Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wyoming Considering So-Called “Doomsday Bill”

Thanks Technoccult!

State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.
House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.
The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.
This may sound like wingnut survivalist paranoia, but this is pretty interesting. Much of the state quite vulnerable to system shocks. Services ranging from food shipping to postal mail processing depend on out of state resources. The state is extremely petroleum dependent, so gas shortages would hit people hard. I’ve been told that although Wyoming produces huge amounts of coal, but is highly dependent on out of state resources for electricity (but I’m not sure that’s true).
Have any other states proposed official bills for state resilience?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rapid Climate Shift

From Wikipedia:
An abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to transition to a new state at a rate that is determined by the climate system itself, and which is more rapid than the rate of change of the external forcing.[1] Past events include the end of the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse,[2] Younger Dryas,[3] Dansgaard-Oeschger events, and possibly also the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum.[4] The term is also used within the context of global warming to describe sudden climate change that is detectable over the time-scale of a human lifetime. One proposed reason for the observed abrupt climate change is that feedback loops within the climate system both enhance small perturbations and cause a variety of stable states.[5]
Timescales of events described as 'abrupt' may vary dramatically. Changes recorded in the climate of Greenland at the end of the Younger Dryas, as measured by ice-cores, imply a sudden warming of +10°C within a timescale of a few years.[6] Other abrupt changes are the +4 °C on Greenland 11,270 years ago[7] or the abrupt +6 °C warming 22 000 years ago on Antarctica.[8] By contrast, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum may have initiated anywhere between a few decades and several thousand years.


The global warming debate, despite having vociferous proponents on each side, appears to have been decided. Global warming is very real, and it is the preeminent danger to human civilization today. The rising global temperature threatens to create catastrophic weather systems, crop failures, disease outbreaks, and water shortages worldwide.
Emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are trapping heat within the Earths’ atmosphere, slowly increasing the overall temperature.These emissions are the byproduct of our modern way of life, and to halt them would require a voluntary shift in the very structure of our society, a move unprecedented in human history.
To not take action, however, would be to alter the very chemical composition of our planet. Life on Earth evolved over hundreds of millions of years to survive within very specific conditions, and those conditions are changing

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Post-Crash Fascism: Planning for the Apocalypse

Climate change is happening faster than initially predicted, and its impacts are already upon us in the form of more extreme weather events, desertification, ocean acidification, melting glaciers and incrementally rising sea levels.
The scientists who construct the computer models that analyze climate data believe that even if we stop dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, CO2 levels are already so high that we are locked into a significant increase in global temperatures. Disruptive climate change is a certainty even if we make the economic shift away from fossil fuels.
Incipient climate change is already starting to express itself in the realm of politics.
Climate change arrives in a world primed for crisis. The current and impending dislocations of climate change intersect with the already-existing crises of poverty and violence. I call this collision of political, economic and environmental disasters the catastrophic convergence. By catastrophic convergence, I do not merely mean that several disasters happen simultaneously, one atop another. Rather, I argue that problems compound and amplify each other, one expressing itself through another.
Societies, like people, deal with new challenges in ways that are conditioned by the traumas of their past. Thus, damaged societies, like damaged people, often respond to new crises in ways that are irrational, shortsighted, and self-destructive. In the case of climate change, the prior traumas that set the stage for bad adaptation, the destructive social response, are Cold War–era militarism and the economic pathologies of neoliberal capitalism. Over the last 40 years, both of these forces have distorted the state’s relationship to society – removing and undermining the state’s collectivist, regulatory and redistributive functions, while overdeveloping its repressive and military capacities. This, I argue, inhibits society’s ability to avoid violent dislocations as climate change kicks in.

planning for apocalypse

A slew of government reports have discussed the social and military problems posed by climate change. In 2008. Congress mandated that the upcoming 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review – the policy document laying out the guiding principles of US military strategy and doctrine – consider the national-security impacts of climate change. The first of these investigations to make news, a 2004 Pentagon-commissioned study called “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security,” was authored by Peter Schwartz, a CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.The report was made at the behest of octogenarian military theorist cum imperial soothsayer Andrew Marshall. Known to his followers as Yoda, after the wrinkled, dwarflike puppet of Star Wars fame, Marshall got his start at the RAND Corporation in 1949 as a specialist on nuclear Armageddon and its alleged survivability. He moved from RAND to the Pentagon during Richard Nixon’s presidency and served every president since. (It is interesting to note the presence of atomic-era Cold Warrior physicists among both the climate-change denialists and the military adaptationists. In his book How to Cool the Planet, Jeff Goodell remarks on the same set’s infatuation with the high-tech solutions promised by geoengineering, in particular Lawrence Livermore Laboratory’s Lowell Wood, a tie-dye wearing disciple of Edward Teller.)
Schwartz and Randall’s report correctly treats global warming as a potentially nonlinear process. And they forecast a new Dark Ages:
Nations without the resources to do so may build virtual fortresses around their countries, preserving resources for themselves … As famine, disease, and weather-related disasters strike due to the abrupt climate change, many countries’ needs will exceed their carrying capacity. This will create a sense of desperation, which is likely to lead to offensive aggression in order to reclaim balance … Europe will be struggling internally, large numbers of refugees washing up on its shores and Asia in serious crisis over food and water. Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life. Once again, warfare would define human life.
In 2007, there came more reports on climate and security. One, from the Pentagon-connected think tank CNA Corporation, convened an advisory board of high-ranking former military officers to examine the issues – among them General Gordon Sullivan, former chief of staff, US Army; Admiral Donald Pilling, former vice chief of naval operations; Admiral Joseph Prueher, former commander in chief of the US Pacific Command; and General Anthony Zinni, retired US Marine Corps and former commander in chief of US Central Command. That report envisioned permanent counterinsurgency on a global scale. Here is one salient excerpt:
Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability … Unlike most conventional security threats that involve a single entity acting in specific ways at different points in time, climate change has the potential to result in multiple chronic conditions, occurring globally within the same time frame. Economic and environmental conditions in these already fragile areas will further erode as food production declines, diseases increase, clean water becomes increasingly scarce, and populations migrate in search of resources. Weakened and failing governments, with an already thin margin for survival, foster the conditions for internal conflict, extremism, and movement toward increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies. The US may be drawn more frequently into these situations to help to provide relief, rescue, and logistics, or to stabilize conditions before conflicts arise.
Another section notes:
When a government can no longer deliver services to its people, ensure domestic order, and protect the nation’s borders from invasion, conditions are ripe for turmoil, extremism and terrorism to fill the vacuum … the greatest concern will be movement of asylum seekers and refugees who due to ecological devastation become settlers.
In closing the report notes, “Abrupt climate changes could make future adaptation extremely difficult, even for the most developed countries.”
Another report from 2007, the most scientifically literate of the lot, titled The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, was produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security. Its prominent authors included Kurt Campbell, former deputy assistant secretary of defense; Leon Fuerth, former national security advisor to Vice President Al Gore; John Podesta, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton; and James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Age of Consequences laid out three plausible scenarios for climate change, each pertaining to different global average-temperature changes. The authors relied on the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change but noted, “Recent observations indicate that projections from climate models have been too conservative; the effects of climate change are unfolding faster and more dramatically than expected.” The report conceives of future problems not in terms of interstate resource wars but as state collapse caused by “disease, uncontrolled migration, and crop failure, that … overwhelm the traditional instruments of national security (the military in particular) and other elements of state power and authority.” Green ex-spook James Woolsey authored the report’s final section laying out the worst-case scenario. He writes:
In a world that sees two meter sea level rise, with continued flooding ahead, it will take extraordinary effort for the United States, or indeed any country, to look beyond its own salvation. All of the ways in which human beings have dealt with natural disasters in the past … could come together in one conflagration: rage at government’s inability to deal with the abrupt and unpredictable crises; religious fervor, perhaps even a dramatic rise in millennial end-of-days cults; hostility and violence toward migrants and minority groups, at a time of demographic change and increased global migration; and intra- and interstate conflict over resources, particularly food and fresh water. Altruism and generosity would likely be blunted.
Read More

Friday, February 17, 2012

Top 10 Real Foods to Store Without Electricity

One question that I’ve been seeing a lot in preparedness discussions is how to make real, “living” food a part of your storage plans.  Many food storage lists include large amounts of heavily processed food items because they are cheaper, readily available, and have amazing shelf lives.
That’s all well and fine, but you’re supposed to rotate your food storage items regularly by eating out out your storage, and I am not eager to live off of MRE’s, freeze dried meals with hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and commercially canned goods that may contain mold or other questionable ingredients.  (We do keep some MREs and freeze dried meals, but they do not make up the bulk of our storage.)
So what are some of the best options for “real food” storage foods?  Here are my top ten choices for  foods that can be stored at room temperature for extended periods:

1.  Lacto-fermented vegetables

:  Large containers of properly fermented vegetables can last for months, if not over a year, in cool conditions (for instance, an unheated basement).  Captain Cook used kraut on his ships to prevent scurvy, as did other sailors.  My husband remembers my mom talking about how they would preserve large crocks (15-20 gallons or more) or kraut from season to season.  She said it would sometimes taste a little different but it was still good.  In my own experience, this past season I keep two one gallon crocks of kraut in my basement from October until May – seven months – and the quality was still acceptable at that time.
In this photo, you can see that there was mold growth on the top of the kraut container (here’s the original post on how I made the sauerkraut).
Once the airlock bag was removed and the sides wiped down, you can see that the kraut underneath was not moldy.
The kraut around the edges was a little softer, but the center was still fairly crisp.
The flavor was a little more tangy/bubbly than younger kraut.  At this point I repackaged it into smaller containers and put it in the fridge and freezer.  Sauerkraut is very high in vitamin C, and is also a good source of vitamin K, which is often deficient in modern diets.  Home canned fruits and vegetables are also acceptable, but they are not quite the nutritional powerhouses that lacto-fermented products are.  If you decide to purchase canned food items, make sure to buy from a reputable source.

2.  Live Culture Dairy

- If you keep a yogurt culture that works at room temperature (such as viili from Cultures for Health, which I use), you can use it to culture powdered milkwithout a yogurt maker.  While powdered milk is not ideal, it does store without refrigeration.  Culturing makes the nutrients much more digestible.  Milk kefir is also an option for a drinkable product.  Milk kefir grains can also be used to culture coconut milk, if they are are occasionally revitalized in milk.  Kefir provides protein, minerals and B vitamins.  Traditional hard cheeses (such as Parmeson) may also last for months in cool dry temps.

3.  Whole grains

- Whole grains (in general) have excellent shelf lives, much longer than milled flours.  Places like Emergency Essentials (listed on my sidebar) sell grains and grain mills (electric powered and hand powered).  If you keep a sourdough culture, you can use it to make many baked goods, not just bread, such assourdough crackers.  Again, using sourdough culturing makes the nutrients in the grain more available.  Grains can also be sprouted and used to make a simple essene bread, which is very filling and nutritious.

4.  Chia seeds

- Chia seeds have a shelf life of 4 to 5 years for dried seeds.  They have omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, fiber, B vitamins, calcium and protein.  They can be used to make drinks and no-cook puddings, as well as adding nutrition to baked goods and smoothies.

5. Sprouting seeds

- Sprouting seeds also have a great storage life, generally 2 years or more.  They are generally high in vitamin C, and may also contain other antioxidants and essential nutrients.  They also provide fresh, growing food in a hurry when it may be in short supply.  Sprouting seeds are easy to use.  You can grow them in handysprouting kits,  or in sprouting bags or even nylon stockings.  Mary Bell (in theDehydrator Cookbook) suggests bringing sprouting seeds with you while camping.  She says to soak them overnight in a bag of water, and then place them in a section of nylon sock attached to your backpack.  Rinse daily, and in a few days you’ll have live, crunchy additions to your trail rations.

6.  High Quality Saturated Fat

- Coconut oil, lard and tallow will all keep for at least 12-18 months (most likely longer) in sealed, airtight containers kept in a cool area.  Your body needshealthy fats.  Your brain is largely made up of fat, as is protective coating on your lungs, and many other critical body systems.  Fats are energy dense, which is also critical during emergency situations.

7.  Dried Legumes

- Dried beans have a great shelf.  They will keep around a year in just the plastic bags from the store, 10 to even 30 years if sealed in airtight containers with oxygen removed.  Utah State University Cooperative Extension states:  “Dry beans average about 22% protein in the seed, the highest protein content of any seed crop. They contain all essential amino acids, except methionine. Methionine can be obtained from corn, rice, or meat. Beans are an excellent source of fiber, starch, minerals and some vitamins. ”

8.  Real Salt

Unrefined salt has many trace minerals that are essential to health.  In my experience, the unrefined salts (Real Salt, grey sea salt, pink salt, etc.) have a “saltier” more robust flavor, meaning you can use less to achieve the same result.  Salt can also be used to preserve food (such as fermenting vegetables, above, and meats).  Since ancient times, salt has been also used as a valuable trade commodity.

9.  Bulk Spices, Herbs and Teas

- Don’t underestimate the power of herbs and spices.  As well as being high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, many of them have preservative properties as well.  The New Agriculturalist explains:
“Cinnamon is just one of a large number of spices that have long been known to preserve food. Recent research has tried to find out exactly how effective the spice can be, over what time period, and in suppressing which bacteria. At Kansas State University, microbiologists have been testing the effectiveness of cinnamon and other spices in eliminating one of the most virulent bacterial causes of food poisoning, E.coli type 0157. Complications arising from the bacteria can include anaemia and kidney problems, and a serious outbreak can lead to fatalities. The Kansas researchers found that cinnamon added to apple juice that had been contaminated withE.coli, was able to kill 99.5% of the bacteria within three days, at room temperature. They also did tests on meat and sausage, and found that cinnamon, cloves and garlic all had a powerful ability to stop the growth of the bacteria. Other microbiologists in Tennessee have found that oils extracted from oregano, coriander and basil, also have strong anti-microbial properties. In future we may see more natural preservatives supplementing the synthetic compounds currently in use.”
I store my spices and herbs in glass jars out of direct light (sometimes using the sock trick).  I buy in bulk (generally from Frontier or Mountain Rose Herbs, listed on the sidebar), store a small amount in the cupboard and the rest in the bulk food storage.  Both stores sell small, inexpensive glass shaker jars to repackage your spices for easy use.  Larger spices, such as cinnamon sticks or other “chunky” spices, can be vacuumed sealed in mason jars to extend shelf life.  Under cool, dry conditions out of direct light, spices should have a shelf of two years.  They can still be used after this time, but potency will diminish.  Spices could also be used as a trade commodity.

10.  Sweeteners, Including Refined White Sugar, Raw Sugar, Honey and Maple Syrup

- I’m sure some foodies will cringe at the inclusion of white sugar, but it is less expensive than the other options and has a great shelf life (white sugar will last indefinitely if kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry location).  It can be used as a preservative for fruits.  Sugar can be used to heal wounds (as can honey).  (More details on the sugar for wound healing here.)  I use sugar to brew mykombucha, too.  Raw sugar can store as well as regular sugar, but may be cost prohibitive for many.
Honey can store easily for over a year, possibly decades. They have found edible honey in tombs over 1000 years old. To store honeyHoney.com states:
Processed honey should be stored between 64-75°F (18-24°C).1 Honey can be exposed to higher temperatures for brief periods; however, heat damage is cumulative so heat exposure should be limited. It is best to minimize temperature fluctuations and avoid storing honey near heat sources.
The recommended storage  temperature for unprocessed  honey is below 50°F (10°C).  The ideal temperature for both unprocessed and processed honey is below 32°F (0°C).  Cooler temperatures best preserve the aroma, flavor and color of unprocessed honey.
Maple syrup has the shortest shelf life – around one year in glass bottles without freezing or refrigeration.
There are many other food options, but these are my top choices for foods that store a long time without refrigeration.  I’ll be covering various food preservation techniques in more detail in the coming months (it’s my thing :-) , including drying, canning, freezing, fermenting, preserving in alcohol and whatever else I can think of trying.
In addition to food, water is critical.  We just bought a new Berkley water filter, and I’ll be writing a review of that soon, along with with other tips for storing water.  We’ve got the Berkley on the counter right now, filtering our tap water.  I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try mud puddle water, but I’m considering it…