In Part I, I outlined the need for skills, experience, knowledge and sound judgment as part of your collapse survival preparations. These are not things you can disregard and are some of the most important steps you can take to help yourself and your loved ones.
In Part II, I will once again put the collapse framework in place on collapse survival. This framework is the basic survival outline of pre-collapse, collapse and post-collapse already covered on this blog in various places.
1. Pre-collapse / Pre-crash = Preparation Time
Pre-collapse is the time frame prior to the crash of civilization. We are already witnessing a devolution of society and the torn fabric of modern civilization, shortages of resources and a global contraction. War and the threat of war is sharply rising as the global demand for resources increases in every nation on Earth.
Climate change is also having it’s fair and considerable share of global impacts and will greatly accelerate this process of contraction and collapse. But the actual collapse is not yet. We are still able to cling to our present lives and lifestyles (most of us, this is definitely not true for some people in the world today).
Depending on where you live and what assets and resources you have available to you, the collapse will affect you once your normalized way of life becomes impacted. Not threatened, but actually impacted. Everyone, worldwide is already threatened. Not one human on Earth will escape the collapse and the impacts it signifies. No amount of asset accumulation (wealth) will prevent anyone from being impacted. The poor and poor nations are already being impacted first. Wealthier nations and the wealthy will be next.
Collapse itself is not expected to happen all at once, or even everywhere all at once, although it is certainly possible (but unlikely imo). This will occur in sporadic jumps in different locations around the world. Collapse will be characterized by economic collapse, resource shortages, rampant inflation, food shortages, riots, power outages, martial law and war.
Obviously, this is already happening in some parts of the world. Notably, this can be seen in poor nations first. Today’s news is full of these stories. Most of these locations will never recover from these conditions due to the growing inability of the world to assist them and who will soon be facing their own collapse.
As collapse spreads, more and more locations will succumb and less and less help and assistance will be available. Resource shortages and energy supply shortages will make it increasingly difficult for citizens to live ‘normally’. A rather huge adjustment in personal living standards is in order for the world’s citizens and will be the reason for the civil disruptions we are bound to see.
The time to gather the supplies you need then is in this pre-collapse stage (right now). Most items are still affordable, although rapidly increasing in price. Collapse survival on a budget will dictate that you pare down to essentials, but even so, there will be things you will need. Most Americans are not properly equipped for an extended emergency or a shortage of essentials. These are some of the areas that need to be addressed during the pre-collapse stage.
It will be a fatal mistake to wait to make these type of preparations. In terms of supplies, they will literally disappear overnight when the collapse triggers in your area. This is exactly what happens in any local or regional disaster. The supermarket shelves are stripped bare in a matter of hours. Most supermarkets contain only a 3 day food supply under normal conditions. The world itself now has only a 47 day supply of food, a figure that has been falling for decades.
Public reaction to a collapse trigger (which could be almost anything) will cause panic buying and the stores will be emptied in the very first day. Due to panic, both essentials and non-essentials will be snapped up instantly. It is the essential items that you will need the most and these need to be gathered and stored prior to “your” collapse event.
During the preparation time, it will also be a fatal mistake to assume you can learn the skills and knowledge and gain the experience you will need during the crash. This is is a sure-fired recipe for personal disaster and death. These are also essentials that must be gained now — survival skills that will help keep you alive and give you the breadth of experience and knowledge to deal with the numerous issues that will occur.
Sustenance (food), water and water filtration, food preparation (cooking utensils), tools (including weapons), shelter, clothing, heating requirements (space heating and cooking), medicine and first aid, and safety. It’s the basic essentials of life.
These preparations can be very simple and rudimentary, or they can be very elaborate. For budget conscious collapse preparations, simple and rudimentary is much more cost effective, durable and doable. Greater complexity always requires greater expense, maintenance and skill for management and use. Simple preparations require the least amount of time, skill and money.
Because the collapse period timeframe and duration is really unknown, simple basic preparations should be “deep”. Enough food, water, gear and shelter to last for some time. You are only as prepared for as long as your preparations have planned for. If you prepare for just 3 months, this means you are only prepared for the collapse period to last 3 months.
I do not believe this is even remotely realistic. It is quite possible that the collapse period in your area will last as long or longer then an entire generation. This is because the devolution process from highly integrated complex society to local sustainable survivors is not a straight line. Between those two points is die-off (excessive and unprepared population) due to starvation, violence, war, disease, drought and an untold number of other things that will forcibly reduce the population back to locally sustainable levels.
This process could conceivably take many years. Some areas during collapse may take to hoarding their food supplies for example (should they be allowed to) and not shipping these (or be allowed) to other areas of the country that would have “normally” received food stuffs from these regions. If that were to happen, those who possessed and controlled the food supply “abundance”, which could include agriculture lands and their products, could actually have a local glut of surplus foods. Their population may not suffer from food shortages for this reason. And if they don’t — they may be able to maintain an overpopulation level for quite some time, many years even. But it is pretty safe to say that they will undoubtedly have to defend any abundance that they might have. The sheer availability of a critical resource will make them targets from those that need it (and it’s a long list).
Virtually every area in America is overpopulated in relationship to the local food supply and essential resources. There are some few exceptions (I’m referring here to non-industrialized food production, which is what collapse will actually mean). This condition of overpopulation in excess of the local food supply presently exists because of transported food to and from many parts of the globe. When the shipping stops — so will the overpopulation. Populations will be forced to fall to locally sustainable levels and even far, far below that figure due to violence, disease, war and accidental deaths.
Eventually, populations will stabilize again (maybe), depending on a huge variety of factors. Climate change will undoubtedly continue to wreck havoc on the environment throughout the world and will be a gigantic factor in local sustainable levels. This will probably cause a huge fluctuation in what numbers a local area will eventually be able to sustain.
Therefore, it will be important for budget conscious collapse preparers, to prepare for as long as possible. Keep it simple, keep it rudimentary and keep your preparations stored in a safe, dry location. Many foods for example, can be stored for up to 30 years if it is properly packaged and kept away from heat, moisture and oxygen. There are articles on my website that talk about this.
Other essentials such as cookware, weapons, ammunition and water filtration can be stored almost indefinitely. Cast iron cookware, while heavy, is nearly indestructible and still cheap. But it will rust if exposed to moisture, so season these items carefully and pack away in airtight containers. In fact, all your preparations should be packed in airtight packaging if possible.
I do not recommend vacuum packers or vacuum sealers, the type that use plastic bags that you can heat seal yourself with a little machine. My personal experience with these has been dismal. The seal only last for a few months despite my best efforts (double bagged, double seals, careful handling, etc.). I gave up on these years ago and switched to food grade buckets, food grade barrels and rubber sealed aluminum containers (military surplus).
Buy essentials and buy them right now. Essentials are going up in price just like everything else, but essentials are items that you simply cannot live without. I’m a bit reluctant to provide a “list” of essentials, but the extreme basics are food, water, clothing, shelter, heat, safety and protection and medicine. Make a list, pare it down to the true essentials and buy these things (or make them yourself).
Medicine will have the shortest shelf life of all. Learn herbal and old fashioned remedies as part of your skill repertoire. Or marry a doctor or a nurse!
There is a huge list of non-essentials and “nice to have” items, but since this is a “budget” post, I won’t bother with them. Many luxury items are going to be worth a small fortune once they are impossible to get, I know of a real estate agent who is buying huge quantities of liquor as a future “investment” when such items become unavailable. It’s not a bad strategy and there are many things that will be highly desirable (I don’t drink, so I’d be looking for something else) by some and they will pay or trade dearly for them in the future.
2. Collapse = Hide and/or Fight
As noted above, the collapse for you is what is important — not whether the “world” has collapsed or even the nation. You may have to fall back onto your preparations and skill set long before someone else. Many countries in the world today are experiencing their own collapse while the rest of the world looks on. Expect the same thing to happen to YOU.
It is very easy for me to envision what a personal collapse might be for me, I suggest you do the same. What events would signify your personal collapse?
Common collapse events have already been noted many times on this blog – food shortage, war, martial law, energy depletion, climate change, etc., anything that would affect your ability to continue your present lifestyle in a dramatic and probably sudden way.
The speed of collapse bears mentioning again. Collapse is a process, not an event, and it can be sudden or it could take years to develop. Right now, collapse is actually underway, but I continue to call this the pre-collapse stage because we are still able to manage to maintain our lifestyles. Sure, it’s dramatically more expensive now and getting worse all the time, and there are threatening events hanging over our heads, but we’re still “here”, still managing to hang on to our present way of life and still able to earn a (declining) dollar.
But a personal collapse or a global collapse is very near. der FÃ¼hrer could decide to declare you an “enemy combatant” or nationalize the nations oil supply (or food supply), or China could attack the United States or any number of events could occur. When your world falls apart and there is little to no chance of it’s future recovery — your collapse event has occurred.
This is the time when you will be reliant upon your preparations and your skill set. Did you make ready? Did you learn what you needed to know while you still had time, resources and money? Do you have the basic essentials set aside to help you survive through this time?
Nobody knows how long collapse will last, but I personally expect this to last for many years while civilization unravels itself. If you’re 60 years of age or younger, you will experience the full depth of the collapse (if you survive). If you’re 40 years of age or younger, you will probably see the slow effort at recovery (stabilized population levels), provided you survive. If you’re 20 years of age or thereabouts, if you survive you will see the entire range of collapse and post-collapse efforts at ‘stability’.
The collapse time period will be extreme, violent, dangerous, ugly and scary. Uncertainty will be constant companions despite the best laid plans. The difficulty during the collapse will be trying to simply stay alive as the world devours itself.
Extreme shortages of essentials, food, water, medicine, safety and transportation will characterize this stage. Competition for these things will be severe, violent and erratic. The overpopulation issue will remain a huge problem until die-off forcibly creates the stability of population versus available local resources. Anything and everything will probably be “fair game”, which will make surviving collapse pretty difficult.
Something on the neighborhood of 4 – 5 billion people will probably die due to starvation, violence, war, disease, drought and accidents. The reason why this number is so high is because of several factors. Energy to sustain our present populations will be diminishing all over the world. The sources of energy, oil, natural gas, coal and even wood will be consumed right up to the point where most of it is simply all gone or unavailable (think Easter Island) and the population is forced into die-off as it contracts to sustainable levels.
As harsh as this sounds, how else will the population stabilize to locally sustainable levels? Volunteer methods and natural death rates will not succeed in accomplishing this, they are far too “slow” and fail to take into account the birth replacement rate.
This will be a bad time to have children. Children require everything and remain totally dependent for many years. However, children are very adaptable, far more so then adults. Children have survived war, famine, plague and persecution for centuries. Our century won’t be any different.
Collapse will reduce the population whether we like it or not. We are not going to vote our way out of this, or manage a global, national or even regional “program” to somehow avoid it or forestall it. It’s simply not in us to do so and it’s too late anyway. Humankind has repeatedly failed to manage itself against the available local resources. Collapse signifies contraction, which includes both human and non-human assets and resources.
In “The Answer“, I said the following — You will be best prepared if you are:
d) homesteading (also to mean ‘crashsteading’)
e) well supplied
f) mentally and physically adjusted
g) military trained
i) well armed
j) grouped with others
k) financially secure
l) debt free
This factors still remains true. However, there isn’t really a lot that we can individually do about some of them. Concentrate on what you can do, no point in worrying excessively about the rest.
Surviving the Collapse
I’ll venture into this area because it is of such importance and interest to those that read this blog. Surviving the collapse will be very difficult, but I won’t call it “impossible”. The human predatory quotient alone will make it very hard, but so will the environmental conditions expected to occur.
By some estimates, the collapse will reduce the human populations down to mere thousands (30 – 40 thousand) in the Far North, above the Arctic Circle. I don’t know — it’s certainly possible. Should collapse be as bad as that, then skills and adaptability will be the only things that will keep these survivors alive.
Between now and “then”, whatever that eventuality truly signifies, will be the very human desire to live and escape the wrath of the collapse. How can this best be accomplished?
You’re real “choice” that will be forcibly pressed upon you will be to adapt. Adaption is what all species do when forced, humans are really no different.
The world will be a radically different place, without the multiple layers of support we’ve all grown accustomed to. It will be harsh, violent and swift. Don’t expect any mercy, it probably won’t exist as long as competition for resources still does.
Few seem to understand this concept. Democracy, fairness, equality and mercy exists because of the abundance of resources. Critical shortages of essential resources brings violent response among humans and non-humans alike. There are many other social institutions that can only exist when there is an abundance that permits this. We take all of these institutions and behavior for granted – schools, welfare, retirement homes, hospitals, etc., even governments.
In a depleted world where too many people compete for too few resources, the outcome will be historically predictable – war, violence and die-off. Abundance means peace. A sufficient supply for everyone. Take that away and it means violence. The victors in these numerous battles for resources will simply take what they want, “justice” be damned. It will be “just us”, and to the victor will go the spoils.
It will be the law of the jungle. As often as I’ve read where this is derided in our modern world, the human animal will revert to his base nature and will compete for whatever it is they need (or want). The restrictions that vaguely prevent this now will be gone.
In reality, it’s a false belief that we are not already doing this today. Resources are forcibly extracted from around the world from other peoples by greedy and violent capitalists on our behalf. This ties directly in to many institutions and policies, including the World Bank, IMF, “trade agreements”, standing armies and even fiat money. This “non-violent” violence is taking place all around us in the form of exploitation, bribery and sweat shops, but what is hidden from our eyes and minds is the propaganda, and that this is benign activity and even “beneficial” for both taker and “provider”. This is not the case. If it were truly beneficial, the world would be fair, just, equitable and sustainable.
Humans seek the advantage over almost everything. Relationships, resources, environment and each other. The concept of “fitting in” to the greater scheme of things is foreign to our way of thinking. This desire for personal gain and advantage is at the root of all human conflicts. I expect this to worsen dramatically during the collapse.
A return to the law of the jungle is already occurring throughout the world. As nations experience their own collapse (or individuals), they by necessity revert to the survival of the fittest. They have to if they intend to survive. So will you.
4 – 5 billion people will NOT go quietly into the night and voluntarily give up their lives, possessions, food, homes, families and futures just so you can live. They will fight tooth and nail just like you will if you intend to survive the collapse. You will have no choice.
It’s hard to imagine the intense competition or conditions that this will create. The world has never faced this situation before on such a global scale. Some nations have and some regions have, and it’s always been earmarked with extreme violence and death. If we allow history to be our teacher and guide and set aside our bias and prejudices, we will acknowledge this fact, knowing that global collapse and even a national collapse will follow the same predictable paths.
You will have few choices. They are hide or fight. There isn’t much in between. Ecovillages and sustainable farms will be instant targets for hungry hordes. A starving man is a desperate, dangerous man. Ten thousand starving dangerous men is an army.
You cannot fight such an army. If collapse happens swiftly, such hordes will exist for a fairly short time. Die-off and depletion of essential resources (namely food) will cull their numbers (and many, many others) very quickly. If collapse is slow, the last morsel of food will be consumed by some desperate soul who will be clenching your neck as he swallows it.
You might be able to fight for a while and survive. I’m not without mercy or compassion, in fact, I’ve been engaged for years in helping people. But such compassionate measures only work when competition is limited to something you and the local area and available resources can actually handle. Change that and you’ve got a mob who will tear everything apart trying to find the sustenance to keep themselves alive.
A slow collapse will provide some opportunity to “manage” the population reduction, a foregone conclusion no matter what happens. Refugee camps, occupying armies and the nationalization of assets are expected. This will also be one of the worst outcomes believe it or not, since it will ensure the final destruction of almost everything.
Life under a slow collapse would actually be better — and it would be worse. Kind of like watching the blood leak out of your slashed wrists and no medical help in sight. You’re still going to die, death will simply be slower.
Who would want to be forced into a work camp? Or have their assets and supplies seized? Or even worse, be conscripted into an army so you can be forced to violently “expropriate” someone else’s lands, oil or resources? Sound familiar?
Fight or Hide
Fight and you will eventually die. Hide long enough, and you might live long enough to see the stabilization of the world’s population and the long slow struggle towards the new “normalization”. Hiding will be very difficult, but I do not believe it is impossible.
Hiding is not seeking or running. Hiding is invisibility and/or inaccessibility. Getting clear out of the way from the path of the coming storm(s). Fighting ‘tooth and nail’ is lethal (terminal) for at least the ‘loser’ of each and every battle, and extremely demanding and costly for the victor.
It’s not going to be necessary to “hide from satellites” and such like. The government is not going to be concerned about a handful of survivors who are tucked out of the way, hidden from sight. This is extremely unlikely because they will be preoccupied with much more important and bigger fish to catch (as long as they last). They will only be concerned with you during the pre-collapse stage when this is still “illegal”, so bear this in mind too.
If you are going to hide, you will need to stay out of the way of everything that is going on. Staying hidden is not as hard as it may seem, but endurance is called for. There are people today who live among us that we never see and are totally unawares that they are even there. They are not “hiding in plain sight” (a stupid idea that I’m familiar with), they are truly hidden.
Some live in underground shelters they have created, others live in the woods and avoid almost all human contact. Still others occupy abandoned dwellings or tunnels (many cities have these). They’ve already “devolved” to subsistence level living and furthermore, have developed some survival skills. Those that have developed these skills stand as good of a chance at surviving the collapse as anybody.
Gleaning for their food (usually), they are adept at adapting to their environment and conditions. They remain out of sight almost entirely, but they do exist. It is likely that some of them will become part of the hungry horde as their source of food supplies dries up.
Would-be collapse survivors can do the same as these modern “survivors” by hiding out during the entire collapse phase. This may prove to be impossible, but as a strategy, it can and should be seriously considered.
If collapse is swift with a fast die-off, it would be easier to stay hidden during this time. If collapse is slow somehow, then it would be a test of endurance and preparation. Hiding would require you to have sufficient food stores and supplies (but not growing) to stay out of sight for as long as possible. And you would also have to stay healthy, not as easy to do as it might sound.
3. Post-crash = Grow = (real) Work
Survivors of the collapse period will be those who have managed to adapt either through hiding or fighting. The post-collapse period is when the real work begins. This is when growing your own food becomes safe enough you can do so without risk of death or a work camp.
Prior to this stage, it will be too dangerous to grow your own food, although the experience is absolutely invaluable to gain now. It is my expectation that independent food growers will stop growing food during the collapse (or die). If they survive that time frame, they can return to growing food.
This is also the time when a barter and trade system will be redeveloped. Economic activity will return among the collapse survivors too. A return to development and growth will also occur, and reoccupying formerly abandoned or destroyed areas.
Nobody knows what the post-collapse world will look like. Climate change alone could remake the face of the Earth, forcing human habitations into entirely new regions never before settled. Migrations north are highly likely as drought and water shortages affect many southern locations.
There is no guarantees that post-crash will be a return to “sustainable” either. Humans are predisposed it seems to never learn from their mistakes. It’s certainly possible that a return to capitalism, exploitation, control and ownership of everything on Earth would be tried again. I hope not, but I won’t be around to argue against it.
Post-crash means real work. The work (until you literally drop) of growing your sustenance, family and community. This will last for generations, which when you realize this, makes it super critical to make preparations now. What we do, is what future generations can build on. What we fail to do, is what they will need to cope (or suffer) with.
We can only speculate on how long and or how deep each stage of civilization’s destruction might be. I expect it to be huge, deep and wide, because of our total dependency upon our oil-soaked modern infrastructure and our total dependence upon it’s ongoing, continued ‘success’ (using the term loosely).
Bear in mind, that the failure of step 1 (preparation), nothing else even matters for you or your descendants, there won’t be any. Failure to endure step 2 (collapse) will negate any future possibility of step 3 (post-collapse). The only ‘reward’ there is is found where all rewards are found — at the end.
More installments to come.