Part Four: Coming Chaos

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John House, MD – Decline in net energy, unsustainable mountains of debt, and climate change are just a few of the enormous problems that humanity faces. I believe, that over the next ten years, each of us will feel tangible disruptions in our daily lives related to these challenges.

Throughout the next decade there is likely to be enormous political upheaval, intermittent shortages of energy – both gasoline and electricity – and disruptions in government services, particularly Social Security and Medicare payments. There is a good chance we could see serious food shortages secondary to climate chaos and collapse of the financial system, as well as reduced availability of medications and healthcare services. I also expect to see a dramatic increase in domestic (U.S.) climate refugees as drought, fire, and flooding continue to take their toll.

I make no claim of being a fortuneteller, so I can’t say with certainty when an event will occur or even that it will happen at all. But I do know that if I hold a lit match to a piece of paper, there’s a real good chance the paper will start burning. The same can be said about the issues I’ve raised. A series of events is underway and they have a logical, expected outcome.

I began to develop an awareness of these problems more than five years ago and I’ve been educating myself and watching developments closely since then. So far, events have deteriorated at a pace consistent with my concerns.

I know that I’ve laid out a pretty depressing, “doom and gloom” picture. My intention isn’t to depress you, but to inform you. Knowing what’s coming is the best way to make provision for the future.

The core challenges humanity faces aren’t really that much different than the challenges we’ve always faced: ensuring adequate food, water, and shelter. What’s different now is that there are many, many more people on the planet, we have extracted most of the easy-to-reach non-renewable resources, and we have a climate that isn’t going to be working in our favor.

It’s too late to do anything to stop the processes that have been put into motion; the match has already lit the paper on fire. But there are some things we can do to ensure that we – and those we love – are as prepared as possible for what’s headed our way.

As you consider the short list I’ve compiled, keep in mind that no matter what happens, making these changes won’t be a waste of time as they will benefit your health and your state of mind.

I encourage you to look at every aspect of your life and find a way to meet your needs locally. Think about how the founders of Eureka Springs lived in the late 19th century and it will give you a good model to follow for your own preparations.

Start growing as much of your food as possible, or partner with some of our local growers. Most of them usually need extra help and, I suspect, would welcome the opportunity to share some of what they know and grow in exchange for a little labor. I also recommend learning how to can foods, putting away as much as possible to ensure you have enough for you and your family to eat through the winter months.

If you have a yard, get a few chickens. They are a lot of fun to care for and can provide both meat and eggs. If you have a few acres, then you might want to try your hand at raising goats. Goat’s milk is delicious and nutritious and there’s nothing quite so fun as a goat kid.

In the event that water supply is disrupted, don’t expect to get your water from bottles at the store. If you have a well powered by electricity, you may want to invest in a solar powered system. If you rely on city water, having a large storage tank is a good idea.

An adequate heat supply can be vital during an ice storm or other electricity outage. If you don’t have a wood-burning fireplace, you may want to consider having a woodstove installed.

If you’re dependent on daily medications, discuss the issue with your doctor to see if there are any you can live without. For the rest, you may want to start stockpiling those medicines to help you weather any short-term disruptions. Having a good first aid kid is always a good idea as well.

There are several good books available that provide step-by-step instructions on living a simple, self-sufficient life, describing how to garden, store your harvest, raise livestock, work with bees, make simple repairs, and more. The purchase of one or two of these books (a printed version, not electronic) can be an excellent investment.

Whether we are facing hardship or joy, the most important thing any of us can do is to live every day as if it is our last, making preparations just in case it’s not. I encourage you to be kind to those around you – human and non-human alike. As the stress of our daily existence increases over the coming years, kindness and forgiveness will make everyone’s life a little more bearable.

[Eds. Note: Dr. House responds to mining and manufacturing of solar panels producing more CO2 per kw of generated electricity than coal-burning plants, ESI May 18: The manufacture of solar panels is highly energy intensive including the cost of mining the raw materials, turning those materials into a photovoltaic cell, assembling the solar panels themselves, the packaging to protect them from breaking in shipping (usually large amounts of Styrofoam™), fuel to transport from the East to the West and then to the assembly site, the energy used to build the support structure for the panels, etc. Any number of studies can be used to support a debate one way or the other, but ultimately, the fact remains that the only way to stop catastrophic global warming is to stop all CO2 emissions right now. Since solar panels generate large amounts of CO2 in their manufacture and it would take millions of square meters of solar panels to power our world, it’s clear that solar panels do not offer a meaningful solution to the problems at hand. Don’t misunderstand me, though, fossil fuels don’t solve our problems either.]

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