When The Rich Become Preppers, It's Time To Worry

aggrivated wrote:
As you I am sure know much better than I, by 2050 it is estimated that 70% of the world's population will live in urban areas. The definitions of urban by population size are varied, but a common thread in classification seems to be the disconnect from agriculture. You may be by training an urban planner. It seems that by your lifestyle you are a community planner working with those who are resiliant. If you are among and a part of the 30% that are somehow still in some way connected to raising food then you are with the vanguard of the future. It's comforting to me that you in your role are also connected to this community. It's tge 70% that are so system dependent that will suffer more.

We won’t make it to within a decade of 2050.

take a few years off and live in the 19th century…there is the Amish…study them…their theology is…well it is theology.

From the original post above:

Prepping for a major "grid-down" power outage is simply a no-brainer for those who have decent math skills. The calculation is eminently rational, as there a number of potential causal factors (weather, sabotage, squirrel...
I'm a little surprised nobody has yet to comment on the map the "squirrel" hyperlink above goes to. Each marker represents a documented squirrel-induced power outage since 1987: The nefarious squirrel threat to our way of life has caught the attention of our national government's top brass:
"I don't think paralysis [of the electrical grid] is more likely by cyberattack than by natural disaster. And frankly the number-one threat experienced to date by the US electrical grid is squirrels." - John C. Inglis, Former Deputy Director, National Security Agency 2015.07.09
We ignore these furry villains at our own peril. To continue to do so would simply be.....nuts!

Gee! I wonder who he will get to bait his hook for him.

Think it’s safe to say humanity is NOT going to address overpopulation, climate change, or our unsustainable lifestyle, economy and level of debt in a meaningful way. Which of those unleashes its fury first is anyone’s guess–as well as when it plays out–but there’s almost certain tumultuous times ahead.
There are enough people completely unaware and unprepared for a rapid collapse or disruption of “normal” life that chaos may reign. And with the amount of guns in this country, chaos could mean survival of those most armed. I have no interest in trying to win such a game. Even the survivors would have a bleak future once all the canned goods are gone.
Given the divisive, angry nature of people these days , where co-operation is rare and declining (look how we treat one another on the roadways), it’s difficult for me to imagine everyone coming together in the face of economic or financial collapse (one will likely trigger the other at this point), or serious food or oil shortages. While there’s been an outpouring of help and compassion after weather disasters and mass shootings (Katrina, Sandy, Sandy Hook), it’s a completely different ballgame when everyone is impacted and has to fend for themselves.
Of course I hope I’m wrong, but I can’t motivate myself to spend much effort on long term prepping when there’s so little reason to believe the masses of people will work together to survive. Instead I’m living for the moment, enjoying every additional day of normal life we’re lucky enough to get, all while remaining financially and environmentally responsible. After procrastinating the big issues for so long (and pretty effectively, as well), believe the fall is going to be sudden, fast and hard (as opposed to long, slow and gradual), and that the response will not be pretty.
This is in no way a criticism of Chris and his suggestions. It’s just another point of view. Guess I have less faith in people than he and fellow preppers do.

John Michael Greer wrote an interesting blog about the impending decline of industrial civilization:

John Michael Greer “This is what the decline and fall of a civilization looks like. It’s not about sitting in a cozy earth-sheltered home under a roof loaded with solar panels, living some close approximation of a modern industrial lifestyle, while the rest of the world slides meekly down the chute toward history’s compost bin, leaving you and yours untouched. It’s about political chaos—meaning that you won’t get the leaders you want, and you may not be able to count on the rule of law or even the most basic civil liberties. It’s about economic implosion—meaning that your salary will probably go away, your savings almost certainly won’t keep its value, and if you have gold bars hidden in your home, you’d better hope to Hannah that nobody ever finds out, or it’ll be a race between the local government and the local bandits to see which one gets to tie your family up and torture them to death, starting with the children, until somebody breaks and tells them where your stash is located. It’s about environmental chaos—meaning that you and the people you care about may have many hungry days ahead as crazy weather messes with the harvests, and it’s by no means certain you won’t die early from some tropical microbe that’s been jarred loose from its native habitat to find a new and tasty home in you. It’s about rapid demographic contraction—meaning that you get to have the experience a lot of people in the Rust Belt have already, of walking past one abandoned house after another and remembering the people who used to live there, until they didn’t any more.”

So I’m focused on growing food and developing cold-climate seeds and techniques. As I’ve planned and planted, I’ve consider “What foods with future indigenous people grow here?”. If humans survive, and if they survive here, which of the seeds I’ve harvested will be passed down to future indigenous people living tribally in this valley?
It helps to re-listen to Chris’s interview with Stephen Jenkinson on grief. In the podcast, Jenkinson says we need to learn that “it’s not about us”. None of my prepping is about me. Its about our species, and other life on earth. If humans survive the 6th Extinction, if any polar bears survive, if the bumblebees survive… perhaps the work that I’m doing today will help some life on earth survive. An amazing freedom from fear occurs when I let go of the selfish focus on ME surviving TSHTF. I’m just doing what I can: preparing, building community, building a habitat for worms and pollinators, and thoroughly enjoying the abundance of these last years of industrial civilization.

Shiva: “I am Death. The destroyer of worlds.”

Needed a good chuckle. Thanks y’all!

Glad my bug out country has NO squirrels!

I’ve been reading Greer’s Dark Age America in which he says basically the same thing you quoted from his blog. It’s really gotten me thinking about what the end game is with gold and whether it’s even worth it to have some. It might turn out to be more of a liability than it’s worth.
I’m more and more thinking that the idea with gold will be to convert it into something useful (land, tools, guns, etc.) when the price gets reasonably high but before roving gangs appear. The problem I see is that if people even think you have (or had) gold, they’ll probably torture you (and your family) to death, but you won’t be able to give them anything. Not sure what to do about that. Comments welcome.

I was interested to see that more than one person is having laser eye surgery as a form of prepping. I’m a hearing aid wearer, and for the same reason, I now use rechargeable instead of disposable hearing aid batteries, which could potentially be recharged from PV panels. These tiny rechargeable batteries are hard to obtain (imported from Germany), expensive (about 10X the price of disposables) and only last a quarter the time of disposables before they need recharging. My wife thinks I’m nuts. We shall see.

I’m glad that someone else referenced John Michael Greer in this thread, because I think he’s one of the best thinkers to read in order to see where these trends might go over the longer term. Where they will likely go is toward a more feudal social arrangement.
There are two important things to remember about any kind of feudalism. First can be best described by a comment that JMG made in an old episode of The Extranenvironmentalist Podcast.

Feudal states are founded by tough guys with weapons. As soon as order breaks down, all the guards of the gated communities have to do is to engage in a few weapon-related accidents and scoop up the pot for themselves.
Do these techies really think they're going to be able to stand up to men who are practiced in the art of applied violence? I wouldn't count on it. Instead, I would see it more likely that their guards will turn on them pretty much as soon as things break down because there is simply no longer any incentive to keep them around. The second point that Greer makes about a feudal system is that it is government by personal relations. This is an EXTREMELY important point, because it helps to demonstrate how short-sighted the strategy of all these wealthy people is no matter the amount of LASIK surgery they've had. Without ingratiating themselves into a broader community -- something that is much better accomplished by gift-giving than appropriation, Mr. Zuckerberg -- they will grow a target on their back when things get difficult. And, to go back to the first point, unless you're well practiced in the art of applied violence here, their numbers will rapidly overwhelm any advantage you thought you had in resources or status. This is why I'm just continuing to make myself useful to my neighbors, to improve my small holding's fertility and yields -- and share that yield with them, and to work to teach others around me to do the same. My hope is that if/when things do really break down, I will have built up sufficient social capital to help me and my family get along OK in those tough times.
"[T]he more I ponder the human experiment at this stage, the more convinced I am it needs (and deserves) a complete overhaul rather than a few light modifications."
While I understand this sentiment, the historical record of complete overhauls is not encouraging. Just to cite a few memorable examples, the French Revolution led directly to The Terror, and then to Napoleon. The Bolshevik revolution led to Stalin, and Mao's "cultural revolution" heaped misery upon the already miserable lives of millions. The "new narrative" if Islam resulted in wholesale slaughter in Northern Africa for the best part of a century. Perhaps on the "way up", such overhauls can be successful. But in such cases, such overhauls emerge organically -- people adapting to changed and evolving circumstances. On the way down -- which I think most people here suspect is the path we're on -- such overhauls might be extremely painful to a lot of people, and may lead to even worse outcomes than "light modifications." In short, evolution is better than revolution. With evolution, everyone adapts as they best see fit. With revolution, everyone adapts to what the faction that seizes power sees fit. And this is sometimes the most vicious faction. Having said all that, I agree that a pretty profound alteration in how we live is in order. But caution is advised, lest the result is social and cultural breakdown rather than adaptation.

I'm still partial to a black hat and suspenders as a fashion option, myself.
Helix wrote:
"[T]he more I ponder the human experiment at this stage, the more convinced I am it needs (and deserves) a complete overhaul rather than a few light modifications."
While I understand this sentiment, the historical record of complete overhauls is not encouraging. Just to cite a few memorable examples, the French Revolution led directly to The Terror, and then to Napoleon. The Bolshevik revolution led to Stalin, and Mao's "cultural revolution" heaped misery upon the already miserable lives of millions. The "new narrative" if Islam resulted in wholesale slaughter in Northern Africa for the best part of a century.
I am talking about something even more profoundly 'overhauling' than anything you've listed. Each of the examples you cite is one of a hierarchical human system being somewhat violently replaced with a different hierarchical system. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Instead I am thinking along the lines of "V for Vendetta" where a better idea comes along. Ideas are hard to kill, and once they begin to self-replicate they can really persist for a long time as many religions can attest to. To me, a bottom up overhaul begins with such revolutionary ideas as:

“All life has an essential purpose.”
“Exponential growth is impossible on a finite planet”
“The world is not “ours” to dominate”
“The feminine needs to be equally balance with the masculine in all things.”
Again, that last one is not a statement about gender. Just to be clear…
If we as a species began to hold these new truths as self-evident, what would shift as a result? Pretty much everything as far as I can tell.
At no point now, or ever, will I be proposing that we can simply replace one system of hierarchy with another. History is quite thorough on that matter. I trust that humans have given all that their best shot each time and all we’ve gotten is different flavors of ‘the same.’ So I am with you 100% there.
It’s time…for something completely different.

We need to plant thoughts that grow organically within society. People move towards what they want. Sustainable lifestyles need to be rewarding in a way self serving consumerism, isolation, and hate are not. They need to be promising and achievable by the masses.
It’s our job to cultivate the soil in which a better society can grow. Otherwise, as my husband puts it, we’re all just living alone in plastic pots.

I remember when the New Yorker wrote an article on Peak Oil and focused on Richard Heinburg. Probably it was back in 2005. The NYT later did a devastating piece on Sharon Astyk. More recently the New Yorker wrote an even more devastating critique of Shiva and food politics. Never give an interview to these people. They will sneer at you. I’ll bet those rich people are cringing right now!
Now my family has had a subscription to the New Yorker since it was published in the 1920’s. I have family members who write for it. I love it. But their cool ironic modernism is a curse! They are laughing at all of the above you know.
I have been meaning to write to this board because I hear how devastated Chris is at the loss of insects. When I was very little we used to drive to a cottage on Lake Erie. In early June there was always an apocalyptic hatch of mayflies - we called them June Bugs. They covered the street lights in Vermillion Ohio and caused car crashes. When we tried to go swimming the lake was covered in their shells that got into our bathing suits, We hated them and one year they basically stopped appearing. Then the white bass began washing up dead on the beaches and Lake Erie died. Not funny. Not cool. But the elites live on the oceans where they haven’t really noticed the fish washing up on the beaches yet. So they laugh at people who care. Our environmental activists are happy that the lakes and rivers are cleanish again. We fixed things by sending all of the crap to China.
Now I live in a small community in New England and I thought that I was part of it. My modern ironic New Yorker reading friends are furious with me because I don’t want to wear a pink hat and march around. They are really angry. I don’t know how to deal with this. Well, at least they have stopped laughing at me. But painful.

rheba wrote:
Now I live in a small community in New England and I thought that I was part of it. My modern ironic New Yorker reading friends are furious with me because I don't want to wear a pink hat and march around. They are really angry. I don't know how to deal with this. Well, at least they have stopped laughing at me. But painful.
Yes, I mourn the loss of the insects. Deeply. It feels to me like life itself is ebbing. I cannot explain it any better than that. Yet most people are deeply unaware of that and will vigorously defend their 'right' to not become aware of the impact of humans on the rest of life. Heck, we cannot even really manage to be fully aware of our impact on each other even when those are devastatingly horrible. So denial kicks in, and people first ignore you, then fight you with high emotion because you dare to remind them of something deeper which threatens to expose their entire way of life as something of a charade. My personal 'bad moment' with sneering NY press was when I devoted 2.5 days to a NYTimes reporter (Pagan Kennedy) on contract to Boston Magazine, will full access to my life and all of my thinking and practices that involve community and a vibrant practice of gardening and so on. After literally living with me and my family for those days, here's what she wrote:
The End is Near Inc. Chris Martenson thinks you should turn your house into a bunker, raise some chickens, and stockpile gold in case the economy really implodes. he quit corporate america to live this life, and now thousands of internet followers are buying the message—literally. (Source)
Yep. I am a messianic, profit seeking prophet of doom, selling fear to the great unwashed masses. As usual, the sneering liberal approach is to assume that they are above being suckered by such a message, but they do worry about those other people. You know, the ones that cannot really be trusted to think for themselves. If you unpack this, the entire attitude on display in the Boston Mag article is a perfect illustration of why the DNC lost to a man like Trump. Condescension and believing one has all the answers in life is not, after all, a very attractive position to those who do not yet share your views. Go figure. But I feel like the honest opening to the article would have gone like this: I visited a man who has a message that really disturbed me. Why? Because if it's true it means that my entire NY lifestyle is unsustainable and at risk. That means all of the things I consider most dear to me - SoHo, art exhibits, gourmet dining, and the ability to earn my keep performing mental and not physical labor - may not endure. Worse, my entire lifestyle is therefore contributing to its own downfall, and I cannot emotionally grasp that yet. So I will instead shoot the messenger, and then wrap it all up in a veneer of intellectualization that I am sure 'my tribe' will resonate with and congratulate me for writing. Oh well. At least they are now wearing pink hats and grappling with the idea that something awful is afoot. However people finally arrive is fine by me.

I gave it one last gasp on my Facebook wall. One last effort to try to convince my friends and family on BOTH sides of the spectrum that we were focusing on the wrong things. Now, I’m done. I’ll focus on my students and sympathetic peers only from this point forward, because I’m tired of getting the “looks” like I’m some overly pessimistic nut-job who will soon walk into the wilderness, grow a beard, and live with the wolves. They want to go on cheering at the Coliseum while the barbarians approach, let them. I’m done trying to organize a wagon train out of Rome at this point.

Here’s what I wrote, for all the good it did.
"At the risk of being further viewed as an “eternal pessimist” or “crazy loon” in the eyes of my friends and family, I’m going against my own better judgement and post this anyways. It’ll probably be the last post I’ll make along these lines, because I’m tired of screaming into the void of a world more determined to hide its head in the sand than even talk about The Big Things. Alas, the reservoir of fucks I use regarding how I am viewed by others runs dry, so here goes:

I still don’t know how to say it properly, but my sense as a historian is that until we truly analyze and correct the larger trends that are causing the frustration, anxiety, populism and anger that appear to be growing worldwide, things will only get worse. We are facing big challenges that will only get bigger, and we’re not even talking about them in any serious sense. So here’s a primer of things I’ve brought up before, consolidated in one shiny list. The first candidate of ANY party to start addressing these issues seriously will get my vote and my support.

-We’ve all but run out of low-cost-to-extract petroleum. It’s only been masked by a temporary glut in supply that is rapidly dissipating. If we think that oil pipeline is going to solve our oil problem, or that fracking/tar sands will, we need to look deeper at the EROEI equation. When the global demand for oil really meets the supply crunch that is coming, shit gets real. We gotta get ON this, now.

-Our climate is going ape-shit and haywire. It doesn’t lead to “longer growing seasons,” it leads to disruptions in food supplies, species collapse, and more extreme weather phenomenon. We all see it, but we write it off because it means we don’t have to wear mittens in January around here.

-Our ecosystem is collapsing as we speak. Bees, insects of all kinds, amphibians, all dying. These are canaries in the coal mine we seem content to ignore. Ever hear of the food chain? Yeah, we’re on there, and we depend on that chain for our own food, whether we choose to ignore it or not. Seriously, Bumble Bees are now at risk of going extinct. Think about that.

-The way free trade has happened has led to major global and domestic income inequality. It could have led to a more even distribution of wealth, but instead it went to the already wealthy at the expense of everyone else. One BIG reason so many people are pissed, I might add.

-Nuclear-armed nations are beginning to squabble over dwindling resources. Alliances and agreements that have kept things relatively peaceful for the last six decades are at high risk of crumbling. Protectionism and saber-rattling are now on the table. The last time that happened in the modern industrial era was in the 1930s, and it didn’t end well.

-Debt levels in every industrialized nation have reached previously unimaginable (and I would argue, unsustainable) levels. We have pulled too much prosperity from the future to fund our “wants” today, and the only way to fund the future repayment of those debts is either a massive debt-write-off - leading to a collapse of the financial system of the globe - or future growth needs to be so spec-freaking-tacular as to pay it all back and leave enough over for future generations to have any wealth left. I have serious doubts how future generations will do this in a low-growth environment.

-7.4 Billion people and still climbing exponentially. On a finite planet. How’s that math work again please? Oooh, maybe we can find another planet and move there! At least until we come up against the math on that one, too. Oh, and there hasn’t been enough funding for this kind of science in over twenty years, so currently we don’t even have the ability to build a base on our own moon, much less travel to, and colonize, other worlds. If such a thing is even feasible.

I GET the anger that many of my friends and family on the “left” are feeling towards those on the “right,” and I understand why the reverse is also true. The issues we are yelling about are important ones, to be sure, but my growing unease stems from the fact that I feel like we are arguing over what to do with the rabbit while the velociraptors are moving in behind us.

I don’t have the answers to all of these challenges, but as a collective species we’ve done some pretty amazing things, so I have no doubt that if we put our collective minds to them we’d come up with some pretty decent solutions. What I DO know is that we can’t solve problems we refuse to acknowledge or discuss, and ignoring the challenges will not make them go away.

So, what do we do? How do we get these issues out there, discussed in the mainstream? Will it only take a disaster on an epic scale? Do we have to literally be OFF the cliff before we realize there was one in the first place?

We need to start examining the illnesses rather than the symptoms, on multiple levels."

I did get 26 likes and 3 “hearts,” but no one single person contacted me to discuss what needs to be done, or anything.

Now I know why people walk into the woods, grow beards, and live with wolves.

I can’t agree more with you.
There is a law here in Quebec (or in Canada? I don’t know, but here it is) that says: You cannot help by force. if someone don’t want your help, then there you stop, even if this person is mentally sick and this help is required. You did your best, so now think for yourself and your group. And good luck for all others.