Reprinted w/o permission from J's LJ. While I don't agree with everything, I still think it's work reposting.
-Apparently the food crisis is real. Last night on NPR's Marketplace, they interviewed an economist from the FDA who confirmed that globally the price of staples is rapidly beginning to evade the ability of the poorest to afford it. This has led to several SE asian nations to shut down exports of rice in an attempt to stabilize local prices. This of course will have a chilling effect on domestic production which will lead to further scarcity and shortages.
-Gasoline will probably top 4 dollars a barrel for regular unleaded by the summer, and there's really nothing we can do about it. This is even though according to several studies, demand for gasoline has in fact been reduced. As Gasoline, and particularly diesel fuel, continue to rise in price, everything anyone in the first world buys will begin to cost more money. Add to this the fact that we're nearing a recession and the continual decline of real wages for the middle and working classes in north america, combined with the fact that the EU's freight infrastructure is much less robust than North America's, and we're looking at a pan first world crisis within the next couple of years. And unfortunately, it looks like it will only get worse.
-Climate Change is increasingly leading to bizarre weather all over the place. In seattle, we had snow in April, which is unheard of, and our daily weather fluctuations are strange and ugly and provide a sort of Natural Born Killers backdrop to daily life.
-The Bush administration continues its course of sabre rattling in dealing with Iran and Syria, the two nations with whom we should be attempting to diplomatically engage in much more real terms and also begin to distance ourselves from the Saudis.
-Still no legitimate replacements for fossil fuels have been found and what fossil fuels are still available are apparently rapidly approaching peak supply. As soon as peak supply is reached, the only way to reduce prices on them will be to reduce demand. with maybe a couple billion cars, trucks, airplanes, and ships reliant on fossil fuels just to move and an increasingly globalized supply chain for agricultural and industrial products, that demand is not likely to abate and as a result the prices on everything will continue to rise.
-China owns close to a trillion dollars of the US national debt, putting us a in a precarious position of being at the mercy of another state for our continued fiscal solvency. Granted that even if China did elect to dump their dollars it would be disastrous for them as well as us, and it's not likely to happen as a result, if things continue to get worse in Asia, it becomes more and more of a real possibility as a way for them to leverage assistance.
-John "The Disaster Waiting To Happen" McCain is starting to look a little too teflon thanks to the hyperfocus of the mainstream media on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's campaign gaffes. McCain's image as a Maverick Independent, carefully crafted since the early nineties when he was nearly arrested on criminal charges for his involvment in the S&L scandals, is being bantered about uninterrogated by the same people who will unashamedly attempt to tie Barack Obama to the Weather Underground, and who have more or less decided that Hillary Clinton has no chance of becoming the Democratic nominee for the presidency. This Teflonacy of McCain's makes him a more viable candidate, and given recent revelations about the nature of the Iranian and Syrian nuclear weapons programs, there is now good reason to fear that McCain might do something truly crazy in the middle east should he be elected.
-Should that truly crazy something happen, it is unlikely that we will be able to continue as we have with a completely volunteer army. Our Military Readiness is already sorely taxed by the ongoing debacle in Iraq and the escalating problems in Afghanistan and on the Pakistani border. Fighting in Iran or Syria alone would possibly push us past the breaking point, never mind what might happen if violence broke out in south asia or china due to food shortages.
-What can we do to prepare?
As I see it, there are a number of things the average person can do to prepare for the collapse of western civilization as we know it.
1.) Buy Chickens: Eggs are an excellent source of protein and get a good return on investment from chicken feed. If you have a reasonably sized yard, then four or five chickens are cheap, easy to care for, and will produce eggs.
2.) Plant a vegetable garden and learn how to cultivate seeds from plants. Depending on where you live, there are any number of high input to output vegetables that can be grown. Also worth considering are fruit trees and berry bushes.
3.) Learn how to make electricity. One of the biggest challenges we may start to face as the energy markets destabilize is insufficient supply. We in the pacific northwest are likely to be spared this so long as our hydroelectric infrastructure remains intact, but people living in the southwest in particular need to look into how to construct small scarel windfarms and photoelectric panels and keep them working.
4.) buy a fishing pole, a hunting rifle, and a shotgun and learn how to use them. also learn how to skin and clean a large animal. this goes for vegetarians too. I look at hunting as a sort of last resort survival skill, but if things get truly bad to the point that the food transportation mechanisms break down, it will be a useful skill.
5.) read up on anarcho-syndicalism. In small groups, anarcho syndicalism is the most workable ad hoc system of governance. should there be a widescale breakdown of law and order, we will still need communities in order to live, and communities need a way to keep order internally. most people understand the principle of direct democracy, but in the absence of any sort of authority in times of stress, direct democracy can also be fragmentary. An anarcho syndicalist group functioning on an internal gift economy and an external barter economy will be able to function well and maintain it's internal cohesion.
6.) go to health insurance websites and find the names of young doctors in your area. if health care breaks, you will need to know who to go to to treat the sick, and younger people will have a less established group of patients demanding their attention in times of crisis.
7.) Buy a road bicycle with some sort of trailer. Bicycle travel is the most energy efficient means of transportation ever invented. it takes a lot longer to travel long distances by bike, but it will always work. Also worth your time would be to stock up on a few extra inner tubes, replacement brakes, tires, seat posts, chains, and gears. also, buy an extra helmet in case you get into a crash with your main helmet and they've become cost prohibitive.
8.) learn as much first aid as you can and if you can, invest in a home defibrulator and a top notch first aid kit.
9.) learn how to build a fire and fire pit. you never know when that might come in handy.