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Friday, February 26, 2010

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SHTF:Bad News For Long Term Scavengers


I have been on a tear lately about things running out, breaking, wearing down, etc. Guns, food, machinery, etc. I think what caused this was going back and watching the Discovery Channel's series about the world without people. It showed hypothetical scenarios of how quickly man made structures and creations would fall apart and revert back to nature.

What also brought this about was the rash of recent winter storms across the country. Trees heavy with snow began collapsing on to cars and houses causing more damage. Who would have thought snow could take down a tree? But it happened all over the country and without an army of city workers, contractors and handy men, most of those homes would be unihabitable in short order. Add to that the floods, earthquakes and tsumamis on television every single night and the damage they do to our infrastructure.

Pile on top of that the glut of doomer fiction, in movies and online, which often include the protagonist's ability to locate long abandoned treasure troves of supplies like ammo, canned food  and toilet paper and all of it ready and safe to use. For some reason, finding a bomb shelter or untouched Walmart warehouse is the popular choice for fiction writers.

Put all this together and we have the clash of reality versus happy thoughts.

Take a real, widespread disaster. Asteroid hit, nuclear war, pole shift. There's a bunch of people who have survived. They are hungry, cold, desperate. Every building, house, store, office and structure is going to be overwhelmed with hoards of mobile survivors tearing apart anything they can get their hands on. Not going to be much left in any warehouses or stores after that day. That's part one.

Part two. As soon as the infrastructure breaks down, so does the constant human care and feeding our our fragile systems. Just leaving doors and windows open (or broken) will result in the elements ruining everything left inside. Fires will run unabated. Broken sewer and water mains will send water in every direction. Animals will move into homes and buildings. It gets better.

Part three. Time. Food in cans will begin to turn. Paper will mold, mildew and rot. Leather will break down. Fabrics will be overrun with moths and insects. Water will damage everything stored carefully in cardboard and paper containers. Nails rusting in boxes. Ammunition corroding in those plastic dividers. Even plastic buckets will eventually crack, leak and become infested. There won't be much of any value in those warehouses or basements ten years after.

Here's where it gets bad..

The long term scavenger will be forced to move to the most hospitable areas left and search out new food crops, domesticated animals and clean water supplies. They will search out communities that are making and repairing clothing, tools, and other necessities. They will end up taking them from those who had the foresight or luck to be better positioned after the fall. If that's you, don't think the scavengers will be satisfied wandering around the cities looking for a leftover Happy Meal. They will be coming your direction.

At the same time, the community which believes there is still "good stuff" in the cities or hidden away in some warehouse will be disappointed. Everything not destroyed by man will be ruined by time and the elements.

The solution: the old rule, one is none and two is one. Except times 100. Stockpile those things which can help make new things. Seeds for food. Tools, nails, metal, concrete, lumber, a power source (if you can get it) and so on. Remember that on the day of the end, the clock starts to tick for everything manufactured and man made. The deterioration has begun and time is the enemy. If you have the chance to "allocate and distribute" (loot) that which has been left behind, do it fast, before it falls prey to time and the elements.

The survivor living off the carcass of the old world is fiction. Don't make long term plans based upon that which will be gone.