Monday, May 18, 2009

'Recession Apocalypse': Preparing for the End of the World

Economic Survivalists Hunker Down for Doomsday; Recession Triggers Movement Toward Self-Sufficiency
By JEREMY HUBBARD and ELIZABETH STUART

BUSKIRK, N.Y., May 15, 2009—

In the serene hills of rural upstate New York, Kathie Breault is hunkering down for doomsday. It's not an all-out Armageddon that the 51-year-old grandmother is convinced of, but an imminent economic apocalypse.

A few years ago, Breault began reading about what happens when the world surpasses "peak oil" -- a point where we will use more oil than we can produce.

"I was afraid that any day that oil would disappear, that gas would start to disappear, that I wouldn't be able to get to work, I wouldn't have money, I wouldn't have food that I needed," she said. "It was frightening -- the picture that was painted."

Breault and a growing number of so-called "economic survivalists," are convinced that when oil supply wanes, the world will head for calamity; governments and the global economy will dissolve into chaos and collapse, the group believes, changing life as we know it.

"Everything that we do in our lives is dependent on abundant, cheap energy -- all the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the transportation. We've lost everything that we know about how to live in a different way," she said. "I'm totally dependent on a system that I think isn't going to be there in the future."

To prepare for a looming catastrophe, Breault began eating healthier, walking four miles a day and biking. She lost 100 pounds as a result. Getting rid of her TV and credit cards, she slashed her monthly expenses and now heats her entire house with a tiny wood-burning stove.

"It gets cold, I wear a hat to bed and I wear lots of layers. I wear long underwear all winter," she said.

Breault's survivalist lifestyle marks a radical departure from the consumer-driven life she used to lead. "I was in the malls -- big Christmases, big holidays. Every weekend, I was entertaining my family, we had great get-togethers, lots of food. I took trips to Mexico and Ireland and across the country, conferences. Eat, drink, have a good time," Breault said. "I had a wonderful life. I traveled where I wanted to, I did what I wanted to, and I bought what I wanted to. And I overconsumed."

Some Survivalists Stockpile Food and Guns

Breault isn't alone in her transformation. Thousands are hunkering down for an economic apocalypse and share comments about converging catastrophes on Web sites and Internet message boards, like Peakoil.com.

Some survivalists have moved to rural homesteads, or what they call "doomsteads," where they can live off the land, raise their own livestock and grow their own vegetables. Others are stockpiling food and guns in case widespread panic breaks out.

While fellow survivalists online are convinced, Breault's family isn't.

"She was going a little bit too far. She was really worried; I think it kind of depressed her a little bit," said her daughter-in-law, Jenny Breault, 30. "And I was kind of scared a little bit -- just because I thought she was taking it too far."

Breault's husband, Michael, 58, didn't support her lifestyle change, and they divorced in 2006.

"My husband was convinced that this wouldn't happen in our lifetime and that things would be worked out and we'd be OK. And we just really disagreed about this," she said.

Despite her family's hesitations, there is evidence that the sluggish economy, rising food, fuel prices and uncertainty about the future have triggered a movement toward conservation and self-sufficiency.

As a result of the recession, people are staying closer to home. In March, U.S. airlines saw passenger traffic fall by 10 percent, and Americans have driven fewer miles for the past 14 consecutive months.

The National Gardening Association says 7 million households will plant vegetable gardens this year, up 19 percent from last year.

Breault gets most of her food from Cedar Hill Farm, a local farm in Bennington, Vt., tended to by Lisa MacDougall and Chuck Currie.

"We try to grow everything from artichokes to zucchini," Currie said.

MacDougall gave the rest of the farm's grocery list. "Strawberries, eggplant, red peppers, leaf lettuce, spinach, onions, sweet potatoes, potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, celery, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage."

Layoff Forces Breault to Become More Self-Sufficient

Since ABC News sat down for an interview with Breault earlier this month, she was laid off. That means she'll have to cut back even more -- eliminating some of the few frills, like juice, she still indulges in.

"I get myself a treat every once in a while," she said. "I don't feel guilty about it, I just think I don't need to do it anymore and that'll stop with my job loss."

Breault sees unemployment as a good thing -- an obstacle that will force her to become even more self-reliant. Eventually, she hopes to sustain herself entirely from fruits and vegetables grown on her own lawn.

"It's been probably the most difficult years of my life, but I feel like I've come through and I'm really in a good place," she said. "I'm happier, I'm healthier, I feel better, I have a good relationship with my grandchildren. ... I'm in a much better place now."

Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures

3 comments:

  1. This is a good post that is based on scientific studies about the future.

    According to independent studies, global crude oil production peaked in 2008 and is now declining terminally.

    Within a year or two, oil prices will skyrocket as supply falls below demand.

    Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production is now declining from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

    Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. There is no plan nor capital for a so-called electric economy. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

    "By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

    With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, water supply, waste water treatment, and automated building systems.

    Documented here:
    http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html
    http://survivingpeakoil.blogspot.com/

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  2. I think this is not true. First off, 20 years ago I had heard about oil wells that had been tapped dry, were found to be filling up again with oil. At that time, the postulate was that compression of the shale and various fossils rocks in the earth were creating more oil, and that the idea of draining the earth's oil started to be believed to be a hoax.

    Personally, I believed that there was plenty of oil and it was/is my conviction that is further supported by a prophetic statement in the Revelation, Rev. 6:6 in which the apostle John hears a voice from the center of the four Living Creatures, "...and do not harm the oil and the wine."

    Most religious people tend to think that this is some kind of reference to olive oil, but I don't think so. I think in light of what is prophesied and the times we find ourselves in, the Holy Spirit is giving counsel to those who have ears to hear. Again, I believe there is plenty of oil for energy.

    Lastly, my lastest search on this topic on Google brought up some very important and interesting news coming not only from 3rd party scientists, but also NASA which is about to release a new report showing that crude oil is NOT made from fossil fuels, as everybody suspected, but is made from biochemical reaction beneath the earth's surface. Apparently, NASA has found the same thing on one of Saturn's moons. Search using words such as "oil replenished".

    Make no mistake, though. I do think these end days are coming fast upon us and they will be unlike any evil in the history of the earth. I just do not think the oil story, as it is propagated, is true.

    ----

    Judgment begins in the house of the Lord. Christians had better start learning how to survive exclusively on the Holy Spirit, and not rely upon their own strength and resources.

    This is why God takes pains to take His people in wildernesses. Whether it was Isreal coming out of Egypt, or Jesus going into the wilderness, or Paul who spent 14 or 17 years alone before coming back to the original 11 disciples... etc. The wilderness is where man's strenth, money, nor business acumen will be of much help to him. And so, God takes pains to get His saints weaned off their psychology, intellect, money, all natural resources, so that they might begin to learn how to walk by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only that which is heavenly, can enter into heaven. Nothing natural. Nothing earthly.

    Not only is the earth being shaken, but the heavens also, so that which is of Christ (eternal) will remain, and that which is not (temporary) will fall off. Hebrews 12:26-28

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  3. I mostly posted the story because of the self-sufficiency angle. I'm not totally convinced by the peak oil hypothesis for two reasons.

    1) We can't know if we've discovered all the oil there is to discover. And as Todd says, oil may be self-replenishing. Some Russian scientists have apparently been doing research in this direction.

    2) The Powers That Be seem to need a crisis to keep our attention directed somewhere. We're done with the Cold War. Terrorism is a non-starter. Now global warming and peak oil are the latest excuses to grab power and remake whole societies.

    Having said that, it is possible that we are running out of the stuff. If so, that will radically reshape our world. On the whole, I think this might just be a good thing. I don't think the life we are living now is very good for us. Humanity lived for millenia without oil-based energy. We've only been using it for about 100 years.

    Hitler proved you can make diesel fuel and other fuels out of coal on a relatively large scale. It wouldn't be an environmentalist's preference, I'm sure, but it could work.

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