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


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…

Avatar’s Other World – Earth in 2144
February 24, 2010, 4:09 pm
Filed under: Future Scenarios, The Coming Transition

Having recently watched James Cameron’s “Avatar”, I read with some interest Michael T. Klare’s op-ed at the CBSNews’ website titled “Will Earth’s Last Stand Sweep the 2013 Oscars?, in which he sketches one possible world view of the year 2144, the time that “Avatar” happens in, and one I feel could very well come to be.

(Michael Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He is the author of “Resource Wars, Blood and Oil” and “Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet”.)

“It’s the torrid summer of 2144, just a decade before Avatar begins. (That movie takes place in summer 2154, after a flight from Earth that, we’re told, involves six continuous years of sleep, which helps us backdate Jake Scully’s Venezuelan combat tours.) As it has been for decades, the world is at war, with competing power blocs fighting bitterly over a diminishing pool of vital resources.

Three great power centers dominate the global resource struggle, all located in the northern latitudes where the climate still remains tolerable and the land still receives sufficient rainfall to support agriculture. The first of these, in whose legions both Scully and Quaritch fight, is the North American Federation, founded after the United States, facing desertification in its southern half, invaded and absorbed Canada. The second, Greater China, incorporating northern China, the Korean peninsula, and eastern Siberia (seized from Russia in a series of wars), dominates what’s left of Asia; the third, the North European Alliance, encompassing Germany, Russia (west of the Urals), and Scandinavia, relies heavily on Arctic resources. As in the world portrayed by George Orwell in 1984, these powers continually jockey for dominance in shifting alliances, while their armies face one another in the torrid, still relatively resource-rich parts of the planet. In this neo-Orwellian world, warfare and the constant pressure of resource competition are the only constants.

Thanks to global warming, the planet’s tropical and subtropical regions, including large parts of Africa, the Mediterranean basin, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia, as well as Mexico and the American Southwest, have become virtually uninhabitable. Many island nations and coastal areas, including much of Florida, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines, lie under water. Critical raw materials like oil, coal, natural gas, uranium, copper, and cobalt are perennially scarce. Starvation is a constant fear for those not affluent enough to pay for increasingly expensive genetically-modified crops and meat produced on corporate farms with multiple chemical inputs.

Large-scale industrial civilization still persists, but many once-industrialized areas have been abandoned, and what factories and transport systems remain are constantly constrained by limited energy supplies and the lack of steady flows of vital resources. Oil is particularly hard to come by, and so, in all three power blocs, its use is largely restricted to the military, security forces, emergency services, the largest of corporations, and the very rich. (If you want to get a sense of such a world, imagine Mel Gibson’s 1979 movie Road Warrior on steroids.) Other sources of energy, including natural gas and uranium, are also in increasingly scant supply. Renewable sources, including wind and solar power, help to make up some, but not enough, of the difference, while a shortage of critical minerals — copper, cobalt, tin, manganese, titanium — limits the scale of many industrial undertakings.

For ordinary people — and only somewhat less so for the elites of the planet’s heavily militarized states — survival is a constant struggle. Outside of the industrialized power centers, life involves a daily search for food, water, and energy of any sort, as well as whatever precious goods (gems, weapons, bits of technology) might be traded to get those basics. For the big corporations and their government sponsors, as they send the Scullys and Quadritches to the distant corners of the planet to enforce their will, the struggle is no less fierce for control of the world’s few remaining deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, copper, and uranium.”


Chilling in its forecast but most people reading this will say to themselves “That’s over a hundred years from now, why worry?”.

Well, Responsible Survivalists worry about things that will affect their children and their grand children, that’s what being responsible is. More over though, the world Professor Klare lays out won’t be one that just appears over night. The conditions that create such a dark and brooding future will happen over time. Time that you and I will likely live to see.

And we are already seeing such conditions now.

If you have been reading the news this past year, you will have noted I hope the world wide buying spree China has been on, gobbling up long term contracts for essential resources from copper to coal, and especially oil. Unfortunately while most of the Western World stay glued to their televisions watching “American Idol” and our elected officials here in the US play partician games of chicken, the Chinese are already running the next, most important Olympic Sport, “Grab It Now, While You Can.”

Will the rest of the World wake up in time. Can you depend on our governments for your survival?

I doubt it, don’t you?

So become like China, look to securing your own future and that of your family, by securing the resources, the knowledge and the skills beginning now, that you will need in the future of the 21st century.


Follow Up – Dated 03.01.10:
“China eyeing perks of ice-free Arctic”

“China has started exploring how to reap economic and strategic benefits from the ice melting at the Arctic with global warming, a Stockholm research institute said Monday.

Chinese officials have so far had been cautious in expressing interest in the region for fear of causing alarm among the five countries bordering the Arctic, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.

“The prospect of the Arctic being navigable during summer months, leading to both shorter shipping routes and access to untapped energy resources, has impelled the Chinese government to allocate more resources to Arctic research,” SIPRI researcher Linda Jakobson said.”

As I said earlier, China gets its. Do you?

Transitioning to a New Harsh Hot Future
February 12, 2010, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Community, The Coming Transition

The new Dark Age is around the corner.

Greer’s The Long Road Down

Swords Above Our Head
January 21, 2010, 10:57 am
Filed under: Climate Change, Peak Oil, The Coming Transition

talk about the various limiting factors, including briefly peak oil and climate change

The nine planetary boundaries

“climate change, stratospheric ozone, land use change, freshwater use, biological diversity, ocean acidification, nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the biosphere and oceans, aerosol loading and chemical pollution.”

Nature magazine’s articles on this
“The sad thing is it isn’t just climate change. It’s excessive use of fertilizers, which run off into the river, and into the seas causing algae bloom and fish die offs. It’s the increase in ocean acidification which is killing corral reef which are a foundation of the sea ecosystem. It’s giant patches of trash floating in the oceans. It’s fresh water getting harder and harder to find. It’s burning hundred if not thousands of acres a day of forest to convert it into farm land for cash crops.”

Rising CO2 might not be good for us

“Even if you don’t think global warming is manmade, it’s hard to argue that CO2 levels have not risen. Here’s some scary unintended consequences of higher CO2 levels:

Rueters story

“Staples such as cassava on which millions of people depend become more toxic and produce much smaller yields in a world with higher carbon dioxide levels and more drought, Australian scientists say. Gleadow’s team tested cassava and sorghum under a series of climate change scenarios, with particular focus on different CO2 levels, to study the effect on plant nutritional quality and yield. Both species belong to a group of plants that produce chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides, which break down to release poisonous cyanide gas if the leaves are crushed or chewed.

While it was possible to use processing techniques to reduce the level of toxin in the cassava leaves, it was the 50 percent or greater drop in the number of tubers that caused most concern, Gleadow said. About 750 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America rely on cassava as a staple. The starchy tubers are used to make flour and the plant is ideal in dry regions because of its hardy nature.

The good news was that the levels of toxin in the tuber didn’t increase with CO2, unlike the edible leaves. “The downside of that is that we found the plant didn’t grow nearly as well,” she said. “There’s been this common assumption that plants will always grow better in a high CO2 world. And we’ve now found that these plants grew much worse and had smaller tubers.”

Plant study

“Research published by three scientists at Southwestern University in Texas suggests that the price of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is sharply falling nutritional value in staple crops upon which 40 per cent of the world’s population relies for its dietary protein.

Daniel Taub, Brian Miller and Holly Allen analysed more than 220 experiments in which plants were exposed to levels of carbon dioxide that ranged from the present ambient level to about double the existing level. They discovered that as the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere goes up, the protein in wheat, barley, rice, potatoes and soy beans diminishes, in some cases quite sharply.

Barley lost 15.3 per cent of its protein, potatoes lost 14 per cent, rice and wheat lost almost 10 per cent. Soy beans fared better, but even they lost 1.4 per cent of protein. As these plants absorb more carbon dioxide into their tissues, the researchers found, they do so at the expense of other compounds, including those which are essential parts of proteins.

This may all seem rather esoteric, but a 10- to 15-per-cent shortfall in the protein available to 40 per cent of the world’s population should make everyone sit up and take notice because the effects would be felt pretty quickly by the other 60 per cent, too.

Cereal grains, particularly barley, are key components in feed for the animals — chickens, pigs, cattle — that provide much of the protein in the developed world. A 15-per-cent reduction in the nutritional value of animal feed could only mean less efficiency for farmers and rising costs for consumers of meat, eggs and dairy products as well as for consumers of the two cereal grains — wheat and rice — that dominate world supply.

Well the solution’s easy, some might counter. Just use the additional land that comes available as temperate zones move north to increase production and that will offset any falling nutritional values.

But the climate change jigsaw is complicated and what seems logical doesn’t necessarily follow. For example, the quality of soils in northern latitudes is much poorer than the deep, rich soils that now comprise the North American and European breadbaskets. In Canada, 95 per cent of the land mass will never be suitable for field crops. It doesn’t matter what the climate is like, you can’t grow wheat on glaciated rock or mountains.”

Please Fasten Your Seatbelts
January 14, 2010, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Climate Change, Peak Oil, The Coming Transition

the coming decent


There is a storm coming.

As much as you or I would like our carefree world of IPods and Play Stations to continue, there are real and pressing problems that will soon make that happy reality the stuff of fond remembrances and envious longings. Reality is preparing to bitch slap the human race with a vengeance.

You have a simple choice ahead of yourself. Get slapped or not.

I’m here to teach you the “Not”.