What are you doing now to prepare for climate impacts?

I will offer my thoughts below and am interested to hear yours.

This weekend’s climate question is inspired by a Washington Post op-ed from my friend Mike Tidwell, “A climate-change activist prepares for the worst.”

Tidwell is executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and, like most climate hawks, better informed than 98% of policymakers and the media on climate science and likely impacts.  Still, I don’t do any of the things he does — nor would I recommend them:

Today, underneath the solar panels, there’s a new set of deadbolt locks on all my doors. There’s a new Honda GX390 portable power generator in my garage, ready to provide backup electricity. And last week I bought a starter kit to raise tomatoes and lettuce behind barred basement windows.

I’m not a survivalist or an “end times” enthusiast. When it comes to climate change, I’m just a realist.

I have the PV panels [and a solar hot water heater and a waste heat recovery unit for the showers and … see “Is Climate Progress ‘low carbon’ and does it matter?“] — not as adaptation, but because I think it’s a good idea.

I didn’t get the expensive batteries to let the system operate after a storm when the power goes out.  I suppose if, like Tidwell, we had lost our power multiple times I might get a generator, but for me it isn’t an urgent purchase.  I live on high ground, and we’ve lost power in my DC home for several hours only once in 10 years , so the cost equation just doesn’t work, at least for me, even though I work from home.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to get a generator, but my intention was to buy a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for my next car, to replace the Prius, and most of those will have the capability of working as a portable generator.

I’ve studied and written as much as anyone else how climate change drives extreme weather and how it’s going to get much, much worse in the coming years.  And it’s likely that half the years this decade will be hotter than 2010 with weather as extreme if not more so.  And, as readers know, I’ve been researching, talking to experts, and writing extensively on food insecurity and how  it drives political unrest.

But the United States simply isn’t in any plausible danger from internal political instability from extreme weather or food insecurity this decade.  We’re rich, and we’re the bread basket of the world.  Food prices are at their highest level in two decades, yet most Americans hardly notice.  Sure, if you’re an Egyptian, and food is 40% of your budget, that’s devastating.  But even if food prices ran up 50% from current levels, again most Americans would barely notice.  If the 1000-year Russian heat-wave and drought hit Iowa or Chicago it would be brutal, but, mostly for other countries.

I think it’s perfectly reasonable to start to grow your own food, because you can save money, the quality can be higher, and it’s a good skill, especially to pass on to your children.  But you aren’t going to be feeding yourself in some sort of Mad Max scenario.  If it comes to that point, your garden won’t be much help.

I don’t think food insecurity will hit the U.S. directly this decade — in the riot-creating sense that it has hit the poorest countries now (we do obviously still have malnourishment in this country). Nor do I think it likely we will in the next one (except, again, through global political instability).  By the 2030s, though, all bets are off (see Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path).  I don’t expect the electric grid to become less reliable — the impact of extreme weather will cause havoc locally, but improved technology and growing demand response strategies should in general improve reliability.

Peak oil is another matter, though, and that is worth thinking about and planning for, though, again, most European countries are already paying higher gasoline prices than America is likely to average this decade, so even $7 gasoline isn’t the end of the world, and I’m skeptical we would see that this decade for any length of time (mainly because the global economy would contract first).

My three main suggestions for what people should do in the next few years are:

  1. Sell your SUV, sooner rather than later, unless you really need all that interior room on a regular basis, since resale prices are certainly going to collapse when gasoline prices sustain at $4 or higher for any length of time.  Get a hybrid or, even better, PHEV.
  2. If you live in a 100-year flood plain, move.  You can wait for housing prices to recover a bit, but the risks here are just going to keep growing.
  3. Plan to sell your coastal property, especially if you live anywhere between Manhattan and Corpus Christi (and thus also have to worry about hurricanes).  Coastal property values are going to crash at some point (see “What year will coastal property values crash?“)  I think the peak in prices come some time in the 2020s.  Coastal property values crash long before you actually get the devastating sea level rise (SLR).  They crash when a large fraction of the financial community and of opinion-makers “” along with a smaller but substantial fraction of the public “” realize that it is too late for us to stop 4 to 5 feet of SLR.  The staggering success of the fossil-fuel-funded disinformation campaign — and the ongoing lameness of the media — may put off that awareness a few years, but I still think the peak comes by the mid- to late-2020s.

Of course, if you are in college or planning to enter soon, then I would also recommend thinking about studying relevant areas (clean energy, water, sustainable agriculture) that will be highly-in-demand careers in the coming decades (see “How can you be most employable in a world of global warming and peak oil and food insecurity?“).  Stetson University taped my talk on this, so I’ll leave a longer discussion on that for later.

Interestingly, Paul Gilding just came by the house this morning for a chat.  I taped some video interviews of him for when his new book, The Great Disruption, comes out in April.  I was thinking that some of Tidwell’s ideas might make more sense for Australia, since they are the most arid habited continent, as well as having a large tropical component that is the subject to intense rain storms.  They are, as I’ve said, the canary in the coal mine for climate change, a good indicator of what Americans will face.  But Gilding said that while people are constantly asking him what they should do, he doesn’t recommend a survivalist approach, either.

I would add that I think it will be obvious to the vast majority of Americans, the media, and policymakers in the 2020s that multiple catastrophic impacts are coming and we will begin a crash effort to reduce emissions then — but this post is focused on what folks should be doing in the next few years to plan for what’s to come.  Obviously, if we don’t start very aggressive national and global mitigation this decade (or WWII-scale mitigation in the 2020s), then we will almost certainly be subjecting countless generations to ever-worsening misery post-2040.

What do you think?

156 Responses to What are you doing now to prepare for climate impacts?

  1. Sou says:

    I’ve recently put in grid-connected solar panels, had a solar hot water service put in about 10 years ago, and getting the garden organised. A water tank is on the shopping list – maybe later this year.

    None of these are survivalist and are more about giving some protection against increasing cost. (In the case of the water tank, protection against drought so maybe that’s a bit survivalist.) I don’t bother with locks, bars or bolts (some of our windows don’t even shut properly, let alone lock). If / when social upheaval or war arrives in this country (Australia), I’ll probably be too old to do much about it, or dead.

  2. Tom Lewis says:

    Joe, nobody knows the climate issue as you do, but it’s not necessarily the worst, most immediate threat we face. When you say “the United States simply isn’t in any plausible danger from internal political instability from extreme weather or food insecurity this decade,” I’m afraid you are demonstrating a kind of tunnel vision. Industrial agriculture is failing rapidly, everywhere in the world, with terrible implications that will not be limited to developing countries. We are not so much the bread basket of the world as we are the corn basket, and the people who grow the grain are, as Michael Pollan has pointed out, in a food desert. They don’t and can’t eat anything they grow. When peak oil hits and the 18-wheelers can’t move — either because someone else got our oil or we can’t afford to buy our gas — they’ll be in as much trouble as the average city dweller.
    Our electric grid is mortally afflicted with age and long abuse; our water supplies for agriculture are depleted and for human consumption, tainted; and our political system sustains itself by steadfastly ignoring all these problems so as to collect money from the people who create and maintain the problems. Climate change is a threat multiplier and a threat itself, but far from the only one.
    So what Mike Tidwell is doing is a reasonable response to the existing threat level, but as he will soon realize as he accustoms himself to this way of looking at the world, does not go nearly far enough.
    Personally, I have my (rural) water supply on solar, am working on sustainable flocks of chickens and goats, am growing more of my own food every year, building more food storage and security fence, but am still an “age optimist”: I still think I have a pretty good chance of dying from natural causes before evolution overtakes our industrial age.

  3. tst says:

    We’ve done a couple things:

    We’ve moved to the best place we could identify in the U.S.; a spot with good soil, plenty of clean water, tremendous biodiversity, a low human population, plentiful hydro-electric and a nearby rail system. The local community is small and resilient, with a history of self sufficiency. We have 25 acres, with a combination of woods and meadows.

    We’ve fenced in a decent sized garden and started experimenting with permaculture techniques like sheet mulching.

    We’re working on plans for a small, energy efficient home constructed from readily available, environmentally benign local materials.

    We’re teaching our young son any number of relevant skills – everything from hunting & fishing to starting a bow drill fire to creative problem solving and computer skills. Regardless of what the world throws his way, he’s going to be well prepared.

    We’re developing relationships and forming networks with the members of our community who are concerned about climate change, energy, etc. Resilient communities will be a key for the foreseeable future.

    We’re also planning on buying a more fuel efficient vehicle.

    Those are the basics. We hope to be flexible enough to adapt to changes that we don’t yet anticipate. We’ve been studying climate and energy for the last 10 years, and I suspect all that accumulated knowledge will eventually pay dividends.

    One final thought. I disagree with Joe on our economy. The fact that America is wealthy now is no guarantee that we’ll be wealthy in 10 or 20 years. Our financial system is predicated on growth and debt, and as continued growth becomes a physical impossibility, our economy is likely to crater. We can’t look at climate, or at peak energy, or at our financial house of cards, as separate problems. They’re interconnected and interrelated, and I don’t believe anyone can predict exactly how things are going to play out over the next decade or two. The best possible approach is to set ourselves up so we’re fine if our culture continues stumbling along on the same general trajectory for the next 30 years, but we’re also okay if we experience unprecedented cultural shifts or climate changes. Flexibility is vital.

  4. Peter M says:


    I saw this article this morning, glad you posted it.

    I finished reading Lynas’ ‘Six Degrees’ and what the post article says above and Lynas’ vision of a world turning inward is thought provoking. Dianne Dumanoski says almost the same thing in ‘The End of the Long Summer’.

    What will happen as climate change begins to disrupt our society- that has evolved into a global entity, with thin based inventories from food to raw materials. Once climate disruptions begins to shatter these thin inventories globally…. what happens next>?

    Mark Lynas feels we will go from global to very local- with small sustainable towns and farming villages sequestered in protected valleys, and other favored geographic locales protected from the victims and ravages of climate change.

    Am I hording? No, preparing for a worse case scenario? NO
    Am I planning and thinking of a future where climate change may disrupt my life in various ways- YES.

  5. My friends and family are going in together to buy some acreage in the next couple of years. A reliable water supply will be a must. Possibly in the Oregon coastal range.

    We plan to be as self sufficient as possible, and to maximize possibilities for barter of skills and food with our neighbors.
    We’ll generate at least some of our own electricity via solar and wind.

    This will insulate us a bit from the rising costs of food driven by climate change and peak oil.

    If the only driver of collapse was climate change we’d likely be safe for at least a couple decades. But there are oh so many drivers converging right now, such as peak oil.

    My nightmare is if civilization collapses, even in pockets, there will be dangerous scared people about looking for a safe place to occupy. Or that climate change render’s our selected refuge unsuitable for growing food.

  6. Publius2012 says:

    I am studying agriculture/permaculture, freezing seeds, keeping vegetable gardens, growing lots of potatoes and grains, and getting the rest of my food from a local CSA. I also have an 8 month food store, an industrial grain mill, a solar oven, worms (vermicomposting), and bees.

    I participate in the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program and have several emergency supply/evacuation kits. I have gone through the and “Just In Case” checklists. I don’t own any real property, (I only have $100K student loans and a library of 300 books) but I would like to have a 1-3 acre plot to cultivate. And I meditate daily, trying to change U.S. policy through the power of metaphysics. And go to the psychiatrist daily.

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    One upcoming project involves the construction of a special machine which main habitat is the ocean. Wind and solar power provide the energy and the construct is designed in a way for future upgrades. Including a possible flying saucer device which is mounted on top of lifeboat 1.

    During ruff seas the hybrid mechanism device can dive to the ocean floor. It will be quiet comfortable and unlimited units of life sustaining lifeboats could dock. The blue prints will be eventually leak to the public and are open source anyway.

  8. Leif says:

    I pay a “green power premium” of $0.0125/kWh to support expansion of green power. I built a greenhouse to expand my growing season. I have expended effort improving my soil. As Joe points out, not because I feel threatened by food shortages, as yet, but because starvation is a current world problem and what I grow helps the big picture. I feel that there is nothing I can do with my property that currently pays me a higher return on investment, on many fronts, than growing food. I live in a Progressive community…

    The most important thing that I feel I can do, and do do, is take the knowledge that I glean from CP, and all the great commentators here, out to my world of influence. We must bring the madness to an end as soon as possible. I try my damnedest to keep from getting bummed out with the reality confronting me daily on this front. I must admit that I am not always successful, however it is helpful knowing that I am not alone.

    Dead bolts on the doors and bars on the windows will not stop a bullet thru the glass. If, or when, it comes to that in your, or my, neighborhood all bets are off. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Quite a bit more in fact, in this case.

    I am expanding my friendship with the people of the local First Nations in case I need to ask for political asylum.

  9. john atcheson says:

    “The era of consequences has arrived … ”

    I think that phrase captures it nicely. Here in San Diego, water is our main issue, and global warming is set to make this worse. I’ve installed a rain harvesting system which currently stores about 150 gallons. Storage can easily be expanded if needed.

    Sine 1 mm of rain provides about 1 litre of water for each square metre of roof area, even relatively arid areas can supply most of what is needed over the course of a year (and I’m using a catchment area of about 60 square meters). We have high efficiency appliances, low flow toilets, and showers, so we could, if necessary become water self-sufficent at a very low cost.

    We have a medium sized garden, and will likely install a solar hot water heater this year. PVs are next. Like Joe, our next car will be a plug-in hybrid, so that will be our generator.

    If things go south, I’m looking into raising rabbits and or chickens for protein.

    The reason I’m doing or planning to do all of this is because the one constant in the science of forecasting the consequences of climate change is this: We have consistently underestimated the gravity and speed of changes . They are coming sooner than predicted, and they are more severe.

    As some of you know from my occasional book reviews here on Climateprogress, I am working on a trilogy that follows a small group of people as they struggle to confront and then deal with climate change over the period from 2010 to 2050.

    One of the things that has occurred to me is that if you have water, power and food when no one else does, you become a target.

    When will shortages hit? How severe will they be here in the US? I’d say take the best scientific forecasts, cut them in half for unanticipated feedbacks (even if you’re wrong, they provide a useful a safety factor), and go with that.

    That puts shortages here in the US in most of our lifetimes — certainly by 2030.

  10. Utah climate watcher says:

    The first step was to not reproduce. Without children whose consumption of resources adds to the problem and whose futures would be severely impacted I can sleep a litter easier.

    Over the course of our adult lives my wife and I have had 3 houses built that were all earth bearmed and oriented for solar gain in winter and none in summer. Energy efficiency was always a concern.

    Presently we live in a remote community that has a strong orientation toward food self-sufficiency and each year we have added to our own food production capabilities. This year I’ll be adding more vegetable beds and building a solar food dryer.

    We live in an area with abundant water – even though it borders on the southwest.

    We have a small hydroelectric plant in our community that is less than 10 miles from our house, but I still consider doing solar (I’m waiting for some of the more efficient systems to come online).

    If I drive up the hill to the post office/etc. I coast back down to my house. In the summer I often walk the 2 – 4 miles or bicycle. I expect that shortly our community will develop a cooperative travel and shopping system as we are quite distant for the nearest major city.

    Folks in town have developed a seed saving and sharing system for those plants that seem to perform best in our community.

    A group here is developing tool sharing and practical skills programs.

    All this said – I’m still not sure it matters – if my worst fears are realized. Fortunately (?), I’m in my sixties and imagine I’ll be leaving this existence before the worst of the worst comes to pass.

  11. Sailesh Rao says:

    We are experiencing our Karma when we treat all other life forms and the rest of Nature as inferior and worthless. Karma isn’t about judgement; it turns out to be simple physics and chemistry. We blow off the tops of mountains to mine coal, dynamite corals to catch the fish in them, raze down forests to extract the oil under them, imprison animals in vast gulags called CAFOs that make the concentration camps of the Nazis look like summer retreats and we do all this legally and in full public view. What does that tell us about our global “civilization”?

    When Gandhi was asked, “What do you think about Western civilization?,” he quipped, “I think it would be a good idea.”

    I’m still waiting for our mass epiphany that perhaps Gandhi wasn’t joking. I don’t think insulating ourselves further, treating even fellow humans as the “other” is going to solve problems.

  12. Mike Roddy says:

    I support posters’ personal commitments and solutions, but believe that relentless political pressure and public education will continue to be necessary.

    A friend has a child in a junior high private school in Rancho Sante Fe, a very wealthy zip code. The boy told me yesterday that his teachers don’t want to talk about global warming, presumably because it’s a wealthy and conservative area. This is one more sign that alternative media needs to show up much more than they have so far.

    Finding refuge in a fertile and watered area is wise, but unless we keep up the pressure, everyplace else will become chaotic. That means that no place will be safe and comfortable, unless you can afford to hire a militia.

  13. Lee Ann Forrester says:

    Maybe those who have a lot of money don’t feel the change in food prices but those of us who are in lower income brackets do. We are considering a green house (we live in the Cascade foothills and have very short growing season) We will be looking at solar panels and other upgrades when we can afford them. We will be collecting rain and snow water for irrigation and getting rid of the lawn. This is desert, lawns are a stupid idea in the desert. The idea that we are rich and won’t be effected is just what keeps us from taking the kind of actions that we need to take. If we decide our action on purely economic terms we forget the moral terms. We need a little balance between the two

  14. Andy says:

    My new car purchase is a compact that is getting an average of 37mpg (Honda Fit). This has caused some problems. I can no longer carry my canoe and so trips with the kids have been curbed until I figure this one out (I may try to build a super lightweight trailer).

    I live in a coastal county and plan on selling my house once I retire. The house is high enough to be ok though its expected life, but I think that in 20 years or so, the negative publicity will be lowering its value so I’ll unload before then.

    I purchase 100% wind power (in Texas you can do that) that guarantees the same amount of energy I use is being produced by a wind farm.

    Last, I’m making sure my kids understand that they need to listen to their peers cautiously, they’ll be able to think things out logically, they’ll have a good science education, and that they know that they must work to find good news information (they see me read the paper each day and I discuss certain stories with them and point out possible descrepancies).

    I’m teaching them about global warming and why many people are having a hard time accepting it.

    Most of all, we spend as much time outside having a good time as is possible. I want them to love the earth.

  15. How far north will Avocados grow in the coming decades? Food for the gods.
    Coffee? Tea?
    Wish I had a working crystal ball.

  16. George Ennis says:

    I am not a scientist but what I intuit from the blogs I read as well the climate science websites is that in the worst case scenario we have already passed a tipping point in terms of catastrophic climate change by end of century i.e. natural positive feedback loops have already started to kick in and cannot be stopped. That of course does not mean that it will be a walk in the park before then or over the next 20 years for that matter.

    In the best case scenario we have another 10 years to start taking decisive action to reduce GHG emissions but one only has to look at the political and cultural landscape in the US to realize that Americans are retreating ever further into a world of magical thinking and illusion. I see nothing that is going to halt that process and more importantly begin the process of building scientific literacy amongst the general population.

    As a Canadian I would certainly agree with Jo that coastal properties are becoming problematic even in Canada’s eastern provinces. This past winter we have seen endless storm ravage the region with high winds, storm surges and extreme precipitation events. This in a region which is used to extreme weather.

    From a personal perspective I would encourage anyone who has not gone snorkeling or diving off a reef to do so sooner rather than later. I suspect 20 years from now they will have been seriously degraded due to ocean acidification.

    While I do believe the US and canada will still be secure places over the next 20 years in terms of food and energy I believe that will only be relative to the rest of the world. As more countries become destabilized I expect that global security will continue to erode, effecting international trade. The biggest change that I see happening by the 2030s is that governments in what are today democratic countries will start curtailing liberties and freedoms to manage increasing social unrest arising from climate change. I also suspect that we will be looking back on that quaint notion of free markets to deal with the problem. While that might have worked in 2011 by 2031 massive government intervention and regulation of carbon releasing activities will be the norm.

  17. Wyoming says:


    I found your comments above deeply unsatisfying for a variety of reasons. Though I know that you did not mean it that way they could be interpreted to justify a version of pursuing BAU. Something along the lines of “we have until the 2030’s before it really hits the fan and we need to start readying for a dramatically less secure world”.

    [JR: No, they could not be interpreted that way because I am on record a thousand times saying we must urgently begin reducing emissions. I will say I find this comment unsatisfying because it suggest that every single post I write has to explain every single potentially relevant position I have ever put forward, no matter how many times I have repeated it.

    BUT the fact is that there is virtually no chance that even with aggressive mitigation we could actually affect the climate significantly until the 2040s. The main purpose of aggressive mitigation is to avert multiple catastrophic impacts post-2040 that would potentially last many centuries and ruin the lives of many billions of people.

    I fully expect that the U.S. and the world will begin a desperate effort to reduce GHGs in the 2020s.]

    I think that the decline of the US in general will be gradual as you indicate, but there is a significant non-zero probability that we could have a deep drop off much sooner. Political/economic instability can come upon us fairly quickly. Climate change, peak energy, financial/economic deteriation can and will work together along with continuing environmental degradation, loss of fresh water supplies and many other factors to potentially destabilize civilization. The US will not be immune to what happens elsewhere in the world. Over time, we are almost certain to have this happen. But it could also happen much quicker if a combination of events trigger a crises.

    Taking the above possibiliy into account it would seem more prudent to encourage everyone to take those actions that they are capable of which will enhance their ability to live a less energy intensive more sustainable life. The more people who choose to start living that way now the better off we all will be. There is a serious deficiency in infrastructure whose purpose is to support those more sustainable life styles. If large numbers of people start converting now then there is a bootstrapping effect of building that infrastructure in a non-crisis environment. For example: I converted my xurban land back into a small organic farm on the far outskirts of DC. The basic infrastructure that exisited in this area at one time that was devoted to supporting family farming does not exist any longer. We need folks to start filling those skill gaps back in. We need this to occur all over the country for many kinds of occupations. This will take a huge amount of time and energy. It would seen imprudent to wait 20 years before we encourage people to get started.

    [JR: You do not seem like a regular reader of this blog. It would be really good if people are going to make a long post like this that they read some of the important posts on the right hand column.]

    While I have no issues with your suggestions of actions to take I think that they are not relevant for the bulk of the population. Most people don’t own giant SUV’s, homes along the coast and McMansions. Those that have the most resources will always be the last to see the need for change. We need to encourage everyone else to learn useful skills and trades. Maybe as hobbies now but as a form of insurance towards future disruptions. Most people living in the city and suburbs no longer have particularly useful skills. Yes they need to learn how to grow food if they have access to gound for gardening. But we also need to encourage people to learn other practical skills.

    Just like we need to deal with climate change now rather than later, we need to start adapting to a world where there will be much less to go around and where the average citizen is going to carry a lot more of the responsibility for taking care of themselves than they do now.

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    Water Harvesting –
    Many of the commercial diverters are designed for slow gentle rainfalls , if you live in area where rain comes in short heavy bursts , much of the downpour can be lost to over flow. Here’s a diverter I made using PVC plumbing parts, it is able to handle these larger rainfalls :

    The cistern is made from food grade barrels I got from Coke for 5 dollars each.

  19. Raul M. says:

    Water harvesting-
    A rinse function is nice as most of the
    Pollution falls in the first minutes of a
    Rain. So if the rain harvester is left to
    Rinse the roof first then the collected
    Water will be cleaner. Also very light
    Short rains might not be it when you
    Want good drinking water.

  20. risa bear says:

    At our house we tend to follow Astyk and Newton’s recommendations. We “power down” and simplify, and we do food independence, not because we think it would help us “survive” as opposed to other people (anyone with a box of matches could eliminate us as competition for our garden) but because we believe in small-farmed, organic, GMO-free, and doing our fair share to feed ourselves and leaving the place better than we found it, for whomever may come after.

    It’s 43 degrees north — an acre. Climate moderated by the Pacific. We paid off the mortgage in half the time. There are two wells and one of them has a hand pump. We’ve tightened up and superinsulated. Wood heat, cooking, and hot water. LED lights, 3K totasl electricity usage. White roof and walls. Built our own no-cost solar water heater, which works well about half the year. Deer fenced perimeter, orchard with poultry, surrounding a poultry fence, surrounding the garden. We do all our own slaughtering. There are twenty year-round garden beds, vine fruits, cane fruits, milk goats. Cold storage room for winter roots and such. Solar food dryers. Canning, freezing. Yes, we still drive to town, but it is only five miles to the bus system park-and-ride. When we were in town we rode bicycles to work for eight years. On our budget that’s about all we can do for now, though we are well positioned for both wind and solar, and have experience with a DC house. It takes time to learn to do all this, though. We’ve spent 35 years on it, and still feel like newbies. People ask how we had the time (we were both working, I’m now retired). We reply: “well, first we dumped the TV. And then we staycationed. The rest follows.”

  21. Marie says:

    We tore out our front yard (most of the space around the house) to put in gardens, have put up PV panels, have a Prius and are on a list for (though may not be able to afford) a Leaf. Greenhouse plans are in mind. Can’t keep chickens yet in this area. So far, it is clear that I am no farmer like my grandparents and even my mother – I spend all my time working, bringing the kids to nearby lessons, etc.

    We are educating those whom we can, sharing news, starting up a newsletter in our professional communities, etc. I keep wondering if family’s cabin 3 hrs away in the mountains (an expanded doublewide) on some property at 9000 feet, next to a stream, is going to be needed with further extreme drying in this area, even given the high elevation.

    I appreciate the water diverter tip, though we have been a bit torn, since our crazy Colorado water law prohibits saving and re-using your own water (and we have a crazy neighbor who pays attention to such things).

  22. Wit's End says:

    It is only due to random luck that last year’s huge climate-related disasters – Pakistan, Russia, Australia – didn’t occur in the US, although we had lesser floods, in New England, Tennessee and the Midwest. It’s only a matter of probably very little time before another major American city is debilitated by an extreme weather event, and eventually enough Katrina-type episodes will lead a critical percentage of the public to understand the existential threat that looms before us. Then they will go nuts, and we will have food shortages, because they will mob the stores. There will be many other disruptions that will make people hysterical, one of which is the exponentially increasing depletion of seafood, which is going to become quite apparent to everybody very soon.

    I haven’t done much to prepare other than purchase some freeze-dried food for a short-term emergency, because I can’t afford to – and besides, if you’re not prepared to shoot thieves and intruders, what’s the point of constructing an off-grid self-sustaining compound? Between the unpredictability of when and where disasters will hit – such as tornados, and especially huge wildfires, which are going to be a recurring problem everywhere, not only in the west, as vegetation dies and dries – and when and where displaced people will migrate – preparation for something like The Road seems quixotic.

  23. GFW says:

    Well, I have to be an “age optimist” – i.e. believe that I’ll die before the sh-t hits the fan. Y’see, long before Americans face serious food shortages or a breakdown in law and order(*) the more expensive bits of our healthcare system will simply be abandoned. I mean, we’re not going to be synthesizing expensive cancer drugs or the like when we’re devoting all our efforts to saving our food production/distribution infrastructure. So, as it happens, my wife has a serious medical condition. The regular use of high tech medicine keeps her minimally functioning. If that goes away, it’s game over. So, my guess for the first major sign of a breakdown in modern society will be a pullback in healthcare, presumably followed by a large increase in mortality among the medically vulnerable.

    So, there’s really not much point in me planning a move to farm country. I’ll be an old widower with mad computer skills. I’ve done a lot of things to our house to reduce our footprint though. The local power company tells us we use half the energy of comparable homes. And the two of us combine for 6000 miles a year total on our cars. (Funny story, I got the 1999 Subaru serviced last year and the guy wanted to know if the odometer was for real or if I’d had the instrument cluster replaced.) But that’s it. Can’t do much else.

    (*) with or without gangs of nomads wearing feathers and ass-less chaps.

  24. Paul Gilding says:

    Joe, as we discussed this morning, being prepared for the worst is really about doing the sensible things. So having less debt going into challenging times, have a highly efficient house and transport when energy prices are likely to spike all these things are good. Likewise growing more of your own food, getting it locally etc are all lifestyle enhancing choices, not sacrifices. I, like you, believe it will get ugly globally, but if we get to the point of needing to barricade ourselves in our houses etc, then, well lets just say there’s little benefit in getting ready for that.

    Having said that, I completely understand where Tidwell is coming from. The forecasts are scary and we are now going to face food shortages and serious political and economic crises globally. My mind too has gone where Tidwell’s’ did, wondering what it means for my family and our personal safety. But then you come back from there and as well thinking it won’t actually be like that, I realise that living in that mental space is just no fun. Live life in love not fear and all that. So its both logical and it feels better!

    Now back to work stopping it getting any worse than it has to!

  25. risa bear says:

    That’s so true about the healthcare. Mr. Orlov has pointed out that a dieoff is generally not dramatic — some people just aren’t around any more, and you adjust your mental picture of the neighborhood. I have recurring attacks of a powerful strain of drug-adapted strep — the first one that happens when I no longer have access to IVs laced with newish antibiotics will be the last. But that’s okay — it’s been a good life.

    “But the kids, Marty — ya gotta do something about th’ KIDS.” –Back to the Future

  26. Colorado Bob says:

    GFW –

    Welcome to ” Barter Town “.

  27. Colorado Bob says:

    Rare, Unique Seeds Arrive at Svalbard Vault, as Crises Threaten World Crop Collections

    A vivid example of some of the threats facing genebanks is when unrest in Egypt led to the looting of the Egyptian Desert Gene Bank in North Sinai. At the Desert Gene Bank, home to a prized collection of fruit and medicinal plants, looters stole equipment, destroyed the facility’s cooling system, and ruined data that represented more than a decade worth of research. Meanwhile, the Global Crop Diversity Trust continues to fight plans to bulldoze the field collections at Russia’s Pavlovsk Experimental Station, Europe’s most important collection of fruits and berries, to make way for a housing development.

  28. Ted Gleichman says:

    I’m focused on community organizing (as my handful of prior comments on CP always reflect). Of course, we’re also working on reducing our footprint, improving our sustainability, etc., but every single reader of CP could go personally to zero carbon and have absolutely no impact on SLR. The challenge is community change and social action, short-term and long-term.

    Long-term (post-2030 or 2040), the key fallacy to individual and small-group survivalism is that when social breakdown occurs, desperate people coming out of the cities with weapons will easily overwhelm the best-prepared self-centered refuge. Preventing social breakdown during times of mass death (globally or locally) requires functioning police and military power, ideally under civilian control.

    Therefore, short-term, the high-functionality opportunity is to mobilize, motivate, and organize locally, for two core reasons:

    1) I think the US will show minimal leadership nationally and internationally for at least the next several years. Nonetheless, practical and mediagenic local community action can do three things:
    — it can bring the climate base together into community organizations;
    — it can educate climate independents (those capable of listening to new facts and changing their minds); and
    — it can set models, pilot projects, and demonstration projects locally that can be emulated nationally when the desperation-borne will to act comes to pass.

    2) Local action can help to protect constitutional democracy. As the crises mount, the risk of demagoguery and domestic fascism will rise dramatically. Clearly, that would not be objectionable to the Kochheads (my suggested term for the intentional deceivers.) But local community organizing allows people to work together, and that self-evident lesson has deep political and psychological implications for self-preservation.

    None of my comments are intended to denigrate individual action; on the contrary, it’s vital. But it’s not enough, as many have noted.

    I really appreciate the crowd here; I always learn a tremendous amount from all us Rommulans (we’re the opposites of the Kochheads: we’re intentional truth-tellers). Please keep up the good work — working together!

  29. Scrooge says:

    It is not easy to prepare individually for a gradual change. Depending upon your income it can mean tough choices. Kinda like buying a computer years ago when they were outdated in a month. Even though the govt has just taken baby steps to correct anything that will happen in the future, there are some things that we may eventually call a silver lining. We have built a wall along our southern border, and have de humanized our neighbors which will give us justification to not allow climate refugees. We sure can’t forget about the right to carry laws. There is possibility carrying arms will be commonplace.

  30. Villabolo says:

    Mike Tidwell:

    Today, underneath the solar panels, there’s a new set of deadbolt locks on all my doors. There’s a new Honda GX390 portable power generator in my garage, ready to provide backup electricity. And last week I bought a starter kit to raise tomatoes and lettuce behind barred basement windows.

    I’m not a survivalist or an “end times” enthusiast. When it comes to climate change, I’m just a realist.

    Yes he is a survivalist. Bruce Clayton, a survivalist expert and author of the classic Life After Doomsday defines a “survivalist” as anyone who prepares for disasters of any sort, with a minimum of a 6 month supply of food. Ownership of firearms is not a criteria of his (though he recommends them).

    It appears that Mike’s garden, while not quite qualifying him for the title, is a step in that direction.

  31. Joan Savage says:

    Being on on good terms with my family, neighbors and community makes me feel more secure than any thingy-do. We have been through the March 1993 super snowstorm and a 1999 windstorm, and like veterans, it’s a bond.

    Neither events led to the kind of looting and scavenging that was seen on news about Hurricane Katrina, such that Mr. Tidwell might fear enough to put bars on his basement windows.

    I am more inclined to just share what I have. There’s an indigenous saying that the safest place to put surplus food is in your neighbor’s belly.

    I own two snow shovels, in case one breaks. Two neighbors own gas-operated snow blowers, and are generous with using them if the rest of us get behind on the plow-throw that blocks the driveways sometimes. (We have had about 4 meters cumulative snowfall this winter, and it’s not over.)

    Given the opportunity, it would be neat to move into one of those super-insulated dwellings that requires only a little fuel to operate a fan, and none to heat or cool.

    I’d love to be more of a venture capitalist, as moving whole communities to highly-insulated dwellings, with walkable services and public transit, would remove so many of the wrongs in which we seem to be entangled.

  32. Barry says:

    Beam me up Scotty (#15): Avocados are day-length sensitive. They aren’t moving north regardless of temps.

    This illustrates a classic misunderstanding of many people. Just because a climate zone moves northwards (as they are rapidly around the world) doesn’t mean the plants and animals living there will move as well.

    An healthy ecosystem require a combination of soil types, altitude, day-lengths, precipitation timing and amounts, frost timings, temp ranges and timings…and so on. Climate change is scrambling all these in different ways for the same regions. Ecosystems do NOT move either gracefully or quickly.

  33. Barry says:

    Tomatoes and lettuce?

    This person has not tried to feed himself off his own land before.

    Subsistence farmers around the world prioritize animals first and foremost…followed by stables like grains, beans, potatoes. You must have a source of oil and fat. If not dairy of some kind then an oil crop with a way to extract the oil.

  34. Craig says:

    Barred windows and shotguns to protect basement tomato plants? That doesn’t exactly sound like a life worth living.

    Mass mobilization of our technical, political, and economic resources. That is the only option I want to contemplate.

  35. Barry says:

    Joe has pointed out one of the under-examined game changers in my mind: using electric car batteries as a mobile power source.

    I have lived through many days in a row of power outage several times a year for over a decade now. That is life in rural areas with high storm winds. And more people are going to have that experience as storms get worse and we can’t keep up with expensive infrastructure repairs on instant emergency basis.

    But if people have electric cars that can be a portable generator they can run the basics of their homes for days without needing to burn fossil.

    We, like Joe, have solar grid-tie without the batteries. Too much toxics and resources and embodied carbon for a few days of power outage. And our utility doesn’t pay that much for the kWh we give them. But an electric car could take our extra solar and give it back too.

    Finally, electric cars that can power external things can remove all kinds of fossil generator uses today. Plus level the grid.

    Did I mention how clean our city air will become. Lichen will start growing on buildings again. The air won’t turn you’re lungs black as you walk down the road. Everything will be cleaner including snow falls. Breathing diseases will drop off. Ozone will be cut way back.

    We will look back on the fossil burning transport of today as the toxic dark ages and shake our heads wondering how we ever put up with it. If we manage to get away from it in time.

  36. Barry says:

    Craig #35 is right. Nobody is going to be able to hole up in their home if a desperate community wants your stuff. Doesn’t matter how many guns you have. To feed yourself you need 5 acres worked daily. That’s a lot of exposure.

    The only solution in the past for humans has been to create strong, integrated, resilient communities where everyone has a stake and role in making it function and so looking out for each other.

    Hope lies in creating sustainable communities and stopping fossil fuel burning everywhere you can as fast as you can.

  37. Jakob Wranne says:

    There are two paths:

    • We DO succeed in curbing CO₂. We’ll have some wars. A lot of people will die in conflicts. A billion or so will be forced to migrate. Though times.

    • We do NOT succeed in curbing CO₂. Man will go extinct. With the words of the WHO general secretary: “man will be an endangered species at the end of the century. We will be living on the shores of the arctic sea. We will face extinction within 200 years. Probably sooner. We will have to soothen the massive pain and massive anguish. The choice of how, which way, to end ones own life, will be real. I fear that the glue of society will fade. We will enter the Venus syndrome. I fear it is possible it will happen very fast, very fast.

    • I wish this was more cheerful and light. But I cannot see that. My favorite subjects have always been physics, society, politics and sociology. Adding up those knowledges in this CO₂-context makes me feel very sad.

  38. Raul M. says:

    Kudos to those who try to forstall the
    real revelations events rather than
    Just the talk of revelations.

  39. Sou says:

    I’ll also predict that laws permitting euthanasia will become commonplace in about two decades. The world will have to choose between keeping the old and ill fed and alive, and keeping the young and fit fed and alive. (Hopefully I’m exaggerating slightly in the second sentence, but maybe not.)

  40. Mickey says:

    I am more doing my share to limit the impacts globally. Otherwise I don’t drive that often and likewise I don’t crank the heat up too much in the winter, Instead while sleeping I put on an extra blanket. I also drive instead of fly to places within 500 miles which I believe emits less. As for preparing, I don’t think it will be too difficult to adjust for myself where I live. It will mean winters will be less servere but still below freezing often and in some cases heavier snowfall although it will come later in the season and melt earlier. Likewise I actually like hot summers myself and I think the worse case scenario says our summers would be like Kentucky or Washington DC which I can handle. I do however realize some of the elderly may find extreme heat problematic. Unlike Western Europe or the Pacific Northwest, most people have air conditioning thus why heat waves aren’t as deadly as they are in those locations where many don’t have air conditioning. In fact some people may benefit as we have a large homeless community and it is usually the extreme cold that kills them rather than heat. Likewise many activities such as outdoor patios as bars, restaurants along the lakeshore, golf courses etc. rely on warm weather and will probably be open longer than they are now. It will hurt the ski, snowmobile, and outdoor ice rinks as they won’t be able to be as open as long and possible mid-winter closures due to mild weather will become more common. If anything, I think it will be more floods, droughts, hurricanes, rising sea level they will negatively impact people as opposed to extreme heat as humans are quite adaptive to temperature variance, but less so to weather extremes.

  41. joyce says:

    I made a resolution yesterday that I would stop reading climate blogs for several months–just to clear my head and focus on local issues, and I’ve already broken it! Just by habit, I clicked on CP after firing up the computer and gosh, just had to read all the great conversation that such a question brings.

    I should write a disclaimer, though. Several years ago I was called out IN PERSON by Glen Beck on his program because my name was in the NYT in an article about these issues. He was ridiculing the “edible garden” that my yard was becoming. Found it quite amusing when a year later he was selling “survival seed packets.” ha

    I’m doing many of the things people have already listed–for various reasons.
    -2 large food grade cisterns w/approx. 800 gal. water
    -First Need water filter (daughter has it now in a Peace Corps response job)
    -built small duck pond & raised 6 ducks (only egg eating so far, they have names)
    -multiple fruit/nut/berries & kitchen gardens based loosely on permaculture principles
    -of course, composting/recycling/reusing is a given
    -solar PV 2.5 W–tied into the electric company, no batteries (it gives me more feeling of “community”)
    -Solar hot water
    -good gas mileage cars, considering an electric bike (big hills here, I’m old)
    -given neighborhood “parties” around sustainble themes. Great for building community as well as sharing ideas
    -giving “train travel vacation” a try next month
    -buying much less, in bulk and combine all such trips
    -got energy strips for all our vampire electrical items
    -superinsullated our attic
    -have buckets in all the showers to catch water that is wasted when waiting for hot water & use for flushing toilets or watering plants
    -have decided to try to get funding to continue a sucessful climate change volunteer program I’ve been running for the past several years
    -stop reading climate science new data as it gets me into a funk and makes the other things I’m trying less fun and feel pointless……

    The one thing I haven’t done that I’ve been planning to for years, is join our alternative currency community–a “time bank” system here.

    I have no illusion that I can ever be self sustainable, but do think it’s a fun challenge to see how much I can reduce my ecological footprint.

    Loved reading all the marvelous things folks are doing!

  42. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    My only concern is that my grandchildren won’t think bad of me. I am 73 now but don’t expect to live more than about 15 years. Probably less since I have had cancer once. Few go till 90. I gave a course twice about global warming and remedies with over 900 power point slides. My grand kids will have those to remember I tried. I am sorry to say GW is a lost cause. I salute you all who keep trying.

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    We have no hope other than to get together and collaborate. The idea that capitalism, which caused this disaster, in any form, can save us, is pernicious bunk. As to food security in the USA, I wouldn’t be so sanguine. The USA is ground zero for the GE/RoundupReady catastrophe, which reached a new and truly sinister level with the recent discovery of a novel ‘agent’ not seen before, apparently something like a microfungus crossed with a virus, associated with crop failures in soy and corn, and sterility and late abortion in animals. That it has occurred in areas saturated with Roundup, courtesy of Monsatan, whose latest abomination, RoundupReady alfalfa was pushed through by the Obama regime just days ago, just shows what perverted science in the service of capitalist greed can cause. And don’t forget the bees. The horrific truth is that anthropogenic climate disruption is but one of the disasters that the cult of greed and human hubris has wrought. Until a couple of years ago I was an optimist and was looking forward to doing my bit to transform our existence, but now I realise that I actually underestimated the sheer viciousness of the forces of evil, and am become bitterly pessimistic.

  44. Sue in NH says:

    We put PV panels on the roof and a solar hot water system on the side of the house. Gardening and learning to raise food has become a hobby, and a small flock of laying hens reside in their “poultry palace” near the house. When my 10 year old Honda CRV finally rusts out from under me, the next car will be a plug in electric. We buried a 1,000 gallon propane tank and with reduced energy use, that lasts us a year. Wood stove, back up generator, remotish location, good neighbors and agun safe round out the current preparations for what ever is on its way. Numerous examples seem to keep illustrating how civilization is a thin and fragile veneer overlaying the natural inclinations of humans when times get tough. The only thing worse than a situation where you have to defend yourself, is not having anything to do it with.

    Three years ago I started a course at my high school on Climate Science. I figured as a science teacher, the best thing I can contribute is to help to educate the next generation. Three years ago, I was telling my students “well, we don’t know when these things are going to become noticeable… etc.” This year’s news has been stunning, and terrifying. Most of my students “get it.” They are baffled as to why no one is doing anything about it. It’s easier to teach them about Climate Science than to help them understand the nature of human denial, willful ignorance, short sightedness and greed. Not sure I understand all that myself anyway.

  45. Villabolo says:

    @42 Joyce:

    Joyce, before making a choice about an electric bike, give careful consideration to a recumbent 3 wheel bicycle.

    Recumbents are much, much more confortable than conventional bicycles whether 2 or 3 wheel. They have actual seats not saddles where you can lay back comfortably and peddle with your feet in front of you. They are also much more stable, in 3 wheel version than conventional 3 wheelers, and they handle like an automobile.

    They can be modified with electric motors.

    You may, with a 3 wheel recumbent, be able to go up hills in proper gear, due to its enhanced efficiency and comfort without the need for electric assist.

    I recommend the Meteor by Trailmate:


  46. Merrelyn Emery says:

    As one of the canaries in the climate coal mine, I have seen many previously successful home gardeners just about give up. After years of drought with horrific water restrictions, this year the vegies suffered from almost constant rain, tropical deluges and high humidity. Its not just the weather that gets you. Its also the weather-related such as new pests, weeds, mould and fungi. Its back to buying highly priced, poor quality tomatoes.

    Even my poor old dog is suffering from climate change. She has contracted a tropical fungus the vet said he had never seen south of Sydney before. ME

  47. pete best says:

    Re #44 – What can denaial do about it? Dont vote republian but what will it matter, it half and half in the USA regardless.

  48. anders says:

    1. No children of my own, no pets
    2. Has bought into an wind cooperative for my electricity
    3. Do not throw away food, eat little meat
    4. No car, bike for short trips, train or bus for longer trips, if I need a car I borrow or rent it
    5. Has not flown on airplane often but if I do I support planting trees in africa for a sum equaling 1 euro per 10 kg co2 emitted. Estimated on the petrol tax in europe, in that case I pay the government to clean up my pollution but that is not the case for air fuel so my responsibility to clean up after me remains.
    6. Energy saving appliances/lighting, district heating, insulation are things we have installed in our co-op apartment house, ongoing process
    7. Moral, ethics and a relatively clean conscience is important to me

  49. David B. Benson says:

    I was going to write something about how staying out of just the 100 year floodplain isn’t enough, but realized that the major item lacking in Joe’s commentary and all the comments is

    become politically active.

    Don’t try to do it yourself; involve everybody. For those younger than I consider running for office, any office local or otherwise. For those with some expertise of some sort to offer, volunteer for various boards or councils.

  50. Wit's End says:

    meh, I was once a successful home gardener who has given up, and it’s not from climate change, it’s because the yield and quality of produce is severely damaged from ozone. Vegetables grown in ambient air, in conditions with controlled watering, are just as damaged as those in the ground with too much or not enough water. It’s the composition of the atmosphere.

    The pests, disease and fungus are all exacerbated when vegetation is compromised by exposure to toxic greenhouse gases and I don’t mean CO2, I mean volatile organic compounds that we are emitting in abundance.

    Today I learned that nitrogen is pouring into waterways, leading to overfertilization and algae blooms which then decay and absorb all the oxygen. No wonder fish all over the world are gasping and throwing themselves out of the water. Or haven’t you heard?

    Even in the best of times it was never easy to grow food. Now the abundance we evolved in has been eradicated, and the air, soil, and water are poisoned.

    Canaries indeed.

  51. K. Nockels says:

    If you love the soil and treat it right it will produce more than you need. We have a community where we are not all growing the same things.
    With a medium garden which any yard can grow once you revive your soil (lots of how to on line) Like we have the lettuce lady she grows 12 types of leafies that make great salads, another person does peppers and tomatos, another potatos 3 kinds, everyone has at least 1 fruit tree so all together there are something like 50 in our share area. Another person has small plot wheat and barley together its more than enough and feeds all of us and we give whats left which is quit a bit to the food banks in our town. Most of us have chickens,ducks,goats but in small numbers they become big numbers when added together and make less work for us all. We have made up the “How much you need to can,dry,frezze for the number of people in your family List” The supplies have to last until harvest the next year and what can’t be put up is savored all the more at harvest because you have to wait for it. There is always some to share and we do, but to take from any one person wounldn’t gain you enough so why bother. The barter system is alive and well and for a little extra effort all are free to join. This is the way we are going to have to live in the future if we want to leave a place for future’s children to thrive.

  52. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Hi Wit’s End, yes I have heard about the fish and the algal blooms. Excess nitrogen also threatens the Great Barrier Reef.

    I am working on some new recipes for jelly fish and salt bush, ME

  53. Wit's End says:

    ME, please pass them on. Also any stewed bark beetles, grilled spruce worms, sauteed kudzu… and ragu of lichen.

  54. Merrelyn Emery says:

    K #52, definitely the way to go. Community gardens on public land are springing up as well. I just sincerely hope you don’t have all your efforts wiped out by some of the extremes we have seen recently, ME

  55. Villabolo says:

    @35 Craig says:

    “Barred windows and shotguns to protect basement tomato plants? That doesn’t exactly sound like a life worth living.

    Mass mobilization of our technical, political, and economic resources. That is the only option I want to contemplate.”

    Craig, the way things are looking, we’ll need both.

  56. Sasparilla says:

    Wow, what great comments and a great article, thanks for putting this up Joe – awesome.

    I live in a place where we get virtually all our electricity from a Nuclear plant, as such we have a reservation on a Leaf to replace the Prius and plan on replacing the slightly larger Mazda 5 with a Ford C-Max Energi (plug-in hybrid) when those come out. These actions are attacking CO2 and oil issues.

    Looking forward to doing a light or white roof when the time comes (5 years? I can’t wait to see the reaction in the neighborhood for that…SUV’s dominate in our location and not small SUV’s – we had the only hybrid for blocks around till last year when 1 other was bought by a neighbor).

    Starting to wonder about the driveway since that will need action first – go for cement and its much lighter color that lasts for a long time or that black hydrocarbon based yucky asphalt that has to get reswabbed with black goo every couple of years? Leaning towards the cement (probably 2-3 years down the road) and investigating that less CO2 intensive variant. Wondering if they can make cement

    It would be interesting to see a study for CO2 emissions of an asphalt driveway and a cement driveway over 20 years (since the cement, if done properly, lasts much much longer) as well as the heat emissions/reflectivity component.

    Its great to see what everyone is doing. Lots of leading by example in this blogosphere, my hats off to everyone and great to get ideas learn and lead with from here.

  57. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    Sold my house and just about everything I own. Spend over half the year camping out, very very low footprint plus I get to be in nature. About all I own now are my cameras and vehicle and camping gear. And…my time is my own. I rent cheap places through the winter, then hit the road, but I can spend months in just one landscape, so I don’t even need or use a lot of gas. And I’m making friends with the ravens and other wildlife. They have a lot to show me. It breaks my heart to see how we’re degrading their world.

  58. dp says:

    the city where i live is muchly ok without heating or cooling. elsewhere in the metro area buildings need cooling.

    it’s too dense here to have individual gardens, but food could be produced locally on reclaimed land, to supplement electrified transport of regional produce.

    generally of course we eat too much, too high on the food chain, and we’re ‘the children of the corn.’ these vulnerabilities need a long-term public health campaign and a non-autopilot ag policy. also, isn’t it sad about the fish.

    next! for all the real good they’ve done i don’t think much of california’s defossilization plans. there’s huge holes in them under the headings ‘hydro’ and ‘cars.’ one overestimates water supply, the other, household credit.

    i don’t really care about airplanes. intercity travel can be jury-rigged. modern buses are very efficient and can be built quickly. tourism was always an iffy anchor for economic plans.…

    for appliances and other equipment, other countries have very high efficiency standards. the faster we can catch up to them the better.

    that goes for buildings & factories, too. we really need to inventory our building stock to figure out which are worth retrofitting, by both structure & location. young people are severely unemployed; energy audits would be good census-like temporary work for them.

    similar inventory needed for local services.

    i see with some amusement people imagine our healthcare will collapse. it’s amazing that people think services & drugs available in poor-world clinics won’t be possible in a cost-constrained america. i don’t know what it is about us that makes us so susceptible to extortion, but it’s not funny anymore. like carbon & trash prices, our medical system is an extreme market failure, not a reflection of real costs.

    i guess that’s it. as for what i’ve done personally, i’m living pretty modestly, but not zero footprint; my city’s aiming for zero-waste and carbon neutrality; and i’m outside my neighborhood’s strong ethnic community bonds, i definitely need to move.

    i think homesteading that doesn’t lead to much higher public standards is counterproductive.

  59. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I was joking about the jelly fish because I don’t like the texture much. You can get it at a couple of my local Viet restaurants. We used to chew salt bush when we were kids. Grasshoppers and wichety grubs are OK. They are indigenous food. I’m sure you can do something with your excess ‘pests’, ME

  60. joyce says:

    #57 Sasparilla
    Re: driveway
    Opt for some sort of permeable pavement. They’re beautiful, and reduce your ecological footprint. Water can penitrate and refill aquifers–and at least not run off in stormdrains where it carries toxins & pollutes among other things.

    The pavement can serve as a filter. You can even find some designs that allow you to grow very low growing grass or plants in between blocks.

    It beats either cement or asphalt hands down.

    #52 K. Knockels
    Right on, soils rock! So many people underestimate the importance of soils to protect our ecosystems in so many ways. They filter, remediate areas even sequester carbon if cared for. Studying soil/compost brings a lot of satisfaction, once you’re tuned into amazing life there.

  61. Ron Broberg says:

    Mass mobilization of our technical, political, and economic resources.

    Interesting word – ‘mobilization.’ Has a military feel to it. A time of desperate men and desperate measures. The draft. Do or die. Committing all your resources towards one end. Closely related to ‘militarization,’ and ‘command economy.’

  62. dp says:

    @ron broberg:

    “Interesting word – ‘mobilization.’ … Closely related to ‘militarization,’ and ‘command economy.’”

    also closely related to voting, disaster aid, charity work. good things, unless done by enemies, eh?

  63. adelady says:

    I don’t know why people seem to think we need acreage to feed ourselves. That is only for those who try to contine eating a lot, a lot, of grains and red meat from large animals.

    Most subsistence farms in developing countries are much the same size as a fairly ordinary (older) suburban yard. Even on smaller blocks, growing vines, espaliered trees and climbing peas and beans on fences allows a lot of useful food to be harvested. I think that more people are going to move to growing a lot of nuts in such yards to have at least some storable, high nutrient food from their own property.

    Funnily enough a lawn can be useful in such gardens. Mowing can take up nutrients from deep beneath the soil of a properly managed area of grasses and be added to compost to mulch soil and enhance growth of more directly productive plants.

    You can’t really grow greedy, competitive plants like potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants within the same narrow beds you might use for trees and vines. But there’s nothing to stop edgings of carrots and other root veges as well as large patches and clumps of spring onions, (do you guys call them shallots?) parsley, spinach or silver beet and perennial greens.

    And water? I once heard a radio gardening advisor say that the very best place to store water for your garden was … in the soil. This of course is applicable to the arid Mediterranean climate of Adelaide, but it’s also applicable in many other places. I think one of the big new moves in retrofitting homes and suburbs will be in permeable paving.

    And the idea of combining solar PV with an electric car as a back-up source as well as transport will be very appealing to a lot of people. When power prices keep increasing, many people will have a long, hard look at the interest or other return they’re getting on invested money (not saved or set aside for particular purposes). If the returns are less than the amount you would save on power and fuel then people will spend it. Especially since it will increase the value of the house on resale much more than spending the same on a kitchen or bathroom which will be ‘dated’ by the time the house is sold.

  64. Sou says:

    Re the concrete driveway – I have one which was there when I bought the house. We added an extra car space using large pebbles over 10-12cm roadbase.

    The pebbles are much cooler even on the hottest day (tested with bare feet in full sun when shaded air temp was 46 degrees celsius or 115F); the roadbase keeps the pebbles intact (our neighbours park their large SUV there regularly with no shifting or other ill effect); the water drains through the pebbles much better than the concrete driveway, and filters through under the adjacent garden beds.

    In heavy downpours, water gushes down the concrete driveway into the roadside gutter and backs up, flooding the driveway. That doesn’t happen on the permeable car space.

    The only downside is keeping weeds out – but the roots are shallow so it’s pretty easy to do with a rake and pulling the occasional weed every now and again.

  65. Preparing for Climate Change

    Well, since you ask……..

    About 15 years ago we started an Intentional Community near Australia’s most easterly point – Byron Bay, on 113 acres of ex-dairy farm see: Rainfall is currently 1.8m p.a., climate sub-tropical.

    We’re about 140m above sea level in the hinterland. 12 families and their children share this farm. Most are now living here and the others are at different stages of building their passsive solar designed homes.

    Everyone uses tanked rain water, has individual waste water systems and solar hot water. There are over 120 solar panels on existing roofs and more to come.

    Eventually we will add battery backup systems as this technology improves and becomes less expensive. At that point we will only be dependent on the grid in the case of our own solar system failure.

    We personally drive a Prius, which we will convert (hopefully this year, $’s permitting) to PHEV using a kit from Ewart Engineering in CA. This will give us 64Km (40 miles) of EV only mode and 40Km/ltr (100MPG).

    Orchards are happening for semi-tropical fruit and nut trees, and we have veggie gardens and chickens. We’re progressively planting 10,000 native rainforest trees.

    And we are working at the social level (‘Living Together’ workshops), so hopefully by the time the sh*t hits the proverbial, we will have been through the transition phase and learnt how to work together harmoniously to become a self sufficient as possible for energy, water and food.

    We also run a co-operative mini ISP for ourselves and our neighbours to provide wireless internet services, including VOIP. Aside from keeping costs down, this also helps extend our connection and trust with our neighbours, which is always critical in times of trouble.

  66. Jeffrey Davis says:

    I go to my bedroom and whimper.

  67. William P says:

    A lot of thought provoking ideas above. People talk of growing their own food. But if temperatures won’t sustain industrial agriculture, why would they support personal food plots? Plots at higher elevations might be one possible answer.

    This statement is telling: “By the 2030s, though, all bets are off.” The “planning” discussed above is mainly personal, as the title of the section suggests. It is also short range.

    But what is needed is a national plan. 2030 is less than 20 years away. Not nearly the horizon of planning and thinking we need.

    Driving gas conserving cars is very far from the scale of thinking and planning needed.

    People worry about chaos and aggression of those without enough food. Yes indeed! Recall the aggression and near chaos in the 70’s when gasoline was short. Think what would happen with disappearing food supplies.

    We need Big Picture, long range thinking. For example, James Hansen has written in “Storms of my Grandchildren” that unrestrained CO2 emissions will not be survivable.

    The great environmental UK scientist James Lovelock says unmitigated emissions may be survivable in polar regions, however 6 billion humans are likely to perish.

    Who is most likely right? Let’s answer that question first. Then maybe a plan can take shape.

  68. David B. Benson says:

    Sou @63 — COnsider drilling holes in the concrete.

  69. scaz says:

    I’m growing fruit trees and veggies, trying to enjoy life, and possibly joining the military. I think oil depletion and climate change is going to make things really hot around the world – militarily. I’m confident the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is going to cook up this decade though and geoengineering will need to be employed.

  70. malcreado says:

    Moving to Libya to get used to street fighting in HOT place.

  71. K. Nockels says:

    Last year I did an Anistasz waffel patch, it’s a waffle pattern in the soil, one plant per square, this is a really good way to apply only the amount of water nessary, it makes it easy to tell. It is more labor intensive but gives you a really good idea about how little water you can use to grow food. Beans of all kinds are easy to grow and you just germinate next years crop from beans saved from last year. They do well even in high temps and are high in protein. You haven’t tasted any so good as ones picked, dryed and cooked from your own back yard. We grow cucmbers around the base of our red maple tree they climb right up and hang like long apples the tree provides shade so the vine doesn’t dry out. We shade the raspberry, with the grape and the grape with the blackberry it works great as they are harvested at diffrent times. A lot of space is not needed as long as you are not growing feed for more than a few animals, if you have the space they can forage for most of their food well into early winter. The best way to come out ahead in these changing climate times is to always plant some that do well in wetter conditions and some that do well in dry, that way some will always survive to feed you. There will always be hard times as there always is in farming/gardening but if you find the natural planets and animals your garden needs to deal with pests (lots of Good books) and remember that the soil is a living thing and treat it with respect it will do its best for you, with a little hard work of course.

  72. Wonhyo says:

    JR says food insecurity in the U.S. is unlikely until the 2030s and gives excellent, rational reasoning to back up that guesstimate. There are two problems. First, most recognized commentators on climate change tend to underestimate the immediacy and urgency of climate change and its effects. While JR tends to be slightly more realistic than most, I would still apply my factor of two adjustment to his prediction: If he’s predicting continued food security for the next 20 years (until 2030s), then it’s likely to last only for the next 10 years (2020s).

    Secondly, JRs prediction will likely hold only if society responds rationally to the realization and acknowledgement of climate change. The earlier society as a whole realizes and acknowledges the inevitable changes, the more rational the response is likely to be. Unfortunately, most of society is in utter denial. Even among those who realize climate change is occurring, few truly acknowledge how bad it will be and how soon the effects will occur. When the true and total impacts of climate change really do dawn on everybody, there will be a segment of society that reacts in the most panicked and fearful manner. This demographic happens to be the demographic that is in greatest denial right now. Furthermore, this demographic tends to overlap with gun rights advocates who collect guns and stock up on ammo for “when the sh** hits the fan”, or “when the zombies attack”. Their reaction is unlikely to be rational. Their reaction will probably negate any attempts at a rational response by the rest of society.

    An additional point: climate change effects are unlikely to develop gradually, indefinitely. In the initial stages of reduced food production, those who go hungry will be those in the least privileged social status, and this group will grow gradually. We’re probably already at the beginning of that stage. However, there will likely come a point when remaining viable food production collapses, both because of nonlinear climate change progression, and nonlinear social response.

    Tidwell’s response is really only a partial solution. A gasoline powered electricity generator will only be as useful as long as gasoline is available. Raising tomatoes (or any other home grown food) will only work as long as the climate provides growable conditions. Humans can artificially provide growing conditions only for so long (until fuel supplies run out or electricity stops working). Furthermore, assuming Tidwell does manage to sustain himself through climate change, there will be hoards of hungry people wanting a share of his sustainment. He’ll have to be prepared to either share (and quickly run out), or defend his stockpiles. Keep in mind that the demographic that most denied climate change is also the most heavily armed, so Tidwell will be busy not only growing his tomatoes, but defending them as well.

    The bottom line is, there’s only so much one can do to “prepare” for climate change. Any attempt at “adapting” to climate change for the long-term will be difficult because climate changes will be extreme and difficult to predict (to a useful degree of accuracy). Stockpiling supplies will only provide a finite period of sustainment.

    For these reasons, it is important that we do the best we can to slow the progression of climate change, by reducing (and eliminating) GHG emissions, by stopping the destruction of forests, and by any other means that prolongs the viability of our natural resources. Beyond that, the most practical thing to do may be to enjoy what remains of our previously stable and moderate climate.

    One more thing we can do is the expand and strengthen our social safety nets so that those who haven’t (yet) been impacted by climate change can provide refuge for those who have. Unfortunately, this is the very antithesis of the kind of society that part of our population is actively trying to create. If we can’t even agree on universal health care in the (relative) absence of climate impacts, good luck trying to create a universal climate change refuge. I still hope that religious organizations (with national and global connections) will step up to this task.

  73. Merrelyn Emery says:

    William #68. I totally agree about the need for long term planning but one problem is that we have lost the ability to conceptualize the future for more than about 5-10 years out. We could do it in the 1970s when the planning time frames for the method we use for long term strategic planning, Search Conferences, were usually about 30 years. They have been coming down gradually since then.

    If you ask people to do that today (30 years) as we tried a couple of times in 2009-2010, we got mainly sci fi and lots of jokes.

    To check whether this was a more general problem, we did a survey to find out (amongst oher things) what people meant by “the far distant future”. It turned out that on average this meant during the lives of their children.

    It is however, possible to get around this. Now, we have to do it in 2 steps, firstly ask them to project out for 10 years and when they have got their head around that, ask them to then take it out another 10 years. The scenarios are better quality than before but still not wonderful.

    Still, given the speed at which things are happening, even some planning for 10 years out would be useful, ME

  74. Ed Hummel says:

    A few people have mentioned not having children and I’m surprised that more haven’t added that as an important factor in preparing for the future. My wife and I took Paul Erlich seriously back in 1968 when he came out with The Population Bomb. His timing was a bit off due to unforseen technological happenings in agriculture, but his words still ring true today and even more so since the population has doubled in 40 years. With all the confluence of unfolding events that to us became obvious in the late 60s and early 70s, it seemed downright selfish to have children and subject them to a life that we could see unraveling even back then.

    So, following in the footsteps of Helen and Scott Nearing, we acquired our 60 acres in central Maine with our savings, built our passive solar house using theirs and other techniques for do-it-yourselfers using local stone and lumber, learned to do with a minimum of electricity which all came from photovoltaics (added to over the years as we could afford them), developed large gardens to grow most of our vegetables (we’re vegetarians), use a composting toilet and recycle the waste along with other composte in the gardens, do all our chores using hand tools, including cutting the 2 cords of wood we use each year for our cooking and back up heating, and never borrow money while doing without until we can afford it. We have never had vehicles that get less than 35 mpg, and hardly drive those while walking and bicylcing as much as possible (we actually learned something in 1973!). We have never had much money since leaving the Massachusetts rat race in 1982, and only have worked local part time jobs for earning the little cash that we do need. We have never been in debt, and have always had a savings account to fall back on by only spending money when absolutely necessary. We’ve both in our mid 60s now and don’t plan on changing our lifestyle. We are both active in a local Transition Town movement which we helped start and which has a goal of making the local region more self-sufficient (the way it used to be a hundred years ago!). I also use my background in meteorology to try and educate any that will listen about what’s coming in the next few decades, but I’m not holding my breath on how much good I’m doing in this reddest region of Maine.

    I hate to admit that, like Mulga #44, I started out with a lot of optimism 40 years ago but have since struggled to not let my pessimism get the better of me. As has been mentioned by others, climate change is a multiplier of nastiness that will just make all the other bad things worse before finally taking over towards the end of the century if our species coninues to let things get out of hand by not taking the necessary steps in a lot of different areas as soon as possible, and that includes getting rid of unregulated, free market capitalism as the driving force behind our global “civilization”. It’s ironic that coming events will lead to the death of most forms of capitalism anyway as martial law and a command economy based on triage of the survivors of the catastophes becomes the norm at some point. Too bad we couldn’t get rid of it beforehand the way supposedly rational creatures would most likely do. It’s really hard to not be pessimistic.

  75. Leland Palmer says:

    I’m not doing anything, really. We’re retrofitting the house a little, to try to lower energy use. I have plans for solar space heating, and if the price of solar cells falls, we’ll probably put those in, too. I’ve thought of getting broken cells and soldering them together, and assembling low cost panels that way, but so far have not done so.

    It’s hard to prepare, when you don’t know how bad it will get, and how soon. We could move to Alaska, then lose cabin to permafrost melt and firestorms.

    I think about going to New Zealand sometimes, to be ready to jump off to Antarctica if the methane hydrates destabilize, and things just go entirely to Hell. But, would they really want Americans down there, who caused the problem then refused to do anything about it?

    I suspect that our location in coastal northern California will be one of the places least threatened by climate change in the near term. The southward flowing California current will likely bring cold water down from the melting Arctic, as it did last summer, keeping us relatively cool until the ice is gone.

    We’re about 300 feet above sea level, so sea level rise is not likely to be a problem, in our lifetimes.

    We do have a couple of huge redwood trees that could potentially threaten the house. We don’t really have the money to take them out, and they appear to be in good shape. I just have to hope that if they fall in some future megastorm, they fall away from the house, instead of toward it.

    What I’m really trying to do is fight this problem with ideas, and invent us a way out of our terrible situation. If we could get BECCS going (BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage), we might not have to do anything else, for example.

  76. Robert In New Orleans says:

    I am expecting to move out of New Orleans within 5 to 10 years, sooner if I win the Powerball. The real question for me would be where to move to?

    My wife has relatives in Houston and where they live at is far enough
    above sea level that I won’t have to worry about property depreciation, sea level rise, subsidence and storm surge issues in my lifetime. But I hate Texas politics and the denialist Republicans that run the state. And I am not to thrilled by the Texas summer heat or the Houston sprawl either.

    I personally would like to move back west to a more mountainous area. I miss the mountains as I was born and raised in Salt Lake City. So why don’t I move back to Utah? Well since I am not a member of the dominate religious culture I do not want to go back to being a second class citizen again. I tell people Utah is sort of like Afghanistan, a beautiful high mountain desert land ruled by religious conservatives.

    I think a small city/large town some where in the Intermountain area would suffice for my needs.

    Decisions, decisions.

    PS Joe you need a blog post for your readers to suggest which apocalyptic movie they liked best and why did they like it.

  77. Mark S says:

    1. Volunteering for the Democratic party
    2. Eating less meat
    3. Getting rid of the low mileage vehicles (Going Volt!)
    4. Upgrading house with better insulation, more efficient appliances
    5. Slowly moving to LED lighting throughout the house
    6. Walking more to store
    7. Directing people to read Climate Progress to get the truth on climate change

    Doing as much as I can with the budget I have.

  78. Leif says:

    The reason that we tend to not mention not having children, IMO is that many have already had children or are beyond child rearing age. Ed, @ 75.

    Again I ask, what roll does the military play in the ensuing years?

    I have no lost love for the Military but have recently been advocating the “We All Win War” or WAWW. For starters we give the rich their tax break but with a string attached. They must invest an equal amount in the Green Awakening Economy to qualify. That money is not given to Congress or the President or Wall Street. It is given to a NEW Green Branch of the military with War Time Powers. Labor costs for mitigation become slashed because the largest Civil costs on a project is labor. Within the Military framework our labor costs would approach that of China. We get to train the youth in meaningful jobs, give them a grub stake, get them healthy, clean their system of street drugs, get the non-violent out of prisons, perhaps even a few of the violent ones. No Post Traumatic Syndrome for the retiring. (I have to assume that charged with doing good and saving the future of humanity will leave a good taste in their brains.) The Rich on the other hand will have TANGIBLE ASSETS at a Fraction of the cost of Corporate fingers in the pie. (The alternative is loosing it all in a dead world.) The Nation will not be adding as much to the deficit as we will be building renewable energy to start the healing process. In time and Gentle persuasion, (I hear that Water Boarding is cool) the rich will be able to be assimilated. We might even buy enough time to let them die Naturally! Forgot to mention. Denial or misleading unsubstantiated statements are now Treasonable offenses.

    The Military is charged with protecting the Nation from all threats both foreign and domestic. I would say that Climatic Disruption would qualify on both counts. The Military has a current budget of ~$650 billion. China is ~$85 Billion. I would think that a large segment of that $650 B could be reallocated. The military is the only current entity with power to control the capitalists and corporations. The military is the only entity with more fire power than the Tea Bag Faction.

    This action would surely rejuvenate Americas standing in the eyes of the world. Perhaps even to the point of making war obsolete.

    Survival is a human right!

  79. colinc says:

    Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow…, I think you know the rest.




    – KMFDM, Glory,

    I wonder why NO ONE is even mentioning the severe weather events, especially in the USA, that occurred last winter from the influence of an El Niño AND the very similar impacts this winter with a La Niña!

    In just the past 2 decades several million people in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have already been permanently displaced by SLR and other weather-pattern changes. Need I “remind” anyone that 2 of those countries also already possess nuclear weapons AND the delivery systems to annihilate all 3? Will China accept the climate refugees OR the radioactive fallout from the Ind-Pak “spat?” In turn, what might Russia and the USA do?

    “Climate feedbacks” are already in process and accelerating. The grounding-line of the WAIS has already retreated more than 16km and the sea-driven melt is accelerating… meaning the WAIS is destabilized NOW! “Nature” is NON-LINEAR. Human behavior is non-linear… with some exceptions. International tensions are NOT abating, quite the opposite.

    Do what you will if it makes you “feel” better, but you can rest assured the “outcome” will not be changed. Those who may still be alive 20 yrs from now will probably NOT be the “lucky” ones.

  80. Mike Roddy says:

    Alternative pavement has been around a while, and it can be made from local soil with a little water, compression, and lime. It’s lighter than concrete and especially asphalt, so is less of a sink.

    The problem has always been that cost is 50-100% higher. With a carbon tax, more fossil fuel price increases, and consumer acceptance this can become an accepted product. Concrete cells with drainage and grids are fine for driveways, but won’t take a beating on roads, where there is more at stake.

    More important for our carbon budget is stopping building houses from two by fours. Doing this would reduce our emissions more than requiring every new car in the US to be electric. You can look it up, but much of the data is hidden.

  81. Wonhyo says:

    Mark #79: “1. Volunteering for the Democratic Party”

    I have seriously mixed feelings about this one. Yes, the Democratic Party is not as bad as the Republican Party on climate (and many other) issues, but that’s a very weak standard. The Democratic Party has consistently failed on messaging and compromised so much, it’s questionable whether it will be worth the effort. Compromises like health care reform can be fixed over time. Compromises on climate and energy cannot. Nature does what it does (largely in response to human effects) without negotiation and without do-overs.

    Has the Obama Administration even fixed the MMS in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill?

    I’m afraid that keeping the Democrats in power will accomplish the same thing as keeping the Republicans in power, just a bit slower. The Democrats are gradually giving in to just about everything the Republicans are demanding. When the SHTF as a result, the Republicans will shift the blame to the Democrats.

    In principle, I like the Green Party platform, which correctly links climate and energy issues to social justice issues. Unfortunately, they picked just about the most unelectable candidate imaginable in 2008.

    Supporting the Democratic Party will pretty much ensure the ensuing disasters, just on a slower time scale than the Republican Party. We really need to third party that is both electable, and willing to actually put up a fight for its causes.

  82. Richard Miller says:

    I am looking to get a solar hot water heater? Any suggestions CP readers on what type or which one to get?

  83. Johnny says:

    Greetings from San Francisco.

    My preparation for an uncertain future keeps evolving. “Take care of the small things and the big things take care of themselves.” I have a few categories.

    Basic common sense stuff your great-grandma would recommend:

    I’ve always kept a year’s worth of food on hand: wheat, rice, dried beans, canned goods, preserves, two deep freezers full of stuff. It’s not “stockpiling” or “hoarding”. We use the stuff everyday. It’s plain old regular food – just more of it, and super inexpensive when bought in bulk. We live in a one bedroom apartment with no yard, but manage to keep a great veggie garden on the roof – and the roof of my neighbor’s building. We also have three bee hives up there and get excellent honey. (No, we don’t expect to feed ourselves or our neighbors entirely from a container garden on tar paper. That’s not the point.) We also get produce from a CSA every week.

    We know our neighbors really well and we work cooperatively with them on many levels. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

    We live in earthquake country so we have hand cranked flashlights, a solar radio, medical kit, solar oven, rocket stove, and a few 55 gallon drums of water on hand in case of an emergency. This stuff isn’t expensive and is tucked away in various corners of the building where we hope it will survive a shaker.

    Slightly harder more expensive stuff that takes longer:

    First, we live in a very comfortable but small one bedroom apartment in a walkable, bikeable neighborhood with excellent public transportation. We made a conscious effort to avoid suburban sprawl as well as an area full of massive high rises. (For those of you who don’t like a city like San Francisco, try a small university town in the country.)

    We bought an inexpensive bit of land out in the country back in ’99 (paid cash) and built a 500 square foot cottage bit by bit. In total it came to about $31K over ten years. No mortgage. Looking back it could have been smaller and less expensive and would have been just as good. As the cottage has fleshed out, so has the garden and fruit trees. The only problem is that it’s really far from the city and getting there might become difficult and/or expensive in the future. So…

    We recently bought a second home in the country. This place is only an hour from the city. That makes it much more accessible. We could even ride a bicycle there. (In theory, although I wouldn’t want to have to test that theory. I’m not as thin or fit as I used to be…) This house is a modest 700 square foot, two bed, one bath fixer upper, but the half acre lot has great soil and the well produced eight gallons a minute even toward the end of the long dry season. We’re currently super insulating the place, improving the mechanical systems, and working on the garden. Long term goals include adding a rain water catchment system and a few solar panels for emergency back up. The draw back? This place has a mortgage which we plan on paying off as soon as possible with double payments.

    – Johnny

  84. Lisa Boucher says:

    I think the most difficult part about planning for climate change is the high number of variables involved.  As a result, I cannot figure out where to best relocate on the North American continent.  I currently live in a huge city, where the number of guns is probably greater than the number of people.  When the grocery store shelves go empty, I don’t want to be here.

    A quick computer search of the comments reveals a complete absence of the word HORSE.  For those of you who expect to be self-sufficient, how are you planning to plow the ground without fossil fuel???

    I agree with those who suggest that the social changes could be much more rapid than Mr. Romm estimates.  I think “nine meals from anarchy” is the operative phrase here.  I am surrounded by people who know zilch about how to produce their own food.  (And when challenged, they would say something like, “Yes, I do know how to make my own food; I’ve been using my microwave for many years!”)

  85. UnReal2r says:

    Well, half the time I’m entertaining myself with Twilight Zone reruns, especially this one:

    The other half of the time I’m entertaining myself calculating the probability that the earth’s dominant species will survive the ensuing extinction.

    And the other half of the time I’m entertaining myself calculating the probability that we will complete replace all fossil fuel energy sources within the next ten years – which, I have been given to believe, is about all the time we have until the controls on the oven are automatically set to “mass extinction”.

    I guess it’s a good thing that I never excelled in math. Otherwise I might become depressed . . . or take solace in Sartre or Camus . . .

    Then again, there’s this:,8599,2048138,00.html

    As Rockhound prematurely opined:

    “Guess what guys! It’s time to embrace the horror! Look, we got front-row tickets to the end of the earth!”

  86. adelady says:

    68 William P “The planning above is mostly personal.”

    My dreary conclusion is that negative climate impacts will be first and most severe on broadscale agriculture. A lot of us have disliked the process for more general ecological reasons, but climate change will force changes. Large-scale monoculture is probably the most brittle, vulnerable mechanism we could possibly have devised for something so important that is so readily damaged or destroyed by pests, diseases, storms, hot or cold, wet or dry conditions.

    A mixed farm, or a suburban block, with dozens of food producing plants – mostly trees and perennials – is a much better option than a huge monoculture in unpredictable seasons. If your peas and apricots and pistachios manage to thrive this year from some combination of good luck and good management, you won’t be completely devastated because the potatoes, apples and walnuts went haywire. When you have a good year with good harvests from everything, drying, preserving and giving to others will ensure your valuable food doesn’t go to waste.

    Commercial operators won’t give such surplus away. But changing food production to value add at the farm will allow many producers to get more cash for what they produce and to even out cashflows between good and poor seasons.

  87. Villabolo says:

    I hate to complain, but I have a lengthy comment that has been stuck in moderation for 8 hours.

  88. paulm says:

    Going to go get me a generator this month and a good water pump.

    Too much stuff is going down. And with 2012 going to be hotter than 2010 then things will really start to rubble.

    Will be selling up my place and moving further up from sea level and somewhere where I will have a shot at growing some of my own food.

  89. Fred Teal, Jr says:

    I have worked over the past several years as a volunteer for Mike’s organization. I have been chided several times by staff there for taking a position that seemed too extreme about what may happen in the future. I was told that such a depressing message would not motivate others, but just discourage them.

    I am surprised to see that Mike’s feelings about that have changed significantly. This may be one of the most significant aspects of what he has written. I suspect it is born of frustration from failing to make the kind of changes that are essential if we are to solve this confluence of problems. Peak Oil, water shortages, fisheries, forests, soil, rare earths being rapidly depleted all in combination with obvious climate disruption impacting everything.

    Not mentioned much here is also the looming danger of soverign debt which lays a huge burden on future generations. It all assumes that the economy will improve and we will eventually be able to “pay it back” and reduce the massive interest payments our kids will have. But in a world with constantly decreasing resources and climate change, that will be virtually impossible.

    The truth is that it is impossible to predict exactly how things will play out. The last grain of sand on the pile could spark a sudden massive shift and abrupt social change could happen like a spark in tinder. Or, things might go more slowly with sudden drops in between long pauses.

    Every preparation mentioned here is prudent. Most prudent of all is building a strong sense of community and getting to know and trust those around you. We won’t survive alone, we can only survive together.

    Joe, you have to put everything together. We are dealing with multiple, interconnected problems and they all need to be seen at once. Climate change must have its proper context.

  90. paulm says:

    Things are moving quickly.
    And we shouldn’t really be that surprised, with us generating a greenhouse forcing probably unlike anything previous in the last few million years here on earth.

    It all looks like one slippery slop now with a very small hole of light at the top.
    All starting to be a bit scary.

  91. Roger says:

    Very interesting. Thanks to all for sharing ideas. What are we doing to prepare…?

    As seems to be the case with others, we split our time, trying to maintain a balance.

    Key activities can vary by season and with the other vagaries of life. They include:

    1. Working at the local, state, and national levels to encourage more activism.
    2. Preparing a place up north to which we might ‘retire’ when the time comes.
    3. Taking care of business, family, career, and other activities of daily living.

    We’ve already done a lot to shrink our C-prints; are buying less, tossing less, etc.

    We wish we knew what the best use of time is. There’s no precedent, no training.

    Finally, we spend some time thinking, “This can’t REALLY be happening, can it???

    Warm regards,

  92. Peter M says:

    For those looking for a green sustainable area- that is progressive, not overrun with sprawl, consider the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts.

    The charming city of Northampton pop 28,000.

    Also consider Burlington Vermont- considered the greenest city in America.

    Scenic Litchfield Connecticut, in the states western hills

    Also Putnam Connecticut- in the states ‘Quiet Corner’ green, secluded,

    All these places in New England are on the northeastern fringe of the continent. Though certainly not immune to climate change in the future, they will be less effected then regions in the center of the country and further south.

    New England lacks the sprawl of other regions of the nation. Strict zoning is designed to preserve the regions historic character and environment.

    Coastal New England, from Maine to Connecticut will suffer from sea rise- estimated to be as much as a meter or more my mid century- all of the locations above are 45 miles or more distant from the ocean.

    Massachusetts has had universal health care since 2006; Connecticut will likely begin the ‘Sustinet’ health plan in 2012- it will be the nations first public option (the bill is now law).

  93. johne says:


    Merrelyn, from your comment, I realise you are the other half of Fred and Merrelyn Emery. For those who don’t know, Fred was considered one on the great thinkers on Organisational Development and together with Merrelyn wrote seminal papers and gave lectures all over-anything said was a treasure.

  94. FatherTheo says:

    The world is in for difficult times in the next couple of decades, but, in my part of the planet, Canada, it will probably be merely conventionally difficult. Wartime difficult. Perhaps Great Depression difficult. Other regions of the world will be fighting for survival, however, and I have a hard time imagining what advice we could give individuals living in those regions that would prepare them for what is coming.

    As for us, I’m sure we’ll adapt. Wealth can do sweet things for the quality of life, but in the Great Depression they replaced it with community–in the wisest places, anyway–and we have tools now for linking our communities which the 1930s couldn’t even imagine.

    It’s not really the same ballgame.

    No, it’s those folks who are even now perilously surviving who face the greatest dangers from climate change in the next twenty years, because they are already so close to disaster.

    But if we continue to avoid action on climate change, if we continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere, we’ll join those other parts of the world in disaster soon enough. If a mortgage bubble could almost bring down the world economy, fat chance that such a fragile thing could survive catastrophic climate change.

  95. Prokaryotes says:

    I think people are to optimistic. On the bottom line if you want to prepare you need to leave civilization.

  96. Scrooge says:

    I just what to say that how we view time seems to make a difference in how we feel. 20 years in the future seems like a lifetime to a college student. To us cynical, crotchety, fed up, old timers, 20 years is right around the corner.

  97. Mark says:

    I live in the UK, which seems to escape the worst impacts of climate change in many respects. Flooding is a problem for only some areas, there is plenty of high ground, and the North Atlantic buffers a small island against the worst of the heat and drought – for a while.

    the thing that will hit us hardest I think is economic dislocation relating to food and fuel prices. We have foolishly neglected our own food security and hitched ourselves full on to fossil fuel based agriculture despite the best efforts of the Soil association.

    I am looking to moving north in future away from what will become a drought afflicted south which will also be under pressure from European immigration by then as the great droughts to come devastates southern Europe. The UK looks like becoming a highly desirable piece of real estate and I doubt the EU will survive the dog eat dog mentality that will develop.

  98. Joy Hughes says:

    I’ve relocated to a remote place in the Colorado mountains – low fuel density around my home, year-round spring fed stream, lots of game, friendly neighbors with lots of guns, and a variety of permaculture communities spaced around the area with a seed-sharing program. (Later) refugees from the cities will never make it this far. I am completely off the grid, and will change my batteries out for long-lasting nickel-iron . I may have to switch from propane to wood heat when the time comes.

    I’m helping to develop a community solar facility to power the water system in the nearest town.

  99. Joy Hughes says:

    Oh, and I switched from Jeep to Toyota Echo (non-hybrid version of the Prius).

  100. Nancy says:

    We sold our low-lying beach property and bought a small farm in New Hampshire which we are making very energy efficient. Our garden is expanding, with fruit and nut trees, beehives, and the land has streams and springs and plenty of wood. We’ll install solar thermal and PV and have chickens and goats. Sorry to say, we’ll be buying guns, and learning how to use them.

  101. Fred Teal, Jr says:

    After sleeping on it last night, I have concluded that Mike Tidwell’s message is that the future has become the present. Over the past few years most of us have tended to talk about climate change as a future problem. Mike is telling us to look around, right here where we live, and see that the impacts are becoming increasingly severe. His actions reflect the deep concern he feels about the urgency of the situation. I am with him 100%.

    Severe weather events and fuel and food shortages are happening right now, and will only get worse. When this fact is finally accepted by the public at large, hoarding and panic buying are bound to occur. That is when our extra supplies will help. We will likely see periods of empty grocery store shelves and shortages of gasoline and heating oil. Hopefully, at that point, we, and our government, will practice/encourage, and/or mandate conservation and help adjust our lifestyles to a lower level of consumption. A low consumption lifestyle can focus on people and relationships not just “stuff”.

    We don’t just have a future problem. We have a serious problem right now. How aware we are of this is reflected in the steps we have or are taking to deal with it. We can enjoy life and live simply. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve dwindling resources.

  102. Joan Savage says:

    Another thing I am doing to prepare for rapid climate changes is listen to my adult children, share the scientific information with them, and work with their preferences about what to do about it.

    This will vary from family to family, but I note that mine don’t mind small dwellings shared with their loved ones, but it is essential for them to get to work simply, and be near some green outdoors and animals. They are far more proficient at vegetarian and vegan recipes than I, so I’m learning about that so I can keep up with them.

  103. Christopher Yaun says:

    Burning Down the House

    #81 RM: Wants to buy a solar water heater. Most important be extra sure that the vendor is qualified….highly qualified. Solar hot water systems are field built from complicated parts sourced from several vendors. The installer should provide you a wiring and piping diagram. The install should be neat and professional.

    Did I mention highly qualified? Our vendor did not provide us a wiring or piping diagram and never returned or even called for a check up. The plumber was incompetent and his work is embarrasing.

    Did I mention highly qualified? There is no reason you cannot get a premium installation. Much hardware is available today is very high quality. YOU MUST BE SURE YOUR VENDOR AND PLUMBER ARE HIGHLY QUALIFIED.

    The plumbing inspector learned that the solar panels had glycol (anti-freeze) and made the plumber add a back-flow preventer. It would be months later before we all began to realize that the tap water was always lukewarm. If I turned on the sink for hot water it was luke warm. But if I opened the tap to fill the tub or turned on several taps the water was scalding. I do not have any special training but am highly qualified as a jack of all trades having been raised in a family welding/machine shop and added 30 years experience building large commercial buildings.

    So I carefully mapped out the solar HW plumbing and paid close attention to it for months before I decided that the backflow preventer only allowed flow if I opened a large HW tap. Open a small HW tap (faucet on the sink) and the cold water flowed backward out of the HW tank. Open a large tap and the backflow preventer would open allowing HW to flow through the house.

    Did I mention? Be absolutely sure your vendor and his plumber are highly qualified. If they do not offer you a wiring diagram, written sequence of of operation and pipe diagram without your asking find another vendor.

    And remember, one service call will cost $500 so be sure to get only the best.


    PS: Our town has a group ( that organizes old fashioned barn raisings to install solar water heaters. You may find a similar group in your neighborhood. If not you might want to start one.

  104. Deborah Stark says:

    Re: Robert in New Orleans | Post #77

    “…..I think a small city/large town some where in the Intermountain area would suffice for my needs…..”

    Robert, how about Flagstaff, AZ?

  105. Christopher Yaun says:

    Burning Down the House

    I dropped out of college in 1977, packed up my Mother Earth News and Rodale Press collection, and bought a few acres north of New Orleans from a commune that couldn’t make the mortgage payment. (The one member with $$$ had copped an attitude and moved away!) Five families split the 40 acres, built houses and raised families. We all agreed that our our land stakes were private but also agreed that we all could enjoy the 40 acres as a whole.

    Not one of us mastered the back to the land thing. But we birthed and raised eight incredible children between the five families. Built a common library out of an old portable office. Built houses and barns and fenced a horse pasture. Raised my neighbors house 8 feet when he realized it was prone to flood. Hosted a weekly volley ball, potluck that extended for 8 years and attracted folks from 50 miles around. We called ourselves the TVA for Transcendental Volleyball Association.

    In 1988 my house burned to the ground. People came from miles around and built us a new one.

    I live in New Hampshire now and own two houses both too close to high tide for comfort. Heather built the house we live in. She borrowed all the best ideas and built a super insulated, net zero energy, passive solar house on one of the last buildable waterfront lots. Its 20 degrees, windy and snowing and the dim sun is keeping the house warm. Our only source of heat is a 30,000btu propane fake fireplace. It was off all night and ran at low speed for an hour earlier this morning to break the chill. We won’t use it again until tomorrow morning.

    It is now possible to build a net zero energy house, using standard construction material from your local suppliers, using local labor, modified but standard construction technologies and for typical $$$ per square foot cost.

    If you are building or renovating please invest the time required to make your house a net zero energy home.


    PS Heather is a master gardener. Last year was our second summer in the house. She grew a wonderful garden. We just ate the last brussel sprouts and expect next season we can keep them growing all winter. The “panic room” has two shelves of carrots, beets and winter squash that we use weekly. The freezer has tomatoes, peppers and broccoli. The strawberry garden and rasberrys will mature this spring and we will be overwhelmed with same. The garden will be three times as big this season. The small hoop housed worked great last year and we will have more of those this year. I spent years trying to learn to garden. Heather is a master.

    If you want to move to the land and succeed….allie with a master gardner.

  106. joyce says:

    Fred Teal–
    Sure agree about the urgency–I doubt anyone posting here would disagree.

    Once I grasped the complexity and urgency of the issue, I found myself looking at everything I do through an ecological footprint lense, and challenge myself to figure out personal actions, but I know that those little acts are probably more for “my” benefit in the short term than the world at large. But at least some are “measurable.” (ie. my 56 cent electric bill in July)
    I’m just hoping that if/when there is a shift in cultural norms, I can be ahead of the curve and maybe help others find solutions. In our volunteer training we have sessions in “civic engagement” and “working with local govt” etc., but feeling rewarded through those actions can take so long–if ever. The little personal things I do at least keep me amused and engaged, and I think may be true for others. (Plus, now I get all the exercise I need hanging clothes up to dry, using non-electric kitchen tools, bicycling, scrubbing a bit longer with home made non petroleum based bathroom cleaners… ha)

    That’s why I really enjoyed this post by Joe and all the great answers. It gives me some new ideas I can actually “do”.

  107. Hmpf says:

    Not much I can usefully do to ‘prepare’. (Things I do to *prevent*/mitigate: get my energy from a renewable energy company, eat very little meat, live frugally in general, don’t fly, don’t drive, don’t have children, etc. Some Greenpeace activities, too.)

    Why can’t I prepare? City dweller in densely-populated Europe, in a very low income bracket, without any savings or even access to a garden.

    I sometimes think the best I can do to prepare for an uncomfortable future is a) try to keep reasonably fit (difficult: in my mid-thirties now, I already have serious joint problems in my knees, hips, and elbows. Good teeth, though.) And b) as soon as I can afford it, invest in a pair or two of very solid, *repairable* boots. Why the latter? Because I know enough history to know that, in times when people did not have access to cheap shoes made in far-eastern sweatshops that they can replace as soon as they (inevitably) fall apart, shoes were the most valuable piece of apparel you could own. They’re also the most difficult to make yourself, so while clothes may reasonably easily be produced cottage-industry-style, shoes would probably be much harder to come by, in a de-globalised future that has forgotten a lot of its old crafts. And, most importantly, in said de-globalised future, it may well be necessary frequently to walk fairly long distances to get food and other important supplies, so you really want good shoes.

  108. Deborah Stark says:

    I’m continuing to do what I can afford to do.

    With the exception of three very interesting years in Flagstaff, AZ (2002-2005) I have lived in Boston, MA since 1968. Since the mid-70’s I’ve been primarily vegetarian, have been consciously aware of water, electricity and heating fuel use, and have either been recycling or giving away at least 90% of whatever I don’t need/want. I’ve never owned a car and I enthusiastically support and use public transit. Daily. I also walk at least two miles every day.

    I shop in thrift stores and at Goodwill, etc. for 90% of my clothing since the early 70’s (and I’ve got some fabulous clothes – heh heh.) I actively support our local food co-ops and farmers’ markets by shopping them year-round for virtually all of my food. My electricity is supplied by wind farms in upstate NY and New Hampshire for the last six years. I pay a little extra for that but it’s worth it. No TV for the last eight years. No microwave, no washer/dryer, no electric can opener, you get the idea.

    Since I’m a renter I have little-to-no control over stuff like whether or not a building is insulated, has tight windows, etc. I try to compensate by putting up plastic film, blocking the bottoms of doors, monitoring oil use and keeping it way down whenever I am at work or otherwise not at home. I do have to say here that renters seem to be a forgotten demographic in that there is in fact very little they can do about housing that is not especially energy-efficient. It can be very frustrating.

    Not sure where else I can tighten things up, frankly.

    And, sadly, I’m not sure how much what I do makes any difference re: the big picture. I do know that just about everyone I know personally makes every effort to do what they can. That’s what we’re used to as we’ve all been thinking about this stuff since the 70’s. We’re not talking “Stone Age” living here, either. Hardly the case.

    One thing I am thinking about recently is putting together a kind of “disaster container” with basic stuff that would be good to have available in one place should a severe weather event knock out power or cause other problems for an indefinite period. This would also cover my immediate family.

  109. Craig says:

    @ron broberg:
    Interesting word – ‘mobilization.’ Has a military feel to it. A time of desperate men and desperate measures. The draft. Do or die. Committing all your resources towards one end. Closely related to ‘militarization,’ and ‘command economy.’

    Here is the supreme irony, Ron. The modern day conservative movement in America denies the scientific evidence of a destabilizing climate because to accept that evidence would require dealing with the problem. And dealing with the problem will require policies that incentivize the transition to a low carbon economy.

    At the moment these (proposed) policies are almost entirely market based. But by continuing to deny and delay, that same movement is almost guaranteeing unprecedented government involvement in the economy.

    Yes, Ron, that probably means a command economy. Things like the government telling you how many miles you can drive in your car or how long your showers can be or how long you can keep the lights on in your living room. Not a pretty future. Certainly not a future I look forward to. And definitely not a friendly place for folks with a libertarian worldview. But when large, existential threats loom, citizens almost always cede many of their liberties to a government that promises to protect them from that threat.

  110. tst says:

    Prokaryotes @ 96 – Sorry, but that’s not a viable option. Very few people have the necessary skills to leave civilization and start a life in the wilderness. Even fewer have the skills to live in ecosystems that are breaking down because of climate change. Even fewer have the ability to survive without constant infusions of modern technology, energy, medicine, etc.

    I can’t tell you if the earth will support human beings in a century, but I can tell you that the best place to be for the next 20 or 30 years, at least here in the lower 48, will be in a small, resilient community with good water and topsoil.

  111. 4 degrees hotter (pdf)

    HT Global Climate Change

    We’ve had 30 years and more, as a civilization, to start preparing with virtually nothing to show for it.

    We need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

  112. Mike Roddy says:

    I was a rafting/kayaking guide on the Klamath River in the Siskiyou Mountains of Northern California in the 1970’s. There was a major tributary called Clear Creek where we put in our boats that had a large flat area above it and some old fruit trees gone wild.

    Old timers told me that it was a Depression survivalist community during the 30’s, with about 3,000 occupants. Desperate Americans squatted there (it’s National Forest land) and lived like Indians, surviving from salmon, game, fruit, and whatever other crops they could grow. When the economy improved, they moved back to town- winters there are long and wet, and the road to civilization was slow and windy. I would like to have met some of the original residents, but nobody knew where they were. There were others in those days who still lived off mining claims in the remote creeks, and loved that life, but the Forest Service kicked them out in the 70’s and burned their cabins in order to clearcut without interference.

    It takes forbearance and determination to live in the country. Many Americans and others from “advanced” countries will have trouble here. Fat city dwellers may crack up without the remote and pickup truck.
    Evolution is going to take some strange forks, in the natural and human world.

  113. Prokaryotes says:

    tst, yes i agree. My remark needs clarifications. Because ofc on your own, alone into the wild, makes for a pretty mood sensation. Though i think the future is more with small communities – far enough from the major cities. Because in a big city when you are faced with a situation of food/water shortages, seems to be not so pretty.

    You would need a lot technology too, though the modern survivalist needs skills.
    And long term commitments need to acknowledge factors like sustaining a global network for carbon sequestration. Otherwise with considering tipping points, worst case scenarios, described by Lovelock with problems from to few breeding pairs might arise.

  114. Mike Roddy says:

    PS- the Klamath salmon are virtually gone now. Reasons include logging and siltation in feeder stream watersheds, dams, and, most importantly, thermal pollution from warmer water temperatures. The river is fed by Upper Klamath Lake, which is shallow and feeds warm water into the river right at the source. The media played up the farmers’ water withdrawals, but that only killed the runs after increased global temperatures made the water too warm for the salmon. Thirty thousand of them died one year from parasites that only thrive when the water gets too warm.

    Similar fish crashes are happening all along the Northwest Coast, and it’s heartbreaking. Crop and protein selection in the future will require careful planning and good gardening skills.

  115. Prokaryotes says:

    Long term planing does mean to consider, moving to northern Canada.

  116. Deb in AL says:

    We (3 generations=4adults) are in a suburb of a large city in Alabama. We can’t afford to move. We can’t afford solar systems or hybrid cars. But we are doing what we can: strong effort on gardening because we were raised on good, home grown food and trying to find inexpensive ways to be more energy efficient. I’m buying a bike next week because I no longer have a regular job (age 62) and have the most energy efficient car which needs to be used by the only fully employed person in the household. I also do most of the gardening and preserving.

    IMO, anyone who thinks we (USA) aren’t already suffering many consequences isn’t paying attention — tent cities of homeless in Sarasota, FL for heaven’s sake! And kudos to those who brought out the interrelationships of climate change, peak oil, economic disruptions and debt, etc. If we don’t look at all of it together we won’t make reasonable decisions.

    I try to read several blogs regularly to stay as current as possible (we sure don’t get it from our local media). They are Sharon Astyk, Kathy Harrison, Risa, the archdruid, Automatic Earth, ClubOrlov, Post Carbon, and, of course, ClimateProgress. And now it’s time to get into the garden.

  117. Prokaryotes says:


    Excerpts from Warren Buffett’s annual letter

    “But a house can be a nightmare if the buyer’s eyes are bigger than his wallet and if a lender — often protected by a government guarantee — facilitates his fantasy. Our country’s social goal should not be to put families into the house of their dreams, but rather to put them into a house they can afford.”

  118. tst says:

    Prokaryotes @ 117 – Temperatures in northern Canada and Alaska are going to rise further and faster than elsewhere in North America. That’s going to put a huge strain on northern ecosystems.

    When you combine extreme temperature shifts, ecosystem disruptions and the fact that northern Canada is not known for it’s productive soil, it’s not a viable location for climate refugees.

    The same holds true for coastal Alaska and coastal BC. As salmon stocks disappear, coastal ecosystems are going to undergo profound shifts & shocks. (As an aside, I don’t know too many people who’d want to live with a large population of brown bears. Especially hungry brown bears who have just lost their primary source of protein.)

  119. Prokaryotes says:

    tst, you would need an ark(lifeboat), nevertheless. And that the US has extreme temperature shifts we see now almost daily.

  120. ryan says:

    “What are you doing now to prepare for climate impacts?”

    building really, really big stone head statues.

  121. susan says:

    What no one has mentioned yet is that we need to inspire young people to action. I’d guess that 70% or more commenters here are “old geezers” as someone said previously – probably 50 or older.
    WTSHTF us old timers may be 75. 80, 85. We may all be working to organize our communities to be as self sustaining and independent as we can be, but if we’re all dead when it really heats up – who will fill our shoes? The young people in this country have got to get involved in organizing along side us for a post peak life.

  122. wili says:

    One thing to keep in mind is that anything you buy could be taken from you, but skills are (relatively) inalienable. So ‘reskilling’ should be high on our lists. Having said that, I have to admit, that between my regular job and all the time I spend on blogs like this (smile), I have not carved out a lot of time to gear up my skill set, besides some gardening. I would be interested in what people are doing in this direction.

    On another level, someone upthread mentioned daily visits to the psychiatrist. I would like to hear more about how people approach the psychological/spiritual strain of living in such an extreme time and culture. Have they found individuals or groups where they can fully express their deepest fears and mourning?

    I think a full realization of how we have fouled our mother would prompt something like Oedipus’s reaction to the realization of his reality. How can we individually go through the full depth of realization? What brings people to this deep level of understanding, however painful? Is our own comfortable (or even un-) survival what is of most importance to us? Have others had particular moments of terrible clarity? How did that come about and how did they proceed?

    Can we all admit that we are all in some level still in denial? Is it possible not to be? What would full and constant non-denial look like?

  123. Deborah Stark says:

    Hi Susan,

    Re: the young people, it’s been my observation that a great many young people are already deeply committed to organized activity that raises awareness of the climate change issue and seeks to inspire open public dialog on the matter of acknowledging and addressing it as a reality that is upon us now, not sometime in the future. For just one of many examples, there is a Mothers’ Day March planned for May 8 in D.C.:

    iMatter March
    Our Climate. Our Future. Our Revolution.

    Here is the engine behind the march:

    Kids vs. Global Warming

    Partners, Sponsors and Friends

    Bill McKibben ( has spent years working with young people on many highly visible projects to call attention to the issue at hand. James Hansen has been going around and meeting with large groups of young people concerned about their futures.

    This group in my state (Massachusetts) has conducted several “Wake Up! Sleep Out!” events on the Boston Common and on university campuses in which both Bill McKibben and James Hansen have participated:

    Students for a Just and Stable Future

    And so on…

  124. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Johne, thank you, ME

  125. tst says:

    wili – “I would like to hear more about how people approach the psychological/spiritual strain of living in such an extreme time and culture. Have they found individuals or groups where they can fully express their deepest fears and mourning?”

    Great question. And maybe the topic for another thread. For me, personally, it comes down to recognizing that we only have control of one thing – ourselves. I came to the realization early on that I couldn’t change the world, or other people, by myself. And that understanding allowed me to let go of my fear about the future. If I can’t change the future, all I can do is accept it. Of course, that’s balanced by my desire to do everything humanely possible to make a difference. And if I can’t look back at the end of my life and honestly say that I did my best to make those changes I could, then I’ll have a lot to answer for.

    Anyway, that’s what I do, and it seems to be working, at least for now. I let go of the results and simply focus on doing the very best I can to have a positive impact on the people around me and the planet we depend on.

    By the way, that jibes nicely with my spiritual views, which include the tenet that we’re here in large part to act as caretakers and stewards.

  126. paulm says:

    The problem with greenhouse gases which are odor-less, color-less and in general considered benign, is the disconnect with their deadly properties.

    Consider this:
    Theres is a gas which has a toxic effect.
    It can and is killing 100,000’s of people every year (UN).

    Not only that it is detrimentally affecting 1000’s of species and also killing thousands of these every year.
    It’s driving coral extinct and acidifying oceans, undermining the food chain on which the biosphere is based on and which we depend on.

    As its concentration grows in the atmosphere, its toxic effect will undermine future societies, causing death and untold pain to our children and generations far into the future.

    This is the devastation of green house gasses.
    But because of the indirect nature of this, we tend not to associate it with it’s consequences.

    And that is why I have made the decision to reduce my non-essential greenhouse gasses wherever possible.

    This site and book helps to crystallize the personal perspective…it is a collection of many essays by well respected elders.

  127. David B. Benson says:

    It is possile to purchase R20 drapes. Could hang on walls, not just over windows.

  128. 350 Now says:

    Abortion as a mostly right wing issue?

    I’m curious for feedback as to why r/w conservatives harp on the immorality (even murderous language) on abortions while even now there is a GOP bill to make killing abortion doctors considered justifiable homicide. Is it because they fear that the non-white people (read brown and black) will overtake the populations of the US in the near future? Or what?

    It seems almost laughably hypocritical that they wish to protect the contents of someone else’s uterus until birth, then are fine with slashing funding for pre and post natal care, nutrition assistance, day care, after school care for working parents etc etc to help poverty stricken parents. Studies show many unwanted children end up being abused, and then many become abusers as adults. Our orange-skinned american speaker of the house promised legislation on jobs, jobs, jobs but have been tied up with as many as 5 abortion related bills (and not much talk of jobs). Any ideas here, (other than the obvious, that many are playing without a full deck of cards?

  129. Glyn says:

    First comment from a new-ish reader – great (albeit depressing) site you have going here!

    Personally I’m studying a Masters in Agroforestry in the UK and trying to learn gardening and forest gardening ( I’m hoping diverse forest garden systems with lots of perennial plants can form part of a viable response for food and carbon sequestration, if planned correctly for future climate changes, though if the effects are too rapid and extreme some may be overwhelmed.

    I’m still youngish (28), my only family are dead, I have no land and very little money, so I’m thinking my only viable chance of a future in this world is to try and up-skill as much as I can and hope I can find a rural well placed (possibly intentional) community or older land-owners looking for someone to help farm/garden their land. I’m thinking about spending a couple of years working and WWOOFing around Tasmania and New Zealand and hoping something works out.

    123 Susan – I’d have guessed there’d be a lot of younger readers as well myself, but I could be wrong. I wonder if Joe might have stats somehow?

    124 Wili – for the psychological/spiritual aspects I’d strongly recommend you check out Carolyn Baker’s book Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse – it’s dedicated to this topic. I’m currently 2/3rds of the way through and it’s one of the very best and most significant books I’ve ever read.

  130. darth says:

    I am doing this:

    Upgraded to high effciency hybrid heat system (gas & air source 16 seer Heatpump) Reduces electric bills by about 1/3 during winter.

    Upgrading insulation and sealing the house. Just had an energy audit done and learned alot. I talk about this alot at work and have gotten some other people interested in it. Also doing this for a church project.

    Eating less meat. Eating more local food: farmer’s markets, etc.

    Joined a local group ( and becoming an active member.

    Just got my first LED bulbs for the kitchen at Home Depot and they totally rock. Much better than the CFL’s they replaced. They are PAR30 for recessed lights, cost $40 each and will pay for themselves (vs incandescent) in 3 years.

    Waiting for a PHEV to trade in my mid-size SUV for a smaller car. Hoping for a plug in Prius to come out soon. Volt is cool but way high $.


  131. David B. Benson says:

    Even so, I think a FCOAD fee would help.

    Fossil Carbon Open Air Disposal: require a fee for this.

  132. dp says:

    i don’t understand why people think economies of scale and division of labor stop working when resources are tight. it’s one thing to get worried about chronic shortages inflicting pain, it’s another to think industry & cooperation fail at lower oil-intensity. it’s pretty funny that a right-winger came here to troll about ‘statism’ when the many seem to suspect the american welfare state won’t live to see its 100th birthday! which is silly, since it was born during the depression, as a resilience balance against the brittleness of casino capitalism.

  133. Irv Beiman says:

    The vast bulk of replies above are educated, hopeful, risk aware and ISOLATED. After spending 30+ years working to help the disparate and dysfunctional elements of multiple organizations connect with each other more effectively and align their goals and actions for a broader strategy that benefits the collective we, I wonder about the value of that for the group of CP readers who are awake, alive and aware.

    After reviewing more than 3,000 articles over the past 4 years, ever since BBC reported melting permafrost in Seberia that was not in the IPCC projections, as well as quick skimming the multiple eco-city, eco-village and transition town approaches, I encourage readers to take a serious look at . it’s the most comprehensive, reasonable, do-able approach I’ve found in my research, and it fits the strategy maps for resilient sustainability that are illustrated at .

    Trying to make it on one’s own is a bummer, it seems to me. Why not go for what Claude Lewenz calls “the good life” and come together to build a village, and then a group of villages, called VillageTown? Do this over mulitipe iterations. Connect them together and share information and resources. have all types of people in the village, from farmers to trade and crafts people to professionals and the creative class [artists/musicians]. Provide subsidized housing for those with essential skills. Keep the young for future generations by providing jobs and giving them an area of town to party all night. Put the elders at the other end of town. Create plaza’s for social connection, food, drink, entertainment education and watching the kids.

    CL has made recommendations for most every aspect of village life, after researching them for several decades. I bought and read his book, about half of which is filled with pictures of actual villages. How they’re design. How they operate.

    I read CP daily. I’m adding VT to my radar screen for action.

  134. BobG says:

    Although Tidwell has done great things with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, I think his op-ed is the wrong approach. First of all, we are years away from the need for bars on our windows to guard our tomatoes. Focusing on that now comes across as paranoia, rather than a serious interest in mitigating climate change. Second, if it comes to a situation of societal breakdown due to widespread hunger, bars on your windows are not going to protect you. Which brings us to the broader point: The challenge that we face as humanity in the next decades is how can we address the multiple problems of climate change, food shortages, declining oil production, and massive population growth. We will only be able to do that by rising above our individual interests to embark on the common project of saving civilzation. Putting bars on our windows to try to protect our own little piece of Hades as the world falls apart is the wrong role model. Mike has been fighting the good fight for a long time. But now is not the time to be distracted by freaking out. Our challenge is to look into the abyss and summon the clear-eyed courage to keep fighting.

  135. David B. Benson says:

    dp @134 & Irv Beiman @135 have part of a right answer. The rest is engagement with the wider community via political action and service on various commissions, councils or boards. There is always a shortage of elected and appointed citizens who are aware of the fundamental issues.

  136. susan says:

    Deborah Stark @ 125 – thanks! I’m trying ot get a younger person than myself (52) to organize an iMatter March in our community or preferably county. No one has wanted to take it on. I thought that there’d be an environmentally themed group or club at the local high school. No luck yet.

    I’d like to reiterate the idea that community organizing is the single most important and effective action that we can take. We will have to depend on each other when the hard times come. Organizing on a local level is inclusive – it brings us together and it raises awareness about peak oil and climate change in the places where we live.

    For those wondering about spirituality, I’ve experienced great spiritual and personal growth through these endeavours. I went from being heart broken, scared to death paralyzed and now hopeful through practical action. I have no illusions about what we face, but we have to try to make a more secure local world together

  137. Prokaryotes says:

    If i wear to organize a march i would protest for this: City centers should not be accessable for fossil fuel combustion vehicles.

  138. David B. Benson says:

    susan @138 — That’s the right idea. Now also consider voluntering for appointive office at town or county level and indeed, running for office.

  139. Jakob Wranne says:

    Mr Romm, you did hit a nerve here.

    People reading your blogg are probably the most concerned. In response to your question I tried to b as true as possible to my fears.

    And reading here – noticing that so many of us does have such dark thoughts about the future – it triggers me to act for saving us as a society. So it’s politics and neighbourhood and friends and media, to talk us onto a good and liveable path. And act against BAU.

    Mr Romm – this might be a beginning for many people to start.

  140. Richard Brenne says:

    I’m trying to get my spiritual house in order since my material house appears hopeless.

    Today we’re having the most energy-efficient heating source we could afford installed – this is long overdue, as are several of my library books.

    I’ve taken inventory of my karma and found that it’s not as high as I’d hoped, especially since my wife took the inventory for me.

    I think our national (U.S.) and species-wide karma is also shockingly low. We’ve treated foreigners, the poor and most other species as objects to be oppressed and exploited for ease, comfort, status and our egos. The billion richest of us that do 75% of the consuming and polluting (thanks to Sailesh Rao and Barry for that statistic) and can travel, get food, stay warm or cool and access information and (electronic entertainment) far beyond what any pre-20th Century King, Queen or Emperor could have imagined, and this is clearly not sustainable.

    While Joe might well be right about the timetable of the worst climate impacts, Wit’s End is also right that we just missed the tragedies of other nations in a kind of Australian-Pakistan-Russian roulette just this last year alone.

    Hopefully Libya will go the way of Egypt (currently, anyway), but Kaddafi’s ego represents every ego that refuses to change and would rather help kill off its host body and millions or even billions of others than change to one’s authentic self.

    If Libya and other oil-producing nations stop exporting oil, prices could spike as they quadrupled from 1972 to 1974 and almost tripled from 1978 to 1981. Only a few outliers are predicting that could happen now (the former would mean $400 a barrel oil in 2013), but fewer predicted that could happen in 1972 or 1978.

    Few in Europe in 1913 and 1938, Sarajevo in 1990 or Rwanda in 1993 could’ve imagined what was coming in the next year or years.

    The thing about strong men like Kaddafi (spell as you wish) and Saddam Hussein and other totalitarian dictators is that while they might be horrific, corrupt and oppressive, they at least keep factions from warring and they keep crime (except those they and those allied with them commit) exceptionally low.

    In fact the fear of lack alone can create hording and any commodity including oil, gas and all food can suffer immediate shortages. This is like the bank runs during the 1930s here in the U.S.

    The only thing keeping climate, peak oil and most of these issues from reaching tipping points is simply inertia, but once tipping points have been reached things can unravel quite quickly, more than most of us could imagine.

    So I’d recommend that we each take all of the excellent advice in these comments, including getting our spiritual and/or philosophical houses in order, traverse all the necessary psychological terrain including grief to emerge as psychologically healthy as possible, do the best by everyone and every being we can, change the system as much as we can, be the best spouse, parent, child, sibling and friend that we can, be the best part of the best community we can, learn the most valuable skills that you feel are part of your calling, work, support and barter with others who have the countless skills you’ll inevitably lack, try to change the world for the better at the global, national, state, county, city, town and neighborhood level, and remember that as many here have wisely said, without doing the things mentioned above, stockpiling alone will only make one a target and a prisoner in one’s own home.

    Enjoy everything wholesome that hurts no one as much as possible, especially nature and the Lakers, maybe in that order.

  141. Raul M. says:

    Might help with R-values is plastic bubble wrap.
    Common, easy to apply and let’s light through.

  142. Raul M. says:

    Recognizing that there may be major
    Philosiphical differences allows one to
    Pursue endevors of more reward.

  143. Richard L says:


    I agree with Lewis #2. Big ag is so dependent on oil and I think the food prices are directly linked and I fear food will be a factor much easrlier than you suggest.

    I am a gardner and a farmer wannabe. I have studied agriculture, water, and energy for many years. A good display of oil usage was in the movie “King Corn” – just watching all those tractors and trucks required to plant, fertilize, apply chemicals, harvest, transport, process, and then finally prepare the soil for the next season’s planting was insightful to me. The amount of energy expended to ship one trailer full of corn seemed crazy. Then there is the energy required to generate the fertilizer itself….

    I am curious if you can expand on your rationale on this.

  144. Justin says:

    Happy to see this dialogue taking place. One of the best dialogues I’ve seen on CP over my several years of reading and (mostly) refraining from commenting.

    I’m young and beholden to factors that will keep me from living the way many of you have chosen to do for some time, but I appreciate everyone’s thoughtful contributions on how to best prepare for the worst. This is a conversation that should be happening on a much wider scale.

  145. Wit's End says:

    tst #127, I do agree with you but have one niggling objection to this:

    “By the way, that jibes nicely with my spiritual views, which include the tenet that we’re here in large part to act as caretakers and stewards.”

    The earth’s other species would have gone along just fine without us. They never needed humans as caretakers or stewards. The best we could have done is as little harm as possible but I’m afraid it’s far too late for that.

  146. Sailesh Rao says:

    Wit’s End #146: Jonas Salk said, “If all the insects on earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on earth would disappear. If all humans disappeared, within 50 years all species would flourish as never before.” But, he spoke at a time when the damage to the Earth’s ecosystems from human activities was still minimal.

    The question is can we not begin to act in a way that helps undo the enormous damage that we’ve done? Like Yacouba Sawadago and his fellow farmers in the Sahel:

    Perhaps, our past stupidity has created a purpose for our continued existence…

  147. What will happens? Which are the solutions? I’m trying to uunderstand, but it is really hard to find the truth… here in Italy are thinking about Nuclear again, i’m reading and reading info, and i’m still confused. Is it true that eolic and solar are not enought? Is it true that nuclear is the only solution? There are grat scientist that say so, and other that says the contrary, where we can find the truth?

  148. Windsong says:

    JOE, WILL YOU PLEASE KEEP THIS POST UP FOR A LONG, LONG TIME? It’s very, very interesting and I don’t have time to read it all at
    just a few settings.

    [JR: Okay. Posts almost never get taken down — they just get bumped off the front page (and are searchable, admittedly by a lousy search engine).]

  149. William P says:

    My wife and I have been living for up to nine months per year for the last 16 years aboard our sailboat, Gaia, now in Curacao, central, south Caribbean. We get our electricity from three large solar panels, plus a wonderful and powerful wind generator. This “alternative energy” is more than enough to supply all our needs to run a watermaker (fresh water from sea water), lights, email via a sideband radio, stereo and more. Most of our travel from place to place is under sail, courtesy of the vibrant and free Caribbean winds.

    We eat from the sea many days. If things turn bad we can move our floating home to the safest areas. If food is more abundant in northern areas we can go there.

    Of course, this does not prepare us for all outcomes, but it gives us options not available to those static in their house in one fixed environment.

    We think things will become difficult for civilization sooner rather than later – just like IPCC predictions.

    It will be amazing to see when societies like the US get blindsided by global warming, given the lack of information and outright misinformation provided by our media.

  150. joyce says:

    Villabolo–recumbant bike (if you’re still reading the blog)

    I finally had a chance to check out the site, and they don’t have a store within 250 miles of where I live… Sigh.

    I would like to try it out, though, since I think the recumbant style might really do a number on my back.

    I may feel silly on a trike, though. Haven’t ridden one of those since I was 3! Probably a good idea for me. I just don’t have the daring do or strength that I used to.

  151. Wit's End says:

    William P., #150…can you give us more specifics…especially the “watermaker”?

    In fact perhaps you could construct an entire blog and give us oodles more information.

    Are you worried about hurricanes, monster waves, and pirates? Also what will you do for food as the fish dwindle? Are you growing food at all on board?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  152. Raul M. says:

    Test pilots needed for Current Motors dot com to give feedback
    on the normal operation of the new electric motorcycle.

  153. cathy strickler says:

    Thank you, Mike Tidwell, for generating this discussion, it’s the best use of your new generator! For those in the DC area, you know what a coup it was for this article to have the front page of the Ourlook section of the Sunday Washington Post with two huge color pictures. In my decades of reading the Post this coverage is unprecedented to my memory. The visual impact is immense. It will stay with the politically aware audience and may move some of them from atitudinal agreement to behavior change. You can be sure that Mike’s plan is to wake people up with a shake so they will be motivated to act and lead politically. Mike has been working in the AGW political world full time for years, understands strategy and the essential need of media. He is laser focused and takes every opportunity to educate where ever he can.

    Responding to #127, for nurturing and renewal I loved ‘World as Lover, World as Self’ by Joanna Macy.

    In addition:

    For understanding group dynamics I loved ‘Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change’ by Adam Kahane

    For understanding environmental communication I loved ‘Communication and the Natural World’ by Judith Hendry

    For community organizing I loved ‘Building Powerful Community Organizations’ by Michael Jacoby Brown

    We know the science, these books have helped me a lot in creating community and change. The Brown book made the difference in me doing something or not doing something.

  154. MarkR says:

    Haven’t read 154 responses, and I doubt that anyone will read the 155th. I’m sure everyone has posted some reasonable replies that I would agree with. Mike Tidwell’s optimistic (hah) scenarios are unrealistic by my reckoning. Since 2000, the world climate has started on a runaway path that has surprised even the climatologists. My prior prediction of disaster by 2020 seems ever more plausible to me.
    I don’t think that any kind of tepid preparation will safeguard one against the collapse of civil society, which will happen in the US and happen much more readily than imagined. The best equipped in age, strength, and firepower might live a little longer than the rest of us, but they will destroy everything in their fight to survive.
    The one fatal presumption is that there will be business as usual in any sphere.