Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The one strategy necessary to survive collapse

The bad news: there isn't one.

The good news: there are many.

I've been thinking and studying collapse for some time with its various permutations: economic, environmental, energy, civil unrest, pandemic, political disaster -the whole range of possibilities.
Some facts become clear. Collapse happens. If it didn't archaeologists would never have found the dusty remains of a multitude of civilizations because they'd still be thriving today. Anyone with more than a few years of adult life have seen collapse in other countries. It happens, so there's no pretending it doesn't.

Collapse can be slow or fast or a combination of both. The Roman Empire had a long slow slide where most things slowly got worse and worse -then one day the barbarians crossed a frozen river and the process sped up. The fall of the Soviet Union was fairly rapid, only taking a few years, depending on when one would like to start measuring from.

How are we to respond to collapse? Of course, our actions will be constrained by the type of collapse experienced. There isn't just one response for each threat. There are many ways of adapting to each collapse scenario.

One example: your farm land, for whatever reason, is now constantly flooded. What was dry is now wet. How to respond? One could move to higher ground, but that's not the only response. Instead of farming, maybe your could fish, and build your house on tall stilts. Maybe you keep gardening, but from floating platforms. The water could be an advantage and allow for a maritime trading existence, or even piracy that preys on that trade.

Another example: fossil fuels become scarce. Alternative energy sources could be developed or people could find ways of living with a lot less energy. Most likely both strategies will be employed at the same time.

Civil unrest? Move out of harms way, either by leaving the country, or moving to a safer part of the country. Defensive militias could be formed to protect your life and property, or you could join a roving bandit gang to profit off the chaos. Some people may be able to successfully hide. They could hide by actually disappearing from sight by disappearing into the deep woods or a cave. They could hide the way some Jews did in WWII; they successfully pretended to be Christians.

People have a lot of different ideas on how to handle collapse: Run to the hills, Transition Towns, community building, militias, technical fixes, social fixes -and so on.


I'm in favor of the shotgun approach to collapse: many people trying many different things. There will be a high failure rate. That's to be expected. It's part of the process. For the process to work, we've got to share both our successes and our failures. Sharing the failures may be more important than sharing the successes. First, it'll save other people from going down the wrong road. Secondly, a well documented failure often can be the groundwork for someone else's success. Maybe a second attempt, with some changes, will avoid the pitfalls that caused the first to fail.

We've got a lot to work with. Our civilization has left an awful lot of stuff lying around. There are plenty of materials, tools, and equipment ready for reuse. We have vast libraries of information at our disposal. It's never been easier to search for information or to share knowledge. Those are huge advantages. Let's not squander them by insisting on only one right way to do things. The biggest thing that could hold us back is closed minds.



  1. Excellent perspective. Thanks for putting it out there; it's great food for thought.

  2. Simply stated as usual. Especially the part about collapse happens all the time, it's all around us otherwise archeologists wouldn't have anything to dig up! Have a great day. Treesong

  3. Another good post. Those who will change will survive change. Or in Marine terms, improvise, adapt, overcome.

  4. Just goes to show that the most important weapons a person can have is his brain...and lots of knowledge!

    Always try and learn something new...and learn to share with others what you have learned!

    Great post! Thanks, buddy!

  5. as your world ciovilization rots within into compost it won't be missed by me..

    for lack of gusto your world falls like so many before in the aybass...

    this was the third one to reach the nearest moon with a manned mission.....

    the gods chuckle at the fools choices your leaders made... go follow the fools over the cliff to their deaths.

    have fun!