It's been a busy spring for me, both in watching the news and in my own preparations. I've added extensively to my raised bed gardens this year, to the point that we should have major harvests of several vegetables for the remainder of this year. We may be looking at canning as a result. Part of this is prompted by the huge run up in commodities prices, particularly grains, coupled with the many stories of grain producing nations beginning to cut exports and in some cases to halt exports entirely. The problem is spreading even to the US as the NY Sun reports Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World. One cheap thing you can do is begin buying extra bags of rice, beans, etc., and storing them inside a larger plastic bag and then that inside a sealable container. There are numerous articles on the net about such processes, along with advice about using dry ice or other methods to drive oxygen out of your containers before sealing it. Be sure to mark and date such containers and either use them or donate them to a food bank before the expiration date. Consider also tossing some hard-to-get items in that container as well, such as toilet paper, matches, sugar, coffee, tea, etc. If you build an inventory of such containers at a rate of 1 or 2 per month, in 6 months time you will have a respectable store of staples.
I am not going to go further into the many details of such activities but as I said previously, there are numerous sites on the web documenting such self-storage processes. You might also consider the Latter Day Saints church as a source, since they have advocated such levels of preparedness for members for decades. And no, I am not a member of the LDS, just noting that they represent one source for such things already vacuum packaged if you wish to go that way. You can also go the freeze-dried route with Mountain House, Nitro-Pak, and other such vendors.
The global oil situation continues in its roughly flat plateau of the last 4 years. A technical new C&C high was reached in February of this year, barely eclipsing the May 2005 high, but keen observers noted that this new high includes tar sands, which are in no way, shape, or form to be considered "crude" oil. So technically the old 2005 high still stands but even with this addition the difference is a mere 137,000 barrels per day. And given the error rate of these reports, a subsequent report may revise that back down anyway. Regardless, the oil plateau continues despite oil moving from $38 per barrel at the start of the plateau to $117 per barrel now. You would think a full trebling of price might get some demand response? But no, no demand response here! So much for abstract economics. Hello economics? Meet reality.
Another alarming trend is that of A Storehouse of Greenhouse Gases Is Opening in Siberia. Read that carefully. If you have not Googled hydrates then I suggest you do that. In the meanwhile let me describe oceanic hydrates as containing more estimated hydrocarbons than maybe 10 times the total conventional oil and natural gas deposits. And further, almost all of it is methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) that is 20 times more potent at trapping heat than CO2. There have been events recorded in geologic history that strongly suggest prior mass extinctions are tied to massive releases of hydrates, which then basically toast the planet rapidly. Hydrate releases are not in the "predicted" warming scenarios even in this century, yet they are beginning now. Everything you read from the UN's IPCC report is watered down, deliberately so, in order to get approval of all the governments involved, especially the United States which has never really been honest about climate change. We can only guess at the reality of how bad it truly is since most of that information gets deliberately suppressed.
And of course there is the economic mess. Do not let the recent rally fool you. This was even predictable as the market, made up of humans, can only take so much bad news before they want to believe anything even remotely positive. However the bad news continues and will continue until all of this bad debt is written off, and that's going to take lots more pain and a few more years at least.
So here we are, 2008, facing gasoline over $3.50 per gallon at the very least, oil at $117, grains at record prices with even some nations halting exports so they can feed themselves, and the US still embroiled in a pointless, expensive war that is just going to lead to even more trouble. If you think things are bad now, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
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