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Seeking Sustainability in Preparedness

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by OldDude49, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. OldDude49

    OldDude49 Just n old guy

    been reading this guy for awhile now... perhaps others have too...

    calls himself Mountain Gorilla... some of what he says may be helpful...

    January 8, 2019
    One of the core precepts behind the formation of the Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha, A-Team, or ODA, is the idea that they are more than just gunslingers. Yes, we have Weapons Sergeants, and like any good WeaponsMan, I’ll be the first to tell you, the rest of the ODA exists to support our efforts (I jest….sort of…maybe….), but there is a reason we have Medical NCOs who are damned near doctors, and Engineer NCOs who can build bridges and buildings as well as blow them up.

    That is because, in the original tasking of SF, the core mission of Unconventional Warfare (UW) involved more than just organizing an irregular, paramilitary force, and slaughtering boatloads of commie vermin. Instead, the men who stood up SF understood that, in order to do that, in hostile-controlled territory, meant being able to gain the trust and support of the people, and THAT, in turn, meant getting the women on our side.

    One of their conclusions, well borne out by my personal observations, regarding preparedness, is that if you get the women on your side, you’ll get their husbands. If you want to get the women on your side, simply showing up with guns and explosives, and talking about killing commies isn’t going to be adequate. Instead, we have to approach it in a manner that takes THEIR MICE-RC motivations into account.

    So, what do the women want? They want healthy kids. They want nutritious food to feed those kids, to keep them healthy. They want dry beds, in a home that keeps the weather—and preferably as much wildlife as possible—outside, where it belongs.

    As such, the founders of SF realized something that a lot of modern-day preppers don’t get: It’s really, really, really not all about the guns and ammo. Sure, you need to be able to defend what you do have, but you need to have shit worth defending in the first place.

    Even the overused cliché about “Beans, bullets, and band-aids,” is not complete enough. Beans, and corn, and meat, and milk, and other food stuffs…band-aids, and lights that work, and secure, dry, weather-excluding homes, and cleaning supplies, and soap, and clean, potable water…all of them are, despite the fantasies of the “I NEEDZ MOAR GUNZ!” crowd, far more critical to preparedness survival, than having a safe full of guns (says the guy with a safe full of guns…but, in my defense, I also have an independent source of defensible, potable water, off-grid electric lights and power, soap-making capabilities and a recurring source of materials for making it, a humongous garden that could feed five families the size of mine, enough heirloom seeds to plant that garden twice a year for the rest of my life, even if we didn’t practice seed-saving, and a close-knit community of kith-and-kin).

    I’m still working on an article on how I built my solar power system, but we’re going to talk today, in brief, about a number of the above ideas and technologies.


    One of the recurring themes in preparedness circles is the argument over the nature of any impending disaster. One of the original theories in preparedness of course, is the idea of what was once referred to as a multi-generational collapse. This is a collapse of such magnitude that it will take multiple generations to recover from, if in fact, recovery is even possible.

    In recent years, of course, while people still talk about the “remote possibility” of this, it has become equally popular, in many circles, to dismiss the idea of a multigenerational collapse as unrealistic, and urge people to focus on more immediate, “realistic” disasters of short-duration, like hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires.

    Without arguing the fact that wildfire, tornado, or earthquake is a far more immediate, and pressing concern for most folks, I WOULD point out that these are pretty simple to mitigate, and there is a well-developed set of basic planning considerations for doing so in all of these, because people have dealt with them for the entire existence of humankind.

    Wildfire? 1) Plan and develop your property for fire mitigation. 2) Have an escape plan/bug-out plan in place and rehearsed. 3) Have really good homeowner’s insurance. 4) Pray to whatever deity/ies you believe will help protect your home. 5) Add an additional prayer that the insurance company doesn’t find a way to dick you.

    Even in the aftermath of the recent and current out-of-control wildfires in California, people have noticed that, in neighborhoods completely, utterly destroyed by the fires, some houses, even surrounded by burnt-out hulks, have survived unscathed. Now, while it is a popular conspiracy theory to argue that this is because those houses were specifically protected by the fire departments, or that these were actually planned, controlled burns, etc….I would offer the more plausible reason is that some people were smart enough to develop their property—in a wildfire prevalent area—for fire mitigation… that Occam dude sure was smart, wasn’t he (For those readers geeking out over my oversimplified application of Occam’s Razor….I know.)?

    When we built our home in an area with tornado threats, my wife was really, really concerned, since she grew up in an area where they simply don’t occur. “Will the type of house we’re building survive a tornado?”

    No. Outside of an underground bunker or hobbit house, or a monolithic concrete dome, not very many man-made structures will survive a direct hit by a tornado. That’s a given. But…there are a LOT of trailer houses, all over Oklahoma and Kansas, in the middle of “Tornado Alley,” that have been there since the 1950s and 1960s…

    In some ways, planning a tornado mitigation plan is a matter of luck. If your house is in the direct path of the tornado, your house is fucked. Period. Full-Stop. End-of-story…usually.

    On the other hand, “we” have become really, really, really good at forecasting tornadoes, spotting them forming, and warning the general public about them, in time for folks to get to shelter. The problem is actually two-fold. 1) People ignore the fucking warnings, because, “it’ll never happen to me, and I really need a pack of cigarettes to ride out this storm!” 2) Nobody builds storm shelters anymore.

    When I was a kid, everybody had a storm shelter. Usually, it doubled as a root cellar, but not always. Nowadays, some folks still have a steel safe shelter bolted to the foundation of their house, but most people I know, even in tornado country, no longer bother with storm shelters of any kind.

    You want to disaster plan for a tornado? 1) Build a fucking storm shelter. 2) Pay attention to Weather Alerts and when they say “Seek shelter now!” PAY THE FUCK ATTENTION!!! 3) Have really good homeowner’s insurance. 4) Pray to whatever deity/ies you believe will help you protect your house. 5) Add an additional prayer that the insurance company doesn’t figure out a way to dick you.

    Earthquake mitigation?

    1) Build according to code, for your area. 2) Don’t live in an earthquake-prone area. 3) Pray. (I’ve been in a half-dozen earthquakes, ranging from tremors that I didn’t even recognize until someone pointed out that I’d just experienced it, to picking me up and throwing me off the bed. Earthquakes? Fuck earthquakes.)

    What a lot of people forget about earthquakes though, is that, while we generally only think of them along the Pacific Rim of Fire, the strongest earthquake in US history has the New Madrid Fault Line in Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas as the epicenter. It reversed the flow of the Mississippi River, and rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts! You don’t “prepare” for that. You don’t “mitigate” that. You hope you survive, and then you start rebuilding after.

    Worse, there have been a number of earthquakes in recent years, of notable magnitude, in places not historically known for earthquakes, like Okla-fucking-Homa!

    So, while preparing for more “immediately likely” emergencies should certainly be a focus, there’s only so much you can do. On the other hand, there is increasing evidence that we need to be prepared for more long-term emergencies and “collapses.” Recently, even the Department of Homeland Security increased their recommendations for preparedness from 72 hours to six weeks or more, mostly because of the threat of EMP and resulting damages to our collapsing electrical power grids and infrastructure.

    I—along with a lot of other writers in the preparedness world, of course—would argue that, if you think the lights are going to go out for six weeks, you better expect they’re not coming back on in your lifetime, because of cascading systems failures.

    Think about it…


    S0, if we’re looking at longer-term emergencies, and the cascading systems failure as a result, turning it—probably—into a multi-generational event, what should we be focusing our preparations on?

    I’ll give you a couple hints: 1) You can’t stockpile enough consumables. You cannot possibly store enough candles, or kerosene or diesel or gasoline. You can’t store enough food. You can’t store enough toilet paper (EeGads! The horror!).

    While we need to have enough of those consumables to bide us for a while, most people today are limited in their storage space, on hand. How much toilet paper can you stockpile in a one-bedroom apartment? How much food? Yes, there are cute little tricks like stacking five-gallon buckets of rice and wheat under your bed in place of a bed frame, or putting a piece of plywood on top of a bucket, throwing a cloth cover on top, and using it as an end-table, etc….but, realistically, HOW MUCH CAN YOU ACTUALLY STORE?

    We need to develop mitigation plans that address the continuance of life, through the duration of the emergency, even if it stops being an emergency, and just becomes “life.” (Which, long time readers know is my view of where we are any-fucking-way.)

    We need to be looking at food production. We need to be looking at producing light and heat. We need to be looking at long-term trauma and chronic illness medical care. We need to be looking at educating our children and grandchildren, so they don’t revert to full-scale savagery. We need to look at maintaining—or more accurately, recreating, culture.

    We need to stop looking at “survival,” and start looking at “Sustainability.”

    Of course, to many, the very word “sustainability” automatically invokes a knee-jerk response, because of the connotations implied by its use by elements on the political Left. That’s fucking dumb.

    Let’s look at the actual definition of “sustainable.” My dictionary defines it as “1. able to be maintained at a certain rate or level. 2. able to be upheld or defended.” Even the more “Leftist” definition of it, “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources,” is not inherently wrong, and is actually pretty damned valid, given our context.

    Regardless of your stance on environmental issues or “Peak Oil,” etc, in a post-grid environment, you are personally going to have a pretty goddamned limited supply of available resources. You better be able to balance your consumption of those resources, in order to maintain a certain level of cultural survival.

    My aforementioned use of solar power for our farm is actually a pretty excellent case-in-point.

    We have a 1.5KW panel array, and a 12.6KWh battery bank (since we’re using AGM, sealed lead acid batteries, we’re basically limited to about half that, or 6.3KWh of use, before we need to resort to doing something differently. On that, we manage to run all the lights in our house, a deep freezer, a television and DVD player, two laptops, and charge a variety of cellphones, tablets, flashlight and power tool batteries, and other asundry items. We can generally get three days out of it, with some cloud cover. If we get that many days socked in with fog and rain though, I have to change things up. Usually this involves unplugging the chocked full freezer at night (this is not as bad an idea as you would think. Our freezer stays pretty close to full, and even if I turn it off for 24 hours, everything stays frozen for that long, at least).

    The drawback to solar/PV of course is two-fold. 1) On a mass-scale, it is simply not viably realistic. PV panels actually cost more in terms of energy consumed, to produce, than they will themselves produce in a 25-50 year working life, typically. 2) Storage is limited by batteries, and batteries have a relatively short working life, even if well-maintained, although it is typically longer than most people assume. My first battery bank, of the cheapest EverStart deep-discharge Marine/RV batteries from Wal-Mart, lasted 2 ½ years, even though I literally never did any maintenance on them. I never checked them, never added water, nothing. My current batteries are AGM from Duracell. They are maintenance-free, and have an expected working life of 5-7 years. Based on my current practice of tearing apart the battery bank, and checking each individual battery once a month, I expect them to actually go 7-10 years, and possibly longer, if I replace individual batteries as they go bad (which is generally frowned upon by the experts, since you should replace batteries all at the same time, to prevent a bad one from killing the others. That’s why I check them monthly.). So, at any given time, if I have 5-7 years—minimum—of working life in my battery bank, if the grid goes down, I’ve got that long to get my family used to gradually diminishing amenities.

    Sure, we have cases upon cases of candles….but how long do candles actually last, in use, and have you ever tried to read by a single candle light? It sucks. What we do have however, are honeybees, meaning our candle supply is sustainable, because it is replenishable.

    We have a handful of kerosene oil lamps, and lots of kerosene on hand, at any given time, but…kerosene is a derivative of petroleum production, and regardless of whether Peak Oil is real or not, I don’t own an oil well or a refinery, so they are, inherently unsustainable for me. If I lived near an oilfield or a refinery, that might change my outlook on things.

    While we raise small livestock, and a garden, and we preserve the fruits of those labors, and stockpile them, I also have a functioning refrigerator and chest freezer, and thus, time to improve our skills in those areas, even if the grid goes down tomorrow.

    Worst case scenario? An EMP actually takes out my solar array as well (which, based on my reading, I don’t think is actually a cause for concern. I don’t THINK we have any runs of wire long enough to support the pulse getting up enough steam to destroy shit in the house)…I have another 1.5KW plus worth of solar panels stored away in a safe place, and while regular automotive batteries aren’t ideal for solar power/storage, they WILL work in a pinch, they just won’t last very long.


    One of the big things people do try and stockpile for are medical emergencies and sustained care in austere environments, where hospitals may not be available. This is sensible, but I suspect too many people base these preparations on contemporary first-aid training and medical advice. We need to rethink that, in a post-grid environment. You MIGHT have a doctor in your group, or in your community, but without access to technological diagnosis and treatment machinery, they may not be as useful as many people expect.

    In my TC3 and Sustained Care classes, one of the things I really push people to start considering are functional alternatives to the modern standard answers. Guess what? People have survived for a really, really long time, before there were modern hospitals, or even what we think of as “ medical doctors.”

    How many compressed gauze dressings can you stockpile? How much clean, non-compressed gauze? How much is it going to take to protect a wound until it can heal? How much antibiotics can you stockpile? What about when that runs out?

    These are all things that folks had worked out, long before the advent of modern antibiotics, and—while they were not foolproof, they generally worked. Guess what? Modern medicine, while it generally works, isn’t foolproof either. Hell, according to Johns Hopkins University, after cancer and heart disease, medical error is the third leading cause of death in America! At least 250,000 people a year die because the docs fucked up.

    Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. - 05/03/2016


    So, absent owning a medical goods manufacturing facility, how do we overcome these issues? We start looking for sustainable solutions: Bandages and bandage material can be made from old bedsheets that have been washed and boiled and cut and sewn into suitable sizes and shapes. It’s not something you need to do today or tomorrow, but it’s probably something to keep in your “What to Do When the Shit Comes Unglued” Notebook. “Entry 10045: Tell the scavenger crews to ignore the cases of Little Debbie snacks, and grab all the cotton bed sheets they can find, anywhere!”

    How do we deal with antibiotics? The same way they did before the discovery of penicillin: clean wounds, keep them cleaned, use plant compounds that have antibiotic properties, clean wounds, keep them cleaned, watch for the development of infection, clean wounds, keep them cleaned, be ready to amputate if it looks like sepsis is setting in, clean wounds, keep wounds cleaned…see a pattern at all?


    Of course, as I’ve been beating on for several years now, the single most sustainable preparedness thing you can do, starting today, is building the webs of a tight-knit community of family, friends, and neighbors that you can count on, and that know they can count on you. In fact, I wrote a little book about it, that you might have heard me mention in the past: Forging the Hero. I recommend it.

    In short, you should focus your emergency preparedness efforts on short-term, immediately likely events. I live in tornado country. I spend a lot of time figuring out how to better harden our farm against the threat of tornadoes. But, at the same time, instead of binge-watching the latest NetFlix shows and movies, maybe you should start thinking about what you can be doing to better prepare yourself for the slide we find ourselves on…and I would argue you have to be willfully obstinate to not recognize it for what it is. It’s not about preparing. It’s about living. It’s about living a life that will still be worthwhile, even if the lights go out while you’re asleep in bed tonight.

    The added benefit of building a lifestyle of sustainable preparedness is, in the event of that most-likely emergency (and growing in likelihood for most folks, on a daily basis)…sudden unemployment…you’ve built the single best method for surviving it….a way to keep your family alive and healthy, while you leverage your social network of friends, family, and neighbors, to look for work!

    Seeking Sustainability in Preparedness


    seems he wrote a book that might be of interest... free download here...

    Forging the Hero - John Mosby
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
    Oltymer, Bandit99, Tully Mars and 4 others like this.
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Very good article, thank you for sharing. I agree with most of what was written.
    I believe people can prepare for sustainability. Which then helps them survive. I disagree with the, "if you live in an earthquake zone, leave" rhetoric. An earthquake may happen or it may not. I believe live your life where you want but be prepared. If you know what the dangers are and have thought how to combat/react to those dangers then you are ahead of many in your area.
  3. oldman11

    oldman11 Monkey+++

    It costs very little to be somewhat prepared. Just 5.00or $10.00 a week will go a long way if you need it. After awhile you will be surprised to ho you have put back.
  4. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    As it turns out, sustainability is fairly hard to sustain, especially if your standard of living is much above caveman life. :D

    It still requires a lot of labor/energy/material support from the rest of the world.

    Take simply growing a garden. Yes, you CAN do it by hand (though the calories expended might not equal the calories returned) without mechanical or animal 'horsepower'. (Most people don't have a clue modern agriculture is "we eat converted oil") Yes, you can use manures/fish scraps/etc to help replace the nutrients you deplete from the soil without having to regularly move to new ground.

    Seed is another matter. Sure, tomato/bean/corn/etc seed is fairly easy to save, assuming it's open pollinated (so called 'heritage'), but who can say they've saved cabbage, or broccoli, or carrot seed ? Not us, I'll tell you.....we get out the collection of seed catalogs that show up in the mail about this time of year (from the outside world supply chain) and start planning our spring plantings. Lot of the things we grow would have to go well past their usefulness as food to be allowed to "go to seed", meaning you'd have to plant significant extra, getting it past the stages where insects/birds love it, and even then, harvesting such seed is no small trick.

    Did mankind survive and thrive without a Burpee catalog ? Sure....but life was a lot rougher and shorter and the food less varied and plentiful......THAT is reality of true sustainability.

    Lot of crop growing, I suspect, would be back to the native American 3 sisters......corn, beans, pumpkin/gourds....supplemented by small berries and knotty fruits.
    Bandit99, Motomom34 and Tully Mars like this.
  5. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Excellent article. I truly enjoyed it. Sustainability is the key and a hell'va lot harder than simply prepping... And TnAndy take on it is absolutely correct...
  6. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I have the materials aside for building green houses and working aquaponics .
    Currently I have a garden going in miniature scale right now for 2 reasons..
    No one thinks any thing of a miniature garden and there are too many people around to see what's going on.
    I have enough canned food to sustain me a year or more depending on conditions. However ,
    If I move between now and the time this all becomes required, I just as soon have things packed ready to go, up till that point .
    In the mean time I'm getting gardening and fish culturing skills for the large scale it requires to be sustainable .
    Gardening is not something you pick up out of a book and certainly not something you get over night , it has a very long learning curve and conditions change from place to place and through out the season in some areas . dirt is not just dirt . and seed still has a limited life span , it's not indefinite ,even refrigerated .
    It is important to that some things must be allowed to go to seed so you have something for the fallowing season, and the seed most valued is the best fruit of that season .
    3cyl and oldman11 like this.
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