Thursday, September 6, 2012

We all fall down together

Some people look at my off the grid electric power, veggie powered vehicle, wind powered boat, and other gadgets and think I’m set for collapse. The way I see, those things are nice and very useful now, but of only of limited and temporary use in a major collapse.

How’s that?

Solar electric power is a marvel. There’s very little that can wrong with it. If the grid went down it would most likely keep functioning for months or even years. Most likely. Components do fail. A close lightning strike could fry the electronics. High winds could drop a tree on my solar panels. Sometimes stuff just wears out. Eventually the battery bank will stop holding a charge and need to be replaced. Nothing lasts forever.

My waste vegetable oil powered vehicle is only useful if everyone else is driving cars. Roads won’t be maintained just for me. If no one can afford to eat out at restaurants, there will be no waste vegetable oil for my vehicle. Already it’s harder to get because so much waste veggie goes into commercial biodiesel. Temporary oil shocks I can handle. My basement has a big rack of jugs full of veggie, but when it’s gone, it’s gone.

By the way, those of you who are smug that you are riding a bicycle, you won’t go forever either. Bike parts wear out too and there’s a heck of a long supply chain for most components. Are bicycle tires even made in North America anymore?

All the cool stuff eventually breaks or wears out. Then what do you do? You do what a philosopher does after enlightenment: chop wood and carry water.

Living in a rural forested area, I can heat and cook burning wood. I’ve axes, and manual saws that will last a long long time. Even if those are gone, it’s still possible to gather wood with primitive homemade tools. Anyone can pick a stick off the ground.

Having access to potable water is key. My well constantly overflows. All I need is a bucket or a cup. Diogenes, the philosopher, simplified his life and threw his cup away when he saw a child drinking from his cupped hand.

Some preppers have taken the hard core approach. They look a the way the natives used to live in their environment and learn the old skills. They practice how to make everything from stone arrow heads, to pottery, to rope from natural fibers -everything necessary for life. All their technology is stuff that can be fashioned from local materials by small bands of people. These are all good skills to have.

We’ve got a resource that was unavailable to the natives: piles and piles of junk. We’ve got a metals and synthetic materials unknown to our predecessors. We’ll be able to strip a car the way a Plains Indian could use every part of a Buffalo.

The gadgets are nice for temporary disruptions. Odds are that they’ll get a homestead through in something approaching modern comfort. Should something like a massive solar flare take down technological civilization, having a good location and skills will be key.



  1. I think you put that in a way that covers all the different ways of thinking.

    Skills and using the ol' noodle certainly will be important, and like you said...location is high on the list of necessary things.

    I like your way of putting it all together!

    1. Thanks Hermit Jim. Sometimes I'm just trying to get it clear in my own head.

  2. Water is, perhaps, the main thing. .......And I sit on a dry ridge full of dry holes (wells that didn't work).

  3. I do like what you say and how you say it...

  4. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)September 6, 2012 at 6:34 AM

    How true. Even simple things like learning to tie knots and how to fish are things that kids today don't know how to do. They sure are in for a rude awakening!

    1. Indeed. Really hope they get a chance to learn.

  5. This is why perhaps we don't find any traces of distant collapsed civilizations. We scavenged all the stuff and reduced it to elemental bits.

    We have mayhaps been down this path before...

    1. I think you are right. There are enough odd artifacts from the past to know our official history is full of holes. Another thing, we know sea level has risen and fallen a lot and civilizations tend to build near the sea.

  6. Well said...primitive skills rule. I truly hope our grandchildren survive.

  7. I could live off the wild, but the problem is there is so many people living on this Earth now that it would be a lot more difficult to live off the land than it was back a couple of hundred years ago.

    1. Indeed it would. I'm told that during the depression, there weren't a lot of game animals running around these parts after a while. Of course, there's fewer people living here now and fewer of them know how to live off the land. My area is a bit of a special case.

  8. hi. you have hit on the nub here. i think of the preppers. what will they do without bought cheese making powder when it runs out.
    ? without oxygen excluders when they run out? the factories, which aren't in north america anymore, will be shut down or the goods will be unavailable to us. where do i get the medicine that keeps my daughter alive? if it were available how would i pay for it?
    preppers use so many things that make them feel safe but when the grain grinder parts wear out where will the replacements be found? and will they be affordable or will a system of shipping be available?
    we might remember that a lot of our ancestors died young, too.
    one of my aunts out in the hollers died from puerpueral fever. you never hear of it nowadays.
    the other aunt ,who died of the same cancer that i was saved from by modern medicine, lost a baby because she had german measles while pregnant. the other child died at about 2 years old of meningitis. it doesn't happen here in modern times.
    i tell people who yearn to get out in nature that they should not get too far from a hospital and they should not be entirely alone, as some wish to do.
    people are tribal by nature , in spite of being argumentative, and although having some distance is good, too much distance can be deadly.
    we have basic civilization in good part because of technology ( glass making, metal working, cloth weaving) and because of specialization. if a man takes many days to fashion spear tips and they are in demand as being excellent it only makes sense for him to make a lot of them. the hunters use them to bring down game and share with the spear maker. specialization.
    the sea level will rise a total of 17 feet from where it was in 1976, so florida may be underwater. plan now.
    my mother is from an island nation. when she was little you could stand on the beach and see the church belltower out in the ocean of towns that had gone under a hundred years ago.
    if you read older literature about that island you find references to the same type of thing, but even older drownings, seen from the places eventually underwater in my mother's childhood.
    "The earth shall wear out like a garment." i pray for my daughter and all those who will be here when we are long gone, because we need God to guide us.
    as i read the news and see where we are heading i am worried, but panicking is no good. we do what we can according to our stamina, knowledge, and finances and that is all that we can do. God will have to do the rest.
    where we live there is the possibility of electric outages, so even if you're not prepping it is good to have some gallons of water , a small barbeque outfit with charcoal and matches, and some thing you can eat straight from the can or package.
    sorry i've gone on so long but these things have been niggling at me for years, especially since our child was born. how will it be for this next generation who so constantly have their noses in i-phones that they no longer have direct conversation, and who think food comes from the grocery store?
    God help them and us.
    deb harvey

  9. There's the potential for it to get really ugly. A little prep and some knowlege could go a long way.

    Thanks for coming by Deb Harvey.

  10. Not as prepped as I'd like to be here. But, necessity IS the mother of frantic scrambling adaptation, right? (Oh, this is Labrys of HerlanderRefugee, btw, on my moving from google day...becoming a wordpress resident at

  11. Thanks for the update.

    Scrambling adaptation . . . I like it.

  12. "And we will all go together when we go!
    Every Hottentot and every Eskimo!
    When the air becomes uranious,
    We will all go simultaneous!
    Yes, we all will go together
    When we all go together,
    Yes we all will go together when we go!"

    Tom Lehrer