grocery trucks : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Hi all, My hubby is not convinced of the food shortages. He says that the 18 wheelers that bring the food to the grocery stores are run with diesel fuel and that diesel fuel can be pumped by hand. He's saying that the grocery stores will have food based on this. He also says that the food plants that package or can the food will be fine because they have generators. Can someone help me answer him intelligently on this issue? I don't know how to convince him that the unprepared will have no food coming from grocery stores. TIA Blessings, Candice

-- Candice Brinkman (, May 25, 1998


I doubt whether people can be convinced by argument unless they are already half way to accepting the Digital Winter may be its way. Lets step through the scenario and see what pops out...

Stores run just-in-time computer based inventory systems requiring regular shipments of time dated (use-by-date) products. Shelves are filled daily for some items and over longer periods for others. Data is transferred electronically to warehousing companies which makeup up orders to match the specific needs of specifc stores. Take a given store: the buying pattern of the public at the store is not predictable post Y2K so going on historic buying patterns won't do to ensure that orders get made and shelves appropriately filled. Even if an army of clerical people could take inventory and could establish buying patterns in the store fast enough to respond to new buying patterns messages could not get from stores to the warehouse. So far we have new but unknown buying patterns, a huge inventory unknown, what to restock, new communication difficulties, and a possibily fragile transport system.

The warehouse may make a best guess on what is needed and load up trucks sending them on their way to stores. Some will want the products carried while others will be overflowing with short shelf life stock. Stores have average shelf contents turnover/replacement of three days on many consumer lines. Get a better feel for the impact here of broken deliveries by checking out old newspapers for what happens when truckers Unions withdraw services for whatever reasons. (truckers are allowed to earn too! so I'm not knocking them)

How do people pay? EFTPOS, coin, some medium of exchange as yet unclear. Banks may be just not able to meet the demand for ready cash since most transactions are by electronic transfer. No pay, no goods. Stores will have stock they can't sell rotting while other stock is short. Stores cannot stockup because they rely on efficient computer based Just in Time techniques for ordering which won't work because the computer systems need power to run and the power systems are out. Telephones won't run because the embedded chips managing load distribution systems fail.. So what?

Margins in stores are very tight. That unsold rotting stock has to be paid for even though it was needed 40 miles down the road. The people down the road can't tell anyone about their shortage because the telephone systems don't work. The store can't pay so the truck is told to drive by next trip to another store which can still pay.

Its not too hard to see how there may be food shortages.

The unprepared will have no food but then the prepared may also do without of anything with a short shelf life too.

The best way to prevent the Digital Winter is to get the changes that need made, made now, soon as....

Remember the 100 monkeys story.. tell anybody who will listen, the more people who know the more likely change will take place in time. This is one potential human problem that is known with digital precision and the solutions are also known very precisely.

The technology hazards of the Digital Winter won't hurt many people directly but the human inability to respond fast enough in applying known solutions has the potential to alter technological societies very rapidly.

Of course, buy a little extra in supplies each week just in case. Remember Pascals wager and watch the use by date.

Hope this helps....

-- Bob Barbour (, May 25, 1998.

There are no answers. I doubt if anyone can give you assurances that we will or will not have food shortages. But:

What happens when the generators run out of fuel?

What happens when buyers begin to panic and grab everything in sight off the shelf? How does the market's non-existent computer system requisition Just In Time orders then? What happens when this isn't one market, or the stores in one town, or one county, or even one state, but the stores all across the WORLD?

What happens when the ships that bring imported food are shut down by y2k problems with their embedded systems?

How large is the national supply of food today? I've heard estimates of three weeks. How large is the food supply in a major city if re-supply is cut off? (72 hours). What happens if there are riots in a major city.........are truck drivers paid to deliver in a war zone, or will they refuse?

The problem isn't just that of getting a load of food to one supermarket. It is the systematic problem of supplying food to everyone on the continent.

Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not. Will it happen to you (as opposed to some one else in some other town)? There are no assurances, one way or the other.

What happens if you increase your food supply and it doesn't happen? You simply don't have to buy as many groceries for a while. But, what happens if the mob cleans out your local supermarkets, and you haven't prepared? You go hungry with the rest of the unprepared.

Will every city in the country have a power loss? Probably not. You may buy a generator and find out that you don't need it. O.K. then sell it in 2001 just as you consume your not needed supply of food.

Y2K may turn out to be nothing more than a minor disruption, as so many mainstream media are fond of saying. It also may be a major crisis. 'You pays your money and you makes your choice'. Many of us "Prepare for the worst, pray for the best."

Hopes this helps.

-- Rocky Knolls (, May 25, 1998.

Yes, fuel can be pumped by hand, but have you ever tried to pump 250 gallons of the stuff for each truck and who owns the hand pump - most stations don't have one??? Westergaards site has a series called On The Job and last week did one about trucking. Not as hard hitting as I would have thought, but good anyway. Also most 18 wheelers on the road are relatively new and have chips that keep track of when they were last serviced - are these chips compliant??? Many will not be and the trucks will not run.

Most plants do have back up generators, but only to keep critical equipment on like lights and refrigeration - not full production lines and they would run out of fuel quickly - in only a few days. Add on to that the fact that these plants may not be Y2k compliant themselves and their production lines may shut down.

Of course if the grid goes down and stays down for a week or more, there will be massive shortages of everything. This country has less than 30 days of food at any given time.

Got to go, just convinced myself to stock up on even more food and other products.

-- Rebecca Kutcher (, May 25, 1998.

Look at:


Also, use the link to "y2k and Agriculture" or whatever

Good luck

-- DeAlton Lewis (, May 26, 1998.

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