Letter Re: Enlightened Survivalism Article in The Energy Bulletin

The comments in today’s SurvivalBlog concerning my ‘Enlightened Survivalism’ article that was posted on the Energy Bulletin that ‘this more likely qualifies as preaching to the choir’ is exactly why the article was not sent to yourself for posting on SurvivalBlog. I tried ‘preaching to the choir’ as you put it with my post to you ‘Considerations for Longer Term Survival’ that you posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005.
It would seem that many have still not really got to grips with its contents particularly: ‘What about food when the “Year’s Food Supply” is gone? What about your water supply?’.
It is now nearly a year since you posted that article and I have seen very little discussion concerning the longer term on SurvivalBlog.
We seem to be in state of denial with reality and expect things to get back to some semblance of normality after the chaos.
Many societies have collapsed in the past and those collapses are well documented, particularly by people like Jared Diamond with his two books, ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ and ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to fail or Survive’. The problem is that the coming collapse may well be caused by the some or all of the causes that lead to previous societies collapsing, but
this time we will not have the planet’s resources, particularly oil, to rebuild with. Our finite resources which are irreplaceable will have been expended.
We also live in world where our systems are now so complex that the slightest thing could bring it all tumbling down. Painter’s ‘The Collapse of Complex Societies’ is worth a read on the subject of complexity.
I would agree that ‘preaching’ short term survival, for those who have not given ‘survival’ any thought before is very valid and that all people should
be able to look after themselves without reliance on authority for a short period of time. For those ‘survivalists’ that are already aware of the problems that are to come and are prepared in the short term for them then they must now start preparing themselves for the longer term and teaching those that follow.
I did debate sending you the article, which came about from posts ‘Preparing for a Crash: Nuts and Bolts ‘ by Zachary Nowak. Which was responded to with ‘Why the Survivalists Have Got It Wrong.’ by Rob Hopkins. To which I responded with ‘Major Problems of Surviving Peak Oil’.
After consideration I did not send you the article because I felt that it was not the sort of article that SurvivalBlog would, on the one hand, wish to publish and on the other I rather feel like I am hitting my head against a brick wall with trying to persuade people to consider a life after collapse without the infrastructure and systems that we have today.
A good quote to close is: ‘To our grandfathers and grandchildren, the cave men.’
Regards, -Norman
P.S. Go on, read that last quote again

JWR Replies: Although the majority of SurvivalBlog readers are concerned with discrete events and short term infrastructure disruption, there are indeed a lot of readers that are actively preparing for long term and even multi-generational scenarios. In essence, there is the “buy six months of storage food and a backup generator” camp and the “build your own infrastructure and establish true self sufficiency” camp. I fall in the latter category. In my estimation, even if there is just the outside chance of a multi-generational whammy, I think that it is wise to prepare for it. It makes more sense to fence a garden and take the time to develop expertise in gardening rather than to just be dependent on storage food. Likewise, it is more logical to make your own power (e.g. photovoltaic, wind, microhydro, and on-site firewood, coal, and natural gas, or biogas production) rather than being dependent on fossil fuels produced hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Unless someone is a multi-millionaire and can afford to install propane tanks measuring in the thousands of gallons, it is absurd to think that a retreat can depend on outside fuel supplies and still have generator power ten years into TEOTWAWKI. (And even then, a stored resource that large would be an obvious target for anyone in a position of authority–whether legitimate or assumed–for “requisitioning.”) I encourage SurvivalBlog readers to read Norman’s various writings and think through the full implications of Peak Oil and potential climate change. My conclusion is that even though the timing of these predictions may be off by decades or even a century or more, it is prudent to become truly self-sufficient. In essence to be truly prepared you should be a producer rather than just a consumer. If not for ourselves, do so for the sake of your children and grandchildren, so that they won’t someday be reduced to a troglodyte existence.