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Matthew Stein
Matthew Stein holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. An engineer and building contractor, Stein has built hurricane resistant, energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes, and has designed commercial water filtration systems, photovoltaic roofing panels, medical bacteriological filters, computer disk drives, portable fiberglass buildings and automated assembly machinery, among other things. He is the author of When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival, and  When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency from Chelsea Green.. For more information visit,

For many years, Stein has pursued avid interests in renewable energy, alternative healing, sustainable growth, and preventative medicine. His websites are at, and
He holds a number of US patents and was a National Merit Scholar. Stein volunteers his services as a guide and guide trainer for blind skiers with the Ski for Light blind cross-country skier program. Stein’s outdoor experience includes considerable backpacking and camping (starting at age 5), alpine ascents in the Canadian Rockies and High Sierras, solo winter ascents of peaks in the High Sierras and numerous Yosemite Valley hard rock climbs (including several Half Dome and El Capitan big walls). He currently resides with his wife, Josie, in the High Sierra Mountains near Lake Tahoe, CA.

Entries by Matthew Stein

What Obamacare Means to Me: The Difference Between Bankruptcy and Having a Life Again

(72) Comments | Posted October 3, 2013 | 9:13 AM

Like millions of others, my wife Josie and I are self-employed, middle-class Americans. We are old enough that insurance companies place us in their expensive high-risk categories, but too young to qualify for Medicare.

Until one of us got really sick, we lived under the illusion that we were...

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Home Fire-Safe Checklist/Defensible Space

(1) Comments | Posted July 2, 2013 | 5:57 PM

Fire Statistics
The following statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are for fires in the USA in 2009:

  • There were 3,010 civilian deaths from fire, 2,565 of which occurred in the home.

  • There were 260 civilian deaths from motor vehicle fires.

  • Only 105 civilian...

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Tornado Survival Tips

(2) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 8:09 AM

Darden describes a family of five who lived on a farm outside of Higdon, Ala., a small community in the northern part of the state. They had no storm shelter, but they did live in a home that he says was well built.

On Saturday, Darden and a...

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Car Survival Tips for a Blizzard

(5) Comments | Posted February 8, 2013 | 4:43 PM

What should you do if you are stuck in your car during a killer snowstorm?

In mid December of 1992, unusually dry conditions had people cancelling their reservations for Christmas in Tahoe, but then the weather changed. A couple days before Christmas, it started snowing, and for the next...

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400 Chernobyls

(8) Comments | Posted January 3, 2011 | 10:23 AM

MIT engineer warns of nuclear Armageddon, urges preventative measures

There are nearly 450 nuclear reactors in the world, with hundreds more either under construction or in the planning stages. Imagine what havoc it would wreak on our civilization, and the planet's ecosystems, if we were to suddenly experience not just...

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Backcasting Into the Future

(1) Comments | Posted December 27, 2010 | 11:56 AM

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. --Rita Mae Brown (also popularly attributed to Einstein)
It used to be that as the New Year approached and people reminisced about the passing of the old one, they would optimistically look forward to the coming year,...
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Shock and Shame

(6) Comments | Posted August 10, 2010 | 6:22 PM

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! --inscription on the Statue of Liberty, from a poem by Emma Lazarus

Yesterday morning, as...

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Time for America's Dunkirk!

(9) Comments | Posted June 20, 2010 | 3:14 PM

I had my hair cut last week. While she was cutting my hair, Kelli and I were talking about the Gulf Oil Spill. As she swept the clumps of hair off her salon's floor she said, "that is a nice contribution". Explaining herself, Kelli proudly pulled out a large garbage...

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Game Change or Game Over

(8) Comments | Posted June 12, 2010 | 12:56 AM

"Admittedly world organization with common obedience to law would be a solution. Not that easy.... Things cannot be forced from the top. The international relinquishing of sovereignty would have to spring from the people--it would be so strong that the elected delegates would be turned out of office if they...
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The Perfect Storm: Six Trends Converging on Collapse

(119) Comments | Posted May 19, 2010 | 10:00 PM

Failure is not in falling down, but in refusing to get up. --Chinese Proverb

There are dark clouds gathering on the horizon. They are the clouds of six hugely troubling global trends, climate change being just one of the six. Individually, each of these trends is a potential civilization...

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If a Disaster Struck Your Town, How Could You Cope?

(4) Comments | Posted February 1, 2010 | 12:16 AM

Watching the poor people suffering in Haiti points out our all-too-human vulnerability when disaster strikes, things fall apart, nothing is working, and the few facilities and rescue workers that are functioning are hopelessly overloaded! Most Americans are in the danger zone for some kind of disaster, whether it be terrorism,...

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Tiger Woods and the Broken Wing Act

(2) Comments | Posted December 14, 2009 | 10:33 AM

Last summer, I was admiring a pair of adult quails ambling through the sage brush adjacent to my back yard. Following close at hand were roughly twenty puffball-like baby quails. Apparently I got a little too close for comfort. At a signal from the adults, the entire flock of puffballs...

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When a Superbug Strikes Close to Home, How Can You Deal With it?

(24) Comments | Posted April 28, 2009 | 7:09 PM

"Certain bacterial infections now defy all antibiotics." --Stuart Levy, M.D.
"We have to recognize that we are in the most dramatic moment of the epidemic... And the number of cases will unfortunately increase and that's why we will reinforce all the measures necessary to contain the outbreak." --Mexican Health...
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We're Running Our World Like a Ponzi Scheme!

(17) Comments | Posted April 6, 2009 | 2:26 PM

Bernie Madoff sure made a name for himself, didn't he? First he made a name for himself as a "Wall Street Genius" whose coveted firm not only promised, but consistently delivered, extraordinarily high annual returns on investment, even when the economy was down. More recently he made a name for...

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Go Tell Obama: Do the Right Thing!

(3) Comments | Posted December 8, 2008 | 4:05 PM

Sometimes it feels as if America is a huge ocean liner, much like the Titanic, steaming full speed ahead on dark nights through treacherous iceberg-filled waters. So far, we have clipped a few icebergs, and are taking on water, but we are still managing to stay afloat. Like the Titanic,...

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A New Deal for America? Yes We Can!

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2008 | 3:41 PM

Six months ago, I had little hope that we could turn things around in our world to reverse the trends that are bringing us to the brink of economic and environmental collapse. America's historic election of Barrack Hussein Obama as president of our country has rekindled my hope that we...

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The Failure of the Free Market

(2) Comments | Posted October 16, 2008 | 4:22 PM

Unregulated greed will result in the demise of our planet just as surely as it is causing the collapse of our economy.

There has been a morbid fascination lately in watching the "greed bubble" collapse, taking with it what is left of the equity in many American's homes at...

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Party Like It's 1929!

(8) Comments | Posted October 9, 2008 | 9:28 AM

Could You Get By, Like Your Grandparents Did Back In 1929 When Their Jobs and Savings Evaporated?

When the stock market crashed in 1929, most Americans saw the value of their investments evaporate overnight, and then watched helplessly as their cash disappeared in a seemingly endless stream of bank closings....

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What is Sustainability? Sustainability Primer Part 2

(1) Comments | Posted August 24, 2008 | 12:34 PM

"We have the capacity and ability to create a remarkably different economy, one that can restore ecosystems and protect the environment while bringing forth innovation, prosperity, meaningful work, and true security. The restorative economy unites ecology and commerce into one sustainable act of production and distribution that mimics and enhances...
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What Does It Mean To Be An American?

(8) Comments | Posted August 13, 2008 | 11:02 AM

Watching the Olympics with the TV controller in hand, ready to hit the mute button on a moments notice to silence the seemingly endless stream of commercials, has given me a lot of time to ponder what it means to be "An American."

Does it make me less of...

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