Surviving in Financial Crisis 2008 onward
Page to chronicle the encroaching shifts in our standard of living with the onset of financial recession, rising gasoline prices, rising food prices, stagnant wages.  Peak Oil has peaked.  Sub prime mortgage crisis has burst it's bubble, gas prices in U.S. over $4.00 gallon rapidly on the rise, food shortages proclaimed.  All this in midst of global climate crisis.  We will be altering our lifestyles, like it or not.

June 21, 2008

Bangladesh set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century

Deep below the ground of Munshigonj and thousands of villages like it, salt water is swelling up. It is this process – called "saline inundation" – that killed their trees and their fields and contaminated their drinking water. Some farmers have shifted from growing rice to farming shrimp – but that employs less than a quarter of the people, and it makes them dependent on a fickle export market. The scientific evidence shows that unless we change now, this salt water will keep rising and rising, until everything here is ocean.

Dr Atiq Rahman's office in downtown Dhaka is a nest of scientific reports and books that, at every question, he dives into to reel off figures. He is a tidy, grey-moustached man who speaks English very fast, as if he is running out of time.

"It is clear from all the data we are gathering here in Bangladesh that the IPCC predictions were much too conservative," he said. He should know: he is one of the IPCC's leading members, and the UN has given him an award for his unusually prescient predictions. His work is used as one of the standard textbooks across the world, including at Oxford and Harvard. "We are facing a catastrophe in this country. We are talking about an absolutely massive displacement of human beings."

He handed me shafts of scientific studies as he explained: "This is the ground zero of global warming." He listed the effects. The seas are rising, so land is being claimed from the outside. (The largest island in the country, Bhola, has lost half its land in the past decade.) The rivers are super-charged, becoming wider and wider, so land is being claimed from within. (Erosion is up by 40 per cent). Cyclones are becoming more intense and more violent (2007 was the worst year on record for intense hurricanes here). And salt water is rendering the land barren. (The rate of saline inundation has trebled in the past 20 years.) "There is no question," Dr Rahman said, "that this is being caused primarily by human action. This is way outside natural variation. If you really want people in the West to understand the effect they are having here, it's simple. From now on, we need to have a system where for every 10,000 tons of carbon you emit, you have to take a Bangladeshi family to live with you. It is your responsibility." In the past, he has called it "climatic genocide".

The worst-case scenario, Dr Rahman said, is if one of the world's land-based ice-sheets breaks up. "Then we lose 70 to 80 per cent of our land, including Dhaka. It's a different world, and we're not on it. The evidence from Jim Hansen shows this is becoming more likely – and it can happen quickly and irreversibly. My best understanding of the evidence is that this will probably happen towards the end of the lifetime of babies born today."

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The End of Suburbia As We Know It?

 When James Howard Kunstler describes the future of American suburbs, it sounds like he's describing a disaster movie.

The housing crisis, he says, isn't just a low point in a real estate business cycle; high gas prices aren't just a temporary problem for suburban commuters. Neither of those problems will go away; instead, they'll get worse, growing into long-term catastrophe.

We're at the end of the suburban phase of American history, he says. "We've invested all of our post-World War II wealth in an infrastructure for daily life that has no future."

Kunstler, an author who writes widely on architecture, says suburbs were able to develop because of cheap oil and cheap land, but our dwindling natural resources will not be able to sustain the heavy demands of suburbia and its more scattered neighbor, exurbia, in the future. "We're just not going to be able to run them," he says. "It's unfortunate, it's tragic, but it's the truth."

According to Kunstler, the end won't come all at once. But it won't come easily either. He says our society has placed so many of its resources, and even its identity, in wasteful suburban living that it will be difficult to let go. "We're going to see an enormous effort to sustain it even in the face of incredible obstacles," he says, "and that in itself is going to be a big problem, because we're going to squander a lot of our remaining and dwindling resources in that attempt."

read more at link (NPR)



June 20, 2008

Eating Healthy Might Prove Too Expensive for Poor

Fruits, Vegetables May Break a Low-Income Family's Budget

ABC News Medical Unit

Nov. 1, 2007 —

We tend to blame the obesity epidemic in the United States on people making the wrong lifestyle choices -- for example, eating a Big Mac instead of carrot sticks or Twinkies instead of an apple.

New research shows, however, that the price of healthy food may be too high for many low-income families to afford, and experts say the government needs to step in.

A new study published in the journal of the American Dietetic Association finds that a low-income family would have to devote 43 to 70 percent of its food budget to fruits and vegetables to meet the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which recommends five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

"Most Americans fall short of the recommended servings," says Milton Stokes, a registered dietitian and a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.

"The lower their economic status, the more of their income is spent toward food," he says. "Someone making $20,000 is going to spend a larger percentage of dollars on food than someone making $200,000, even if they buy the same amount."

Currently, researchers say that American families spend 15 to 18 percent of their budget on fruits and vegetables.

"It seems unlikely that consumers would be able to increase their spending on fruits and vegetables by 200 percent to 400 percent without substantial changes elsewhere in the food budget, or from other household expenditures," the authors of the report note. "For low-income consumers this may be especially challenging, because there are few discretionary funds available in these other accounts. "

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June 19, 2008

Can you lower your food budget while raising the nutrition of your food?

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Gas prices latest worry for real estate market

   The financial burden of longer commutes makes homes in outlying areas that are already reeling even less attractive.

By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 17, 2008
Rising gas prices may be the latest ailment afflicting the housing market, as figures released Monday showed Southern California home prices plunging 27% in May from a year ago and falling even more precipitously in distant suburbs
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Bankruptcy rising among seniors

By Christine Dugas, USA TODAY

Swamped by debt and rising medical bills, elderly Americans have been seeking bankruptcy-court protection at sharply faster rates than other adults, a study to be released Tuesday indicates.

From 1991 to 2007, the rate of personal bankruptcy filings among those ages 65 or older jumped by 150%, according to AARP, which will release the new research from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project. The most startling rise occurred among those ages 75 to 84, whose rate soared 433%.

The study did not address the specific reasons behind the trend. But experts say medical bills have played a major role in the debt that has forced many elderly Americans into bankruptcy proceedings.

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Secondhand surge: Slow economy has people selling what they can to make ends meet

By DEBBIE GARLICKI ; The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
Published: June 19th, 2008 01:29 AM
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- A black pickup truck backed into the driveway of the auction hall adjoining the Hereford Volunteer Fire Company in Berks County, Pa., on an overcast Friday in late April.

With a grunt, a 75-year-old Alburtis, Pa., man wearing a Dietrich's Meats baseball cap started unloading lawn chair cushions, an aluminum trash can, garden tools and tires. Minutes later, his wife pulled up in a van full of what soon would be former belongings.

"People need money, and they are bringing it in," said Stanley Richard, helping to cart the items into his son Donald's auction gallery.

The "it" he referred to are a variety of items in people's attics, garages, drawers and jewelry boxes that some auctioneers say more people are selling to pay for food, gas or other necessities in these lackluster economic times.

Sellers and auctioneers, who accept items on consignment, are an integral part of the second-hand market of wheelers and dealers, flea marketers, yard sale junkies and those who facilitate the exchange of money and goods.

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