Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Thriving During Challenging Times

Man what’s happening these days? Things seem to be moving very fast and many of the things we’re experiencing are dramatic. The depth of this economic crisis is staggering. The IMF says the world economy will contract for the first time since World War II. Central banks are giving money away at interest rates that are effectively zero percent. The housing market in the U.S. is collapsing with the Canadian market starting to show signs of following suit.

Now the Big Three North American automakers are on the ropes and media treats it like it’s just another news story. Some are suggesting that bankruptcy may be the best route for Chrysler and General Motors. Holy cow! I grew up with General Motors as the largest, most profitable corporation on the planet? How is this possible? How did it happen so fast?

Some would suggest that GM refused to look at the warning signs and didn’t plan for contingencies. People had been warning about peak oil for a long time. Even if General Motors wasn’t 100% convinced that the world has hit peak, it could have had a “Plan B” for a spike in oil prices. An oil spike had happened before Spring of 2008 so having fuel efficient vehicles positioned to handle it would have made sense. Instead GM management took the easy route and kept making large vehicles which were much more profitable than small fuel efficient ones. They’re now struggling to get the “Volt” to market even though 10 years ago they were world technology leaders with their electric EV1, which is featured in the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car.”

I would suggest that you not follow the GM model and develop a personal contingency plan. That’s the theme of my new book “Thriving During Challenging Times, the Energy, Food and Financial Independence Handbook.” It’s a book to help you prepare for some of the inevitable shocks that are coming to the system. Whether it’s peak oil, peak food, climate change, peak water or any other number of challenges, you should be thinking about how to create a personal “Plan B”.

The book is about making yourself more resilient to shocks, whether it’s where you live, where you work, or how you heat and power your home. One of the things I discuss along with growing some of your own food is how to store food, and now is a good time to give some thought to setting up a pantry and putting away some food for a rainy day. The current outbreak of the swine flu reminds us of how susceptible the world is to a pandemic with travel between countries so common. In Mexico City the mayor has cancelled all public events for 10 days to try and contain the outbreak. Part of emergency measures here could be to place some restrictions on public movement, which might affect your ability to get groceries. The WHO has elevated the risk of a worldwide pandemic to a level 5 out of 6.

If a virulent strain of the flu is around it only makes sense for you to try and limit your exposure to it, all the more reason to have a well-stocked root cellar, freezer and pantry to tide you over for a few weeks. This is part of your Plan B to make yourself more resilient to challenges we may face in the future. One of the suggestions I make in the book is to stock your pantry over time with non-perishable goods as they come on sale. Rather than running out and stocking up at the last minute as people on the news do before a hurricane or weather incident hits a community, it makes economic sense to build up your pantry over time with items as they come on sale. If you make your pantry large enough it can not only help you handle a short term dislocation like a flu pandemic or weather event, it could help you in the event of an economic shock like the loss of a job. This food store is just another form of savings, in this case with food rather than dollar bills. If you’ve been stocking up when things are on sale and have 3 or 6 months of good quality, non-perishable food, it will make an economic shock to your household easier to handle.

It’s really quite easy to create a plan to make your household more resilient and it makes economic sense. My book “Thriving During Challenging Times” will be out in late summer.


1 Comment

  1. Brian

    I wanted to say “great timing” for your new book Cam, but I am pretty sure you started it long before the economic meltdown. In fact, you’ve warned us about it for years. The deniers are Green with envy.

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