This is from a San Fransisco paper. They're still making it look like a fringe thing, but I think we'll be seeing more of this.
Energy fears looming, new survivalists prepare
Saturday, May 24, 2008
A few years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban grandma,
driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at McDonald's,
buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings.
That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future
of the world's oil supply. Now, she's preparing for the world as we
know it to disappear.
Breault cut her driving time in half. She switched to a diet of
locally grown foods near her upstate New York home and lost 70 pounds.
She sliced up her credit cards, banished her television and swore off
plane travel. She began relying on a wood-burning stove.
"I was panic-stricken," the 50-year-old recalled, her voice shaking.
"Devastated. Depressed. Afraid. Vulnerable. Weak. Alone. Just terrible."
Convinced the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's
economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are
moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving
fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to
defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people
who didn't prepare.
The exact number of people taking such steps is impossible to
determine, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been
gaining momentum in the last few years.
These energy survivalists are not leading some sort of green
revolution meant to save the planet. Many of them believe it is too
late for that, seeing signs in soaring fuel and food prices and a
faltering U.S. economy, and are largely focused on saving themselves.
Some are doing it quietly, giving few details of their preparations
— afraid that revealing such information as the location of their
supplies will endanger themselves and their loved ones. They envision a
future in which the nation's cities will be filled with hungry,
desperate refugees forced to go looking for food, shelter and water.
"There's going to be things that happen when people can't get things
that they need for themselves and their families," said Lynn-Marie, who
believes cities could see a rise in violence as early as 2012.
Lynn-Marie asked to be identified by her first name to protect her
homestead in rural western Idaho. Many of these survivalists declined
to speak to The Associated Press for similar reasons.
These survivalists believe in "peak oil," the idea that world oil
production is set to hit a high point and then decline. Scientists who
support idea say the amount of oil produced in the world each year has
already or will soon begin a downward slide, even amid increased
demand. But many scientists say such a scenario will be avoided as
other sources of energy come in to fill the void.
On the PeakOil.com Web site, where upward of 800 people gathered on
recent evenings, believers engage in a debate about what kind of world
Some members argue there will be no financial crash, but a slow
slide into harder times. Some believe the federal government will
respond to the loss of energy security with a clampdown on personal
freedoms. Others simply don't trust that the government can maintain
basic services in the face of an energy crisis.
The powers that be, they've determined, will be largely powerless to stop what is to come.
Determined to guard themselves from potentially harsh times ahead,
Lynn-Marie and her husband have already planted an orchard of about 40
trees and built a greenhouse on their 7 1/2 acres. They have built
their own irrigation system. They've begun to raise chickens and pigs,
and they've learned to slaughter them.
The couple have gotten rid of their TV and instead have been reading
dusty old books published in their grandparents' era, books that
explain the simpler lifestyle they are trying to revive. Lynn-Marie has
been teaching herself how to make soap. Her husband, concerned about
one day being unable to get medications, has been training to become an
By 2012, they expect to power their property with solar panels, and
produce their own meat, milk and vegetables. When things start to fall
apart, they expect their children and grandchildren will come back home
and help them work the land. She envisions a day when the family may
have to decide whether to turn needy people away from their door.
"People will be unprepared," she said. "And we can imagine marauding hordes."
So can Peter Laskowski. Living in a woodsy area outside of
Montpelier, Vt., the 57-year-old retiree has become the local constable
and a deputy sheriff for his county, as well as an emergency medical
"I decided there was nothing like getting the training myself to
deal with insurrections, if that's a possibility," said the former
Laskowski is taking steps similar to environmentalists: conserving
fuel, consuming less, studying global warming, and relying on local
produce and craftsmen. Laskowski is powering his home with solar panels
and is raising fish, geese, ducks and sheep. He has planted apple and
pear trees and is growing lettuce, spinach and corn.
Whenever possible, he uses his bicycle to get into town.
"I remember the oil crisis in '73; I remember waiting in line for
gas," Laskowski said. "If there is a disruption in the oil supply it
will be very quickly elevated into a disaster."
Breault said she hopes to someday band together with her neighbors
to form a self-sufficient community. Women will always be having
babies, she notes, and she imagines her skills as a midwife will always
be in demand.
For now, she is readying for the more immediate work ahead: There's
a root cellar to dig, fruit trees and vegetable plots to plant. She has
put a bicycle on layaway, and soon she'll be able to bike to visit her
grandkids even if there is no oil at the pump.
Whatever the shape of things yet to come, she said, she's done what she can to prepare.