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Monday, January 4, 2010

Just a thought on resource depletion, emergency preparations and economic resilience!

Most people who've heard of peak oil accept that it is a real phenomenon. Many people also realize that with rising world populations, increased consumption and the growing affluence of Asia that there will be a great many commodities from food, silver, distillates, catalysts, chemicals, rare earths and energy that will come into short term or permanent shortage at some time in our near future.

It is my belief that the GPC needs new ideas that will not only work towards the reality of resource depletion by advocating reduced consumption but at the same time creating policy that will strengthen Canada's resilience to the economic shocks caused by possible shortages. With this in mind I think that the GPC should adopt policy calling for the creation of regional strategic stockpiles that work with industry to make sure that primary materials required for the smooth operation of Canadian economic engine do not run out due to short term market shortages, or environmental emergencies.

I would also suggest that strategic reserves of grains, emergency supplies, and vital infrastructure components should be created so that in case of something like a massive blackout, ice storm, solar flare, hurricane etc. important infrastructure like the power grid or water treatment system can be restored in a timely manner without relying on foreign deliveries or waiting for the manufacture of damaged equipment. I'm sure there are already some government and utility provisions in place for such events but with the combination of resource depletion and the expectation of more volatile weather from climate change these programs surely need to be beefed up.

Now I admit there is no way to hoard our way to prosperity but having a strategic reserve for for energy is something most counties have. We do not! Canada always makes excuses for itself because it’s so big and cold, all the more reason to have a stockpile so no one ends up freezing in the dark, NO?

In today's just in time delivery system a strategic supply of food is only sane considering grocery stores and the distribution system only have a few days of anything in stock.

A strategic supply of rare earths for example will not keep us in business if the world runs out but would certainly keep industry running during a short term delivery interruption and would also be a great carrot to entice manufacturing companies to set up shop in Canada. Rare earths are especially important to those Green Techs we claim we wish to support like the manufacture of PV units and wind turbines.

Precursor chemicals for common and wide spread drugs like thyroxin, blood thiners or increased stockpiles of insulin might also be wise.

This is not an over night project but something that would take the better part of decade to build up to. Consultation with industry, economists, logistics people and the prioritization of which materials to stockpile would be a project unto itself but certainly energy and food should top of the list.

We are also in a time when currencies are going wild, the possibility sovereign defaults are being openly considered and it might just make sense to put part of our reserves into something that is real, growing in rarity and vital for our economic engine rather than more U.S. T bills.Recommend this Post


nitroglycol said...

Interesting thought. In actual fact, it makes sense for any of the parties to adopt such a policy, but it's the kind of thing that politicians and political candidates are reluctant to talk about. There's a simple reason for that -- while it's possible to adapt away from fossil fuels, it will be uncomfortable for a lot of people. Politicians don't like to tell the public that "if I am elected things will get worse before they get better", no matter how true it is.

gab said...

Well the restounding response shows what people think of being prepared, so a wasted effort on my part.

nitroglycol said...

Are you talking about the response from GPC people with whom you've raised the issue, from readers of this blog, or the public at large? And is the response hostile, or do they just ignore it?

In any case, it's not a completely wasted effort. Every time you raise the issue you're at least drawing people's attention to the idea. That can't hurt, surely.

GAB said...

I've raised it with my EDA once,, as a possible policy to send to convention, friends, colleges etc. Little interest.

At least with personal preparation people can be convinced that oh maybe they might lose their job , get sick, have a black out etc So it makes sense to hoard some goods, as the size of a possible shortage or crisis gets bigger the less likely they are to accept it could happen. The idea that the stores, gov, friends farmily etc won't be able to meet their needs shuts them right down.

The GPC already has the chicken little complex and we are considered fear mongers by many, so I can see why they don't want to talk about it but this could so be modeled as a business friendly policy which are things the GPC needs to improve.

But as you said any party should jump on this and I'd not bitch about it if they did, but I'd like to see mine do it.

I don't expect much from response from my blog as readership is not high and Prorogue is the only topic of interest this week.

Brad said...


Well, that's a long list you provided. First and foremost, could we not start with food? With potential oil price volatility, we will see this drastically impact food prices. I consider our current low food prices 'leveraged' by cheap energy. If the government developed a plan to stockpile storable necessity food items and relenquished them during high food prices, then couldn't this alleviate price shocks to consumers?

I think the best place to start right now is at home and also talk to our neighbours. Yes, I would like our governments to respond, but we need to move quickly and I feel this will be a bottom-up change - and I think it needs to be since we need to focus on small scale and local solutions. We need to start at home, figure out our energy consumption, learn how to grow some good, talk with our neighbours, figure out who can do what in the neighbourhood, then talk with community groups and come up with action plans for the community. This could include a community tool shed, community gardens, communtiy energy projects, etc. Our goals for this year include a nice backyard garden, with a focus on permaculture and successional planting, and then work on storage varieties of root crops (and then store them, ofcourse). We are also talking with friends about the idea of self sufficiency.

Since we are a resource nation, we are very fortunate, but it will take careful planning, vision and education to use and trade these resources efficiently. It's going to cost more money, but for our agricultural industry we need diversification and smaller and more local scale. We desperately need more urban community gardens for low income groups, immigrant groups, and all other groups.

On a side note, excellent job with the blog sites. I have been an investor in alternative energy and sustainable companies on the stock market for the past 3 years. More recently I started questioning the financial markets that these companies were situated in. The more I've read about the financial system and fiat currencies, the more concerned I became. I believe these companies have a future, but I am less confident in the financial system. I recently stumbled upon your silver blog and then to this one. Keep up the good work!

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