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Ten Reasons to Become Self-Sufficient and Ten Ways to Get There
Michael Edwards and Jeffrey Green
Activist Post, 20 August 2010
We are now three to five generations removed from the rural backbone that strengthened America. The world at large has undergone a similar transformation as the promise of easier work has created a migration to big cities. These mega-cities could be seen as an experiment gone awry, as general well-being has declined, with suicide rates increasing across the world. Crowded conditions and economic strife have led to rampant crime, pollution, corporate malfeasance, and a dog-eat-dog type of competition that can be described as a temporary insanity.
The economic crisis we are living through has been the final straw for many people, as promises of a better, easier, and more creative life seem to have been sold to us by carnival-style tricksters who are laughing all the way to (their) bank.
Here are the top reasons for becoming self-sufficient; these are based on fundamental, systemic concerns for why undertaking this life change will not be a fly-by-night fad, but rather a long-lasting means for personal independence.
10 Reasons to Become Self-Sufficient
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond [*Amazon*]
- Freedom from market manipulation - The traditional market-driven investment vehicles are more and more obviously controlled by traders and banking institutions. The debacle of the private Federal Reserve Bank is just the icing on the cake to a previous decade full of Ponzi-type schemes. Now, the institutionalized looting of retirement money is being planned.
- Hedging against inflation - Have you noticed the price of goods lately? Even Wal-Mart is silently raising its prices. People might have a choice whether or not to buy stocks or gold, but people have to eat -- the current increases in basic goods portend hyperinflation, and will not ease anytime soon. Food shortages could make the problem exponentially worse.
- Increasing health and wellness - It has now been revealed that some "organic" items have been falsely labeled. In addition, a host of "GMO-free" brands have been exposed as deceptive. GMO food lacks the nutritional value of what can be grown in the average backyard. GMO mega-corporation, Monsanto, has a sordid history and has continuously trampled on our trust. It is time that we do the work ourselves.
The Collapse of Complex Societies (New Studies in Archaeology), by Joseph A. Tainter [*Amazon*]
- Building community strength - We constantly hear people say, "I don't even see my neighbors, let alone know anything about them." Of course not: 80-hour workweeks and grabbing meals-to-go doesn't exactly promote community interaction. With such little time to interact with our immediate community, it is no wonder why many people report feeling disconnected. In these trying times, it is a local community that can offer the best support.
- Working for yourself - Working hours are increasing, pay is often decreasing, and corporate executives are taking bigger bonuses than ever. This is leading to a prevailing disgust, as people are being forced to admit that they are living lives of near-indentured servitude. Even for those not working in corporations, working for someone else is rarely as satisfying as creating and working for something where every minute you spend is yours alone.
- Having more free time - We have been taught to believe that life on a farm is arduous sun-up to sun-down drudgery where you collapse at the end of the day. This is not so much the case anymore. Sure, the setup of any farm or self-sufficient endeavor is often time-consuming and laborious, but new technologies and new skills of manufacturing food via permaculture and aquaponics are offering low-cost start up and minimal maintenance, as these techniques serve to create symbiotic systems that are remarkably self-governing.
- Generating food and energy security - The planet is running out of food and traditional energy. Climate volatility, market forces, GM foods, and rising costs of harvesting and transporting food are all conspiring to create food shortages even in the First World. This trend will not reverse. And our oil-soaked way of life is being threatened by mounting evidence that the oil lifeline could be disconnecting rather soon. We should be looking to the air, sun, geothermal, and wave power to wean us from the energy grid.
Peak Oil Prep: Prepare for Peak Oil, Climate Change and Economic Collapse, by Mick Winter [*Amazon*]
- Acquiring an appreciation for life - As one gets closer to life-giving forces, there is a natural appreciation for how things come into being. When you have created your garden, toiled there, selected the best for harvest, and have prepared that food for your family and community, the significance of what you have taken part in can be transformative.
- Restoring balance - Nearly everything in our society is at a peak, or is drastically out of balance. The systems and governments to which we have looked for balance restoration are missing in action. We must take it upon ourselves to restore our own financial and environmental balance sheet. The best way to do that is to reduce our overconsumption.
- Becoming a producer, not a consumer - This is the best way to reduce your cost of living and increase your self-sufficiency. In the U.S. over 70% of the economy is based on people buying things. This is a clear sign of imbalance and, by extension, it is not sustainable. Furthermore, we also have seen corporations race to the bottom to find low-cost production on the backs of desperate people. The exploitation of the Third World to clothe, feed, and entertain the First World is something that most people do not want to think about, but it is abominable. Again, new technologies are making it easier than ever to produce your own food, and even your own clothes.
As the cliche goes: Freedom is never free. But it sure beats the alternative.
10 Ways to Get to Self-Sufficiency
Earth Knack: Stone Age Skills for the 21st Century, by Bart Blankenship, Robin Blankenship [*Amazon*]
The global economic collapse has become an eye-opening experience for many people. The ongoing crisis continues to create more joblessness at a time when the cost of essential items like food and energy continue to rise.
Inflation is only expected to continue due to excessive printing of money to compensate for the bursting economic bubbles, which were arguably created by printing too much money with artificially low interest rates in the first place.
The 2008 price shocks in oil followed by the financial collapse have led many people to begin taking measures to become more self-sufficient. And recently the ominous signs of food shortages, the weakening dollar, and the rising price of oil all point to a similar atmosphere as 2008. Some have taken steps to conserve electricity, reduce spending and consumption, while others are planting kitchen gardens and installing solar panels on their homes. Even living off the grid is becoming a mainstream concept for those seeking independence.
Indeed, becoming more self-sufficient is proving to make common sense whether one anticipates more hardship to come or not. Sure, many of us would love to live completely off the grid without giving up everyday comforts, but this is not practical for most of us. However, there are many steps that can be taken to move towards self-sufficiency which can be relatively painless and quite rewarding.
The following are 10 suggestions that can lead to independent living:
Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills, by Gibbs Smith [*Amazon*]
- Reduce your debt: Especially get your credit card debt under control, since it is entirely corrupt. Call your credit card companies and ask for a work out plan similar to what they received from the taxpayer bailout. If they don't cooperate to your satisfaction, there are some reasons not to pay at all.
- Reduce your consumption: Evaluate your current budget and determine absolute necessity. Push your comfort level to find areas where you can scale back, and then identify comforts that you’re willing to sacrifice.
- Reduce energy use: Change light bulbs, have entertainment systems plugged into a splitter that can be shut off completely to reduce phantom charges, etc. Carefully plan shopping trips and other transportation needs.
- Store energy: Always have back-up propane storage and a large wood pile for a rainy day. Investing in a generator of some kind (even a solar generator) will be money well spent.
- Invest in food storage: With a falling dollar and rising food prices, why not create a food savings account? Get some good books, dehydrators and vacuum sealers for storage methods. Best storable food items are grains (rice, beans, flour), canned goods, seeds, and some prepackaged items.
- Produce your own food: Replace your lawn with a garden, fruit trees, and keep chickens. Go on hunting and gathering adventures for nuts, fish, and wild game. Store extra garden seeds!
- Learn new skills: Surf the Internet, read books, and take courses in practical skills like gardening, cooking with whole foods, composting, carpentry, alternative energy, natural health and wellness etc.
- Start a side business: Turn your passion or hobby into a small side business to make some supplemental income. Who knows, it may become your path to full financial independence.
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure, by Daniel Quinn [*Amazon*]
- Install alternative energy: Start with small installations like a solar hot water system, a solar freezer, a solar attic fan, or a wood stove etc. If you have limited funds, tip-toe your way to independence.
- Suggest solutions for your community: Start or join a local cooperative for food, products, and services. Engage your local community in discussions to take steps for self-sufficiency. Share your story and build support.
These steps will save money as we move closer to the ultimate prize of independence. Each action we take to live more simply frees us from the control systems put in place to make our lives more complicated, more toxic, and less independent.
» » » » [Activist Post]
Lloyd's adds its voice to dire 'peak oil' warnings
Business underestimating catastrophic consequences of declining oil, says Lloyd's of London/Chatham House report
Terry Macalister guardian.co.uk,
Sunday 11 July 2010 15.28 BST
One of the City's most respected institutions has warned of "catastrophic consequences" for businesses that fail to prepare for a world of increasing oil scarcity and a lower carbon economy.
The Lloyd's insurance market and the highly regarded Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, says Britain needs to be ready for "peak oil" and disrupted energy supplies at a time of soaring fuel demand in China and India, constraints on production caused by the BP oil spill and political moves to cut CO2 to halt global warming.
"Companies which are able to take advantage of this new energy reality will increase both their resilience and competitiveness. Failure to do so could lead to expensive and potentially catastrophic consequences," says the Lloyd's and Chatham House report "Sustainable energy security: strategic risks and opportunities for business".
The insurance market has a major interest in preparedness to counter climate change because of the fear of rising insurance claims related to property damage and business disruption. The review is groundbreaking because it comes from the heart of the City and contains the kind of dire warnings that are more associated with environmental groups or others accused by critics of resorting to hype. It takes a pot shot at the International Energy Agency which has been under fire for apparently under-estimating the threats, noting: "IEA expectations [on crude output] over the last decade have generally gone unmet."
The report the world is heading for a global oil supply crunch and high prices owing to insufficient investment in oil production plus a rebound in global demand following recession. It repeats warning from Professor Paul Stevens, a former economist from Dundee University, at an earlier Chatham House conference that lack of oil by 2013 could force the price of crude above $200 (£130) a barrel.
It also quotes from a US department of energy report highlighting the economic chaos that would result from declining oil production as global demand continued to rise, recommending a crash programme to overhaul the transport system. "Even before we reach peak oil," says the Lloyd's report, "we could witness an oil supply crunch because of increased Asian demand. Major new investment in energy takes 10-15 years from the initial investment to first production, and to date we have not seen the amount of new projects that would supply the projected increase in demand."
And while the world is gradually moving to new kinds of clean energy technologies the insurance market warns that there could be shortages of earth metals and other raw materials needed to help them thrive.
Lloyd's also calls on manufacturers, retailers and the wider business community to reassess global supply chains and their just-in time models because the "current system is increasingly vulnerable to disruption."
The report says government needs to do much more to bring additional price stability and transparency if the global carbon market is to become a reality.
Richard Ward, chief executive of Lloyd's, said the failure of the Copenhagen climate change talks last December has helped lull many business leaders into a false sense of security about the challenges ahead. "We are in a period akin to a phony war. We keep hearing of difficulties to come, but with oil, gas and coal still broadly accessible – and largely capable of being distributed where they are needed – the bad times have not yet hit ... all businesses ... will be affected by energy supplies which are less reliable and more expensive."
This article was amended on 12 July 2010. The original referred to Chatham House as being the Institute of Strategic Studies. It is the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
» » » » [Guardian.UK]
'Peak Oil' and the German Government
Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis
By Stefan Schultz, Der Spiegel
A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how "peak oil" might change the global economy. The internal draft document -- leaked on the Internet -- shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis.
The term "peak oil" is used by energy experts to refer to a point in time when global oil reserves pass their zenith and production gradually begins to decline. This would result in a permanent supply crisis -- and fear of it can trigger turbulence in commodity markets and on stock exchanges.
The issue is so politically explosive that it's remarkable when an institution like the Bundeswehr, the German military, uses the term "peak oil" at all. But a military study currently circulating on the German blogosphere goes even further.
The study is a product of the Future Analysis department of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, a think tank tasked with fixing a direction for the German military. The team of authors, led by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Will, uses sometimes-dramatic language to depict the consequences of an irreversible depletion of raw materials. It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the "total collapse of the markets" and of serious political and economic crises.
The study, whose authenticity was confirmed to SPIEGEL ONLINE by sources in government circles, was not meant for publication. The document is said to be in draft stage and to consist solely of scientific opinion, which has not yet been edited by the Defense Ministry and other government bodies.
The lead author, Will, has declined to comment on the study. It remains doubtful that either the Bundeswehr or the German government would have consented to publish the document in its current form. But the study does show how intensively the German government has engaged with the question of peak oil.
Parallels to activities in the UK
The leak has parallels with recent reports from the UK. Only last week the Guardian newspaper reported that the British Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is keeping documents secret which show the UK government is far more concerned about an impending supply crisis than it cares to admit.
According to the Guardian, the DECC, the Bank of England and the British Ministry of Defence are working alongside industry representatives to develop a crisis plan to deal with possible shortfalls in energy supply. Inquiries made by Britain's so-called peak oil workshops to energy experts have been seen by SPIEGEL ONLINE. A DECC spokeswoman sought to play down the process, telling the Guardian the enquiries were "routine" and had no political implications.
The Bundeswehr study may not have immediate political consequences, either, but it shows that the German government fears shortages could quickly arise.
» » » » [Der Spiegel: » » Part 2: A Litany of Market Failures]
» » [Quoted in African White Refugees Letter to German Goverment (PDF)]