Warning shots

How many do you need?

I still keep hearing, “If things get bad, I’ll move to ….” And then fill in the blank with your favorite fantasy or nightmare, including these and many more:

“my sister-in-law’s property in Kansas”

“Mexico”

“the wilderness”

“a central America country”

“southern Europe”

“the coast”

First, let’s consider how “bad” things have to get. The first significant warning shot came in the 1970s, when people in the industrialized world felt the impacts of the U.S. losing its status as the world’s swing producer of crude oil. We were visited by expensive gasoline and long lines at the pumps, simultaneous inflation and economic contraction, a president who encouraged conservation, and many other consequences of relying heavily on crude oil for economic growth. More recently, we’ve witnessed a housing crash, bank failures, oil priced at nearly $150/bbl, near-collapse of the industrial economy, sovereign debt crises throughout the industrialized world, and hundreds of other symptoms of passing the world oil peak.

If you keep your eyes closed, you’re going to run off the road. This society has already driven into a ditch, but you are not required to join the crash. Again, then: How many warning shots do you need?

We could spend a lot of time pointing out the lunacy of all the safe havens listed above. Moving in with the in-laws? Have you even asked? Isn’t there a reason you don’t live with them already? Have you discussed economic collapse with them, or do you continue to ignore the most important topic in the history of western civilization, opting instead for polite conversation?

How ’bout them Red Sox? Nice weather we’ve been having, doncha think?

Stop me if I’ve mentioned this one before: If you keep your eyes closed, you’re going to run off the road.

And Mexico? Do you speak Spanish? Fluently? Do you think you’ll be welcome there, gringo? Do you think continuing our history of occupation is a good idea, even at the personal level? Again, as before, why don’t you live there already, if it’s such a great place to be?

The wilderness? Really? Without a grocery store?

And so on, down the list of ludicrous options.

Here’s a thought: How about starting to prepare for a world without ready access to cheap fossil fuels? That would entail securing a personal supply of water and food for you and your family. For the rest of your life, and theirs. If that’s simply too daunting a task for your lizard-like brain, you can take the route pursued by about half the people to whom I speak: “I’ll save a bullet for myself.”

Really? Evolution suggests otherwise. I foresee a lot of my “friends” showing up at the mud hut, unprepared and unrepentant, but too consumed with personal survival to take the promised Hemingway out. A friend in need, ….

Better days lie ahead for those of us who desire to see the living planet make a comeback. But if you believe life is not worth living in the absence of empire — in the absence of our unrelenting intent and ability to destroy every non-industrial culture and non-human species — why wait? Why not take the Hemingway out now, while you still can get a decent imperial funeral?

_____________________

This essay is permalinked at Counter Currents, Information Clearing House, Hidden Mysteries, and Island Breath.

Comments 39

  • This is a general response to several of your recent posts and comments from others.

    The choices we make and the way we live our lives do influence others, I believe, more than our words, and more than we are aware. I certainly admire that you have made the choice for a simple life.

    We lived many years in Alaska where the changing climate and the extraction of oil has had its visible effects since the 1970s. I came to many of the same conclusions as you have some time ago. Working for change within huge interlocking systems has been frustrating and time consuming, and ultimately possibly fruitless considering population growth. We still do some of that.

    Now, in my 60s, however, I’ve come to feel that possibly the best work I’ve done is to care for an actual piece of land in a small rural community, improving the soil in hopes that it might help feed some family into the future if they are willing to labor. We long ago gave up the flush toilet and compost human manure. We’ve lived with less, happily, for decades, finding that poverty leaves us with lots less time lost to fixing and cleaning stuff. There is more time to enjoy and learn about other species in the natural world, and appreciate and help them and other friends.

    The corporate structures are now so abstracted and hierarchical that they seldom respond to feedback about their effects; they are unsustainable systems.

    A local community is a wonderful place to share ideas and energies that does allow some feedback and mutual influence. Maybe the fact that we’ve always chosen to live on the edges of some intact natural areas has given us hope,too.

    Hope is another problem. Jim Corbett, the goatwalker, once told me to live without hope. What he meant, in part, was that living for a goal or the future, takes a lot of energy and is ultimately living in unreality. He lived and ate simply, loved his animals and friends, and responded compassionately to those in need on his doorstep. He did write, thankfully, but he didn’t expect much to change because of his writing.

    Looking at all this from the perspective of evolution, I don’t see any way to avoid the perfect storm of multiple large dis-functional systems hitting the wall. Humans have managed to avoid seeing consequences throughout our existence, by moving on to the next place to pillage. Now that humans have influenced or control 83% of the land mass (according to Nat’l Geographic), I think we’ve done all we can here on planet Earth.

    But in the meantime, I’m enjoying living each day without hope, but with a great deal of compassion and gratitude, as I watch the seedlings sprout and the wild things that can, persist. And I enjoy visiting with you and milking your goats occasionally, Guy. I’m glad you’ve decided to join our community!

  • There was an article on LATOC or somewhere like that recently that asserted that humans are slow to change, and will not change until they absolutely have to. Then, they tend to be very adaptable to emerging circumstances, as in the 1970’s when efficiency standards for automobiles were adopted, when the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act and similar laws were enacted, when the environment did start to improve.

    There is some truth to that and we do have seen a minor movement to
    “Transition Towns”, “Sustainable Tucson”, etc. all over the country.

    Alas, if we had used the dress rehearsal of the 1970’s to make the transition while there were adequate time and resources to complete it, we could have probably saved the civilization in some fashion by contracting from the scale it occupied on the planet back then.

    Now, we do not have the energy to fuel the transition in a literal sense at the scale required now. The footprint of humanity has grown considerably in the past thirty+years and not only has the population increased, but the per capita consumption around the world.

    So, we will have the added dilemma of more people, more consumption, less energy, less wiggle room, and increasingly more desperation as the situation progressively worsens. And it will, because it must.

    Picture Leningrad during the Nazi seige during WWII. The resources to feed the population became increasingly scarce. People adapted by reducing rations, burning their furniture, evacuating the city when they could; some even shared what little they had with friends and relatives. But huge numbers of people died miserably.

    Planet Earth will soon be laying seige to our civilization. We will find food more and more scarce. We will find electricity hard to come by, and thus water and other necessities will be the focus of our daily grind. Friends and family will either be a support group for survival or competitors for our own access to survival resources.

    Will you love your inlaws and parents and cousins if they are as thirsty as you are and your distillation well only produces enough water for three, but there are twelve of you in your amalgamated household?

    Hard choices will have to be made, and they will be made. Very hard choices. High maintenance humans will face the judgement of their tribes and their value to the tribe weighed against their costs to the tribe.

    Marie Antoinette came to mind yesterday — “Let them eat crumbs” and off came her head. I see the prospect of violent class warfare and revolution.

    Your best friend might be one of those ugly mixed martial arts cage fighters or a Blackwater mercenary who got kicked out of the outfit but kept his arsenal. You might actually hope your sister can befriend and beguile him.

    Hard choices will have to be made and life is not going to be that much fun for a while, once the feces hit the blower. And this summer seems like it is going to be pretty hot…

  • Thanks for your very kind and insightful first-time comment, Nena MacDonald.

    Stan, I believe the article to which you are referring is by Charles Hugh Smith, and I’ve linked it here. I like his writing, but I disagree about the human ability to adapt: Oil priced at $320/bbl has implications far beyond the price and availability of gasoline, and will almost certainly terminate the industrial era.

  • Ciao Guy,

    While it’s true that my grandfather (Ernest Hemingway) did kill himself, i.e. “the Hemingway out”, I, for one, am not planning on it.

    respectfully,
    John Hemingway

  • Hi Guy —

    I agree that civilization as a whole cannot adapt to changing circumstances at this late date. Some humans can adapt as you are doing at the mud hut, and as Nena beautifully described.

    And as Nena pointed out, attitude makes a huge difference in how we fare in the process.

    Stan Moore

  • Reply to G. McPherson 4/30/10

    Guy:

    I think you pop the top off a container of annelids with this post.

    First, lots of people do kill themselves in this country, often because they fear reduced physical or emotional circumstances. An imperial funeral has a certain appeal when faced with loss of family or starvation or homelessness. You you can max out the credit cards, take the kids to Disneyland, get drunk on 30-year-old Scotch, and poetically end it all with a rented Porsche and a bridge abutment before the bills come due. A percentage of people for whom reality equals the last sixty years of American life will take this option if or no other reason than maintaining the illusion of control.

    Much of the denial that greets your message comes from folks equating the death of a lifestyle with plain old death. That’s why your own death as an academic and rebirth as a subsistence farmer make for a huge object lesson for the people who confuse the metaphoric with the literal.

    Second, once suicide becomes linked with martyrdom, lots of people find their way to it. History doesn’t give much insight into what will be, but it’s pretty good at showing us what can be. Christians used to march smiling toward the lions in Roman amphitheaters. That sort of thing hasn’t gotten any less popular over two thousand years.

    Third, there’s an ethical case to be made for suicide. There are lots of North Americans who would rather die themselves than directly take another human life or live in a world where human life becomes cheaper than it already is. There’s hypocrisy in this attitude, given that the American lifestyle does shorten or end the lives of millions of others, but the suicide of the woman in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is not going to be a rare thing if our world comes to approximate the world of McCarthy’s imagination.

    Fourth, and most important, the cultural death-wish is stronger than any individual’s will to live. I came to my present conviction that we’re in the End Times not because of Jim Kunstler or Jared Diamond or Guy McPherson, but because of Bill Joy’s essay in the April 2000 issue of Wired, titled “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us.” The exponential curves that Joy saw in capitalism-marinated nanotech, robotics, and biotech looked lethal to me then and look lethal to me now. If I can borrow a metaphor from chaos theory, there are enough exponential curves in human endeavor to kick us all into some-kind of phase change within the decade.
    Humans aren’t built to emotionally imagine phase changes. While we can wrap our logic around the fact that systems that depend on homeostasis, such as ecosystems or human bodies, don’t make it through phase changes, that realization hasn’t had much of an effect on our collective behavior.

    The future is coming at us like an oil slick. Your essay this time around made me go back and read The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus, wherein he talks about suicide being the only question worth considering. While I don’t think enough people read Camus these days for him to make a dent in our exponential curve of population, there are no doubt a few people working in a few biolabs willing consider his question for us.

  • I personally try to talk with my family and friends about peak oil and collapse but many simply do not wish to comprehend what that might mean. Most are simply trying to scrape by and the thought of things getting worse scares the crap out of them. Some responses I’ve gotten are: I’m a downer, This is America – couldn’t happen here, Brand X technocournocopia technology means we can consume and grow forever, Yer one of them 2012ers aint’cha, I believe in peak oil but it won’t be that bad. The only reason I still talk about it is that perhaps as things keep getting worse they may come around and I can help them adapt.

    Unfortunately I think when things fall apart most people will simply believe what they want to believe. Some people will probably still identify with the empire long after it is gone, as in Rome and the USSR. I think some will become religious ideologues convinced of scriptural foretelling of their plight and future divine deliverance from it. Those who have no idea what is going on may pick their favorite scapegoat to blame. Whatever the story most people will find a way to rationalize what has happened in their own way, as I doubt the truth will be televised in any widespread manner. I just hope when it comes to deciding which story is more plausible – perhaps 5 years of warnings from yours truly will have had some effect.

    The wilderness? Really? Without a grocery store?

    Your lifestyle is a bit out of my price range, I have less than $20K to my name including the contents of my apartment and vehicle. But I was able to afford to buy some books, read, eat free food, and go hiking and camping.

    Ground water can be found in most places using indicator plants and understanding topography. A set of detailed maps of the your wilderness area helps too for identifying seasonal springs and permanent water sources. The wilderness can be your grocery store – If you know what’s edible, recognize tracks, set traps sized for your quarry, and understand the cycles of life that unfolds around you. 25% of plants are edible, it’s knowing how to make the distinction that’s the problem. I have several books listing over 14,000 edible parts of plants in North America, and their medicinal uses. I guarantee you in an emergency situation very few people will be able to exploit this resource. It is a niche survival strategy. Here’s one reason why even you should be prepared for the possibility of utilizing the wilderness: unforeseen circumstances. What if a pest devastates your crops at some point you may have to live off of the surrounding countryside until you can replant next spring. Let’s face it the more food that you have at your disposal that you didn’t have to till, fertilize, or babysit is a back-saver at the least and a life-saver if needed.

    I am planning a different lifestyle, it will be fairly nomadic with a few small hand-built shelters and caches in the countryside. I will be practicing a different form of agriculture, one that is dispersed and mostly made up of native plants. I will practice the agriculture of the Native Americans which includes the whole ecosystem, increasing game. The wilderness is my farm and my livestock is free to live it’s own life. I do not think that everyone would be able to do this, and that is kind of the point. If you have the knowledge you will be able to use many plants others would pee on rather than eat. There is a reason Ray Mears is the chubbiest survival show host, he never goes hungry because he knows how to utilize plants for tools, food, and medicine.

  • Chris, I salute your vision sir, you are WAAAY ahead of the survival curve. Nomadic hunting/gathering/herding/guerrilla gardening is the most time-tested, resilient lifestyle on the planet — a mobile survivalist who knows how to hunt, trap, gather and grow food and husband animals is going to be pretty indestructible when TSHTF.

    Definitely consider goats; I just got mine and these things are 4-legged survival machines! Thanks Nena for the reference to “Goatwalking”; this guy Corbett apparently lived a pastoral nomadic life in the Southwest with his goats. Bedouin survived for months in the incredibly harsh Arabian desert on nothing but camel’s milk!

    I have a doomstead myself, but I am hedging my bets with little guerrilla gardens, caches and bug-out locations in the nearby woods. It’s a lot of fun, and gives you a feeling of freedom and security that the James Rawles “lock-and-load for the zombie apocalypse” crowd will never have.

  • Goldman Sachs in perspective:

    The Wall Street investment bankers have always exploited their clients.
    Wall Street is an inside game without rules,except to take as much from
    outsiders as possible.The insiders know they must do this because of the nature of their business.Wall Street doesn’t make anything.They don’t produce anything.They cannot,nor never could,exist on fees and
    commisions alone.

    So they have devised a myriad of ways to extract wealth from others.
    The capitalist system has produced such an enormous amount of wealth
    in recent times,that there is now much more for Wall Street to steal.
    Very bright people with PHD’s in physics and mathematics are hired to
    concoct bizarre derivative schemes that no one can understand, to sell
    to the greedy and gullible.

    Everyone must participate or leave the Street.If their is a way to extract money,it will be found.It makes no difference how honest,or ethical,a person may be,any refusal to do what others are doing to make money,no matter how wrong it might be,
    would result in the lose of your job.The law,ethics,morality must
    not get in the way of making money–the bosses are only interested in the bottom line.

    Lloyd Blankfein,the CEO of Goldman Sachs,is a trader.That is how he started out.That is what he knows.He’s also very good at it.He could
    not resist all that money and the juicy technology to get more than
    his share.Now he is hoist by his own petard.

    Frank Mezek

  • I commend those of you living with goats. They are ambitious and curious critters. And although I appreciated the twice yearly harvest of fleece I received from mine, I eventually had to let them go. One can only stockpile so much hair.

    Goats, as a food source, have never appealed to me. It’s a flavor thing.

    So, I’m back to cows, which I don’t mind eating.

    However, once everything goes to hell in a handbasket, I doubt I’d take the Hemingway out. I’d adapt. Pour goat milk on my grits, slice goat cheese on my biscuit, and grill leg of kid over my wood stove.

    Guy: No need to save a spot for me at the mud hut. I’m good. BTW: You’re right, your article’s been appropriately cleansed, and blends in nicely with much of everything else that’s been sanitized. I was taken, however, with your position regarding the future feasibility of genetically modified crops, which is in sharp contrast to that of a significant report released a few weeks ago by the National Academies Press (www.nap.edu).

    I’m with you. I suspect what lies ahead will first be “a frantic, competitive stripping” of the environment (all in the name of maximum production), and then (perhaps) a return to non-intensive conventional cropping practices.

    I’ll hang in a while longer with my regular seed. Just in case. And provided I can evade the GM drift …

  • I think it is important to note that suicide is much more than a tragedy for the perpetrator. We have seen many cases of suicide in India, for instance, where farmers can not meet their debt obligations and kill themselves due to the stresses of caring for their families, leaving the families uncared for and even in worse shape than before.

    Suicide can leave behind a trail of victims in the persons of dependents and loved ones of the one committing the act. One of the benefits of tribalism is that it helps to remove some of the pressure of individuals to bear unbearable burdens in times of great stress, and tribalism offers a support system to each member of the group.

    So, I worry that Guy’s comments seem a bit flippant. Suicide is usually a disaster on top of an earlier disaster. Think of all the American servicemen consumed with guilt over their traumas from warfare, some due to misbehavior of their own, some from witnessing things no human should ever see. Think of the parents and siblings and sweethearts and friends of the suicide victims.

    It is a tragedy that ought to sober us, I think. We may very well be exposed to it much more often in future times of great stress, and perhaps we could think of ways to prevent it as best we can.

    Stan Moore

  • Well said, Stan.
    Besides, Hemingway was a depressed old(er) man who was ill and in pain a lot of the time. To use it for suicides of folks who refuse to go on when their “non-negotiable lifestyle” is negotiated away is, I think, unfair to Hemingway.

  • Guy,

    This is interesting. I like the stream of comments you’ve generated that range from walking with goats to guerilla gardening. Aside from the suicide thread, most of the comments are positive and forward-looking, seemingly the antithesis of doom and gloom. I’m in that place too and when I read Doctor Doomlove’s comment about prepping for resilience being a lot more fun than fortifying a personal military encampment I laughed out loud.

    Michael Irving

  • Here is a link to an article written by my friend, Dr. Grainger Hunt on golden eagles in the context of their own evolution and lessons on human evolution, wildness, etc. The essay begins to explore some of the disconnect with the living world that our species has fostered through its own cultural evolution.

    http://www.allaboutbirds.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=1308

    shared by Stan Moore

  • Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    Double D

  • This is my solution to ‘peak oil’, which I am in the process of implementing on my property in Botswana.
    1) Plant +/- 25 ha macadamia trees, including drip irrigation.
    2) Set up small bio-diesel plant. Production capacity: 2000 litres per day.
    The yield per ha of macadamia oil per annum is approx 600 litres,giving a total of approx 15000 litres of diesel per annum. This is more than sufficient to run all my vehicles, back up generators, irrigation pumps etc.

    Total set up costs. USD 140 000.
    Added bonus is that if by some miracle, collapse is averted the macadamia’s can sold to the market.
    I am also in the process of stocking up on spares for all vehicles including tractors to last for at least 20 years.

    The bottom line is, why revert to the stone age immediately if you can delay it for a decade or two.

  • Read Matt Savinar of 5-3-10.

    Seems like maybe the oil cannot be stopped.It might get orders of magnitude worse,destroying the oceans of the world and then the atmosphere.

    I’ve said many times that all technology is self-defeating.

    “And I looked and behold a pale horse,and his name that sat on him was death”

  • Craig,

    awful waste of food – besides the ‘marauding hordes’ will probably eat your feed stock. You should also ‘stock up’ on bullets.
    Irrigation systems require a lot of maintenance – you will need
    lots of bits and bobs there too. In the event of a ‘collapse’
    there are too many contingencies to consider, and ones that we
    can barely imagine. Stay fit – mentally and physically – number
    one priority.

    Double D you appear to be getting wiser in your old age.
    I am finding myself tuning in to your sentiments. 🙂

  • Matt,

    Our move to Botswana was carefully planned and future ‘collapse’ of industrial civilisation was high on our list of motivating factors.
    Here are a few reasons why we chose Botswana.

    – Botswana has a population of 1,5 million people.
    – Botswana is one of the least densely populated countries on the planet
    – Botswana’s govt. is one of the most stable in the world.
    – Botswana has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
    – Botswana’s people are extremely peace loving.

  • Oops pressed submit button by accident.

    Botswana continued:

    – The majority of the population have not been poisoned by the ills of Western culture and live a subsistence type culture. In fact the area we live is 100 kms from the nearest town called Maun which only has a population of 40000 and I doubt that even if there was a world economic collapse they would even notice, apart from the tourist industry.
    – Botswana is the only country to my knowledge where there is free roaming game and has not been poached out by local populations.

    Therefore in closing I have to disagree with you about idea of ‘marauding hordes’. However nothing is guaranteed and all we can do is hedge our bets and as far as bets go this is as a surething as any.

  • Hi Craig Moodle —

    I give you credit for taking Peak Oil seriously and making arrangements for survival. I don’tknow if your specific plan will be sustainable, and I have my doubts. But that is not the primary reason I am writing.

    I saw mention of Botswana on a website of an organization called Raptors Namibia dated this year (2010). It describes a conservation problem that it says began in Botswana and has spread throughout Africa. Apparently, there is game poaching in Botswana and it is illegal. The poachers do not want to get caught, and they have taken notice that vultures discover the carcasses of poached game in a given area and reveal their operations to the authorities. So, the poachers have begun putting toxic chemicals in poached animals in order to deliberately kill off the entire local vulture populations. This is intended to disguise their illegal activities from law enforcement, and vultures are being killed very rapidly and some are at threat of extinction in Africa. And the practice seems to be spreading within Africa.

    This is certainly not your responsibility and you may not even be aware of it. But it does paint a slightly different picture of Botswana than you have shared. Perhaps your calibrations for your own survival need rethinking.

    Good luck!

    Stan Moore
    San Geronimo, CA

  • Let’s just have a round of applause for good ol’ Barack “Oilwell In My Backyard” Obama today. He is just the definition of responsive leadership! Why, I’ll bet he is off reading a book about goats to schoolchildren, or some other heroic act. It was grand to have the pleasure of voting for that one!

  • Stan Moore,

    I am fully aware of the method used by poachers to avoid detection. Abhorrent as it is, the incidents are isolated and not widespread as reported by the media. Sure! there is poaching in Botswana but in comparison to the rest of Africa the problem is negligible. As far as I know the only vulture that is in danger is the Cape Vulture and not due to toxins but to habitat loss. You probably know more about this than I do. Nonetheless you could not be more wrong on your assessment about Botswana as a country. Although we have just moved here from South Africa I have travelled to Botswana at least a dozen times in the last 18 months, therefore I can assure you that you are somewhat misinformed about the status in Botswana.

  • Botswana (Betchuanaland) is next door to Zimbabwe, with millions of hungry hordes ruled by an old madman.

    Botswana may have just 1.5 million people, but Zulus from the south and Zimbabweans from the north will invade in no time once the thing hits the pan.

    For Caucasians, I would recommend Patagonia or New Zealand. For a hybrid of Asian and Hispanic like me, there is no place.

  • Below is a local article on the vulture crisis in Botswana and Africa. It mentions two species of vulture as being critically endangered in Botswana — neither is the Cape Vulture.

    Since I made no general comments on Botswana whatsoever, I am at a total loss to understand why Craig Moodle said I was in error with regard to my comments about Botswana as a country. I made no such comments.

    Stan Moore

    | Issue: Vol.27 No.43 | Monday, 22 March 2010

    The dangers facing the Botswana vulture

    GREG KELEBONYE
    Staff Writer
    It is scary. To understand why, picture this: A vulture lays only one egg per year. Even then it is not guaranteed that it will do so every year.

    One vulture may lay an egg for two consecutive years and then stop due to a whole lot of factors for the next four years. So, imagine what it means when 40 vultures die at a go like it happened at Lesoma last week. Research has shown that the vulture is an endangered species and may be extinct in the next half century unless governments make efforts to save it.
    It is under threat from poachers and careless farmers.

    The death through poisoning of the 40 white-backed vultures – a critically endangered species of the bird, is therefore cause for alarm. The incident may easily be the most serious wildlife poisoning ever recorded in Botswana – and it has left conservationists and bird lovers sick. The birds were found next to a cow carcass laced with poison.

    “More depressing is the fact that the dead vultures are in the red – they are the most critically endangered, ” says Pete Hancock, Birdlife Botswana’s Conservation Officer in Maun. The incident happens at a time when bird conservationists around the world are meeting in Kasane to discuss the fate of endangered species, among them the vulture.

    “The motive is not clear, although there are suspicions that a farmer might have laced the cow with poison to kill lions or hyenas. It is quite obvious that the poison used is very potent as the birds died on the spot,” says Hancock.

    Sadly the species that was killed has been completely wiped out in West Africa and very few of the birds remain in Botswana and Southern Africa, he says. It is not the first time that so many vultures have been poisoned in Botswana.

    “In January this year, 15 white-backed vultures were found dead at Tito cattle-post after they were poisoned,” says a biologist with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Ernest Madimabe. He says that in both the Lesoma and Tito cases, the carcasses that the birds ate had been laced with poison.

    “We suspect that farmers, whose animals have been killed by wild animals which fall in the non-compensation group, such as hyenas simply decide to get rid of the hyenas by lacing remains of the animal the hyenas would have killed with poison.

    Unfortunately in the two cases, it was not the hyenas that came to eat the poisoned meat, but the vultures,” he says. Could compensating farmers for loss occasioned by these animals offer some respite to the bird?

    Last October 50 globally threatened vultures were poisoned in the Xudum Concession in the fringes of the Okavango. In the incident white-backed and hooded vultures, together with yellow-billed kites, were found dead at two giraffe carcases that had been laced with poison.

    It is said that in the Lesoma incident, the vultures were targeted by poachers. “The birds had been feeding on the carcasses of the giraffes, killed illegally by poachers operating in the area, and laced with poison. It is clear that poachers are deliberately aiming to eliminate vultures in areas where they poach, since the birds tend to alert the concessionaires and wildlife rangers to their activities as they will gather where there is a carcass,” says Hancock.

    This poses the greatest risk to the vulture and other birds of prey. “Poisoning by poachers is much more serious than incidental poisoning as poachers purposely target the birds,” Hancock says. The poison was identified as Carbofuran – a highly toxic agricultural insecticide meant for use on non-food crops. “We are very concerned by the escalating indiscriminate use of poisons for killing vultures, as this has decimated their numbers throughout Africa, and has become the single greatest threat facing all vulture and raptor species in Botswana,” says Hancock.

    Birdlife is embarking on an awareness programme to address the issue of birds of prey poisoning. It intends to lobby for legislation to restrict the availability and use of poisons such as Carbofuren. “We want the police to not only be looking for arms at roadblocks, but to be also looking for these dangerous toxins that are not only a danger to birds but are also a danger to humans and the environment in general,” Hancock says.

    Already two of the five species of the vulture found in Botswana are critically endangered. These are the white head and the leopard face vultures. “It is important that we all join hands to fight poaching, and indiscriminate poisoning of carcasses.

    Anybody who hears about or sees anyone doing these things should report them to Birdlife or the Department of Wildlife and National Parks,” urges Hancock.

    It is illegal in Botswana to kill a vulture. The punishment for the offence is P10,000 or 10 years imprisonment. The urgency to protect the vulture comes not just from concern at the loss of another species, but the devastation its absence is likely to cause to the ecosystem.

    “Vultures very effectively remove diseases that may be in carcass leftovers that are not palatable to predators as they tend to eat all the flesh and leave just bones,” says wildlife biologist Madimabe. The health consequences of the vulture’s demise could therefore be catastrophic. Already the number of carcasses is building up in areas where previously vultures would dispose of them within hours of death.

  • Craig

    the term ‘marauding hoardes’ is often used here,
    I was using it in jest, I know nothing about Botswana
    other than its supposed to be one of the most politically stable
    countries in sub saharan Africa. The point I was indirectly making
    was questioning the long term viability of producing bio fuels.
    Just grow an orchard instead? And recycle ALL organic wastes
    back into the soil. If the shit really hit the fan, would you need
    that much fuel? It is not as if you are going to go to the supermarche
    to buy cotton buds and microwavable popcorn.

    The more complexity, more spare parts will be required,
    things always need fixing on a farm, the jobs are endless.
    Perhaps keep it simple.

  • Musings:

    If austerity measures are required for the working-class people of Greece (and no doubt elsewhere), then why would not austerity measures be an even better idea for the corrupt elite, such as at Goldman Sachs?

    If Islamic terrorists are so inept that they cannot launch a successful attack without direct US supervision/intervention, then why don’t the danged Arabs use their oil money to subcontract their “dirty work” to the Mossad? I know one thing for sure: if the NYC “bomber” had been Mossad-trained, he would have been out of the country within minutes of the attack, whether it succeeded or failed, rather than hanging around a couple of days to allow law enforcement time to track him down.

    It seems that every single aspect of the collapsing civilization, from the securities fiasco to the collapse of the auto industry to the oil rig catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, the news is always worse than portrayed by the media — each and every step of the way for each such event. Clearly, the media is complicit in understating failure, and my explanation is that every effort is made to prevent consumer and investor confidence. The day that consumer and investor confidence collapse due to a collision with reality is the day the system tips and catalyzes the final stages. And they know it.

    Another good article on EnergyBulletin.net states the oil peak is behind us, meaning that future growth is impossible. As Guy said, our system is based on “grow or die” and all investments require growth to pay for the compound interest. We are on the verge of seeing “compound decline” as the failure of businesses and the increase in unemployment means that the collapse feeds on itself geometrically and not in linear fashion.

    As soon as everyone figures out Botswana is the safe place to be, it probably will no longer be that way, but I wish everyone good luck who chooses to make a go of it there.

    The world has not ended yet, but a swallow-tailed kite showed up in Wisconsin this winter, so we must be getting close…

    I saw the previews to the new Robert Downey, Jr. sequel to Ironman, called Ironman II, and I have definitely decided that if they make a biopic about my life, I want RDJ to play the leading role. He will require a lot of makeup and padding, but the way he said “You complete me!” in the film trailer shows that he has got me down perfectly.

    And where is Professor Guy?

    Stan Moore

  • A very interesting counterpoint to Guy’s post over at Chris Martenson. Eric Townsend, part of the Martenson inner circle, writes a guest post on how one might “profit” from the coming end of what he calls “peak cheap oil”. While Townsend makes many good points, particularly in regard to “game changers”, I was struck by the pervasive element of denial in the piece, and this by someone really up on the issue, as to what peak oil really means (i.e. water, food, shelter, temperature and community, the GM mantra, as opposed to paper profits). Striking contrast to what going on here and worth a look.

  • Stan,
    A small correction, they are not leopard- faced vultures but lappet- faced vultures.

  • Stan,
    You were absolutely right about the cape vulture. There range does not extend into Botswana, however they are endangered in South Africa.

    Jaime Lopez,
    I will still take my chances in Botswana, as the area I have chosen is 500kms and 900kms from the borders of Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively and a good portion of the buffer is desert.

  • an science article tackling the Peak Oil predicament can be found at:

    http://www.esf.edu/efb/hall/2009-05Hall0327.pdf

    I have not read it thorough yet, but want to document it here while i am thinkign about it. I was just alerted to it moments ago.

    Stan Moore

  • Craig Moodie,

    Again, I am impressed by your choices, planning, and foresight. It seems to me you have a much better plan than most. Here in North America, Africa seems so far away and somewhat threatening, especially since 95% of the news we hear from there is bad. But then pretty much 95% of the news we hear from here is bad too, but it is our news so it seems normal somehow.

    I like the idea of the macadamia nuts although the $140,000 would be way outside of my price range.

    Michael Irving

  • Michael,

    Than you for the vote of confidence.

    Matt,

    My contigency plan has already included the self sustaining portion of life i.e. food, water, shelter, energy etc. My budget allows me to extend beyond the bare necessaties, what do you expect me to do with remaining portion of my wealth? Leave it in a bank so that I will lose it all on the first bank run. After all money is only paper.
    By the way, the area I have chosen to settle down in, is a vast area of natural beauty and I intend spending at least the next 20 years exploring its wonders. If this requires me to make my own arrangements regarding fuel etc, then so be it.

  • If people need a lesson in how to survive hard times they can always study how they did it in the 1930’s http://www.countercurrents.org/curl030510.htm After the roaring 20’s the great depression was as much of a shock as our crisis is today. We are fortunate that those people that thrived then have written about it, we do not have to reinvent the wheel.

  • @Jerry:

    At that time there were few Hispanics in Oakland.

    Now it is a completely different game.

    Anyone who ever walked in downtown Oakland knows what I mean. if anything. barter will be outlawed by those who have nothing to offer, and the weight of numbers will crush any budding self-help efforts.

  • Jaime,

    If that is the case then you might consider building a self sufficient floating island to live on. I am building one http://groups.yahoo.com/group/riverats/ I expect that it will cost about $20,000. When you get your island built go to the gyre about 250 nautical miles ENE of Belem, Brazil and we can do some trading.