Podcast

Matthew Stein: How Prepared Are You?

Advice from the guru of personal resiliency
Friday, September 7, 2012, 9:55 PM

During the height of the 'Goldilocks economy' of the mid-1990s, Mat Stein wrote When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency, a master compendium of do-it-yourself preparation skills.

Fast-forward to today's Great Recession, drought-stricken, $100+ oil, post-Katrina, post-Fukushima world -- many are realizing the prudence of taking basic precautionary steps to reduce their vulnerability to whatever the future may bring. Whether you're concerned about the fallout from a breakdown of today's weakened global economy, or simply want to be better able to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster if you live in an earthquake/hurricane/flood/wildfire/tornado-prone part of the world, the personal resiliency measures Mat recommends make sense for almost everyone to consider.

In this interview, Mat begins with his universal advice for developing basic preparedness -- a 72-hour kit covering the basics needs for living, an emergency plan for your family, lining up local and out-of-town contacts, etc. -- and discusses specifics on what gear to procure and steps to take in unexpected emergencies. For more protracted periods without access to central services, many more situations are covered in his books and at his website.

It's important to note that Mat isn't a doomer bent on fanning fears of a zombie apocalypse (though those concerned about social collapse will find much utility in his work). Like Chris, he believes that our current fossil fuel-driven, hyper-consumptive, and over-leveraged way of life is not sustainable. So before the unsustainable, by definition, stops - it's best to invest now in developing the skills and habits that will serve us in this new future;  one sure to place a higher premium on self-reliance.

On the Rule of Threes

The Rule of Threes give you an indication of, in a crisis time, where your energies really should lie.

The Rule of Threes basically says:

  • If you've got 3 seconds without blood flow, meaning a heart attack or critical injury, then without blood flow to the brain in 3 seconds you pass out.
  • If you have 3 minutes without oxygen flow -- either you aren't breathing or you don't have access to oxygen -- you're out.
  • If you have 3 hours without proper shelter or clothing in extreme weather - extreme heat or extreme cold, you get hypothermic or hyperthermic -- you start to die or lose your ability to think and function.
  • If you have 3 days without water and you have to be physically active and it is fairly hot outside, then people start to die. Water is extremely critical.
  • Most people in America could live at least 3 weeks -- and many of us far longer than that -- without food. You may not be happy. You may not feel good. You might not have a lot of energy. You could do it. 

On the scale of things, that gives you an immediate priority list of what things you must address and deal with. Obviously the life-threatening things have to be dealt with first. 

On the Approach to Developing Resilience

There are three big buckets of preparedness. There is stuff you have. There is stuff you know. There are the skills and things you can do. This is also including your mindset. 

The most important is the skill set, including the mindset. You take that with you wherever you go.

A lot of people have plenty of money. By all means, gather stuff. Gather supplies. Store food. Have some beans, Band-Aids and bullets -- the three B's. Beans means your food and supplies. Band-Aids means medical skills and medical knowledge, medical supplies. Bullets means the ability to protect yourself. Again, that is not really my bag, but it's a necessary evil.

Get the stuff. Even if you are not really great at using some of these things, you can trade. You can barter and you can share. You can team up with people. The lone wolf in a collapse situation will probably not do very well, unless he is super-MacGyver. Someone who is meaner, tougher and better organized will come along and take all his cool stuff away from him. It is really in groups that people will do better. Think medieval times, castles, villages and groups. There was safety in numbers. People have skills and talents. It really takes a village to pull through. 

Think about your strengths. Naturally if you can develop all three areas, great. If not, if you are stronger in one, focus on that. If you do not have money, focus on your skill set. If you are likeable and get along well, if you have great skills and talents, then you will probably manage pretty well. Maybe you are older and you are not very strong you cannot do much. If you have good financial reserves, then you can stock up on things. You will be able to team up with a whole bunch of people. They will be thankful and grateful for you, if and when that day comes when that stuff is needed.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mat Stein (59m:45s):

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to another Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, of course, Chris Martenson.

Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Mat Stein. Mat is an MIT-trained mechanical engineer who specializes in the design and construction of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly homes. He is also the author of a bestselling book that has a place of honor on my bookshelf, When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency. It is one of the most practical and useful field guides for what to do when our centralized systems suddenly are not available to us, maybe because of a storm-induced power outage or, someday, possibly due to an oil shortage. The list is endless in this day and age.

The knowledge contained within his book and several of Mat's other excellent publications are relevant to anyone looking to live with resilience, whatever the future may bring. That includes his newest book, just out in November 2011, entitled When Disaster Strikes.

Yes, his writings seek to help people navigate difficult times, and Mat is a very hopeful person with a cheerful outlook, as describes many people listening to this podcast, including myself. Mat, I am thrilled to have you here. Welcome.

Mat Stein: Thank you, Chris. It is a real pleasure to be on your show today.

Chris Martenson: Great. Let's start at the very outside. I like to start there. Trained as an engineer, you looked at our highly complex, just-in-time, economic and technical methods and practices. You decided to write a book about the ways in which technology might fail us. At heart, you have trained a cautionary eye toward modern technology when I might say most people's faith in the same is hitting new highs with every release of the next generation Smartphone. What risks do you see in all this technological complexity that a casual consumer might be missing?

Mat Stein: Well, a while back I wrote an article called "The Perfect Storms: Six Trends Converging on Collapse." You and I and most of us grew up in high school. We drew graphs in Algebra class or Geometry, or whatever. If a graph is headed steeply for the bottom, then we know that unless you do something significantly different, it is going to hit the bottom. The problem with our complex world right now is that we have six major trends and many more complex sub-trends that are all headed for the bottom. We have not successfully changed course on any one of these six trends. Logic says, if we keep this up, if we keep doing business as usual, just what we have been doing all along, that these trends will hit the wall and it will collapse the world as we know it. Society will fall apart.

Now on top of that, we live in an extremely complex world. Nowadays there is only an average of three days’ of food in any city in the Western world at a particular moment in time. It used to be that there would be a warehouse with a month’s worth of food, or multiple warehouses, around each city. Now, with computers and the Internet and just-in-time deliveries, basically what you are going to eat next week is on the truck being shipped from somewhere across the country this week. It does not take a real genius to realize that with something complex like that, that is operating on just in time, all it takes is one little glitch and all of a sudden things are backed up for a long time. Nothing is getting there and we are in trouble.

A huge glitch that is certainly a big possibility in terms of major game-changing events is if we had an electromagnetic event, such as an extreme solar storm, which we have had twice in the last 160 years. It is just that the last one was 90 years ago, in 1921. If that one happened today, it would shut down the grid over most of the world. Most the world's nuclear power plants would start burning up. We have multiple individual events that could instantly grind civilization to a halt. We have these long-term trends, which actually are not very long term. They are relatively short-term, like collapsing sometime within the next few decades. If we do not do something major, they are going to shut down the world as we know it.

Chris Martenson: Now these six big trends, what are these?

Mat Stein: Okay – just real briefly, and then we could talk about each individually if you wish – the first one is climate change. I like to call it global weirding; some call it global warming. We are seeing the evidence of a much less stable climate on our planet. We are seeing the evidence that if the trends that scientists predict are correct, the world's main bread baskets will not be producing much food within the next few decades, as they start to fry and cook in a changing world. That is number one.

Number two is a peak in world oil production. As our world goes around today, oil is the number-one energy producing and energy dense material. It is easy to pump and move around to do our cars. We basically go to the easy-to-get and cheap, relatively clean oil. Now we are doing things like drilling for oil five miles underneath the Gulf and in the far north Arctic. We are fracking. We are horizontal drilling. We are doing all kinds of hoops just to keep the world's oil supply running as it is – basically to keep production flat.

Now, for the last 100 years we have been increasing oil production about 10% a year. That has fueled an amazing growth in the industries of the world. Right now, we are struggling just to keep it flat. I do not think we are ever going to do much better than that. As things start to decline really badly, it will cost a huge amount to get the remaining oil out. We will either produce less because it costs so much, or we will spend so much money… We have already seen what that has been doing to the economy.

Chris Martenson: Right.

Mat Stein: Number three is collapse of the world's oceans. It turns out that 11 of 15 of the world's major ocean fisheries are either already collapsed or in danger of short-term collapse. We have acidification. When we burn our fossil fuels and it rains, it makes carbolic acid. It goes in the rivers. That goes in the oceans. We are also collapsing coral reefs, which are like the rainforests of the oceans and part of the lungs of the planet. They keep our atmosphere livable. We are killing the plankton. Since 1950, according to a British scientific study, we have lost 73% of the world's zooplankton. That is the bottom of the food chain. Over half of that, has happened in the last 20 years. We are doing things that are changing the oceans and killing the oceans in a very rapid period of time. They were pretty healthy 30 or 40 years ago. They are not any longer.

The forests of the world, about half of them are gone now. A good chunk of the other half is seriously degraded. The food crisis is a big one. That is a combination of unsustainable use of water, climate change and unsustainable farming practices. We are flushing our topsoil that took millions of years to generate. We are just flushing it down the tube. It is ending up behind dams and in the oceans. It is not in the fields any longer.

Number six is the big kind of driver behind it all. It is the world's population. To give you an idea of how much population has changed, from the time Jesus walked the earth until Abraham Lincoln walked the earth, fewer people were added to our planet from Jesus to Abraham Lincoln than in the last ten years. Think of that. Every ten years, we are adding more people to the world than were added in the 1,800 years between Jesus and Abraham Lincoln. Since we added a billion people between the beginning of 2000 and October of 2011, we added one billion people. That is equal to the entire world population just in the year 1800. In just under 12 years we added more people than were alive in the entire world 110 years ago, 120 years ago. That is something that just cannot be sustained.

We are seeing that. We are collapsing the natural systems of the world. If we do not do things significantly differently, nature is not a little kind and benevolent thing that is going to say, Oh, you human beings. I will take pity on you and I will magically turn the valve on and change things for you. No. When you overshoot nature's natural boundaries, then the result is collapse. We see that over and over again throughout nature, where populations boom and then bust. If human beings do not do something different, we are going to be in the same boat.

Chris Martenson: Well, nature does bat last. My science background is biologically based. I am very familiar with these concepts as they apply to all organisms. I do consider humans a type of organism. I do not know that we are – in fact, I do know this. I will be clearer about this. We are subject to the same rules and regulations that nature sets forth, as any other organism. You went down this list; global weirding, and we have got Peak Oil, obviously. I would add to that potentially other resource extractions which are unsustainable by their very nature. These are non-renewable resources.

Mat Stein: That is correct. There are all kinds of rare earth minerals that are critical to manufacturing the products we use in electronics and solar panels, things like that. Those also have limits to their growth. We have run through a lot of the best deposits of these things. Now we are scrambling to keep things going. Yes, we are running into limits in many directions. Oil is just kind of one of the most obvious ones.

Chris Martenson: Yes. Then you went with ocean collapse and acidification. We have obviously got forest loss. You have a food crisis related to water. There is a big trend in water use there. There is a lot of news coming out about how aquifers are being depleted. Of course population is driving all of this. Around this there is a wrapper of this thing we call the economy. This is how we organize ourselves. It has been fashioned as if none of these trends were real. It has been fashioned as if we can just continue to expand forever. This is where we get to the heart of this story. We can all hope that these things you have just catalogued and other ones that we could raise are not going to bite us at some point. In this story, I think hope alone is a terrible strategy.

Mat Stein: Yes. It is a real strategy for failure. Wishful thinking may be great. You watch the movie “The Secret,” and if you just think good thoughts, then you are going to manifest tons of money and everything is going to be okay. The reality is that we live in a bubble around the planet earth. We do live in a bubble. We do not have a way of getting out of our bubble. We have to live within the means that are contained within this bubble.

There was an experiment, a bio-dome down in Arizona, where they spent $200 million. They built a big geodesic dome. They put systems in there that they designed; supposedly the best scientists worked on it, to make it self-sustainable. They had six scientists in there. They were supposed to stay in there for three years. They had to cut the experiment short. With $200 million on the planet earth, this is not out in space, this is not on the moon, this is not on Mars, this is on the planet earth in Arizona. Two hundred million dollars and they could not make a bubble that kept itself going for only six people.  With $200 million. I do not have $200 million in my pocket to make my bubble.

Chris Martenson: It was, of course, the very best of minds. They did think it through. They ran an experiment. Like all good experiments, there were some things that they learned. That is why they are experiments. We do not know all the variables. I believe one of the things that bit them was that the concrete they used to pour much of the footings absorbed CO2 at a much faster rate than they had known about. The point of all this is that technology brings extraordinary advantages. There are these disadvantages that we do not always think about. They just come along for the ride.

Yes, we are getting oil out of shale. It is just amazing. We are taking it from the source rocks. We do this fracking and we get 1,000 barrels per day to flow out of a well. It depletes at extraordinary rates. Within a few years, it is a stripper well, getting less than 20 barrels per day out. All the technology has really done is allowed us to get a little more out of the ground. What it also does is allow us to get it out faster. Yes, we get more out. We also get it out faster so it runs out sooner. Two sides on this coin.

Mat Stein: A good example of that is in the North Sea Oil. Norway and Britain sort of had two different approaches. Norway kind of did the slow, long-run approach for developing it. It is still going to run out. Margaret Thatcher was like, Boom. They just pumped and pumped and pumped. It made for a great boom in the economy in England. They were selling oil at ten dollars a barrel. Now they are importing oil. They have gone from an exporter of oil for 30 years or 25 years off North Shore Oil and North Sea Oil. Now that oil is toast. It is declining rapidly. They have to import. Whereas Norway is now selling their oil at $100 or $140 a barrel. They have still got oil around for another two or three decades, not, like, 200 years. Which was smarter? Was it smarter to go a little slow and steady, or smarter to go boom and bust? Any way you look at it, it is running out. If you are slow and steady, at least you give yourself more time to develop the alternatives, to get off the oil habit while there is still some around to keep things rolling.

Chris Martenson: I have to say that my personal view, and this is a belief of mine, is that watching the current election cycle here in late 2012 for the November elections, I do not see any distinguishable daylight between the two parties. They have different views on how we are going to get ourselves back on the fastest possible path of growth as soon as possible so that it’s business as usual. You just mentioned that there are a lot of things that could disrupt our just-in-time delivery system of food, fuel, medicine and water, virtually everything that we can consider life's essentials. Perhaps it will be a catastrophic banking failure that takes months to patch up. A solar flare you mentioned, like a Carrington Class-X event that ruins a few too many transformers and drags the grid down. It could be a liquid fuels emergency by final failure of Middle East diplomacy.

Listen, whether these risks are utterly remote and not worth talking about or concerning ourselves with, or all but certain to happen eventually, the simple fact remains that society today operates with arguably, I am going to say, the least amount of self-sufficiency and resilience of perhaps any generation ever. This is something you have written extensively about, to say Hey, listen. If this is true, there are things that we individually can and maybe should do in order to increase our own personal resilience. Is that fair?

Mat Stein: Oh, yes. In a nutshell, that is really it. We are extremely vulnerable and extremely fragile. Because we have not had a war on American soil since the Civil War and things have been so nice and stable pretty much since the 1950s, most of the people growing up today have this kind of Ozzie-and-Harriet view of the world. We are America. God has this magic shield around us. Everything is going to be okay. History proves that just is not so.

Chris Martenson: Well, all things change. We are in the middle of one of the greatest periods of change ever. I think that this is an exciting time to be alive. It is also a risky time. I think for many who are listening to this right now, myself included, the risk that some form of major disruption like the ones we just catalogued, the risk that this will occur sooner than later, is just unacceptably high. Being prudent adults, we want to mitigate those risks by reclaiming responsibility for certain mission-critical goods and services. What we can control, maybe we should.

Food, energy, water, medicine, and inner resilience, these all might be at the top of our lists. I want to dive right in. Basic preparation. It probably makes sense to start right at the very beginning and talk about some things that maybe everybody should do. I am agnostic as to whether things on this list should be things you think people should do, regardless of whether they live on the coast, inland, earthquake prone areas or not, urban or rural. Let’s start right at the top. Is it appropriate here to start with the rule of threes?

Mat Stein: Yes. Rule of threes is good. Sure. Rule of threes give you an indication of, in a crisis time, where your energy really should lie.

The rule of threes basically says if you have got three seconds without blood flow, meaning a heart attack or critical injury, then without blood flow to the brain in three seconds then you pass out. If you have three minutes without oxygen flow, then either you are not breathing or you do not have access to oxygen. Then you are out. If you have three hours without proper shelter or clothing in extreme, whether it is extreme heat… These are rough numbers. They vary in the situations. Extreme heat or extreme cold, you get hypothermic or hyperthermic. You start to die or lose your ability to think and function. If you have three days without water and you have to be physically active and it is fairly hot outside, then people start to die. Water is extremely critical. Most people in America could live at least three weeks, and many of us far longer than that, without food. You may not be happy. You may not feel good. You might not have a lot of energy. You could do it.

On the scale of things, that kind of gives you an immediate priority list of what things you must address and deal with that are life – obviously, the life threatening things have to be dealt with first, then water. Shelter first, then water; all life threatening things immediately.

It gives you an idea of priorities. So every family really should have a grab-and-go kit. It is the easiest, smallest, cheapest preparation you can do. Give yourself – Call it a go-bag or a 72-hour-kit, a grab-and-go kit. It is something to provide for you and your family for the basics of shelter, food, water, and medicine, emergency medical supplies, for the critical first, say three days, in a potential emergency, before anybody else can come to help. Obviously in a collapse situation, the grab-and-go kit is a good start [but] it is not going to get you through a collapse. It is certainly something that everybody can do.

I will admit, I am really prepared for the short term. I am working toward the long term. If the world collapsed tomorrow, I have a lot of great skills and knowledge and things. I could team up with other people. Could I do it on my own tomorrow? Probably not if the world collapsed. Could I handle a few months? Sure, no problem.

Chris Martenson: All right. So everybody should have a grab-and-go kit. Do you have anything on your list that you maybe think is probably not in what we would call a typical 72-hour kit?

Mat Stein: Oh yes. I have a few items. There is the obvious stuff. Here is something that a lot of people never think about. From our prior conversations, you are a rock climber and I am a rock climber. Inch-and-a-half cloth adhesive first aid tape is one of my key items in my grab-and-go kit.

People say Why is that so important? Think about it. What do you see in a disaster? You see people walking down the roads. If it was not a real disaster, they are driving their cars, unless they are broke and do not have money for cars. They are walking down the roads. Most of us – If all of a sudden you have got to carry a bunch of stuff on your back and you are walking down the road; cars are not working; whether it was an earthquake, tsunami, or oil crisis, what is going to happen? Most people are going to blister up. Then all of a sudden, once those blisters on their feet pop, they are not going to go anywhere fast.

You take that roll of inch-and-a-half cloth tape out. You take a little bit of the sticky tape off. You pull your shoes and socks off. You scrub all your hot spots with this sticky tape to get rid of the oils and scum on your skin. Being a climber, I am sure you have done this 100 times. You take some fresh tape out. You tape up those heels, your toes, or wherever it is. Certainly you can use the tape to bind wounds. You can tape up sprained ankles or broken wrists. You can do all kinds of things. You can repair a rip on your tent. That is a huge item. In a pinch, duct tape will work. I would rather have first aid adhesive tape on my skin than duct tape. In a pinch, duct tape works well on everything. That is one item.

Another item that most people do not have in their grab-and-go kit is a colloidal silver generator. People say What is that? Two thousand years ago, Alexander the Great did not know a thing about germ theory. He knew that if he stored water for his troops in wooden barrels that the troops got sick. A soldier that is vomiting and has diarrhea on the battlefield is not much good for anything. He also knew that if he stored water in silver urns, then his men stayed healthy.

It turns out that tiny charged particles of silver have this almost magical property, where they are toxic to all known pathogenic bacteria. They are non-toxic to human beings. They bind the proteins in the bacteria that prevent them from metabolizing oxygen. Now this sounds too good to be true. It turns out that the bacteria that are probiotic, that live in your gut naturally, the same extra-thick cellular wall that protects them from full strength stomach acids also protects them from the colloidal silvers. It kills the bad bacteria and not the good bacteria.

Again, it sounds too good to be true. It is. A colloidal silver generator is something that uses electricity, typically in the form of nine-volt batteries. It puts it across two pure silver wires. It makes a tiny particle called a colloid of silver. It looks a little like smoke coming off the wires and into the water solution. This is sort of your portable pharmacy, that you can help a hundred [people] heal if you have to, if there is some nasty bug going along.

You can purify water. It does not purify instantly. If you generate silver in water, it might kill every bug in the water over a few hours, not like in five minutes to make it perfect for drinking. Certainly in a disaster situation, you have to assume that your access to medicines and medical personnel is going to be minimal. They are going to be vastly overloaded and understaffed.

Another item that is really good to have on hand is a headlamp. That is where you have like a flashlight on an elastic band. The modern headlamps are just so incredible. They run off of like three AAA batteries. They are super-light. They are waterproof. They are LED-powered. You can drop them on the ground and they are not going to stop. In the old days, you had a massive battery pack. If you happened to drop your headlamp or bang it into something when it was on, then the filament in the bulb would tend to break. They are just wonderful things. They leave your hands free. You can work on your car, put your chains on, split wood, or run through the forest while you are holding something. Whatever you have got to do, the light flashes where your head points and your hands are free. You can even swim across the river with your headlamp on and see where you are going. They are a wonderful item.

Beyond that, basically another no-brainer item but is in most kits, is you really need an excellent water filter. I actually like to have two or three. Water is so critical, so I like to have two or three things for purifying water in my grab-and-go kit. I have multiple back-ups, especially if things stretch out a long time. I have a Backcountry water filter. I have a Katadyn or MSR filter. That is something with a ceramic cartridge that is field-serviceable and a carbon core to suck up nasty bad tastes, odors, and chemicals. It is field-serviceable. If it plugs, you can take it apart and scrub it with a green pot scrubbie. You can put it back together and you are back in business and running. If it is not field-serviceable and you have to buy a new cartridge, you better have a good stock of spare cartridges on hand. Once you pump it out of some scummy ditch water, you might plug it the first time. Then you are SOL if that is your only thing for purifying water.

You say Why purify water? You need at minimum two quarts a day. Figure on a gallon a day per person. Two quarts a day is really not adequate if it is hot and you have got to do a lot of work. About a gallon a person per day is really pretty minimal. If you have a family of four for three days, that is 100 pounds of water you are going to go through in three days. Try carrying that on your back, plus all the rest of your stuff.

Chris Martenson: One hundred pounds or 100 gallons?

Mat Stein: It is 100 pounds. It is eight pounds per gallon.

Chris Martenson: Oh right. Great.

Mat Stein: If you have a family of four, which is four gallons a day times three, that is 12 gallons times eight – it’s basically a little over eight pounds a gallon –  it comes out to 100 pounds. That is a lot to carry when there is other stuff you would rather be carrying, like your gear and clothing, etc.

Let's face it. When things fall apart in a city, you are going to be drinking from the nearest duck pond, river, or ditch. I, for one, would not want to drink out of that scummy duck pond or ditch, especially with a million people going to the bathroom all over the place, without first purifying it. It is so critical.

I like to have multiple things on hand. I have a steriPEN also. Have you seen the movie “Men in Black?”

Chris Martenson: Yes.

Mat Stein: Many people have. The guy pulls his little thing out of this pocket, the flashy thing. He says Everybody take a look over here. He gives a quick flash and your memory is gone. You pull your steriPEN out of your pocket. You give it a click. You turn it upside down. You put it in your water bottle. When the blue light flashes in about 15 seconds or so, you kind of stir the bottle of water while the blue light is flashing. Poof, all the bugs are dead. The good news is you get about 4,000 clicks per battery set in the steriPEN. The bad news is, if it is scummy or dirty water, all bets are off. It has got to be clear water. SteriPEN is like the fastest and simplest, quickest way to purify water when it is clear and relatively clean. You want to kill the bugs. If it is dirty or scummy water, you really got to filter it or treat it with chemicals.

Chris Martenson: Let's imagine that we have got here in our go-kit, this one-and-one-half-inch cloth tape. By the way, people are looking for this. It is wonderful stuff. I have a roll of it with me at all times in my climbing gear. You can find it most easily. It is known also as athletic tape. The cloth is the critical part. By the way, nylon does not count in this story. They have other sort of plastic backings, sometimes, on this. We are talking good, old-fashioned cloth. Think cotton with adhesive on it. That is the stuff.

Mat Stein: That is the best, yes.

Chris Martenson: That is great. It just does not come off unless you want it to. Then you still have to pull. Then you mentioned a colloidal silver generator. That is excellent. A headlamp and H2O filters, plural. That all sounds excellent. In my own world, I think because I live in a rural area that there is a 99.9% chance I am not ever going to bug out. I am going to shelter in place through almost anything I can imagine, short of the nuclear plant just north of me letting go.

Mat Stein: Maybe.

Chris Martenson: Maybe.

Mat Stein: In a real bad situation, the cities become deathtraps. Like, for instance, in medieval times, when the plague went through Europe. If you stayed in the city, you were pretty much guaranteed to die. Similarly, in the United States, in the event of a long-term grid failure, the nuclear power plants will start running out of fuel. They are mandated to have a week's worth of back-up fuel on hand. Some plant operators have told me they personally carry a month. Typically it is not a problem. When is the grid down for longer than a week or a month? If you have got a widespread grid failure from an electromagnetic pulse or solar storm, even some terrorist event – It could be just 200 guys with machine guns going around wiping out transformers.

It is as simple as that. It does not take a real high-tech thing. It just takes coordination. Then all of a sudden you have got a long period of time where these transformers are 300 tons each. They are tens of millions of dollars each. They are custom-designed for each installation. There is a three-year waiting list right now to get a single one. If one or two or three go down, the grid can compensate and they can work around that. They have one or two spares around. If 20 or 30 go down, or 300 to 400 in America, like a solar storm – a 1921 Carrington event would do this – maybe even a couple thousand worldwide – that is ten years’ supply, if the world was working great and going at maximum capacity. It would take ten years to make all those transformers.

You are talking a situation where getting out of the city is your only hope. It is not something where you have to be out today or tomorrow. It is something where you have to get out. The cities, without a grid to support them, the cities are the last place in the world you want to be.

Chris Martenson: So 70%...

Mat Stein: Hopefully we will not see that situation. There is a significant likelihood of it. There is a scientific study that says we have a 12 % chance – that is a one-in-eight chance – that within the next decade we will have a Carrington-event-sized solar storm. That is a game-over kind of situation, unless we get off of our you-know-whats and spend a billion dollars to put the protective gear into the grid.

So far, nobody has ponied up and said Yes, I am going to do it. The government is saying they are going to force the utilities to do it. The utilities are paying their lobbyists and fixing the numbers on reports and saying No, it is really not a big issue. Do not worry about it. Everything is okay. We have got it under control. They do not want to spend a billion bucks. Basically, if no one spends that billion dollars, then it is guaranteed that a solar event is going to happen; it is just a matter of the roll of the dice. If we spend the money ahead of time, it will be bad. It will be manageable. If we do not spend the money, it will be game-over for society.

Chris Martenson: All right. And 70% of the people listening to this, by odds, are in cities. If you lived in a city right now – I take it you do not – if you did, what would be right at the top of your personal list? Let's just imagine for the next two years, for a variety of reasons, you have to live in a city. What would your approach be there?

Mat Stein: The approach in the city is to have a good go-bag. You must have some Backcountry gear so that if you had to put things on your back, you could do it. I am not a real gun nut. Given that America is so heavily armed, it would be a good idea to get some training and pick up some minimal self-protective kinds of supplies. I hope it never comes to that. It is not like I am a Rambo kind of guy and I want to go out and blow someone away or protect someone. That is not my gig.

I would also have a back-up plan. If you have people you can network with in the country, a place to go, a plan of If I had to leave the city... 37% of all Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. Think of that: 50 miles from Fukushima. More than one in three Americans. They build these nuclear power plants near major metro areas. It costs a lot of money to pay for transmission losses to move the power a long distance. They build the plants relatively near to the places where they are going to use the power. Far enough away that they do not make people nervous, but close enough so that they do not lose a lot in transmission.

You need to know where your nuclear power plants are. You need to have a game plan for how, if things were down for a long time, how you could manage to get out. Now, obviously, if you are able to figure things out and use gasoline and drive a car to get out of town in the initial period before everyone else has figured it out, that is best. You need a back-up plan in the event that this does not happen, or somebody takes your car away from you, whatever.

There is no way to protect yourself from absolutely everything. Think resilience. Think about short term. Sheltering in place is great if it is a short-term emergency, it is not an earthquake, and everything has not fallen apart. Sheltering in place is fine. If it is a longer-term emergency, where everything has really fallen apart and you are in the city, then you have to know that there is no way that city of millions of people is going to feed itself and take care of itself. You are going to have to leave. You have to have a back-up plan.

Chris Martenson: In that back-up plan, I know that one of the key things that happens, even say during a hurricane or what happened on 9/11, is that communications become extraordinarily difficult. Under that circumstance, I know that even FEMA says you should have a family emergency plan. This means your family should know what to do. Quite often during the day we are separated from each other. If something happened and developed rather suddenly and communications are impossible, all the cell towers are jammed or otherwise unavailable to us in that moment – Talk to us. What is a family emergency plan, and how would somebody go about developing one?

Mat Stein: Well, talk about some key points. It is just like the grab-and-go kit. If you want details and more than I can say on the air, then the emergency plan and the grab-and-go kit, purifying water and protecting yourself from the next superbug, detailed articles on all that information is totally free on my website, at WhenTechFails.com.

When you think about a plan, think about some basic things for your plan. Figure out a local meeting place. If you are separated and the communications are down and you cannot get to your home, then everyone meets at, say, the local high school yard. Maybe it is a Red Cross shelter. It is something. It is some place where, if for some reason –

I live in wildfire and earthquake country. Easily things could get cut off. The question is, where would you meet? Also think of an out-of-town contact. I know during the Loma Prieta quake, I had a friend up here who was saying his wife was visiting down in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He was pretty frantic after the quake. The information was so minimal. He could not reach his wife by cell phone or land line. He had no idea if she was in an area that was affected or if she was hurt or killed. There were people hurt and killed in Santa Cruz and in the Bay area. It turned out she was able to get a phone call out after a while.

Often think about an out-of-town contact, like Mary Sue in Saint Louis or whatever, where if you are separated and you do have a chance to get some communications, you can call and leave a message with Mary Sue. Then everyone can check in there. If everyone in your family knows how to turn off the gas (if you have natural gas), and the electricity and water to your house, that is important, more the electricity and gas than the water. In, say, an earthquake situation or wildfire situation, being able to turn off the gas to your house could make the difference between it turning into a bomb and a torch versus coming out okay. Especially in earthquakes, because gas water heaters and things tend to fall over. They break lines. Then gas lines hit a pilot light or something. They light on fire. Everything goes up in flames. Those things are important. Those are some basic thoughts for a family emergency plan. There are certainly more details available on my website in that article.

Chris Martenson: That is excellent advice. That website again is WhenTechFails.com.

Mat Stein: Also, see both my books, When Disaster Strikes, which is more of a regular-sized book that is a comprehensive survival and prepping guide/handbook in one, and When Technology Fails, which is a big and massive phone-book-sized book that covers prepping and survival. It also covers sustainable living. It covers primitive technologies, like if everything fell apart, could we replicate some 18th century technologies rather than falling back to caveman days. If you are really worried about long-term collapse, then you want to have the big book, When Technology Fails. If you want a perfect book for your go-bag that gives you survival stuff and prepping information, then the newer book, When Disaster Strikes, is perfect for that.

Chris Martenson: Excellent. I think of the three big buckets of preparedness. There is stuff you have. There is stuff you know. There are the skills and things you can do. This is also including your mindset.

Mat Stein: Correct.

Chris Martenson: Across those three, which do you feel is most important, if you could choose? Where would you suggest most people, on average, need to start on this?

Mat Stein: The most important is the skill set, including the mindset. You take that with you wherever you go. I would say in that direction, I am very well prepared. I would still like to know more practical experience, foraging and things like that, being able to forage for food and identify plants. That is so important if things really fall apart and you have to pick up and move. With climate change and world changes, there is a distinct possibility – not a pleasant thing to ponder, but it is a significant possibility – that this is most important.

Then your stuff. A lot of people have plenty of money. By all means, gather stuff. Gather supplies. Store food. Have some beans, Band-Aids, and bullets; the three B's. Beans means your food and supplies. Band-Aids means medical skills and medical knowledge, medical supplies. Bullets means the ability to protect yourself. Again, that is not really my bag. It is a necessary evil.

Get the stuff. Even if you are not really great at using some of these things, you can trade. You can barter and you can share. You can team up with people. The lone wolf in a collapse situation will probably not do very well, unless he is super-MacGyver. Someone who is meaner, tougher and better organized will come along and take all his cool stuff away from him. It is really in groups that people will do better. Think medieval times, castles, villages, and groups. There was safety in numbers. People have skills and talents. It really takes a village to pull through. It is not something that can be done very well with just the lone wolf, at least in the long run. In the short run, the lone wolf may well be fine; in the long run, probably not so much.

Think about your strengths. Naturally, if you can develop all three areas, great. If not, if you are stronger in one – If you do not have money, focus on your skill set. If you are likeable and get along well, if you have great skills and talents, then you will probably manage pretty well. Maybe you are older and you are not very strong you cannot do much. If you have good financial reserves, then you can stock up on things. You will be able to team up with a whole bunch of people. They will be thankful and grateful for you, if and when that day comes when that stuff is needed. The mindset is so important.

My father-in-law was a Dutch Resistance fighter. He had a third-grade education. He was born in World War I. He was one of 14 children. He never knew his parents. They died in the latter parts of the war. He was raised by an older sister. After the third grade he was told Joseph, you eat too much. You have to go out and get a job. We are poor and we do not have enough money to feed ourselves, much less you. Imagine, after the third grade, being forced to go out and work full-time at whatever kind of labor, doing whatever you could to survive. That is kind of unfathomable for most of us here in America.

He was a survivor. He got captured by the Nazis and sentenced to death. He was tortured. He was put in front of a firing squad. He was shot with blanks three times trying to break his spirit. On the day of his execution, underground soldiers came to his jail cell. They walked in dressed as Nazis. They were border-town people who spoke perfect German. They said Joseph. We are going to take him and execute him. They looked up and said Oh yes, he is to be executed today. Take him away. It was his real day of execution. He had been sentenced to death in a public trial. They got to the yard and he thought this was it and he was really going to get shot. They helped him over the fence. He jumped down and broke both ankles. He got pulled into a car and went away.

The point of the matter is, here is a guy with a third-grade education. He has a joyful attitude. He was not sour. He was not dour. He was always making jokes. He was always laughing. He has a positive attitude. He survived the Indonesian Revolution when nine out of ten of his partners and compatriots died. He survived World War II and the Resistance. He was tortured and sentenced to death. He had an incredible attitude. He had a joyful and positive surviving attitude.

He also was not blinded by positiveness. He had a radar out. I do teach some exercises in my book for developing your inner compass to help guide you. I do believe that there is an inner source of wisdom and knowledge that can guide us to make split second life-and-death decisions and do the right thing. It is built into each and every one of us. It is like this most amazing survival mechanism that Mother Nature built into every one of us. Learning to develop that and use that, I think, is going to be important in the uncertain times to come.

Chris Martenson: So this inner compass is something we are all born with?

Mat Stein: Yes. I believe that it is in our DNA. Those beings that did not have it, they got eaten by the saber tooth tigers or they got popped in the pot by the cannibals and died in the battlefields, or whatever. I think Mother Nature built it into each and every one of us. Some call it your gut feeling, your intuition, your spirit guide. It is something which just knows what to do.

There is a wonderful book called The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. He talks about how that feeling, that inner compass, just guides people. So many countless survivors will say Oh, God, we got into this trouble because I ignored it. Then it kicked in and it saved me by getting me to go and do the right actions at the right moments in time, to do the right thing. I teach this pit-of-the-stomach exercise in both my books, to help people get in touch with that.

Let's face it; in a crisis situation, you usually do not have very good information. You do not have CNN. You do not have telephones and cell phones. You do not have somebody telling you what to do. It is like your rational mind is only as good as the information it has to draw upon. That is always imperfect at best.

When you are in a situation where you do not really know what to do, you know you cannot trust your mind when it is changing its mind, whatever it is, every few seconds. I think I should do this. Then a few seconds later, I think I should do that. Maybe we should go this way. Maybe we should go that way. Wait a minute. Slow down. It is like you cannot trust this great rational mind that is changing its mind every few seconds. It is flip-flopping all over the place. At that moment in time, you know you are going to have to get in touch with something else to make a decision. You just simply do not have the information to make good decisions.

Chris Martenson: This is a core tenet of mine. I wrote a piece – it must be in 2006 now – I called it Trust Yourself. I basically wanted to give people permission to tune out what they are hearing, even from our so-called “information sources.” Just trust yourself, in terms of knowing what is right and what is coming next. I think a lot of people who are listening to this right now already have a pit in their stomach. We all collectively know that something in our model is broken. Some of us have intellectual understanding of that framework. Others of us have gotten to it intuitively. Either way, I am agnostic. However you have come by the information that things have changed and it is time to take action to protect you, your loved ones, whatever is required to move you past whatever inaction might be holding you in place, that is what I care about most in this story right now.

The thing that has been fascinating to me is – I have discovered in my own life and I have been able to use this with other people as well – is that when I have anxiety, when I have fear around something, and I look into the future and I just do not like what I see, I find that the amount of anxiety I have is a measure of the gap between what I know and what I am doing about it. Anything I can do to close that gap up – You have a lot of very specific things that people can do. I have not read When Disaster Strikes. I know that When Technology Fails is absolutely chock-full of very specific things people can do.

You know, we all at heart want to be like your father-in-law, that hopeful person. That hopefulness combined with a certain amount of rationality will see us through. I have a certain level of hopefulness through all of this. I know that if we get the story right collectively and individually, that we can have a much better future than the one we seem to be heading towards. In your mind, you still obviously are a very hopeful and a very cheerful person. Do you think that a sustainable world, a durable earth – is this a pie-in-the-sky fantasy? Do we have to go through some really hard times? Can we get to a more hopeful place if we choose wisely?

Mat Stein: I think – Yes.

Chris Martenson: Yes, good answer.

Mat Stein: Yes to all. I call myself the “optimistic doomer.” I do believe that a sustainable future is doable. I also know that the cards are stacked against us right now. The 1% that got where they are, whether it is a corporation or an individual, they got to the top of the pyramid. They got there through the old way and the old system. It is also soiling the nest and ruining the planet. They have a huge amount at stake at keeping the system going. Keeping the system going is like a 100% guarantee for catastrophic failure. Most people, when I ask the same question, I speak to lots of groups of people at different events. I have asked this question to thousands of people year after year. First I will ask, how many of you think that everything is okay, that we can keep going with what we are doing and it is going to be okay? Up until recently, I did not have a single hand out of those thousands of people raise their hands. One guy raised his hand. I think he was being facetious.

Then I ask, how many people think that no matter what we do, we have passed the tipping point? It used to be that one out of three people would say Yes, I think we are past it. The giant train wreck is going to happen no matter what we do. Then it used to be that two out of three people would be in the optimistic doomer category that I count myself in. They feel that we are going to have to get shaken around and knocked around pretty badly. Then we will restructure the world and make major changes, like just driving a hybrid car is not going to be enough. It has got to be major changes in the way the world works to pull through. I think it is doable. It is going to take major change. Right now, we are not shaken up badly enough to make that major change.

Nowadays, it turns out that I am seeing two out of three people feeling we passed the tipping point. The train wreck is going to happen no matter what. Only one out of three is in the optimistic doomer category. Essentially nobody, except that one guy so far, felt that everything was okay. I think as a race intuitively, that we are getting on a massive scale that it is unsustainable. It is headed for the wall. Whether it is pandemic, or an EMP and nuclear meltdown, or whether it is the cascading fall through various natural disasters and ecological disasters that takes us down, we are heading for that wall one way or the other.

Chris Martenson: So I hold the same view, which is that there is an inertia to the system. The system wants to perpetuate itself. The incentives for maintaining status quo are extraordinarily strong. Given that point of view, I am optimistic. I am hopeful. I am also planning as if there is a major shake-up coming. The path we are on, whether we just look at it economically from an energy standpoint and the environment, they are all unsustainable trends at this point. The definition of unsustainable is that it is going to change or stop someday. I know that the major systems are due for a shake-up. I do not know when. I do not ever try to predict when. You and I had a pre-conversation. You do not either, because we are steeped in this enough to know that these things are inherently unpredictable in terms of their timing. The direction is easy to catalogue. If you know you are on an active set of plates that have not given up an earthquake in a long time, that does not mean that they have given up on earthquakes. It just means that you are going to have a bigger one when it finally comes.

My question is, it seems like a lot of what we have been talking about is that there are certain inevitable changes that are coming. There are certainly things that we can do on an individual level to mitigate some of those risks, be those financial risks or physical, maybe some of these are emotional risks. These changes are really going to hit some people hard, so being emotionally resilient is important. There might even be spiritual dimensions for people. Out of all of these, you look into the future and you consider yourself an optimistic doomer. The question is really, out of all of that, what is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? What are you really excited about in this story? What are the positive changes that you see that can come out of all of this?

Mat Stein: I believe that we are going to have a kinder world when we are done with this. It is going to treat Mother Nature, the earth, and people – individuals – with much more respect. It will not be this. The system where the goal is to get as much stuff, as much wealth, and as consume as much as possible, it is not sustainable. It cannot keep going. I see that when it is all done, we are going to have a much healthier and more balanced planet. The pain is, how do we get from here to there? Do most of us go away? The population of the planet, do we self-regulate and take the population down to a sustainable level in a relatively painless way? Does Mother Nature step in because we do the boom, bust, and collapse situation? Most of us starve or die in various pandemics – how do we end this story?

My optimism is in doing my best to do what I know and feel is the right path, for myself and for the planet. How can I serve? In writing When Technology Fails, that was my goal. People say What is an MIT engineer doing writing about book like When Technology Fails? It does not make sense.Back in 1997, I had at that point a 20-year practice of morning meditation and prayers. This started after a significant event from a 108-year-old yogi back in 1977. Anyway, I made a generic request for guidance and inspiration. I got a bomb dropped in my lap that morning. I received what must be described as a vision, basically a holographic, pictorial, moving-storyboard outline, outlining this massive book project to help people live more sustainably and to also help them cope with the failure of central services in our highly complex society for significant periods of time.

My first thought was No way. I do not know all this stuff. I am an engineer. I am a writer. I do not know it all. I cannot do this. The little voice – Jesus calls it the still, small voice – in my head said Nobody knows it all. It assured me I had the skills and talents that, should I take this project on, that I would actually be able to complete it. I did not just jump right up and say God talked to me today. I am going to save the world and write this really cool book. It took me about a year to decide that it was a good idea and it was doable. I ran it by some well-known people. They thought it was a great idea. It took another year to find a publisher and write sample chapters to get a contract and get the book sold. It took another year to rack up the credit cards and work 70 hours a week, to put my engineering business mostly on hold and make it happen.

It was more like I got dragged into this kicking and screaming. I accepted my cosmic homework assignment. Sometimes it has not been much fun. I racked up huge debt. My first publisher was bankrupt and never paid me. For what I spent on writing my book, I could have bought five acres and built myself a great earthship home. Instead I got this really cool book that has helped a lot of people around the world. I am in a similar financial situation as many others. I am doing the best I can for the long-term preparations, within the financial means I have at my disposal.

Chris Martenson: Great story about how that all came about. At the beginning of this, the part I was drawn to as well is this idea that the preparing itself is not the end. It is something that – We see some difficult time coming. For myself, that is a period I am going to get through.

The important questions I am asking myself are, Where do I want to be when I come out the other side? What core values do I want to have? What am I not willing to do? What am I willing to do in order to get there? All of history says that sometimes you live in very interesting times. Sometimes they are a little bit quieter. We are coming up on an extraordinarily interesting period of history. It is not sufficient to simply ask how am I going to enter that period? That is important. It is also just as important to ask ourselves how am I going to exit that period? What does this look like on the back end? Those are both, I think, critical dimensions of this.

Mat Stein: Yes. It is what gift can I bring to the world? How can I serve? Every morning I ask that question, whether it is in a few minutes of silent prayer or meditation or if I am rushed, I just ask that question during my long-distance run at the end of the day. I say How can I serve? Guide me. What should I be doing at this moment in time? You could say it is just your intuition or your subconscious. You can say that it is the Holy Spirit. It is your spirit guide. It is whatever. I do not care if you are Buddhist or Christian or Muslim or Jewish. It does not matter to me. I believe that the internal compass and inner guidance system is available to each and every human being, totally regardless of what spiritual or belief, what religion, they are a part of or what belief system they operate under.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. We have been talking to Mat Stein, author of When Technology Fails and also When Disaster Strikes. Clearly we could talk forever. We have just barely scratched the surface. Big topics, so these are big books. There are lots in them. I would invite you to also check out WhenTechFails.com, where you can find more of Mat's writing and potentially some of his more current thoughts and ideas right there, as well as some tools, including the family planning guide, if I have that right?

Mat Stein: Yes.

Chris Martenson: The emergency planning guide. Thank you so much for your time today. I hope we can go deeper at some point in the future.

Mat Stein: You are welcome. I would love to be on any time. I would like to close with my motto. My motto is that I urge everyone to do your best to change the world and do your best to be ready for the changes in the world. Thank you so much for having me on your show today.

Chris Martenson: Great closing words. You are welcome and thank you.

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54 Comments

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 2536
A Thin Thread of Hope.

I am going to have to disagree, but unfortunatly I cannot. 

Thank you both.

I have written how I hope that things look after the crisis in my short story The Breeding.

I was talking to Professor Muelenberg at the ICCF17 and he said that the military have the fibre to make an elevator, and he will be making presentations to people that have the where-with-all to make it happen.

John Lemieux's picture
John Lemieux
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 2 2012
Posts: 224
An Economic, but more seriously an Interactive Ecological Crises

Thank you very much for this interview.

Matthew Stein's veiws and attitude in regards to the interactive ecological nature of our crises resonate  strongly with me.  I do understand that the financial/debt crises and related topics are real and very serious, but to me those issues need to be better put into the context of our environmental and social crises to provide a more complete picture of our current predicament. I noted how Mr. Stein raised several "taboo" topics as his primary concerns and I agree with him how these environmental issues are linked to the cuases of what is killing the oceans and threatening our food sources for example.

Personally I think that our environmental crises, or 3rd E is given very little attention here and I'm amazed how we have all become so disconnected from seeing and factoring in the extent of harm we are causing to the planets ecosystems that support us. I also thought it very interesting that he puts his rational understanding of what is happening into a spiritual perspective as well. Perhaps I'm looking for it, but it I'm hearing the same kind of thing from many others that see the severity and intractability of our environmental crises. But someone like Darryl Robert Schoon who primarily talks about the debt crises also puts these issues into a spiritual perspective as well.

The Canadian Ecologist Paul Chefurka is an example of someone who sums up our predicament as an interactive ecological crises and he has similiar things to say about how he has come to terms with the "mess" we are in.

http://www.paulchefurka.ca/Sprituality.html

z's picture
z
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 1 2010
Posts: 7
Do NOT use colloidal silver

Nice interview overall, however I must caution against using silver as a water purifying system. First of all, if you use it too much, you will propapby get argyria, which is a sort of silver poisoning. Second, it will not kill all the pathogenic microorganisms in polluted water, and this I say as a microbiologist (I am a PhD working closely with bacterial pathogens). The FDA, as well as many countries outside the US, has banned the usage of silver in over-the-counter products. If you are going to employ chemical water purification, PLEASE use chlorine or iodine and do not go anywhere near silver.

rocketgirl2's picture
rocketgirl2
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 24 2012
Posts: 41
While listening to the

While listening to the interview (Thanks to Chris and Mat and the CM team) I decided to skim through Mat's website.  I was curious about his suggested items for the 72 hr. kit.  I chuckled a little when after scrolling through the images and under the batteries for steri pens, I found the suggestion for sanitary napkins (menstrual pads for the obvious and...) for "severe bleeding wounds".  Seems this idea is everywhere.  I agree.

t.tanner's picture
t.tanner
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 16 2008
Posts: 43
CC/OA

It was nice to see Mat mention climate change and ocean acidification - two huge threats that are routinely ignored at PP.  All in all, a solid interview.  I do agree with Z, though.  I'd steer clear of the silver.  There are other options that make more sense.     

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1027
Walking instead of driving

Tape is handy if you get a blister, but the best thing is to avoid them to begin with.  Keep a high level of fitness, use synthetic low friction socks, wear good fitting comfortable shoes or sneakers, and keep your nails trimmed.  Running clothes appropriate for the season are always in my car, plus food and water, in case I get stranded somewhere.

Rwrek's picture
Rwrek
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 9 2012
Posts: 18
"City" Definition Please

I really appreciate the details and approach Mat takes, but was deeply disturbed with the idea that we had to abandon all out cities in a dire crisis. Perhaps when you ar dealing with a "concrete jungle" type city environment, I could see that, but we live in a Texas city suburb that has streams lakes, farms nearby and Texans are a relatively well armed conservative lot. Have food, water and solar options already in place in this location.

Could someone elaborate on Mat's meaning of "city" or might that be part of his book dealing with when"shelter in place" is not a practical option?

Just hate the idea of having to develop an alternate rural option, but survival and prosperity is key.

Thanks

Broadspectrum's picture
Broadspectrum
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 14 2009
Posts: 66
Downsize, How to begin?

Hi All,

I hope someone can find this series useful...

Broadspectrum

When the need arises to downsize, how to begin?

A personal journey of Involuntary Simplicity
with Trudy and Steve Bhaerman

Involuntary Simplicity: Spontaneous Evolution From the Inside Out, Steve and Trudy frankly share their own evolutionary journey – where they drastically downscaled their footprint, and upscaled their life. After leaving their beautiful home of 12 years in what they call “triumphant surrender,” they experienced wave after wave of amazing grace as they let go of what was no longer needed, and received all they required to thrive.

Involuntary Simplicity: Spontaneous Evolution From the Inside Out is a six-week online live video conference beginning this Tuesday and continuing through October 16, where you can participate in an important conversation on how to have more with less, how to gracefully and joyfully navigate the significant change and breakdown that is taking place.Join Trudy and Steve online this Tuesday, 11 September.. Click here to find out more... 
 

Mat Stein's picture
Mat Stein
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Joined: Sep 5 2012
Posts: 25
3rd Extinction and coming collapse

The thoughts expressed in your comments and those of Paul Chefurka parallel my own. In my opinion, it will take a huge paradigm shift in the way we do business in the world if we are to avoid catastrophic collapse and die-off. My guess is we will have to be knocked around quite severely in order to make this shift, and my hope is that it will occur on the less painful side of the range of possibilities.

Mat Stein's picture
Mat Stein
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 5 2012
Posts: 25
colloidal silver

As to the use of silver, it can certainly be over used and misused, and caution should be exercised. The risk of Argyria (turning blue) from properly made colloidal silver is quite small. Before development Argyria, the "blue man" shown on Fox news made and drank a quart a day for sixteen years, as well as rubbed it all over his skin to self-medicate a skin condition that did was not responding to pharmaceuticals. For most of those 16 years, he was probably making his silver solution using the old bad advice of adding salt to the water to speed up the process, which makes a lot of silver chlorides that are not as effective as true colloidal silver for fighting bacterial infections, are slightly toxic, and far more prone to developing Argyria than ionic or colloidal silver is. In the days of antibiotic resistant super bugs, where hospitals are increasingly relying on various nano-silver solutions to fight antibiotic resistance, I for one feel more comfortable keeping both a stock of patented 10 PPM commercial nano-silver solution on hand as well as having the ability to make my own high quality ionic silver solutions if and when I either run into an antibiotic resistant infection or find that due to circumstances beyond my control I have lost access to common pharmaceuticals. Naturally I would prefer to rely upon boiling water, running it through my back country microbial water filter, or zapping it with my UV SteriPen, but I may not always have those options....

Mat Stein's picture
Mat Stein
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Cities and collapse

In relatively short term emergencies and crises, no need to leave the cities. In a full-on collapse, where for whatever reason the infrastructure has failed and will stay down for a long period of time, meaning the cavalry is not coming over the hill to feed all the folks in the city, the reality is there simply will be no way to keep to folks in the city fed and that if you don't get out to an area where more food is grown than consumed, then you simply won't make it out alive. Where do ten million people go to the bathroom when there are no sewage and water pumps pumping?

Hopefully there will be plenty of warnings before things get this bad where the cities become death traps. However, there are many scenarios in which this level of societal collapse could occur overnight, or certainly within a few days, such as in the event of a severe pandemic, EMP attack, or severe solar storm, like the Great Geomagnetic Storm of 1921 or the Carrington Event of 1859.

For a sobering article, check out 400 Chernobyls posted on Truthout.

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city vesus CITY

Rwrek, there was a discussion thread on this a while back, but the gist of it was that--histoically--cities up to one million residents are sustainable with just horse-drawn power (ancient Rome, places like that.) In a peak oil scenario, the conclusion was that it would be wise to avoid highly populated areas since the food and water are brought in from the outside. That that takes energy, and if energy gets scarce these places could slowly become uninhabitable. In a sudden crisis, they could become literal death traps.

I moved from the unsustainable megalopolis of the greater NYC area to near the caipitol of South Carolina. The city of Columbia, SC, has 100,000 souls and is surrounded by farmland. Much more sustainable.

If your "city" is not a megacity, you should be fine.

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Mega city vs small city

True, if you live in a small city surrounded by farmland, once local resilience tools are developed, such as trade and barter, things should work out as fairly well. However, if infrastructure collapse happens suddenly during the winter months, with just an average of three days stock on hand in any North American city at a given moment, you will somehow have to make it to the next spring crop of fresh vegetables pretty much on your own, or with the help of your friends and family....

When I spoke of cities, I was thinking of large US cities with widespread urban sprawl that has overtaken surrounding farmlands for many miles in all directions.

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Kitchen gardens

True, if you are in a suburban area, with large gardens and a good climate for growing things, along with abundant farmland nearby, then that sounds like a good place to be. Giant metro zones with far more population than could be fed from farms within a couple hundred miles--not so good place to be when the SHTF!

-- 
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Cities, countryside and bugging out

Mat,

Thank you for the presentation! I very much enjoyed hearing you and Chris discussing this topic, as it's one that I find particularly interesting.

I wanted to bring up some points that I beleive at least add a level of mental exercise to the entire concept of "bugging out", and compare and contrast the urban and rural experiences. I'd like to say from the start, I much prefer the country, but preppers in general dismiss the cities as death-traps, and I think this is an unfair and facile assumption. I have a few points that I generally use to get people thinking about "bugging out" in a more 'critical' sense.

1. Rural Landscapes don't want refugees

People in the country are generally established, familiar and to some varying degree, xenophobic. They don't like tourists, out of town fishermen, dirty hippies, condescending yuppies or loud teenagers. I know this is a generalization, but people who live in the quiet countryside do because it's quiet, and sparsely populated. 

In an emergency, when resources are tight, communities have a tendency to be welcoming and hospitable, but only to a point. They will have their own problems, and probably will not want yours - especially if the fleeing comes in droves, the way it has in places like Sudan.

2. Rural Landscapes in times of poverty reduce citizens to serfs

Historically, those who dwell in the country are not wealthy land ownering agrarians with egalitarian values. Throughout most of Western History, farmers in the country farmed for what equated to feudal lords, and lived in poverty and without any opportunites for advancement in society, knowledge gaining and social mobility. This is something that should be strongly considered - especially for a protracted emergency that spans years, and perhaps generations. The social strata of the countryside is very monochromatic. You are either a land owner, or a laborer. A few who are especially talented might gain access to the artisan class.

3. Cities Still have institutes that facilitate skill and knowledge building

Regardless of what the emergency, not every city will be destroyed, and all cities have some form of educaitonal centers which could serve as a 'reflective equilibrium' to brace urban communties from a loss of affluence. This is the case in Argentina, where even though times were tough, there were still scholastic opportunities and ways of improving your position by hard work. In addition, urban areas still have infrastructure.

Even if it's badly damaged, it will be significantly easier to get amenities on line after an emergency by tapping into the diverse occupational and educational specialities that are, again, very generally, broader in scope in urban areas.

4. Bugging out is a horrendous risk

Again, from a historical perspective, even colonial America was plagued by highwaymen, road agents, rogue governments collecting taxes and the everyday burden of living off a poor diet while traveling through adverse conditions. You hold very little in the way of security, iniatitve and knowledge of your environment when you're traveling overland. Especially if you're with your family, or others who cannot protect themselves, you may find that there is simply not enough forage, or that you're an easy target for those who would lay an ambush for 'easy' targets. 

We're not talking about apex predators - we're talking about sneaking folks here who have no desire for a test of skill. Opportunists present themselves in criseses, and you put yourself in an extremely vulnerable position by traveling during an emergency.

I'm interested in hearing the thoughts you all may have on this, and when I have more time I'll try and find some of the historic support I used to form these opinions if necessary.

Cheers,

Aaron

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choices

To me the best circumstance in which to find yourselves in a collapse situation is in your home that has been prepared.  Everyone needs to figure out whether that is possible, but if you can shelter in place, you have a big advantage over most others, country or city.  But, in the country there are fewer variables to worry about.  You know your neighbors and can ID strangers.  Generally country folk have more room to store food, water and equipment and are more likely than their city cousins to have arms and tools on hand.  They are more likely to have well water and septic systems that keep them "off grid" for those needs.  They have space for a garden and are likely to already have one or more as well as fruit and nut trees, livestock and awareness of who the farmers are and how to perform services for them or barter for food.   IOW, they already have a network that is an intact community.

OTOH town folks can also prep in place and can more easily work with neighbors to form groups to work on the various common needs.  The same can probably said for city neighborhoods that are already cohesive and where people know each other.  But then, you run into the problem of public utilities.  If they go down everyone has to have a viable alternative.  However, to the extent they can grow food, they become more sustainable.  I once lived in an urban neighborhood that had originally been settled by Italian immigrants.  They all had backyard gardens that could grow a surprising amount of food.  Plus, they understood how to create good soil to the extent that it was still wonderful soil generations later when I and my somewhat impoverished roommates lived there. We grew a lot of food that sustained us during some lean times.  So, if you live on an old city lot, check out your backyard soil.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

At any rate, those are considerations I think are important.  If you conclude you cannot prepare in place, you better have a place you can bug out to that is well prepared and have a plan to get there with loved ones.  Otherwise, you are ripe for the picking.

Doug

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Mat Stein wrote: In

Mat Stein wrote:

In relatively short term emergencies and crises, no need to leave the cities. In a full-on collapse, where for whatever reason the infrastructure has failed and will stay down for a long period of time, meaning the cavalry is not coming over the hill to feed all the folks in the city, the reality is there simply will be no way to keep to folks in the city fed and that if you don't get out to an area where more food is grown than consumed, then you simply won't make it out alive. Where do ten million people go to the bathroom when there are no sewage and water pumps pumping?

Hopefully there will be plenty of warnings before things get this bad where the cities become death traps. However, there are many scenarios in which this level of societal collapse could occur overnight, or certainly within a few days, such as in the event of a severe pandemic, EMP attack, or severe solar storm, like the Great Geomagnetic Storm of 1921 or the Carrington Event of 1859.

For a sobering article, check out 400 Chernobyls posted on Truthout.

Mat -

While I can appreciate your efforts in the other areas being discussed, your assessment of 400 Chernobyls is not sobering, it is an abysmal, technical failure.  Anyone who cites Arnie Gunderson as an "expert" in nuclear power is foolish.  Gunderson would have you believe that spent fuel pools are more of a danger than reactor cores undergoing loss of coolant and active meltdown?  Complete loss of focus - in the submarine world we call it "losing the bubble".  In addition to inflating his resume, Gunderson has made quite the name for himself by presenting the worst case scenario as imminent.  In short, he blew his Fukushima Daiichi assessment right out his backside.  It really is quite annoying to those of us with real resumes and experience in the nuclear power industry.

I'll stick with your other material.....

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I live in a city now where

I live in a city now where basically everyone knows everyone else. It is a little over 5000 people, a country/farming setting, and well armed as the wild life is near. Pick your own type farms, cider mill nearby, and horse stables for the City folks who come to ride the countryside. A few minutes away is a Great Lakes and terrific fishing. Nearby also are the mega cities, where everything from A to Z can be purchased. Frankly the best of all worlds.

Our city has its own wells for use by the citizens, natural gas and propane for the country folks who in some instances live across the street in a township and the pipelines haven't crossed. Most all have wood burning stoves.

Farm animals for meat cost less than store bought, and often come cheaper to those who spend a weekend day helping his farmer friend clean the manure out of the barn. I purchase my meat at cost to a farmer who raises them as we slaughter them twice a year. 

The benefit of having relationships in a small community is that your home, your property is secured when you are gone away with just the mention of your intent. We all know who the strangers are, who don't fit. So, the value to this is inescapable.

These are the types of communities that have never lost the sense of true community, and I believe will fair best in times of crisis. I can honestly say I know few in my community that doesn't have a freezer full of meat and staples for months into the future plus are armed well enough to protect their homes and that of their neighbors. Many feeder roads lead to other communities less than 10 miles away with similar populations, and trains still run through town so that invaluable part of our past history has been maintained.

I have lived the Big City and small city life, and small is my preference, hands down. I can always go to the Big City, and can't wait to get home either when my business is done. Maddening experience now as there is more people at the Mall than in my entire town.

Regards

Go Tigers

BOB

Regards

BOB 

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Prepper Movie-Like Scenario on Youtube

Love the show! 

Just found this movie like scenario through one of my subs on Youtube.

It is awesome. Hope you guys enjoy as much as I do.  Going to submit to peakprosp to see if they want these guys on.

CK

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"City" Definition Please

Safewrite - Thanks, that does help explain. Where was the previous discussion thread you mentioned?

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Home sweet home

While a "go bag" is a reasonable safety net, it makes more sense to be proactive and move to the spot you'd like to be ahead of a potential crisis.  Mat makes some excellent points in his discussion, and I'd suggest that most of those points are better addressed on the front end of a crisis than on the back end.  

If you're truly concerned that we're approaching some sort of collapse, then do your research, pick the place you think offers the best option for the future and move there as soon as possible. 

My personal opinion, for whatever it's worth, is that you should set up your personal living situation with both ends of the spectrum in mind.  You want to be happy and comfortable if things keep on mucking along for another 30 or 40 years - no point moving into a cave unless you love living in caves - but you also want to be resilient, with the kind of built-in redundancies that will make life easier in the event things take a turn for the worse.

Two more things to consider.  The first is that skills, both physical and mental, are far more important than whatever you're going to stuff in your go bag.  It's not that hard to make a bow drill fire, or build a shelter that will keep you warm and dry - but you have to know how.  The second is that community is indeed the key.  And for some strange reason, it's always easier to join that perfect community before things go all to hell.  

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Discussion threads

I've been replying to various comments from others pertaining to this podcast, so just look around at the other comments as sorted with threads....

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Thoughts on bugging out

IIn general, almost everyone would rather shelter in place rather than "bug out". However, life is often messy, and your well laid plans could be abruptly disrupted by reality. You will  take your skills with you wherever you go, unless you become very ill or are otherwise incapacitated. Your "cool stuff" may well disappear in a catastrophe where it has to be left behind, disappear slowly in the event of a long term collapse, or disappear quickly when a tough well-armed and well-organized opponent takes it from you.

There are no hard and fast "rules" only "guidelines". I believe that mother nature built into our DNA the most incredible survival mechanism in the form of intuition, "gut feel", "spirit guides" the "holy spirit" or whatever else you may wish to call it. This is a higher source that can "see around the corner" and help you make critical decisions in an instant, if necessary, with little or no information at your finger tips to make a truly rational decision. Some of us will experience a relatively peaceful but more physically toilsome existence in a collapse type scenario, while others may be swept into a violent bloody and messy aftermath. I would prefer the more peaceful scenario, but honestly hope it will be neither. Time will tell....

Your point about the country folks not necessarily taking kindly to refugees, such as the case of Sudan, is well taken. However, as in Sudan, the reality of those refugees is that had they stayed where they were, then they would have probably suffered horrible deaths, which is why they are on the move and have left their homes to become refugees.  Most true widespread disaster leave lots of refugees, and most of those refugees you see walking down the road after a disaster probably though it would never happen to them.

In my own case, even though I live in the country, it is also at 6,000 foot elevation in an area that frosts 10-11 months of the year and is therefore not a great place to grow food. For the short term, sheltering in place is our preferred course. However, if it looks like the infrastructure may be down for an extended period of time, we are partnered with our son and his wife who live a few hundred miles away in a much better place to grow food, but a much worse place to make a living. We help them out financially when we can and have purchased a modest solar panel array for their off-grid homestead, so they don't have to use their generator all the time like they used to at .

As for protection, I understand the necessity for this, and even though I was a pretty good shot and a fair hunter when I grew up hunting and fishing in Vermont, this is an area where I acknowledge that I sorely need to update my skills, expand my tools and supplies, and practice, practice, practice! Thankfully my son is way ahead of me in this area (he complains I am too much of a pacifist).

I also agree that community is where it is at. No one can know and do it all. People are social animals and generally do much better in groups. There is also considerable safety in numbers, especially when marauding teams of bandits start picking off easy prey. So, how do you balance making a living with building relationships in a resilient community? Do the best you can within your means. If it means moving to a smaller more resilient and sustainable location, and you have the means to do so, go for it. If it means staying in the city and building connections outside of the city along with contingency plans, then so be it. There is no one right answer, just the right answer for yourself. And the answer that seems "right" today, may not feel right somewhere down the line, so listen to that inner compass and try to learn to distinguish the voice of fear from the voice of true guidance. I will say this, when it is true guidance speaking, it is unwavering and usually calm (though in a crisis it may seem to be literally yelling at you to take a particular action). The voice of fear or the ego tends to jump around and flip flop, a sure sign that it is not true guidance and not to be trusted.

Good luck!

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Towns vs city

5000 people hardly qualifies your place as a "city". In my book this is a town of a size that is big enough to harbor a diverse skill set within the townspeople, yet small enough to be fairly well fed and for life to work reasonably well through trade and barter. Sounds like a fine place to be when and if the SHTF.

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"City" Definition

http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/best-and-worst-cities-collapse/41532

Factors discussed include not just population, but rainfall, climate, earthquake zones, and...

The best comment IMHO by Jager 06:

Judging by the situations that developed in New Orleans during Katrina, I would avoid any place with a large population of social dependancy. People who are chronically on some sort of aid, be it welfare, food stamps or other, tend to be unable to do for themselves as a result of having their needs met without obligation. I would gauge that population breakdown in terms of pre recession/ depression populations.

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Whats the difference?

Spent pools or runaway reactions - either one sounds pretty bad to me.  Add proximity to major population centers, and it get upgraded to nighmare. 

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Huge difference...

treemagnet wrote:

Spent pools or runaway reactions - either one sounds pretty bad to me.  Add proximity to major population centers, and it get upgraded to nighmare. 

One is a self sustaining critical reaction and requires cooling and containment to prevent release of fission products to the atmosphere. 

The other is spent fuel which is incapable of sustaining a critical reaction - because it's spent.  Because it is full of neutron absorbing fission product poisons trapped within the structural integrity of the zircalloy fuel matrix and zirc cladding.  Because it's decay heat generation rates are so low they don't require forced, pressurized circulation of coolant to remove generated heat.  Because referencing a design based "boil away" scenario is ridiculous as NONE of the spent fuel stored in the Fukushima Daiichi pools had just been removed from a core power unti with a 100% operating power history.  Because other than from a radiation exposure standpoint, the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi turned out to never be in play as so inaccurately and incorrectly reported here. 

It's only a nightmare when people who don't know what they are talking about tell the story.  Otherwise it is a significant and severe, but localized event.

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No difference....

The folks on the left coast might disagree with you....not so "localized" - George Washington (?) posts, usually on ZH would likely disagree with you, but neither he nor I are up on the issue as you.  Nobody really knows how bad Fukishima really was/is because of the lies and corruption.  What I know for sure, is nowhere in the Westinghouse Mark IV manual does it state "spray sea water on it".  Your big on nuclear energy, I'm not.  The reason I'm not is because the publics interest is always a bidable item for a wide ranging group of powerful, connected, and corruptable people.

Heres the quote you'll likely highlight in your response to the gallery:

Nuclear energy can either be safe or cheap, but not both.

Now, before you take me for the antagonist - know that I would be an believer of nuclear energy if it were safe.  More expensive I can live with - but the safety risks aren't worth a few cents/kwh, at least not to millions like me.  Is thorium the way to go?

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tree - The folks on the left

tree -

The folks on the left coast and GW would disagree because they are speaking from a position of ignorance.  Their sources claiming widespread dispersal of contamination are also fabrications.  I saw stories that claimed to have detected radioactivity in broad leaf crops like beets and lettuce.  The problem is these alledged levels were measured and reported well before the minimum biological uptake times for such plants.  Yet the reports were eaten up faster than a fat kid with a bag of Krispy Kremes.....

Yes, measurable contamination reached the west coast.  We saw spikes in beta emitters here in Virginia.  But measurable doesn't necessarily mean a level worth worrying about.  Especially if previously measured background levels detected nothing.  Like the widely reported spikes in cesium detected in the kelp beds off California in the weeks following Fukushima Daiichi.  That was significant because it was Cs-137, which was released during the Fukushima Daiichi accident.  The biologists who conducted the study were going to repeat it this past spring to see if the levels had changed.  I haven't been able to find anything but if they did the samples the same time this year as last, the report should be coming out soon.  I would expect that the levels will have dropped consistent with the effective half life (biologic elimination by the kelp and the normal decay half life for Cs-137) - assuming their sampling quipment has sufficient sensitivity to measure the fractional decrease.  Any drop larger than the effective half life would call nto question the original sampling validity and accuracy.  No matter - Cs-137 was there and it came from Japan.  But despite what GW wants you to believe, it was not dispersed up and down the west coast - it was detectable, but the levels were nothing to worry about.  At least not to the informed.

I don't see you as an antagonist - far from it.  Asking questions is good.  Listening to and understanding correct answers is also good.  For the record, the Casualty Procedures do indeed direct the injection of seawater for emergency cooling, but only as a last resort.  Which is clearly where the emergency response crews at Fukushima Daiichi were.

100% agreement with your comment that Nuclear Energy can either be safe or cheap, but not both.  That's why each student in the Navy's Nuclear Power Program has a taxpayer investment of about $150K worht of schooling and prototype training before they ever report to a submarine or carrier.  But then again, the Navy's track record with safe operation of nuclear power plants is light years past the commercial industry.

Thorium.....here's my take.  The mechanism is well understood.  The benefits vs. "normal" traditional nuclear fuel is clear.  You still have to build the plants out of steel and concrete, you still require significant input of finite resources just to build the supporting infrastructure.  There's the Achille's Heel for thorium.

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Mega cities when the SHTF

I'm with Aaron: mega cities during most SHTF scenarios aren't as bad as most people assume, and have some advantages in some situations.  Disclosure: I live in an east coast US mega city, but plan to downsize to a small city (50-100K population) at retirement.  Furthermore, I'm a first responder and don't have the option of bugging out early, before everyone else, which in my mind is about the only way to avoid the extreme dangers of bugging out where rule of law is in doubt or gone.

Bugging out is extremely dangerous, unless you leave very early in the crisis when hardly anyone else is leaving and predators haven't smelled the blood in the water yet and set up their ambushes, "check points." I'd rather defend my well-prepared home in the big city during a riot than attempt to leave at the height of the crisis.

Urban infrastructure generally gets the most attention after a disaster because so many people are affected and the actions taken to restore service affect the most people at once.  In the most recent unpleasantness in Yugoslavia towns and cities were not overrun by warlords because they contained enough armed people to repel them and their forces.  Sure, conditions in those towns and cities were horrendous, but they didn't all end up in a couple of mass graves in a farm field next to their village.  I can easily walk or bike to at least 4 world class hospitals/trauma centers - bet you can't say that about your bug out location.  Of course, a SHTF scenario will degrade these institutions' supplies and personnel, but I'll take them in a disaster over a 25-100 bed regional hospital anytime (how many gunshot wounds have the staff at your hospital dealt with, and how many at one time?).  And if you're a food producer, the big city is a big fat customer and the easiest to supply.  If you grow apples, for instance, would you rather sell your whole crop to a buyer for a big city in advance of harvest who will send trucks or rail cars for the crop, or would you like to sit by the side of the road selling them and delivering the rest to local retailers?  My wife and I both can get to work on foot, on a bike, on public transit, and by car if gasoline is available.  Likewise, we can shop and do everything else we need to do with or without cars.  I'm not very handy, but if I need something fixed (a car, an appliance, etc.) I have and would have many, many options (especially since I can pay with cash or silver or even food and potable water).  If I want or need to take a long trip and gasoline is unavailable or prohibitively expensive, I can walk to a major Amtrak station or take public transit to the airport (if either is still operating).

Many thousands of dependent people and anti-social predators will be the biggest threat to us, until they start dying off or giving up.  Of course, we've been dealing with that for 24 years here and have some skills and attitudes necessary for survival already.  Besides, look at any instance of civil disorder in America's cities in the past 50 years and you will see several commonalities: the unrest and predators largely avoid locations where residents and business owners are armed and standing guard, and whatever unrest happens is usually restricted to a few hot spots (chances are you'll be fine if you are one of the great majority who aren't in any of those hot spots).

I'm not of the belief that megacities are the ideal location in a SHTF situations, but they aren't as bad as most people make out, especially if you, your family, and your neighbors are prepared.

Tom

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where depends on who

thc0655: Everyone chooses where they will prepare based on their work, their personality, their options , and their personal skills, preferences and beliefs. Your location makes sense to you, Mat Stein's location makes sense to him,  and my location makes sense to me. This article was titled "How Prepared Are You?" and you've made a choice and are preparing based on that choice.

What heartens me is that you've thought your scenario through. As a former first responder, I salute you.

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Where and Who

Hey Safewrite,

I think - and I can't speak for THC - but that the original podcast/conversation essentially "broadformed" the issue of location by lumping city dwellers into the "not prepared" category, and emphasizing the Bug out Bag and a travel plan as part of their proposed plan.

Not a problem - if that's how you want to plan, all good! Everyone here knows where I stand on the issue of Everyday Carry and planning, but the juncture that I depart from the mainstream prepper mentality (and again, I think THC as well) is the assumption that being in the city is not only a hazard, but it's a tremendous liability.

I know you know all this, but for any readers who might be skimming through wondering how these conclusions were drawn, hopefully this will help. 

So, here's what I'm basing my "stay put" plan on - I put myself in the role of a bad guy, and a lot of this is from having fallen for some of these things in the past: 
If I wanted to take things from people, how would I do it?
Where would I go to do it?
What kinds of ruses would I use? Tools? Accomplices?

In the urban environment, that element of anonymity works in your favor, and petty crimes are pretty easy to execute. However, in the country, the risk, and payoff are higher. This attracts more competent aggressors.

I'd like to use the example of the video CK presented: 
The men in that video are scavenging through other peoples stuff. What do I infer from that?
They lack resources, and probably a central location. They're staking places out, and are well armed (The older guy had 13 30 round magazines that I could see - which is about what a riflemen in a Ranger Regiment would carry) so - what do they do when they come in contact with a farm that's well equipped, established and self-sustaining?

Well, maybe they're good guys and they bring a very intimidating security element to a family of strangers. Dicey, but it might work out.

They also have the option to assault the place, take everything and move on after they've used the resources. Both kinds of people exist, and most of them are planning to "bug out"... 

The equipment I advocate is not specific to bugging out or staying put. It's useful in either situation. It gives you options that are lightweight and skill-based. Mat's suggestions are fine, but I'd rather have a 55-gallon drum as a rain barrel draining into a cistern than have to carry two or three water purifying devices for an overland trek that actually be a Darwinian struggle for survival.

Anyway, this is all stuff people should think about, and I'm really enjoying reading the dialog here.
Cheers,

Aaron

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redundancy

Why not stock the filter, SteriPen AND the 50 gallon drum? Hope for the best, but plan for the worst....

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Spent Fuel Ponds

Regarding spent fuel ponds, since there is roughly 10 Chernobyls worth of spent fuel in each of the spent fuel ponds at Fukushima (American spent fuel ponds each average about 17 Chernobyls worth of radioactive material), and given the fact that two of those ponds are precariously perched on top of roofs of buildings that have been blown to pieces, and since if those fuel ponds either boil dry or run dry for any other reason, then  the spent fuel rods cool will overheat igniting their zirconium cladding (burns like magnesium with intense self sustaining fire, once ignited),  turning into radioactive roman candles burning with "zirc" fires that will explode if sprayed with water, then I would say this is an extremely dangerous situation that has been for the most part forgotten and ignored by the media!

According to Japanese engineers, the technology does not currently exist for robots that can withstand the intense radiation levels inside these spent fuel pods in order to begin removing the debris from the explosions and unloading the spent fuel rods. They estimate it will take a 3-5 year development program to develop the technology to perform these tasks, and another 5 years to actually clean up the blast debris and remove the spent fuel rods from the pond. In the meantime these ponds are precariously perched atop severely damaged structures in a highly active seismic zone!

For a very sobering visual tour of Fukishima's severely damaged buildings and spent fuel ponds, see:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/a-visual-tour-of-the-fuel-pools-of-fukushima.html

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Mat Stein
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US disaster waiting to happen

Yes, and with 104 working nuclear reactors in the US, and over 90 spent fuel ponds with an average of 17 Chernobyl's worth of radioactive material in each pond, there are several scenarios where the US could have multiple Fukushima like events concurrently!  Dr. William Graham, former chief scientific adviser to Ronald Reagan and chairman of the bipartisan Congressional EMP Commission wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with copies sent to various congressional staff Last August stating this same opinion!

See page 1 of Dr Graham's letter at :

http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1122/ML11229A012.pdf

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Spent fuel ponds "boil dry scenario"

I agree that the spent fuel ponds would not normally go critical, however the "boil dry" scenario and threat is very real. I gleaned this information from the US government's technical report on this issue, NUREG-1738, “Technical Study of Spent Fuel Pool Accident Risk at Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants,” February 2001, as reported in “Petition for Rulemaking: Docket No. PRM-50-96,” Foundation for Resilient Societies before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, p. 3-9 and 49-50.

Available at:

http://www.resilientsocieties.org/images/Petition_For_Rulemaking_Resilient_Societies_Docketed.pdf

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Current radiation in US vs potential in a long term grid down sc

Since we have not yet solved the problem of what to do with radioactive waste that will last 100,000 years, and have not found a way to make our reactors foolproof and resistant to both terrorist acts and acts of Mother Nature, I don't see how we can call our nuclear reactors "safe" as they are currently designed.

With only  7 days backup fuel mandated at US facilities, to keep cooling systems running when the grid is down, and only 30 days worth of fuel on hand at the better prepared (voluntarily) nuke plants, considering official EMP commission estimates of 4 months to several years to put the grid back together in the event of an extreme geomagnetic solar storm or a successful EMP attack by a terrorist group or hostile state, we could be in serious trouble at any time. It is just an matter of the luck of the draw from Mother Nature (official scientific report recently estimated a 12% chance of Carrington Event size extreme geomagnetic storm withing the next decade) or relying on the CIA, FBI and US military to prevent an EMP attack from a terrorist organization or hostile state (an EMP attack would almost certainly cripple the digital control systems and backup generators at a number of nuclear power plants, resulting in immediate Fukushima-like melt-downs).

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Oh boy, we've been down this road before......

Mat Stein wrote:

Regarding spent fuel ponds, since there is roughly 10 Chernobyls worth of spent fuel in each of the spent fuel ponds at Fukushima (American spent fuel ponds each average about 17 Chernobyls worth of radioactive material)

This is an utterly worthless metric.  Show me the credible scenario by which this radioactivity would be released.

Quote:

, and given the fact that two of those ponds are precariously perched on top of roofs of buildings that have been blown to pieces, and since if those fuel ponds either boil dry or run dry for any other reason, then  the spent fuel rods cool will overheat igniting their zirconium cladding (burns like magnesium with intense self sustaining fire, once ignited),  turning into radioactive roman candles burning with "zirc" fires that will explode if sprayed with water, then I would say this is an extremely dangerous situation that has been for the most part forgotten and ignored by the media!

Huh?!?  None of the spent fuel pools are perched on "top of the roofs" of buildings.  Precariously or otherwise.  Besides, how does a building that has been blown to pieces even have a roof?

Do you understand what decay heat generation is?  Do you understand that it is an exponential decay function?  Do you understand that spent fuel pools are not pressurized above ambient and require no forced circulation for removal of the small amount of decay heat that is generated?  Do you understand that the water in spent fuel pools is for shielding of the extremely high radiation levels emitted by the spent fuel cells?  Do you understand that the pools at Fukushima Daiichi are intact?  Do you understand that under the right conditions (that don't exist at Fukushima Daiichi) zirconium burns like zirconium, not magnesium?  Do you understand that the likelihood of a spent fuel pool zirc hydride fire at Fukushima is less likely than Kim Kardashian winning the Nobel Peace Prize in Physics?  Now do you understand why the media has forgotten it?

Quote:

According to Japanese engineers, the technology does not currently exist for robots that can withstand the intense radiation levels inside these spent fuel pods in order to begin removing the debris from the explosions and unloading the spent fuel rods. They estimate it will take a 3-5 year development program to develop the technology to perform these tasks, and another 5 years to actually clean up the blast debris and remove the spent fuel rods from the pond. In the meantime these ponds are precariously perched atop severely damaged structures in a highly active seismic zone!

For a very sobering visual tour of Fukishima's severely damaged buildings and spent fuel ponds, see:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/a-visual-tour-of-the-fuel-pools-of-fukushima.html

You better hire new Japanese engineers.......

Removal of fuel cells from Unit #4 storage pool started back in July.  The first several fuel cells removed were new and had not been exposed to a neutron flux and are safe to store in air.  Removal of the remaining cells will take place through the coming months and will take several years to complete.  The big question now is where the spent fuel removed from Fukushima Daiichi is to be stored.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22084-nuclear-fuel-rods-removed-from-japans-fukushima-plant.html

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Mat Stein wrote: I agree that

Mat Stein wrote:

I agree that the spent fuel ponds would not normally go critical, however the "boil dry" scenario and threat is very real. I gleaned this information from the US government's technical report on this issue, NUREG-1738, “Technical Study of Spent Fuel Pool Accident Risk at Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants,” February 2001, as reported in “Petition for Rulemaking: Docket No. PRM-50-96,” Foundation for Resilient Societies before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, p. 3-9 and 49-50.

Available at:

http://www.resilientsocieties.org/images/Petition_For_Rulemaking_Resilient_Societies_Docketed.pdf

Mat -

They won't abnormally go critical either.  They are spent fuel and contain far too many fission product poisons that absorb neutrons and would therefore inhibit criticality.

I gleaned that information from 20 years of hands on experience in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

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For Mat

I'm from the "left coast", I work at a nuke plant, and I am not pro-nuke, though for totally different reasons than others.

Dogs is correct, read his posts.  He obviously came from the nuke Navy, commercial, or both.

You are correct, they are not completely safe.  But nothing is.  It is risk vs. reward, and as a society we balance the risks of nuclear energy with the reward of power availability.  If you want to change the system, you must first have the people embrace a lifestyle that is not relient on exponentialy increasing power demands.  Once the demand is gone, the plants will not be needed.  I don't see that happening any time soon, we can't even get people to stop wasting water.

Comparing spent fuel pools to Chernobyl is either ignorant or deceptive, depending on your knowledge level.  Chernobyl was the result of numerous causitive factors, not the least of which was a design that is not in use in the U.S.  So no, Chernobyl CAN'T happen here because we do not use horizontal control rods, nor sheet metal containment structures.  There are numerous other design differences that I won't go into here.

Dry spent fuel pools cannot reach criticality, period.  There must be a moderator (like water) to slow the neutrons down , and air is a very poor moderator.

I do believe your concerns over EMP-like events have some validity, though I do not believe they would cause the level of devastation you envision.  Even without pumps, reactors are built to passively cool themselves, via a variety of different design features, so no, an EMP would not result in "immediate Fukushima-like melt-downs".

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criticality

I know they won't normally go critical, and never said they would! As I recall, both in my personal conversations with Gundersen and in a video interview with Gundersen from a major news broadcast (MSNBC perhaps?) Gundersen had said that there was radiological evidence around Fukushima of a small critical explosion, and only surmised at how it might have happened.

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Subcriticality....

Mat Stein wrote:

I know they won't normally go critical, and never said they would! As I recall, both in my personal conversations with Gundersen and in a video interview with Gundersen from a major news broadcast (MSNBC perhaps?) Gundersen had said that there was radiological evidence around Fukushima of a small critical explosion, and only surmised at how it might have happened.

That's the problem with citing Gunderson.  His radiological "evidence" was the detection of Cs-137 and I-131.  Normally, since these isotopes are byproducts of fission, detecting them in the environment would be of significant concern.  But we already knew that the Japanese emergency crews were venting all three cores to release hydrogen.  Remember the hydrogen explosions?  Venting the cores would release Cs-137 and I-131 directly into the environment.  That is the most likely source of the isotopes detected.  Since we know that damage to the fuel matrix occurred and there was some degree of fuel melting, it is probable that there were pockets of spontaneous criticality as unused fuel pellets came in close enough proximity to each other to trigger neutron absorption and further fission events, but these were at best small scale and quickly self terminated and more importantly contained within the physical boundary and structure of the core pressure vessel.  Some amount of Cs-137 and I-131 would result from these fission events but would pale in comparison to the amount generated from normal fission and released during emergency venting.

But once again, in signature Arnie Gunderson fashion, he "surmises" that the worst case scenario has occurred - breached cores with molten fuel slag tunnelling through the earth or somehow spent fuel cells melting and attaining exacting critical geometries in the absence of a neutron moderator.

The isotopes came from venting.

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Risks of Spent Fuel Ponds

I suggest you read the report from the Institute for Policy Studies, Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the U.S.: Reducing the Deadly Risks of Storage, by Robert Alvarez. In addition, having graduated #1 in his class in Nuclear Engineering from RPI, and having been the Senior Technical VP for Nuclear Energy Services in Danbury CT, where he designed spent fuel rod storage racks and related items, I think that Arnie Gundersen has a pretty good handle on the dangers of improperly stored spent fuel rods, their thermal heat transfer characteristics, and the potential for self sustaining zirconium fires in the event of loss of cooling water.

Did you take the "visual tour of Fukushima's spent fuel ponds" as shown on the link to Washington's blog? Very sobering, and very frightening!!!
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/a-visual-tour-of-the-fuel-pools-of-fukushima.html

I have to get back to my paid work for engineering clients, so I am done for now.

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Doug
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safewrite

safewrite wrote:

http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/best-and-worst-cities-collapse/41532

Factors discussed include not just population, but rainfall, climate, earthquake zones, and...

The best comment IMHO by Jager 06:

Judging by the situations that developed in New Orleans during Katrina, I would avoid any place with a large population of social dependancy. People who are chronically on some sort of aid, be it welfare, food stamps or other, tend to be unable to do for themselves as a result of having their needs met without obligation. I would gauge that population breakdown in terms of pre recession/ depression populations.

No offense intended, but the real lessons of Katrina are don't live in a poor section of town, in a city below sea level, with inadequate dikes on a seacoast subject to hurricanes.  That is a set-up for chaos no matter how "dependent" or not the citizens are.

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Visual tour of spent fuel rod pool.

Wow.  Those pictures did more to shift my impression of what is going on at Fukushima than anything I have seen or read.  Thanks for pointing this out.

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Mat Stein wrote: I suggest

Mat Stein wrote:

I suggest you read the report from the Institute for Policy Studies, Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the U.S.: Reducing the Deadly Risks of Storage, by Robert Alvarez.

I read this with hope that it was accurate, well written and technically sound. Pretty disappointing when you get no further than pages 5 and 6 and Figures 2, 3 and 4 are incorrectly labelled as being Spent Fuel Pools.  They are pictures of buildings which were built up and around the secondary containment boundaries of the units.  The spent fuel pools are housed within the buildings.  Figure 2 is labelled as "Reactor #3 Spent Fuel Pool Area" - it is a picture of what's left of the building.  Figure 3 is labelled "Hydrogen Explosion at Reactor Fuel Pool #4" - it is a picture of the building.  Figure 4 is labelled "Destruction at Reactor #4 Pool" - it is a close-up of building #4 and we now know that the spent fuel pool in Unit #4 was and remains intact.  Accidentally mislabelled or deliberately misleading?  You be the judge.

The rest of the report is a compilation of previously released material that sums up estimated curie content in spent fuel cells stored in various plants around the US and a discussion of the dire consequences if all of the material to be released with no discussion or credible postulation of just how all of this material would be released.  Except some hand wringing about "IF" spent fuel pools boiled dry "it would be bad".  Where is the discussion about the decay heat generation rates for the plants inventoried?  You are aware of the fact that the decay heat rates for spent fuel stored for about three years are so low that the cells can be stored in air?  They are only stored in water to provide gamma and beta shielding from the long lived fission product poisons and activated materials within the zirc matrix and structure of the fuel cell.

Not sure exactly what Mr. Alvarez advised Sec Energy on as a "Senior Policy Advisor" but this report is not impressive.

Quote:

In addition, having graduated #1 in his class in Nuclear Engineering from RPI, and having been the Senior Technical VP for Nuclear Energy Services in Danbury CT, where he designed spent fuel rod storage racks and related items, I think that Arnie Gundersen has a pretty good handle on the dangers of improperly stored spent fuel rods, their thermal heat transfer characteristics, and the potential for self sustaining zirconium fires in the event of loss of cooling water.

You put too much faith in someone who deliberately and fraudulently represented his experience.  Gunderson was in the Licensing Group at Northeast Utilities in Danbury and not in any type of design engineering.  I suggest you run down some of these links when you are finished with your paying clients.....

http://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/137539#comment-137539

http://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/135433#comment-135433

Much of what follows was taken from the above posts I made on Peak Prosperity a while back.

Gundersen has ZERO credibility with me - and many others. He inflated his resume, he overstated his experience. For one, the only reactor he was ever "licensed" to operate was a reactor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1971 to 1972. This reactor was a 100 Watt reactor that operated at room temperature, at atmospheric pressure in an open tank of water. For the record, 100 watts is about the heat output of a freakin' lightbulb. One version of his resume read as follows:

“Critical Facility Reactor Operator, Instructor. Licensed AEC reactor operator instructing students and utility reactor operators in start-up through full power operation of a reactor.”

I'm taking some license, but in short, he instructed students how to turn on...................a light bulb.

His "4 decades of experience in the nuclear industry" is a bit of a stretch. According to his resume, following his graduation in 1972, he worked at Northeast Utilities from 1972-1976. Digging around on the internet shows that he was assigned to the licensing group at NU and that he had no real design engineering responsibilities as he has recently frequently claimed.

There are many inconsistencies with other things Gundersen has said - here's a glaring one taken from a 2008 application to serve on the Diablo Canyon Safety Committee:

" Since 1970 Arnold Gundersen has been an expert witness in nuclear litigations at the Federal and State hearings such as Three Mile Island, US NRC ASLB, Vermont State Public Service Board, Western Atlas Nuclear Litigation, U.S. Senate Nuclear Safety Hearings, Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant Litigation"

Gundersen graduated from RPI in 1971. Do the math.

More discussion about his inflated resume and exaggerated experience claims here: http://atomicinsights.com/2011/02/arnie-gundersen-has-inflated-his-resume-yet-frequently-claims-that-entergy-cannot-be-trusted.html

More info about his fear mongering here: http://atomicinsights.com/2011/06/arnie-gundersen-going-international.html

(Note: this article was written a year ago and there is a statement in it that claims that the radiation released from Fukushima hasn't made anyone sick and that it was a non-fatal accident. While that may have been correct at the time, it is highly likely that there have been cases of radiation sickness since June 2011)

Here are some pretty good links to articles discussing what really happened at Fukushima - that contradicts claims that Gundersen made frequently, loudly, and incorrectly.

http://atomicpowerreview.blogspot.com/2011/06/fukushima-daiichi-update-saturday-june_18.html

A breakdown of what really happened at Unit 4 with respect to the spent fuel pool:

http://www.4factorconsulting.com/energy-industry/nuclear-power-and-the-witch-hunt

Full disclosure - these articles and debunks were written by current nuclear industry insiders. I know Rod Adams, we went through the training pipeline together and the US Navy's submarine community is pretty small. I trust Rod Adams. I DO NOT trust Arnie Gundersen. Some will argue that anything written by the nuclear industry is to be dismissed because they are biased and solely profit motivated. I am in no way saying that to some degree this does not exist in the industry, but to outright dismiss these articles is a poison pill argument.

Fukushima wasn't and isn't as rosy a situation as some would have you believe - it is bad, but as I have stated numeroues times, it is bad.....locally. It is not the "Mass Extinction Event" some articles have labelled it. Nor is it the "biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind" as Arnie Gundersen is claiming. The Union Carbide disaster at Bhopal still tops my list and is still causing problems in the area almost 30 years later. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster

To wrap up, Gundersen has repeatedly exaggerated his very limited experience in the nuclear industry - some would say he outright lied. To say he lied is a pretty strong statement, and I won't go there. But there is no doubt in my mind that he has greatly exaggerated things. He has preyed on the fears of an uninformed audience by waving around a resume that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Chris hitched his cart to the wrong horse by bringing Gundersen to the site - he flat out blew it on the discussion of the spent fuel pool in Unit #4. I think now would be a good time to get Rod Adams as a guest speaker on the current state of the accident response at Fukushima Daiichi, but as of yet that suggestion has fallen on deaf ears

Quote:

Did you take the "visual tour of Fukushima's spent fuel ponds" as shown on the link to Washington's blog? Very sobering, and very frightening!!!
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/a-visual-tour-of-the-fuel-pools-of-fukushima.html

I have to get back to my paid work for engineering clients, so I am done for now.

Yes....I took the visual tour.  Nothing new.  Did you notice that the article is almost 5 months old?  Did you notice that there was water in the (undated) pictures of the "tangled wreckage"?  That means the pools' structural integrity is intact.  But we know that to be the case from, umm, more recent reports.  We also have the obligatory and totally baseless observations from Gunderson that the "nuclear rods were sticking out in the air" when in fact it was the fuel cell "RACKS" that were exposed.  You know, those things that are used to guide the cells down into the pool into their storage position.  The racks that are well above the top of the closest fuel cell.  The fuel cells that remained covered with water?

Mat, please don't take this personally, but the links you have provided are out of date, inaccurate, alarmist and as such next to worthless.

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Excellent Podcast - One comment

I enjoyed listening and plan to read Mat's books.  I have already started to prepare, but am far from ready.

One comment jumped out, because I've heard it before.  It went something like this.  "Buying a hybrid car is not enough."

The reason the comment stuck out is that I've run across it at least three times in similar situations, either in a book or presentation.

My issue is that virtially everyone who is in touch with what's going on, already knows that buying a hybrid car is not enough.  The point I would like to make is that, if you are going to buy a car, buying a hybrid may very well be the best the most conservation oriented decision you can make.  

I wonder how many people, when car shopping, decide to buy a 15 mpg car becuase their individual sacrifice won't solve the global problem, so why make the sacrifice when others are still acting like gas is unlimited.

I would probably be more helpful over all for people with national exposure to support hybrids as a rational car choice, but caution that far greater sacrifices are likely to be necessary.

Les

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Who cares what other people do?

LesPhelps wrote:

I wonder how many people, when car shopping, decide to buy a 15 mpg car becuase their individual sacrifice won't solve the global problem, so why make the sacrifice when others are still acting like gas is unlimited.

Who cares what others do?  Take care of yourself.  We got a Leaf (not a hybrid) because it was easy to cost justify, added to our resilience (we have a large solar installation), and made sense for us.  There is too much worry about what other people are doing when I think Chris' message is doing what's right for you is quite easily the right thing we all could be doing.

Those who fail to understand what is going on despite lots of signs are in for a lot of pain.  If they don't want to wake up, you probably can't help them.  I have friends and family who have listened to the message, looked at the signs and taken action, others think I'm just a nut case.  Perhaps they will come around in time to save some of their wealth, maybe not, but you can only be responsible for yourself.

As far as a hybrid.  I think it's a bad choice. You are basically trading 2x the complexity for a tiny bit better fuel efficiency.  The better choice would be to loose all the ridiculous safety standards and reduce the weight of vehicles or go pure electric where practical (short commutes) as it is a more resilience solution than hybrids.  I can generate my own power, very tough to create my own gasoline.

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Adam Taggart
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Posts: 1909
Big fan of electric

rhare -

My wife's business is leasing her a Chevy Volt. Say what you will about the high cost of construction of the car (some say $49,000 above the retail price tag), we love driving on electricity.

The Volt gets 40 miles on a charged battery. Most days, that's plenty for us. It's a total thrill to arrive home realizing I haven't burned a drop of gas. It's a liberating feeling.

"Filling up" the battery happens overnight, when electrical rates are low. It costs between $1-$2.

(If we need to fill up faster, we simply go next door to our daughter's school. There's a 240-volt charging station there, and as far as we know, we have the only plug-in car in the area, so it's always available)

A surprise to me is the warm feeling I get by "driving American". It's been decades since I've owned an American designed and built car, and while US auto manufactures have a huge pit to dig themselves out of, I feel a certain pride at helping support their efforts to do so. I'm enouraged to hear that the Volt's sales are picking up. I'm really hoping the market signals more strongly that it prefers electric to ICE engines.

I'm looking forward eagerly to the day when a car like this gets 100+ miles before the gas engine (which acts as a generator to recharge the battery vs powering the drive train) kicks in. Man, having that range + eventually being able to generate enough electricity with home power (solar panels, etc) to recharge the car will be truly liberating. My guess is we'd use <5 gallons of gas per month - even factoring in the occasional long trip. Goodbye carbon footprint!

(I realize the Leaf has a 100-mi range. I'm still a fan of having the gas engine in reserve to extend the range, when necessary)

Main point: driving a well-made electic car today feels like you're driving in the future. For real fun, go visit a Tesla dealership and fantasize...

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anexaminedlife
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Electricity

I admit upfront that I haven't read the entire thread here, just the last bits extolling the virtues of an electic car (vs hybrid - not rooting for hybrids here, just an observation) so maybe I missed some important points.  I have been under the impression that electricity is not a source of power but must be generated by other sources and so any plug-in is, to put it bluntly, a scam as far as "alternatives" are concerned. Am I misguided? Would a Volt (for example) be a better choice than a high efficiency gas-powered vehicle?

(edited to correct a minor spelling error-yes, I am one of those. Wondering why this site doesn't have a built-in spell check though - you know, the one with the red underlines when you get the spelling wrong.)

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