Preparedness For Life
Every once in a while I take a step back and I think about the idea or notion of preparedness, and what it is, or what it means, in relation to a lifestyle of adapting to the risks that we potentially face in our modern world today.
Here are my thoughts on preparedness for life…
Our modern world is getting smaller.
While we live on a planet of a fixed size, it has a fixed amount of resources and a fixed amount of livable land for us humans to occupy.
Our human population continues to grow. Our energy demands continue to grow. Our governments continue to grow. Our bureaucracies continue to grow. Our debts continue to grow. Our dependencies continue to grow.
All the while, the world remains the same. It gives the same, in a natural sort of way.
The big difference today though is that we have learned how to leverage. We can pull from the earth great resources, and these resources have enabled a great and expanding human civilization in just a very small slice of recent time on the timeline of human existence.
It is astounding when you really think about it.
Our lives have become longer. We have produced many great things. We have built massive cities. For most of us, our lives are much much easier than anyone before us. “We have it made” so to speak… even if many of us don’t realize it.
The thing is… as I’ve aged, my eyes have opened, and I see and recognize the many many risks that we face as human beings living in this modern world.
While I benefit from the modern conveniences of today’s life, I realize that many of the systems that enable our ability to live as we do… are fragile.
We depend on them (the systems) and we don’t even realize it. Our modern way of life has always been there for us. We expect it to be there for us, now and in the future. It is our assumption. Because it always has been, it always will be.
The reason that I prepare, is for “insurance” …that what I take for granted today, may not be there for me tomorrow. Or the next day.
Preparedness for life, is a lifestyle. It’s about a-lot of things…
It’s about having short term supplies in one’s possession to fill in the gaps when short term external resources are not accessible.
It’s about having long term supplies which include what one needs to survive, to live, to be secure.
It’s about learning and knowing how to use what one has at their disposable including food production and preservation, and any or all other skills related to living a basic and sustainable life.
It’s about a balance with the modern world and preparing for a more difficult world that could come to pass.
It’s about learning how to adapt to unforeseen situations.
It’s about setting goals to get yourself closer to a life that depends less upon the systems around you.
It’s about self-sufficiency, sustainability, and independence.
It’s about freedom from ‘the system’.
It’s about striving to live a life that is more focused on benefiting you than your master.
It’s about realizing and knowing that you can indeed steer yourself to a point in your life when you can throw off the shackles and chains and look your master in the eye and say, “Have a nice day…”
It is a lifestyle, and no two people living the lifestyle are the same. It is unique in that your own pathway to preparedness is unique.
Can we ever reach the point where we can say that we are prepared? Answer: No.
We will always need others at some point. The difference is to live a lifestyle where we are not fully dependent on any one or any system for our survival. Unfortunately, most of the population at large are dependent, while they don’t even know it.
The dependencies are what really motivates me to be better prepared. We are living in a world today where if times really got tough, I believe that we could be in grave danger. Knowing that only a fraction of people will ever be prepared enough if TSHTF, I KNOW that there could be mass chaos, given a major disruption in any one of a number of critical systems.
I believe that most preppers are the type of people who are intelligent enough to recognize the risks that we face, and are those who are doing something about it. Just in case.
Don’t always believe what you see on TV about preppers. Any TV show can find enough ‘extreme’ so-called preppers to make it appear as though we are all that way, but in fact I know that most are not. Most are ordinary folks who are working jobs within the system like most everyone else, but are also hedging their bets just in case something goes wrong. People living the prepper life of preparedness are doing so in all shapes and sizes, all degrees from a little to a-lot, and everything in-between.
There’s nothing wrong with being smart and taking charge of your life. I encourage you to live a lifestyle of preparedness for life.
Preppas 4 life. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Look at human history. It took a huge length of time for the entire human population to reach 3/4 of a billion people. That was the population 400 years ago when the industrial age dawned. Then in that short 400 year period of time compared to all of human history, the population exploded to over 7 billion. What a remarkable event the industrial age has been.
The industrial age was possible because we figured out how to exploit stored energy in the form of coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium. So here we are heavily dependent on the output of the industrial age to survive. But here is the rub; we have followed the path of least resistance in acquiring energy. We went for the easiest to acquire first (the low hanging fruit principle) and left the difficult deposits for later.
Here is an example: In 1930 we used the equivalent energy of 1 barrel of oil to get back 100. Today we use the equivalent energy of 11 barrels of oil to get back 100. This is a compounded rate of growth of 3% in the cost to acquire oil. This cost doubles every 23 years. At first the increase was small when we went from 1 barrel of cost to 2 barrels of cost; then 2 barrels doubled to 4 barrels. But we are now reaching a steeper part of this cost curve and the next doubling will still take 23 years, but it will go from 11 barrels of cost up to 22 barrels of cost, and in the 23 years after that it will go from 22 barrels of cost up to 44 barrels of cost. Each year we use up more energy than the year before to get back 100 barrels of oil. Obviously this is a picture of doom because eventually there will be plenty of oil left in the ground, but it will be impractical to get it because we will need to spend more energy than we get back.
Each source of energy has its own cost curve, i.e., its own doomsday timetable, but they all are compound growth curves with the cost growing exponentially leaving less and less each year to fuel the economy.
Up until now we have been able to increase total production enough to make up for the loss that results from increased cost, but we are hitting the wall in finding enough new deposits to make up for the old deposits we have used up, and we face at best stagnating production, and at worst declining production. And if we can’t keep production increases ahead of increasing costs the economy will contract over and over again since any rate of decline in economic output has an associated halving period. If the economy contracts at 4% annually, in 17.5 years it will be cut in half, rinse and repeat.
I think we are on the precipice of a huge long term decline in economic output and when you consider that without all this stored energy being used that the earth could only support 3/4 of a billion people. I think this is the future that the math of compounding rates of change tell us to expect. Those who are preparing for a return to 17th century conditions will be the survivors.
I often feel like the odd man out. In the internet world of survival and prepper blogs, the focus has been on economic collapse and the rise of the police state. Those of us that lean towards progressive ideals, yet still follow the trends of resource depletion, over-population, and climate chaos are in the minority of the prepper community.
While I admit I’m on the fence as to whether climate chaos is man-made or solar driven, the evidence that our climate is drastically changing is overwhelming. Yet, because of propaganda, ‘global warming’ is seen as a liberal myth. Statistics are showing climate models have been drastically understated and the climate is changing faster than anyone could have imagined. The newest data shows the planet could be uninhabitable in thirty years due to methane release. Why are survival websites not all over this! Is this not what it’s all about?
Even worse, some blogs are trying to say Peak Oil, Peak Phosphate, Peak Arable land, and Peak Potable Water are B.S. and part of a U.N. Agenda 21 propaganda campaign.
It frustrates me that all the reasons I feel we need to be prepping are so often sidelined by preparedness blogs. Shouldn’t we, as the prepper community be preparing for ANY and ALL eventualities. Yet, you visit Rawels site and you’ll see nary an entry on Resource depletion, over-population, and climate chaos. Those that claim to be awake and aware seem to keep their head in the sand on so many issues.
I am prepping for economic collapse, the rise of the police state, and deadly pandemic, but I also see resource depletion and climate chaos as our deadliest outcomes.
Sorry for the rant, but those of us that are politically ‘left of center’ are so often left out in the cold in the survival community that it is hard to find a home. I really appreciate Ken addressing issues in this post that are dismissed by others.
The United States uses more oil than any other country in the world. Our cars and trucks use more gas than any other countries also. In China they have restrictions on the number of cars they can own, one per family. But they can own as many motorcycles as they want. They still use bicycles and oxen to pull carts and buggies. Imagine what would happen if our Government told us that we could only have one car per family! We wouldn’t stand for that would we? Of course not! We work for our money and we will buy what we want! We don’t care of the fact we have a hummer to drive to work and it gets 7 miles to the gallon. “It is what I want so I’m going to buy it”. That my friends will be our downfall. We as Americans truly believe we can buy whatever we want and use it how ever we want and dam the outcome. Did you know that America as large as a country as it is still depends on imports for almost all our goods? I said it before ” the only way we will survive as a nation, is to build factories making the things we need, put Americans back to work and let them raise their families”. But this wont happen as the government makes to much money from imports and countries like “China and Japan” hold our national debt in their hands. We are to dependent on other countries and we need to start being more self-sufficient on the things we need to survive. Their is no reason why this cannot be done other than the fact that America’s government is striving to make the rich richer and keep the average working man struggling everyday to survive. If you know your history this is one of the main reasons why Rome fell. The government lost contact with its people and lived only for the rich. They at the time didn’t care about the working man that BUILT his home but they cared more about cheap labor and low costs. Sound familiar? If history repeats itself and it does, America is in trouble. We are the ONLY nation that haven’t failed. Granted we are a young nation compared to others but if our government doesn’t stop its bad practices and start looking to the common man we will fail as a nation. One more thing I would like to bring up. In most every country “besides” America doctors are the highest paid profession. In America Tom Cruse is. We will pay millions for an actor to do a movie and pay a doctor that can save your life nothing. Did you know other countries “laugh” at us because of this practice? Most other countries have health coverage, dental and vision. If your a citizen of China and you get sick the treatment is free. America if you get sick and have no insurance they tell you to go home as they cannot do anything for you. I have it happen to me on three occasions. Our whole way of thinking needs to change if we are to survive as a nation. That includes the government and citizen. Slowly America is going down the rabbit hole. When we get to the bottom it will be to late. What can be done about these problems? If you need to be told then your part of the problem but I will tell you this: If TSHTF “and its coming” it will be ugly. A lot of people have no clue how to survive any kind of long term collapse in our society. Their will be a lot of very desperate people looking for very basic needs. And the rule of thumb is “if you have and they don’t they will do whatever means necessary to take what you have, or try”. We are on borrowed time. When push comes to shove only the strong and person willing to do what is necessary will survive.
Well, Randy, in the end does it really matter what caused our depleted energy resources? No, the argument will be a moot point because we will be concerned with how the lack of energy will affect our lives and lifestyles.
I understand your frustration with the Conservative point of view but most preppers are Conservative because we’re the ones who work with facts and have more disdain for Big Government than the Liberals/Progressives.
I am one of those Conservative types who isn’t a “global warming” enthusiast, too, but try not to lop all of us into a single category of not caring about our environment. I am an activist against coal-fired energy for MANY reasons (the worst reasons involve the cost of human health and the destruction of mountaintops). Though I would rather do without cheap energy if it means coal-fired or nuclear, I cannot support the ridiculous reasoning that Progressives have tried to sell. I look at “global warming” as a global 21st Century scam, as do many other Conservatives and we are insulted by such an ideological pile of garbage. I prefer to examine the paleoclimatological data instead of computer models that can be programmed to “prove” any point. And geo-core data from eons ago prove that the Earth has survived some very intense planetary changes — this hypothetical period of “global warming” is unsubstantiated. In fact, recent data shows the opposite to be true.
But we ARE depleting many of the planet’s energy resources for cheap fuel. And with an ever-increasing population, most of which is in countries where coal-fired and oil-fired fuel is in increased demand, it will only be a matter of time before it runs low or runs out. For whatever the reason, does the “why” really matter when the need for survival is more important than laying blame somewhere?
In keeping with a preparedness or survival mindset, I stay focused on the basics. This keeps me pragmatic on basic energy replacement because if a financial collapse is bad enough, or if Der Stasi worsens, and our very complex system breaks down completely, that’s it. There will not be enough manufacturers or delivery systems to bring equipment or fuel (or US fiat currency) to our communities to save us or make our lives easy. So, I’m one of those odd prepper types who is not buying anything solar. I see little need in the investment of extensive solar equipment because some of that solar equipment will wear out or break down. And then what? But from my perspective, folks are running around buying little roll-up solar thingys for their cell phones when even the $40K solar system won’t help after a few years of use and normal wear and tear render the system ineffective or overburdened. But people have not thought this through deeply enough. And people have not yet been subjected to NO ELECTRICITY.
For us, we’ve focused on a life without electricity…..off grid….without solar….a return to the past where sweat, manual skills, and hand tools perform the work to help us get by. We’re already about 85% self-sustainable and if the grid goes down and delivery systems end, we’ll get by. We won’t buy any more beef raised by a farmer down the rode, but we’ll have the rabbits, chickens, pigs, and still have the milk from our goats. We’re not off the grid yet but when it’s forced upon us, we’re almost ready for it.
So in the end, Randy, don’t pay too much attention to what others are thinking or why most of us don’t share in your worries about methane gas. Worry about how YOU can make it when the S hits harder than it already has been doing. I guarantee you won’t be lamenting “peak oil” or methane gas because you’ll be too engaged with your own well-being and survival to care about who-did-what.
Thanks for the response, Homestead Gal!
I’m not frustrated with the conservative POV, rather the tendency to ignore clear and present dangers because they are not politically acceptable. Also, I don’t buy into the left/right paradigm and feel it’s the state trying to divide us. That’s why I put ‘left of center’ in quotes as I don’t really identify with it, rather, use it so others may relate. I’m very socially progressive which is why I would be considered ‘left’, but I am also against the liberal philosophy of big government and the nanny state. You could call me fiscally conservative and a constitutionalist.
I do not immediately believe climate chaos is man-made and actually believe it to be solar-related. I think liberal ideas such as cap and trade and carbon taxes are ridiculous. But when original estimates put arctic total ice loss at 2050 and now the reality is we’ll sea total sea ice loss at 2015 or THIS YEAR, our climate is changing drastically for the worse and will cause massive die-off and collapse. So do survival websites ignore this because it is politically inconvenient to do so? If so, don’t they ignore it at their peril?
My point is, we should be prepping for ANY and ALL eventualities whether we find it disagreeable or not.
I’d love to see Ken post about the current theories about ‘near term extinction’. We know in the past when the planet has warmed, methane burps have nearly wiped out life on this planet. Methane is currently being released at unprecedented levels in human history.
I’m right there with you Homestead Gal. I would disconnect from the grid today if I didn’t think there would be a revolution in my house. I always focus on long term with all of my purchases. An example would be my iron cookware. I have my mothers iron frying pan which is more than 60 years old. My husband insist on the non-stick teflon frying pan which we have to replace every year. Although we do have stored propane for cooking I know that that is a short term solution. It is here just as a transitional phase as we slowly adjust to cooking over an open fire.
We also heat with wood, not pellets as those will also not be around when society collapses. The biggest challenge will be growing enough food without the aid of gas powered machinery to till the land, etc. So we suppliment with foraging. Hunting may not be a viable option as I had read that during the great depression deer had become extinct in 19 states just in the first year, and it took almost 30 years for some of those states to start seeing deer again, and this was before the population was as large. As a result of a major collapse I feel that many animals will be hunted into total extinction before there is a great die-off of mankind.
I agree Peanut. When TSHTF and people start seeking shelter from the gangs in the cities. The wood will become filled quickly and the animals will become depleted. What you will need is a food source that you can rely on and live on. Chickens and rabbits are the two best renewable sources of food. Only problem with chickens is they make noise while a rabbit is quiet. With those two animals and your garden you can survive. As far as cooking pans (lol) I have some very old cast iron ones myself. They work better than “non-stick” and will last forever. When and if you start cooking over coals and fire, get a copper fire pit. I’ve had one for going on 6 years and it will NEVER burn out like metal and very light. It is big enough to hold a good size fire, round and fits perfectly in my teepee when I hit the wood for a few days. I couldn’t ask for a better fire pit than a copper one!
@ Wildbill. Thanks for the idea on the copper fire pit, I’ll be looking into that one.