You might think living like this (off the grid in a solar/propane-powered converted school bus) is rather primitive and demoralizing, but... location, location, location! I lived here 7 years, downstream from Moab, Utah, before Grand County officials gave me the boot in 2010. Yes, irresponsible neighbors ended the idyll. See below:
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I discovered many folks living in converted school buses when I moved to Moab, Utah in 2000 (for that great catastrophe, Y2K!) — a lifestyle I thought only existed in the Third World. Survivalism has long been a part of the Mormon culture here, a legacy from the pioneer days, when Brigham Young's settlers could expect no help from a hostile American government and population if the crops failed. Most Mormon families stock at least a one-year supply of food and other essential supplies.
In recent years, most of the venues for long-term RV/bus living have been closed down by private landowners selling out to developers. I got the refugees streaming into my area by the Colorado River (the land is owned by a kind and generous WWII Seabees veteran). Some of them were dumping their wastes and feces into the river or into dumpsters... the complaints piled up until the County evicted us all. Being in a designated floodplain without connection to the municipal sewage system was one issue. Another was that the land was zoned Range & Grazing, and not being taxed at the commercial rate for renting out to campers.
Which brings up a universal law about personal freedom and government regulation: a few souls living on the frontier, dumping their wastes in a pit, is not a problem. But when population density increases, the rules and regulations get thicker too — because the shit literally piles up.
Unfortunately, our evictions happened during a recognized affordable housing problem in Moab, and the greatest home foreclosure nationwide since the Great Depression. We are now lobbying the County Council to pass some new laws allowing motorized owners a place to live. According to the prognosticators with the best record (Gerald Celente), there's going to more unemployed and homeless people in this country in the next several years, as the financial/deficit bubble bursts. An RV, whether manufactured as such in Detroit, or homemade with Monster Garage skill, should be a viable option — better than a tent city! So what calamities do I worry about most?
1. Killer pandemic. The bird flu, SARS and the recent swine flu didn't pan out to be the genocidal killers that many predicted, thank God. But I regard these as only dress rehearsals. Antibiotic-resistant strains are increasing, and it's only a matter of time before some virulent new disease that mutates like AIDS and defeats all known attempts at a cure hits us — another bubonic plague, and it won't be transmitted by rat fleas this time. Throughout history, microbes have been the most prolific killers of humankind, which is far too numerous now for the Earth's solar carrying capacity. When we get sick with an infestation, our bodies run a fever to kill off the threat — it appears that Mother Earth, or Gaia, may be doing the same thing now with climate change, whatever the cause. And She may very well hatch a new bug to curtail the infestation of bipeds destroying the ecosphere. But I have no inclination to be a martyr for the health of the planet — I'll let the fat, complacent, unprepared bastards in their suburban McMansions take the hit.
I keep a stock of antibiotic essential oils, turmeric and colloidal silver, and the bus will take me deep into the desert, far away from the breeding centers.
2. Solar storm knocking out the electric grid. Another CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) like the 1859 Carrington event that fried telegraph wires, hitting today, would disable most of the 370 transformers that power our grid. The Metatech Corporation estimated it would take 3 years to get the grid back up after such a catastrophe — I'll leave it to your imagination as to what life in the U.S. would be like going 3 years without adequate power. Scientists say it's only a matter of time before another such storm hits. There is a pending bill in the House to provide funding for EM shielding of those transformers (which, like most everything else nowadays, are no longer made in U.S., and can't be quickly replaced), which would solve the problem. Who knows if our dysfunctional politicians will take action before the disaster. Most likely, they will continue squandering our wealth on the Military-Industrial Complex's boogeyman of terrorism. Somebody give them a clue: there is no deadlier "terrorist" than Father Sun and Mother Earth.
We would only have 15 minutes warning before the onset of such an event. But the Carrington event lasted 8 days — that should be enough time to wrap your solar panels in aluminum wire cloth, and stash your inverter in a nested Faraday cage — wrap with plastic, then aluminum foil, and isolate it inside an aluminum garbage can. The foil wrapping should have no gaps, and the garbage can lid must be thoroughly sealed (wrap seam with foil and tape).
3. Volcanic eruption or asteroid impact. An article in Harper's Magazine a few years ago (A Comet's Tale: On the Science of the Apocalypse) recounted a few volcanic eruptions in the past that caused mass extinctions, and the number of large space cannonballs zipping around in our galaxy, and efforts to track them (which were just recently cut back due to funding). A rock like the one that extinguished the dinosaurs is a very remote possibiblity in our lifetime, but who knows — even a smaller one, such as caused the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona, would spark massive climate disruption. It could happen in a thousand years, or next month, similar to the Shoemaker-Levy cometary fragments that impacted Jupiter in 1993. An ELE (Extinction Level Event), of course, is not even worth worrying about it — but short of that, we inhabit a very volatile, vulnerable planet with a history of large-scale catastrophic events. The brief window of relative calm we've enjoyed over the last few millennia will not last forever. One thing, however, is as certain as clockwork: the warm interglacial period we enjoy now will flip again into another, much longer ice age eventually, massively thinning the big herd of brainy bipeds.
The Harper's article also detailed the technology that could be employed to deflect a killer asteroid— nuclear missiles. We've got them, but they're all targeted at our fellow homo sapiens, not the most dangerous threat. If we are wiped out by such a rock, the ashes will be a monument to our stupidity — we had the brains and know-how to prevent our extinction, but were too busy warring amongst ourselves to use it wisely. Divide and be conquered.
There are plenty of manmade problems to worry out — peak oil, nuclear war, global financial meltdown, pollution, food production crises — but the natural disasters outlined above constitute the true TEOTWAWKI events... if we were to fully use the brains we're endowed with, most of them could be mitigated if not completely prevented. But considering the long tradition of human delusion, folly and fratricide, I don't put all my trust in collective solutions. The wise man will hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. It appears that our government may be doing just that — but only for a small segment of the elite and well-connected. See Jesse Ventura's show about the network of "alleged" underground bunkers being built.
"One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity there ain't nothing can beat teamwork." — Mark Twain
"I am not anti-government... I'm against the criminals who have infested, captured and exploited it at the expense of the governed!" — blogger on Ron Paul site
These lines express my politics. So, if you've read this far and are about to email me some Sarah Palin 2012 campaign news! — please don't. Somehow, the notion that Tea Party fundamentalist evangelicals clutching the book of Revelations are the only survivalists or gun owners in America has taken hold in many minds — victims of the crude stereotypes broadcast by corporate puppeteers like Glenn Beck, still stoking the old "trickle-down" prosperity theory, even though for 8 years it's felt more like being stuck under a leaky urinal.
No — I'm a progressive libertarian. The biggest threat to our nation is not the "gubberment," but, as the Ron Paul blogger said, government hijacked by ruthless corporate and financial interests. They have sold off most of our industrial base, plundered the states, gambled on risky disasters and sticking us with the bailout bills while evading their own taxes with vacant HQs in the Cayman Islands. The only comparable concentration of wealth in American history is at the beginning of the Great Depression. And we're going to be in for an even longer one now if we keep electing "More power to the Plutocracy!" candidates. More liberty for the individual and opportunity for small business, but anyone who thinks "getting the government off the backs" of Goldman-Sachs and that band of worthless pirates is going to solve all our problems... well, history can be difficult sometimes, but this history ain't all that old. Please pay attention.
If the Tea Party would listen to its more intelligent and principled advocates — Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Justin Raimondo — and make our monstrously expensive and unproductive military empire an issue, it will find allies on my side of the fence. I am convinced that a Third Party is our only chance at salvaging America's future prospects. As Gerald Celente said, "Republicans ousting Democrats is like the Gambinos replacing the Bonnanos. Whoever wins, the people lose." The Tea Party is a good start, but it will get no further with the likes of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck at the helm.
So who could save America from ruin? I would nominate the man below — really, the only one with the requisite balls, brains and independence for the job.
I just made this up — Jesse is not running as far as I know. One other factor to consider: it's good to prepare for the worst, but if we think that the worst is inevitable, and the whole world must descend into a giant Darwinian shoot'em up — that can tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the lessons of quantum physics and centuries of "anecdotal" experience attest (routinely dismissed by our fundamentalist-materialist scientists), what we think and believe has a huge influence on the reality we live. See this book for worst-case scenarios, and how we might evolve to deal with it (adapt or perish): Quantum Shift in the Global Brain by Ervin Laszlo.
— Travis Kelly
* Answer to "Famous Pose" above — Lee Harvey Oswald on the cover of Life Magazine, 1964. As a graphics professional, I have to hand it to those CIA guys — a great job before Photoshop!