The Responsible Survivialist

Get Ready To Sweat…A Lot
May 12, 2010, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Climate Change, Future Scenarios, The Coming Transition | Tags: , ,

Stuart Staniford over at Early Warning has been doing a series on climate change, specifically how as the globe gets warmer in the coming century, this warming will make some areas currently inhabited by man, uninhabitable.

Or in other words, it will be too damned hot to live there!

His first post “Odds of Cooking the Grandkids”, introduces “An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress”, written by Steven C. Sherwood and Matthew Huberb, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online on May 3rd.

Since it costs $10 to download and read the entire paper, Staniford goes on to summarize it for us. Huberb and Staniford looked at the worse case scenarios for climate change and then compared the temperatures predicted with human tolerance for such temperatures.

Tolerances such as can we survive them.

Humans and most other mammals with a core body temperature of around 98F, need to keep that temperature within a close range. A little up or down is ok, but much more or less for any extended period of time can be damaging or fatal. Humans regulate that temperature when they are in hot environments by sweating but sweating can be effected by the humidity of the air. High humidity makes it harder for our sweat to evaporate and lessens the degree which it cools us.

This difference between the actual air temperature measured by a thermometer and the effect of humidity gives rise to something called a “wet bulb” temperature. This is the temperature a thermometer displays when it’s sensor is wrapped in a wet cloth and air is allowed to blow across it.

We know that in health people a wet bulb temperature of 95F is the limit at which we can survive. Get above that for more than a few hours and we begin to get sick and then die. Now we can survive temperatures above 95F because the humidity is almost always very low there. Dry heat, we can handle.

Currently there is nowhere on the planet that the wet bulb temperature gets above 95F, except in the rarest of situations but what happens as the climate changes and temperatures go up?

global worse case temps

The upper globe shows what we have now with just a few degrees of climate change. The temperature scale on the right is wet bulb temperatures both current and projected.

The lower map is the expected temperatures with the worse case scenario of 11C (40F) warming. The areas in pink and white are the concern, which includes most of the eastern US, much of inland South America, Africa, India, sections of northern China, and most of Australia. Such a sharp rise will render those areas bare and lifeless as the heat drives people out, kills animals and probably all but the heartiest of plant life. Lose the plants and the soil then goes.

Remember the Dust Bowl of the early 20th century. It was caused in no small part by soil erosion. Black clouds choking off life. Imagine the Eastern United States as bare, hot and desolate as current Arizona or Nevada.

You can’t grow a garden there.

And while we are focused on the effect of high temperatures on people, don’t forget that animal livestock and agriculture will also be seriously effected. Cows will die and fields will wither.

A recent article on Daily Science points this out.

“Yields of three of the most important crops produced in the United States – corn, soybeans and cotton – are predicted to fall off a cliff if temperatures rise due to climate change.

In a paper recently published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, North Carolina State University agricultural and resource economist Dr. Michael Roberts and Dr. Wolfram Schlenker, an assistant professor of economics at Columbia University, predict that U.S. crop yields could decrease by 30 to 46 percent over the next century under slow global warming scenarios, and by a devastating 63 to 82 percent under the most rapid global warming scenarios.

The study shows that crop yields tick up gradually between roughly 10 and 30 degrees Celsius, or about 50 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. But when temperature levels go over 29 degrees Celsius (84.2 degrees Fahrenheit) for corn, 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) for soybeans and 32 degrees Celsius (89.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for cotton, yields fall steeply.”

Can we say bad?


Does this mean that I expect this to come about?

Probably not. Nothing near the upper temperatures that they looked at in the report. Scientists after all look at the limits of things. Though, if things don’t get that worse, they can still get bad.

Even the moderate temperature increase forecasted of 1-2C or 5-7F, will make heat waves more common and with more and more happening each year, with longer and longer durations. We’ve seen that happening now. Heat related deaths are already the number one cause of weather related deaths in the US.

How much worse will it become as the planet heats up and weather grows weirder?

Something else to consider though. Not many years ago predictions for Greenland ice melt were rather conservative and now we see even worse melting than predicted. If global heat rise is worse too, this prediction may be more and more likely too.


What can a Responsible Survivalist do though?

Learn to adapt and be comfortable with a bit higher temperatures. Don’t turn on the air conditioning at the first breath of Summer. Open a window instead. Its ok to sweat a little. A cool moist towel wipes it off and helps you stay comfortable.

Put on lighter clothing when you are around the house. I have several sets of used surgical scrubs that I change into when I come home from work. Lighter clothing allows air to circulate around your body and helps cool you.

Hydrate. Drink plenty of water, not sodas or caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee. Same with alcoholic beverages like beer. Caffeine and alcohol increase the effects of the heat.

Watch using fans when the humidity is high. While moving air helps cool you, by pulling the air that your sweat has evaporated into away so fresh air can replace it, when humid air is blown on you, it can prevent sweating and actually raise your core body temperature further.

Download the Red Cross pamphlet Heat Wave

And don’t forget your pets. Cats and dogs can suffer from heat related injuries just like we can. It goes without saying, don’t leave pets or children in automobiles during a heat wave. Even during moderate temperatures cars can heat up rapidly to dangerous temperatures.

Check out these articles for more about keeping pets cool:
How to Cool Your Cat Down in the Summer
Cool Off Your Dog


Staniford’s second post, “Heat Stress and India” looks more specifically at the living and working in a high wet bulb environment, focusing in on India. Well worth the read especially if like me, you work in a building without air conditioning.

By the way, here’s a picture from that post of what workers at a northern Indian quarry do at mid-day. They seek shelter from the Sun in crude huts of stone.

Is this to be America in the years to come?

surviving the heat


Eggs and Their Myths
May 12, 2010, 10:39 am
Filed under: Eating Healthy | Tags: , , ,

I like to eat eggs.

They are a wonderful source of nutrition is a small and easily carried package. Cooked in an omelet or hard boiled for later, they are one of the most perfect of foods. And if you can, by raising chickens, a food that keeps on giving. A perfect addition to a Responsible Survivalist’s stable of sustainablity.

So I was interested when Lori Bongiorno over on Yahoo News posted a short informative article on Eggs this morning titled “Four Myths About Eggs”.


“Myth: Brown eggs are different than white.
Fact: The only difference between a brown and white egg is the color of the shell, which is merely a reflection of the breed of the hen. In general, but not always, hens with white feathers and earlobes lay white eggs and those with dark feathers and red earlobes lay brown eggs.

One isn’t healthier, more “natural,” or more eco-friendly than the other. There aren’t any differences in nutritional quality, flavor, or cooking characteristics.

Myth: Free-range eggs come from hens that roam freely outdoors.
Fact: The claims are not regulated for eggs, according to Consumer Reports. So there is no guarantee that the hen that laid the eggs ever saw the light of day. Of course, it may have spent time outdoors, but the “free range” label doesn’t mean anything. The following labels are also meaningless when it comes to eggs: “free roaming,” “hormone free,” and “raised without antibiotics.”

Myth: Organic eggs are healthier.
Fact: They certainly can be, but it all depends on the chicken’s diet. Organic eggs come from hens that are fed a 100-percent organic diet. However, what really matters when it comes to nutrition is whether the hens were raised on pasture. Studies, such as those conducted at Penn State University and by Mother Earth News, found that eggs from chickens that ate grass and insects contained higher levels of omega-3 fat, and vitamins E, A, and in some cases D.

If you want eggs from hens that are raised on pasture or spend a lot of time outdoors, then you’ll have to find a farmer you trust at your local farmers’ market.

Myth: Egg substitutes are simply eggs (or egg whites) without the shells.
Fact: Most products have added stabilizers, thickeners, vitamins, carotenes, and, sometimes, spices, according to Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat. She also points out that they cost about twice as much as real eggs. (A pound of egg substitutes weighs slightly less than a dozen small eggs.)

Of course, if you can’t eat egg yolks for health reasons or have no use for them, egg substitutes are a good option, and most products only have a tiny percentage of additives. Just read the labels before buying.”


I have to admit I’ve been buying the brown eggs recently just because of that first myth, thinking they were more healthy. Now I’ll have to look closer at the labels.

Or check out the local farmer’s markets, which is on my to-do list for this Spring. A co-worker has chickens on her property. I’ll have to ask her if they are laying yet. In the mean time, here are some other facts about eggs:

Pale Yolks: The color of the yolk has nothing to do with an egg’s nutritional value but rather everything to do with a hen’s diet. Deep yellow yolks are typically from chickens that are fed yellow corn and alfalfa meal. Pale yellow yolks are from hens fed wheat or barley. Cage-free chickens that forage and eat a variety of grains lay eggs with a deep orange-yellow yolk. The more carotene or vitamin A eaten by the hen the more yellow the yolk but pale yolks are just as nutritious as dark ones.

Cholesterol: According to a study done at Harvard University, eating one egg per day does not increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. The study tracked 115,000 men and women and measured their health against egg consumption. They concluded that healthy people can eat an egg a day without raising their cholesterol to harmful levels.

Nutrition: A large egg contains 70 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat, of which 2 grams are saturated fat. The yolk of the egg contains almost twice as much healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat as saturated fat. A whole egg contains only 1.55 grams of saturated fat.

The white contains most of the protein, and the yolk has all the fat. Eggs are excellent sources of nutrients including vitamin B12 and the antioxidant lutein, which is important for healthy eyes.

Freshness: One simple test of freshness is to place an egg in water: generally, if the egg is stale it will float and, if it sinks, it is fresh. This is because as the egg gets older, the size of the air sac increases, making it float.

Cleanliness: Egg shell becomes more porous when wet, making it easier for bacteria to get inside the egg. Discard dirty eggs. Never wash them.

Protein: Eggs contain about six grams of high-quality protein each, and compared to other protein sources, eggs are inexpensive. A dozen eggs weighs about 11/2 pounds, so the price per pound is two-thirds the price per dozen.

Stickie – Pardon Our Dust
May 11, 2010, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Site News

Thanks for stopping by. “The Responsible Survivalist” website is currently under construction and will be rolled out to the public around July. We are busy adding content and getting ready.

Feel free to read what is here, and leave a comment if you like.

Please note, all entries before January 1st are draft copies which will be carried forward into the rest of the year, or turned into more detailed How To’s. Those posted since January 1st may be incomplete since I tend to write, then re-write. If it seems short, come back later.

Enjoy, and be safe.

Is This The End, My Friend?
May 9, 2010, 1:57 am
Filed under: The Coming Transition

“This is the End. Beautiful friend, This is the End
My only friend, the End. Of our elaborate plans, the End
Of everything that stands, the End. No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again.
Can you picture what will be…”

From “This Is The End” by The Doors.


Its been a rough month for the World, hasn’t it?

– A drop of over 1000 points to the Dow.
– The Gulf Oil Spill may be the worse one in history.
– A volcano in Iceland shuts down air travel across Europe.
– Greece’s inability to pay its bills, and riots showing the population doesn’t care may bring down the European Union.

Bad news upon bad news, for a World still feeling the effects of a financial near collapse and a economic recession. Can we finally say the End is here?

Well, with a nod to Jim Morrison, the simple comment is…NO.

The Collapse isn’t here, Civilization isn’t about to implode. So if you are racing towards the local grocery store, bundles of cash in hand, ready to clean out shelf loads of can goods before the Masses realize they are doomed, then turn around now and go home.

Yes, things are rough and going to get rougher.

You have time to prepare though.

What we face isn’t a tall cliff we all fall off to plunge to our Dark Ages Doom but a slow, long descent into the wilderness. What kind of world will a wait us there, I’m not sure but it is one our children will see, I have no doubt.

I wonder…did the final Romans imagine their far off grandchildren would live in the Dark Ages of Europe, or did they dream of something better?

Or fear something worse?

Kathy at Just In Case Book tells it like it truly is…

“First, put some water on to boil. When it’s hot, use some to rinse out a tea-pot. When the pot is hot add your tea. I like a nice loose black tea but any kind will do. Now let the tea steep for 10 minutes. You can put on a tea cozy if you like, unless you are a man and likely to have company. If you are a man and a friend drops by, you will get made fun of if you are using a flowered tea cozy but maybe that would not bother you, in which case, go for it as it will keep your tea cozy and that is, after all, the point.You may add some sugar or honey to your tea but if you add milk, please don’t tell me about it as it makes me sick to even consider. Lemon is okay if it’s real and not reconstituted. Playing some Enya is a good idea but sitting in silence is fine too. If necessary, give the kids a popsicle and set them out on the porch. Just have them absent for a few minutes and shut off the ringer on your phone if you can. Now drink your tea.”

So while you may be panicking, just have a cup of tea and try to relax.

And if you want some really depressing doom and gloom, here’s Morrison at his best…

Another Good Week in the Garden
May 8, 2010, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Gardening

Had some good clear weather this week, though today was a bit windy and chilly. Since I had Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, I got a lot more done.

Potatoes Going Strong:
My potatoes continue to be the best growers in the garden. I can see why the Irish planted them so heavily. Here they are at the start of the week.

potatoes at three weeks

I’m going to have to hill them up with soil soon.

Salad Crop in the Ground:
The lettuce, spinach and broccolli are now planted in the raised bed against the house. I planted a bit more lettuce than the other two (15 vs. 9) but then I like salads and a staple of them is lettuce. And spinach but since I have my moringa plants to add to the spinach, I went lite there.

Or will have moringa when I re-seed after the squirrels cleaned me almost out. Just they wait, first good frost to kill worms come the Fall and I may be frying squirrel meat in the skillet.

(cue evil laugh)

lettuce in the ground

Against the wall are from left, okra, 5 plants, yardlong beans, 3 plants, cucumbers, 6 plants. I had originally planned to put the yardlongs on the fence in the second raised bed, but on further consideration, they are climbers and need room.

After talking with a friend, I think I’m going with a PVC trestle set up he’s used in the past. Instead of going straight up with it, I’m going to angle it out. Imagine a trestle with its base against the wall and the top part directly over the outside of the bed.

This does two things. First it lets the plant leaves on both side of the trestle get sun, if you get the angle right. Second, fruit from the plants hangs down through the trestle, making picking easier. We’ll see once I build it. For now, I can let them grow but by mid-week they will need stakes to climb on.

What I planted today only took about 2/3rds of the space. I have been leaning towards planting some asparagus this year but I am having real trouble finding seeds. Seed Savers doesn’t carry any, nor have I seen any at the various hardware stores.

I did find a seed packet at Lowes I thought was asparagus but after I got it home discovered it was my yardlong beans, which seem to also have the name asparagus beans. I found a picture of them…WOW!

yardlong beans ripe

A few of those will make a meal.

The nursery I get my compost from has asparagus starts, so I guess I will pick some up next time I’m there.

My new seeds came in from Seed Savers. I ordered more Stevia on Tuesday and saw that they had the Paris Market carrots back in stock. Ordered those and threw in a package of Dill, since I plan on pickling many of my cucumbers this Fall. The carrots will go into the front raised bed, with the second crop of tomatoes in about a month.

I also saw that my ramps have for the most part died off. There are a half dozen or so that have done well, and I think I’ll replant them at the end of the raised bed.

They are perennials, which means they should come back next year if they multiply. I just don’t know. From what I can find on the Web, people don’t cultivate them.

Call this a experiment in process.

First Tomato and Carrot Bed:
I cleaned out the backside flower bed today. A lot of weeds. Guess when I’m 80 something, I won’t be able to get down on my knees and weed either.

first tomato bed

I didn’t finish it because Joyce and her daughter Joy are going to take the Peone, the big flowering bush in the picture, next weekend. I’ll turn the soil and add the compost after its out. No problem because tomatoes don’t like cold temps and Joyce is predicting one more cold spell before the end of the month.

What do I know, at 80, I bet I’ll be able to predict the weather too…lol.

It doesn’t matter either way, the tomatoes are not ready to plant.

Lessons Learned:
I wait too long to transplant my sprouts. I realize that now. Take my tomatoes.

tomatoes replanted

They are way too long and skinny. I’ll give them a few weeks and if they don’t bulk out then I’ll pitch them. I’m about to start my “friends and family” crop of seeds and I now know to get them into bigger pots as soon as they pop out of the ground.

Also learned – Some plants are very quick off the line. The beans especially take no time to sprout. Though some take almost forever. The peppers and the spinach took several weeks to break the ground. Now if that’s because there wasn’t enough heat on them, I’m not sure. They are planted in my garden but I have a second crop seeded with a stronger light on them, so we’ll see if that makes a difference.

And finally – Don’t fall in love with every plant.

When I hilled up my potatoes at the end of the day, there were a few plants just breaking the soil. Hilling up meant they would now have another 3-4 inches of soil to climb through to reach the Sun.

Given the other plants that were already so tall, I doubt these late bloomers will make it. I almost deferred the hilling up to let these plants grow. Problem is, that will screw the early sprouter. If they get too big, they will “set” and I won’t see any potatoes from them. Better to sacrifice the slow ones that risk the harvest.

Here’s a pic of the bin hilled up.

potatoes hilled

I’m going to have to add the next board soon to the bin.

By the way, you can’t see it in the picture, but Joyce started a sweet potato and we planted it in the bin in the right front corner. Don’t know if it will do the same as the potatoes and grow more after hilling but what the heck, we have room to experiment, don’t we?

ADDED: I worked a few hours at my sister’s place, getting her flowers in while I used her washer and drier to do my laundry. She wanted to go by the nursery so I picked up my asparagus shoots, seven of them, which are now in the ground. Joyce said not to plant the ramps or they would get a cucumber taste, so I picked up some Bok Choy Tatsoi, which is another leafy plant like lettuce, used in salads and stir fry.

I also picked up some Nasturtium seeds to plant on the borders of my two tomato and carrot raised beds. They are a good companion plant for tomatoes. Did you know the blossoms are eatable? They can be stuffed with cream cheese and served on crackers. Won’t that be a sight for my next dinner party?

Lettuce Recall Due to E. Coli, AGAIN
May 7, 2010, 6:30 am
Filed under: Being Responsible, Gardening

It’s Friday and since I don’t have to work today, you would find me at this morning hour with a hot cup of coffee, reading the latest news on the Web. Well, that is, I don’t have to go into my day job but I do plan on getting that flower bed cleared so I can get my raised bed in there, and prepped for the tomatoes and carrots.

First thing I come across of interest is Alina Tugend’s short piece “Penny-Pinching Is Fine, But It Won’t Save the Profligate”. (I actually had to look up the word “profligate”…lol. It means wasteful.) She’s right. Cutting back on the little things while continuing in our bigger and more wasteful ways gives a person a false sense that they are doing something.

Responsible Survivalism looks to the long term. In the years to come as resources grow scarce, jobs dry up and the way our civilization does things now, become undoable, we all will have to learn to do without and do with less.

We have a choice though.

We can learn to do those things which will help us survive, we can make the changes in our habits and lifestyles now, when there is still a backstop of plentiful resources or we can make them then when the smallest mistake will mean disaster for us, our families and our community.

You don’t practice fire drills when the room smells of smoke.

While we will begin to focus more on personal finance over the next few months, here is one tip from Tugend’s article you can start now. Cut back on the number of meals you buy from restaurants.

I don’t eat out that much but I am guilty of impulse buying at the grocery store when I know I already have food at home. A few pieces of fried chicken from the deli or a salad, when there is a can of soup in the cupboard that wouldn’t take more than a few minutes to heat up and would cost a lot less in the long run.

Even better, a soup not from the can but one I cooked myself.

That brings me to the second article that caught my eye this morning. The Associated Press is reporting of yet another E. Coli outbreak in our food, this time in lettuce.

“Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio, said it was recalling romaine lettuce sold under the Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands because of a possible link to the E. coli outbreak.

The recalled lettuce has a “best if used by” date of May 12 or earlier. The recall also affects “grab and go” salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh grocery stores. Freshway Foods said the lettuce was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, in-store salad bars and delis

The lettuce was sold in Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.”

Is it just me, or don’t we see these reports with more and more regularity? Big agri-business again, profits over people.

One of those long term changes we mention over and over again, grow your food if you can. Not all, but as much as you can. Learn to grow now when a mistake like I did with my first spouts of lettuce and broccoli, just means a minor inconvenience, not hard times and starvation.

Its not too late either. Even with the warm Spring we’ve had, normal planting seasons are just starting. Do it this weekend, go by a local hardware store, or nursery, or as a last resort Home Depot or Lowes and pick up a few vegetable plants. Add in a bag of compost. When you get home, find a spot that gets sunlight and take that first small step towards a new life.

By the way, here’s my newest batch of both plants. They are going into the ground this weekend.

lettuce and broccolli.

ADDED 05/08: NPR has an additional story HERE.

Not much to add but it did say the affected lettuce is not sold to customers, its just the kind they use in restaurants and salad bars at grocery stores. I highlight the link not for the story but for the comments. Very informative stuff there, if you have the time.

Squirrels 6, Me 1
May 4, 2010, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Gardening

Well the blasted squirrels have gotten a taste for moringa it seems. They got three more last night or this morning before I got out to the garden. The heavy dusting of red pepper I put down in the planters didn’t seem to have any deterrence. I have one survivor that hasn’t been cropped or killed.

I made a chicken wire cage to protect that one. The wire is wrapped around a 3″ tall section of 8″ diameter Sonotube, the cardboard tube used for concrete pours. My company cuts them down to length from 10′ tubes, and I grabbed a handful of remnants.

It’s buried about 6″ deep. Hopefully that will keep this one safe. I have more seeds and will have to re-plant the other containers.

protection for my plant