No Food, No Fuel, No Phones: Only One Step From System Collapse

BY Herschel Smith
1 week, 6 days ago

News and perspectives from Australia.

The fires cut road access, which meant towns ran out of fuel and fell low on food. Power to towns was cut and mobile phone services stopped working. So too did the ATMs and EFTPOS services the economy needs to keep running.

[ … ]

These shortages are no surprise. In Australia, as in most developed countries, food and fuel distribution systems run on a “just in time” model. This approach, originally developed by Japanese car manufacturer Toyota, involves organising supply networks so materials are ordered and received when they are needed.

Such systems remove the need to store excess goods in warehouses, and are undoubtedly efficient. But they are also extremely fragile because there is no redundancy in the system—no Plan B.

We import 90% of our oil—a figure expected to rise to 100% by 2030. Much of that fuel passes through the Straits of Hormuz and then through the Indonesian archipelago. We have few alternative routes.

Nor do we maintain sufficient back-up reserves of fuel. Australia is the only International Energy Agency (IEA) member that does not meet the obligation to keep 90 days of fuel supplies in reserve.

As East Gippsland and Mallacoota have shown, many other connected systems, such as food distribution networks, are critically dependent on this fragile fuel supply.

A systems engineering approach; redundancy; interconnectedness; single- and common-failure modes; Management Oversight and Risk Tree analysis.  These are all tools one could use to design and plan for societal failures.  Even an electrical engineering concept like “sneak circuits” or “relay races” would also be useful.

When is the last time you just sat and thought about your own vulnerabilities and dependencies on the society designed by your betters and rulers?  And did anything about it?


Comments

  1. On February 11, 2020 at 2:51 am, Dan said:

    One of the PRIME motivators for businesses to move TO the ‘just in time’ methodology is the criminal “inventory tax” that many jurisdictions impose on companies for having the foresight to keep adequate supplies and inventory ON HAND. Once a year ( or more often) the taxation criminals show up and expect a full accounting of all the stock, products and useful materials a business has in it’s warehouse(s) and then TAXES THEM for having said material on hand. A more regressive abusive and evil tax would be difficult to imagine.

  2. On February 11, 2020 at 6:11 am, Nosmo said:

    “…and then TAXES THEM for having said material on hand.”

    I’m waiting for the day when government leeches figure out the inventory they’re taxing at the seller level has merely been redistributed to the consumers and they start taxing it there.

    Seems like the future biz model may become one in which the “seller” is only the coordinator between the maker and the consumer and the seller carries no inventory at all. Wait, doesn’t Amazon already do a lot of that?

  3. On February 11, 2020 at 8:57 am, Drake said:

    I’ve been on many corporate disaster recovery planning teams. Just-In-Time (JIT) is a great way to avoid taxes and the carrying cost of excess inventory. But the price is massive risk – one hurricane, terrorist attack, even a good blizzard, and you are out of inventory. Sourcing to the cheapest (Chinese) manufacturers is also risky.

    Auto manufacturers are going to have shut down production lines soon as parts aren’t coming out of China because of their homemade plague. And where do all our American hospitals get their needles, IV bags, masks, etc?

  4. On February 11, 2020 at 9:27 am, Fred said:

    @Nosmo, I’m waiting for Americans to understand that corporations don’t pay taxes, they collect them.

    In general, as to the article, I can’t think of a better thing to happen than loss of cell connectivity. I pray they never restore it. And no, an economy doesn’t need ATM’s and worthless paper money to run, but the people need to believe that it does, or the tax farmers running the plantation lose control.

    You need people. That’s what is needed. And as to systems engineering, even a simple yes/no process flow chart would begin to help. Do we have ATM service Yes/No then what do we do in each case. Of course, critical thinking skills are a plus and this should be a huge priority to teach the adults and their children to think.

  5. On February 11, 2020 at 1:35 pm, Justsomeguy said:

    I’m not familiar with the term “Relay Race” and a quick look at a couple of search engines didn’t turn up anything but a reference to them. Can someone enlighten me?

  6. On February 11, 2020 at 1:39 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    When electrical engineers design circuits, they sometimes get unintended consequences like relay / contactor races through sneak circuits that do things they didn’t intend and usually have to fix the problem with delays or thermistors.

    e.g.,

    https://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=157445

    So the point is that while you may design some logistics train, or some redundancy, or etc., etc., sometimes there can be things you didn’t think about that cause unintended consequences.

  7. On February 11, 2020 at 2:57 pm, Nosmo said:

    “@Nosmo, I’m waiting for Americans to understand that corporations don’t pay taxes, they collect them.”
    Fred, 0927 Feb 11

    Hasn’t happened yet, isn’t happening now, my bet is on it never happening. But never underestimate government’s desire to pursue more money wherever it may be.

  8. On February 11, 2020 at 4:40 pm, penses said:

    What happened in Aus was orchestrated by the Climate Scare Mongers and ignored by the MSM. An already bad situation was exacerbated by climate activists setting fires intentionally to advance their global agenda. The same thing happened in Brazil.

    With a President and a Republican party that ignores left wing violence and an FBI planting double agents going after ghosts on the right and the MSM running interference blaming everyone but the left, there could be another “fast and furious” event in store for the USA.

  9. On February 11, 2020 at 4:51 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Yes, I covered that here.

    https://www.captainsjournal.com/2020/01/09/the-truth-about-the-australian-bush-fires/

  10. On February 11, 2020 at 7:50 pm, penses said:

    Another item to consider upon a system collapse are the wild predators in your back yard. They like to eat too. The fact that it is happening in urban USA right now is not good.
    https://www.nj.com/ocean/2020/02/police-capture-pack-of-dogs-terrorizing-nj-town-at-least-6-people-have-been-bitten.html

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