The Crash: The Big Picture

This post begins a new series on Aftermath. This one will deal with different aspects of what might happen, and quite probably will happen, during the crash. It is based on the best data I have available. Please keep in mind that what is discussed here is possibility, not a guarantee. If you want a guarantee I'm sure your favorite local retailer would love to sell you something you don't need. This post discusses the big picture, subsequent posts will deal with more specific instances like costal cities, flood planes, desert plateaus, etc.

Between 2010 and 2020 many of the problems that we have been watching develop over the past fifty years will come to a head. While individually each problem might be solvable, in a combination that makes each of them far worse than they would be individually, they will likely be insurmountable.

The first problem is the old favorite: climate change. Climate change is a general term referring to any large alteration in the general weather patterns of a given region. In this case we are looking at every region on Earth changing in such a fashion. The details of that change vary from region to region, as one would expect. Also, predicting things in that amount of detail is very difficult. But, as climatologists have been aware for years, climate is much easier to predict than the weather. There are several major features of this shift. First, humans are releasing carbon into the carbon cycle that has been dormant for over 100 million years in the form of fossil fuels. This release has received a large push recently due to the industrialization of China and India. The last time all of this carbon was active in the carbon cycle the planet consisted of a single global rain-forest. The second feature is that humans have been systematically removing forests from around the world for millennia. What this means is that the global carbon sink has been crippled. The carbon sink, mostly consisting of rain-forests, refers to the well known feature of green plants called photosynthesis. Basically, we have been pushing more and more carbon into a system that we are simultaneously making less and less able to use it. As temperatures rise, due to the heat-trapping properties of carbon, other elements of this problem are coming to light: for instance, the Siberian permafrost holds many tons of methane gas, a carbon molecule that is more effective at blocking heat than carbon dioxide. As the permafrost melts, which is occurring even as you read this, that methane will be released into the carbon cycle. This indicates what climatologists call a tipping point. A tipping point is a spot after which a steady change turns into a rapid change. The tipping point for climate change is usually put between 2010 and 2020, if not before. In the end, this means that climate zones on Earth will shift pole-wards by a significant, but difficult to calculate, amount. The low end projections place Virginia in the climate zone currently occupied by South Carolina and the high end projections include tropical polar regions and an otherwise uninhabitable planet. The first is probably closer to the truth.

A second major problem coming to a head is less well known, but is becoming increasingly mainstream: peak oil. There is nothing modern civilization makes that is not dependent on oil in a fundamental way. Plastics, transportation, and even food are completely dependent on petroleum. The problem with this is that oil is a finite resource that replenishes at a rate somewhere along the lines of one field per geological epoch. In the 1950s an oil geologist by the name of Marion King Hubbert discovered something that is now called Hubbert's Peak. Essentially, when an oil field is approximately half depleted its value 'peaks.' This peak occurs because of the nature of oil as an energy source and the processes used to extract that energy. A barrel of oil has an energy value and it takes energy to use that oil. The deeper the oil is, the harder it is to extract. When a field peaks the energy that is needed to use the oil is equal to the energy that oil is worth. After this point the oil is no longer an energy source, but an increasingly expensive resource. This is a bad thing. Currently, for every calorie of food we ingest, ten calories of energy was expended. The difference is made up using oil. When the total global production value of oil peaks, oil will no longer be sufficient to make up this difference; indeed, oil will create a new deficit that will need to be made up if we are to continue using oil-based chemicals and plastics. No other energy source currently available, or on the drawing-board, is capable of making up this difference. Solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and nuclear power are all incapable of generating sufficient energy individually or in tandem, and certainly not in the time frame being discussed. Hydrogen is not even a power source, but a power carrier. And a very poor one as well. There is a substantial amount of disagreement about the timing of peak oil, but most people studying the issue put the date before 2020, and most of them before 2015.

The next major problem coming to a head is the least well known of them all: the water shortage. The world is running out of potable water. On a planet where 75% of the surface is water this might seem odd. But it is important to remember that the vast majority of that water cannot be drunk. And to further that problem, desalination and purification is an energy intensive proposition. To be more specific, it is oil energy intensive. To make it worse the places that will be hit hardest by water shortages first are places that are the most densely populated, the poorest regions, and the places that grow much of the world's food. Water shortages are very easy to plot, at least compared to the previous two problems. It is already pretty bad in Africa. It will be increasingly worse and reach a tipping point between 2010 and 2015.

This adds up to a fairly unpleasant picture. When the three are added together the picture becomes worse. Each of the three elements exasperates the problems that the other two cause. The water shortage makes it harder to get water to oil workers, who mostly work in desert climates. Water infusion, the act of pumping water into an oil field so that the water pushes the oil up, thereby delaying the peak of that oil field, is not an actual solution to the problem of the oil field peaking, and is made more difficult by the water shortage. And the lack of oil makes it a lot harder to alleviate the problems of water shortage using the typical brute-force methods, which are very energy intensive. And a changing climate makes any action difficult to undertake for fairly obvious reasons. Solar and wind power are made particularly difficult.

One of the key problems here is that all three work together to cause a third problem that will end up being worse than the other three alone or combined. A lack of water. A climate changing in unpredictable ways. A lack of fuel to transport goods. A lack of material to build and maintain roads. A lack of pesticides. A lack of fertilizers. And more all add up to one thing: crop failure. We're looking at a massive food shortage. When this is coupled with a shortage of potable water we are left in a very precarious position indeed. Within the next ten years will be unable to feed over six and a half billion people. We might not be able to feed even one billion.

-Benjamin Shender



  1. Bubba said,

    June 15, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Hmm, nice overview of the big problems facing civilization, or perhaps blindsiding most of civilization is a better way of putting it.

    Oh well, an irrational and unsustainable system can only go on for so long, many got to enjoy the ride, don’t think many will enjoy the crashlanding.

    Again, stepping off the ride is a difficult proposition, since consensus reality, experience, and current survival needs are met by the very “thing” which will cause its collapse.

    As the buddha once said, “awaken”
    The dream that was will cease to be, but the dream has been corrupted, and we are the corruptors, perhaps we can learn to participate in nature once again, rather than merely exploiting it, like we often do to eachother…

  2. Glenn said,

    June 25, 2006 at 9:58 am

    A coulple of other facets for your consideration.

    Most would not know this unless you follow the futures markets in gold, silver, oil, and the money exchange rates and banking practices. I do, most don’t, so here is a little look into something that isn’t four or more years away, but could hit us within the next few months.

    The unfortunate sad truth is that this country does not have an honest money system. The last vestages of honest money were abolished over thirty years ago, and its been a down hill run ever since.

    So what constitutes a honest money system?

    In simple terms money needs to be easily convertable into something of value, and you can’t create more money then there is increase of that valuable thing. I our case the money of the US is supposed to be tied to gold and silver, its in the Constitution. The reason gold or silver work as a standard is that people want them, and more importantly the amount that is mined and put into circulation every year is pretty close to the amount of average growth in the economy. Point is that in an honest money system there are no recessions, depressions, or inflation, there are also very few boom times. In other words, there are few bad times, but it’s also really hard to make a buck without actually having to work hard and create something people want or need.

    Lasyness and Greed are rather ubiquitous, however so people don’t really want a honest money system. They want to be able to get rich quick. Usually this means resorting to overt or covert theft. Overt theft is easy to see, like getting mugged, or outragous rates of taxation. However, people tend to get pretty angery about overt theft so covert theft is generally preferred. So, how do you take away someones savings and property without them knowing?

    Two ways, first the creation of a fiat (meaning “by decree”, as in its money because I say its money) currency, or the implimentation of fractional reserve banking. In this country at this time we have both.

    The problem is, fiat currency is not backed by anything but the governments or banks decree. Also, its cheep to produce, usually being made of paper though now its also just figures on a computer. You can create lots of it fast (used to be as fast as the printing presses would run, now its how fast can you hit the “0” key on your computer).

    Trying to keep things simple, imagine that you had five cups filled to the top with water. These represent the money (dollars) in the system. They represent value because someone had to go out and find the clay or wood or silica bonded with lime to create the glass, they had to be worked and fashioned and filled with water before they had value. In other words, they have value because they are the end product of real human effort. Let’s imagine further that there is a spring of water, but its flow is rather slow and it takes about as long to collect enought water to fill a cup as it takes to fashion the cup. The rules for this little example are, however, that there must be an equal amount of water in every cup. So what would happen if someone (banks and/or government) suddenly came up with five new cups out of “thin air” and they had to be filled too. The spring flows too slowly to fill these cups and keep the whole thing balanced so to follow the rules you have to “steal” water out of the existing cups to keep an equal amount of water in every cup. Plus now, on a usefulness level, if you had needed say one cup of water to bake bread, quinch thirst, wash up, whatever… now you are going to need two to get the same job done. Each time new cups are introduced that did not require work to create the whole system loses value and people need more and more cups to achieve the same ends that they used to. Replace the idea of cup with dollars and the idea of water with value and this is what a fiat currency does, it allows the printer to create money “out of thin air” and that money “steals” value from all other money in the system. This is what causes inflation (on a very, very simple level).

    Why is this important, well because our centeral bank and government have been printing money to the tune of billions of dollars a week, somewhere between 700 and 800 billion dollars a year. When they spend this money it has “by decree” the same value as every other dollar already in the system, but the momment they spend this money it enters a system that seeks equalibrium. Some of the value of all existant dollars is “stolen” to give the new dollars value. On a real personal level, over the three to six month period it takes for the real system to seek its own level prices seem to go up as the value of the dollars is stolen away.

    So, how does this relate to collapse?

    Simple, everything is going to get a lot more expensive. Gas, heating oil, food, rent, clothing, etc., are going to keep getting more expensive till the average person can not afford to live.

    This, you might have noticed, is already going on right now. The homeless roles in our country are climbing, and the average personal savings is now less them zero. The people in the lower end of the middle class are falling into poverty and are begining to liquidate anything and everything they can just to keep their homes and have enough food for the table or gas to get to work. Look around in the news, its happening right now. The sad thing is that the banks and government are excellorating the money creation, so (barring a total system failure) expect more and more of the middle class to become poor and the poor to become homeless.

    Sorry this is so long, but its important. The other way they “steal” the value of your money covertly is through the creation of credit by fractional reserve banking.

    Once upon a time, a long, long time ago…if someone wanted a loan of money they had to find someone who had ownership of such an amount of money and make verious arrangments or pledges to access it. Not under fractional reserve banking, the system our bank use today. Now, when you go to the bank and deposit money, that money is not set aside in an account with your name on it and kept in a vault. No, the law of the land says that the bank can count any deposit you have made as their own money, and that they can lend your money out as if they had ownership of if, with the exception that they hold back a tiny fraction of your money, just in case you might want some of it back. Gets worse, the person loaned “your money” now deposits the money with their bank and guess what…it gets loaned out again, and again, and again till the rules about holding back a fration mean they can’t loan out any more. In the classic example of fractional reserve banking the reserve is 10% so they can multiply your money 10 times. I real practice today the reserve is (from memmory) something closer to .04% allowing them to multiply your money hundreds of times.

    Two problems. What if people what their money back and the bank does not have enough money in reserve to cover the demand?

    That, my friends, is called a “run on the bank”, where more people demand more money then the bank has avalible. The bank has an obligation to have “your” money avalible if they don’t they “fail” and bye-bye bank, also bye-bye “your” money. We have several systems in place in this country to prevent such things from happening such as the FDIC insurance that says should your bank “fail” that the government will make good up to $100,000 per account per bank, also we have the FED and something called the “overnight lending rate” which refures to the interest charged when one bank borrows money from another bank. Why would they do this?

    To cover your demands for money that they can’t meet. Lastly, the government has declared that in the case of a finacial crash or crisis such as a bank run that they will declare martial law and/or a bank holiday. What this means is that all banks would be closed by governmental order until such time as they choose to lift such order, also your rights would be suspended until further notice as the military took control of the country and all citizens would be order into their homes or to designated “community centers” and anyone caught on the streets would likely be arrested or shot.

  3. Glenn said,

    June 25, 2006 at 10:37 am

    (Continued from above)

    These rules exist in responce to what happened in this country during previous bank “failures” and as so previous recesions and depresions. It is important to note that the existance of the FED was ment to prevent these things from happening, but just twenty-six years after they were founded we had the “Great Depression”. That is when the FDIC insurace came into being and all the rest of it after that, because all the insurances and systems didn’t only not stop recessions and depressions, but actually seems to have made them more common place and worse.

    The other way banks can fail is from taking thoes reserves they took from you and making bad loans with them. If lots of those “bad loan” default at one time it can crash a bank (think S&L scandal) and guess what, again bye bye money. Yes, the depositors eventually got back up to $100,000 per bank, but it took time for them to get anything, and the government has already suggested that they would drop coverage to $50,000 or less if it happened again.

    Well, guess what. It is likely going to happen again sometime in the next two and a half years, as all the “bad loans” made during the recent housing boom come flooding back to the banks. How many bad loans?

    Somewhere north of 30% of all home morgages currently in existance. Foreclosures are climbing across the country as are bankruptcies. It is going to get worse and a fare portion of those people will become homeless. Why, because with a housing crash, bank failures, and massive banruptcies lots of businesses will go “foop” too. You try to go to work one day and your locked out. Its happened before, and it is about to happen again on a massive scale.

    How soon?

    Don’t know. Some think within the next two months. Others think two to three years. There is fewer and fewer informed economists saying it will not happen, and now only the payed banking and finacial institutional hacks are pretty much the only ones still saying things are “rosey”.

    It is much, much more complicated then what I’ve writen, but if your still reading I’m surprised anyway, so do you really need me to do every detail. If you want I can direct you to places to do your own research and get informed.

    Lastly, a quick word about oil. Peek Oil is not the question, Peek Capacity is.

    What does that mean, simply that we, as a world, have already passed our ability to pump, transport, refine, and distrubute fossil fuel supplies. Even before the hurricans of last year we were in trouble and they just made matters worse. It would seem that daily world oil production capacity is somewhere around 84 to 85.5 million barrels per day. We have been at this level for over a year now, we don’t seem able to get anymore. So, oil/nat. gas supplies are now fixed and possibly getting ready to fall. At the same time demand is increasing by 2-3% per year. Government estimates suggest (“Oil Shockwave” stratigic table top planing scinario) that a fall of 5% or more would bring down the economy and cause social displacment and chaos.

    We are currently better then halfway to hitting that 5% mark. We are likely to slam into that problem this fall as we attempt to crank up heating oil production for the winter heating season.

    Reports form some forums and e-mails to small finacial newsletters from readers suggest that the government is trying to forstall the problem by rationing oil feed stocks to the plastics and petro-chemical industries. This started after Katrina and the impact is likely is hit soon. Already shortages in some medical items is being reported (rubber gloves, suringes, surgical tubing, etc.) and I have read reports from some farmers that suggest that there is no pesticide being made for this fall and next year, what’s on the shelf and in inventory is what was made last fall and that’s it. For modern farming, dependent on petro-chemical inputs, this is disasterous and it means famine and soon, this year or next.

    Is any of this confirmable?

    Don’t know, has to be considered hear-say for now, but the sources seem to be pretty good. Either way, its worth a thought to what you might do to survive if the economy crumbled, soon, or if rampant shortages in oil related items hit the US this fall.

    Just some food for thought


  4. Aftermath said,

    June 29, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    You may very well be write about the speed-up involved. The timing of the crash has always been the big question. A food shortage would be sufficient, and a lacking in pesticides and fertilizers would cause such a thing. With out more detailed information we will have to wait and see how real it is.

    As far as the economy goes, I am somewhat aware of the situation. This is how not only the American economy is working, but also how most global economies are working now, after all they have to keep up with us. However, I am not yet convinced that a collapsing American economy would mean the the crash of civilization, especially with the Eruo and the growing Chinese industrial might. The United States would be in pretty bad shape, but I am not convinced that it would cause a catabolic collapse of the entire system.

    -Benjamin Shender

  5. Glenn said,

    June 29, 2006 at 10:29 pm

  6. Aftermath said,

    June 30, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    Glenn, if you posted something more than is showing here please try again. There seems to be some kind of problem. If it still doesn’t go through can you email it to us? We can post it on our end.

    -Benjamin Shender

  7. Glenn said,

    July 4, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    Yes, I did post, but it when ‘poof’ so….

    As boiled down as I can make it, famine is on the way “big time” and while some of the contributing factors have made it to the evening news the extent and impact of the events are not being covered. Of largest concern is the avalibilty of protein. There has already been a draw down of chicken stocks and now cattle and dairy cows are following suit. Prices of these meats will be forced down short term as ranchers liquidate animals, and then prices will be going up big time. Add to that the problems with oil prices and many farmers have already and many more are on the verge of giving up. Word is now that Scandinavian Fisheries are depleted and there just aren’t any more fish to be had, or at least not at low prices. Also, retched weather has hit grain crops hard this year. Simply, it is going to cost alot more to eat in the very near future.

    As to the economy, two points. First, we no longer live in a world where we can talk about one economy crashing and others being unharmed. It don’t work like that anymore. More so, when we talk of a crash in the economy of the worlds largest market and also in the worlds reserve currency then it becomes difficult to see places like China, India, and the European Union not being hit hard.

    Second, as to if an economic crash could cause “The Crash” just look at how economies came about and what they really do in the world.

    It is supposed that “once upon a time” the early humans were entirely self suporting family groups. If you wanted or needed it then you made it or did without. Family groups would help eachother of course, but there was no trade. However, whenever people had suppluses of aboundent easily retrieved energy (food) people did not have to work very hard to survive and suddenly we saw the advent of two things, civilization (art, organized religious practaces, politics, larger extra familial groups, etc…) and everyones favorited free time. Not in every case did this lead to specialization and trade, but in many cases it did as one person who was very good at one skill could trade their work for that of another be that meat, vegitables, rocks, animals or what ever. In other words barter.

    Here is the point though, if you are not in a possition that allows for specialization and trade, you have to do it all yourself. If our economy crumbles then the current system that allows people to live (at least for many) disappears and you will have to fall back on your own skills to make life possible and maybe even enjoyable. The vast majority of people have no such skills. For them a collapse of trade is “The Crash” even though there will likely be others who do alright for a while. At a minimum we are talking about 30% of the population being homeless, jobless and unable to function in society. That is a low end for sure number, it could go much, much higher. So even taking the low number you have a 1 in 3 chance of needing to live off your wits and skills and not really being a part of society anymore. This will likely happen within 6 months of the initial fail apart and it will likely get worse from there. If we do the same things every other society that has been in this situation before has done in the past then we begin a slow fall apart that will perhaps take years to engulf the whole of civilazation but each year things get worse and worse and more and more people will be reduced to living off the waste of the privious civilization or going back to something more hunter-gathery.

    Admittedly, the economic collapse possibilty is a bleeding ulcer way to go as opposed to the more popular and dramatic slam-the-wall, crash-and-burn option, but the problem is that we are seeing the economic death actually happening right now, and the slam-the-wall possibilities are a year off or more if they will even happen.

    Hence my point, the economy is important to consider when looking at the threats that confront us, and it is an immediate threat at that. Eveyone in this country has a 1 in 3 chance of experiencing a personal trip back to the stone age in the next three years or less, and it might be more like 1 in 2 chance or less. It is worth considering what you would do if you were suddenly homeless, jobless, and society was still partly intacted (you had to deal with police, military, government, etc…). What would you do if you couldn’t “just run for the hills” or if you could but you would still have to deal with the remains of the modern world slowly eating itself away until it finally dies some six or more years down the road?


  8. Aftermath said,

    July 12, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    Sorry about the delay. I was on the beach encouraging cancerous growths. It was a lot of fun!

    You make a very good case. I’ll be thinking about it some more. I might have more questions, but for now: do you know of any good sources off the top of your head? I’ll be doing some searches on my own, but since you’ve already done the research can you direct me anywhere in particular?

    An economic crash would certainly be a catastrophe. That combined with an increasing gap between what we need to keep going and what we actually have might very well be the end of it. If nothing else peak oil and the rest hitting us while undergoing the worst depression in the history of the human race would certainly be the end of it.

    It would be possible to switch to the Euro as a reserve currency, as I understand it many middle eastern countries and others are threatening to do so. China and India would loose a major market, and would have to find another one. The United States itself is probably toast, but I’ll have to think it through some more before I’m sure other countries’ growth won’t prevent us from completely collapsing for a few years more. In a peer polity system everyone bites the dust at once.

    So, would you recommend buying a lot of meat now or in a month or so? Dried or salted meat, if handled properly, has a very long shelf-life.

    -Benjamin Shender

  9. Janene said,

    July 12, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    Hey Ben —

    Both Jeff Vail and Dave Pollard have had some pretty good pieces on economics over the past few months (to the point that I knew everything Glenn was talking about and more… )

    If you haven’t kept up with either of those blogs, I would recommend them as a starting point.


    (ooohhh… beach good. I myself have a better tan now than, probly my entire life. Unfortunately, no salt water was involved ;-) )

  10. Glenn said,

    July 12, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    To fully educate yourself on economic issues would take a long, long time. Mostly because almost everything the average person is exposed to in the finacial realm in BS, so not only do you have to find reliable resources for good information (a quest in itself) but you have to un-learn much of what you might already know. The sad truth is that the people with the money have a vested interest in everyone else being ignorant easy prey, and they have gone to great lengths to make it so (even to the point that brokers and finacial advisors can’t tell you the truth, even if they know it, because its against the law. If the people responsible for helping you with finacial matters told you how to actually make money and be successfull they would be arrested and sent to jail. Even worse most of them don’t even know how to help you in the first place and are not much more then sales people. Only exception is if you are a “qualified investor” meaning that you have over $1 million or an verified income of over $250,000 a year for the last three years running.)

    If you want to learn about money for real then I suggest “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and all the other books by Rober Kiyosaki. He also has a blog on Yahoo! I think and a websight but I don’t have link to either on hand. If you choose to go that way I would then suggest that you learn about how to incorporate and what that means, the basic concepts of trading including the major systems of technical analysis and how to go about fundamental analysis, you’ll need to learn how the commodities market works and how options work, I would definatly recomend knowlege in the area of gold, silver, bonds, real estate, oil, food commodities, as well as how forclosures are carried out and what their impact is on the bank as well as the morgage holder, etc….

    Like I said, it would probably take a long time. It’s taken me over ten years and I am still learning more every day. I tell you what I tell everyone who asks me how to learn this stuff, there probably isn’t time to worry about it. I would recommend at least “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” because the knowlege in that book will be useful if there is any form of trade going on at all.

    Other resources I use: (look for articals by Ted Butler they are the best ones, other articals on the sight range all over from pretty darn good to really poor, so shop and compair and take with a grain of salt) (Braking News is usually updated Mon, Wed, Fri and gives lot to contemplate) (again, information clearing house so not everything is good, but much of it is. Look for articals by Richard Daughty ” The Mogambo Guru” articals will be hard to follow at first without finacial background but they are very good and funny and after awhile you really start to pick stuff up. They come out every Wed.) (another good clearing house for finacial data. Even just scaning the headline can help clue you in.)

    There are other sights, but that will get you started, also many of the better ones require subscription. All the ones I listed are free. Janene is right about blogs, I don’t know the ones she mentioned, but there are lots of good ones out there that can help explane things in simple terms.

    As to meat. I’ll tell you what I plane to do…three nubian goats, five Rabit does and one buck, a hunting licence, and Mascovy Ducks at least until bird flu rears it’s head and then good bye ducks. As it is my chicken flock is unfortunatly heading for the freezer in the next couple of weeks. I like chickens but duck are better in my opinion. I’m not worried about bird flu acctually arising from nature, but as man already has a weaponized version I recognize that owning a bird flock of any kind is a dangerous thing in the comming months and years.

    If you can’t raise your own, you could always try to find a farmer that does and do something batery. Or you could do as you suggest. I don’t like the idea of stockpileing, however (at least not as a primary solution) as it is expensive, stockpiles can be destroyed by many things, they aren’t very mobile, and this problem is likely to out last your stockpiles and then some. But, I would say, if your going to, look for any bargain you can find and start now. The price might drop into the future, or it might already be at the bottom. I was able to buy chicken this spring for $0.25 a pound, now the lowest I can find is $0.49 a pound and the place that I had been getting it is now consistantly over a dollar per pound. I don’t know what beef prices have been like because I don’t eat it, but I do know that the prices are going to go up from here, even though they might take a dip first. Freeze Dryed is largely out as most of it is sold out as fast as they can make it. There are only three freeze dryers in the country and people in the know are already stocking up, so you would be luck to lay hands on very much. MRE’s have been getting bought up by the US government (assumably because of the increased disaster preparedness push by FEMA, but no one really seems to know for sure). They can be found, but they are also getting hard to come by. All in all I favor the ability to “make meat” on your own.


    PS. The Euro can not be the new reserve currency simply because there just aren’t enough Euros to replace all the Dollars out their. Same with all other currencies. This is probably the only reason we haven’t seen a Dollar collapse already. Countries want out of Dollars, but there is nothing else to trade into in suficient quantites to absorb all the Dollars, so people have been force to go slowly and liquidate into a wide viriety of other things (Euro, Gold, Silver, Oil, Copper, Platinum, Yuan, possibly the Rubel soon, the Kiwi, etc…). In the end there simply isn’t anything that can replace all the Dollars and so people will get burned big time, probably to the tune of hundreds of trillions of Dollars. Only after the crash of the dollar will the world be able to move into a new reserve currency, and by then it might be a moote point.

  11. Aftermath said,

    July 12, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    I’ll have more to say later, I’m kind of doing a hit and run right now.

    I’ll look at those sites, some of them I have seen before. The problem is between the book and my job I do not have much time for internet stuff. But I’ll find some and do some reading. I do not expect to be an expert, I mostly go for knowing enough about everything to talk about it without sounding like an idiot.

    If the Euro is a fiat currency couldn’t they…well…just say they have enough?

    -Benjamin Shender

  12. Janene said,

    July 13, 2006 at 9:37 am

    Hey —

    If the Euro is a fiat currency couldn’t they…well…just say they have enough?

    If they did, the bottom would drop out :-)

    With a fiat currency, you have to at least maintain the illusion of validity. That’s the problem with the dollar. The illusion is fading.


  13. Aftermath said,

    July 13, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    Hmmm. I suppose so. Wouldn’t the problem be psychological then? The money is worth something so long as the government will deliver your mail for it. Could they do it underhanded? You know, the bank invents it by pretending they have 33.3 times the amount of money they actually do? Go reserve banking! Dumbest idea I ever heard.

    Still going through the sites. Thanks guys for helping me understand this stuff.

    -Benjamin Shender

  14. Janene said,

    July 14, 2006 at 10:23 am

    Hey —

    Well, now you’re getting into another issue…

    The US Dollar will continue to have some value in the US, regardless… because it is all we’ve got.

    But the ‘actual’ value is dependant on international markets. If the bottom drops out, international investors will stop owning USD’s and foreign governments will refuse to loan us money/accept debt repayment in dollars. THEN we are in trouble. (And, of course, that’s when it ceases to be worth MUCH internally… because the market becomes flooded with unwanted dollars…)


  15. Aftermath said,

    July 14, 2006 at 11:47 am

    And, with the Eruo expanding to meet US levels so quickly, it would reach the same point we are at almost immediately after. Right?

    I suppose the US wouldn’t accept splitting the difference between the Dollar and Euro, but if they did would it work?

    -Benjamin Shender

  16. Russian said,

    August 21, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    I hate to sound mean and selfish here, but thinking realistically, nothing serious will happen to the U.S. in terms of water or food shortage any time soon. Perhaps slightly hit will be fat people, but otherwise the U.S. should be fine……

  17. Aftermath said,

    August 21, 2006 at 8:20 pm

    We like to think we are in a cocoon, safe and sound here in the U.S. We aren’t. Think of refugees. Refugees will come over any way they can if there is enough of a water shortage or food shortage in the rest of the world. Our government will try to stop it, of course, to “protect” our cocoon of safety, but in the beginning they’ll come over in swarms.
    Beyond that, peak oil is something that will affect us very hard. Americans seem to need oil for the very function of living. Suddenly not have having that resource at our disposal….well…one can imagine that outcome. Climate change is also something that everyone will feel. Of course, in the U.S. there seems to be an increased amount of droughts lately…hmm..interesting. Several states actually are having water shortage issues to the point of placing bans on when and on what water can be used for.
    Bottom line… No one will be unaffected.

    – Miranda Vivian

  18. Glenn said,

    August 23, 2006 at 9:22 am

    Russian has a point, as does Miranda. I was just thinking about the impact of famine on the US and realized that people here could eat half to a quarter of what they eat now and still survive just fine, better in some cases.

    That said, Miranda makes the good point that if people in the US can only eat half or less food then much of the rest of the world will be in very sore straights and many might try to get where there is food, or demand\request aid which many not be possible. If you refuse to help starving people, especially if they have been friends for a long time (England comes to mind) they tend to get grumpy. Old alliances break down, new ones form in other word political termoil and war in places.

    More important thought, again, is the inpact of famine on the economy. If food and water are half or less availible then they are going to be twice or more as expensive, and harder to aquire. Already, many of the former middle class are finding that they don’t earn enough at work to pay for going to work. The oil situation is not going to get better soon, possibly ever, and so figure what happens when people who must already choose between buying gas to get to work, health care, food, or the mortgage on their home suddenly have to pay twice to ten times or more what they used to have to pay just to eat and drink. Think what that does to resturants and all the people who work there, not to mention the lifestyle that depends on eating out.

    I suppose if you think an economic meltdown with half or more of the people out of work and a third or more homeless is doing ok, then yeah we should be fine.

    Only one problem the cascading falure of the economy that puts that many people out of work also causes the infrastructure that grows, harvests, transports, processes, sells, and prepares food to more or less go “FOOP!”, and drives prices even higher and make avalibility spotty.

    So yes, we can make do with less, and no our economy can not make do with less. As a result, if we must do with less (which we will) then many, many people will have to do with nothing and that is one very big effect.


  19. Aftermath said,

    August 23, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    Although, the fact most of the food Americans eat travels farther from farm to dinner plate than the American does throughout their entire life might also have an impact. Yes, we have a lot of food. We should, the US is seven of the top twenty importers of commodities.

    The US is also a major producer of food. This is true, but misleading. The United States taken as a whole produces a lot of food. Most the population lives nowhere remotely close to where the food is being produced.

    -Benjamin Shender

  20. Lindsay said,

    May 14, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Glenn, I know this discussion is long over, but I’m unsure how to contact you and you seem the best person to answer my question. My friends and I are wondering what we should be doing with our money now – should we pull our retirement savings and our children’s education savings? Max out our credit cards? Use the money to buy supplies for the crash? What about our mortgage? If the crash is large scale we will be on a ranch, leave our house behind… but if it is a “slow bleed” we might stay here for a while… Should we be paying onto the mortgage or just going about that as usual? So many questions…

  21. Sarah said,

    May 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I have to tell you that i think that you are right yet still wrong about what is going to happen and I have had a life time to figure this stuff out and I have Ideas on how to stop it or at least slow it down. I would like to talk to you about this stuff. I am trying to come up with the best way to change the world a way to make people listen and to make them open up their eyes to the truth that is right in front of them but to easy for them to over look. I really think that we should work together if you truly believe that the end of this earth is near. I do though have to correct something that you said and that is that the earth is dead. It is not, but it will be if someone doesn’t stop it. The earth is very much alive and until people start seeing it that way the earth is what is going to destroy us.

    A long time ago the earth froze as we all know. That was the earths way of fixing itself it is like a human immune system when there is something that is causing damage to the earth the immune system kicks in and gets rid of it. Well in real life we are the disease that is damaging the earth and it will do what it needs to in order to correct the damage that is done. The earth will heat up as it is, and fires and lack of water will kill most of us. Then, I believe it will freeze again to re-balance out the atmosphere.

    I believe that it is possible to help it re-balance but it will take the whole world to do it. We all have to change our lives and live a more natural way. Please contact me when you read this so we can talk about ideas. Or you can leave a message on my web page. I would really like to hear what you think will help and would like to talk about how it can be fixed.

  22. paul UK said,

    July 7, 2009 at 6:25 am

    Hi sarah and all,

    Yes, the earth is alive but it is in trouble. The earth, like every individual person, animal, plant, rock and anything in between is a self soveriegn conscious being, imbued with natural free will, feelings and aliveness. Until we stop seeing humans as unique in this respect and see a fundamental equality and respect for all expressions of fundamental aliveness, mutually respecting evolution and free will life expression, then we will see reflected back at us the reflection of who we create ourselves to be. Its as simple as that really.

    Some people don’t want to evolve. Leave them be. Tend your own garden and share freely with all who want to evolve. You can’t force people to change, but slowly and surely i think most people will want. It just takes time. treat all with love and respect, reagrdless of their choices (whilst protecting yourself from harm). Show by example. Check out for some fantastic insights, philosophy, and food for thought on spiritual perspectives on these topics.


    paul uk.

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