Who’s the doomer?

by Kathy Cumbee (bio here, at her first essay for Nature Bats Last)

How many of us have been told at one time or another that we are doomers? I was thinking about that and, although it might be correct to call some of us Cassandras , we are not doomers.

Suppose a wife tells her six-pack-a-day husband that he is going to die from lung cancer or emphysema? Is she a doomer? Or is he the doomer, as he continues to do things that may doom him to an early death?

Is a scientist who warns of global warming a doomer, or are the dirty coal-burning factories the true doomers?

Is someone who warns of the dire possibility of the collapse of more and more
fisheries a doomer, or are the factory fishing boats the doomers?

Are those who warned of a housing bubble doomers, or are the folks who sold unsuspecting retirement funds bundles of dicey mortgages the ones who are doomers?

Are the people who warn about building nuclear power plants on fault lines
doomers, or are those who build them there the doomers? Would living with less
energy in Japan be a worse doom than Fukushima?

In my opinion, warning of potential doom does not make you a doomer. But participating in activities that make that doom more likely: that makes you a doomer.

If we are to be called doomers, let it be for our participation in the culture that eats the future, not for our ability to see and our willingness to speak of the devastation that culture is bringing upon us.


A new classified ad has been added, and will remain under the “CLASSIFIEDS” tab. I’m also pasting it below:

My wife and I are both 35 and civil engineers by profession. In the last decade, our world view has profoundly shifted from the conventional “you are born, go to school, work, work, work, retire and die” to life is meant to be lived NOW and not deferred to the future.

Not being born in wealthy families, we have had to work to build a small nest egg. Currently, I work as an environmental engineer (Note: my job has nothing to do with protecting the environment, only abusing it more while filling out paperwork appropriately) while my wife is a stay-at-home mom, having worked as a structural engineer for 6 years. I plan on quitting my job by the end of the year or thereabouts.

We have a 3 year old daughter to whom we do not want to pass on the cultural messages we were exposed to growing up. Rather, we want her to grow up in as close to our prehistorical ancestral setting as is possible.

We have (more so I than my wife) come to believe that the only truly sustainable way of life is what we arrogantly and derogatorily call the “stone age”. But for various pragmatic reasons, including the fact that we are vegetarians and essentially have no wilderness survival skills, we are trying to find balance in voluntary simplicity and living as close to the land as possible.

We firmly believe in the healing powers of nature and the company of other like-minded people.

We find joy in natural parenting (non-coercive, co-sleeping, extended in-arms phase) and watching our daughter growing up into a happy, quasi-wild child and desperately seek for her the social nurturing that can only come from living with a varied group of people of all ages.

My wife and I are originally from India where we spent the first 22+ years of our life and have mixed feelings about the manner in which we were raised. While we grew up in the typical informal social setting widespread in India, we do not have extensive experience in communal living.

We are big believers of our experiences and have no patience for sky-god(s), sin, reincarnation and the like. If forced to label our views, would call ourselves agnostic-animists.

We believe that health is wealth and consider organic/whole foods a wise investment.

If you are interested in an alliance, please email us at rschwarzg@gmail.com.

Comments 153

  • Kathy, you’re right of course. “Doomer” is a somewhat derogatory label applied to people who are trying to convey a legitimate warning. It is used by those who just don’t want to hear that what they have always believed, and what they have invested so much of their lives in, will result in the demise of all their hopes.

    There is nothing wrong with sounding the alarm and putting out feelers for any people in our lives who might be starting to awaken to the impending debacle.

    I just need to suggest a further step. I think that beyond trying to warn others, there is a need to act, to transform ourselves into the kind of people who not only can survive industrial collapse, but should, because they have found ways to live harmlessly within the natural world.

    What can we call them? “Sustainers”? That doesn’t really grab me. Maybe someone else can come up with a catchy name but the important thing is not the label, but rather, the concept.

  • Kathy

    In our feel-good, happy-ending, image-sensitive society a messenger bearing unattractive news is considered a person in serious need of a major attitude adjustment, up to and possibly even including assassination.

    Such folks are not honoured for the warnings they able to see and convey but instead are persecuted for the pall they draw over their surroundings, the negative aura they project and the emotional need to reach for another beer they solicit.

    Such people are to be avoided at all costs.

  • I’ve only been called a doomer once – and that was by the host of an economic blog chronicling the end of the empire. Go figure. (I shared portions of that exchange here on NBL, I think.)

    Similar to what Tamnaa commented, if all we do is warn, but not back that up with action, then perhaps we deserve the title. Those who lead by example are far more believable that those who are guilty of that about which they preach.

    On the previous thread, I mentioned something to which no one responded directly. So, as it’s related to this essay, I’ll mention it again. I am interested in the thoughts of those who frequent NBL:

    As of late, I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of “sounding the alarm”. Pretty much everyone who comments on this site agrees that there will be a massive die-off of humanity at some point in the not-too-distant future. In fact, most of us agree that the bulk of humankind’s problems are the result of there being way too many of us. That being case, what’s the incentive for wanting to warn others? If the only solution for any of us is for there to be far fewer of us, wouldn’t it be better to just sit quietly and let the rest race off the edge of the cliff? We all know that there’s no way that we could possibly save the overwhelming majority of our overshot species. So why bother?

    I don’t have an answer for my question, but it’s something that’s been on my mind lately. Mind you, I’m very grateful that at least someone was spreading the word, otherwise, I wouldn’t have heard and started making my meager preparations.

  • I’m very grateful that at least someone was spreading the word, otherwise, I wouldn’t have heard and started making my meager preparations.

    Dr. House

    Exactly! There is your reason. Outside of that reason, there really is no point to doing anything other than quietly and unobtrusively enjoying our remaining time. We will not be able to influence the outcome on a civilisation level. That outcome is set and irreversible. Most of us, esp those of us in developed countries or in cities will likely not make it as we have few (if any) inbred communities like Tamnaa’s available.

    So enjoy every moment you can, and if you come across an open mind, then by all means take advantage of the opportunity. Meanwhile, folks like Guy will be spreading the word on sites like this.

  • Kathy,

    Thank you for your essay. You’ve pointed out a different and better way of looking at ourselves, and made me think about my efforts and failings in a new light.

    For those of us relatively untouched by the horrors much of the rest of the world endures on a daily basis, we should recognize the gift we’ve been given. Knowing what’s coming, knowing there’s not a damn thing we can do to save this way of life, and realizing most is not worth saving anyway, we are living in the calm before the storm; a period of grace—precious but fleeting. Perhaps we can nail plywood over the windows and move our valuables to the second floor. Maybe that will help. Maybe not. But every breathe of air we take, every scent we smell, every bite of food we taste, every hand we grasp or hug and kiss we give takes on a heightened sense of awareness and fulfillment.

    By continuing to engage and trying to spread the word, we are offering this gift to others. Most will not hear, but a few may. Beating our heads against the wall seems futile but once in a while a few bricks break free. Over the years your words and the words of others on this site have done this for me. I am grateful and will try to pass this gift on to others.

  • TRDH:

    I really don’t bother unless someone solicits an opinion from me, and indicates they are already on their way.

    Even if we knocked ourselves out, we might reach all of 0.0001%. Not much risk there. How many new people show up her?

  • @John Stassek wrote: “For those of us relatively untouched by the horrors much of the rest of the world endures on a daily basis, we should recognize the gift we’ve been given… every breathe of air we take, every scent we smell, every bite of food we taste, every hand we grasp or hug and kiss we give takes on a heightened sense of awareness and fulfillment.”

    Beautifully put!

    This is why we do what we do; because it is Right Path.

  • Victor, perhaps instead “to all you Cassandras, here is another piece of doom to report, a doom perpetrated by the wasters of resources”. You report, they cause it. Thanks for the link. Wish I knew someone to send it to who would listen :(

  • Victor, on the vid at the link on water at about 4 mins, just after talking about the pools of Las Vegas, he says “we can’t help but note that it is government that essentially sent people to live in the middle of nowhere, to live in deserts, if a free market would have reigned we would see a much more practical living condition with very little of the middle of the desert living.” Heavy sigh. How can people see some things so clearly and be blind to the fact that Las Vegas is full of free enterprise and the government moved people to Area 51 to design a atomic weapon to protect free enterprise. Ah well the rest is good.

  • We all know that there’s no way that we could possibly save the overwhelming majority of our overshot species. So why bother?

    Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha, to those who subscribe to his teachings) said that his guidance was not for everyone: those whose eyes are fully open (fully enlightened) have no need for that guidance and those whose eyes are completely shut will receive no benefit from it. 

    From this one can derive the parameters for effective preaching. 

  • Kathy.

    Thanks for stating what is obvious to most of us. Perhaps some new visitors to NBL might pause to think.


    Just once! I could not recall the number of times I have been labeled ‘too gloomy’, ‘prophet of doom’, ‘too negative’ etc. but it would run into the hundreds (maybe thousands if we count what is said behind my back that I don’t hear :)).

    My response to people who say ‘That’s too gloomy’ is to say: “It will be if you don’t deal with it.” Most don’t get it, of course (as per the Jews of Europe analogy previously discussed).

    You wrote: ‘I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of “sounding the alarm”.

    Although I didn’t directly reply to that point last time, I did suggest that if only a tiny portion of the populace is prepared ‘the ignorant masses’ will take everyone down with them. (I suspect Victor will suggest that will happen anyway.) For many years Robert Atack has been of the opinion that the best way to reduce future suffering is to stop reproducing; the chance of that happening voluntarily on a scale big enough to make a difference is close to zero, of course, especially at this late stage.

    I believe that there is still time to organise a ‘hard landing’ for western societies, as opposed to a ‘super-hard landing’ (splat at the bottom of the cliff) that BAU will generate, if that makes any sense.

  • It may matter little with collapse around the corner, but the reason I wrote this is that “the other side” is very good at taking over the public conversation, thus labeling those who warn of the dangers of our behavior as doomers rather than looking to see if those dangers are real and that behavior is if fact leading us to doom.

    Another way they do this is to capture one fact or pseudo fact and hammer on it. For instance that Limits of Growth made predictions that did’t come to pass. Ugo Bardi posted a good article on this on Energy Bulletin today. http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-09-15/cassandras-curse-how-limits-growth-was-demonized Yet predictions of how long a resource will last have been routinely made and then had to be downgraded, but “our side” fails somehow to get that across. I am reading “Reckoning at Eagle Creek” about the coal industry in Southern Illinois. The author notes that one newspaper in southern Ill had enough coal until AD 9279. Now the lie is down to 300 years.

    I suppose that the lies that promise continued wealth are far more palatable than the warnings that us supposed “doomers” give and yet those lies are what are heading us straight to doom. I doubt there is any way we can change the narrative much but we don’t have to ever let anyone convince us that we are dismal people who enjoy predicting doom.

    Oh do check out the Bardi article with the link above, even if you don’t read it. It has an – “Image from an Athenian red vase from 5th century BC, where we see the prophetess Cassandra falling victim of the usual destiny of those who tell inconvenient truths.”. We need to be aware of the fact that truthfully tell of coming catastrophe sometimes brings doom down on the head of the truth tellers. In that sense we could be doomers :)

  • Ooops that was supposed to be :( at the end

  • In regards to Dr House’s concerns about warning other people, I think Kevin Moore has it exactly right. The collapsing majority will take everyone down with them. It will be very difficult to find a quiet place to sit out the bottleneck and not be affected by the coming storm. Even in so-called Third World countries, there will be massive numbers of urban folk streaming out into the countryside, desperate to survive. You’d have to be pretty darned remote to miss out on the action. Maybe Dmitry Orlov has the right idea – live on a sailboat and hoist sail whenever things get bad enough…

  • James, you said; “Even in so-called Third World countries, there will be massive numbers of urban folk streaming out into the countryside, desperate to survive.” Yes, that’s exactly what happens when severe economic jolts occur. The great majority of people in these societies have strong family connections with rural people and they return to the villages. In food exporting areas, when trade breaks down, people simply eat the product. Shelters can be shared. The flabby, soft-handed office workers from the city help out as best they can. As long as the sun keeps shining and the rains are adequate, there will be food to share.
    Of course, in areas of meager productivity, prone to drought or dependent on artificial inputs, there won’t be enough.
    Obviously, the coming jolt will be of unprecedented magnitude so it’s impossible to know just what will happen anywhere in the world.

    Hmmm… now I feel in danger of being attacked for not being gloomy enough! :-)

  • Kathy C (your newly added C – for Cassandra?) :-)


    About this blog
    Cassandra tried, in vain, to warn her fellow Trojan citizens about the dangers ahead. They didn’t listen, as we know, but she was right. Today, we still prefer a reassuring lie to an uncomfortable truth. It is the Cassandra legacy.

  • Shelters can be shared. The flabby, soft-handed office workers from the city help out as best they can. As long as the sun keeps shining and the rains are adequate, there will be food to share.


    Not certain of your exact location or the various facilities available to you in that area, but do you have electricity? How do you get your water? Do the people in your area depend upon modern medicines or medical services (hospitals, clinics, doctors, etc.)? Where do you get your clothes and shoes from – are there enough to last? Do you require transport to trade or shop? What happens if you are not able to do that? Are there large cities near where there are millions of people? You said that the people in your area have strong family ties. What if their relatives, and families and friends come? And others? Is your area well-known for its food? Do you depend upon a nearby river for fresh water and fish? Is it downstream from a large city?

    There are probably a hundred more considerations for assessing your safety in that area. But you get the point. Hopefully, those in your area will be enough self-sufficient and hidden from obvious view to go on with life – assuming the coming climate change does not adversely affect you…. :-)

  • Bernhard I added the C for my last name when another Kathy posted once or twice. But I like that. From now on I will think of myself as Kathy Cassandra

    While current predictions of doom are still in the early stages of being fulfilled, I did predict the housing crisis. Some years before it happened I happened to see a program on Public TV that was covering housing and learned of the reset dates on the sub-prime housing. It also showed a clip of a class on making money through housing that looked more like a revival. Then I knew for sure we were in deep shit. I warned a family member who was trying to sell a second home at the start of the drop in prices to cut their losses and take what they could get. They finally did some ten’s of thousands of dollars of housing drop later. Does that merit a “gee you were right I would have had several tens of thousands of dollars more in my pocket if I had listened to you”? Of course not. Oh well, I was glad they finally made the sale.

  • Victor.
    Perfectly right in “probably a hundred considerations”. Sounds like great fun to me, such a lot of work to be done. ;-)

    Tamnaa you said at the previous article

    “The best thing we could be doing these days is setting up experimental villages in many various locations in the world to test alternative social and economic principles. It would be a kind of natural selection process with sustainability and contentment the criteria rather than domination.”
    Yup. Nothing to add, except; How to get it started.

  • Victor, fair questions. I appreciate that it’s hard to imagine how life goes on outside industrialized society.
    First; Our personal safety is not a primary concern. I don’t think anyone is really safe. If we can make any sort of contribution, it might be toward encouraging the local people to value and honor their traditional ways.

    Second; climate change is a wild card. I won’t speculate on what that will mean to this part of the world.

    Third; I’m emphasizing subsistence or swadeshi economy, not commerce, which I expect to fail. “Shopping” has already become pretty irrelevant to us now.

    Bernhard was right to say that as industrial/commercial ways of life encroach on subsistence economies, the people tend to relinquish their traditional skills in favor of the dazzling gadgets offered them through participation in a more “developed” economy. That’s happening here too, but we find a lot of people who can still, for example, grow cotton and weave cloth from it. We are learning to do that. Charcoal production proceeds uninterrupted. Mat weaving, basket weaving, pottery….. So many ways to produce what people need which don’t rely on petroleum or electricity…are still alive. Food is abundant all around us. Permaculture is a new name for an ancient strategy that preceded field cultivation by unknown thousands of years and goes on in profusion here. I can walk to the village in a few minutes. We have a city of approx. 150,000 fairly close by but absolutely no need to go there if things get tough. The rural countryside is intensely occupied and cultivated by family smallholders, not by large industial farms.
    We are hooked to the grid but only use about $12.00 worth each month. When electricity fails (and it happens fairly often), I can’t use the internet. :-( Without electricity our small refrigerator would become useless and we would do laundry by hand. We would not die.

    We get our water from the sky for much of the year. It is stored in huge jars. The more jars, the longer it lasts. Irrigation water comes from a small canal that crosses our land. If that should dry up we use our pond. There is a river just a short distance from our house with no major city upstream. We don’t depend on it at all right now.
    As to medical care, anyone dependent on modern medicine and pharmaceuticals will be in big trouble. It’s probable that many will die. On the other hand, when the supplies of junk food dwindle and people need to be physically active to survive, that will have a positive effect on health.
    Shoes; I go barefoot about 20 hours in each 24. The 3 pairs of sandals I now own now might last another 10 years, hard to say. Never wear real shoes.

    I want to emphasize that we are far less prepared than the people around us who still understand and practice the pre-industrial ways of producing what they need. I try to convey my respect to them for their superior knowledge, but this message is so unconventional that I don’t think they really understand.
    Our area is far from unique. “Experts” judge the people in what they call “underdeveloped regions” as impoverished because their income, in terms of money, is very low. Evidently we are supposed to think that this is a problem that needs to be rectified. The fact that these so-called impoverished people have abundant food, comfortable shelter, robust social connections, and a healthy lifestyle, seems to escape the over-educated writers of such reports. Whose agenda are they serving, I wonder?

    Victor, you asked a lot of questions and I tried to answer them all but maybe missed a few. Hope I don’t come across as too terse and strongly opinionated; just trying for brevity in expressing my impressions. Cheers

  • Tamnaa:

    Good for you and your neighbors. Seems like you live in a happy place. Keep a low profile. Don’t let the Usaistanis know exactly where you are.

  • Tamnaa,

    re: “Experts” judge the people in what they call “underdeveloped regions” as impoverished because their income, in terms of money, is very low. Evidently we are supposed to think that this is a problem that needs to be rectified. The fact that these so-called impoverished people have abundant food, comfortable shelter, robust social connections, and a healthy lifestyle, seems to escape the over-educated writers of such reports. Whose agenda are they serving, I wonder?

    This reminds me of a story I read some years ago in which some “do gooder” from the developed world comes across a man living in a hut on the beach in an idyllic, yet “poverty-stricken” situation. So, the developed world man promptly goes about working to improve the man’s situation, teaching him how to catch more fish so that he can make some money selling them. Then, once he’s doing that, he buys a boat so that he can catch even more. Of course, he’s working harder and longer than ever. The story progresses to the point where the man is no longer connected to the beach but running his company and living the fast-paced life in the city . . . all so he can earn enough money to “retire” to a quiet life living on the beach, fishing.

    Somehow, we humans just don’t seem to get it. Your life there sounds quite peaceful and natural.

  • Tamnaa

    The questions I asked were actually rhetorical, but I am happy you answered them anyway and was intensely interested…. :-)

    You sound like you really have it together there, and I am very happy for you. I wish something similar could be done here, but am not at all hopeful that it would be possible, esp in the UK.

    BTW, when I asked about your proximity to a major city, I wasn’t thinking in terms of you going there, but instead it coming to you…. ;-)

  • I recommend folks to check out Tamnaa’s blog http://tamnaa2.blogspot.com/ which has up an interesting blog post on Indigenous Permaculture. Been thinking about what you have to say Tamnaa – not sure I totally agree (I still think agriculture is what makes civilization possible and perhaps inevitable) but you make some good points. What I will say for sure is that you seem to have an immense appreciation and love for the people you live with and ability to see them through other eyes than most Westerners.

    I have always thought that what folks need is not a Permaculture training session but a live-in peasant. Peasants for eons have been beyond self sufficient for it is only their ability to feed more than themselves that has made it possible for some people to do other things, like become kings and lord over them. Some of the permaculture people I have met seem to think that they can take things from peasant practices and improve on them. I tend to think that peasant methods have been refined through eons of experience and for each part of the world that they live in are the best and don’t need western minds to improve things. One thing we forget is that each generation just knows the conditions of a few decades, while indigenous cultures have absorbed the experience of centuries, and centuries hold within them events that a few decades may never experience.

  • I picked up this quote from the comments section of Morris Berman’s blog:

    “… we are fated to be the Cassandra generations that endure mockery, incomprehension, or just the daily little deaths of seeing the ways of life we trusted as children slowly dry up and die in front of us. Without any clear idea of what comes after, we can only offer to others our bemused observations about the collapse, resist the Marxisant temptation to speed it up in bursts of pubertal culture jamming or worse, and accept that we can only help NMI’ize the new dawn in some foreign future we cannot live long enough to really share.”

    This quote addresses both the essay subject and Dr. House’s question above (“why bother sounding the alarm?”). Berman’s third book in his America trilogy is set to be released next month: (The Twilight of American Culture, Dark Ages America, and now Why America Failed). In that series, he describes the new monastic individual (NMI), someone who seeks to preserve and perpetuate some portion of our cultural inheritance (history, philosophy, the arts, and literature more than engineering know-how, one would presume) in the face of decay, doom, and barbarian invasions.

    Berman never deals with the question of physical resources (food, water, warmth, energy), but that may not be a serious omission since what he does deal with is still pretty substantial. He appears to be convinced that culture produces only mouth-breathing cretins anymore. So from within that context — a veritable ocean of ignorance and misunderstanding — it’s perhaps inevitable that by joining other Cassandras or NMIs, those of us who perceive a planet of doom rising before us may take some solace finding and forming like-minded communities, whether virtual or land-based.

  • Ed:

    Only if politicians start dropping dead of convulsions, will we see any action.

  • I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diqH6mVICTg&feature=player_embedded by the History Channel – too much spooky music, dramatic narration, and repetition. However, I had a mess of field peas to shell so it removed some of the tedium of the shelling and the shelling removed some of the tedium of the presentation. HOWEVER it was a bit doomy. Covering how Iceland formed, it finally got to the point, which is that glaciers have held down Iceland’s volcanoes and are now receding (they didn’t say due to global warming, but I am sure Al Gore is not making them recede with his blow torch). Thus the many volcanoes on the island are likely to do some more erupting.
    Per wiki entry on the Laki volcano
    The system erupted over an 8 month period during 1783-1784 from the Laki fissure and the adjoining Grímsvötn volcano, pouring out an estimated 14 km3 (3.4 cu mi) of basalt lava and clouds of poisonous hydrofluoric acid/sulfur-dioxide compounds that killed over 50% of Iceland’s livestock population, leading to famine which killed approximately 25% of the population.[4]

    The Laki eruption and its aftermath has been estimated to have killed over six million people[5] globally, making it the deadliest volcanic eruption in historical times. The drop in temperatures, due to the sulfuric dioxide gases spewed into the northern hemisphere, caused crop failures in Europe, droughts in India, and Japan’s worst famine.

    That’s the potential doom message – the doomers are those who fight against recognizing global warming and its causes.

  • Ed, the link to continued sickness in the gulf is right on topic. The gulf has been doomed, not by those worried about deepwater wells but by those who assured us they were safe and for the sake of making more money cut corners. Thanks for the update link. The very least we can do is not forget.

    Meanwhile the mainline news seems to have forgotten Vermont

  • I now get it: a doomer is one who causes doom, not one who forecasts it. As in murderer, swindler, etc.

  • Kathy has summed it all up. What is often called a “Doomer” is a realist. We need to find a way for Home Sapiens to fit back within nature – and integrate with nature. We, as a species, “homo sapiens” are unique – and don’t fit into nature – naturally – if you can understand what I am saying. This is not necessarily a death sentence against Mankind – but a clear LIMITING FACTOR.
    Not sure of the type of rhetoric “Robin Datta” spews – “I now get it: a doomer is one who causes doom, not one who forecasts it. As in murderer, swindler, etc.”

    So, once again, I will challenge anyone – in regards to “Homo Sapiens” – what is wrong with the following:











    What is wrong with those precepts? Please enlighten me. I willl listen, and consider your petition.

  • LOL. And let me add – one Doomers pessimist is anothers optimist. What is wrong with a naturally controlled population of humans living within the constraints of nature in a low- level tech Agrarian society? OMG! Can’t have that!!! How would Paris Hilton survive? LOL.

    Let me help you – we arn’t Doomers – we are realists hopng for a better life for us and the future generations seamlessly integrating into nature and making our presence an integral part of neture.

  • Sorry… that’s NATURE.

  • Tim E. As I understand it, nobody knows or is willing to say who set up the Georgia guide-stones. The failure of the person or group behind this message to come forward and openly discuss these precepts leads many people to theorize about some shadowy elite who plan to reduce the population and impose their will on the remnant by force.

    What’s your take on that?

  • Tim E – What’s wrong with your precepts is that it is too late. The collapse is starting now and there is no time to get the population reduced voluntarily. Also the idea of “nations” is embedded in your precepts. “Nations” implies rule by coercion and violence. We need to go towards cooperative bottom up ways of living rather than being ruled by hierarchy and by threat of violence.

    Tamnaa – Sounds like you have a better chance than most of us of surviving the bottleneck. That’s wonderful for you, but I’m still trying to figure out a plan of action within the belly of the beast (USA). There are very few people here who know how to live without money, oil, or electricity. Even worse, ridiculous property values make it near impossible for those of us who haven’t already made a lot of money to buy land and even try to learn. Because of those difficulties, I am turning into a hedonistic nihilist. Since there’s no hope, I just try to get outside and play as much as I can before it is all over.

  • James; I’d say that the people with deep roots in pre-industrial subsistence cultures anywhere in the world have the best chance. My wife and I really don’t have those roots.
    I understand the difficulties you mention. It was like that for me back in Canada, too. I was lucky enough to have an old house I could repair and sell and that gave us a decent start here.

    You might want to try some of these steps:
    1. Work on your physical fitness and learn to do strenuous work cheerfully.
    2. Kick all addictions, including caffeine, aspartame etc. etc.
    3. Get entirely free of debt.
    4. Work to improve your general health and immune system. Anyone dependent on medication of any kind should look for ways of being well without them.
    5. Try to find people nearby who might need free help on their own independence projects. There are people who have land and skills but could use help from an energetic person with the right attitude. You might learn a lot and possibly get a steady gig.

    Hopefully, you are already 100% good on a few of the above.
    Best of luck!

  • Doctor House; that story seems very familiar but I don’t remember where I first heard it. David Korten perhaps?

    “Your life there sounds quite peaceful and natural.” Yes, relatively so, I suppose but not as much as I had hoped. Bear in mind that no inkling of this “collapse” idea has yet reached people here. Everything is booming. A small university is being built just down the road from our house, so many people in our village are busy building cheap accommodation for students, opening food stalls etc. in expectation of increased prosperity.

    We have a small pick-up which I would prefer to drive as little as possible but quite often I find myself on a hair-raising journey to help someone (extended family and friends) transport belongings or people from here to there.

    It can be quite busy but, for me, that’s better than feeling isolated.

  • Real Dr House
    The story is being told over here too, slightly different. It goes like this. A rich industrialist, German, has holidays on the Greek coast.
    Day by day he watches a fisherman, seldom doing some fishing, mostly having fun with his buddies or just sitting, watching the sea. He walks up to him, telling the story as told, about one, then two boats, employing people, ever more boats, finally the fish canning factory, exporting fish into all the world. The Greek, somewhat in disbelief, stares at the German, finally says: No what would be the sense in doing this?
    The German: Now that is easy. Once you have the fish factory, all that is left to do for you, go fishing only when you really want and for the fun of it, the rest of the day you just sit and watch the sea. The Greek smiles and finally replies: What do you think I have been doing for the past 30 years?

    Electricity alternative for cooling, you find here:
    You told about local pottery, so that could be easy. The mentioned salt part at the end of the pot cooler explanaton can possibly be avoided using rain water instead of surface/ground water.
    Thing I’ve been thinking is lights without elec. Years ago I heard about very low tech bio gas developed in China. Now even this low tech could be to high tech if depending on outside delivery of parts. Don’t know.

  • Dr House

    Seems like I recall that story from a movie, perhaps Shawshank Redemption as told by Red? Anyway, I have heard it as well – great lesson in that story.

  • Or perhaps from Zorba the Greek?

    Or perhaps I don’t know?… :-)


    This presumes a globalized society. Languages evolve, and in fragmented isolation the same language may evolve differently in different places. One can even see that with English. With relocalization it will become even more pronounced. 

  • Not sure of the type of rhetoric “Robin Datta” spews

    Those who are unsure may well be more accepting of the current usage of the word ” Doomer”

  • TAMNAA – You ask a very good question – (paraphrased) “Who set forth the pre-cepts in the Georgia Guidestones” – I cannot answer that question – but since I do not believe in Evolution, or a strict 6 day Creation myth – I would say our Creators did. Who are our Creators? I believe the Sumerians described them – lived amongst them – named them – and told our history. I have no answers – only more questions – but today Scientists are manipulating genetics and creating many interesting and new things – genetics is eternal and immortal – and so did advanced beings in the past to create us like we do today. Who could imagine a glowing Cat?


    Now- humans have created a Cat that glows green. Through genetic manipulation. I would say that we are a product of genetic manipulation. Clearly we have evidence that genes can be manipulated to create green glowing Cats. Since humans created green glowing Cats – we have dominion over them.

    That is the light in which I view the Georgia Guidestones. Those who Created us put those forth as a new plan – They fore-told their intentions. Yes- it is unpleasant, and uncomfortable, for the moment- but we are destroying the Planet through numbers alone – and something must be done. The World is governed by Life Boat ethics – whether you are willing to admit it or not – and those of us in the West normally ride in the lifeboat – and don’t witness the throwing out of the rest. My hope is that the pre-cepts are from a higher life-form and lead to a more perfect human being.

  • “Doomer” – Robin Datta – you are from Satan himself. As a “Doomer” – I see a World where human beings integrate with other species in harmony – yes- we must eat meat – but do so ethically. Where human beings do not dominate – but rather harmonize with nature. part of nature is the life cycle of birth – death – re-birth. All is re-cycled and re-used.

    Who’s the Doomer? I would say – YOU! Do you support the status quo? BAU? EARTH FIRST! We’ll mine the Planets later! Resource depletion and allocation.

    Why are you opposed to an Agrarian low-tech society that lives within it’s means – accepts it’s deaths as part of life – and harmonizes with nature? The concrete jungles of New York are an anamoly – and need to be torn down.

    Quite frankly, you lack the intelligence to see that when human beings are destroying, on a large scale, the environment around them, in order to buy another day of life, with no regard for the future, that it shall lead to a waterfall event that will, in the end, lead to an extinction level event. So therefore – you are dead to life and only live for your senses today – you resemble – the living dead.

  • Tim E.

    I think you misjudge Robin.

  • Can anyone give me some pointers on how to build a really good natural water purification system for home use, or point me to a site that has that info?

  • Tim E, I would suggest you read some comments on back posts with an open mind before you start attacking individuals. Yours words about Robin are the most hateful words I have seen anyone use on this site. We argue (a lot), we get pretty hot under the collar over issues that sometimes hardly merit such heat, but calling someone “from Satan himself” when you hardly know the man seems beyond the pale and I would suggest an apology is in order. Not because Robin needs an apology, he is a mature adult who can handle such slurs, but because you yourself need to apologize for your own mental health, and to prepare you for a world in which such carelessly given insults might have serious physical consequences.

    Re the word doomer, my intent was not to provide a definition. Words get defined by use over time and take on meanings and shades of meanings that are not within the original use of the word. The most notable current example is “conspiracy theory” which implies a nut cake theory when in fact a conspiracy theory should mean a theory about people working together to bring off some crime.

    My intent was to not let others label us and attempt to convince us that we are negative but incorrect and always on the lookout for some negative view. Nor should we let them get away with labeling to avoid talking about an issue. My intent was to give us, in our own minds and in conversation, a way to turn that around and talk about whose behavior is bringing doom to the planet.

  • Victor


    I believe, if you’re in an area where groundwater is within an acceptable level, the best water purification system you can get.(If not poisoned by agriculture or so on already).

    Have one in front of our house, did dig it deeper when younger, was great fun.

  • LOL. you still approach “Satan” from a Judeo-Christian perspective. It merely means one who opposes your viewpoint. You give the word too much importance. There is neither a “Christian” Heaven or Hell.

  • Perhaps the “hate ” of the John Smith would help you to understand –

    When Indians were found to be stealing tools ctitical to the survival of the newly established Colony – he had them executed- as they put everyones’ survival at stake.

    “Concerning his relationship with the colonists, Smith is considered by historical and literary critics to be an arrogant braggart. On numerous accounts, he outwardly expressed the colonists were worthless; most of them were gentlemen who felt no need to do physical labour. As a method of survival, Smith blatantly rejected the social order that existed in England, which obviously angered the gentlemen of the colony. Smith became regularly frustrated with the amount of delegation[clarification needed] that the colonists went through before a decision could be made. Smith’s disgust with the “gentlemen” of Jamestown was clear: he makes several references to them as “useless parasites,” for their ignorance in the laborious tasks that are required for beginning a colony”


    NATURE does INDEED BAT LAST – and in NATURE – those who can’t carry their own weight DIE! It is the difference between prey and predator. When a Sheep dies – it’s death nourishes many – who need it. Reecognize prey from predator. Both depend upon each other. I am a Sheep – I just object to being eaten – and will try to fend off predators any chance I can. I want to see a Sheep society – others – want a Wolf society. It’s NOT hate- it is recognization.

  • Tim, nice try “you still approach “Satan” from a Judeo-Christian perspective. It merely means one who opposes your viewpoint.” As I point out in a world with less or no police around folks are not going to have to be nice. They are not going to ask you to define your words. If they think you are calling them the Devil, you well may be dead before you can define your terms. I agree there is no heaven or hell or god or satan, but my neighbors don’t and some of them even in this more controlled word would give you a pounding if you directed your words to Robin to them. You sit safely behind your computer tossing out insults but if you don’t learn to moderate your words, you may have far less words to put out in your lifetime. Your choice. Good luck in the future world and please don’t come down to my part of Alabama calling people Satan – I promise you won’t get a chance to explain. I don’t believe in god, heaven, hell or the devil, but i am not stupid or needlessly antagonistic. Well maybe stupid, my response may be just what you are trying to provoke for your own entertainment. Hope you have the smarts not to try that with anyone face to face.

  • Bernhard; Thanks for the link, that’s an interesting website which I will look into further. These evaporative cooling systems are well known and I’ve used variants of this in Canada too. The summers are often very hot there.
    In S.E. Asia, high humidity makes them less effective, unfortunately.

    Lighting, without electricity, requires some thought. What do you do in Germany when the power fails? Oh, maybe that never happens in well organized countries. :-) What did your ancestors do before the advent of electric lighting? Perhaps some good low tech methods have been nearly forgotten.
    We tend to provide ourselves with the simplest solutions first, and then work from that base toward something more sophisticated if possible.
    In my experience, gas lighting requires a fairly high tech element called a mantle. I’m not sure whether the old coal-gas lights used them or not.
    Simple wick lamps that burn vegetable oil can provide enough light to function during the dark hours.

    I teach conversational English in our home to students of very diverse age and skill level.
    Yesterday I was talking to some 14-year-olds about crops, building English vocabulary around that subject. I asked them about the crops of Thailand and they were able to list quite a few. The main crop, they decided, is rice. Then I asked which crops required oil to cultivate. they thought a long time and then said; “only rice”(they missed sugar, tapioca and other commercial crops but I think they were essentially correct). The paddy fields are cultivated these days with two wheel walking tractors.
    Then I mentioned that petroleum might become very expensive or unavailable in the future. “How can we grow rice without using oil?” I asked. I thought that they would suggest the same idea that was in my mind; we can go back to using water buffaloes to pull the plow.
    But no, one really bright girl said; “Bio-diesel”. Thailand grows fuel producing plants; chiefly oil palm and a bush called “sabu dam”.
    Okay, teacher learned something!

  • Tamnaa

    Water buffalo are the safer bet…. :-)

    You need not only the fuel but the parts and supplies to keep the motorised equipment going.

  • I agree, Victor. I think they are very lovable too. Beautiful fellow organisms.

  • Tamnaa and Victor, not to mention that the waste products of buffalo are useful. Bio-diesel – wouldn’t it require equipment that is currently being created using oil? While metal parts were manufactured before electricity, recreating all those industries to run without electricity is a huge infrastructure investment unlikely to happen in the midst of collapse. That holds for everything that we now use that is manufactured using electricity or oil. Tamnaa do you have something equivalent to blacksmiths there? When I was in Haiti small scale smithing was done right on the street edges using charcoal. Mostly I presume repairs, or making something from something else that was manufactured elsewhere, as I am not aware of an iron source in Haiti.

    Re light, candles, oil lamps of course. But also going to bed when it is dark and arising when it is light :)

    Washed clothes this morning. I have a James hand washer and wringer. The handle on the James washer broke (twice actually) and I am now using a tin hand plunger in the washer basin. Since our electric washer gave out and I went to washing by hand I wash far less frequently and yet we still manage not to offend most people and haven’t gotten sick. Will wash less often yet when I have to hand pump the water and make my own soap. I remember reading the Good Earth as a teen in which the young Chinese man on the event of his marriage took a bath. His neighbors were astounded that he should take a bath more than once a year. Some middle age “saints” in fact boasted of having never taken a bath. The point is that one adaption to collapse will simply be dropping doing many activities that we may like but are not essential.

  • Kathy Cassandra:

    Your post and subsequent discussion point out how important it is to keep our signal-to-noise ratios at a level where we can communicate ideas to other people. You’re right to take on the word Doomer. It’s used to dismiss serious discussions about life and death issues.

    A few months ago the NBL community was accused of writing Doomer Porn by a person who obviously wanted to turn away from things she felt she couldn’t do anything about toward tending her own garden and her own mental and physical health. More power too her, but her language was used to obscure and paint over the fact that some serious thinkers are grappling with almost impossible issues on this site, and we’re all working to get our ideas into wider discussion. If we have to put them in the form of porn to get mainstream attention, so be it.

    As for calling people Satan, no matter the context, I’ve been on enough academic committees to know that if you want to derail a discussion and destroy a day’s honest work, nothing works better than a few well-chosen words directed at somebody’s reptile brain. Pretty soon the whole committee is at a reptilian level–everybody’s limbic system is lit up like a casino–and everybody ends the day happily thinking they’re the only smart person in the room. A lot of folks spend their entire academic careers in that space.

    Robin makes an excellent point about languages. Localities produce dialects, sometimes over a single generation, and in time those dialects get further encoded into languages. A sub-variety of schizophrenia has its victims inventing, speaking and sometimes writing their own languages, and we all have our pet words and phrases that reinforce our separateness and specialness.

    I appreciate your language because it’s plain-spoken, clear, and packs a great amount of meaning in a small place. Would that it could become the universal language of humankind.

  • Who’s the Doomer?
    in the end, lead to an extinction level event

    According to current usage, those who subscribe to this outlook are the doomers. 

    As Kathy C states:

    In my opinion, warning of potential doom does not make you a doomer. But participating in activities that make that doom more likely: that makes you a doomer.

    Those who do not understand the “rhetoric” that I spew have not comprehended her point. 

    Why are you opposed to an Agrarian low-tech society

    It would be interesting to know the origins of such a question, since it manifests a lack of acquaintance with many comments on prior posts. 

  • In Indian mythology there was once a being who had accumulated a karmic load that necessitated births in embodied form, distancing him from that Divine. 

    G_d offered him a choice of fourteen incarnations as a devotee of the Divine, or seven incarnations as an enemy, the karmic load being depleted faster by the adversities of the latter.

    He chose seven incarnations to lessen the duration of distancing from the Divine.

    Even that enmity may have a different implication in a larger context. 

  • Kathy C Says:
    September 17th, 2011 at 3:38 pm ‘check out the Bardi article with the link above’

    very interesting article, kathy. i was a teenager when LIMITS TO GROWTH was published in ’72 or whatever, and as clueless as virtually everyone around me, to the extent i don’t believe i ever even heard of it until the past 10-20 years (some sheople are slow learners, many never learn).

    ‘Hmmm… now I feel in danger of being attacked for not being gloomy enough! :-)’ -tamnaa imo, u’re perfectly gloomy, neither excessive nor overly optimistic. u have apparently done well for yourself in rural cambodia, no doubt the envy of many who wish they could have your degree of confidence/security facing collapse, or your ability to so position yourself in a more advantageous setting for it.

    as is so often the case, i’m a day behind on reading this blog’s posts, as there’s so much good information presented to be absorbed, contemplated, and synthesized.

  • Still looking for some pointers on natural means of water filtration/purification – though the more I look into it the more I see that, given the modern environment, this process might be a bit complex?

  • Victor, what’s the situation? Cattails work well, but I’m not sure what you are trying to accomplish.

  • Victor here is one method for filtering water that may be useful to remember in days to come – while not effective against every sort of pathogen its better than nothing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloth_filter “The method used in Bangladesh is as follows: an old sari is folded to make four or eight layers. The folded cloth is placed over a wide-mouthed container used to collect surface water. It is usually sufficient to rinse the cloth and dry it in the sun for a couple of hours. In the monsoon seasons, it may be advisable to use a cheap disinfectant to decontaminate the material.”

    they recommend sari cloth so I am guessing it usually has a very tight weave.

  • Robin, that’s a fascinating myth. Do you understand why actions opposed to the Divine might deplete negative karma in fewer lifetimes?
    I’ve always thought that adversities such as extreme poverty or disability could allow karma to dissipate but only when born patiently. That doesn’t suggest opposition to the Divine. Can you clarify?

    Kathy C; “one adaption to collapse will simply be dropping doing many activities that we may like but are not essential.” I totally agree and I think that’s the most important adaptation to keep in mind. “Reduce” is the first of the three Rs and it means more than reducing resource consumption. To me it means reducing dependency on all the goods and services we are so accustomed to, and reducing expectations. Instead of trying to replicate modern living standards, learning to live happily without the “mod-cons”. (emphasis on “happily”)

    I’m having serious computer trouble here so I’ll post this and then do another post.

  • Kathy C; about black-smithing; a wide variety of cheap steel tools are readily available (I use them all the time) and they appear more or less hand-forged. My guess is that they are made in small shops using bottle gas for heat but the people would have little trouble switching to charcoal when necessary.
    When we talk about “collapse”, there is a fairly strong consensus that population will be considerably reduced by the ensuing hardships; disease, starvation, etc. Painful as this will be, it will leave the survivors in a world with plentiful materials all around them. Power tools and machinery will be useless, of course, but all the durable hand tools will be there, ready for use. After a few years it might be very hard to find a sharp handsaw, but simpler tools should last a few generations.

    I’ve identified “bottlenecks” in local rice production here which may be analogous to situations elsewhere. If the field can be plowed, everything to a certain point is straightforward because planting and cutting are currently done by hand anyway. Then we get to threshing, which is done by home-built machines mounted on trucks. Without petroleum it can’t be done this way. The old method is a tedious job bent over beating clumps of straw on a log so the rice grains come off. But we’re not finished yet! Humans can’t digest the husk that covers each grain. That’s removed in small local mills which won’t be usable when power fails. We’ve solved that problem with a small hand-turned wooden mill with which we can de-husk the grains in small batches as needed. My wife possesses the magic of winnowing; tossing the rice on a bamboo tray so the husk drifts away, leaving edible brown rice.
    I’m pretty sure these problems exist for wheat, oats etc. so grains are not the easiest food crops to deal with.

  • Victor,

    About water purification: (I did not stay at a…etc.)

    I am really interested in this too so I did some googling. I came across “slow sand” and “charcoal filtration” as possible methods of cleaning out contaminants. Add some sunlight (UV) in a glass jar and you may have a good start. I’m hoping one of our resident experts addresses this issue. I do know that soil filtration is what most of us with wells or gravity flow systems from springs depend on. It seems to be effective, hence the idea that some kind of soil filtration system might help. I trust my water a lot more than bottled water.

    Michael Irving

  • Tamnaa:

    Actually some grains are relatively easy to deal with. Domestic wheat is tolerant of a wide range of soil and weather conditions, including dryland. It can also be harvested, threshed, and winnowed by hand. Grain kernels break free of the hulls during the threshing process. The few hulls that stick, well, just grind them up along with the kernels. Won’t hurt you a bit. Now the heirloom wheats (such as spelt, emmer, einkorn, etc.) are a different matter. They do require de-hulling.

    Oats and barley go either way. Hull-less varieties exist and are easy to thresh out. I raised a hull-less oat this summer and it was no more work to deal with than my wheat.

    Corn doesn’t have a hull, so is ready to use once shucked and dried.

    Regarding your statement: “After a few years it might be very hard to find a sharp handsaw, but simpler tools should last a few generations.” I’m curious as to why you think this is the case. I’ve got 50-year-old handsaws in my tool shed that are sharpened by hand with nothing more than a vice, a set of files, and a saw set. Why should those items suddenly disappear?

  • Resa, I’m glad to hear the other grains are easier to process. How do you thresh wheat by hand?

    “I’ve got 50-year-old handsaws in my tool shed that are sharpened by hand…” Excellent! You are perfectly right, saws won’t disappear. It’s my impression that the skills needed to sharpen and set handsaws properly have been largely forgotten, no? I have great respect for people like yourself who have been able to keep such skills alive. What about files, do they last a long time?

  • I’ve always thought that adversities such as extreme poverty or disability could allow karma to dissipate but only when born patiently. That doesn’t suggest opposition to the Divine. Can you clarify?

    Good understanding.

    One can find oneself in a situation where words and actions are expected from the person that in a conventional sense would seem less than moral or ethical. This could be a consequence of prior karma.

    In the Indian epic Mahabharata, just before the great battle of Kurukshetra, there is a conversation between Arjuna (as a warrior) and Krisha his charioteer (as the Deity incarnate) which is called the Bhagavad-Gita. In it Arjuna states his reluctance to do battle and cause injury, suffering and death.

    Krishna advises him that the injury, suffering and death have been already (in a future yet to come) been infilcted by himself (Krishna, as the Divine): that Arjuna should proceed with his duties, not with the concept of himself as the doer, but rather as an instrument of the Divine.

    Bhagavad-Gita 11:33

    It is described as non-volitional action, “action fallen into” (prabhapatitam karyam). In the Zen tradition, before enlightenment chopping wood,carrying water, after enlightenment chopping wood, carrying water. New karma good or bad, is not accreted with such action.

    There are three forms of karma: sanchit karma (stored karma – from the past), of which a minuscule portion becomes prarabdha karma (manifest karma). One’s actions in response to prarabdha karma, if not performed from a state of enlightenment, accrete as agami karma (future karma, added to the store of sanchit karma). From the point when the person realizes the native state of all sentient beings (“enligtenment”) onwards, the physical body and the associated world continue as a potter’s wheel continues to rotate after the last push given to it. But from that point on no new future karma is added, and the stored karma is turned to ashes in the fire of awareness. And then when manifest karma runs out, free from the cycle of embodiments is realized.

  • THat’s freedom from the cycle…….

  • Great discussion. About purifying water – I use Masaru Emoto’s method of writing “love and gratitude” on a piece of paper and tape it to the water jug. I also have a Berkey filter, which works with rain water and you can scrub the filters once a month and they should last for years. For crops, I have seen diagrams of man-created wet-lands using water hyacinths and other plants to filter the water. Also, there is black mica, which precipitates out the nasties. It’s a product called Adya Clarity – for drinking water – and it also breaks down the plaque on teeth and elsewhere.

    Kathy – my washer broke years ago and I am glad. I quit going to the laundramat a year ago. I use a hand-held shower wand with a filter on it and mostly rinse my body off each night – catching the water in the tub which I then use to rise out the clothes I was wearing. If they need any soap, I use a bar of soap, but then have to run clean water to rinse. This has caused me to rethink thick towels, blue jeans and other thick things. Also, thin towels dry faster indoors in the winter.

    Tamnaa – I love your blog! Saw sharpening intimidated me at first, too, but there is a guide you can buy for the chain saw, but I wonder about the hand saw. U-tube has good how-to for this.

    I think we all will eat different things one day. Maybe more potatoes and yams and taro. Maybe less grain. Maybe more beetles and grasshoppers. :)

  • Ed

    My theoretical situation is that should we ever lose our tap water source, how would we get access to potable water? We might have a relatively high water table here, though I am not at all certain as we live on a hilltop. The most likely source of water would be the local river, the Thames, so we would be drawing water from it and lugging it home.

    My basic problem is that all sorts of nasties can be present in water, esp lake and river water – various pathogens, pesticides, heavy metals, organic and inorganic chemicals. Modern waste processes complicate the issue even further, as you can imagine. Not certain cattails would be sufficient?

    Kathy C – thanks for the link. Upon reading it, it appears that the old saris are best because, being made of cotton, the fibres expand over many washings, reducing significantly the spaces between. Multiple folds enhance that reduction even further. Apparently this method is good for pathogens that attach themselves to particles and plankton in the water. The folded clothe apparently filters a lot of these particles and plankton out. But I shouldn’t imagine that this method is effective for other nasties – chemicals and the like that might be present in varying amounts.

    I looked up the water treatment reports for my area published by the local water company and found a huge list of contaminates tested for. So theoretically, the river water could contain many of these.

    Michael Irving – I agree that ground filtered water, if not chemically contaminated, is the best defence against impurities. So if you have an underground water table and can gain access to it, that is good.

    Rita Vail – Many thanks for referencing the Berkey filtration – I will investigate further – sounds promising, at least it would give several years protection before the filters have to be replaced. (Indeed, there might be a way of rejuvenating them as you would with activated charcoal – though I am not certain of that by any means!) I have recently purchased Adya Water as a possible intermediate alternative – besides being relatively expensive, you would have to gain access to the source which would not be feasible under conditions of Collapse. I am also in communications with the provider to gain an understanding as to why they have not released an formal test results of its ability to purify water – I am happy with the published reports on its ability to reduce chlorine content and bacterial impurities, but I am not so happy with its neglect in publishing formal reports of its ability to remove or reduce chemicals, heavy metals and radionuclide as it claims it can – the only report it issues on this is one that claims that tap water is still safe to drink after Adya Water has been added – in other words, Adya Water does not add any nasties of its own. Says nothing about it reducing what is already present. So we shall see what they say, if they respond… ;-)

    Thanks all for the help. If you come across anything you might think is of interest, I would certainly appreciate your forwarding it on to NBL.

  • Victor, Berkey’s always come highly recommended. That is some serious doomer my friend, bringing water from the Thames to drink.

    On the saws, Resa may know the answer to this, but at some time in the past the blades being sold were switched to metal that is harder than the files you might have. Blades last a long time, but when they get dull you cannot sharpen them. If you have a saw, 50 years old, then you are in luck. Most around here end up in antigue stores and cost a fortune.

    Tamnaa I was reading about Native Americans and wild rice. There was something in there about how they processed it and it didn’t involve any grinding. I’ll go back and see if I can find it. I know the plant varieties aren’t the same at all, but maybe the process would work the same. We just seeded one of our ponds yesterday.

    Sam if you are around, or anyone else. We had really good luck growing a flour corn and a dent corn. Dent was 100 days and seems to have cross-pollinated with some gmo garbage as evidenced by yellow kernels mixed in with the desired green. If I seperate them when I kernel them will the green ones still be pure for next years planting, or are we better just eating the whole cob this year?

    Guy we are collecting acorns now, and finding that all acorn trees are not the same as it relates to producing. Some are dropping lots some none. I guess the Real People knew how to discern just by observing them at some stage. It’s a loss to me. The message seems to be have a bunch of them if you are going to depend on them for your carbs.

  • Typhoon Roke on Course for Leaking Japan Reactor as 1 Million May Evacuate…
    By Makoto Miyazaki and Yuriy Humber – Sep 20, 2011 6:52 AM ET

    Typhoon Roke brought evacuation orders and fears of floods to Nagoya city in central Japan today as it approached the main island of Honshu on a course toward the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.
    More than 1 million people in Nagoya city in central Japan have been advised to evacuate because of Roke and almost 80,000 have been ordered to leave due to
    flood risk, said Katsuya Kobayashi in the city’s disaster prevention center.

  • This seems to be a good source for hurricane tracking – looks like some possible gulf storms are forming as well as Roke targeting Japan


  • Ed, what you say about saws is certainly true of the bow saw blades I purchased. Rust is my big problem, not really for dulling but for sticking. I don’t know if rust is a problem for hand wood saws of the old type or not. Being in a very humid area as I am sure Tamnaa is, rust is a problem on many tools. I use vaseline on my saw blades – a thin smear if I am not using the saw for a bit or if it is very humid out. Really extends my use of the bow saw blades. But then I purchased a lifetime supply of them as well. :) After the crash I guess I will need bear grease…but I have a stash of vaseline as well. Good for chicken leg mites too.

    As far as learning some skills, just being told how to do it, or watching someone do it doesn’t work for me. Some skills in the past took long apprenticeships. Chicken sexing for instance. When they tried to have experienced chicken sexers teach people it didn’t work. However the traditional method is for the novice to just guess and the teacher say yea or nea. After a while many novices get good without ever understanding how they know a male chick from a female. Sounds weird, but isn’t that how we learn to catch a ball, ride a bike etc. In that case it is our own obvious failures that teach us. No one can tell you how to balance on a bike. Thus it is seems not enough to tell people that if they have a saw they can sharpen it, and probably not enough to tell them how, they need to have someone stand over them and say yes and no as they make the attempt (hopefully they don’t ruin the saw in the process!) It would seem that the world is hopelessly short of teachers for the skills we need. Doomerism on my part, no, doom created by the destruction of a way of life.

    However some things you can learn from a book – I learned to degut chickens from a book. But for the life of me I can’t sharpen a knife well, I can get it more sharp, but not shaving sharp.

  • A very rich discussion going on here, is it always like this? Hard for me to select a few items to respond to.
    Rita Vail: “Tamnaa – I love your blog!” thanks and also to Kathy C who recommended it earlier. It’s a playpen for me where I can hopefully learn writing. Trying to organize my thoughts and present them in actual (gulp!) words to others has always been a laborious task for me.
    John Rember, I had a quick look at your website and I’m hoping there may be some hope for me there.

    Also, Rita; Emoto’s findings about water are extremely important, I think. We are only beginning to discover a deeper level of reality about this earthly experience which will lead us to better times someday.

    re: saw sharpening; I think Ed is right about the popular handsaws with hardened teeth. I was always told they were too hard and brittle to sharpen conventionally. Is that right, Resa? The high quality traditional saws are probably still available though, through specialty outlets or second hand.
    I wondered also about cutting firewood by hand. Those thin bow-saw blades are probably not as dependable as rigid saw blades. I remember cutting a lot of cordwood with a rigid blade Sandvik saw, about 30 inches long, with deep-cut teeth. Definitely sharpenable if you know how.

    Ed; best of luck with the wild rice. That would be great.

  • That is some serious doomer my friend, bringing water from the Thames to drink.


    You play the cards you are dealt… ;-)

  • Tamnaa, first I found your writing on your blog and here excellent.

    As for saws, the bow saw blades I get are Sandvik but now called Bahco. I saw relatively small wood as our wood cook stove has a small fire box. I have several sizes and have cut down I think up to 8 inch diameter trees and have cut up larger pieces of wood that were felled by chain saw. But 2 to 4 inch diameter is of course easier AND no splitting. I built a saw buck for cutting the wood after felling. I am learning the qualities of various wood. Privet grows tree like here, is dense and never gums up my saws, but has lots of bends in it. Oak cuts fine. Green pecan and pine really gum up the saw – but the vaseline also helps un-gum that.

    My stove is called a Sheepherder and was designed originally to go on a mess wagon for herders. I know I could cook at get some house heat with only picking up down wood that I could break by hand. Wouldn’t last through the night but would take the edge off the cold. But we are in central Alabama.

  • There is a very good and recent video on permies.com on sharpening and peening a scythe – that could explain a lot about our troubles with sharpening metal. I noticed that the last bow saw blade I bought was not even sharp when new.

    Also, I have read that if you have the right axe and know how to use it, you can chop wood instead of sawing it. I have also been impressed with my Japanese hand saw. It is the only thing that works well for sawing bamboo. Now I am interested in all the Japanese hand tools.

    Does anyone know how the natives on the plains cut wood for their teepees? You never see any pictures with logs sticking out of the doorway, or piles of wood. And it gets bitter cold and not a lot of trees either.

    Don’t reject Emoto as woo-woo before checking out his work of many years, especially the videos. Amazing. He has cleared pollution from large bodies of water.

    The piece on Gandhi in Tamnaa’s blog was right down our alley. I did not realize the extent of his teachings and the heartbreak for India when all his work was by-passed after independence. We need to pick up that thread where Gandhi left off.

    I thought wild rice was not really rice, but some other grain, or seed, that looks like rice.

    It is ironic that those who call us doomers are the doomed. Preparing for economic collapse is not different from getting ready for a blizzard or a typhoon.( And I see that poor Japan is about to get hit again.)

    Also, when I escaped my own culture in the 60s it was largely for aesthetic reasons and that still motivates me. Whenever I go into Y’all Mart and see aisles full of plastic crap (not often), I grieve that anyone would want to perpetuate this. Contrast it with any photo from National Geographic of a rural village market anywhere and the ugliness of Western culture is overwhelming to me. Is nature trying to get rid of it with high winds and water? If so, she needs all the insurance companies to fail so it won’t be rebuilt. But I understand that some people do find beauty in what I call ugly.

    And if you want some serious doomer porn, google The Coming Crisis.

  • I have a few, untried (by me) strategies for water purification: (1) pasteurization by putting water in a glass container and leaving it on a dark surface for a few hours — water heated to 145 F is pasteurized, which kills most of the nasties; (2) make or find charcoal, pack charcoal into the top half of a 2-liter, plastic soda bottle, and pour water through the charcoal; and (3) read Aric McBay’s Peak Oil Survival for a description of gravity filtration.

  • Kathy C – I also do a lot of handsawing and have injuries that make chopping and splitting bad for me. I inherited my mom’s little electric chainsaw that I wish to wean myself from, but for now, I use on the bigger stuff. In fact, I saw in Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools a Husquavarna (spelling?) that is less plastic and wondered about using it with a battery pack and a solar panel. This is nuts for me to try, as I am low tech in the extreme. Just a thought. As my body gets older I may not be able to keep warm with the hand saw. My income is too low to buy wood. Or this stuff either, actually.

  • Kathy C: We are putting in our order for the sheepherder this week. Have you ever tried coal in it, to make it last through the night?

    We have alot of the Sandvik blades (another hoarder here)and I notice that they are made in Portugal. Probably, like everything these days, the Finns cheapened up on them when they offshored the manufacture to Portugal.

  • Tamnaa:

    Just a quick post to let you know I saw your questions. I’ll need to respond later (after dark) when I have more time. I’m trying to beat a rainstorm forecast to arrive in about 8 days. It might miss me, but then again, it might not. If it hits, I need to have certain tasks completed.

    I will say this, however. Ed’s correct; there are handsaws available on the market that have had their cutting edge “hardened.” Hardening gives the teeth a longer life, but prevents them from being resharpened. Not all handsaws are hardened. Like everything else, you need to be aware of what you’re purchasing.

  • Here is an rss feed:
    Cultivation of Well-Being
    for those who prefer it.

  • Rita, I have a closet full of braces and ace bandages. I have learned to do things in little bits. I saw a bit, dig in the garden a bit, weed a bit, and then do another bit of each the next day. If my wrist or elbow or knee feels wobbly I brace them before doing those things. I have a Super Spear Log Splitter that saves some wear and tear on my arms. http://www.logsplitter.com/wood_splitters.htm There is a less expensive type called the Anaconda Slide-Hammer Manual Log Splitter – Might work as well, I don’t know. Pecan I split on my neighbors slower but more effective hydraulic jack splitter.

    Ed, I am sure coal would work but can’t buy it around here that I know of. It’s not the night that is so bad as the getting up in the morning :)

  • Tamnaa,

    Re saws: I’m not very sophisticated so I just use an adjustable (crescent) wrench and a flat or triangular file appropriate to the size of the teeth for anything with teeth equal or larger than a rough cut carpenter’s hand saw. Mostly that means bow saws and crosscut saws. I usually find that the set is not wide enough to cut down through anything with pitch in it (all our wood here) so widening the set allows the saw to cut without binding. I was doing some 45° cuts (for braces) on some round-wood green Douglas fir yesterday with a fine toothed miter saw and had to use Kerosene to counteract the pitch. All you do is set your wrench to just slightly loose on each tooth, bend the tooth out slightly, and then sharpen gently with the file. You check your set by sighting down the length of the saw to make sure all the teeth line up. You should end up seeing a row of cutting teeth on each side and a row of rakers down the middle. If the teeth are not lined up they will keep banging against the edge of the cut and you will be cussing. Eventually you will have to file the rakers down too so that they break the sawdust off but are shorter than the cutting teeth (otherwise the saw won’t cut). You have to play with it a little.

    Resa is giving you the best information. Appropriate files and a ‘file set’ are important and become more important the finer the saw’s teeth. If you were doing regular carpentry they would probably be essential. Remember, all that really expensive antique furniture was made with hand tools, not power tools.

    As for the super saws with hardened teeth, I guess I’m too cheap to find out if there is any advantage to them.

    As an aside (pre-peak) I gave up using a ‘file set’ on my chain saw too. I find it works better for me just to hit each tooth about 3 licks with the file before I start cutting each day. Just stay with the angle the teeth had when you bought the chain. Using a file set takes 5 times as long so I put it off and pretty soon I’m cutting with a dull saw, and I might as well be cutting with a shovel. Again, you have to keep your rakers adjusted.

    Like Resa, I am racing against the weather too, 28°F again today. Feels like winter is getting close.

    Michael Irving

  • Kathy C – I would love to meet you. I have a Three Dog Stove – lots like the Sheepherder. I am in town, though, and feel guilty using it because of the emissions. I will only use it when I can burn it hot, which I need to do anyway to cook, which is why I love it. It heats up quick and cools down fairly quick. It does hold coals overnight, however. I dream of moving out of town and building a mass rocket stove and a straw bale house around it. And a food cellar. There is another part of me that doesn’t want to be tied down to one place and my stove and everything else I own is pretty portable. I’d be happy in a tent and this is actually a stove made for tenting.

    Thanks for the link to the splitter. It just may save my life – or my back, anyway. I do the same as you. Right now I am building a fence out of bamboo, but taking a break, as I do every five poles or so. I have always loved to work hard physically and refuse to give it up. But yesterday I carried too many big rocks. :(

  • Robin Datta; I’m fairly familiar with the Gita. As a teenager I spent most of two years wandering the world and it, along with The Upanishads and the Lao Tzu, was one of the dog eared Penguin Classics that I carried around in my bag and read often.
    While I found Krisna’s discourse with Arjuna very valuable, It always bothered me that it was set in the frame of a great battle. When Krishna urges Arjuna to overcome his hesitation (empathy? compassion? natural tendency for ahimsa?) and slay his relatives because it is God’s will etc., it detracts from the value of the deeper message about yoga which follows later. I understand that many see the battle as an allegory having to do with “killing” the worldly passions, but if these passages in the Gita are to be taken as referring to real action in this world, I, for one, decline to be an “Instrument of the Divine” slayer.
    In my view, ideas such as dharma and action already taken just enabled the Brahmans to maintain the caste system and control the people by telling them that it was “God’s will” or their karmic duty to do whatever the priests wanted.
    The same pattern of priestly control can also be observed in other religions.

  • Kathy C – Sorry – let me reword that. I think I just broke an internet rule. It is true that I think it would be fun to meet, but what I should have said is that it is a rare thing for me to run into another woman who seems to be living like I do, and I could probably learn alot. That is what I love about reading this blog. I have a pretty good time with my doomer preps and it’s fun to share.

  • just spent a little time checking out berkey water filters and have some ideas to share hoping for some helpful feedback.

    first, they’re fairly expensive buggers. my thoughts re. collapse is that generally all industrial products are going to become progressively more expensive in (sur)real terms with the passage of time; thus, it’s best now to stock up on relatively expensive items such as this while one is able, if one is able, even if one has no immediate plans of installing a rain water collection system, and perhaps will not need to do so for many years yet.

    second, if one lives among many clueless neighbors, as i imagine most of us do, one might take into consideration purchasing a larger system, or several more systems than one anticipates needing, as a means of being a valuable neighbor able to supply others with a vital necessity, or having a stock of a commodity that will be in high demand when electric grids fail. has this occurred to anyone else here i’m wondering, and if so have u done any stocking up? have u taken the time to learn about these products in depth, so as to also become a valuable source of knowledge?

    tamnaa, i’m finding your blog a wealth of wisdom, knowledge, and fascinating perspective. so glad i found it here. makes me wonder how many other sage voices are crying out in (relative) obscurity.

  • Terry; I’m delighted that you found it readable let alone of some value, thanks. I think there are many sage voices these days but not easy to find due to search-engine obscurity.

  • I, for one, decline to be an “Instrument of the Divine” slayer.

    The declination itself is also the “Divine Will”.

    The point is that even in apparent opposition to the “Divine” one does not have to rack up adverse karma.

    Even in the tradition of the Kabbalah, in the source of the Universe, the Ain Sof, all of time is present as the “now”, and all of space is present as the “here”; also time is not linear but multidimensional.

    The videos on the blog “Inspired Writings” (to which you link on your profile) were worth watching.

  • Rita, I didn’t know there were internet rules :) I’m in Alabama. Anytime you are down this way send an e-mail to Guy who will forward it to me and I will send you my exact coordinates.

  • Kathy C – Gosh. Thanks. I’m in NW Arkansas and the same to you. But you are probably just as home-bound as me. Or garden-bound. And since my only heat is wood and one small electric space heater, in the winter I stay here to keep the pipes from freezing. I was just gushing, and then worried about making you uncomfortable, but this group has a high level of trust.

    Question to all – do you all prepare for rioting and thievery? I just secured my back yard and wonder about burglar bars, and thinking about locking my gates into my yard at night, etc. My town seems so safe, but if you read the police report, it is like anywhere. My neighborhood has a yahoo group that we report break-ins and such, and invite to block parties, suggest a good roofer, etc. I doubt any of them are doomers. In fact, I don’t know any or they are quiet about it. It’s like being gay 50 years ago.

  • Perhaps each of us needs to keep doing exactly what we are doing now, as best we can, inasmuch we are given the ‘lights’ to see. That is to say, we keep helping people understand science regarding both the placement of the human species within the natural order of living things and whatsoever could be real about the world we inhabit. After all, we are faced with having to acknowledge the all-too-probable fact that the gigantic size and monstrous impact of the human species in our time is casting a giant shadow over the surface of Earth and can be seen recklessly extirpating global biodiversity, irreversibly degrading the enviroment and relentlessly denuding the Earth of its resources on our watch.

    The lack of intellectual honesty, moral courage and personal integrity by many too many with appropriate expertise could result in humankind inadvertently precipitating the ruination of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation. We have to stop thoughtlessly chattering in public discourse about nothing more or less than what what the owners of the mass media agree is OK to say, and start speaking “truth to power.”

  • The Copper Roof

    There’s an existential cliche in the financial markets that “the economy has a copper roof”.This means that the metal has proven to
    be an excellent “tell” on the economy.

    This then is telling:http://www.cnbc.com/id/44601786

    Double D

  • ‘The lack of intellectual honesty, moral courage and personal integrity by many too many with appropriate expertise could result in humankind inadvertently precipitating the ruination of the Earth’ -steve

    my local library has an area where sheople can leave books (not owned by the library) for exchange with others. browsing there today, i saw a large book for children about ‘jesus’. this was an innovative book which, according to the authors, mixed ‘facts’ from the bible with fantasy to make the stories more engaging to youthful imaginations (as if biblical stories aren’t already fanciful enough!).

    my point is that we’re immersed in a culture of make-believe, where even many adults can’t/don’t distinguish between fanciful myths and scientific facts. it begins with indoctrinating youth with religious myths which are presented as the equivalent of scientific or historical facts.

    in 1992 1,700 scientists around the world signed on to a ‘warning to humanity’ which has received scant attention in our dogma addicted culture. imo it probably could have been signed by 1,700,000 eminent scientists and received the same dismissive treatment. stop blaming credentialed ‘experts’ for this problem, steve, because it’s much, much bigger than that. of course it would be nice if more ‘experts’ spoke out and wrote books like james hansen. there might be a few less completely clueless sheople, a few more logging on to blogs like this, but would it be enough to overcome the momentum of thousands of years of deceit and indoctrination, of dogma addicts procreating at higher rates than more intelligent freethinkers, dumbing down sheople from generation to generation?

    u don’t have to be an ‘expert’ to try to publically address the dogmatic delusion and ignorance which governs civilization today. u can get up on a ‘soapbox’ on a busy street corner in the nearest city and shout about scientific concerns for our planet and selves. u can try to tell sheople their political leaders and corporate media are in cohorts to keep bau going and going until we reach our wiley e. coyote moment, and bau becomes a free fall collapse of civilization. u can try as no doubt some have, though we’ve never heard of such sheople and if we do, they’ll be given the same treatment, labelled nuts, as the religious nuts who have been forecasting the end times for nearly 2 millennia. all to no avail. face it, steve, we’re living in a nutty world, and those of us who aren’t completely nuts are so isolated our only refuge is to be found at blogs like this one. at this point there’s no hope whatsoever of averting a horrific collapse of civilization. the only hope is for aware individuals to prepare best as they can for it while preparations are still possible (and hope that post collapse, if any remain standing, the destruction of coercive civil institutions promoting deceit and dogma will give way to a more rational durable way of living).

    this is not even worth arguing about anymore. prepare for collapse as if your life depends upon it. give up on the notion that civilization is redeemable. as kathy is always reminding us, keep in mind we’re mortal. it’s not like any of us ever had a chance at immortality. savor life while u can. it is, after all, a great mystery how we came to be. i’m personally comforted by the notion that spirit may transcend death, and if not, oblivion isn’t so bad. it may even be preferable.