Archive for the ‘Peak Oil’ Category

Peak Oil Blues — We’re All Bozos on this Bus | COLLAPSENET

This lady is serious and so funny if you have done any preparations at all or have talked to others about it. Click below and watch this video.

Peak Oil Blues — We’re All Bozos on this Bus | COLLAPSENET.

 

 

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The Peak Oil Crisis: Reality On Hold | Falls Church News-Press Online

The Peak Oil Crisis: Reality On Hold | Falls Church News-Press Online.

CAN WE GROW ENOUGH TO EAT? – 11 JULY 2011

Written by Little Owl
[published: July 11, 2011 (3:00AM)]

Can we grow enough to eat? If you had asked me this question a month ago I would have said no. If you asked me two weeks ago I’d have said I’m not sure, and if you ask me today, I will say Yes, I think we can.

The ongoing procurement of food is the thing I worry about most in a post collapse world. Just to feed my family of four, I estimate we need to produce 4 million calories a year, possibly a bit more if you take into account the increase in physical activity that we’ll be doing. Of course, those calories need to be eked out over the whole year, so about half our years’ food will have to stored or preserved in some way so we can eat through the winter and spring’s hungry gap.

4 million calories is a lot of food. I have spent many hours pondering the logistics of this, and have always come up with a blank. I knew I could certainly grow a percentage of the food we need, in fact I already do, but the prospect of growing it all is daunting and I wasn’t sure it was possible without either paid help or using a tractor.

My change of heart happened about 2 weeks ago. I was reading something and a sentence caught my attention. “To be successful you need to ask the right question”. This one statement can be applied to any subject matter or any situation and it has played on my mind ever since. I’ve realized that the question I’ve been asking myself about food production is “how can I grow all the food we need”. And as I’ve asked myself that question over and over, I’ve been mentally listing the foods we do eat and trying to work out how could I grow them.

What I’ve suddenly realized is that that is the wrong question. A great deal of the food we eat is shipped in because it’s grown elsewhere. A perfect example is wheat. We rely heavily on wheat. Every day we eat bread, twice a week I’ll bake cakes and biscuits. On a daily bases I use it in pastry and sauces. Wheat will grow here, but not easily. The trouble is that the birds take it all. There are no crops growing around here, it’s all livestock, and so if a grain crop is sown, every bird for miles around, descends on it and it’s gone. I happened to visit a woman I know who grows organic wheat about 100km south of here. She explained to me that the reason she can grow a good crop is because her farm is surrounded by hundreds of acres of wheat grown on the neighbouring farms. There is enough grain for all the birds to eat their fill and it doesn’t make a dent on the final harvest. Each farm only loses a tiny percentage of their crop.

What this made me realize is that the question I should asking myself is “what food can I grow easily here”. (I think the most important word in that question is ‘easily’). The answer to that question includes a lot of foods that we currently eat now and then but don’t rely on regularly. This must change. Whilst I’ve never expected to grow bananas here, what this means is that we will have to change our diet quite significantly, at least in the medium term. As for wheat, I need to find a replacement carbohydrate to make some sort of bread or cookies with. I’m sure we will be able to trade or buy wheat but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to afford it, or if we would be prepared (or able) to buy it for an exorbitant price.

Initially I panicked at the thought of radically changing our diet, but now, after 2 weeks of reading and planning I’m feeling quite good about it. I know I can grow potatoes very easily here. My soil is moisture retentive and I get great yields. One kilo of potatoes supplies 860 calories, so that’s a start, but if we rely on potatoes alone, that’s a hell of a lot of spuds!

I can also grow beans and corn. I haven’t tried pumpkins yet but I grow great zucchini so I’m sure I can grow squashes. I’m planning on large crops of these. Silverbeet (Swiss chard) also grows like a weed all year round, so that’s worth having.

I’ve read recently about people who starve even though there is food around. Apparently it is normally the very young and the very old. It happens when someone is given a food they are unfamiliar with and don’t like. Even though it may be nutritious and calorie dense, they refuse to eat it. Their hunger pangs disappear after a while and they start to starve, and no amount of coaxing can persuade them to eat the food stuff they are refusing. Of course an adult can be reasoned with and will eat to stay alive but a young child doesn’t fully understand and can literally starve to death. The only way to break this is to offer the child something they do want to eat, and this may not be possible in a post collapse world.

This worries me. I have young children and they love rice (which will be unobtainable too), pasta, bread, pancakes etc. One of my children has never been keen on apples. It’s taken 2 years to get him to pick up an apple voluntarily and eat it. Even now he only eats about 5 bites of it before putting it down. He has only started eating it because we have boxes of apples lying all over the house and his older brother adores them and eats about 5 a day, and so he’s copying him.

On all things to do with Peak Oil preparation where I’ve made provision for change, I have continued with our oil-fuelled way, and intend to for as long as possible, I’ve simply tried to prepare for the moment when we are forced to change. A perfect example of this is our cars. We both use our cars, and will continue to do so for as long as possible but when we need to, we have bikes ready for us to use. I love my electric hand whisk, and although I have a manual one, I’m not going to use it until I have to. I’m happy with this.

But this approach will not work with food. I can’t continue with the diet we love until one day it is no longer available, and then just present my children with a whole different array of unfamiliar foodstuffs. They are too young to deal with it. What I have realized is that I need to introduce the new foods now, and gradually phase out the other stuff. So perhaps I’ll start by only having bread available 3 days a week and in between times we’ll have something different (although I don’t know what this will be – does anyone have any suggestions?).

I’m sure that amaranth grows well here, so yesterday I bought a bag of it and this afternoon I’m going to try cooking some. Apparently if you steam it, it puffs up and makes a great breakfast cereal. Since we love porridge, I’ll try some as an alternative.

Whenever anyone on Collapsenet mentions self sufficiency, there always seems to be a rash of comments saying that we all need to rely on community, and that self sufficiency is not the answer. Well I have to say that I disagree.

I’m convinced that community will be essential in the long term, and that without the support and a place within a strong community, we will all find long term survival difficult if not impossible, but not initially.

What worries me about community, or lack of it, is that the most dangerous time will be the first year or two after collapse. In Collapse + 5 years, I’m sure we will find hundreds of active communities with communal crops, and with each person finding a niche for themselves. Hopefully we’ll have a local dentist, seamstress, farrier, shearer etc. I envisage communal production of staple crops like wheat. But that’s in the year Collapse+5.

But what will your community look like in Collapse+4 weeks, or +6 months? Do you really think it will be organized enough in food production to support you? I don’t.
My community is devoid of food crops. There is a lot of livestock around and a number of orchards but that’s it. There aren’t even any animal fodder crops. What’s even more worrying is that no one seems even to have vegetable gardens.

In the South Island of New Zealand, rural subdivisions have to be in excess of 10 acres per lot. Thousands of acres of good agricultural land have been divided up in recent years. I live on one of these subdivisions. All around me are lots that each have a fancy McMansion on it, with a long driveway and practically nothing else. Generally the people who buy these lots go over budget on their houses and have little or no credit left with which to develop their land. They all work in Christchurch and commute in and out every day.

I was visiting someone recently for a coffee and we got onto the subject of vegetable gardens. She said (and I quote) “we have an enormous vegetable garden”. I love vegetable gardens and so I asked to see it. The “enormous” garden was 6 raised beds about 3ft by 6ft. There was more path than bed. Every bed was weedy and there were no winter crops in at all. And this was an “enormous vegetable garden”?

The bottom line is that there is very little to eat where I live. The livestock won’t last long and anyway, you can’t live on just meat. There are no native bush areas at all here as it all used to be an old swampy riverbed and the first settlers in the 1850’s cleared it all. Now it is all grass with giant conifer shelter belts between fields. And that’s it.

I’m sure that given time we could form a productive community, but at the moment we are a community of almost 100% consumption. Now when collapse happens, what will people eat? Well, after the livestock has gone, nothing.

And this is my concern. What will we eat if we throw our lot in with the community on day one and expect it to support us? With the best will in the world, our community is not able to support us even for a week. If I walk up to my local school to join a gathering of hungry frightened people, what will I get from it? No matter how clever we are, we can’t produce food enough for all out of thin air. We can the plantains and dandelions that grow in abundance, but how many our children will starve in the process?

And again with the best will in the world, how will my community start to grow crops when they have no seeds, no ploughs, and no relevant skills. I’m not surrounded by country folk. I’m surrounded by city folk who aspire to “rural” living. My friend has just had her third lounge added to her 450 sq metre house. Who needs 3 sitting rooms?

What I have realized is that I can’t rely on my community to feed my family in the immediate aftermath of collapse. I will join in wholeheartedly to help us get organized and to start growing crops. I actually grew up in very wealthy farming country, and almost everyone I went to school with were the children of successful farmers. I grew up in arable land and on any walk would pass at least a dozen different crops. I’m no expert by any means but I am familiar with the farming year and practices.

The great self sufficiency writer John Seymour wrote that complete self sufficiency is almost impossible to sustain. But he was talking about not only food production but also manufacturing your own cloth and making your clothes, crafting your own tools and crockery. I’m not planning on going this far. When I talk about self sufficiency I really mean taking responsibility for growing enough food to feed my family and animals.

So what’s my plan? Well, it is to be self sufficient in food for at least the first few years. I’m not hoarding food, partly because I don’t have the space, but also I don’t have the funds. I’m going to grow our food, and produce as many calories as possible.

In my opinion, the most critical time for food will be Collapse+1day, right up to Collapse+3 years. And I’m quite sure that will be universal, unless you have the good fortune to live near the Amish. I would expect some sort of community cohesion and co-operation to have evolved sufficiently by then.

Obviously I may be overwhelmed by my hungry neighbours and to insure against the possibility of having my crops stolen, I have started to plant out various shrubs and trees around my land that are edible (and tasty) but which the average person wouldn’t recognize as food. Hopefully, particularly if we keep quiet about them, these foodstuffs will go unnoticed.

That first winter will be a grim time for most people I think. You only have to miss a few balanced meals before you start to suffer from malnutrition, and then you are more prone to disease and illness. I’ve just started to make a list of meals I can make from what I can grow, and hopefully within the next week or so I’ll have a good range of meals that I can start to introduce to my family. I’m still stuck on the bread substitute though, so if you have any ideas or recipes I’d be very interested in hearing them.

Hunger crisis worsens, food system broken: Oxfam | Reuters

Hunger crisis worsens, food system broken: Oxfam | Reuters.

everyday-food-items-now-then-foxbiz: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

everyday-food-items-now-then-foxbiz: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance.

World Food Prices Rise to Near-Record High as Inflation Speeds Up, UN Says

By Rudy Ruitenberg – May 5, 2011 6:44 AM ET

Corn has almost doubled in the past 12 months. Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

World food prices rose to near a record in April as grain costs advanced, adding pressure to inflation that is accelerating from Beijing to Brasilia and spurring central banks to raise interest rates.

An index of 55 commodities rose to 232.1 points from 231 points in March, the United Nations’ Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report on its website today. The gauge climbed to an all-time high of 237.2 in February before dropping 2.6 percent in March.

The cost of living in the U.S. rose at its fastest pace since December 2009 in the 12 months ended in March, the same month in which Chinese consumer prices rose by the most since 2008. The European Central Bank raised interest rates on April 7, joining ChinaIndia, Poland and Sweden in a bid to control inflation partly blamed on food costs. Costlier food also contributed to riots across northern Africa and the Middle East that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia this year.

“There seems to be some easing for a lot of commodities, but whether this is demand rationing, we have to wait and see,” Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the FAO, said before the report. “If the weather is good, if plantings expand, I think we could see some relief in food prices.”

Sugar prices slumped 18 percent in New York last month, while milk futures fell 1.8 percent inChicago, U.S. wholesale beef prices dropped 3.4 percent and pork declined 2.2 percent. Wheat prices rose 5 percent in Chicago after falling the previous two months and corn jumped 9.1 percent.

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Corn Planting

Corn has almost doubled in the past 12 months on speculation that more planting in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, won’t be sufficient to rebuild global stocks. Wheat surged 57 percent over the same period and soybeans gained 39 percent as flooding ruined crops in Canada and Australia and drought reduced harvests in Russia and Europe.

Of the grains, corn “is the most worrisome,” Abbassian said in a statement. “We would need above-average, if not record, yields in the U.S.,” however, “plantings so far have been delayed considerably due to cool and wet conditions on the ground,” he said.

The FAO’s gauge of grain prices, which account for 27 percent of the overall index, jumped to its highest level since June 2008, advancing to 265.1 points in April from 251.2 the previous month.

Dry Weather

World grain stocks will probably slide for a second year in the 12 months through June 2012 as corn consumption outpaces production and dry weather hurts wheat prospects in the U.S. and the European Union, the International Grains Council said in a report April 20.

“With demand continuing strongly, prospects for a return to more normal prices hinge largely on how much production will increase and how much grain reserves are replenished in the new season,” David Hallam, the director of FAO’s Trade and Market division, said in a statement.

The FAO’s food-price index fell for eight months in a row after reaching its previous peak in June 2008, a situation that probably won’t be repeated this year, Concepcion Calpe, an economist at the UN agency, said last month. “Very strong” demand for food, feed and biofuel may mean prices will climb in coming months, she said.

Meat Prices

The index of meat prices, which make up 35 percent of the overall index, was little changed at 172.8, up 0.5 percentage point from the March level.

The FAO index of sugar prices fell to 347.8 points, the lowest level in seven months, from 372.3 in March. Cooking-oil prices slipped to 259.1 points in April from 259.9, while the dairy index fell to 228.7 from 234.4 in March.

Food output will have to climb by 70 percent from 2010 to 2050 as the world population swells to 9 billion and rising incomes boost meat and dairy consumption, the FAO forecasts. Producing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of pork can take 3.5 kilograms of feed, U.S. Department of Agriculturedata shows.

About 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since June by the “dangerous levels” of food prices, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in February. Another 10 million may join them should the UN food index rise another 10 percent, the World Bank said April 16. The number of hungry people in the world globally declined last year to 925 million from more than 1 billion in 2009, according to the FAO.

“A sliding dollar and increased oil prices are contributing to high food-commodity prices,” Hallam said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

20 Signs That A Horrific Global Food Crisis Is Coming

Courtesy of Michael Snyder, Economic Collapse


In case you haven’t noticed, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis. At some point, this crisis will affect you and your family. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it is going to happen. Crazy weather and horrifying natural disasters have played havoc with agricultural production in many areas of the globe over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the price of oil has begun to skyrocket.

The entire global economy is predicated on the ability to use massive amounts of inexpensive oil to cheaply produce food and other goods and transport them over vast distances. Without cheap oil the whole game changes. Topsoil is being depleted at a staggering rate and key aquifers all over the world are being drained at an alarming pace. Global food prices are already at an all-time high and they continue to move up aggressively. So what is going to happen to our world when hundreds of millions more people cannot afford to feed themselves?

Most Americans are so accustomed to supermarkets that are absolutely packed to the gills with massive amounts of really inexpensive food that they cannot even imagine that life could be any other way. Unfortunately, that era is ending.

There are all kinds of indications that we are now entering a time when there will not be nearly enough food for everyone in the world. As competition for food supplies increases, food prices are going to go up. In fact, at some point they are going to go way up.

Let’s look at some of the key reasons why an increasing number of people believe that a massive food crisis is on the horizon.

The following are 20 signs that a horrific global food crisis is coming….

#1 According to the World Bank, 44 million people around the globe have been pushed into extreme poverty since last June because of rising food prices.

#2 The world is losing topsoil at an astounding rate. In fact, according to Lester Brown, “one third of the world’s cropland is losing topsoil faster than new soil is forming through natural processes”.

#3 Due to U.S. ethanol subsidies, almost a third of all corn grown in the United States is now used for fuel. This is putting a lot of stress on the price of corn.

#4 Due to a lack of water, some countries in the Middle East find themselves forced to almost totally rely on other nations for basic food staples. For example, it is being projected that there will be no more wheat production in Saudi Arabia by the year 2012.

#5 Water tables all over the globe are being depleted at an alarming rate due to “overpumping”. According to the World Bank, there are 130 million people in China and 175 million people in India that are being fed with grain with water that is being pumped out of aquifers faster than it can be replaced. So what happens once all of that water is gone?

#6 In the United States, the systematic depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer could eventually turn “America’s Breadbasket” back into the “Dust Bowl”.

#7 Diseases such as UG99 wheat rust are wiping out increasingly large segments of the world food supply.

#8 The tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan have rendered vast agricultural areas in that nation unusable. In fact, there are many that believe that eventually a significant portion of northern Japan will be considered to beuninhabitable. Not only that, many are now convinced that the Japanese economy, the third largest economy in the world, is likely to totally collapse as a result of all this.

#9 The price of oil may be the biggest factor on this list. The way that we produce our food is very heavily dependent on oil. The way that we transport our food is very heavily dependent on oil. When you have skyrocketing oil prices, our entire food production system becomes much more expensive. If the price of oil continues to stay high, we are going to see much higher food prices and some forms of food production will no longer make economic sense at all.

#10 At some point the world could experience a very serious fertilizer shortage. According to scientists with the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, the world is not going to have enough phosphorous to meet agricultural demand in just 30 to 40 years.

#11 Food inflation is already devastating many economies around the globe. For example, India is dealing with an annual food inflation rate of 18 percent.

#12 According to the United Nations, the global price of food reached a new all-time high in February.

#13 According to the World Bank, the global price of food has risen 36%over the past 12 months.

#14 The commodity price of wheat has approximately doubled since last summer.

#15 The commodity price of corn has also about doubled since last summer.

#16 The commodity price of soybeans is up about 50% since last June.

#17 The commodity price of orange juice has doubled since 2009.

#18 There are about 3 billion people around the globe that live on the equivalent of 2 dollars a day or less and the world was already on the verge of economic disaster before this year even began.

#19 2011 has already been one of the craziest years since World War 2. Revolutions have swept across the Middle East, the United States has gotten involved in the civil war in Libya, Europe is on the verge of a financial meltdown and the U.S. dollar is dying. None of this is good news for global food production.

#20 There have been persistent rumors of shortages at some of the biggest suppliers of emergency food in the United States. The following is an excerpt from a recent “special alert” posted on Raiders News Network….

Look around you. Read the headlines. See the largest factories of food, potassium iodide, and other emergency product manufacturers literally closing their online stores and putting up signs like those on Mountain House’s Official Website and Thyrosafe’s Factory Webpage that explain, due to overwhelming demand, they are shutting down sales for the time being and hope to reopen someday.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that time is short.

For years, many “doom and gloomers” have been yelling and screaming that a food crisis is coming.

Well, up to this point there hasn’t been much to get alarmed about. Food prices have started to rise, but the truth is that our stores are still packed to the rafters will gigantic amounts of relatively cheap food.

However, you would have to be an idiot not to see the warning signs. Just look at what happened in Japan after March 11th. Store shelves were cleared out almost instantly.

It isn’t going to happen today, and it probably isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but at some point a major league food crisis is going to strike.

So what are you and your family going to do then?

You might want to start thinking about that.

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