Archive for Monday, May 26, 2008

Survivalists prepare for oil crisis

Some leaving homes to be self-sufficient

Peter Laskowski feeds his chickens and sheep April 11 at his remote home in Waitsfield, Vt. Convinced that the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's economies are heading for a crash, people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns.

Peter Laskowski feeds his chickens and sheep April 11 at his remote home in Waitsfield, Vt. Convinced that the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's economies are heading for a crash, people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns.

May 26, 2008


— A few years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban grandma, driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at McDonald's, buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings.

That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future of the world's oil supply. Now, she's preparing for the world as we know it to disappear.

Breault cut her driving time in half. She switched to a diet of locally grown foods near her upstate New York home and lost 70 pounds. She sliced up her credit cards, banished her television and swore off plane travel. She began relying on a wood-burning stove.

"I was panic-stricken," the 50-year-old recalled, her voice shaking. "Devastated. Depressed. Afraid. Vulnerable. Weak. Alone. Just terrible."

Convinced the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who didn't prepare.

The exact number of people taking such steps is impossible to determine, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been gaining momentum in the last few years.

These energy survivalists are not leading some sort of green revolution meant to save the planet. Many of them believe it is too late for that, seeing signs in soaring fuel and food prices and a faltering U.S. economy, and are largely focused on saving themselves.

Some are doing it quietly, giving few details of their preparations - afraid that revealing such information as the location of their supplies will endanger themselves and their loved ones. They envision a future in which the nation's cities will be filled with hungry, desperate refugees forced to go looking for food, shelter and water.

"There's going to be things that happen when people can't get things that they need for themselves and their families," said Lynn-Marie, who believes cities could see a rise in violence as early as 2012.

Lynn-Marie asked to be identified by her first name to protect her homestead in rural western Idaho.

'Peak oil'

These survivalists believe in "peak oil," the idea that world oil production is set to hit a high point and then decline. Scientists who support the idea say the amount of oil produced in the world each year has already or will soon begin a downward slide, even amid increased demand. But many scientists say such a scenario will be avoided as other sources of energy come in to fill the void.

On the Web site, where upward of 800 people gathered on recent evenings, believers engage in a debate about what kind of world awaits.

Some members argue there will be no financial crash, but a slow slide into harder times. Some believe the federal government will respond to the loss of energy security with a clampdown on personal freedoms. Others simply don't trust that the government can maintain basic services in the face of an energy crisis.

Determined to guard themselves from potentially harsh times ahead, Lynn-Marie and her husband have already planted an orchard of about 40 trees and built a greenhouse on their 7 1/2 acres. They have built their own irrigation system. They've begun to raise chickens and pigs, and they've learned to slaughter them.

The couple have gotten rid of their TV and instead have been reading dusty old books published in their grandparents' era, books that explain the simpler lifestyle they are trying to revive. Lynn-Marie has been teaching herself how to make soap. Her husband, concerned about one day being unable to get medications, has been training to become an herbalist.

By 2012, they expect to power their property with solar panels, and produce their own meat, milk and vegetables. When things start to fall apart, they expect their children and grandchildren will come back home and help them work the land. She envisions a day when the family may have to decide whether to turn needy people away from their door.

"People will be unprepared," she said. "And we can imagine marauding hordes."

Preparing for crisis

Peter Laskowski can also envision the changes. Living in a woodsy area outside of Montpelier, Vt., the 57-year-old retiree has become the local constable and a deputy sheriff for his county, as well as an emergency medical technician.

"I decided there was nothing like getting the training myself to deal with insurrections, if that's a possibility," said the former executive recruiter.

Laskowski is taking steps similar to environmentalists: conserving fuel, consuming less, studying global warming, and relying on local produce and craftsmen. Laskowski is powering his home with solar panels and is raising fish, geese, ducks and sheep. He has planted apple and pear trees and is growing lettuce, spinach and corn.

Whenever possible, he uses his bicycle to get into town.

"I remember the oil crisis in '73; I remember waiting in line for gas," Laskowski said. "If there is a disruption in the oil supply it will be very quickly elevated into a disaster."


Sigmund 9 years, 12 months ago

"I remember the oil crisis in '73; I remember waiting in line for gas," Laskowski said. "If there is a disruption in the oil supply it will be very quickly elevated into a disaster."No it won't, unless we do something foolish like the gas rationing or the windfall profit taxes of the Carter years... wait a minute!

Sigmund 9 years, 12 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says: "The "survivalists" may not be entirely wrong."They have been entirely wrong for so long and so often it is hard for to imagine the secular nor the religious "end of times" crowd ever being correct. Jesus is not coming back anytime soon in some grand apocalypse (yes, I know I am going to hell so don't bother), the earth will not burst into flames from global warming (yes, I know I am a "Denier" so don't bother), and civilization will not collapse because the cost of petrol goes up and down (yes, I am a capitalist so just tax me to death).Anyway watch the History Channel any weekend and you will see the Mayan calender ends in 2012 because a killer asteroid, predicted by both Bible Codes and Nostradamus, slams into the earth and little gray aliens will come back to Earth, abduct and anal probe the remaining humans, and then give them the secret to unlimited power contained in the pyramids for the inconvenience. Shouldn't they rename it the "Future History Channel?"

notajayhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Okay, for the slow folks: The Plaza, as a place where people could live and work and shop all in one little community, was a failure. It is a wonderful place, as a shopping destination and/or place to live (I used to live on the south side of Brush Creek overlooking the River Walk and the Plaza itself), but it is hardly an area where someone can get everything they need for working and living in one neighborhood. As a shopping or tourist destination it's fantastic, but the lack of a grocery store (and there were two within walking distance when I lived there) makes it a failure as a one-place-that-has-it-all living community.

classclown 9 years, 12 months ago

Windlass (Anonymous) says:This has been an area of frustration for me. I can't access YouTube on this computer, which is not mine.====================================Any chance you can send one of those computers to cool?

Sigmund 9 years, 12 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says: "Should the price of gas exceed the $7 level, which I consider to be the so-called "tipping point" for the average consumer, all Hell will break loose."It may in fact push you over the edge, but most of the EU has benn living with that price for years. Most the rest of humanity will drive less, buy more efficeint cars, cut back on movies and trips shopping, do more work by telecommuting before we begin killing rampages and eating their young. Sorry to disappoint.

salad 9 years, 12 months ago

Prospector, what's your point? You helped reinforce MY point; that law and order will be maintained. So, if that was your intent, thanks. If you were trying to show that survivalist might be right, and that there will be marauding, the links you posted failed to show any hordes. Just a bunch of well behaved WW 1 vets, and a random localized food riot at a grocery store. Survivalists erroneously believe that the 2nd law of thermodynamics applys to humans and civilizations. It does not.

notajayhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

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Rickyonealku 9 years, 12 months ago

I remember 1973 which was my sophomore year in college, you went home for winter break and when school was over, walked to classes and your dating was involved very little driving. We would cookout a lot would quail, duck phesant anything we killed during the winter break. Plus all the home grown beef from the family farm.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 12 months ago

Many of these "end of times" survivalists hope mightily for social collapse. They are itching to use their guns and "survival skills" in the chaos they envision occurring.In other words, it is a fantasy dreamt by many a gun-toting "survivalist".

KyleXY 9 years, 12 months ago

Sigmund,The predictions are close to correct. The aliens aren't waiting to invade until after the asteroid hit....we're already here. (We got hungry...sometimes we drop a foot or two after eating in Canada though)

notajayhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

"I remember the oil crisis in '73; I remember waiting in line for gas," Laskowski said. "If there is a disruption in the oil supply it will be very quickly elevated into a disaster."And yet, the disasters he alludes to were notably absent in 1973.I have to agree with Sigmund on this one. When I accepted my current job, which involves 550 miles of weekly commuting, we budgeted a certain amount for gas. My commuting vehicle was in somewhat a state of disrepair, and a very minor adjustment (not even a repair) increased my mileage dramatically, so much so that gas will have to get to $5 before I even hit the amount budgeted earlier. When it hits $7, we'll have to make a few adjustments, but they won't involve either switching jobs or moving closer - for numerous reasons, working there and living here have too many advantages. It would have to get over $10 before we considered either of those alternatives. And both of those options are a far cry from the apocalypse.

notajayhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Maybe all of us don't choose to live in a modern-day commune.By the way, this is hardly a new idea. The Plaza in Kansas City was intended as something along those lines, where people could live, work, and shop all in one place. It didn't work.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 9 years, 12 months ago

It had two bedrooms. He said they had to have 3, as they belonged to some church that instructs each family to have one years rations in storage, so they needed the third bedroom for that.Mormons are required to do this.

dirkleisure 9 years, 12 months ago

Harry Truman, campaigning in 1948:If you give the Republicans complete control of this government, you might just as well turn it over to the special interests and we'll start on a boom and bust cycle and try to go through just what we did in the twenties.

classclown 9 years, 12 months ago

Maybe this is going to be the next season of Survivor on CBS.Survivor: Apocalypse

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 12 months ago

one of the worse scenarios for a catastrophic collapse is if the government continues to function and provide "law and order for the good of the greater good":what you would likely have is the confiscation of any homegrown operations that are producing food, clean water, and maybe even producing some energy: and the more successful the operation: the more likely the "authorities" will want control over it: so that they can control who gets what is produced: so that they can have general control over the people: which is necessary for the survival of the government:anyway: the short of it is that the marauders might be something other than the hungry masses:

Sigmund 9 years, 12 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says: "And now the gouging starts; dealers jacking up the price of hybrids:"Just more supply and demand driving price, nothing new here. In any event Marion, I would have thought that a gift card for a gun on every new car purchased offered by Max Motors in Butler, Missouri would be more your style. "Sales have quadrupled since the launch of Guns and Gas, and according to Moore, this has little do to with the gas." Register, "American auto dealer offers free handguns: Obama sparks US economy"Or listen to the BBC interview with the dealer here:, " US car dealer in free gun offer: A car dealership in the United States is offering a free handgun with every vehicle sold."

Sigmund 9 years, 12 months ago

I am amused that for years the Ecomentalist have been demanding legislation to force Big Auto to build smaller cars, give tax breaks to encourage buyers for expensive hybrid cars, encourage more car pooling and discourage the use of gasoline; but now that the market price for gas has done exactly what they wanted, suddenly it is the apocalypse and the collapse of society is just around the corner! You just can't please some people.Next thing you know, when the price of electricity doubles for lack of cheap coal generated power plants and suddenly wind generated power becomes economically feasible at the higher price, they will complain about that as well.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 12 months ago

Survivalism without civilization won't do these folks any good. Try to survive in desperate times and sadly Mr. Laskowski will one of the first to have their resources taken away. Government and police break down and then its law of the jungle. I don't think its that bad yet but.....

acg 9 years, 12 months ago

Ya'll are all saying that the survivalists are crazy for stocking up and preparing for hordes of people fighting for the last gallon of gas or loaf of bread because it's never happened before, right? Well, as far as I'm concerned, there's a first time for everything. There's being a alarmist, there's being prepared and then there's being an ostrich. Which are you?

notajayhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

stream47 (Anonymous) says: " The Plaza "worked" as a community from 1926, when it was built, until the early 1980s, when the retail chains like Eddie Bauer and all that other crap moved in."Maybe you haven't been keeping up, but the 80's were a while back. The retail chains and other cr*p moved in because that's what people wanted. Nobody wants a one-place-for-everything neighborhood anymore. People want the flexibility and freedom to go where they want when they want, and that's unlikely to ever change back.

Bossa_Nova 9 years, 12 months ago

i'm assembling rickshaws in my garage here in lawrence. anybody wanna buy one? i'll cut you a sweet deal if you buy 10 units.

notajayhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

One's probably a Mercedes, the other possibly a Rolls/Bentley?

notajayhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Gee, Sigmund, don't you realize if the capitalist free market accomplishes what they want a socialist nanny-state government should do (albeit not as well) it's a bad thing? It takes away their reasons to clamor for that socialist state to come into being, for Pete's sake.

salad 9 years, 12 months ago

Sorry Prospector, but you're incorrect. There were no "marauding hordes" during the great depression (which your link confirms). As much as you'd like for there to be a kooky hollywood Mad-Max apocolyptic civilization downfall, it ain't gonna happen. Even if there's rioting, order is restored. looting and localized rioting are not what the survivalists are talking about; they mean the complete breakdown of law and order, in which order is NOT restored.

Sigmund 9 years, 12 months ago

KyleXY (Anonymous) says: "Sigmund, The predictions are close to correct. The aliens aren't waiting to invade until after the asteroid hit:.we're already here. (We got hungry : sometimes we drop a foot or two after eating in Canada though)"NICE! But I like my aliens microbe sized, and if you do to check out part one of the "The Andromeda Strain (2008)" based on the Michael Crichton sci-fi novel tonight at 8PM CT on A&E (the conclusion is tomorrow night). You can find the worlds best review of the miniseries on my blog. Reader Blogs: Sigmund, "What Happened in Piedmont?"Favorite quote from the original (which is better by miles):":first contact with extraterrestrial life will be determined by the known probabilities of speciation: complex organisms are rare on earth: simple organisms flourish in abundance: there are millions of bacteria, thousands of insects but few primates: frequency of speciation goes a corresponding frequency in numbers: human interaction with extra terrestrial will: [be] identical to bacteria or viruses."

blessed3x 9 years, 12 months ago

If we would have drilled in Anwar and off the coast in 1995 when we started talking about it, we would be enjoying much cheaper gas right now. Thanks greenies.

Chris Golledge 9 years, 12 months ago

How do you know he's the King? Coz he's not covered in sh__ like the rest of us.Just something I thought of when I saw the picture.I suspect that Europe has an economy like us because petrol prices are just one facet of the price of energy. I suspect they pay approximately the same price per barrel for crude oil as the US does. I believe the economy is like any system, the amount of activity within the system is determined by how much energy is available. Peak oil: Well, let's see, are we consuming it faster than it is being made? If you'd seen an advertisement 50 years ago about an oil company bragging how they were getting oil from a mile under the ocean, would you have been impressed, or, would you have thought, why the heck are they bothering to do that? It's coming, just a question of when.Second question is are we going to see it coming enough ahead of time to switch over to something else so that the transition can be relatively smooth? Or, is society by nature a short-sighted beast?Societal collapse? Who knows, but I bet they'll be a time not far off when the biggest question in our kids mind is something more serious than, am I getting an XBox or a PS3?

SpeedRacer 9 years, 12 months ago

If there is a worldwide oil crisis, there will be a period of chaos and uncertainty, but nations and peoples will adapt and there will be scientific and technological breakthroughs. Civilization may change and evolve, but it will not collapse. It is not in our nature to give up.

blessed3x 9 years, 12 months ago

Cool wrote...blessed3xproblem is that was about a 4 month supply is all !doesn't work - would have been long gone by now.and off coast ? you want to kill all of the fish ?! Taking the extreme low side of the estimates aren't we? The estimates I'm seeing are MUCH higher. Of course the greenies tried to dismiss the Prudhoe Bay oilfield as being only a few months supply, too. to the fish comment, have the existing rigs destroyed the fish life? What makes you think new ones would?Drill Anwar, drill off the coast and up the mpg standards for american car manufacturers and all cars sold in the US. Allow US refineries to be built and encourage conservation. There is currently no substitute for oil. All the green fuels are still decades off from being able to replace oil. We need oil. Like it or not. You can allow us to access our own natural resources while working toward an alternative, or you can continue to force us to buy from the animals in the middle east. When this becomes an economic crisis to the masses in America, your environmental standards will not hold up to the cries of the citizens. Drill now, when it can be done responsibly and be offset with new standards.

madam_hillarys_pantsuits 9 years, 12 months ago out in the off the isolation.....nothing electrical.....nothing to do.....growing one's own veggies.....Hey!, isn't that how Ted Kaczynski lived his life for, oh, what was it?, about 20 years or so?He got by okay......didn't he?....of course, he was also a completely whacked-out dude who killed people with homemade bombs..........but he did somehow manage to survive (for quite a lengthy period of time) in a manner a lot like the person in this story! I guess anything's possible!

notajayhawk 9 years, 12 months ago

duplenty (Anonymous) says: >>>"Maybe you haven't been keeping up, but the 80's were a while back.""Are you able to respond without being an a$$?"Henceforth I shall strive to emulate your fine example.

salad 9 years, 12 months ago

"The "survivalists" may not be entirely wrong."No, they're entirely wrong. Please show me a time in the past when there have been "marauding hordes" due to shortages? It doesn't happen. I'm not planning on any marauding, nor are any of the people I know. It didn't happen during the great depression, it hasn't even happened like these nut jobs predict in hell holes like Somalia, where there is no govt. People somehow manage to get along and not go "caveman" on each other. If you're worried about this "apocolypse", then you're both stupid and chicken $%#@.

Write2Know 9 years, 12 months ago

They should be stocking up on bullets rather than guns.

stuckinthemiddle 9 years, 12 months ago

in any crisis the most important thing is to not panic...not sure how high oil/gas prices will go but I suspect that the price will experience at least a 30% crash within the next 2 years... barring an escalation of war in the middle east: and as long as the Fed stops running the value of the US dollar into the ground with the lowering of interest rates:there certainly is a chance that there could be some really tough times ahead for most folks... but if folks don't panic things will be okay... for most... in the long run:the worst thing that could happen is if people started killing people over gas and food...but there are a lot of people who are willing to do just that...

trinity 9 years, 12 months ago

multi, i dunno about the small town grocers but great question. i just totally love small town living, even with its sometime inconvenience! go to the big town every now&then, stock up stock up stock up on non-perishables, and fill in occasional blanks in the pantry at the little grocery store. is marion british or something? the sporadic use of olde english spelling-just seems weird.

Mkh 9 years, 12 months ago

Peak Oil is happening, whether it is from a real supply shortage or a manufactured one is a different debate, but either way the results are the same and are happening.Peak Oil has nothing to do with the Apocalypse or the "end of times" simply means that it becomes increasingly expensive to extract the same amount of oil to meet demand. This is already occuring. If you are not preparing yourself for the shift this will bring and the ensuing transitional period of energy usage...well, then you are an idiot and deserve what is coming to you.

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