Knowledge is something that no one can take from you. It’s the eternal wealth that will help you thrive in a Post-Collapse world.
|Mad Max: Village Roadshow Pictures|
Some experts see the perfect storm emerging for a dramatic collapse of Western civilization claiming we’ve reached environmental, economic, and geopolitical tipping points. Clearly, some skills will be far more valuable than others if this societal breakdown occurs. Sorry bankers, lawyers, and accountants, there won’t be a need for you in a post-collapse world.
Before we quantify the skill sets that will be viable, it is important to define the severity of a “post-collapse” scenario. When taken as a whole, together these tipping points could potentially converge to create a post-apocalyptic Mad Max-type world for the vast majority of humanity. However, given the advanced technology that we possess today, it is unlikely to ever become quite that primitive ever again. Surely there will be pockets of energy and food independence no matter what possible scenario unfolds, but the vast majority may be left to fend for themselves.
It would take a serious cataclysmic earth event like a super volcano, a meteor impact, major electromagnetic pulse event, or dramatic pole shift to affect the entirety of humanity. Man-made events like nuclear war, environmental damage, or total economic collapse, no matter how devastating, will be somewhat isolated and contained to specific areas and populations. Incidentally, every nation or territory that has experienced these man-made catastrophes has roared back to life in less than one generation. The only example of nuclear survival was in Japan, while the largest recent economic collapse was the break-up of the Soviet Union. In both cases those countries went through a very tough period, but ultimately they persevered.
For sake of this article, let’s assume that some level of devastation is caused by each type of tipping point in the United States. Our ever escalating wars finally reach our shores by way of long-range nuclear missiles, total economic collapse occurs rendering the dollar worthless, and we would likely have less electricity and water than Iraq did after Bush’s “shock and awe” campaign. Gasoline and oil supplies would likely be down to a trickle, halting all supply lines of food and other goods to big box stores. Factory farming will be impossible without cheap oil products readily available. The suffering will be dramatic.
The only question will become, how do the citizens react? Both the USSR and early 1950s Japan were far more agrarian, and far less dependent on big box stores than America currently is. American dependence on long supply lines, interconnected yet vulnerable electric grid, and pharmaceutical-based healthcare may lead to a more severe breakdown of society than witnessed in those countries. Although, innovative technology for alternative energy and agriculture practices will play a part in surviving; but they can only help the few with the knowledge, means, and stability to use them. And stability will be in low supply for some time, resulting in only small groups with relative comfort — those who planned for the worse. However, as an optimist, I believe that after the initial chaos Americans will rediscover solidarity for one-another, much like they did after 9/11, but this time it will be more sustained out of absolute necessity.
Many articles have been written about how to survive the coming collapse, or what is needed to survive, but not many articles have been written about what skills will have value in a post-collapse world. Imagine fulfilling human necessity without consistent fuel or electricity, large-scale food production, or fully-stocked pharmacies and hospitals. The only form of wealth in a collapsed civilization is the knowledge and skills to produce something of human value.
Here are 10 invaluable skills that will likely help you sustain yourself in a hand-made local world:
1. Organic Gardening and Seed Saving: Skills involving food production will be the most valuable in a post-collapse society. Learning to grow your own food is a must. Obviously, it is necessary to feed your family, but you will also be able to trade your abundance for other items. Additionally, learning to save seeds will also provide another excellent means of trade.
2. Food Processing and Preservation: Learning to process and preserve foods will be another huge skill in a post-collapse world. Taking seasonal abundance and preserving it for future consumption or trade will be vital. Remember, learning to do this with limited electricity is a must. This can also include learning to brew beer, mead, vinegar, or other alcoholic beverages from meager ingredients.
3. Hunting, Fishing, and Gathering: Learning to fish and hunt is essential to survival. Having the proper gear and training will be priceless after the collapse of modern civilization. Having reference guides for edible plants in your region, repairing weapons, trapping wild game, and fishing are great tools to have if you haven’t the time to learn them now. In regards to weapons, your ability to use them also gives you the skill of working security.
4. Animal Husbandry: Notice the first four categories are related to food production. It’s that important. Just gaining knowledge of one of these categories will give you an invaluable skill to thrive in a post-apocalyptic world. Knowledge of animal husbandry can provide endless amounts of sustainable meat, eggs, and milk to you and your tribe.
5. Construction: Construction skills will be very important in a shattered civilization. These skills, especially without power tools, are not something you learn overnight. If you have some basic skills it may be worth learning a few techniques for building small structures with crude hand tools. There are many books teaching anyone how to build basic cabins, sheds, and composting outhouses.
6. Alternative Energy and Fuels: Having the knowledge to implement alternative energy systems will make you a wealthy survivor in a “dark” world. You can learn to build your own alternative energy systems, or you can purchase back up solar generators in preparation for emergencies. There are also small fuel refinery systems available like the biodiesel Fuelmeister, and the new invention from Japan that turns plastic into oil. Knowledge of how to create energy would be invaluable when oil is scarce.
7. Water Purification: Since it’s difficult to pump well water without electricity and with surface water likely to be contaminated, clean water will be in very limited supply. Learning to purify water will allow you thrive during this time. You can also purchase water filters for your go-bag that will last weeks, and you can have back-up tablets should you need them. However, the skill and knowledge to purify water should be the goal as that can never run out.
8. Basic First Aid and Natural Medicine: This is another skill that can take years to develop and learn, but that will be crucial when supply lines of pharmaceuticals are cut off and hospitals are over-run. Knowledge of growing herbal gardens for making medicine at home will prove to be very important. Learning basic procedures for stitching wounds, CPR, and more will also be of great assistance. Being the tribe’s shaman with a natural medicine chest is a prestigious position
9. Mechanics: Mechanics for cars, motorcycles, tractors and other machinery will likely be in high demand. In addition, bicycle mechanics will also fair well in world where fuel is very expensive or hard to come by. These are also skills that are not learned over night, but it will be wise to at least have access to books or how-to videos.
10. Soap and Candle Making: With long supply lines decimated and electricity on the fritz, soap and candle makers will provide a valuable product. Clearly some preparation of storing raw materials may be needed to achieve trade-able levels of these goods. Even if you just had the knowledge to make soap or candles just for your immediate tribe, you will be much better off for it.
You’ll notice that many of these skills also fall into the category of what you would need to be self-sufficient. Again, learning all of these skills will be virtually impossible, especially if the collapse isn’t that far off as many predict. Determine which skills that most appeal to you and focus on them by studying and acquiring the tools needed. Since you can’t become an expert in everything it may be wise to recruit tribe members with various survival skills. It will also be beneficial to build up your library of “how to” books and videos for tasks that you are not proficient in. You can download any video from Youtube by using Keepvid.com and build your library into an external hard drive.
Remember, knowledge of and skills to produce human necessities will be the only form of wealth creation in a hand-made world. Knowledge is something that no one can take from you. It’s the eternal wealth that will help you thrive in a Post-Collapse world. Get Prepared Now!
I balk at the very first adjective on the very first item:
1. Organic etc.
Subscribing to the nonsensical standards of the “organics” movement is probably the last thing anyone is going do if civilization “collapses.” It’s going to be garden and farm BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. It is absolutely ludicrous to think that, if people’s survival is at stake, they’re going to worry about whether or not they should use pesticides, whether or not their particular means of fertilizing the soil are “certified,” whether or not their seeds were “organically” grown, whether or not their chickens are getting “organic” feed or “conventional” seed, whether or not their veterinary care is science-based or homeopathic.
Please stop telling people they’re going to have to garden in a straight jacket.
Sure Mike, that’s a smart approach. Kill your soil with petrochemical fertilizers and then when peak oil really kicks in and you can’t buy petrochemical fertilizers anymore, how will you grow anything in DEAD soil???
Chemical fertilizers are a BAD idea because they kill living soil, which is absolutely necessary for a long-term, sustainable agriculture.
Organic is the ONLY way to go if you intend to grow your for more than one or two seasons. It’s not just about “eating healthy”.
It gets worse, apparently.
Under 8, “Natural Medicine,” there’s a link to a site with the following disclaimer:
“The information in this web site is presented for emergency preparedness only. It is not intended to diagnose any physical or mental condition, or to prescribe treatment of diseases. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice and treatment of a licensed professional. If you are sick, please see your doctor.
“In the event of an emergency and you use the information for your own health, your families or for your animals, you are prescribing for yourself or your animals, which is your constitutional right and for which the author of this site assumes no responsibility. The owner of this website is neither a legal counselor nor a health practitioner, nor a veterinarian and makes no claims in this regard.”
Why are you advising people to subscribed to bunk?
You might want to consider that, in a real collapse, pesticides and chemical fertilizers may become unavailable. Both are dependent on a functioning system of production, distribution, regulation, and knowledge of use. These are in turn dependent now on a global economy supported by cheap energy.
I think what we will see in future is a diminishing access to conventional inputs to farming and gardening, and thus the need to grow food without them.
Of course people will continue to use (and abuse) whatever is left of the chemicals, but we should ask ourselves, what then? Might be good therefore to start learning organic gardening now!
I see soft skills like conflict resolution, diplomacy, and empathic listening as also being essential. Our efforts to survive materially will be made easier and more joyful if we have the ability to work collaboratively, to create mutual understanding, and to navigate the obstacles we’ll encounter inside ourselves.
I read this site and several others like it. I respect and admire the effort and thought that goes into a lot of the posts but most of you are kidding yourselves.
When a scenario like one described in this article occurs, the wave of violence that will occur will swallow those who try “soft skills” & “emphatic listening”.
The skills recommended by the author are valid but not without a secure area in place to practice them. Security is not high enough a priority in any of these discussions.
You’ll wind up as just a resource for the bad guys with guns that WILL show up.
I get no thrill out of stating this and there is no point in you trying to convince me differently, just as I would’nt presume to lecture any of you on most topics of discussion on this site and others like it.
The fact is simply that I’ve been in law enforcement in various capacities for 24 years and I KNOW who’s coming. All of you nice people would be wise to pay closer attention.
Dmitri Orlov has, perhaps a little too subtly, addressed this issue before and re-reading the pertinent passages of his would be a good start.
Thanks for your comments. Apparently you haven’t been following my column “Collapse Consciously” at http://www.collapsenet.com or read my book Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse (2009) In my forthcoming book, Navigating The Coming Chaos, I write in depth about the need to protect ourselves and to cultivate extreme discretion and discernment for the future chaos. In addition, I own firearms and am well-trained in using them. That said, it’s important to understand that collapse will play out in different ways in different places. Some communities will be horribly violent; others will be less so. I am certainly not a proponent of “just get touchy-feely and everything will be fine” because it won’t. However, if anyone thinks that combat skills, a year’s supply of food, water, gold, and a cache of medical supplies is going to get him through collapse, better kiss that delusion goodbye. My work is about supporting people in preparing on every level, and the level that gets most overlooked is the spiritual and emotional one. It’s not more urgent than other forms of prep, but without it, the other forms won’t really matter when TSHTF.
So… what are we to be prepared for – outright pillage and plunder by those who have sworn to protect and serve??? Granted, I do not expect LEOs to do either in extreme circumstance. I suppose they will either defect in order to defend and protect their own, or to become no better than the criminal class . I’m already dreading the fact that my neighbor is going to school to become a cop. Please fill us in as to what you expect us to have to deal with from the LE community. We need to know. BTW – I have read Orlov, but I want to hear it from you.
Daily News Digest subscribers receive regular reportage on the state of police departments in this country. Most cities are so broke that they are laying off huge numbers of police and in some cases fire departments. The City of Cincinnati is threatening to outsource its entire police department. (http://www.businessinsider.com/cincinnati-threatens-to-outsource-entire-police-department-2010-12). So I suspect that when things get really dicey, LEO’s will be National Guard troops or private military contract mercenaries. Obama is now hiring more private contract mercenaries than Bush ever did.(http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/12/19)
Finances and Peak Oil will also be huge factors. How much can the government afford to invest in LE, and how much energy will they have to police outlying areas? We can’t know that now.
I would agree with you that LEO’s will probably defect and become as criminal as the next guy. It will be all about survival and the ability to acquire food, medicine, etc. through an underground economy. And speaking of the next guy, it isn’t particularly LE that concerns me but the average citizen starving to death. Good preparation now would be to begin finding opportunities to share food with neighbors so that you non-verbally communicate “I’m not going to let you starve to death–would you like part of the side of beef I just bought or the deer I just bagged?” Begin now to network with neighbors and build ties in advance of food shortages so that everyone can work on it together in a spirit of support and cooperation. This is why growing even a little bit of our own food and creating neighborhood gardens is so important.
What about our huge prison population – the worlds largest per capita? 2 million I’ve heard. Who’ll control them in a collapse? It’s where petty criminals enter and get their advanced degrees in violence. Yikes!
What do you MEAN, “Who’ll control them in collapse?” There will BE no state prisons because states will be blatantly broke, not broke like they are now pretending they can keep the show on the road. State institutions of all kinds will have no choice but to release all prisoners, and as the law enforcement and legal systems continue to break down, the only prisons that may exist may be FEMA camps operated by corporations for the purpose of controlling civil unrest. Wackenhut, Corrections Corporation of America, and other prison corporations will increasingly direct their energies toward domestic turbulence and warehousing the unruly, but it will be anything but the prison system we know today. Start saying goodbye to all public education, all healthcare, all police and fire protection, all road and bridge maintenance. Welcome to the total collapse of industrial civilization.
Thanks for the expressing really usefull. I would like to bookmark this site.
Hey, I had been in search of 10 Skills Needed To Thrive In A Post-Collapse World, by Jeffrey Green Speaking Truth to Power when I discovered your blog post. With thanks for sharing this great facts. With thanks!