Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Life After The Collapse, Parts 2 of 2)
Along come racial conflict, the disintegration of our nation-state will begin. It is not impossible to control large areas of land using primitive means. Look at China and Russia. They had their ups and downs, the enlargement than the contraction of the areas they were able to control. But over centuries they could keep large areas under one rule. The US might not be able to do so. This will mostly hinge on oil availability. And perhaps the ability to utilize the railroads. The East has the water transportation system, which might also be used for troop movement. Even with some neglect, as seen in all sectors of our infrastructure, the upkeep will be minimal. And the bulk of the population is on some waterway. But military transport is largely oil based. Whereas in World War Two we moved large troop numbers by railroad and merchant marine, it is doubtful we can duplicate this again. The support system has been neglected to a large extent. Nevertheless, if you have a railroad nearby you are hoping will help support your community come road transit breakdown, it is possible it will be nationalized and used for military use. Not guaranteed, but a possibility. Even if the military uses every possible means of transporting themselves to trouble spots, most likely their numbers will be too small. I can’t see an immediate withdrawal of overseas troops to quell local troubles. By the time they are shipped home, the civil unrest will be too large to contain. Assuming of course things get bad enough that kind of unrest takes place. Which I think is a safe bet. They might successfully subdue some areas, but not all. Long term, one area after another will become unruleable. Add in severe economic trouble, disease outbreaks due to failing health care and sewage main breaks along with water contamination, troops needing to help against huge crime upsurges, an unhealthy dependence on high tech needing foreign parts and a total mechanized military, the trouble of depending on troops to fight fellow citizens and even the inability to properly feed and reequip soldiers and I can almost bet on the military being too inefficient and undermanned to keep the peace.
This in no way should give you peace of mind regarding military suppression and martial law. You could very well be effected. This is a long-term outlook. Short term, you could find yourself battling police forces, the military, criminal gangs, local militia, or more than one at a time. Which should worry you. Not only because it means you might get killed, but because trade will stop or become disrupted and you might find yourself with a dwindling stockpile of ammunition to protect yourself. If China stays around as a viable power, you might see them eager to help out the disruption and arm whatever group they see as helping their interests (which is the destruction of the US as a military power able to challenge them), but that is not a sure enough thing to base your choice of a personal firearm on. In other words, the steel cased ammo that feeds an SKS or an AK-47 may or may not still be available.
Unless you can stockpile as much as you think you will need beforehand. This projected resupply problem is why I frown on semi-automatic weapons. They are superior as fighting weapons in a lot of aspects, except logistics come collapse. Now, as much as I disagree with the direction our country has taken away from a Constitutional Republic, rest assure that if and/or when the government is unable to keep the Union together come collapse, local tyrants are not going to be any better and most likely will be a lot worse. Local strong men won’t even acknowledge there is any rule of law other than that from the barrel of a gun. And they won’t see anything wrong with wringing all the wealth from the citizens without regard of their long term health. And since they don’t rule from far away they will be much more effective in their suppression. So, while it will be nice to see the current group of thugs lose power, their replacement will be much worse.
So, after you get done suffering economically as everything you know and are used to (cheap energy, welfare state, your currently employable skill ) is done away with, after a short depression followed by hyperinflation kills any savings and dwindles your emergency supplies, you’ve just seen the warm up of the collapse. Oil will start running out or become unavailable from overseas. Food won’t be delivered and many people will start to go hungry. The military will try to contain unrest with brute force. The ghettos will spew violent criminals and race dominated wars. The US will start to break up. Infrastructure will collapse. Water won’t run, the toilet won’t flush. Disease will spring up everywhere, to include a lot of resurgent tropical or Third World diseases. Perhaps even a few man made ones to use against dissident areas. Neighbors will try to turn you in for rewards, crime will explode as authority recedes. If you don’t die now from mugging, kidnapping or home invasion, you might be gang raped and die later of AIDS. Both male and female. This is the start of the huge die-off.
K. Die off
‘Die off’ will be due to a lot of different things. Disease. Hunger. Exposure to the elements without heat or cooling. Crime, which includes losing all your stored food and equipment. Combat with police or the military. Widespread death will happen. The global carrying capacity of a non-oil, primitive agrarian society is less than a billion people. And this number is assuming the entire population knows how to survive without petroleum. Since a lot of areas have completely lost their roots with nature, that figure will initially be less. Say half a billion. Globally. However, it is the nature of things that when a die off happens, the numbers of survivors fall sharply below the natural carrying capacity to begin with.
Rome went from the center of a vast civilization, a metropolis of its day, to little more than a village after collapse. Mayan cities went from large urban centers to overgrown jungle ruins with a few paltry settlements set on their fringes. China always had its farmers as the center of its civilizations and fared better, although in recovery its population figures did fall sharply. Populations are built up, having conquered farmlands to swell its numbers. Centralization helped the numbers increase. But when the lands carrying capacity was surpassed and there were no more victims to plunder, population took a swift downturn. Crime, disease, starvation and warfare took its toll. This process has been likened by others as a bottle of alcohol being brewed, and I can’t top that description. A sugar rich environment aids a rapid increase in the culture, who eat up the available food. When a critical mass is reached and the culture dies off to almost zero. There is no more food left. We are left with a bottle of spirits, which is a good thing. In the human environment, you are left with a corpse ridden field with just a few survivors remaining. In our case, the die off will result as the remaining oil is not sufficient to feed the swollen population. Most die off from hunger and the remaining few take the little available fertile soil and relearn organic farming on a decentralized level. Animal population are another illustration. In an example from others, a herd of caribou is introduced on an island which has overgrown with lichen due to no known “predator”. With this rich food source, the caribou population goes from a few pairs to hundreds or even thousands. The natural replenishment rate of the food is, say, a hundred. But once too many animals are there, once the plants no longer feed everyone, almost all of them die from hunger and just a dozen or two remain. Then it takes time to bring the population level up to that optimum hundred. Once the oil level declines just enough on a permanent basis to cease feeding all six billion, Humans, will see die off far below the level the globe can naturally feed with solar energy alone. Oil doesn’t have to run out, just fall below today’s needed level.
L. Survival preps
This is where survival preparations come into play. You aren’t storing enough provisions to live forever. For most, a daunting if not impossible task (to say nothing of preparing for multi-generational survival). What you are doing is trying to prepare to survive the die-off period. Food stores are only part of the picture anyway. You must survive the conflict that accompanies the die-off. People will not stay at home, meekly waiting a slow death as the cupboards stay bare. Towards the end there will be no more strength to fight for what they need. But initially, they will try to take what they need to survive.
This is why a retreat out in the boonies is so often advised. It is far from the perfect answer, of course. Day to day employment and provisioning is necessary. And few have the means of buying this kind of land anyway. You can find remote land. The West is full of vast areas seeing no settlement other than near water sources. But the “perfect” retreat, with fertile land, woods for fuel, and available water is rare and expensive. I advise what I call junk land. The crap no one wants and is nothing more than a patch of dirt. You won’t pay much more than a thousand or two for it. But it has a poor road leading to it, no surface water or shallow water table, infertile soil and most likely in an economically depressed area. You can actually use these flaws to your advantage since few people will be nearby. It isn’t a farm, ready to feed you and your family. It is merely a legal squat so that in the initial collapse you won’t be harassed for camping on public land or private property or on the side of the road. Your supplies will keep you alive, not the land. After the troubles have subsided you can move to better land, into a settlement to barter any skills you have, or take up banditry or become a nomadic herder. No good answers, but if you are poor to begin with you don’t have a lot of options to pick from.
It is impossible to guess the time period of collapse and die off. Some maintain it will be a long drawn out process. An emergency, shortages, ad hoc solutions. A traumatic period, then a leveling off as people adjust to the new way of doing things. Then, further resource depletion and more emergencies. More depopulation until the “new” level of resource availability is met. A period of relative calm until another spasm of die off, adjustments to the next level of food availability. Etcetera. This could very well happen, as illustrated by the two hundred year Mayan decline or the three centuries it took Rome to fall. I’m far less optimistic. Back then, a primitive level of agrarian existence was practiced, even as farms became bigger with conquest or water sources were centralized. Come overpopulation and soil depletion, you merely saw enough famine to adjust to less population, that which matched less fertile soil or limited water. Today, most soil is already infertile, only producing because of oil inputs. Farms are far from population centers and transportation is required. Instead of ninety percent of the population farming, there is only a few percent, in the single digits. Most farm areas have water availability issues, such as California seeing drought decrease mountain snow melt off or aquifer depletion in the middle part of this country (Texas, Nebraska, etc.). The adjustments needed will be much larger than in the past. There is far less knowledge of farming than in the past (we concentrate on the industrialized First World throughout). There is far less farmland available than in the past, due to artificial fertilizers and mechanized farming growing so much more per acre. I foresee a much bumpier, more rapid decline than in the past because of all this.
M. Types of preps
Survivalists come in all shapes and sizes and they usually rival the different sects of Christianity in their dispute over doctrine. There are primitive Stone Age adherents, short term ‘weather disaster preppers’, ‘nuclear fallout shelter occupants’, ‘back to the landers’ only concerned with growing their own food, Yuppie Survivalists intent on recreating every luxury of their middle class existence in Armageddon mode, hoarders of gold and silver that will buy their salvation, modern day desert hermits who will survive through a collapse unknowingly due to loss of contact, or, my favorite, ‘frugal preppers’ that can prepare on almost nothing as their needs have been pared down to the bare minimum. I can’t say which group has the most chance of arriving intact on the other side of die off.
• The Stone Age practitioners are least vulnerable to technological collapse, but any number of poor marksmen with modern firearms can invade their territory and kill off all large game leaving him nothing to eat but berries, insects and small rabbits. Will there be enough skins to get him through winter, or is he far enough away to thrive?
• The short-term preppers don’t stand much of a chance with limited supplies unless there is an instant die off such as an asteroid strike, Yellowstone volcanic eruption or nuclear exchange and he can pick and choose supplies lying around as in a poorly budgeted B-movie.
• The nuclear crowd is well equipped to survive only one type of disaster. Or will the local tax man except MRE’s in lieu of property tax during an economic depression?
• The ‘back to the landers’ are well equipped to feed themselves, their arriving family and perhaps a neighbor or two. Unfortunately most of their plans need to have a strong government capable of keeping the lawless forces away from them so they can continue to till the soil unmolested. Plus, they usually owe a mortgage on their perfect farm and are thus susceptible to economic downturn.
• The Yuppie Survivalists are the school most taught by authors of best selling preparedness books. That is because the breed will buy anything that promises to save them in complete comfort. Authors and salesmen follow the money and sell to these people. The ones who can’t stand the thought of any decrease in their standard of living. Instead of stocking candles for illumination they will buy $800 worth of solar panels, 12v auto lamps and a few hundred bucks in marine batteries to see with while off the grid. Their whole preparedness plan is just like this, spend one hundred times the needed amount for tools because they can’t let go of their soft and comfortable lifestyle.
• The precious metal advocates are not wrong because “you can’t eat gold”. Precious metals will play a vital part after the recovery. They are wrong because they think money alone, even in a safe inflation proof form, will help them survive. They only look at the aftermath, forgetting one must travel a ways through treachery to get to a society living once again on a gold standard.
• Desert rats that are not at the end of their hoard of beans and bacon can blissfully ignore the world crashing around them as they are alone in the wilderness and protected from the folly of their fellows. Unfortunately, they only postpone the day of reckoning when they must come in for resupply.
• Frugal preppers are not the most enlightened nor the smartest. This school of survivalism is not any more perfect than most other types. Except for one critical factor. It allows anyone, even those of the most humble economic means, to prepare as much as possible for the coming collapse. This is why it should be much more attractive than it currently seems to be. Especially during the current economic collapse when job losses are epidemic, credit continues to contract causing companies that were just a year ago sound and prosperous to see so many problems beset them.
These go hand in hand, where companies have no choice to salvage some stock value and continue to give their top echelon workers a “merit” based raise or bonus at the end of each quarter. Before, when cutting costs was the path to efficiency during boom times, workers were habitually laid off. Today, vastly increased numbers are given pink slips regardless of the long term effect this might have on productivity. Panic mode is in full bore and where once the left over work force was compelled to handle the increased work from fired coworkers, now the trimming is so close to the bone it is doubtful the companies can survive. Before, another competitor bought off the suffering company with cheap and plentiful debt. Now, entire industries will all but disappear to a fraction of their former selves to claim the reduced demand of cash negative and credit impaired customers. States and all other levels of government are also seeing their ability to borrow suffering, and since they can’t print money like their brothers at the Federal level they will have no choice but to ax civil servants. Government will not be the safe haven for workers it used to be during downturns. Therefore, everyone should be very wary of being able to keep their jobs and thus their mortgages, credit rating, SUV’s and other badges of a middle class lifestyle. You would think a cheap way to insulate against calamity with an affordable stock of food and protection and alternate energy would be most welcome by frightened workers. Alas, the herd instinctively runs to the big money boys, the Yuppie Survivalist teachers and suppliers. Just as they did during the 1970’s.
If you are one of the few that sees the futility of spending twenty grand on an arsenal, a quarter million on a remote farm and five grand per person on freeze dried field rations, welcome to frugal survivalism. Anyone can have the basics for under a grand. That includes food, shelter, protection, filtered water. Another three grand will see you safely on your own paid for land in a more permanent shelter.
To briefly summarize; The basics consist of a store of whole wheat kernels bought from a feed and grain store (untreated by vet medicine), stored in five gallon poly buckets. A $25 cast iron grain grinder. A moron proof way of constructing your own 13,000 gallon water filter for just $50. A used WWII surplus bolt action thirty caliber rifle, usually on sale under a hundred bucks. There is a bit more to it, but in essence by preparing at a bare bones level anyone can afford to stock a years worth of emergency rations and protect it adequately. The cheap homesteading method is to buy a piece of junk land (usually on E-Bay) on little more than a grand and park a trailer or build a very small cabin on it for the same amount. Most off-grid expenses such as a generator or well or septic can be bypassed cheaply. Remember, preparations only get you through a die off period. Even spending half a million on a remote farm and protecting it with your home grown militia toting semi-automatic carbines and eating MRE’s will do little to increase your chances of survival due to the rest of the world surrounding you and wanting to interfere with your existence. You should clearly see this as you read further. There will be strategies to diminish this threat, but all in all inexpensive functional tools will see you through as well as the much more expensive ones. Mindset will be far more important. Just ask yourself, do I want the help of dirt poor rednecks that learned at the school of hard knocks and are barely equipped. Or do I want a bunch of pampered Yuppies loaded with the most expensive tools who are unaccustomed to almost any hardship outside of the corporate boardroom along for the ride?
II. Life after the collapse
A. How far will we collapse
The last time an individual possessed all of the needed skills to survive was during the Stone Age while hunting and gathering. Since the Agricultural Age began almost no farming community has existed without outside trade. Before, an individual could survive physically if separated from his tribe ( psychologically was a different matter ). After, a farming community separated from trading with others could not survive, in most cases. If a local source of salt was available, and if there was an ore deposit nearby then semi-independence was possible. But, by and large, since we tied ourselves to the land we have needed to trade to survive. There were few areas were all the necessities of life were available, so trade allowed far more marginal lands to be settled. For instance, a dry rocky area was perfect for olive groves and produced almost no grain or meat but did have an abundance of oil. Another area rich in soil that yielded a surplus in grain could trade for oil, something they had little of. One area had forests of nut trees. Rather than fell the trees and plant on soil ill suited for anything else, the nut surplus was traded for other foods. Today, it makes sense to grow coffee on hilly areas (or cocaine, but that’s a different story) and trade it to the Americans, who have an over abundance of corn that is a staple of your country. The corn was cheaper (pre-Bush ethanol debacle) grown up north by mechanical means and shipped south than could have been achieved on those steep hillsides. When man was first growing crops and domesticating animals, there were few people and some really choice spots to settle down and grow. As the globe has filled up, trade has become more and more important as people live in far from choice spots. Trade is essential now, even for the barest necessities of survival. Almost no one outside a few nomads still living primitive lives can live without trade.
Why is this important? Because trade is impossible without a functioning economy, trust, rule of law and energy for transportation. All of these things are ending. The US has been living off of creating debt, inflating its currency, bullying its partners into nearly giving away their goods, and little else for some time. Our GNP is no longer a measure of manufactured goods being shipped overseas but of a measure how much the bankers borrowed from China and loaned to consumers through credit cards, how many dollars were created to “buy” our oil from Third World countries, how much houses were inflated in worth to create derivative sales to pensioners in Europe, and other computer manipulated, magically productive activities that only could come true with a healthy sprinkle of Pixie Dust. As our economy unravels, trust in the form of credit is being destroyed. Without trust, no trade takes place. As it is, credit is contracting wildly right now. And there is no end in sight, as everyone else is seeing how manipulative and dishonest our financial community has been. They are starting to show caution to our future promises. The rule of law, or law and order, is breaking down. African pirates holding ships hostage is only one sign of the coming unrest. Month long protests in once placid First World countries.
Energy for transportation is, as already discussed, on a downward trend. Add it up and it spells the eventual halt in trading. At the point where an international police man is impotent, trade falls to a low level, where only luxury goods are profitable, where only precious metal is accepted, and where the bulk of necessities revert to whatever can be produced locally. At that time, we are back in another Dark Ages ( Post Oil Dark Ages ). Mass migrations will occur, as the many uninhabitable areas are abandoned. The rest die off, their area unable to support more than a hand full. After Rome fell, and trade stopped, areas formerly pottery centers of the empire were reduced to being unable to produce anything other than crude approximations of their former wares. Specialists were supported by wide-spread business. They turned out quality and quantity. Once trade suffered, the factories almost reduced to ruins, the specialists departed or killed, the area known for high quality low cost pottery was unable to do little more than turn out misshapen lumpy, poorly glazed pale imitations. This is what the collapse of trade does. Specialists can’t ply their trade, centralization and economics of scale falter. Poorly made inexpert handcrafts take products places. Now, add in our dependency of oil. We are untrained in manufacture due to our dependence on machines. We are unschooled in many modern basics such as chemistry or engineering due to hyper-specialization. We are on the down side of the Oil Age. The collapse can go mighty low once the perfectly aligned parts are disrupted.
Even if you can get an expert to join your group of survivors, they won’t have oil to run their machines. Or any machines, susceptible to parts failures. Or basic supplies to practice the modern arts due to trade disruptions. Add in the need to eat, and hostile surrounding forces. You all don’t stand a chance, and neither does our modern society. Things will turn primitive really fast. Knowledge alone is no guarantee a process will be practiced. It takes skill, practice, parts supplied from centralized factories far away, a strong defense force to protect against bandits. We all take progress for granted. But destruction is much easier. It takes two minutes with a match to burn down a million dollar mansion that took a year to build and several decades of toil to pay for. And destruction is only curtailed by the forces of law and order. Which will be hard pressed to achieve either. After a certain point is reached, the collapse continues until there is almost complete ruin and almost no one left alive. And where the technology level is far below that once practiced. We will return to a primitive agrarian society, and as our modern tools fail there will be only primitive replacements. Some areas will still pump and distill oil ( on a small level ). Some areas will mine and smelt the metal from the ruins. But it will be unavailable to most due to a collapse of trade and a shrinking of borders.
B. Lifeboat communities
A nice concept, lifeboat communities. Get a bunch of modern hippies together and start a community that practices all those neat concepts that circumvent the need for oil. French Intensive organic gardening, alternate energy, super insulated buildings, integrated crop/livestock production, old time skills, etc. The first problem with these is that they are very expensive to start, as currently envisioned. It is one thing to put up some mud/straw walls and thatched roof, get a few chickens running around and making your own candles. It is quite another to build straw bale 2,000 square foot houses, greenhouses, import specialty livestock, install solar panels, sink hundred foot wells, convert a truck to bio-diesel, grow specialty crops for the French chef in the towns $75 a plate Yuppie Greasy Spoon, pay property tax and a mortgage on the land, etc. No one is going to get together and do it cheap and primitive, but high dollar and comfortable. Thus, very few go past the planning stage. Then, once your community is up and running, you have a nice big target painted at your front gate. Look, we grow crops here. We can survive the end of oil. Won’t you come on in an conquer us and make us the serfs to your royal personage? Lifeboat communities are not exactly security conscious. They attract the idiots that gazed at Al “I invented the Internet” Gore with a twinkle in their eye and tried to save the world by changing their regular lights with made in China by political prisoner labor fluorescent bulbs. They are not heavily armed with anything more than guilt over their opulent middle class lifestyle paid for with a taxpayer supported job as environmental consultants. Yes, their heart is in the right place. So was Jimmy Carter’s, and he made some colossal blunders.
Unless you can get together a group of militia that likes to grow organic lettuce, forget lifeboat communities. They could have been the spark that carried knowledge through the coming darkness, if they hadn’t been plundered during the first food shortages. Wishful thinking and fantasy is what led us to this problem of oil dependency in the first place. Wishing upon a star to make it all go away isn’t going to work either. Power will trump righteousness. They might be just what the world will need, but some lazy, vicious greedy punk is going to exploit them quickly. It won’t matter if it is the current mayor or sheriff, a former drug gang or a new home grown power. The natural order of things is for a gang of criminals to exploit the work of others in exchange for “protection”.
C. Organic farming
Organic farmers are not as vulnerable as lifeboat communities. They are not advertised in New Age magazines, nor do they give interviews to the local TV station for filler in-between the weather and sports scores. They are decentralized and widely scattered. They can include, more often than not, an armed owner. And they are the only way to farm after the oil stops running. Unfortunately, this does not come with a Get Out Of Jail Free Card. Just because you have a skill does not automatically make you precious and invaluable after the collapse. The local ruler can, indeed, force you to share your skills whether you want to or not. And likely not on your terms. When twenty horsemen approach you with an offer you can’t refuse, it might not be wise to do so. They can take family members hostage, burn down your house one night, snipe at you, horse whip you until you concede, etc. You are tied to the land. You can’t run away. This is the problem with farming. It leaves you as a stationary target. It is justifiable when you gaze with pride at a productive field. You created a means to sustain your family out of nothing. Hard work, a large investment. All for nothing when law and order break down and local tyranny triumphs. Unless you are isolated and have a lot of armed men with good logistics, you will not survive on your land unmolested.
When slavery is mentioned, you usually think about a muscled black hoeing cotton. Grunt work. But look at history. Most advanced civilizations had highly skilled slaves. They were craftsmen, and they were teachers. They were not protected from slavery because they had skills. They were much more valuable than mere field hands, true. That fetched them a higher price at auction. And allowed them far better treatment. But they were still slaves. But you won’t even be that unless you are lucky. You will merely be a serf. Tied to the land. You won’t face as bleak of a future, since modern organic farming is a much better producer than ancient farming. You won’t starve as easily. But you will produce the food for your owner, and you had better do a good job because he will take his cut. You want enough to eat and sell for some small comforts, you grow as much as possible. Organic farming won’t keep you free, just better fed. It will increase your odds of a full stomach. Just not as a free man. That said, this might still be one of the few good options open to you. We will cover the other viable trades likely available after the collapse, but if you don’t realistically see yourself capable of performing them ( or don’t see your family holding up under their demands ) farming might be your only option. It is the only one most of us can practice now. If you have access to land, farming now has several benefits. It reduces your stress from your daily job, reduces your stress about the future, saves you money as times get tough, allows you to eat much healthier at a time when medical costs are making health care an unaffordable luxury, and will see you nicely through the Depression and the initial collapse phase. There is a reason that farming holds such an allure. It is better than money in the bank, which is a tool that only works in good times. Feeding yourself is tailor-made for bad times. Just beware of its long-term consequences when we enter a true dark age.
D. Population shifts
Another bit of bad news for you to worry about is population shifts. Come collapse, the population will move. Even if little or no automotive transport is available, expect huge population shifts as people flee to perceived safety. Americans have always been nomads, shifting locations to better serve their financial interests. It is bred into us, as normal as breathing. We are not like most other societies, where staying near our safety net meant life or death. There have always been nomadic cultures. But they have been the exception for the eight thousand years we have lived by agriculture. It has paid to stay put. The Mongols were only able to live in areas of rich grasslands. The Gypsies have always been marginal in numbers, and more of a gang of grifters moving away from their victims. The Bedouin were confined to their desert. There is always a place for nomads, as they bring mostly agrarian wasteland into production to the benefit of all. But they are not the majority. The stationary farmers are. So American society has been somewhat unique in its mobility. Largely, this was the process of filling up a huge area that had never been “mined” of its wealth. We killed off the Indians and moved in wave after wave of people taking advantage of unexploited resources. After that was done, we lived the same life but now by living off the accumulated riches of our exploitation. We slowly started living off of our seed corn, the accumulated principle of our savings. That is now over and done with and the decline of our civilization has started, but the huge numbers of autos, the large amount of oil we take from others by trade or force, all this still gives us the illusion of the wealth we had and we still feel free to move around. A perpetual band of Okies seeking the illusive Golden State.
The point being, Americans are still very much in the habit of thinking riches (or at least safety) are just over the horizon. Most will turn into unknowing refugees with very little provocation. Expect several large waves of humans. To the warmer South and Southwest after heating oil, natural gas or even electricity are no longer available to keep them alive in the winter. To navigable rivers and waterways as all other forms of transportation fail. To those areas serviced by hydroelectric power or that have the potential to once again be dammed. From cities to the surrounding areas to farm the land. Away from highly populated areas to almost anywhere else regardless of its suitability. And from infertile areas to farms or potentially farmed areas. Thus, after waves of crimes, you can see waves of refugees and then waves of immigrants. You need to be aware if your area is a target, since all your careful plans can be disrupted if too many walking mouths move in next to you. To help visualize the scale of this, just think of Hurricane Katrina. Half the city of New Orleans took up permanent residence in other areas. And most of those people were life time welfare recipients with no skills and poor attitudes, thinking the government owed them a living and that crime was both recreation and if incarcerated their lifestyle would improve. Some areas such as Houston Texas were negatively affected by this influx of useless demanding refugees. Now multiply these tens of thousands at least several thousand times, and make it nationwide. This is what you can look forward to. Without much law and order, with no welfare system and not enough food even for the locals already there.
Warmer areas are naturally going to attract those needing to survive winter. There are plenty of hardy folk, braving out winters by storing up wood and food during summer. They like to live this semi-independent style as their ancestors did. But for every one modern pioneer, there are tens of thousands who live in normally frigid areas yet have no idea how to live with the cold. They go from natural gas heated dwellings where they wear the thinnest clothing, scurry hurriedly to their petroleum warmed cars and drive to work where central heat continues to comfort them. They expose themselves to a mere few minutes of cold a day, a thick synthetic jacket covering their torso, with tennis shoe clad feet, bare hands and not much else differentiating their clothing from what they wear in the summer. They are totally dependant on fossil fuels and a functioning infrastructure during the winter. They won’t be able to adapt to lack of oil. They will head south. Modern homes are largely not made to withstand the cold without petroleum inputs. Nor are southern dwellings made to be inhabited without air conditioning. This itself could be a life threatening situation, but that will seem a minor problem when the southeast reverts to its true habit of killing off its population with tropic diseases. On top of disease caused by improper sanitation, expect the return of things such as malaria. The northerners will discover their new home is a pestilent swamp which, without modern pest control and drug deliveries, will kill them off as quickly as the cold would have up north. The southwest will offer nothing more than starvation as the power fails and irrigated farms dry up as the water is no longer available. Even if a few wells still stay in production, the new population will overwhelm its capacity. If the newly empowered Mexican Rights advocated don’t go on a White killing spree as they quickly try to give back several western states to Old Mexico ( they will soon find it was the Yankee wealth that was coveted, not more desert, something Mexico already has enough of ). And water availability, already a life and death struggle, will just get worse with no oil and new state un-cooperation.
Most of the US population already lives close to a waterway. Partially, this is a holdover from when water was the only reliable and affordable transportation. As trade is essential to life, the waterways will take on increased importance. If certain areas still have desirable farmland, such as the plains states ( that which can be sustained by rain alone and not irrigation ), you might still see depopulation if their links to other areas are severed. At first, rail will hold an advantage over road freight, being much more energy-efficient. But in time, as infrastructure fails and fuel dries up ( as well as spare parts ), rail will fail and ancient waterways will become the only way to move goods. In the newly primitive state of existence, the level of technology will dictate this. Ocean front inhabitants may or may not see a continuation of trade. It depends on location, if they can offer an outlet to needed goods. For instance, Southern ports might be viable if tobacco becomes a new cash crop again. Los Angeles should not survive. It has little natural water available and is a thoroughly modern port. Unless the Long Beach port continues to receive container cargo from China, what is the point of it? Unless, somehow, paved over areas are exploited for their oil pumping potential, you will see very little L.A. has to offer that others need. And if water can’t be imported from the Sierra’s ( assuming its snow pack doesn’t shrink too much), forget the crop potential from the San Fernando valley. Even if they continue to grow, expect fighting over its resources to disrupt things anyway.
Sacramento has potential, with its delta watering crops and that outlet to the Pacific. But, expect levee breaks and flooding. What is currently there will be vastly altered. Yet, the thing to keep in mind about California is it is so overpopulated it will have major conflicts from now until it is largely depopulated. It will not be a pleasant place to live. Far down the future, after modern life and its supports have been erased, most freshwater and some seawater areas will be where most of the population live. Without pumping water by artificial means, man must accept those areas Mother Nature offers to live. For trade and for the life water makes possible. And a last word about population shifts and California. Much is made about the Golden Hoard, the masses of refugees moving from California out to all other surrounding states in times of disaster. The same can be said about the northeast corridor. Huge numbers of people with no means of support after oil. They won’t have any good place to go. But they will go there anyway, as anyplace will seem advantageous compared to the gang warfare, the militia fights, the cannibals and the racial conflict. The mass starvation, out of control fires, the water supplies being disrupted. Beware the arrival of these desperate people with insatiable demands and nothing to offer. Hope your community has an easily blocked, minimal amount of entrances.
In the 1970’s, as commercial survivalism reached its zenith, too many books to recount gave the same good advice. Get out of the cities, the urban areas, the ghettos. They told you to pick any city over a certain size on the map and then draw a circle around it for three hundred miles. This was the death zone.
You didn’t want to live anywhere near an area a car load full of gasoline and Angry Armed Minorities could travel to in the event of a disaster. The three problems with this advice were that,
1) the cars could only travel along roads so that a lot of those drawn circles were still habitable,
2) if you avoided all circles, there was maybe two areas you could retreat to and they had no stores or water for a hundred miles, and
3) as the car loads of hostiles drove towards you, mechanical difficulties and the fact that not everyone had a full tank of gasoline meant that the immediate areas surrounding a city were much more dangerous than those a little bit further along (in other words, the danger dropped rapidly).
This did expand your options slightly, enabling you to choose a spot closer to work or affordable housing. But of course, this only addresses the immediate danger in the event of calamity. I think most philosophies were heavily influences by the Cold War, nuclear weapons and their fallout and the ability to live normal until the very end. This is simply wishful thinking, but to this day the ‘bug out’ is discussed and adhered to as a viable strategy.
Recently, after the nation as a whole has switched over to ‘just in time’ inventory where as soon the continually moving replenishment system hits a snag supplies dry up as no one carries excess inventory, hurricanes have shown how roads turned into instant parking lots and gas deliveries are severely disrupted. That alone should keep people from trying to work in one place and live a self sufficient lifestyle elsewhere. Yet, they simply carry more gas cans and map out alternate routes on minor roads. But, regardless of short term problems, the long term is what we are concerned about. Even out of shape people can walk at least twelve miles a day (the California missions were located twenty miles apart along the coastal chain, telling us this was the norm for encumbered travelers back before cars). It won’t take that long before all areas that are deemed desirable see the refugees show up there. So, if you do get caught up in mapping evacuation routes and population centers, follow the roads rather than a drawn circle surrounding a city. You are a lot safer, at first, away from the cities, even closer than three hundred miles. But in the end, those on foot will find your area if it is desirable. My strategy is to live far away from everyone, where few will want to go. Of course, it has its own set of problems.
There is a potential monkey wrench in the normal perceived flow of refugees. Global warming. Now, I hate Al Gore. I’m convinced that he didn’t contest the skewed Florida election results so the Supreme Court could crown Bush the new king in record time. As a result he was rewarded financially in a rather handsome manner (W. Bush is a total moron that needs help completing a coherent sentence, proof positive moneyed interests were behind both his election and the Gore buy off). After the election, he becomes, in effect, new global weather czar. He and his traveling circus travel the globe (in carbon spewing planes) trying to alarm everyone about global warming. He made a lot of money on his lecture circuit. So much so that he can drive his huge carbon spewing SUV’s from the airport to his huge country home, using more polluting natural gas to heat his several thousand square foot office space each month than the average American uses to heat their dwelling all year. So I am not totally sold on the concept of global warming. Rather, I should say I have problems accepting global warming is man-made, or that we can do much about it. When there is money to be made, place your hand firmly over your wallet. The scores of scientists genuflecting before their new idol, lashing themselves with branches, their mouths foaming in ecstasy as they proclaim everlasting devotion and fidelity, all this leads me to wonder if global warming isn’t full of crap. We do have the new solar cycle starting, promising colder weather as sunspot activity is down sharply. Yet, colder weather can lead to less moisture. And those pictures of retreating glaciers are pretty convincing. In the end, unfortunately, you must decide these things for yourself. No one, especially not me, can know enough about your circumstances to guide you through more than superficial preparedness. It is all fine a well to give advice on the basics such as food, water and weapons. It is quite another to give advice that effects your family. No author knows your circumstances, so all the posturing, positions and philosophy must be taken with a grain of salt. We present an argument, you decide if it has merit. Myself, personally, put enough stock into the possibility of rising sea levels that I never bought property in Florida. I left there for Nevada, higher and drier and so many less population. I made the right decision, for me.
Now, come rising sea levels, if they indeed occur, you are going to have the opposite problem of refugees. Rather than heading towards warm climates, they will be headed away from them. Or, headed from warm and wet climates to both colder climes and those warm but dry such as the southwest. I love the desert, personally. Mostly the fact that it is quiet and peaceful and lacking of hoards of slack-jawed mindless humanity. If this eventuality occurs, you might wish to be far away from seawater flooded areas. You look at a sea of starving humanity in refugee camps and you think of passive people glad to get their small cup of gruel every day. That is not what American refugee camps will look like. They will be short on weapons, since the politically correct police will disarm before allowing entrance, but attitudes can’t be checked at the door. To a man they will be belligerent and nasty, hostile and demanding and full of a sense of entitlement. They will demand full supplies (food cooked by others and available menu fashion to allow individual choice) and will put forth no effort for it. In fact, I would wager that in the act of wiping themselves after the digestion process in complete, they rue the effort involved on their part in that. The refugees on the road will have the same attitude. Our government long ago chose to pacify the mobs by allowing them to live off of a lavish welfare state. At the same time the government, as it was doing to everyone else, encouraged a sense of outrage at others. The divide and conquer routine. The young resent the old for their Social Security. The poor resent the rich. The ghetto dwellers resent anyone working. It works great to deflect anger from the government while also forcing a dependence on them. It is a win/win for those in power. After the system comes unglued, it spells trouble for the survivors. You have untold multitudes unable to take care of themselves and quite willing to band together to take what is yours. They are, after all, an exploited minority and deserve to be taken care of since they were oppressed and unable to fend for themselves
(as a good example of this, look to whites in South Africa today, after the blacks took over and started to loot the old western nation ). Fear their arrival as waves of refugees….”
If you’d like to read the entire book, Life After the Collapse by James M. Dankin
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End of article (Survival Manual/2. Social Issues/Life After The Collapse, 2-2)