I am going to start with the bad one. This would be a situation where civilization is damaged beyond repair. These kinds of events could be nuclear war, cascading world war without Nuks, and natural events. Climate change and net energy decline don’t fit this category but will be discussed in the next step up in my series where collapse is an accelerating process but not catastrophic. This less severe decline type develops within the global system with time to adapt. The sudden loss of electrical grid and primary energy supplies for transport across the globe will be catastrophic. The critical element of human collapse or not is degree and duration of shock. This dictates species survival and we are no different. All-down differs by being an event and being global.
The natural events that could strike would be a caldera volcano, severe solar flares, and an asteroid. Any natural event that would end the resource chains of primary energy and the value chains of industrial economy would bring down civilization. Surprisingly, this breakdown is easier to occur than many would care to consider. The loss of the grid is an end game. If the grid goes down so does civilization. Without electricity our overextended way of life collapses. The grid is very fragile so do not take it for granted.
There are few refuges from this all-down collapse because of population levels and consumption profiles. Even sustainable places with low consumption profiles will suffer the waste steam of collapsing industrial civilization and the movement of peoples from overpopulated areas. All sustainable peoples are only partial sustainable because of delocalization. Even the poor subsistence farmer still gets products from the globalized world. In an all-down ALL are at the mercy of fate.
The waste stream of nuclear waste ponds boiling dry is just one example of poisons leaching across the planet from system failure of centuries of human development. This would be a very dirty event so any of those extremist environmentalists that lust for an industrial civilization collapsed are sadly mistaken. This will be a global destructive event that will likely do more harm than a gentler decline process of managed destructive change. The dirtiness of it will threaten all other life with dramatic decline in ecosystem health. As an environmentalist I seek managed change and understand and accept what we have done to the planet. A human die-off will do more harm than good for life. A slower power-down is more desirable.
I have been a doomer and prepper since 2000. I didn’t know fully what that meant back then but I had a gut feel for decline having researched extensively multiple different fields that appeared to me interconnected. I am a generalist not a specialist. This has allowed me to see things the best minds don’t see because of their fact prejudice from specialization. I also tag different collapse variables as less severe than the experts portray. This applies to climate change that is far too hyped in regards to other variables. Climate change is bad but it is not alone.
It is more the convergence of several variables that is the issue. The runway train of technological development is a central element to all man’s problems and potential solutions. We are digging a hole deeper with our worship of technological progress. It is our evolutionary dead end. Individually get out of this worship if you want to improve your survival profile.
I differentiate decline and collapse for a very important reason. While collapse is always possible, collapse is an event. Decline is a process. Collapse actually applies more to localized collapse mirroring the global ecosystem with localized failure but only general decline. I have found human civilization mirrors natural ecosystems so follow the science of ecology to understand what is happening to our global civilization.
I saw right through the hollow social narrative of techno progress years ago on multiple levels. I entertained renewables in the 90s. I made plans up for an off-grid cabin back when it was a more a curiosity. I researched renewables extensively in the 2000s watching their development. I came to the fair conclusion a few years ago they will not transition us from fossil fuels with a status quo of affluence or anything close.
NetZero renewable systems will stall at 30-40% primary power in most places and even then, cause dramatic drops in affluence. By the way I have a 3600-watt solar system with battery and inverter. I know firsthand the pluses and minuses. Renewables are vital to a managed decline by offering diversity but will not save us. I mention this because they could cause our ability to resist an all-down worse if not properly applied. Today’s NetZero is a dangerous plan that will expose civilization to collapse dangers.
I have always mentioned on various sites where I was in conversations about renewables that energy is only part of the reason behind the overall decline process. There are multiple reasons for decline and no single one is the primary driver rather it is the convergence and negative reinforcement of all of them driving the system into destructive change. This change includes abandonment, dysfunction, and the irrational.
Improper human decisions are a huge problem today with technological progress. Destructive change includes the abstract and physical of the human system. It is self-organizing with billions of carbon trapped and path dependent decisions. In my opinion it is unstoppable so don’t fight it with denial and poor lifestyle thinking we can power out of this.
If the grid goes down and no resupply is possible, I will turn to my stocks of food, equipment, and energy. I have guns and ammo. I have medical supplies. I have water equipment. I have a working farm that can be turned to for food. I have livestock guardian dogs for security. I have fuel stocked up. I have a lot of goods to barter. I have a lot of alternative equipment to utilize when all else fails. I have a garden, orchard, grapes, natural forage, and hunting.
This sounds great for me but it is not what you think. All this stuff just delays the inevitable unless lady luck spares me. These blessings of luck will be few in an all-down. I do not expect to survive long in an all-down. I am not in denial and I live day by day contemplating death as a safety valve for fear. If you live with death, it becomes your friend advising you on how to live life fully. I often speak of allowing your demons to become angles. Hell is here on earth so face it and you will find beauty and grace.
Yet, I can survive several months like this if not attacked or overwhelmed by the needy. In this extreme all-down case, I will likely be short on help. In milder cases I am a go-to place for my family as a safe house. In extreme cases I doubt my family will make it here. I am talking greater family. My immediate family of wife and two 14-year-old boys are here with me most of the time. Although they may not be here when the event strikes. If all-down hits and it is just me here on the farm the difficulties will be enormous. Warm bodies are essential to surviving collapse for multiple reasons including division of labor but also morale.
Labor is going to be an issue although too many mouths to feed is an issue too pointing to a sweet spot. Preparations are required to support more people and more people are required to extend out survivability. My wife and 14-year-olds will help but the reality is without a grid and fossil fuels I will need 12 people minimum. This will be for home economics. We will need to forage and hunt. We will need a security detail. Water will need to be gathered daily. There will need to be shifts so rest can be had.
In the first months my backup generator will assist my solar to keep my freezers cold and give us light. If this happens in the winter, I will have the solar to run my wood boiler which heats my home and shop. My backup fuel will go many months if I husband it. This will eventually run out. My solar and battery may breakdown but will probably continue on for years. Still if the solar breaks down it will be of little use since resupply of replacement parts will not be an option. Something as small as a fuse will stop it if I don’t have a spare. I have a stock of candles and other light devices but these too will run out.
In this extreme situation the basics in regards to equipment will last a relatively short time and be highly at risk of permanent breakdown. Having all the spare parts needed is quite an effort. I have lots of backup but it is never enough. Yet, I will likely have a grace period to organize and implement a longer-term survival plan. Eventually that plan will have to be human and animal labor with local biomass.
I have a stock of charcoal to cook with. I have a large propane tank to use for cooking. My wood boiler produces charcoal in its process that I can utilize. Yet, these things will run out or break eventually. So, cooking will at some point need to be with a wood fire. I have a wood stove that is an oven I can utilize. This will be a great item to draw upon because cooking over an open fire is messy and exposes you to the elements.
I will make an effort to immediately start foraging and hunting. Keep in mind others will likely be doing this too so I expect the deer, turkey, and rabbit populations to be decimated quickly but this depends on how many people survive me locally. Lots of things like blackberries, walnuts, acorns are available around my farm. There are many eatable greens.
It matters what time of the year this all-down hits. An all-down in the deep of winter will make everything all the more difficult here in the Ozarks. The fact that I have months of long shelf-life food will power me through this dangerous period. If you can buy some long shelf-life food. Have two months minimum. Your pantry will empty quickly and the freezer even quicker. Your freezer may not have power making it useless in day. It is an insurance policy that will give you breathing room to make proper decisions.
In an all-down any animal will be game. Any kind of meat will be used. Dead animals will be utilized depending on how decomposed. Remember I have 4 dogs that will need to be fed too. They have no problem eating dead animals. They eat the equivalent to a man. I may be short on labor for all tasks making the effort of hunting, foraging, and preparing food a time juggle with other efforts. Food is a critical element so you will need to rid your mind of any food prejudices. I fast twice a week and I can tell you it never gets comfortable. I have been fasting for 10 years both for health reasons and prep. I am used to it but there is something about an empty stomach for 36 hours that focuses thoughts.
I have a solar system which can power my well pump. This requires I power down everything else because it takes all my system can do to run the ¼ horsepower electric well pump. I have a wood boiler to heat water without the need for an electric water heater. It does this through a water-to-water heat exchanger. So, I will have water and the luxury of hot water for a time. I estimate equipment failure with the solar and wood boiler will happen eventually. In a maximum of 5 years, I expect them to be useless.
I have plenty of water sources. I have a device I can lower into a well casing to pull water back up. There are lakes and ponds on my farm. I have the equipment to purify water. Eventually these water purifiers will degrade. There is a spring on the place I can get clean water at all times but this is a quarter mile walk. To lengthen the use of my purifying equipment I will likely need to get water from this spring as much as possible. This lengthening out strategy will have to happen with many other applications. We tend to use the best and easiest first but this will be problematic in an all-Down because resupply will be nonexistent. I will need to get water to my animals too. Lots of back breaking efforts will be needed with water. Water is 8lbs a gallon and many gallons will be needed.
Animals will be very important to my survival and especially to longer term survival if that is even possible. It is unclear how long we will make it when all goes down but having animals will greatly increase my options. This is why I often speak of a working farm being so important for longer term survival. I have goats, cattle, and chickens. I wish I had more animals especially for labor and transport but I am maxed out running a working farm as it is. I manage a household, equipment, buildings, systems, and 400 acres. I am approaching 60 and wearing out. Nobody seems to want to do the work I do and there is no money in a small farm so there is a limit to what I can do.
The goats are my best resource because they are easy to handle and prepare into food. Cattle are more difficult to deal with but offer lots of meat if I can find the time and help to prepare them into food. They may be more for trade and barter or group food efforts. I will have refrigeration because of my solar but again this will depend on how long the solar works and refrigerators work. I have air drying equipment as an alternative to refrigeration but this is much more an effort.
Chicken will have to free range and it is likely since I will not have feed for them, they will be eaten for food instead of eggs. The problem with both goats and cattle is in the winter time. Hay is needed and it may not be available. I have small size hay equipment but remember fuel will run out. I have a scythe but this requires lots of manual labor in groups. I may not have the time and help to get enough hay. Still, the animals can make it through winter but loses will go up. They will have to range over many more acres requiring me to be more a shepherd hanging out with them to keep them from wandering off. This is just more labor and time I will be short on but is still an option.
Washing and cleaning are important for the maintenance of clothing. Cloths will be wearing out so I do make an effort to have backup. I keep tough work cloths as backup but these will eventually wear out. I have hand washing equipment like in the old days and cleaning supply backup. Supplies will run out in a year or so. I do have books on how to make soap but this again will require labor and some supplies. I have hot water for as long as my wood boiler and solar hold out. I have equipment to boil water which will be my last resource. This is inconvenient and inefficient but still an option.
There is plenty of wood around my farm and I have equipment to get wood. The fossil fuel equipment will degrade within a year and then I will turn to axes and a cross cut saws. These require lots of labor and time that will already be needed for food, water, and animals. I wish I had the time and money to have a mule team but I don’t. A mule team is essential for hauling logs out of the woods. I am maxed out already with very little margins for extras. I can buy this stuff but this is just part of the process. A mule team needs to be maintained and I need an education on their care. This all takes time I don’t have. In an all-down they will need to be fed and watered too.
Heating will be vital in the winter. I keep back up propane but this will be used up quickly and I will likely not want to use this for heating and instead use it for cooking. I have electric backup but remember the grid is down. My solar can only run a small heater and only do this when there is full sun. I have generators but fuel will run out. Heating will have to be with wood. I have 2 years’ worth of seasoned wood stored up. Making seasoned firewood takes time and labor that will be in short supply. Wood will be vital like water and food. Without help I can’t do them all very well.
In an all-down situation for the first few months security is going to be a big issue depending on how bad the all-down is. A Nuk war situation will mean most large cities will be destroyed. A situation where cities remain this will mean there will be some refugees on the move. It is unclear how many and how far they will venture. Fuel will run out so cars and trucks will not make it that long except in cases where organizations take what fuel is left and utilize it for security and or exploitation.
I have a shortwave radio, CB, FM/AM, and weather band where emergency broadcasting will be made. I have a neighbor who I speak with once a month on the shortwave radio. We will keep in touch during a crisis period both as a way to know if raiding is occurring but also for morale. When all down hits having people to talk to will help with the crushing reality of collapse.
How much military and police there is will depend on time frame. Early on they will be around but latter they will be struggling to survive too. I imagine war-lordism will develop. I personally feel in an all-down, cities will die out rapidly. I estimate they will drop down to a tenth of their former populations. Many will completely depopulate.
People will likely not move far because this means leaving their security and psychological comforts. If they know there is no place to go, they will likely just shelter in place where everything will run out. In 90 days, a mass die off will occur in most places. If you can make it through this 90 days your odds increase. Delocalization has produced settlements that are not sustainable nor resilient to shock except with a functioning global civilization.
I have guns, ammo, and dogs. My shop has been reinforced as a defensive place. Yet, I will need people to keep good security. This labor need will be in addition to food, water, and wood efforts. I do have neighbors who I have already been in contact with in regards to security. We can draw together for security if there is a very dangerous time. How well this will function is hard to say. I will be a hardened target but depending on how big the raiding or refugee forces are. My security success will depend on how many people I have. If security fails then everything I have could be wiped out in a day.
Human power is again the big limiter of survival but it is also a liability that must be fed, watered, and kept warm. One big issue will be the need to turn people away that need help. This will be a very tough situation because I tend to be a helpful and generous person but this must be restricted or else my survival and those under my care will be at risk. I dread the thought of killing in self-defense but this will be required in certain situations. I am going to need to turn people away and possibly with force. Bribery may be the best options in combination with being a hardened target. If I can give something to a group and not have them attack this may be an alternative to a fight. Bad actors will move on to easier targets hopefully.
REAL Green is heavily weighted towards attitude and morale. It is absolutely necessary in this all-down situation to have proper mental preparation. Everything you have will be pushed to the limit so you do not have the time for anxiety, confused decision making, and feeling sorry for yourself. You will need to respond like someone in the special forces. You train like you are in a war and act like you train in war.
You will want to be organized and prepared with proper attitude. This is the surreal part of being REAL Green. You will have to live the status quo narrative that all is well but prepped for a crisis. This prepped condition is in a constant state of readiness. Having stuff is good but not good enough. It is just like the military you have to be in a constant state of readiness. The way I do this is to try as much as I can to combine the two worlds so an adapted status quo life is in a state of readiness.
Living REAL Green means using the status quo to leave it. You will green prep which will satisfy a spiritual desire to be more resilient and sustainable. What is greener is more prepped. Of course, there is a sweet spot between the two as is the case in life with most things. I am talking true green not fake green. Techno green is fake green but because we are in a status quo world of tech and efficiency you will have to incorporate fake green into green efforts. This is what I call hybridization. You will need to triage out tech that is not optimal for survival. You will have to learn to salvage and produce systems that leverage higher tech with low tech and no tech.
Green for me is also spiritual. I find a spiritual connection to the planet. I am a green mystic and practice a simple green shamanism that is little more than a connection to the land like Native Americans had. I live this so my green prepping comes more naturally than it would for others who are urban and more humanist. I am speaking of humanism that is removed from nature. Most techno-optimistic people don’t have much of a connection to the planet. Many established religions are not connected. I am connected and live it and this will enhance my survivability.
In an all-down your state of readiness is vital so learn to live a life that is in a state of readiness but also live a rewarding life. This means more work and less affluence because survival will be with lower comforts and more work. This is a certainty so don’t think the rich with their bunkers will avoid this either. A few warlords will have workers, soldiers, and slaves and have comforts but not many. Just expect a life of discomfort and hard work. Start living this now if survival matters. You don’t want to learn to adapt to discomforts in discomfort. You want to learn this in a state of affluence to work up to readiness. This frame of mind is tough to do and takes discipline.
The most important aspect of all decline types including all-down is localism. Go local to find proper balance with proper scale. A spiritual windfall results from localism too. If you have a system that runs smoothly then it will work when put under stress. I have found this to be the case with my grazing system. A functioning localism is worth more than a region with more resources. Humans are a power multiplier. Localism is a power multiplier. Family, tribe, and community is the key.
I have many aspects of my grazing system invested in to lower my labor inputs. I try to utilize nature as much as possible to lower my labor inputs. I want my animals to do more of their own work. This often means less productivity. Lower stocking rates and less fossil fuels are an enhancement to my system but it means less return. My system will not support my middle-class lifestyle with my working farm but it is more resilient and sustainable. In an all-down situation, it is worth its value in gold by being resilient. A return on investment will be with resilience not profit when all goes down.
I do not prep for this all-down situation. My prepping is for a decline process I will write on in the next of the series. Prepping for a decline process will take care of me for a time in an all-down. Being prepped means I will be more likely to die a good death as Native Americans speak of. This is with dignity and preparation. A good death will be ok for me. I often say that life is so short we are dead already. In the blink of an eye, you are old and dying or in an instant dead from an accident. Live life fully and a good death is more likely.
I prep for the low and medium collapse situation. This all-down is truly a scary situation and the reason I feel we all need to be prepping for the two less dramatic decline scenarios instead. I will discuss in later posts a more optimistic prep that is rewarding and educational.
I have considered a filtration system for a NUK war fall out situation with a safe room. I am in a very exposed location because of military bases in Missouri. The bulk of the silo based NUKs of the US are out in the northwest plains so they will be hit hard. Lots of fallout will result. Much depends on the winds here in the Ozarks for how bad the fallout is. If the winds are out of the south or southwest, I will do much better.
NUK war is something I dread. I mention this last because this is something man should contemplate so we avoid it. Yet, I constantly hear and see preparations for it. The southern hemisphere will fare much better. In the north where I am at, I do not have much hope.
I have given you much to think about on decline and collapse. I will give you more uplifting material on the next step up in the process with a slower decline process. This will not be all-down globally but will be all-down locally in many places. My Ozarks has lots of pluses for a slower decline. This means if you want to avoid all-down situations find a resilient and sustainable local now.
There will be failed locations to avoid and the science is clear where the worst places are. Common sense will tell you where disastrous situations are lurking. You will need to have the ability to move too. I am planning on making my last stand here but maybe I will send my kids off if it is safe enough. Again, I want a good death not one on the run. None of us will be able to run from an all-down. So, if a major NUK war hits or they announce an earth killing asteroid is coming just hunker down and get ready for your end time.