Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why we won’t be in a ‘dark age’ if SHTF

Many believe that PSHTF we will be in a dark age for a very long time.  However, I don’t believe that is the case.  Here’s why:

Suppose that the electrical grid does go down.  We will lose a lot of things we have come to rely on, but while there will be a number of things that we will have to learn to do without, or find workarounds for, the basics will still be do-able.  Fire will still work, the sun will still shine, and while we won’t have microwaves or washing machines, we will still be able to cook and clean.

We won’t lack for resources of many kinds.  What’s a car if you can’t drive it?  It’s a source of metal.  What’s a deserted house?  A source of wood and other materials.  Many resources are right at hand and won’t need to be mined or cut, but rather repurposed.

Most everyone over the age of five or six can already read, and there are numerous libraries and bookstores as sources of books.  Literacy will not die out [and it was a lack of literature that generated the ‘dark ages’ comment in the 14th century, not a return to barbarism after the fall of Rome], nor will writing.   We may have to resort to growing hemp to make paper, but we won’t have to go back to stone tablets.

Just as National Geographic magazine brought pictures of people around the world into our homes, today’s Internet, tweeting,  Facebook and the rest of today’s social media have transcended the distances between people, and communities are not only those of physical location but of communication.  While the electronic communication won’t last, obviously, due to a lack of resources, the sense of being part of a larger community will for many people.  I believe that this will roll over to the local set of folks as a consequence in an effort to maintain the communication that social media provided.

Many people already subscribe to Countryside, Backyard Poultry, Mother Earth News, Fine Woodworking, Wood, Organic Gardening and the like, and while not everyone can garden or raise chickens right now, there are quite a number of people who already are doing just that who can mentor their communities.  Knowledge of knitting, spinning, weaving, woodworking with hand tools [thanks, Roy Underhill!], baking bread, quilting, and all the myriad other skills have not been lost; interest in those skills has been going strong for at least 30 years.

There are movements afoot to mitigate the effects of climate change and peak oil [Google ‘transition towns’ for more information] on communities, and many people are preparing individually.

Now, this doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen.  There will likely be times of upheaval, and it is prudent to prepare as best as one can for the unforeseen and unexpected.  However, I don’t think anyone should approach prepping with a doom-and-gloom attitude; it’s too easy to get depressed and give up if you aren’t realistic about what a post electrical grid/oil world could be like if we work together.   Unless there is nuclear war, with some planning we should be able to survive and thrive.