinions on the subject of the result, and most people are suggesting a hung Parliament. And it is worthwhile noting that a person can vote in one direction for the lower house (where the government is formed and declared), and another way altogether in the upper house. This is a normal part of the process down here where the lower house is made up of representatives from your local area, whilst the upper house members represents the entire state.

    Years ago, there used to be a minor party in the upper house with the tag line: Keeping the bas$%#ds honest, but they seemed to have disappeared themselves after assisting introducing a 10% consumption / sales tax on goods and services.

    Politics, or political affiliations and leanings is not a subject which is normally broached down here – it’s something just not spoken about. When I was a kid it was considered impolite to discuss the subjects of: money; sex; or religion. But I dunno, that was probably taking things to an extreme position, but then the other end of that continuum is not all that nice either.

    The upper house result won’t be known for a few weeks, but I have a hunch about that result.

    I reckon you’ve picked a nice part of the world to live. And good to hear that you have plans – I like your style.

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for mentioning the off grid solar thing, and seriously, if anyone has any questions, well, been there and done that and have relied on this stuff for over a dozen years. It’s good, but sorry to say, the technology is not good enough – that’s a trigger warning for the true believers. 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  248. Hi John Michael,

    Almost forgot. The EU caved in and many members are now setting up accounts – as expected after much bluster and ballyhoo. Ah, they may shortly realise that they no longer set the exchange rate. And maybe all that support of junk bonds and excessive printing, was a junk idea. 😉

    Cheers

    Chris

  249. @Alice #249

    We didn’t take have a registry, but we requested and received a big sturdy cider press and a large stoneware fermenting crock.

    We were already fairly well outfitted with what we needed, but we saw it as an opportunity to acquire some useful things that friends could borrow from us rather than us borrowing them from others.

  250. @Bei Dawei

    Yes, I’m aware of all that, and I fully agree it’s a huge stretch to claim that no less than 10 of the 60 poems are all focused on the same ~60 year period. I’m only sharing the link because I was reminded of it by the mention of the stars predicting a Chinese war, and because I find it very interesting.

    Anyway, after some more searching, I’ve found another analysis that seems a bit more plausible in its interpretations, not least because it only claims that 43 or the book’s predictions have come to pass, rather than 55 as the other page claimed.

    https://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread923885/pg1
    https://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread925881/pg1

  251. @ Johnny # 209

    What you describe with your edible weeds is a variation of the ‘pet weed’ method of gardening. With pet weeds, you look at the dozen or so most common weeds that come up in your garden. You choose one, or perhaps two, that you feel you can ‘live with’, and those become your designated Pet Weeds. From that point forward, you leave that weed alone and only pull up the other kinds.

    Over time, the tolerable species of weed fills in, and the less desireable species vanish. For example, I always leave clover alone (honeybee food, nitrogen fixation, what’s not to like?), and always pull up anything with stickers (like thistles). I pull up jump cress, even though some say jump cress is edible- I find it incredibly bitter; and leave wild chamomile alone.

    You spend way less time pulling weeds with this method. The only caveat is to be sure you know what it is you’ve chosen to be your ‘pet’, because if you choose something obnoxious by accident, you will have allowed it to multiply unimpeded for a time before figuring out your error.

  252. Johnny @ 209

    Regarding what to do with the ‘other weeds’. We give them to the chickens to pick through. They love the search for a tasty bit! And equates to more chicken poop for the compost pile…
    Right now Wall Lettuce is on the seasonal menu; which, if things get tough, we humans could eat if cultivated lettuce were found to be unobtainable. What the hens don’t consume the soil flora & fauna eventually will, so it’s all good!

  253. David BTL, blessings on the way. That’s a very harsh thing to have to live through!

    Forecasting, thanks for this. None of this seems unreasonable to me, and the end of the fracking bubble was always foreordained by the simple fact that natural gas is a finite resource. As for the stock market, though, my advice remains what it was. Isaac Newton thought he could time the South Sea Bubble, and lost nearly everything he’d invested in stocks as a result. I’m not as smart as Isaac Newton, and neither are you…

    Blue Sun, you’re not off base at all. One month it’s “The Black Lurkey will kill us all!” The next month it’s “The Creeping Gonk will kill us all!” And don’t forget that the Ruritanian army is threatening to invade Shangri-La, and a gigantic space walrus with photon flippers is somewhere out past the Andromeda galaxy but headed this way!!! I’m pretty sure that what’s really going on is that the wheels are coming off the ascendancy of the managerial class, but nobody in power can let themselves think about that and so they’re churning out panic at top speed as a way of yelling “La, la, la, I can’t hear you!” to reality.

    Reality is not amused.

    Varun, there are things that aren’t economically viable because of current economic and cultural conditions, and then there are things that aren’t economically viable because of the laws of physics. Algal biodiesel requires more energy inputs than you get back in energy from burning the biodiesel, so it’s a nonstarter no matter what. Nuclear power, similarly, is a very effective way to make bombs, or to power naval vessels (which don’t have to make a profit); check out the history of nuclear-powered freighters for a hard look at the economics of nuclear reactors in a less sheltered setting. That said, yes, there are other things that are uneconomical purely because of temporary conditions. Solar water heating is uneconomical compared to natural gas, but the sun will be around for a couple of billion years after the last cubic foot of natural gas is burnt, which changes the equation a bit! In the same way, it’s quite possible that biofuels produced in a more thermodynamically smart way — say, by growing oilseeds and pressing the oil out of them — will be used for specialized purposes such as naval warfare long after all commercial shipping is powered by wind.

    Pesci, it’s precisely because OPEC can crash the dollar — once its members start requiring oil to be paid for using some other currency, the dollar isn’t merely toast, it’s carbon — that the posturing matters.

    Andy, my current livelihood is partly dependent on the net, too, and though I’ve made arrangements to shift to print media if that’s necessary, it’ll be a disruption. For what it’s worth, I expect to see a lot of big internet content firms fold in the next few years, and everything free going away for good, but unless you live in a rural area that loses internet service — and there’ll be a lot of that, of course — there should be some sort of net in existence for ordinary consumers for a couple of decades yet.

    Pygmycory, exactly! In a thriving community, no two people have exactly the same set of skills, and that allows all the necessary tasks to get done. I’m not very good at woodworking either, for that matter.

    Johnny, thanks for this. I trust the rest of the commentariat is paying attention…

    Alice, do they have the cookware and other equipment they need to make their meals? That’s something my wife and I got a fair amount of at our marriage, and it was exceedingly welcome.

    Panda, I think you’re quite right. (BTW, please think through and edit your comments before posting them — it’s kind of a hassle for me to delete comments after they’re up, and even more for me to edit them.)

    Kashtan, fascinating. Thanks for this.

    Bei, thanks for this.

    Siliconguy, yep — the pushback against ESG was inevitable, and now it’s hitting its stride. The timing is amusing, to use no stronger term.

    Paul, oh, I think that the orgy of money-printing we’ve seen in the last few years has contributed to the current inflationary mess, but you’re certainly right that the core of it is soaring energy prices. As for Stone, sigh. What is it about nuclear power that causes people’s brains to dribble out their ears, so they forget to ask little questions like “will it pay for itself?”

    Chris, I’ll look forward to the results! As for the EU, they’re also begging the Russians for a ceasefire, which tells me that they, at least, know which way the wind is blowing.

    Jenxyz (offlist), enough. You used to make interesting comments here, but the last year or so you’ve taken to posting conspiracy-theory rants and then vanishing when anyone questions you. That’s not something I want to see here, so here’s your hat; don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  254. Mark L,
    RE: IP addresses

    The IP protocol has rules for how routers should forward packets of data from one network to another network. I’m not sure what level of detail you are interested in but this:

    “A router forwards packets from one IP network to another IP network. Like other systems, it routes based on the longest-prefxi (sic) match of the IP addresss in the routing table.”

    From:
    https://erg.abdn.ac.uk/users/gorry/course/inet-pages/router.html

    Gives a reasonably detailed description of the process. The “network layer” of the OSI reference model defines the layers of abstraction that the world wide web of networked computers uses. The IP address are not just a mapping of numbers to URLs, the numbers define a logical hierarchy that each node can use to find neighboring nodes that are closer in the logical hierarchy to the destination IP address. Each node has a local copy of the IP addresses of nodes that it is connected to in the routing table.

    That said, the system is not designed to be foolproof, there is no guarantee that a packet will get through, but the system is robust enough and reliably enough that it could be used after a nuclear attack takes out most big cities and their higher concentration of highly connected nodes… in theory.

    Since the dotcom boom the structure has moved more and more towards a high speed and high bandwidth spine that connects the servers of one ISP to other massive nodes and server farms, like AWS and Google. The protocols are the same, but the type and nature of the hardware under it has changed to more of a hub and spoke system* and less of a web.

    You can still get an old 386 and put a stripped down version of Linux on it and run a DNS for you and your friends and it will work, and provide mapping to reach all of the content on the net (or more precisely a list of IPs to URLs and a list of other nodes that your machine is connected to) The system scaled up from a handful of universities, government machines, and the odd IT business like AT&T and IBM to the literally billions of devices out there now.

    And, it can scale back down. I suspect JMG is correct that the internet of 30-50 years from now will look a lot like the one from the 90s with better graphics over slower connections for most people** and with real time video calls, streaming video, and the other perks for those willing to pay the high cost to maintain the infrastructure that makes those things possible.

    * the old system had a machine at, lets say Xerox, with a handful of dedicated phone lines (POTS Plain Old Telephone Service) to other machines at lets say, Bell Labs, IBM, DEC, SunMicroSystems, NASA, LANL, UCLA, UCSC, UC Berkley, Stanford, MIT, and Dartmouth. The current system has, lets say Xfinity, with dedicated lines of all kinds, fiber, satellite, microwave, and copper, to lets say, AT&T, CenturyLink, McLeod, Verizon, Tmobile, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Netflix, and some bandwidth on various under sea cables. While it might look like the same degree of connectivity, in the old system each of the nodes would be connected to a different spread of Universities and research centers. Oxford, for example, might only have Dartmouth in common with Xerox. And in the new system every ISP will have the vast majority of its connections to those same 12 hubs.

    ** most people still using the net, that is. I don’t even have a rough order of magnitude guess of what that will be when the costs are payed by the users.

    Your 386 Linux server is fully compatible with the new and old versions. And if you set up a 386*** and I set up a 486 and JMG has this site hosted on a Pentium II (686) and Oilman2 fires up his Pentium (586, SCOTUS decided you can’t trademark a number) to read Ecosophia then it could go from 586 -> 386 -> 486 -> 686 or it could go 586 -> spine -> 686. Both would work just fine on older machines and POTS for this page of mostly text and a few images for the regular commentors.

    However, our little net on older machines would not be able to serve JMG’s full readership, and definitely couldn’t handle pages with lots of graphics, adds, and popup videos, much less Netflix or Facebook levels of content. It would also have zero redundancy and no protection against DDoS attacks. We could add a few more nodes, lets say Nomadicbeer, blue sun, and Chris by the lake and each of us adds another phone line and have some redundancy in case my nephew pulls the plug on my server or the wind nocks out Oilman2’s phones. But it still wouldn’t have the processing power or bandwidth to serve the full readership. We would have to upgrade to T1 lines (or better) and have newer machines to serve the full readership and would need to spend a few million to get the speed, bandwidth, security, redundancy, and reliability to serve JMG’s full readership with Facebook and Netflix level content they currently get through their ISPs.

    *** and each of us has a dedicated line to two other servers, and in one case to the spine as well.

    I hope this is useful and answers your question. I got the impression that you wanted to know how the individual nodes decided where to send a given user’s data or connect manage the connection from point a -> ‘the cloud’ -> point b and I hope that I have answered that. The OSI model is supposed to make the whole process ‘transparent’ (read invisible, instead of clear and easily understood) to the user and most of the literature makes the actual mechanics of how that process works equally transparent 😉 As for the DNS mapping, I believe several other people explained about the 13 level one DNS servers.

  255. Hi Violet,

    The weirdest thing for me is that the people I have the most trouble connecting with are often the people I think I should be closest to. In both cases, the sets of neighbours we actually have no relationship with at all (and maybe just a bad one for no reason) after nearly a decade of living across the street from, are people who we are in the same social circle as to some degree, and we know, or have met people that are friends with them. It gives me pause sometimes because I think we might have been just like them. Eventually I’ll find them with their car stuck in the snow or something and be able to fix this situation – I hope! The rest though, I think are reasonably sane! Everybody around here is in some degree of “brace for impact” when I get them talking seriously. Maybe none as extreme as myself, but all seem concerned about where things are right now, and seem unconfident that they are going to right themselves in the near term.

    Hi Mother Balance,

    I had never heard of this “pet weed” idea – so thanks! It does sound like that is what I stumbled upon. I should say that originally I started to do it half out of just sheer laziness/a little bit of knowledge about what was coming up, but over time I started to realize that I was affecting the entire landscape and that in fact I was cultivating them. And thanks for the warning about how it can go wrong!

    Hi Polecat,

    Maybe one day we’ll have chickens in the backyard, right now it’s not permitted in our city, although it feels like there is a desire to make it so, so we’ll see!

    Thanks all, and thanks JMG!
    Johnny

  256. “Info, I see you don’t know much about Attila the Hun. Did you know he had a Greek secretary? As a fine bit of historical irony, the last emperor of Rome was the secretary’s son”

    Alright I used bad example. So I will change the example to the Drug Cartels and the like.

    Although I am interested in your take about taking on the best Warlords to serve. If that can be done.

  257. Mark L #225
    RE: black box

    Adding to my already long comment. The specifics of IP resolution is a little bit like postal addresses in a mountain range. The postal address gives you the hierarchy: number, street, city, state, country. If any of the elements don’t match then send the letter up the hierarchy. Wrong city, then send it to the state’s central post office. Wrong state, then send it to the country’s central office. Simple enough.

    In theory. In practice there are going to be logistic problems, densely populated areas, sparsely populated areas, mountain ranges, islands, main roads, etc. The IP addresses have a hierarchy like postal addresses, but not all computers are connected to all other computers. Individual noded in a net only have so many connections. Some are up the hierarchy, some are down, some are lateral as far as the package is concerned.

    The package has to travel up the hierarchy along existing connections until the highest level mismatch is resolved and then down until all details match. At each point it gets routed the same way a letter would, based on the existing routes or connections between the offices or nodes and the hierarchy. It can only travel on roads that actually exist and have service and it only gets assigned to those roads if it gets the letter closer to the matching address.

    In many, many ways your basic question is similar to asking how the post has changed from 100 years ago when people sent letters to other people to now where most of the mail is junk mail and Amazon packages through FedEx. The post will still mail an actual letter and when was the last time you got an actual letter written by a real human being?

    The signal to noise ratio is the 1st order approximation to what is going to happen to the net.

  258. Well, marketable skills… after reading your Archdruid report, I decided to change my job and leave the computer-dependent profession of graphic design and acquire some practical skills like knitting, gardening and a few other household disciplines not usually required where I live. As I have been a musician all my life and coming from a family of musicians, I got a degree in music therapy – I know this is not necessary for survival, but it pays quite well right now, and the training helped me make a big leap forward in my social skills which I considered my biggest weakness. Now I know how to behave so I won’t get hung on a lamppost if TSHTF, and I know how to make groups of people happy by creative means, and how to work with mad, handicapped, demented, and dying people, so they have a better time than they might otherwise. My partner is a sound engineer and knows how to tinker with all things electrical. We both can play and teach music and are used to work under stress and ever changing conditions, as well as how to live well on potatoes and cabbage (the European version of beans and rice). Balcony garden is thriving, wood stove will come in this summer and learning more natural healthcare and household repairs. I enjoy working with your “Green wizardry” book a lot. Anything else we could consider?

  259. Hi John Michael,

    I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts. To me, it looks like that there has been a flight from the two major parties (the awful awfulness of the forgotten centre), but also that it appears at this stage we’ll have a change in government. Independents (!) appear to have gotten in, and who knows what the upper house result will bring? Crazy days. I’m heading off to bed.

    Cheers

    Chris

  260. @Forecasting 241

    I’ve been out of the loop on brewing for more than a decade, but a flip through the books available at the river reminded me that I did many of my early experiments based on the Camra Guide to Home Brewing by Graham Wheeler.

    My own progression was a couple of kits, then some examples made from cans of malt syrup from various recipes. All of this was done with a second hand tea urn from eBay. Finally I made a fair few brews from grain. This introduces the extra step of extracting the sugars from whole malts. You need a few bits of extra equipment for this. The main trick is learning how to keep everything sterile until the yeast takes hold.

    At that point I’m afraid I let my enthusiasm get the better of me, and since this coincided with burnout from IT, I started a microbrewery which taught me a lot but made very little money. On the other hand, after four years it did renew my interest in a desk job with no heavy lifting.

  261. What we need is to harness the energy of the natural world. We need to put rats inside of generators that run on a wheel and are fed by our garbage. The rat feces can then be used as a kind of night soil. We also need to normalize using actual night soil as fertilizer, and start by helping our own lawns, as well as those of our friends, neighbors, local businesses and even court houses and school districts by leaving our night soil for them to use. Preferably overnight.

  262. Alice @ 248 About wedding gifts, good quality kitchen linens are always welcome. You might also consider cast iron pans, decorative casserole dish, the expensive kind imported from France or a set of top of the line kitchen utensils. The idea is things the couple wouldn’t be yet able to afford for themselves.

    Kevin, do you know why your landlord won’t allow gardens? If you live in CA, Gov. Brown signed legislation allowing renters to garden a few years back. Have you considered maybe making an arrangement with someone who, for help with the water bill and share of produce, might let you use a portion of their yard.

  263. Archdruid,

    Oh for sure, I was only using algae bio-fuel as an example. What I think will happen is that any government that is able will use fixed power production capacity to produce potable fuel for their defense and security operations. Over the long term the net-energy equation will work against them, but over the short-term they’ll use the potable fuel to support their national security. Which fuel sources will they use? Well I don’t think we’ll need to wait that long to find out.

    Regards,

    Varun

  264. I have been thinking upon some of the stuff I posted. It has occurred to me I went overboard on many of my statements. Mainly I am wondering now if ‘wide-scale conflict’ automatically = WW3. It’s possible for many kinds of conflicts to be wide-scale that nonetheless remain long-running and low-grade.

    This is one time I wish I was an astrologer myself. I’ve tried on occasion in the past and just don’t seem to have much knack for it. I seem to get better results with Tarot – and hopefully soon JMG’s 2nd Ed. Sacred Geometry card/book set which I just bought. 😀

    Anyway…upon reflection, I’d want to look at all the other factors in that Vedic star chart for China (which supposedly is malific – especially so for the northern half of the country) and see if there’s anything else indicating major war or if wide-scale conflict could be interpreted in some alternate way – say a wide-scale trading block war as just one example. Abhigya characterized the wide-scale conflict as WW3 and I took that at face-value. The very thing JMG tries to teach everyone to develop alternatives too. Ugh. I flopped on that one. Looks like I need a LOT more training in Discursive Meditation.

    Also, I remind myself that Sadhguru’s Save Soil pilgrimage is one full of hope. Ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things for themselves and their countries. It’s hard to get things like that going in the middle of a multi-continent WW3.

  265. @team10tim!

    Thank you for taking the time to explain in simple-ish terms how the Internet works!

    I was not really asking for the technical details, but knowledge of those details is essential for answering the questions I am pondering, and so your long responses were most helpful.

    It sounds like the Internet is pretty resilient/redundant in terms of packet routing – loss of major nodes/links will cause a bandwidth/speed hit but as long as any route exists between two points the routing protocols will automatically find it. In that sense it is more of a true web than the electrical grid which is more vulnerable to large-scale damage at key substations.

    Since we often discuss the future of the Internet here in vague terms, here are a few more questions for you (or anyone else who might want to chime in). No need to write an essay, and feel free to pull numbers out of your rear end 🙂

    1. If households pay the cost of the wires/waves to their homes, and content producers pay the costs of web hosting, who currently covers the cost of the “spine”? Is it primarily maintained by speculative investment in the big tech companies, a bit like the fracking bubble? As these companies face bankruptcy, will they attempt to implement a “transit fee” to earn money from all of the traffic moving through their hardware?

    2. Let’s use a Retrotopia model and define three “tiers” of Internet. Tier 1 is the Internet of today, with cloud storage, Zoom meetings, streaming HD movies, and connection speeds around 5-50Mbps. Tier 2 is the Internet of roughly 2003, with online retail, graphics-intensive webpages, audio streaming, small/pixelated streaming video (or long downloads to watch later), and connection speeds in the range of 128kbps-1Mbps. Tier 3 is the Internet of roughly 1994, with text webpages, few images, basic email, and connection speeds of 7-28 kbps.

    2a. If the costs of maintaining the Internet were equally divided among all users, what would be the estimated monthly per-user cost (in US dollars) to maintain Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3?

    2b. As we proceed into the Long Descent, are we more likely to see a Tier 1 Internet maintained for an ever-shrinking pool of “elite” users with others leaving the Internet entirely or visiting shared access points, or will lower-tier levels of access be likely to return in the decades ahead?

  266. Random things:

    Seen on the NPR web page:

    NPR’s Scott Simon remarks on the first congressional hearings on UFOs in 52 years. Sadly, the search for intelligent life continues.

    Congressional hearing don’t seem to be a very good place to search too me!

    On Wednesday in Colorado Springs the high temperature was 91°F. Today (Saturday) if we are lucky it might be 40°F. Normal high is 72°F. Total precipitation since July 1, 2021 on Wednesday was 9.64 inches usually (last 10 years or so) about 15 inches. Total snow 20.5 inches usually about 32 inches. In the last 24 hours we’ve received 9.2 inches of snow and it is still coming down. With a temperature of 36°F. Total precipitation for the last 24 hours – 1.28 inches.
    Spring snow is a very mixed blessing. The big peach tree and the apple tree had a couple of bigger branches break. The neighbor has had three large branches break – one 6 inches plus and another that is almost 12 inches in diameter. City wide there will be a lot of downed limbs.
    In December we lost more than 15 major trees with in 2 blocks of my house from a MAJOR wind storm. Our power was out for three days.
    But this is actually not as unusual as it sounds. I’ve seen similar things every few years since moving to Colorado 51 years ago.

    @team10tim:
    Your description of TCPIP is fairly accurate at a high level from what I remember from 30 plus years ago when I was very involved with amateur packet radio. I remember the protocol wars – TCPIP vs OSI. Basically the make it work hackers vs specify the last possible detail before you start work academic/standards wonks.

    John – NJ0C

  267. @ JMG –

    Precisely! Navigating this stretch of history feels like dodging a whirligig with one hand tied behind one’s back.

    @ Clarke aka Gwydion –

    Thank you very kindly for your suggestions. As it happens, I think I will be following up on one or another of them. I’ve had a look at Mr. Brand’s publications and they look very interesting.

    @ Mary Bennett –

    I’m glad to hear Gov. Brown signed that bill, since I do in fact live in California. But given the history, I think I’ll put off gardening until I move.

    To be doing something and not nothing is the plan; what that something should be is the question.

  268. Info, that takes human-relations skills I don’t really have. That’s why my working plan focuses on skills like astrology, which give me a clientele not limited to warlords and a straightforward service focusing on blunt truths.

    Njura, excellent! It sounds like you’ve gotten yourself into a very good situation — and as the internet begins to wind down and access to music online becomes less available to most people, my guess is that live music will be very much in demand, too.

    Patricia M, none at all. Thanks for this!

    Chris, I just finished reading the report from the ABC. Fascinating — Morrison certainly got his face slapped, and the rise of the “teal” independents strikes me as a very good sign, as it’ll yank the leashes of both of your major parties. But you’re right, of course, that much will depend on the upper house, and on whether Labor ends up with a minority government.

    Ferric, are you proposing to do something about any of this? If not, well, talk is cheap. (I chuckled at your username, btw — a little more iron in the dream than usual?)

    Varun, of course! In the middle to long run, internal-combustion engines are too useful in military settings to be abandoned, and just as nuclear reactors are impossibly expensive for commercial shipping but great for military uses, I expect there to be naval vessels powered by biodiesel into the far future, and ultralight aircraft (probably powered by ethanol) for scouting purposes accompanying armies and navies alike. Trying to anticipate the military history of the deindustrial age is a minor hobby of mine.

    Panda, astrology’s not quick to learn and not many people have a knack for it; you get good at it by patient study. You might consider giving it a second try.

    Janitor, thanks for this.

    Kevin, I get the impression that’s usually what navigating history is like…

  269. Since I live in a cold climate (Maine) I recommend wool sweaters – 100 percent wool if you can find them – for each of them, plus wool blankets . In winter I use wool blankets instead of cold cotton sheets. Wool keeps yu warm even when wet, and doesn’t hold smells or dirt like other materials – yes, definitely wool socks, too!

  270. @ JMG RE: seed oil…

    I think you might be looking at a blend of castor oil and ethanol for future flight. Ethanol sucks as a fuel when you are flying through changing atmospheric water content. We had such difficulty with our small engines with just the current ethanol in gas that we now only burn 100% gasoline in them. A bit more expensive, but the upkeep is nonexistent.

    I am guessing that unless one is over the age of 60 or so, there is no memory of castor oil powered 2-stroke models of planes – which I used to build and fly as a kid. Castor oil doesn’t require any additional inputs other than squeezing and filtering, and will burn in any 2-stroke that does NOT have an ECU attached. It isn’t hydrophilic like ethanol either. We burned some in our small tractor a few years back just to be sure. We are actually searching for antique 2-stroke mowers – found a hover mower powered by an old Tecumseh we got for $10. ALL 2-strokere are illegal, but I have yet to meet any “engine police” – the system is rigged from the top down, so once things slide a bit faster…

    I haven’t tried it, but I imagine a 2-stroke motorcycle will likely run just fine with some mix of castor oil as well, with a slight carb change or two.

    The plants themselves grow well in poor soil – rocky, alkaline and even slightly salty all are OK with the castor beans. animals do not like them, and so they are a good barrier crop. All you need to make this fuel is a press and filter setup, which can be horse or water powered. The basis for petroleum is concentrated energy that is portable – all one would be doing to make castor oil is concentrating existing energy into a tank – the sun and a little water do the rest. And best of all – these beans have no pests…..

    It’s funny how many things from the 1900’s make more logical sense than much of what we use today. My son was concerned about the engine effluent, until he actually breathed some of it…LOL… not near as nasty as gasoline or diesel. I’m not worried about burning it and changing the climate – that is baked in, and we are on the backside of that curve already. Combine that with average populations declining and things look better next century for those here on our blue marble.

  271. Hi JMG

    I think at least some part of the elite perfectly knows where we are heading to, but of course they think they can outsmart everyone and continue increasing their portion of world wealth.

    For example it seems that Bill Gates is the first arable land proprietary in USA, I think he perfectly knows what will have more value in a not so distant future, and probably he is trying to be the biggest feudal landlord of the world, he likes the monopolies so much!…

    And I think the actual mess in Ucrania is a consequence of the empire long term strategy to control de natural resource of Russia, or the “Pivot Area”, or “the Heartland”, as John Mckinder call it.

    I suppose you know the work of Mckinder, in any case here is a link to his most famous work: “The Geographical Pivot of History” (1904)

    https://www.iwp.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/20131016_MackinderTheGeographicalJournal.pdf

    This was the policy of the British Empire that was also inherited by the USA Empire, and this explain many of the many US policies like the expansion of the NATO, Afghanistan invasion, the policy to separate Germany from Russia, the Nixon policy to China, etc…

    I think that this policy is now in overdrive with the now impossible to hide depletion of resources; so for the western elites Russia is their “Wealth Lebensraum” the last frontier for the expansion of the wealth of the imperial elites. For them to plunder Russia is “vital” to their interests, so the high risks I see of WWIII.

    Russia is the bigger exporter of fossil fuels (carbon + gas + oil) has the bigger reserves of many resources, and probably will be the most benefited country (or continent) with climate change with new arable land, 6 of the biggest rivers in the world as giant fresh water sources, an in the near future, an Artic coast free of ice plenty of resources and easily navigable.

    Certainly, as Mckinder said, Russia will be more and more the “Heartland” of the world, and as predicted by Spengler, the Russian civilization is now in its spring phase, so nobody can destroy it (except an all-out nuclear war, of course), and this also fit the Baba Vanga prophecy about Russia…

    It is now a fight between a Culture and a Civilization, using spenglerian terms, and the (decadent) Civilization will lose.

    Finnally I would like to share the following video and recommed to see it to everyone that can understand Spanish. It is a talk of an Spanish ex-ambassador in many countries in the East of Europe with much experience in international relations and geopolitical issues and give a very different point of view than the MSM and western governments about the war un Ukraine; he is an insider, and as he said in the talk: “I can express myself freely now and say these things because I am retired”, sad but true.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQKFa-HNjSc

    Cheers
    David

  272. Fair enough John, don’t disagree with you but I have learnt to follow my instincts when it comes to investing and I’m not getting that gut call to sell everything! (like I did in the winter of 2017 when BTC went parabolic or in 2007 when housing prices were zooming out of control).

    Also, I have massively pivoted to commodity shares and think there is still leg room for these to grow in the coming years to come.

    Are you following the situation in Ukraine? Moon of Alabama is an interesting website that challenges the Western media outlook on what is going on.

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2022/05/ukraine-sitrep-russians-break-through-us-bolsterism.html#more

    The overall impression I get is most people think Ukraine is winning this war. They will be shattered if this turns out to be nonsense.

  273. re: off-grid casual lighting… I have a few “solar sidewalk lights”, which are basically a disk with a solar panel on top, a rechargeable battery, and an LED on the bottom. There’s also some kind of a spike to be pushed into the ground. If you have a few of these, you can bring them indoors in the evening and they’ll provide enough light for navigation (that is, not running into walls when moving about the house) and some activities. Eventually, the battery wears out, which is why I’ve been able to get a few of them for practically no money at yard sales. After I replace the battery, they work fine. Without the spike, just put the disk on top of a canning jar.

  274. re: finding a walkable community. My neighborhood is a long walk to the nearest grocery store (or 15 minutes by bicycle). However, if fuel became really expensive, I expect that some centrally-located residence would find a way through the zoning process to become a neighborhood market that the rest of us could reach on foot. One truck-load a week could substitute for a hundred individual trips. (Does anyone know whether this sort of thing has already happened, maybe in Venezuela? Or was it done in Soviet Russia? Come to think of it, a have a friend whose condo complex had a grocery store in the basement of one building.)

    So, I don’t think that suburbs will be abandoned, just because their residents can’t drive to the city. Those people with vast mown lawns today might grow something more useful than turf, when trucked-in produce & livestock becomes more expensive. The MacMansion might be subdivided for multiple families, so there would be labor for the surrounding mini-farm.

  275. DT (# 175) – How to account for the casualties of all those covert troops? COVID. They all died from COVID. What else could it be? ;D

  276. I was at a store of the dollar(plus) chains. Not unexpectedly, the shelves were bare of many items. I asked a manager about this, expecting to hear about supply chain issues. But no. Surprisingly (for me), he said that they had merchandise & people willing & able to work, BUT they were not given enough hours (by corporate, presumably) to fill the shelves. I wonder what else is going on.

  277. pygmycory – You asked “what are we buying now, while we can?” The whole-house air conditioner here is over 25 years old, and uses an obsolete refrigerant. It’s probably time for a new one. We could try to squeeze another year or two out of it, but we don’t want to run it to failure during our hot, humid mid-Atlantic summer. And who knows how long it might take to get the required components, if we did? So, not only are we going ahead with the replacement, but we’re adding heat-pump capability, so we won’t be reliant on our natural-gas furnace for routine heating. Now, the gas bills run less than $1000/year, (for comfort, hot water, and a fraction of the laundry drying), but that’s based on last year’s cost of gas, not next year’s, or the price ten years from now.
    The sales manager pointed out that we could get a “smart thermostat” which would use weather forecasts to optimally determine when to switch from heat-pump mode to gas-burner mode, at which point we said “No way! Keep it simple, and reliable.” I suppose there must be manual over-ride controls, but tying our heating system into the Internet seems too “Progressist”.

    If it makes the electric bill soar, we can add more solar panels.

    I’m also spending $2500 to repair my Saturn station wagon with an estimated “trade-in value” of about $400. I can ignore the body damage and touch-up paint, and I’d rather pay my local mechanic to keep it going than pay some distant robot to build a new one. A quick market survey suggests that I’d need to pay $20,000 more for a VW, or $40,000 more for a Volvo, with similar cargo capacity (each with 50,000 miles).

  278. Years ago I was perusing the library and came across a book: “Henley’s Formulas for Home and Workshop”. With the current situations exacerbating themselves, I found a used copy online and purchased it with the intent of copying the pages and putting it into book form. A little while later, on the Internet Archives, I found a digital copy and downloaded it. The URL is: http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924004933945 (and please consider donating).

    I still want to put this into book form and distribute to friends and family. The copyright is 1909 and I am assuming that the book is in the “public domain”. If so, has anyone done something like this before? Is anyone aware of more recent versions or this type of book?

    The generic question that follows, is where does one obtain the various list of ingredients for the various recipes, formulas, and processes? (This is more to pique people to begin asking questions.)

    I would assume there are other such books in the Internet Archive that will be useful. Is there a location of such a list on line?

    I appreciate your depth of knowledge and your dedication to helping us through the coming Long Descent!!

  279. JMG – Have you seen a 2015 book “Superforecasting” (by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner)? It’s organized around a research project which recruited volunteers to make specific forecasts about upcoming events, and found that some of them were much better at doing so than others. I doubt that much in it would surprise you: good forecasters gather information, draw conclusions, and then search for information that would disprove their conclusions. Good forecasters revise their forecasts as new information is received. and so on. I think it fits very well with your “Mentats Wanted” theme.

    The forecasting questions used in the book were time-limited (a few months into the future, not decades) by the structure of the program. They needed to be able to evaluate the accuracy of forecasts over multiple rounds, to see which participants were consistently accurate (vs. just lucky).

    The best volunteers were better at predicting than the typical professional intelligence analyst with access to non-public information. (Perhaps “with age comes wisdom”? A 65 year-old retiree might be competing against a 35 year-old freshly-hired PhD at the CIA.)

    I’m only about half-way through the book, and it occurs to me that in these days, it’s not just hard to predict the future, it’s hard to know the truth about recent history. Maybe someone should set up a contest to predict what aspects of “common knowledge” (or “main-stream narrative”) will be debunked in the next year, or ten.

  280. @ Mark L #280

    Modern technology — especially such as cellular service & the internet — simply isn’t feasible serving only the rich. Modern chip plants are only viable when manufacturing chps for everything, and everything these days requires chips, so when it goes it goes for everyone.

    I very much expect a “grand simplification” both in the chips themselves and their widespread removal from all but their most essential uses.

  281. I have skipped the last 1/4 of the comments and replies so apologies if this has been covered, but it is fine outside and I have work to do, the wallabies need fencing out so the cattle can graze what grows.

    It is striking to me that in all the conversation so far no one has observed that there is a massive demand destruction operation being conducted in full view if one cres to look. The evidence is there in the rapidly rising number of pregnacies ending in spontaneous abortion and still birth. There is increasing evidence that the covid vaccines using genetic modification technology are delivering fatal long term health impacts, such that it is in full view through the window of the life insurance industry who are noting a 40% increase in mortality in the 18-65 yr age group. That is an unprecedented jump and yet it gets not a peep in the mainstream media.

    Add in the revelations based on evidence uncovered in Ukraine by the Russian SMO that the USA has been engaging in illegal bioweapons research and the many public utterances of Klaus Schwab of the WEF and his mate Bill Gates about the need to drastically reduce global population and it is not hard to form the opinion that a small group of powerful individuals is indeed engaged in a very serious campaign of demand destruction in order to preserve dwindling resources for themselves.

    My son has been looking around for a sideline business that utilises his boiler-maker apprenticeship he has just completed. Rocket Mass stoves looks like just the thing.

    Great to see you back in this subject space, fare well.

  282. JMG, thank you for the compliment and encouragement. My concern is that social care professions won’t be paid professions in the future, what’s your take on it?

    Concerning music, it’s funny that I’m following in the tracks of both of my grandfathers who were multi-instrumentalists. Both of my parents play only one instrument for a living. I never got good enough on one instrument for a concert diploma, which was considered a weakness, but doesn’t look like one to me anymore right now. One of my grandfathers taught violin at an official school, but bassoon, piano, trumpet, double bass and maybe some others in the village where he lived. The other one played trumpet at weddings and funerals, and also earned his living by repairing any instrument. Funny that I’m getting more in that direction – the retro future is here!

  283. Hi John Michael,

    Yes, the political party of the now former government does appear to have been served notice. The leaders did seem to have a great deal of difficulty, reading the room – and there were some startling public blunders. Who can now forget the awful forced handshake after the bushfires? That was a bizarre incident.

    It is very possible that the balance of power in the Senate will be controlled by The Greens. That will be err, interesting.

    Mate, I tell you, it has been a very long and strange journey out in the wilderness. When I lived in the inner city of Melbourne I used to vote for the Greens, but then bit by slow bit, it was hard to escape the observation that there is/was very little that is environmentally or economically sustainable about those areas. Big cars, unearned income from house price rises, regular overseas jaunts. My neighbour installed three split system compressors for climate control – which incidentally faced my house so I got to hear them in action.

    I used to outrage the neighbourhood by drying clothes on a washing horse at the front of the house in the hot afternoon sun. The tiny front garden was perfect for growing vegetables. 😉 Revenge was taken when the LED fairy lights woven into the cast iron lace-work, were cut.

    After a while it kind of makes you wonder, is it them, or is it me? We moved up to the bush many years ago. And things are better there for sure, but Australia is a very urban country, the inland areas are very quiet, and most people live in cities. The weight of policy will be driven by the city folks.

    Now I guess I reside physically on the fringe, but also intellectually as well. It’s not a bad place to be, and often it provides a far better view of the complexities and hypocrisies that exist within our culture.

    I have wondered for a long time though why people wish to look away and suggest that things are otherwise? But then I can’t seem to convince people that the sun doesn’t shine at night, and you’d think that would be a no-brainer.

    Strange days, my friend, strange days.

    Cheers

    Chris

  284. Oilman2, so noted! It would be interesting to do some research into the potential of castor oil as a deindustrial biofuel crop.

    DFC, I am indeed familiar with Mackinder. His analysis was always too Eurocentric, because Ukraine is only one of two Eurasian heartlands — the other is central Asia. Watching Russia and India cut deals to fund economic expansion in Kazakhstan et al. should give a cold grue to anyone who understands geopolitics, because Russia + India + Iran + the central Asian states in the middle of the triangle make an immensely powerful position, not to mention one overwhelmingly rich in resources. Add in China, especially if China comes to its senses and settles its border issues with India, and the US and Europe become peripheral.

    Forecasting, fair enough; I don’t claim to be an investment adviser. As for Ukraine, yes, I use Moon of Alabama and the Saker for the pro-Russian viewpoint, BBC for the pro-Ukraine viewpoint, and articles in the Third World media for a neutral ground — Al-Arabiya, for example, is pretty evenhanded. I’m pretty sure that the people who think that Ukraine is winning have never learned the first thing about Russian military doctrine or the art of war generally; the Russians miscalculated early on in assuming that Zelensky would capitulate easily, but they’ve regrouped and are bringing their strengths to bear. I expect to see a Ukrainian collapse on the eastern front in the next few weeks.

    PatriciaT, hmm! Thanks for the data point.

    PeterEV, Henley’s is indeed in the public domain. It can be copied, printed, published, sold and distributed freely — and it’s an excellent book. I don’t know of either of those lists, so you might consider starting to work on one or both…

    Lathechuck, no, but I’m not at all surprised. Interesting.

    Simon, do you have some actual statistics on that, rather than anecdotes? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that were happening, but show me the numbers, please.

    Njura, given the scale of economic contraction we can expect, social care professions will have to prove that they have tangible value in order to stay funded. Of course that’s true of every other profession! Our economies have been padded outrageously with professions that don’t actually do much that’s useful, and as things contract, a lot of people will expect you to make a case for your value before they hand over the cash.

    Chris, strange days indeed. I’m quite sure that a lot of people know perfectly well that industrial civilization is ending, but they aren’t willing to let themselves think about it, and insisting that the sun shines all night is a lot easier than accepting that everything they’ve ever believed is wrong.

  285. Since the topic of the internet has come up a fair amount here, I’d like to add my thoughts on it: if, as seems likely to me, it starts having issue soon, then it seems plausible to me that the contraction of the internet could partially cancel out the contraction in jobs which would otherwise occur. Simply put, the internet enables an enormous amount of automation, and this has played a major role in the elimination of jobs for the working classes.

    This will not be a perfect outcome, but it seems to me that once things settle, the internet contracting will be a very good thing economically for a lot of people, even if there’s going to be a major psychological shock associated with it.

  286. Chris at Fernglade,
    Life will get very interesting here in Lala Land pretty soon. My take is that the Greens don’t have a clue about anything at all Green. If you want to change to an environmentally sensible way of life, live it, then try to convince me.

  287. Mark L #280

    I don’t know. I’ll take a stab at it, but at the very best these are WAGs (Wild EXPLETIVE DELETED Guesses) with some context. The context is probably more helpful than the guesses.

    1) what it really costs right now? I don’t know. The physical infrastructure from the telegraph to my Xfinity service is basically the same, insulated copper wire. The support structure is radically different from mechanical repeaters and clerks tapping out Morse code and translating it into English to warehouses full of silicon servers gobbling up energy. Currently this is paid for by adds (which don’t increase sales much because everyone is conditioned to ignore them and so sales are dropping) and investment, and stock sales.

    Best guess, the connectivity costs aren’t much more than the cost of a phone line +/- an order of magnitude. The content, hosting, searching, streaming costs? No idea. The waters are too murky to even venture a guess.

    2) a & b) monthly costs. I recommend that you look at numbeo for a couple of countires:

    https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Kaliningrad?displayCurrency=USD

    Self reported cost of living for various places. The cost of 60 MBPs is $75 where I live and $9 in Russia. I don’t know if this is rent seeking, graft, gov subsidies, or just a higher cost of living, but the cost of food staples diverge from the cost of internet (which is cheaper in Europe than the US and cheaper in the global south than in Europe)

    That said, the cost of everything is going up and the discretionary income of most of us is going down. The increase in energy prices causes an increase in all other prices* and economic contraction (stagflation strikes again) and those problems compound. Energy intensive silicon and energy intensive server farms are probably going to be more expensive in the future than other less energy intensive economic needs.

    * energy prices go up 1x, farming and mining prices go up 2x, manufacturing and transportation prices go up 4x, etc.

    So back to your actual questions. For a) my WAG would be Tier 1 15-30% of discretionary income time compounding energy multiplier X, Tier 2 10-15% * X, and Tier 3 5-10% * X. For median income individuals. The richer folks would naturally have lower percentages. Again, WAG, add some serious error bars.

    b) JMG is going to be a much better guide here. This is not a technical or energetic issue. It is a social/historical issue. But as far as I know I see his his take as being very plausible.

  288. @Lathechuck
    >> “a neighborhood market that the rest of us could reach on foot. One truck-load a week could substitute for a hundred individual trips”
    There is always a grocery in a walkable distance in Russia (for example the apartment building I live in hosts one). Even in cities people owning cars mostly walk to buy, only occasionally they do buying in bulk in big shopping centers.
    In rural places it is even more the case — a considerable part of older people there are not car owners. If a settlement is big enough, there is usually a market place where once a week people from other places (often from quite a distance) come to sell things from vans and trucks. For a small village of a dozen of houses or so, there is a thing called “auto-lavka” meaning “auto – mini grocery” coming twice a week.

  289. Thanks for your thoughts, the data is summarised here: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2022/02/24/life-f24.html. They reference an number of sources for the hard data. Not my favourite journalistic enterprize but a good summary of this issue. My other source of information on the subject is here: http://t.me/ReinerFuellmichEnglish Fuellmich was the lawyer who took on VW over their fraudulent emmissions testing and won, he also beat Duetschbank in court. He is running a “grand jury” style investigation of the whole corona virus issue and has on record a very substantial volume of testimony on the nature and effects of both the illness and the various cures, approved and otherwise. I will try and find time to locate the hard data within that site over the next few days as work permits.

    As an aside, I have a part time gig investigating insurance claim events from a technical perspective and issues around lithium ion batteries are looming large on that profession’s radar. They are very hard to extinguish when they ignite, they tend to ignite spontaneously with no warning, they produce very toxic compounds during combustion and they can reignite after being extinguished. In short they are a nightmare. A number of quite spectacular videos are doing the rounds on the net for those interested in such things.

    On the subject of insurance, is this another casualty of the deindustrial future waiting for its fatal injury? It would seem that way to me, as the trajectory you have mapped out is one of having to take personal responsibility one’s own risks rather than being able to subcontract them to others for a modest fee.

  290. When it comes to books about surviving the down turn – if you want something a little more recent I recommend David Holmgrens book Retrosuburbia. https://retrosuburbia.com/

    Takes a lot of the advice from the older materials and compiles it into a fairly large book filled with great advice. The long decent and JMG also gets a mention on page 22 and 23. 😉

    @ Chris at Fernglade Farm #298

    I will say this about the Greens. When fuel prices started to rise, they where the only ones that actually questioned the whole idea of car culture being so rampant. They are pushing for better public transport and less cars. That got a few brownie points from me. I don’t think they have any real plan to enact this but they at least have their heads vaguely in the right direction.

  291. Neptune’s Dolphins #116– Did you know that there are smartphone emulators? I didn’t until I did a search just now. There are ones from both Google – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/android-phone-emulator/chekfbgbgaldmilbljbgmhgopkfeoikn – and from Microsoft – https://microsoftedge.microsoft.com/addons/detail/android-online-emulator/hijjmnnmekolpjikikcijbgdpbnjcdam – as well as many others.
    (What brought this to mind is that ages ago, when I thought I might teach, I didn’t want to buy a TI-83 just to follow the state lesson plan, and there are [or used to be] plenty of those online)

  292. Simon (and JMG) – I’ve looked into that story about “40% increase in deaths” in the young adult population. The easily overlooked factor is that the natural death rate in that demographic is a VERY low baseline. It matters to insurance companies, because they charge appropriately low premiums for life insurance, so a 40% surge in claims is a big deal to them (and to the families of the deceased). But it’s not a big deal to the rest of us, not to the point of “demand destruction”. Some of these excess deaths are attributed to drug overdoses and suicides, as well as infectious diseases and (ahem) the mal-treatment thereof.

    The recent death rate for US residents 25-44 years old is about 200 per 100,000. 65-74 is 10x higher, and 75-84 is 2x that. (All of these rates rose slightly from 4Q2019 to 3Q2021, but only the 75+ group showed a definite bump in 2020.)

    If you’re going to talk about “demand destruction”, you should be looking at the number of survivors, not the changes in death rate.

    BTW: In looking for facts on this topic, I discovered the the CDC has a free virtual summer camp for rising 6th and 7th grade students! It’s called “Data Detectives”. They say:

    “This 1-week, 2-hour-a-day camp is an exciting opportunity for boys and girls to learn about the basics of statistics through a variety of fun, hands-on activities!

    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data-detectives-camp/index.htm

    Application deadline is May 30, camp to be held in August. Up to 15 students per session.

  293. JMG,

    How does household debt factor into your recommendations for the average household?

    With so much of current and future earnings claimed by creditors it’s hard to imagine how the average household can prepare for what is coming.

  294. To Violet, re: gardening

    Thanks for your reply. Interesting! That does sound like a symptom of this widespread attempted withdrawal from reality we’re all witnessing (as you did suggest in your initial post, which I just re-read; I may have been responding more to some of the other replies).

    I misremembered you offering seedlings in addition to seeds. Thank you for your kind offer, though! I think that’s a fantastic project.

    Jonathan.

  295. @Pseudo-Celsus

    I feel your pain. Hard to find the goldilocks city in the US. Walkable, safe, not too woke or too expensive, not too hot, wet, dry, or cold (i.e. local ag friendly), not too big (vulnerable) or too small (isolated). I believe @JMG found one of the few metros (Providence) that comes close to checking all the boxes. Pittsburgh, PA might be another? I have a hard time coming up with more than three before I encounter serious compromises.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that recent immigrant communities tend to be more woke resistant and practically minded (e.g. auto mechanics, nurses). That might be a left field option if you’re willing to deal with a bit of social discomfort. No easy answers for the long descent.

  296. JMG,

    Thinking of the comparison between President Weed and his possible real-life counterpart, I was struck by the realization that the real-life counterpart wouldn’t be at all creditable for realistic fiction. You would only find someone like him either in a bitter satire or a farce. I think this is final proof of what you said that the writers of the Babylon Bee or the (old) Onion have the worse job in the world.

  297. Liam, I could definitely see that. The kicker, of course, is that the jobs that will come back as the internet winds down are (as you pointed out) working class jobs, while the jobs in the internet industry are white collar jobs — so it’s another way in which the middle class will be losing ground. That’s another aspect of the psychological shock to come.

    Simon, many thanks for the numbers! With regard to the insurance industry, if I understand correctly, it’s very deeply intertwined with the rest of the financial industry, and so will doubtless crash and burn as that does. (And it will, of course.)

    Michael, thanks for this.

    GlassHammer, I’ve been saying for years that getting out of debt is an essential part of basic preparation for the mess we’re in. At this point it’s too late for most of those who didn’t listen, but you know, I did what I could.

    John, I know. It’s a reliable source of wry amusement among authors of fiction that the real world so often gets away with things that no editor would let a writer get away with.

  298. JMG,

    For what it’s worth some listened (me included).

    Still it feels bad knowing that debt will probably be the thing that takes down many families and communities.

  299. In my last comment I meant to say credible, instead of creditable; but you know, I think either works. 😁

  300. Yeah, I’m going with “good riddance” to the majority of the internet. Rolling back to usenet levels or (even more old school) bulletin board system is fine with me. I am perfectly happy to subscribe to JMG’s BBS when we are down to that.

    As for brewing beer, I got into that a few years ago because my absolute favorite beer, the ESB, is only widely available in the US. (Popular in England – think an IPA but less hoppy and you can still taste the malts. A perfect balance IMHO.) It’s pretty easy to make a decent beer with a little patience and properly cleaned equipment. For those of you like me in upstate New York hard cider is worth doing. It’s easier than beer (just go to your local orchard and get the raw cider and ferment with aggressive yeast for about a month. I like my cider super dry, and you just can’t get that at the store. For winter, ferment with a bag of mulling spices during the last two weeks. You can even do sparkling cider if you add some brown sugar or real maple syrup before bottling. Of note, brown sugar goes very well with the mulling spices.

  301. >I expect there to be naval vessels powered by biodiesel into the far future, and ultralight aircraft (probably powered by ethanol) for scouting purposes

    If you have enough of the right kind of fuel to turn a diesel sub, you have enough to turn a turbine powered aircraft too. They essentially run off the same sort of fuels. Or can be made to. I seem to remember people in the 70s playing with running diesel engines off of coal dust slurries as well. Ah, the 70s.

    Some of the drones use piston engines and those have already taken over the role of observer aircraft in general, as I understand things. It’s not too much trouble to get a piston engine to run on alcohol. Probably won’t be ultralights, just your ordinary drones running on E85 or E100 instead.

    I suspect if things really go backwards, you’d probably see those WW1 tethered balloons again, with some guy sitting in the basket and talking on a tube or a radio. They looked goofy but were cheap and effective in their day, as I understand things.

  302. Re: debt

    I keep seeing advice to pay off all debt to prepare for what might be coming, but that doesn’t necessarily make sense to me, so I’ll throw this out there to see if anyone can change my mind…

    We have a mortgage on our property. Its outstanding balance is about 40% of the property value at current bubble-top prices. We also have financial assets amounting to half of the remaining balance, so we could pay off a large fraction of it if desired. The property has a second small dwelling, which we rent to family at about half of market rate but it still covers half of the monthly mortgage payment.

    My thought is that inflation will shrink the value of the mortgage, and the fixed interest rate is already lower than inflation. Rather than paying down as much debt as possible it seems more prudent to me to hang onto our assets, attempt to invest them to keep up with inflation, spend money on projects to improve resilience, and otherwise maintain a reserve that can be used to keep the mortgage paid and keep us afloat in the event of job loss, surprise expenses, relocation, etc.

    Can anyone make a case as to why paying down as much debt as possible right now might really be the best course of action given what might be coming down the pipe?

    @team10tim

    Thanks for taking a WAG shot at answering my questions!

    It occurs to me that part of the problem arises from the fact that different aspects of the IT world reach physical limits at different times at which point energy use scales with further expansion. So we have smartphones that are 100x faster than 1990s computers and also use 20x less energy and contain less embodied energy/resources, which makes us feel like energy use is decreasing. But when it comes to the “pipes” and data center hard drives and routing hardware that operates behind the scenes, it has been necessary to increase the physical footprint and energy usage in order to keep up with increased throughput, such that the per-user cost of the Internet has grown substantially with much of these costs covered by the Ponzi scheme of big tech companies.

  303. @thread – re: making friends with some weeds, and pulling others out systematically. Yes, I have success with this as well. Similarly, anything with nettles gets pulled. The other thing I pull with prejudice are dandelions, at the base they have the star-petalled leaves that cover the ground. Ants and other insects love to nest there. They also grow in chains, usually the bulbs come up and respout. Eventually the plant will give up if you keep pulling out its sprouts, and the entire root chain comes up. Plants are interesting. On a few occasions I have had interesting experiences with bushes and trees where I can ‘feel’ a callout. The plants near me often have a neglectful scaffolding; such as growing through constraining water pipes, ties, or stakes. One bush was in distress because a plastic ‘thorn’ had grown into the trunk of her root that I dug it out of her. This pine tree me has grown through a canvas ring, that is embedded now in folds of sap and pine bark, impossible to remove at this point. Eventually as the tree swells this will shear off.

    @HappyPanda – I am enjoying your enthusiasm. I think you are onto something interesting. May be aware of the medical school effect; where you are double diagnosing. 🙂
    Similarly, it may be of interest to consider a Vedic Yugic cycle to America’s national history. Revolution-Civil War Krita; Civil War to Depression-WWII Treta; WWII-New Deal to 2010-2020 Dvaparra; now the United States is in a change of Yuga from Dvaparra to a Kali Yuga.
    One thing that strikes me is how so many of these frameworks have inauspicious readings right now. Mr. Greer has referenced his inauspicious horoscope reading of the Biden presidency, though I have not read the details.

  304. @ Alice # 248 For your brother and future sister in law: I finally bought a KitchenAid stand mixer after lusting for one for many years. As a result, my production of baked goods has doubled: it’s a lot easier to mix a couple pounds of bread dough or cookie dough with the mixer. We have lots of specialized kitchen equipment in the back of various closets (Pasta maker! Juicer!), but the stand mixer is out on the counter and used lots. Also, if you hanker for it, there’s lots of attachments for cutting/slicing/grating etc, (grind your beer hops; make pasta!). I would suggest the 6 qt. Pro series, the top end of the consumer line.
    Slightly on a different, but definitely Ecosophian, subject: whilst at the wedding of a friend’s son several years back, I realized that I was partaking in a magic ritual: the creation of a new family. Blessings for the new family to be joined to yours.

  305. So the question I keep asking here and there is “What will happen when the electricity goes off for longer and longer times? How will people stay warm in winter, cool in summer?” With climate change and ever-stronger winds blowing trees onto power lines, I believe this will happen sooner than later.
    Last night here on the North Coast of Maine, our Canadian supplier of power, Versant of somewhere out Western Canada near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, had a power outage of some hours. It was in the 40’s, but I have a wood stove so stayed perfectly warm and went to sleep not caring if the power came back on or not.
    What will you do if the power goes out in mid-winter at about zero degrees? Really, people are refusing to even think seriously about this. Yes, one can have a gas-driven generator which lasts a few days or whatever, but there will be no more gasoline if the power is still out because gas pumps run on electricity, too.
    Remember last winter when over 200 people died in Texas/Louisiana when a cold surge shut down their electricity for a couple of weeks or so…people froze to death and starved, as well.
    So, let’s at least talk about this – your ideas beyond the primitive wood-burning stove? Nothing fancy tech or expensive, mind you – something do-able and affordable for regular people……..anyone?

  306. There’s a good explanation as to why nuclear power plants will not rescue humanity from the energy crisis. Start in at 17:00 of this video of Nate Hagens interviewing Dr. Simon Michaux:

  307. I look out at my garden and see
    one cabbage looper
    and two wasps.

    And the cabbages are doing great.

    Grover

  308. Kyle at 181 recommended an essays by Sacasas. I found that essay interesting enough, but I am really grateful that it contained a reference to Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. I am not sure about JMG’s opinion of this book, but reading it so far has already begun answering a lot of questions I have been asking on this blog for years, specifically about the difference between Renaissance and modern philosophy and science.

  309. DFC (no. 286), Halford Mackinder’s conclusions were controversial even in his own day–his “Heartland” theory is often contrasted with Nicholas Spykman’s “Rimland,” which emphasizes naval power (this better describes the British Imperial and US strategy)–and subsequent technological advances (e.g. ICBMs) have surely changed the strategic calculus since then. The idea of a Central Eurasian state dominating the major civilizational centers–China, India, the Middle East, and Europe–may have worked all right for the Mongols, but the Soviets couldn’t manage it, and I wouldn’t expect the Federal Russians to do any better. China has ambitions in this direction, but are likely to hit limits.

  310. @JMG #283 on Speculative De-Industrial Military “History”

    I for one would love to hear more of your speculation on this beyond what you included in Retrotopia, but I suspect that’s rather off-topic for this post, and might warrant a post of its own. Maybe as a 5th Wednesday topic sometime?

    If I might ask one more specific question on the subject (and I totally understand if the answer is “some other time on some other post!”): as I was reflecting on your comment, I wondered what kinds of small arms (if any) will be a part of the de-industrial future. Muskets were pre-industrial, and traditional smiths/workshops were able to produce them en masse, even if they were a new idea (see Japan between the establishment of Portuguese missions and the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate).

    Since then, I know that most advances in gun design have relied on precision machining and/or industrial scale (things like metal cartridges, belts/magazines, better chambers, better rifling). Off the top of my head, I’d guess a suite of weapons that look broadly similar to mid-late 19th century: paper/cloth cartridges, maybe percussion caps, decently (but not amazingly) rifled barrels, and a return to heavier calibers due to less efficient chambers resulting in less velocity.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

  311. Hi John Michael,

    Exactly. I’ve long considered that the systems and infrastructure which are in place are so good, that few people understand them. It kind of reminds me of the core concepts of some of the Asimov novels. It’s just not funny when you do have first hand experience, and people dismiss it because they’ve got this here model which suggests otherwise. Far out.

    Hey, the bedlam in Sri Lanka is getting worse. And I’ve noticed they’re experiencing something (horridly so) that I’ve long been banging on about. Industrial fertilisers produce higher yields. I thought that would be obvious, but no, it’s a sun at night belief system. Sri Lanka Prime Minister warns of food shortages amid economic crisis and lack of fertiliser.

    Hi JillN,

    The Greens have little representation in the bush. In fact the word is used as a slur, as I discovered many years ago. Did you notice that the results produced a huge divide between the bush and urban results?

    Hi Michael,

    Mate, I’m more than happy for them all to give it a go – and find out for themselves the hard way. I use public transport, and one thing I noted about the whole health subject which dares not be named, was that car ownership was encouraged and public transport usage had declined. The problem is that habits are hard to break.

    I’ve met the bloke, he’s really lovely. My view is a little bit darker and that might be implemented Detroit style, where you simply deconstruct every second house to make way for growing space and recover the materials for other uses. But otherwise the houses have eaten the city land. Take a look at a suburban housing estate, or even the inner areas of Melbourne and the houses are so huge that there is little free land on each of the blocks. I dunno man.

    Cheers

    Chris

  312. Mental health care under expectedly harsh circumstances is something that I’ve been concerned about, since health statistics show rising rates of clinical depression, especially in adolescents and young adults. Who’s got time and money for a psychotherapist in a post-carbon world? However, I heard (much of) Krista Tippet’s “On Being” interview with Kimberley Wilson this morning. The program was titled “Whole Body Mental Health”. To condense an hour of conversation into a few words, Wilson claims that recent research in neuroscience supports the idea that there are correctable material factors driving mental illness: poor nutrition, lack of exercise, urban “confinement”, and social media… all factors which will necessarily diminish during the decline of our empire.

    I hesitate for a moment to assert that nutrition will improve, with starvation being an option for the unprepared, but malnutrition isn’t necessarily a lack of calories. Our excess of calories in highly-refined, processed and preservative-laced patented concoctions of unpronounceable components is mal-nourishment, too. Eating lower on the food chain would be good for many of us.

    (Speaking of “highly-refined” foods… we probably think that the parts we eat are the high-value fraction from the “refinery”. Well, do you eat the nutritious “germ” of the wheat, or just the starchy white flour? Which is cheaper? Which one do farmers, who depend on healthy animals, pay for?)

  313. To Jeff;

    I’ve had similar thoughts about firearms after the fall. It comes down to how far is the fall. If you can make a percussion cap, then you can make a primer. Brass cases were available by the end of the Civil War.

    The big question was whether you can make a nitrocellulose based (smokeless) powder. If so, then nothing really changes. The 7mm Mauser is from the 1890s, as was the 303 Enfield and the 30-40 Krag, with the 30-06 just a bit later in 1906.

    If we have to go back to black powder, then it’s back to the 45 Colt and 45-70. The 22 LR, 38 Special, 44-40, 38-55, 32-40, etc etc were all black powder cartridges.

    If they can no longer make primers then it’s back to flintlocks. One thing to remember is that rifled barrels existed centuries before breech loaders. The military didn’t use rifled barrels because they fouled more, and needed cleaning more often. But the frontiersmen had them as they were shooting at dinner. There was no second shot anyway.

    On YouTube C&Rsenal has a series on firearms development in the late 1800s. The three big changes were magazine fed rifles, smokeless powder, and the advent of smokeless powder led to the adoption of small bore (less than 8mm) cartridges as the fouling problem went away.

    Earlier today I watched a presentation on the Army’s new 6.8 X 51 cartridge. It has about 10% better performance than a 270 Winchester in a smaller case. The 270 came out in the 1920s. For those who don’t know, the 270 is a 30-06 case necked down to .277 inches which is 6.8 mm.

  314. Mark L,

    Given just how many people use it today, it’s almost impossible to function in any Western nation without using the internet, and it’s impossible to do so and live anything resembling a normal life. It is, however, possible to live something which superficially resembles a normal life using your Tier 3 (something like the internet of 1994). Most of the real benefits of the internet are from a handful of relatively lightweight applications: email, blogs, search engines, online encyclopedias, etc.

    These form the core of the internet’s useful functions, and in a society which faces serious resource and energy shortages, there’d be a very real appeal in cutting down on expenses without sacrificing core functionality; if this is the course the internet evolves in, then something like the Tier 3 Internet could be viable in urban areas for another few decades: the infrastructure is there, and the alternatives will take a while to get up and running anyway, especially now that so long has passed that a lot of people can’t remember how things were done, and a lot more are barely able to remember, having gone so long using the Internet for everything. It’s not the structure any sane person would design, but it would function, and avoid the costs of building new infrastructure and learning new skills while facing major shortages. Add in the other ways the 1994 internet was rationed (ex: costs on per byte used; using phone lines [which serve another function]; and limits for how long people can use it at a time), and you’d have a system which could conceivably function for quite a while.

    Add in a transition period, during which we use Tier 2, and there’s even a process for getting there without too much disruption to most people in terms of daily life. This would, however, cut to the core of its role as the final Talisman of Progress. If, instead, the comfortable classes try to cling to the Internet as it currently stands, then I could easily see a case where a lot of people cling to Tier 1, and do so even as lots of other people start to lose internet access. This, however, would gut the internet’s viability in at least three ways: the fewer people who use it, the less valuable it is for those who do; some of the costs of the internet are fixed, and so the fewer people who use it the more it’ll cost them (to the extent they can’t offload to society as a whole, a strategy which may stop working as well as it has in the near future); and at the same time, the people who lose access will figure out how to function without it, thus ensuring that the alternatives are available for people who lose it or walk away from it for whatever reason.

    At the moment, I expect to see the comfortable classes cling to the internet, but am willing to be surprised.

  315. I told myself I would drop this subject but now I feel I need to admit to the board I’m eating crow. I should have gone back and watched some of Abhigya’s older videos first.

    It looks like Abhigya is saying it’s at the end of this decade/beginning of next (2029 – 2032) that there’s a strong possibility of WW3 beginning. Before that, no.

    So I am breathing a sigh of relief. I was wondering why JMG had not mentioned it as I’m sure if his charts showed WW3 he’d at least give a heads up to everyone before hand.

    Also…2029 is still quite a ways off. if it hasn’t happened yet then there’s a good chance there may yet be time for things to change. I know prayer is often mocked but it’s an act of Consciousness and Will so there may yet be time if enough people do something like that – directing their Consciousness to wish well being for all living things – it can divert humanity to a better trajectory. And of course the Kala Sarpa will have long been over by 2029-2032.

    Anyway…here’s the vid that has me eating crow (and wow…am I happy I’m doing so!)

  316. @Happy Panda,

    Lee Camp, a comedian who bears a passing resemblance to a grassroots journalist, has talked a bit about US direct involvement. He has a youtube channel. I hate to even mention it here since his other channel got deleted by youtube (It was called [Redacted] Tonight). So now he’s spread out over a bunch of platforms trying to not get deleted again, but you can tell it hit him pretty hard.

    https://youtu.be/aBZ-ya2sJT8

    This video shows a French report that the US is “in charge” on the ground in Ukraine. Not just that they are fighting, but they are leading the fighting.

    As far as comedy, it’s crass and heavy on the toilet humor for my taste, but he’s not terrible. I watch for the journalism though.

    Sincerely
    Jessi Thompson
    anotheramethyst

  317. @nancy #302

    Harden your home as much as feasable. So, Texas had a problem during the freeze that pipes were not insulated in that climate, they burst and flooded a house that had no heat. We should look at our situation and plan for things outside of our normal parameters. So, insulate your pipes even if in CA, Texas, Florida. Harden your house. Insulate. If you are prepared you will not freeze in your house if the temperature is freezing ( so 32’F) even if no heat. You need to have good blankets, warm clothes, wool. you need everyone to be in one room and make a room within a room. A fort. either set up the camping tent in the living room, or put all the couch cushions around the kitchen table and be in this shelter inside your house. Everyone, the dog, with blankets. Nail any extra sheet or blanket or plywood over the window, etc…. My daughter and a friend just camped out over night in the sierras in the back of her station wagon. When I was her age, I slept in a bare uninsulated metal panel van with 3 others, no heat, in Tahoe when it was snowing. We did not freeze.

    learn how to boil water in many ways, practice ( your regular stove, a camp stove, an outdoor couple bricks rocket stove with sticks) make sure you have a way to start fires. Make warm drinks at least even if you have little fuel and eat the canned soup unheated.

    Hopefully, if you live in a very cold climate where it is more easily deadly you will have ALOT of backup heat source ( build a cheap rocket stove in your house if you have to — now. Collect pallets and break up and stack for firewood if nothing else is there — now) If you live in a very cold climate and rent a small apartment, then know where the warming stations will be, and go. This is an emergency. Emergency shelters should be set up in an auditorium or somewhere. It is easier for a community to deal with everyone in one or two spots to keep from freezing that to try and provide backup power to all households.

    For heat, there are community cooling plans for emergencies too, find out, check on your elderly neighbors when you go to take them too. A cool cloth around your neck, on the back of your neck will keep you very cool, just keep getting it wet and wring out. Do your shirt too if needed. These are evaporative cooling. Works even better if you fold a paper fan and fan your wet self. Stay hydrated. You should store water of course.

  318. @Mark #317

    A good reason to pay off the mortgage or pay down is that you do not know what the future will bring. For me, I was divorced and disabled, that was not in my plan. because my mortgage was so very very low, I did not become unhoused. I do not regret anything I did before becoming disabled that kept my expenses low ( paying down most of house, good windows, etc…) I had so little of a clue that my circumstances would change, that I was one of the early Solar adaptors( 23 years ago) , solar hot water and a small, very small compared to todays systems, solar electric were in and paid for before I became disabled. We had even bought a used, catalytic converter efficient wood stove. Boy it was sure easier when I became single and broke and unable to work to have very little expenses.

    I would keep some money for your emergency fund. Buying a good woodstove or building a rocket stove, good curtains and basic insulation should be done too. Then, paying down the mortgage is great insurance !

  319. GlassHammer, I know. I did what I could, but there as so often, most people weren’t paying attention.

    Chris, when I have a BBS I’ll make sure there’s room for all the homebrewers!

    Owen, sure, but fuel isn’t the only limitation you face in jet engines; they require far more in the way of resource inputs, infrastructure, and expertise than a basic diesel engine. Nor will drones be an option when computer technology (another gargantuan resource hog) has dropped out of widespread use; having a pilot and an observer up there in the plane is a much more efficient use of resources in a deindustrial setting. Ultralights are much more versatile than observation balloons, since they can go against the wind.

    Mark, having a mortgage is fine if (a) you know for certain that you won’t suffer a significant loss of income, and (b) you know for certain that whoever holds your mortgage won’t sell it to someone who changes the terms on it unilaterally — say, by requiring payment in some other currency that’s appreciating relative to the dollar; such things happen in inflationary economic crises. (Oh, and I trust it’s a fixed-interest mortgage.) Getting rid of a mortgage removes a potential vulnerability, but I’m more concerned with getting people out of the rut of dependence on consumer debt of the credit-card variety.

    Nancy, good. You’re paying attention. Loss of electricity will happen sooner and more severely in rural areas than in cities, but it’ll happen.

    Jfisher, if you’ve got a transcript, that would be helpful; I loathe videos.

    Grover, glad to hear it.

    Yooper, good heavens. Long time no see; welcome back!

    Matthias, I haven’t read it yet, but I think I need to fix that.

    Jeff, my working guess is that the small arms of the deindustrial future will look like what would have happened if early 19th century small arms had been allowed to evolve on their own without the impact of the coal age — that’s the industrial scale, the precision machining, and the rest of it. Imagine Colt revolvers and Henry rifles refined by master gunsmiths for generations and you’ve got a good approximation. Just as swords underwent steady improvements from late Roman times straight through the Dark Ages, I would expect the small arms of 30th-century North America to be fine weapons, as efficient as handcraft gunsmithing methods can make them.

    Chris, yes, I’ve been watching the fertilizer situation very closely. Fun times. 🙁

    Lathechuck, for what it’s worth, I expect that to be an important factor, but only when the current situation unravels far enough — and we’re not there yet.

  320. Hey jmg

    Concerning the loss of the internet and service based jobs, what do you think will happen to big Ebook vendors like iBooks and kindle? How long will they last ?
    And what will happen to retail and supermarket jobs like trolley-pushing? How safe are they?

  321. @forecasting #242, and anyone else who wants to brew.
    My go to bible for modern brewing is Radical Brewing, been using it for a decade, great book. That being said, modern brewing requires grains that may very well be going for food instead of beer sometime in the near future. Also ,commercial grade yeasts require lab equipment, and refrigeration. Don’t know how long that will make sense. I really recommend Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers, it’s a great read and shows you how to make beer out of just about anything, and I mean just about anything. Tapioca pearls make a pretty tasty brew, so do corn kernels, apparently so do corn stalks, though I’ve never grown enough corn to try that one. If you really want to go gangbusters, Make Mead Like a Viking is great, as is the Alaskan Bootlegger’s Bible. Brewing is simple, I’ve found that many people are afraid of the beer not turning out just exactly perfect, get flustered, overwhelmed, and quit. Just relax and make some beer!

  322. @Jessi Thompson #332

    OMG! So my friend was right! French journalists also saw what he saw? That Americans are the ones in charge of the ground fighting and participating directly against Russia. That’s pretty much what he said too. Plus they didn’t try to hide it on the flight home.

    If they’re trying to control journalist access it’s a slam dunk for me that the U.S. Deep State is absolutely behind not letting the American people know the country is in yet another war. It’s certainly not the Ukrainians calling the shots in this latest war. Interesting that Europe is getting footage of this but never a peep in the U.S. itself. You have to go to an obscure board (sorry JMG 😛 ) to find out about it. Why am I not surprised…

  323. One final thing about the Abhigya prediction. I’m not happy about the potential for WW3 in 2029-2032 according to his charts but I have a hunch that very soon the first stirrings of the Second Religiosity will take off as people reach for that Old Time Religion – with lots of prayer – to help them cope with the slide down. If people do that then there is a pretty good chance WW3 can be deflected into something less dire. It may not completely divert it but it might well turn a grand-scale conflict into something lower-grade.

    The stars incline, they do not compel.

  324. @Atmospheric River @JMG

    Thanks for your responses to my mortgage debt question. I think we’re fairly well insulated against losing the house due to loss of income (the rental aspect helps with that), but I hadn’t thought about the situation where the mortgage gets sold to someone else who imposes new terms (like 10% interest and no overpayment allowed). If that starts happening frequently I’ll take it as a sign to pay down as much as possible…

    I’m not sure it would actually be legal, but thinking about it one way the “own nothing and be happy” crowd might gobble up a whole lot of homes would be to buy up all of the mortgages in a time of economic crisis to bail out the banks and then impose unreasonable payment plans and interest rates, forcing foreclosures or sale to cash buyers.

  325. @Lathechuck

    “Eating lower on the food chain would be good for many of us.”

    Algae and Seaweed has a lot of potential. Just like Wheat grown on Land. Algae harvested from Aquaculture has the same potential.

    Mushrooms too.

  326. @Jonathan,

    I appreciate your sentiments and I understand why you think that way, but…

    The vast majority of new mothers try to exclusively breastfeed and only resort to formula because they have to. (Yes, this is a big change compared to mothers 50 years ago). The main obstacle to exclusive breastfeeding is our abysmal family leave policies and the fact that it takes 2 incomes to raise a family now. That much time away from the baby is a daunting hurdle for milk production, but it’s not the only one. I’m sure environmental exposure to toxins and endocrine disrupters don’t help, and many women have other reasons why they can’t or choose not to. Also, lactation consultants are good at supporting breastfeeding but many other doctors such as pediatricians are not well informed about breastfeeding and will accidentally give bad advice as a result, often recommending supplemental formula when it’s not needed (mainly because there are many times when it is needed and they are trying to cover their bases, because from a pediatric standpoint a formula fed infant is always better than an underfed infant, which is true… but they also tend to err on the side of caution, which is to err on the side of formula). And supplemental formula is one of the things that can cause you to not produce enough milk for your baby, because your body produces less milk when the baby demands less milk, which can start a vicious cycle.

    Yes, theoretically, moms can use a breast pump at work. In reality, you have to pump for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours to make enough milk for the baby. Most jobs don’t give you that much extra down time, even if they are technically required to do so. (Though cushy PMC jobs do tend to provide this more than working class jobs do). And if you’re not making enough milk and need to make more, then you need to pump even more than that. Breast pumps are not as good at removing milk as babies are.

    And once the milk dries up, it’s gone.

    So no, just telling moms to breastfeed is not going to fix this (though lactating moms in the process of weaning could alleviate a small fraction of the problem by providing donor milk), though one can make a compelling argument that the formula shortage is yet another consequence of all the ways our societal systems fail the humans who rely on those systems. Because society fails to support new parents, it fails to provide adequate medical care or healthy foods (rich in micronutrients) for everyone, It fails to provide adequate resources so that families can support themselves, it fails to support communities to come together to help families. And now it is failing to provide the products it has touted as the solutions to the problems it created.

    So yeah, a world with breastmilk for all babies would be nice, but that’s just not where we live. Honestly, I think the Great Resignation probably did more to promote breastfeeding than the formula shortage can. Even still, I promise you if it were possible to “just switch to breastfeeding” if you can’t find formula, the shortage never would have made it to the news, it would have been over so fast. So many people seem to think switching to breastfeeding is like “Restaurant’s closed? Learn to make a home cooked meal.” But it’s more like “Grocery store’s closed? I hope you planted some seeds three months ago.”

    Sincerely,
    Jessi Thompson
    anotheramethyst

  327. @ Mark L: In his book “Wealth, War and Wisdom” Barton Biggs does touch on this strategy for prospering during inflation: he says that buying real, productive assets with borrowed money and then waiting for inflation to reduce the real value of the debt has been a successful strategy in the past.

    The only catch: if you get your predictions wrong, and economic chaos brings deflation rather than inflation where you are, the same mechanism works in reverse to ruin you.

  328. Mark L – I paid off my mortgage ahead of schedule, but not by putting everything into it. You need to have an emergency fund, and you need to invest in whatever you can find that will reduce your operating expenses (e.g., home insulation, high-efficiency heating, etc.) But, when you get to the point of asking “mortgage vs. bank CDs, stocks, bonds, crypto-currencies, etc.?” bear in mind that “The System” thought that its best risk vs. reward ratio was to invest in your mortgage. If you respect its intelligence (not always valid, but worth considering), then you can make the same move: invest in your own mortgage. Whatever interest rate you’re paying is the guaranteed return on the money you put into it.

    When taking out the mortgage, we had a choice of a shorter term with higher payments, or a longer term with lower payments. We chose the longer term. We thought of the lower payment as a minimum payment, if we fell on hard times, then made larger actual payments anyway and paid it off way ahead of schedule. It’s a lot easier to flex your payment higher (when you can), than lower (when you must). Flexibility is a value all its own.

  329. Hi John Michael,

    I learned about yields the hard way. The only way to overcome this not insignificant matter is to invest in the soil, and then continue to do so. And then return everything you can get your hands on that was once alive into the soil. I joke about going to the toilet away from the farm, except I’m not really joking. 🙂

    Hey, I dunno whether you guys over there are seeing this, but how’s this for a bellwether? An insurance policy turned up in the post today, and from now on all communications are digital, and I have to log onto their customer portal system. All for my convenience, apparently. Far out, my systems are good for remembering and handling such things, but sooner or later due to the increasing complexity in these sorts of arrangements, I’ll completely stuff one of them up. Yikes!

    Cheers he says, a touch nervously, with a side serving of an ‘Ook!’ for good measure!

    Chris

  330. re: loss of electricity – I live in a rural area of PA and we lose electric at least once a year for 3-5 days at a time for the past 20 years. Reason for so much power loss is lack of maintenance of power lines. Trees have grown into the lines and no one trims them. Storms come through, branches or whole trees fall, and power goes out until crews come and fix them. Since we have a well pump that runs on electric this means we don’t have water as well as heat and electric.

    To deal with it, we have a 35 gallon barrel of water in the basement on a furniture moving trolley (12″x12″ and only $7 at Harbor Freight over a decade ago) so it can be moved to the sink to fill up and then stored out of place. We also have 7 gallon containers stored around the house, plus a case of those horrid plastic bottles we rotate through once a year.

    For cooking we have various kinds of methods – charcoal grill, small camp stove, propane burner – which we can use outside, and a small sterno camp stove to heat up small meals inside. A couple of plastic bins help with washing up dishes, and paper plates on standby in case we run low on water.

    For heating, a wood stove, for cooling sleeping in the basement.

    My neighbors have invested in whole house generators. They were $3k-$4k to buy and install, and I’m guessing much more now. Plus they need a fuel source, either propane or gasoline. One neighbor was spending $80 a day on gas, back when gas was $2.50 a gallon or less, so that’s 35 gallons a day. What a waste! Not to mention generators need maintained and parts might be hard to come by.

    Of course other neighbors just leave and try to find a hotel. They can’t fathom that hotels might not have electric too.

    Until people don’t mind looking poor or doing something simple, they are going to suffer from the upcoming fluctuations in everything. People in cities are going to suffer the most because they have the worst administrations and the decay to infrastructure is growing exponentially. High rises without working elevators and unable to pump water and sewage are well past their prime.

  331. Hi John,

    I recall, years ago, when reading your books during your Peak oil period of writing, that when the blackouts arrived in the developed world would be a key point in the Long Descent.

    Well, Bloomberg, one of the few media outlets that does a decent job reporting energy/commodity related stories, has this latest on the risks of power cuts in America this Summer (its already a regular thing in the developing world).

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-05-22/summer-blackouts-bring-deadly-risk-as-heatwaves-grip-the-globe?srnd=premium-europe&sref=TcU37Chj

    It certainly feels that we are going through one of those nasty lurches lower in the collapse of industrial civilisation.

  332. >Can anyone make a case as to why paying down as much debt as possible right now might really be the best course of action given what might be coming down the pipe?

    I get the basic idea, let hyperinflation do the work for you. That rental, you may find can carry everything at some point in the future as rents almost always track inflation. However, there’s a catch to that, historically, banks have negotiated clawbacks and reset mortgages and put their debtors back on the hook, when they started paying things off during the most obvious parts of the hyperinflation. You can argue about corruption and fairness etc but I’m just telling you what happened in the past.

    Paying it off now could mean you don’t get subject to the clawbacks if they happen.

    In any case, credit dries up when the banks figure out that lending money is pointless because it loses value faster than they can up the interest rate. So if you think you need to borrow money or pay it off, now is probably the time to do it, IMHO.

  333. @Jastin and JMG,

    I haven’t tried to fight dandelions as they are edible, but also where I am they can’t spray for them anymore with pesticides and so, as the Beach Boys might say, they get around. Supposedly they are important for bees early in the year, or at least everyone’s favorite local flowers/invasive concerned citizens brigade insist thus.

    In bee news I *think* I spotted a bee flying into our “rot pile” (not hovering around it as they usually do) which makes me wonder if they might have a nest built in some of the spaces inside it. That is potentially very exciting news!

    We had a bumble bee nest last year on our property, but unfortunately it was in our wall, and worse luck, we actually needed to get into that space for something and so I had to call a bee guy to come remove the queen. He was an interesting and entertaining character, and we talked for a long time about all sorts of things, but on the topics of bees he said generally we were doing the right thing and was happy to see how many bees we had flying about the place. The last two years there have been so many that I had to learn how to just work in the same spaces as them, often with us bumping into each other. I don’t know what they make of me, but they haven’t stung me or my kids yet.

    Our neighbours across the street each got stung last year, the youngest kid actually got a an unfortunate sting on his eyelid which swelled it shut, but I think it’s because they try to chase them away which often turns them into adversaries. I grew up with lots of wasps and they patiently taught me how to not trigger them by stinging me many times until I got the message.

    @Nancy

    I posted about this in the comments a couple weeks ago, but during power outages in South Korea several winters ago families took to sleeping together in tents inside their living rooms. This gave them a space that they could heat with their own bodies. If you don’t have a tent it might be a good idea to purchase one, just in case.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/cold-korean-families-moving-tents-2013-1

    There are some good youtube videos on energy/heat conservation made by people who have investigated lots of techniques. I know with windows and doors often they seal windows off with saran wrap and then hang blankets over top. Also they seal off parts of the house so that they are only trying to heat smaller areas.

    A couple weeks ago I mentioned something else that is relevant to your question. There is a method of recycling empty pop/beer etc cans into passive solar heaters. There are a lot of videos on how to do this and also several websites on it. If you lack the skills to take care of the task maybe you could find somebody to hire to build one or two of these for you. At worst you store them away and never need them.

    This is an example page on the topic I just found, but there are loads and with lots of variations on scale and construction methods etc: https://faircompanies.com/articles/building-a-solar-heater-with-recycled-cans/

    Thanks,
    Johnny

  334. Hmm…

    Armstrong Economics’ Socrates program is saying 2032 is the year the financial hub of the world will shift to Asia. He thinks that means it’s going to be China. He’s probably right but sometimes history intervenes with surprises.

    https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/world-news/geopolitical/is-america-committing-the-sin-of-athens/

    So the Vedic stars are pointing to 2029-2032 and Socrates Pi algorithm is pointing to 2032. Well it may not prevent a shift to Asia but 2032 is even further off than 2029. Still time to adapt doing things that JMG has discussed for getting ready for a less Store-Bought future. And slightly more time to take up spiritual practices like JMG and other people recommend that can deflect things into a better future.

    I personally envision the future as one where DIY is normalized instead of the more hobbyist version touted on HGTV.

    I have a White Rotary treadle sewing machine ready to go so I can have a skill for trade once things get ‘Great Depression’ hard. I’ve been busy canning a little bit too though my supplies for it are small. I’ve gone back to old-school washing/drying clothes by hand (bucket, hand scrubbing, hand wringing then hanging out to air dry). That one was kind of forced on me because my apartment’s management company have let the on-site washers and dryers die (all of them!) and have not replaced them. They used to send out repair people for a while to fix them but maybe the parts are no longer available. Money must be tight because they haven’t bothered to replace the broken machines either.

    I’ve also begun reading Studs Terkels Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression [ISBN: 0394427742] and Adam Fergusson’s book, When Money Dies. [ISBN: 9781586489946].

    My next project is learning some older food storage methods like making home-made sundried tomatoes, dried apples, etc. Also on the list of possible things to learn – making dye and paint the old fashioned way. I like to draw and paint – have done so since I was a kid – but I don’t know how much longer there will be affordable commercially produced acrylic and oil paints. I’m going to see if the library has any of the following books: Make Ink: A Forager’s Guide to Natural Inkmaking [ISBN: 1419732439] , The Wild Dyer [ISBN: 1616898410] and The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, Prints and More from Nature [ISBN: 1592539262].

    And thank you to the teresa from hershey #133 for mentioning the Tightwad Gazette! I was happy to discover my library has a copy so I’m going to pick it up. 🙂 I’m a tightwad already becomes my income is so low but I’m always up to see if I can learn something new. The internet is one of the very few luxuries I permit myself but I’m old enough to remember life without it. It won’t be that big a shock going back to life without it if it goes away.

  335. Re: Algae & seaweed bread – There’s a Welsh traditional bread called “laver bread” .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laverbread

    Re: firearms etc post-elecrticity. Two s/f series have dealt extensively with downsizing that way:

    Eric Flint’s 1632 series, which also (clutch your pearls, middle-class folks) treats Appalachian small town working people with respect and considerable knowledge, though his Grantsville, WVA, circa 2000 is actually more like what the town would have been 50 years ago; and beware some of his biases. But – a LOT of tech adaptations by all concerned for much of the core story.

    Then, Steve Stirling’s Emberverse series, in which neither gunpowder nor any sort of powered machinery beyond wind, sunlight, horsepower, muscles, etc work, so tech is basically medieval plus hang gliders and modern sanitary knowledge. And magic – not the Harry Potter sort, believe me – slowly returns. And yes, it’s totally the “changing consciousness according to Will.” sort. Again, beware his Tory penchant for societies of master and man as an ideal.

  336. I have a couple of questions that relates to energy and the decline in regards to rural areas. If prices and inflation continue to rise( as they are certain too) will that cause people to leave rural areas to keep their jobs and lower what they have to spend on fuel and the like? Along similar lines if people are leaving rural areas and it is getting more expensive to provide both electricity and maintenance to rural infrastructure do we only have a year or two before most rural areas are left to their own devices with no electricity and limited governmental involvement? Sorry if it takes me a bit to respond, I live off grid with no electricity so only have internet at my mother’s and don’t spend much time surfing the net anymore.

  337. One of the things I seem to be doing at the moment is medical errands. go to optometrist, get prescription, buy new glasses. Go to dentist, find out I have cavities, make appointment to get them filled… etc, etc. Seems useful.

    Also way too much time worrying about the mouse that is currently running around my and my landlady’s homes. I think I kicked it across the kitchen last night by accident. It ignores traps. All the other mice are dead by trap, and I think it may have figured out traps mean death.

  338. Data points regarding the (Potempkin??) project of all electric everything all the time…

    Electric busses encountering teething problems in Paris… Stuttgart… London… and counting… but, you know, progress deffo means *someone* will think of *something* and you can take that on faith!

    https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/paris-public-transport-network-suspends-bollore-e-buses-after-fire-incidents-2022-04-29/

    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/buses-on-fire-after-huge-explosion-at-london-transport-depot/ar-AAXADI9

    https://insideevs.com/news/540391/stuttgart-bus-depot-fire-electricbus/

  339. Lathechuck et al about the 40% increase in death for ages 18-65.

    I think it is a big deal for everyone. Yes the absolute amount is relatively small but you are losing many, many years of productive life.
    If you add the fact that there will be 10x people with chronic conditions requiring constant treatment or making them unable to work – you hit a real issue.

    Of course, other issues might impact the population soon so this might become moot – for example, if we get shortages of diesel and gasoline, how many people that need medicine constantly or are simply unable to walk (due to a sedentary lifestyle) will die?

  340. @Jessie – The fad for formula feeding infants started prior to WW2. I was born in the 1960’s and very few children were breastfed then according to my mother. So we’ve had 80 years or almost 4 generations of formula fed children which might explain a lot of the what we see as “problems.”

  341. @ Kay Robison #224

    Thank you for your kind words!

    We couldn’t have done it without Amy Dacyczyn and the Tightwad Gazette. She changed our lives back in 1993, making it possible for me to better hear our esteemed host’s words.

    Amy and our host both hugely influenced my own book.

  342. @Chris at farnglade. I like your thinking on scraping every second house.

    I always said that if I ran in politics that my proposals would mean I would get maybe 60 votes.

    My first policy would be to rip up 95 percent of roads and turn them into localised food production. The reduction in urban car use would be the slack that allows the rural folks to get it a lot easier. A lot more fairer of you will.

    It would be away we could extend the fossil fuel surplus or long enough to transition the agricultural system a little more smoothly into the decline.

    I don’t think it will ever happen like that. To big of a plan and I’m sure there would 50 points of failure The best I can hope for is an urban fuel tax that gets passed onto rural areas as a price subsidy. We pay an extra 30 cents a litre so that the rural folks get it half price.

    As someone who has never driven, I am on board with this. 😉

  343. @JMG – regarding conventions defined by the Constitution, you wrote:

    “Drhooves, and who would dominate such a convention?”

    Well, that depends on how thorough a vetting process citizens would require for attendance. I also see it as the only tool to toss all the bums in office out in one fell swoop, and replace them with others by random ping pong ball drawing. At least put them through a polygraph, examine their finances, and blood relatives, and toss the obvious ones with conflicts. Is this likely? No. But my veteran buddies at the American Legion and I often reference the Constitution when discussing modern political problems, and I think there are still a few good citizens left.

    I would give a CC/COS about a 5% chance to be undertaken, and it is one of the few options for avoiding violence – at least in theory – as it’s a lawful procedure. If we’re in a prerevolutionary stage as you indicated in the Covid thread, I don’t know if it have a chance anyway, but….a vacuum of a collapsing command structure will be filled, by something.

    @Mark L – #280, TJandTheBear #295 – my take is different on the future of the internet, item 2b. I see it evolving to a government run utility in the future, with .gov and very rich users only with in-home access. Cost will be supported by all of us, the way the dark pool programs of the various government and military agencies are today with weapons and tools not made public. Those of us who can’t afford the in-home Internet will have access to a rationed machine at the local library or other .gov building, with a very restricted range of browsing. (Think updating the application for .gov cheese, purchases of approved goods from approved vendors, limited banking, etc).

    My thoughts on this are based upon the transition from STD to HD TV (free adapters) and .gov supplied spy, err, cell phones. Why pay for this? So .gov can censor and monitor and maintain the desired narratives. FCC license needed for TV stations, so say goodbye to streaming services. It’ll be another choke point for control, the way Walmart and Walgreens worked during the lockdowns.

    I expect this to occur before the end of the decade.

  344. Catching up on the comments here. In regards to TJ and wind turbine prices.

    I have been shouted down more than once over the last decade because I dare suggest that the price of renewable energy will be an inverted Bell curve. That the late 2010s/early 2020s would be the cheapest they will ever get before the price rises out of reach.

    The same for battery technology. There is nothing even on the horizon that looks like hope driven a savoir on that front.

  345. From JHK. Jim Kunstler
    About a year ago I had my French easel set up on a country road nearby and was busy painting a motif at-hand when along came a horse-drawn wagon filled with four men in severe black-and-white clothing, wearing beards. They were apparently a bit surprised by the strange sight of me painting a picture and they stopped to chat. They were Amish and had lately moved to the county from down in Pennsylvania, which was running out of farmland for their fruitful people. Not a half-hour later a second horse-drawn wagon passed by. I admit, the incident gave me a thrill — not just the sensory pleasure of the horses’ ripe animal smell, and the gentle rhythm of their clip-clopping along. But since I had lately been writing a bunch of novels about life in a post-economic collapse town like my own (the World Made by Hand series), I enjoyed the strange delight of being transported briefly into a scene of my own imagining — the prequel of my own books.

    Many more Amish are landing in the county these days. I hear they go around to the failing or inactive farms with bundles of cash and make an offer, just like that. Evidently the method works. It’s given me a business idea: to start an Amish skills school, buy a few acres with a barn and hire some Amish men to teach all us non-Amish how to do a few things that might be good to know in the years ahead, like how to harness horses to a cart or a mule to a plow. (The Amish like to make a bit of cash-money when they can.) That’s my idea of how to build back better. What do you think?

  346. I just spoke with the local county road guy about getting another topping of asphalt on the road to my farm. They have just announced that all road recoating is to be held off for the coming year due to budget shortfalls. They also put off all plans for paving dirt roads for the coming year. A neighbor in a nearby county had 45 landowners sign a request for blacktop resurfacing due to gravel trucks and oilfield haulers destroying their access road. The commissioners decided that their particular road was better served by converting it to gravel – I would keep an eye out for similar goings on…

    I see the same thing happening in suburbs as the tax money dries up. Here in Houston, while there remains a lot of new construction, there are MANY strip centers that are mostly vacant. One mall has been closed, and another about 10 miles off is struggling with occupancy. I believe this trend will accelerate over this next decade as people begin to DIY instead of supporting the myriad service industries in America – storefronts are boarding up all over around the routes I drive. Recently a local Best Buy closed their doors except for stereo installs and package pickup…

    With the oilpatch in straits, the apparent growth appears to be near clusters of hospitals and universities – they are all still building out. When the wind dies down in the healthcare biz, or the med insurance biz gets ugly, these are likely to get “ghosty” too. I think when company doctors and nurses come back, and health co-ops return, that ought to be quite an indicator of where we are on our slide.

    I’m in Texas, so roads are a point of pride here, but pride only lasts until money gets tight.

  347. Hi Jessi, thanks for your reply.

    I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that simply promoting breastfeeding would be a response to the formula shortage! I realize there are reasons most women don’t do it, starting with they can’t, for any number of reasons. As you noted, surely the very small number of women for whom switching back was still an option did so, and must count themselves lucky.

    I brought it up just to note that it was nowhere in the official conversation, that I’ve seen. All the messaging is that government, business, and technology are to solve the problem, and that people who make decisions or take actions on their own in the meantime are interfering.

    Of course you’re right to point out that for most people, for many reasons, there are no good actions to take in this situation. I think both of us were trying to point at the fact that most people have been tempted, pressured, forced, or born into reliance on “the system” for things that people used to be able to manage for themselves on an individual, family, or community level. I was trying to note how determinedly the all those institutions are still trying keep people in (and the news about Biomilq was really the only reason I brought up breastfeeding). But I think you’re right to emphasize that, for many or most, there’s also no clear way out anyway. For breastfeeding as for a lot of other things, going “back” to older ways will surely be part of the eventual response, but that would be very cold comfort to someone who can’t feed their baby tonight. And for those who aren’t affected by this particular emergency, it will probably soon be, or already has been, some other crisis just as terrifying.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful reply.

    Jonathan.

  348. @Anonymous #190
    I’m almost 60 and the way I understood the internet & social media when it started, was that these were new “information nodes” that I could access to contact people or get updates. You can understand a media-less world as the same thing in reverse.
    Before TikTok or Facebook or webpages or blogs…some people stopped into their barbershop daily to pick up messages, leave notes for friends, etc…many groups of kids had message trees with knot holes to leave notes in arranging meetings with their friends. Everyone used phone books to locate goods and services, and shops were lined up on streets and in malls. Some kids had watches, but many could tell time by the angle of the sun. Many families had pre-arranged locations to meet up “if there is a disaster and we get separated”. You can practice now by running scenarios in your head, and maybe talking through them with friends: How would you contact your friend in another state if you could only do so by letter? What if you could only leave a message with his mother in person? Do you know where your friends would run to in a disaster, which relatives could get a message to them? If you wanted to apply for jobs in person, what would you wear? What would you say? What documents would you bring? Where are the closest libraries to your home? Do you have a valid card? Are there any printed phone books for your local businesses still in circulation? Do you have a passport? Do you have a printed-out, hard copy resume? Do you have a printed-out, hard copy school transcript? Do you have a bike in good repair? For winter, do you have cross country skis or snowshoes? Where is the nearest landline phone you could use? Just thinking about how you will socialize with friends, look things up, and get news in a no cellphone, no Internet, no electricity, no gas situation is what life without social media is. It wasn’t bad at all, the friends and the info are still there, you just access them a bit more slowly.

  349. @Chris, JillN, etc

    Re Aussie elections.

    I was interested enough to look into changes in first preference voting patterns compared to last time. Maybe the preference distributions will contradict me but it looked like there was definitely an overall swing away from both major parties at the ‘average’ national level but much more interesting fragmentation when I looked by State, location of division and even between individual polling stations in country divisions with large embedded cities and towns.

    1) Voters in Western Australia (Labor premier) and Tasmania (Liberal premier) apparently loved their respective premiers’ ‘island fortress within an island fortress’ strategy approach to Covid which was reflected in significant swings to their respective parties in their States and away from the other major party. Interestingly, NT (Labor premier) also had a fortress strategy and had a huge swing from both major parties, mostly towards conservative populist options.

    2) On the east coast, the ‘Teal Wave’ independent candidates very successfully took a huge section of votes and electorates mainly from the traditionally Liberal-voting PMC in wealthier city areas. I think this reflects a current split in the Liberal party between PMC progressives and their woke big business supporters and the rest (a grab-bag of traditional values, conservatives, rural, small business owners and non-woke big business). The Teal Wave was heavily supported by a ‘grass-roots’ campaign initiated and at least 50% funded by Australia’s wealthiest business families and the candidates were nearly all women, all PMC and all running as independents supporting dramatic government subsidised/business led action against climate change and other social issues and federal anti-corruption measures.

    3) Other than WA, there seemed to be a continuation of the steady ongoing erosion of Labor’s left by The Greens party (which is now to the point that The Greens have nearly 12% of first preference votes nationally in the House of Representatives, though this translates better to seats in the Senate than in the House). The other factor appeared to be a particular swing against Labor in poor and multi-cultural inner city areas and in the more rural polling stations in country areas, which I interpret as perhaps being disapproval of the (mostly Labor State premiers’) responses to Covid.

    4) The large number of smaller populist conservative parties had an overall moderate vote increase, even in seats which otherwise elected ‘Teal Wave’ or Greens candidates. However there was a big variation in which particularly popular conservative option did best in each division, along fairly predictable country/city and class/wealth/immigrant lines. So, it seems like the traditional conservative vote is fragmenting more than the traditional Left vote which mostly seems to be just shifting from Labor to The Greens. However, overall it seemed like most divisions became somewhat more polarised. It will be interesting to see if the preferences tend to consolidate within the populist conservative parties or if it was more a case of people being willing to let particular charismatic candidates ‘have a go’ in each division, with their second preference still being a major party.

  350. Re: debt “inflated away”

    This approach works fine until a deflationary credit collapse shows up, and you’re paying back debt with cash that’s worth much more. Since much of the “wealth” in the system is digital and based on debt which must be defaulted on, I think the current effects of inflation will be short-lived, as in a couple of years. Economic collapse and a reset, great or otherwise, can also result in having to pay off an “adjustment” in debt. Having any assets, including cash, can also result in bail-in adjustments, and all of these scenarios are hazards for the future. Losing less becomes the goal, not protecting the full amount of assets.

    @Oilman2 #285 – are you referring to the Cox .049 engines that powered small planes that you could fly in a circle at the end of a couple of strings? I didn’t realize that fuel was castor based. Had a friend who had a P51 and he came up with an idea to release the strings once airborne, and see if he could get the plane to do a cross country flight. After several attempts that ended in short flights and crashes, he released it perfectly from the school playground. It sailed straight south, over a plowed corn field, climbing slightly. It got up to about 300 or 400 feet above ground, rolled over and augured straight down into the field at full speed and a 70-80% angle about 3/4 of a mile away. Completely busted up, though he did salvage the engine. He gave up that experiment.

    @Chris Smith #315 – love ESB, and my favorite flavor of ale as well. When I moved to Alabama in 1990, I took up home brewing because imported beers were scarce – had to have the state tax stamp on each bottle, IIRC. So I no longer had access to Old Peculiar, Whitbred, Samuel Smith and other brands. Visited Merry Old England a couple of times in the 1980s, and absolutely loved their bitters and ciders. I had problems getting a home-brewed batch to come out close to those, with a can of British malt, some gypsum, and some tin foil packets of yeast and plastic bags of hops from the UK getting the best result. Very time consuming, and it wasn’t even all grain brewing. When I moved out to the Pacific Northwest, I found most of the craft brews, especially the IPAs, were way too bitter due to the amount of hops. Savages those people are….

  351. @Mark L #280: For shared access points, maybe the return of internet cafes, but with this time with a cover charge and a 2-drink minimum? The alcohol might be warranted for those transitioning from “always-on” to “pay-per-minute”.

  352. Shoot, I guess I missed this post, but I’d still like to add a comment, which is for anyone trying to figure out how on earth to reduce expenses; where to start, if you find it overwhelming.

    I’ll tell you what my wife and I are doing: we are going through our spreadsheet budget, line by line, and every couple of weeks selecting ONE item to cut back on, starting with the easiest and least painful.

    It’s not a bad method.

  353. Yes, to Jim Kunstler’s comment from his Blog – which I’ve followed for years.and I do recommend his series “World Made By Hand” – probably Amazon has those four books – about when the electricity’s gone out and people are working to live their lives – he has a more optimistic future than many dystopian stories….but that’s how I like to think, too (even if I really think we’re toast). His Blog is kunstler.com …..some wild people comment there – most interesting to get these varying views.

  354. “…fuel isn’t the only limitation you face in jet engines; they require far more in the way of resource inputs, infrastructure, and expertise than a basic diesel engine.”

    There is an understatement.

    https://www.asme.org/wwwasmeorg/media/resourcefiles/aboutasme/who%20we%20are/engineering%20history/landmarks/brochure-single-crystal-turbine-blade.pdf

    I don’t know what they are using for alloys in the current state of the art engines, but the alloys from the 80s were called superalloys, and were largely based on cobalt.

    One example of one that was not cobalt based;

    HAYNES® 230® alloy (UNS N06230) is a nickel-chromium-tungsten-molybdenum alloy that offers the best combination of high- temperature strength, resistance to oxidizing environments up to 2100°F (1149°C) for prolonged exposures, excellent long-term thermal stability, and fabricability of any major high-temperature alloy. It is used for combustion cans, transition ducts, flame holders, thermocouple sheaths, and other important gas turbine components.

    If you are interested in exotic alloys Haynes is a good place to look.

    https://www.haynesintl.com/alloys/alloy-portfolio_

    I used some of their alloys at work where they were very useful in high temperature high wear applications.

  355. @Bei Dawei, Panda,
    As much as I believe in the power of American elite propaganda to sell us a win in Ukraine when things might be going the other way, I think while Russia is making smart financial decisions, they will ultimately not win this. Russia will either be forced to accept terms or else be in a very weakened state. When they lose, the battlefront will shift to the far east, particularly Russian Manchuria, NE China and the Korean peninsula. Easily can see China and Korea fighting over far east Russia and Russia not being in a state to do anything about it! As a matter of fact, in the face of (potential) Chinese aggression in the area, a new S Korean president that is taking a harder line on N Korea, and the worsening domestic state of N Korea due to a number of factors, there is potential for Korean reunification just on the probability of N Korea folding/collapsing on its own, so you may actually see a reunified Korea along with China as players in this far east skirmish. All this will take some time to develop.

  356. I’ve been reading you for more than 8 years now, and i’m among those who took your advice, and collapsed before the rush. Some things we’re easier than others, and not all turned out as i expected; for example while i have mastered organic gardening, i have not been able to make a living only out of it.

    But my profession has acquainted me to the realities of domestic food producing and conserving, both the good and the hard parts of it. And as we now stand, and all things considered i consider myself as ready as i can be for the bumpy road ahead.

    That being said, i think that one of the things that we are likely to see in the next few years is and unprecedented marketing of adulterated foods, in order to keep the prices low and the consumer economy more or less going on. This is made possible on the one hand by the disconection of people from real food, and on the other by all the industrial-propagandistic apparatus.
    Yes, i now this has been already going on, but i expect it to keep increasing. General weakness and widespread sickness will follow, of course.

    What do you think?

    Guillem

  357. Another data point for the ¡All Electric Future!:
    I was just at forum where Regent Craft spoke about their plans to develop an electric powered WIG (Wing-in-Ground) craft. WIGs basically fly at wings length above the water relying on ground effects to use less fuel. They take off and land like seaplanes. Regent is planning to test their ~40% scale model this summer, and will “definitely” have the first craft (ploat? plane/boat) ready for commercial use by 2025, for high speed transport to replace ferries up to 180 miles at 180 MPH.
    If they were public, I would short the stock.

  358. J.L.Mc12, I haven’t done industry-specific assessments, so I don’t have answers for those.

    Mark, oh, it probably won’t be legal, but that hasn’t stopped corporations from doing plenty of other things, you know. In your place I’d pay down the mortgage at well above the minimum, and the more inflation picks up, the faster I’d pay it down.

    Chris, I’m looking forward with wry amusement to the point at which all kinds of things have gone 100% digital, which will happen about a week before the internet starts to come unglued. It’s not just you who can stuff things up; so can the other party, and so can the whole clanking complexity of the internet…

    Forecasting, when Texas had its bad blackouts last year I knew we were in for it in the fairly near future. Yes, that’s one of the major mileposts on the long road down, and it wouldn’t surprise me for a moment if we passed it quite soon.

    Isaac, yep. Hang onto your hat.

    Johnny, delighted to hear it. When Sara and I were still in western Maryland we had at one point a dozen different species of wild bees visiting our garden, running the gamut from tiny little sweat bees the size of a pinhead to big sweet-tempered carpenter bees most of an inch long. If we end up with a garden again I plan on using the same tactics to set up a lunch counter for all the local bee species and see who shows.

    Panda, 2032 seems a bit early to me but the basic idea is sound. I’d give 2048 — a century after the midpoint between India’s independence in 1947 and China’s (effective) independence in 1949 — as the approximate date by which the center of gravity of the global economy finishes shifting back to Asia, where it was for so many centuries before 1700 or so.

    Patricia M, thanks for this. With regard to deindustrial weapons and warfare, thanks for these also; I may just take the time to glance at them.

    JD, in hard times people tend to move from the cities to the farm belt, not vice versa — in the country your chance of being able to feed yourself is much better, and rents are lower. (The Great Depression, for example, saw a considerable US population movement from cities to rural areas.) I certainly expect rural areas to lose electricity and internet service, but that’ll be a patchwork thing, not all at once: you can save a lot of resources, for example, by letting Wyoming fall out of the grid and the net, without losing that many customers.

    Scotlyn, thanks for these. Funny, in a bleak sort of way.

    Drhooves, yes, and if pigs had wings, we’d all catch our breakfast bacon in butterfly nets. Try getting such a vetting process in place for local candidates where you live and see how far you get.

    Michael, that seems like a reasonable assessment to me — not least because the manufacture and maintenance of nearly all renewables depends on, ahem, cheap fossil fuels…

    Pygmycory, hmm! Thanks for the heads up. That’s a bellwether to pay attention to.

    DenG, thanks for this.

    Oilman2, that’s happening in a lot of rural areas in the US these days. The descent of rural infrastructure to 19th century status is an important element of our near future.

    Bofur, good. That’s a useful habit just now.

    Siliconguy, I know — half the fathers of the kids I grew up with worked for Boeing! Piston engines are potentially sustainable as aircraft power plants for the long term. Jet engines? Not a chance.

    Guillem, that’s already accelerating here in the US, so I think you’re quite correct — being able and willing to make meals from raw materials simple enough that they can’t be debased easily will be a crucial skill as we proceed.

    Peter, the Soviet Union put a lot of resources into the same thing, which is one more way in which we’re making Dmitry Orlov look prescient…

  359. Hi John,

    Agree with that.

    These days I feel a bit like a passenger on the Titanic (albeit on the 1st class bit).

    Most people are generally clueless about what is happening but I’m one of the few who knows the ship is going down. Slowly, but its going down. And I’m frantically trying to get my stuff together before everyone else realises what a terrible situation they are in.

    You should also find this interesting. I have summarised the key points Zeihan has spoken about in his latest presentation online. If you are interested, his book is out within weeks.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfNamRmje-s&fbclid=IwAR1Vxd1bZcx9oKMJvqYpsTUys2yxenT6ecshwkDKnPgPfhkmQ8MqI63PNDQ

    · The war in eastern Ukraine now better suits the Russians and Zeihan is seeing signs that the Russians are making progress in seizing the eastern bits of Ukraine. He also expects a move on Odessa as well and the seizure of the entire Ukrainian coastline.

    · Arab Spring II is coming across the Middle East/North Africa that could be as bad or worse than in 2010. Mass migration flows to Europe is likely.

    · Russian oil and gas production is facing partial collapse but soaring prices mitigate that to a certain extent.

    · Lack of Belarus/Russian fertiliser, potash and ammonia exports will trigger a global food shock. From Q4 2022/2023 certain key parts of the world will be facing severe food shortages and famine (South Asia, Brazil, Africa and the Middle East).

    · Demographic shifts are changing rapidly. The boomer generation are retiring en masse and the majority will be retired by 2023, paving the way for reduced capital markets and higher rates which is bad news for financial markets and economic growth. For most places, capital costs will rise by a factor of 6 from 2023.

    · Predicts China will implode this decade. Also doesn’t think China will invade Taiwan (and if that looked likely, the Taiwanese will develop nukes within months).

    · Potentially up to a billion people will starve to death, this decade, starting from Q4 2022 as food production collapses globally due to scarcity in critical inputs (e.g. potash, fertiliser, diesel, petrol etc) as globalisation collapses.

    · Forecasts that at some point (likely this year), the US will ban oil exports to the rest of the world to saturate the domestic US market and help the Biden Administration in the mid-term elections. Will send us to a pre-1940’s era of “national” oil prices. Oil prices outside America will soar with the loss of American and to a lesser extent Russian/Kazakhstan oil. Future of oil pricing, post global, is North American (functional ceiling of $70/barrel), Europe (functional floor of $150-170/barrel) and East Asia (functional floor of $200/barrel). These prices will be our norm within the next 3 years (e.g. 2025).

    · A full scale green transition (including electric vehicles) requires a globalised supply chain and Russia is a vital source for resources (including cobalt etc). In a new era of de-globalisation, a green tech transition on a large scale is probably impossible for most of the world. The world is likely to return to coal to keep the lights on (and the war in Ukraine has accelerated that trend).

    · Global oil consumption is driven by transportation. Future military capacity will be generated by access to reliable oil supplies (either domestic production or reliable import flows) so those countries without access will be highly vulnerable.

    · Predicts 3 big wars: 1) Ukraine has already started, 2) Gulf war III between Saudi Arabia and Iran (which will massively disrupt oil supplies) and 3) and East Asia (warfare over sea supplies from the ME).

    Overall, I agree with most of that.

    My only major criticism is 1) he seems not to have factored in the possibility that the Chinese-Russian axis, and their allies in central Asia, might develop their own bloc. So, China, facing cut-off from their sea-based supplies, will pivot to land-based supply chains to keep their country afloat during the 2020’s.

    And, 2) whilst he gives a good account on why North America should do ok (with some challenges) I still feel that he is a bit too rosy about his outlook for America going forward. Rising food and energy costs could tip America into serious political crisis and the 2024 election is looming.

  360. Siliconguy , percussion caps are pretty easy to make and were available long before electricity, the early mid 19th century. They’ll be after the fall as well

    Smokeless powder is not difficult though is suspect that it will be nitrocellulose or the like, corrosive and less refined.

    More importantly it will be a lot more expensive , a decent ballpark would be 50 rounds is half a days pay. This is 4 or 5x more than current prices roughly. Ammo will also be less reliable with more chance of dud loads.

    This will have serious impacts on war and the amount of ammo anyone even nations can afford will be limited compared to modern warfare.

    Semi automatic and automatic firearms especially submachine guns are not that hard to make but giving soldiers a lot of ammo for operations or training (current US loadout is 210 rounds IIRC ) would be prohibitive .

    I’d guess the state of the art general issue would be something akin to an M1 Garand with an internal magazine , stripper clips and a hefty punch. Some armies might use bolt action rifles as well

    Machine guns and artillery will probably be used but not as much but precision guidance will be a thing of the past .

    And with artillery, as the economy probably won’t even generate WW1 levels of wealth , shelling will have to be done carefully lest you have an shell famine as in WW1 . You’ll may see things that did not exist in the past, assault rifles for specialized troops (think robust AK designs not more precise ones) . SMGs and possibly anti tank rockets as well . All these will be special employment items do the expense . The SMG mind you is cheap to make and easy but it shoots a man says pay in about 5 seconds with reloads so ammo is a huge issue for your trench broom

    Personal defense arms will often be revolvers as ammo quality will be dodgy at times . If the round is bad and not under loaded, shoot again. Bulldog revolvers return with a vengeance.

    Semi autos are fine but older designs were touchy especially compact ones. Still the 1910 pocket autos worked well so I’d expect to see something like the Savage 1907 , 10 shots quick or the .45 auto where ammo quality is high.

  361. @J.L.Mc12 et al:

    This doesn’t really answer your question, but regarding ebooks, PDFs and the like… this is something I’m actually working on today. As usual I have a folder “Research” on my desktop with various subtopics of PDFs downloaded off the internet. I recently had one of our laptops come to the end of its life as far as being useful for accessing the internet and such. It was already kludged together with a new hardrive and installs, but I could never get all the drivers working on my old operating system.

    I was inspired by JMG asking about types of ereaders to use for his own extensive collection of files downloaded from the likes of archive.org. I thought I could at least salvage this laptop, sans internet and some other functions, to use as a reader of documents, and maybe still a bit more word processing. This might be a use for banged up laptops that still have main functionality but can be kept going on old operating systems or linux, to use with limited functionality. So save whatever ebooks or pdfs you may have and perhaps printout the ones that are real important to you (as I did with Order of Essenes lessons and stuck in a fat binder. … someone else here was talking about best way to print out books. It’s worth looking into)

    So I’m grabbing the files on a flash drive downloaded to my work PC to take home, to have a dedicated document reader for as long as that computer will last.

    I’ve kept my homebuilt desktop chugging along, but its getting a bit creaky. I have a spare that I’m going to get going with another back up of my files.
    Beyond that I’m looking into picking up a typewriter. As @Oilman2 noted paper is a lot less vulnerable to hacking and other disruptions.


    On another note I was at the local bike co-op with my grandson yesterday. It’s just down the street from us but I hadn’t visited in awhile. It’s been going since 2008, and I’m not much of a cyclist. I had been a member, but lapsed for a long time. On mondays they have kids night where they can get help with one of the mechanics to help build/repair one of the donated bikes. I was very impressed with the amount of material they had in their basement sorted into parts. It seems like it will be worth getting my membership again. Bike co-op’s might be something for others to look into joining or creating. One of the teenagers who was there was getting really into tinkering making some kind of monster bike and that made me happy.

  362. “You can save a lot of resources, for example, by letting Wyoming fall out of the grid and the net, without losing that many customers.”

    Maybe, but Wyoming supplies 40% of the nation’s coal, and it has profitable reserves for at least 50 years at current mining rates unlike eastern states. So unless that coal gets taken by force from a bunch of very well armed people, I think Wyoming stands to maintain a decent level of services for a while…

  363. DT (no. 375), only about half of South Koreans support Korean unification (with younger generations being more opposed), and even fewer would be willing to sacrifice any material prosperity for the cause! If North Korea collapses for some reason, though, I can totally see China, Russia (depending on strength), and the USA (with South Korea in tow) clashing over the region’s future. China would want to avoid having US military bases on its borders in a united Korea, and would also be worried about its own ethnic Koreans. I don’t think China would try to annex NK–more likely they’d aim for a puppet state, but might accept a reunified Korea as long as there were no US bases in the north.

    Even in a very weakened state, Russia would likely react to any attempt to seize Vladivostok with nukes. I mean, it’s their outlet to the Pacific. Without it, Russia would be a completely different type of country. I don’t see how the Chinese would get around the nuke thing, even if they were bold enough to try (which is not really their style). If I wanted a science-fiction scenario in which China takes the Maritime Province without attracting a nuclear response, I would have to imagine Russia falling apart internally, and maybe one faction–either the rump government, or a breakaway region–inviting (perhaps as the result of corruption or blackmail) the Chinese in. It wouldn’t be presented as an annexation, at least not immediately. So how soon could Russia fall apart? And how much time would China need to take advantage of the situation? A 2040s setting seems plausible, maybe even 2030s. I don’t think it could be set in the aftermath of the current Russo-Ukrainian War, though, unless it continues for years and years.

  364. Late in the week, and I’d originally planned to post this in the open post, but the comments on food and fertilizer shortages (current and projected), and such, prompt me to post now.

    I saw that Joseph Jenkins has an updated edition of The Humanure Handbook available in cases of 32 books for $10 apiece. If 31 other people are interested and can commit to pay $10 plus shipping charges from my home (still puts you under the single-volume price), I’d be willing to organize a one-box order and mail them out.

    I can be reached at my username’s gmail account.

  365. @ drhooves #362

    IMHO we’re currently experiencing the pinnacle of cheap, widely available tech. There simply isn’t going to be the means, materials or energy for government (or anyone else) to even maintain what we have now, let alone implement the authoritarian’s wet dream of techno-tyranny.

  366. For the deindustrial fiction series: for the 1632 series, start with the anthologies, Grantsville Gazettes #1-4, and Ring Of Fire I, II. A lot of the stories deal with solutions to individual problems. For example, “in “A Lineman for the County,” a man is determined to reinvent the telephone on a lower tech basis, but saves his life with old-fashioned Morse Code S-O-S, and realizes that telegrams are the way to go. Good, human stories, no superheroes, and with fact articles at the end of each Gazette.

    For the Emberverse, I’d start with the novels Dies The Fire, and Island In The Sea Of Time. In the latter, a Coast Guard tall ship plays a major role, and government-by-town-meeting proves very workable. Stirling does tend towards characters working at 10 10ths of capacity with no mention of the early burnout this is courting, but those two are still pretty down to earth.

  367. As Mr. Greer has pointed out, the collapse will be uneven. Russia, for example, has ample fossil fuel reserves and has highly developed hydroelectric and nuclear energy sources (side note, Russia seems to have little interest in fusion beyond basic research, smart in my opinion).

    Perhaps a surprise to many, Russia is a leader in carbon-free energy production. They can continue for several centuries in their present state assuming that the West can not fulfill plans for conquest. The Ukrainian conflict is the latest effort which seems to be failing. The key difference from the past is that this invasion will not be fought on Russian territory per Putin’s promise made many years ago.

    Both Russia and West are facing existential threats. If Russia wins, the West must make do without exploitation of those resources and the global south will have a chance to escape Western hegemony. If Russia loses, the West will gain a few decades before the long downward grind begins.

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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