Category Archives: Technology
By: Tom Chatham
When the grid power that you depend on suddenly stops for an extended time, you need an alternative supply to work with. If you have an off grid home you will have the same options to look at for power. The main thing is if you are living off grid for extended periods you will need to analyze how you create and utilize that power.
Using a backup generator for a few days every year is a far cry from providing all of your power on a continuous basis. A backup generator is great but most of them are not built to provide power on a continuous basis. Even if you had the fuel supply to run it for a year it is likely your generator will break down after only a few hundred hours if you are even that lucky. I have seen a brand new generator suffer an electrical failure after the first hour of operation with no load on it. The motor had to have an electrical component replaced inside the motor which required a mechanic with the proper tools and the replacement part.
For those that want or need to live off the grid it is necessary to look at the power system and understand where the weak links are. If you find yourself in a situation where you must provide all of the maintenance and repairs yourself, you must have the necessary tools and repair parts as well as the knowledge to do the job. In a longterm situation, the simpler the system is the more reliable it will be and the less you will need to fix over time. There are systems that are well made if you can afford them, and they will give many years of service but eventually you will run into the same problem. You may be called on to repair them some day and most people are not prepared to do that.
If you are contemplating a retreat to shelter you from some kind of catastrophic event, you will want something that the average person can work on and maintain with minimal effort for thousands of hours. It is common to find that the most efficient and easy to use systems are filled with high tech components that the average person does not understand and has no hope of fixing given a component breakdown. The more electrical components you have in your power chain from the generator to the appliance you wish to run, the more chance you have for a failure of some type that requires replacement of a component or equipment to restore electrical power.
Living off grid you have three basic choices for electrical power. You can have no electrical power, use 110v AC or 12v DC. In many cases you will have a combination of AC and DC components. To keep things simple you may want to analyze your situation and determine if using only 12v DC power may be best longterm.
Utilizing only 12v systems will greatly simplify your system and make it easier for the average person to fix when something breaks. A pure 12v system works well with alternative power generation such as solar, wind and hydro. In most cases you are generating power and storing it in a battery bank for later use. If your appliance is 12v DC you will be able to run this item straight off the battery system . In this instance you have reduced your components to the very minimum. Generator, regulator, battery and appliance. This is basically how the electrical system on a car is set up.
This very basic electrical system is easy to maintain, very durable and easy to repair. An automotive alternator can operate for thousands of hours and can be rebuilt with a few tools and repair parts by anyone with some mechanical ability. The automotive regulator either internal or external is easy to replace and easy to stock extras for future use. There are many 12v DC appliances available that can be useful in an off grid household to include refrigerators and freezers.
When thinking of longterm use the fewer appliances you have the easier it will be to provide the power you need. Having only a few necessary appliances and some 12v lighting will allow you to harden your system and get the most out of it over time. With a 12v system you can still utilize 110v appliances when needed utilizing power inverters but in the event these components become inoperative you will still have the use of your 12v system for full utilization.
You may still need a motor to turn your alternator but you will have more options to do so. You can use a small air cool motor that you already have and if it breaks you have the ability to replace it with another one. You can even use your car to provide the power and use it to charge a battery pack. The ability to power engines with homemade fuel also allows you to generate power when fuel is hard to find.
Making automotive alternators the center of your power system will give you much more flexibility over time. It is much easier to find another alternator than an AC generator especially in desperate times when everyone is looking for them. The same can be said for power inverters. We have an AC generator for emergency use but to date it has not been used.
In the past when we have suffered power outages lasting for days we have used a home built system. We take the motor off of our rotor tiller and bolt it to a board with an automotive alternator. This system charges a set of deep cycle batteries. We then hook a power inverter to the battery pack to run the freezer. With this type of system we can run the motor only a few hours a day and have uninterrupted power all day and night. This helps to conserve limited fuel supplies and limit’s the wear and tear on the motor.
When the power goes out we take everything out of the kitchen freezer and put it in the deep freezer. We then place gallon jugs in the deep freezer to freeze and rotate these into the refrigerator to keep it cool. This allows us to keep everything refrigerated and only have to power one appliance to conserve on power.
Having some type of plan to maintain power to essential devices is essential to maintaining your quality of life when you can no longer depend on the power grid. Whether you use 12v exclusively or a combination of AC and DC power, you will need to have something you can depend on if the unthinkable happens and you are thrown back on your own resources.
By: Tom Chatham
Many people have no doubt heard of the mythical planet X and the destruction it will unleash on Earth as it passes by. There have been many doomsayers and naysayer’s to date so either you believe in it or you don’t. For those that believe in it a recent interview of Bob Fletcher by Dave Hodges will give you some things to ponder in the coming days.
According to Fletcher, all of the martial law preparations to date are in expectation of the arrival of planet X. All of the governments around the world know of the coming of this heavenly body and are making their own plans to deal with it. The massive number of bunkers around the world that have been prepared in the past few years are expected to be occupied by their owners in the very near future.
Fletcher expects martial law to be declared just prior to the ability of people on Earth to see this body as it approaches. This will insure the elite will be able to bug out to their shelters without hindrance by the lowly masses who will not be told of the approaching mass. The state of martial law could be provoked by the anticipation of WWIII, a plague or as Fletcher suspects as a series of terrorist strikes in multiple places in a short span of time. Basically, we will see a serious problem occur that will keep people occupied as time runs out for them. The declaration of martial law will be the confirmation that Planet X is about to make its close approach.
The information he has from astronomers is that this body will be visible on Earth in the month of December regardless of the year it arrives. By March the worst effects will be felt as it passes. Earth will pass through the tail twice as we revolve around the sun chasing it. We will be in the tail for one hour each time and will be subject to all of the tail debris that follows it. This means we could be hit by multiple space debris to include mountain size asteroids. If one of this size hits the ocean they expect a tsunami about 100 feet tall hitting the corresponding coasts. The meteor hits will create fires worldwide.
As the body moves past the earth they suspect we will be pulled over about 26 degrees. The gravity from this body which appears to be about 5 times the size of Earth will cause tidal forces that pull water over some sections of land. This will be reminiscent of the biblical flood of Noah.
The people studying this event suspect the electromagnetic forces associated with this passing will fry everything electrical on the planet. These forces will be so severe that Faraday cages may not help. This means that those that survive will emerge in a world devoid of all functional electrical gadgets and the ability to power them.
The time from the first passing through the tail to the second passing will be 155 days, and according to Fletcher it will be pure hell on Earth during that time. But, we will see effects on Earth before this destruction happens. They suspect the weather problems we are now facing are just some of the first effects we will experience in the coming days. Earthquakes and volcanism are other effects that seem to be present and escalating at this time as well.
According to Fletcher this is why bunkers are being prepared and stocks of storage food are being bought up as fast as possible. It is also the reason why seed banks are being built by the elites, so they can reseed the planet after it is all over.
If you have not guessed by now, the little people will not be told of the coming destruction and will have no place in these bunkers when the time comes. Fletcher says that even some congressmen and senators that expect to be saved will not get the call when the time comes. When the effects start in earnest it will be an every man for himself situation and few will probably survive it.
According to what is expected it would be wise to be away from the coast and high in the mountains when this hits. Some type of underground shelter will probably help but without knowing specific patterns of destruction it is hard to say if individual shelters will survive the event. If this happens it will be an event of biblical proportions to say the least.
Keeping these things in mind over the coming days will help you to understand any moves by the government. Bob Fletcher also has a DVD for sale on his site with much more detail than in his recent interview and you can find that at bobfletcherinvestigations.com. In the event these things do come to pass and you expect to survive them you might want to read an older article 50 tools and technologies to rebuild civilization(June 2012).
If this planet is for real and causes this kind of destruction it will be a global reset of epic proportions. If this happens I can only hope that those that survive and rebuild will do it better the next time and avoid the problems we always seem to manufacture to destroy ourselves.
By: Tom Chatham
The events of the past few days show just how vulnerable the U.S. is to cyber warfare. Many people have read about the problems that can occur if the infrastructure is attacked and disabled or destroyed cutting everyone off to essential services. Here are some of the services that were compromised on just one day this week.
– The WSJ suffered computer problems resulting in outage
– Service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint suffered computer problems affecting their services
-The NYSE was down for almost 4 hours due to a computer “glitch”
– United Airlines was grounded nationwide as computer problems shut down their operations
These four incidents, while not officially due to cyber attack, are just an example of what is possible if cyber attackers wish to do some harm. These four incidents cover, transportation, communication, information and financial sectors of the economy. The very things society depends on to function correctly. The only one missing is power.
Some insiders believe this was just a beta test for things to come. If that is so then the American people have much to worry about. It is bad enough if these threats are foreign born but the American people have just as much to fear from their own government today. The executive orders and military posturing going on leave little room for speculation that elements of our government are planning and expecting something catastrophic to happen in the near future.
If the U.S. is hit with a massive cyber attack, it will cause chaos nationwide within minutes as services are interrupted and people find themselves without the support systems they rely on every day. The loss of services for a few hours is an inconvenience but the loss for several days or weeks would be life threatening. That is something most Americans are not prepared for. They have complete faith in the government to protect them and provide the things they need. That faith will be the undoing of many people when the time comes. That is because these people have abdicated their responsibility to take care of themselves and their family to the government.
The people that see or at least fear what could happen in an uncertain world, have taken the necessary steps to make a loss of services as minor as possible. Many of these people have gone off the grid to provide the every day necessities their family needs free of the trappings of modern society.
Even if you do not go completely off the grid, you can do many simple things to insure your family will be safe and secure when the electrons that modern society is built on stop flowing. There are many annual disasters and smaller problems that cut off services to people. It might be a flood, hurricane or ice storm that cuts you off from the outside world for days at a time. Many people have learned from their past experiences and taken steps to provide the things they will lose if that type of thing happens again. The problem is that the vast majority go back to their normal lives after suffering the hardship of disaster and think nothing more until it happens again.
When you think about the many different things that could happen to you it is easy to come up with a list of things you would suffer without. Being in a rural area and suffering from an ice storm that cuts off power, communications and travel ability is similar to what would happen if a cyber attack took down most systems in the winter.
You would need the same back-up systems in both cases. You would need food, water, light and heat at the very least. Non-electric systems are a must when something like this happens. About the only thing you need electrical power for is refrigeration over long periods and winter weather could help with that if you have a window box or cooler to take advantage of the outside refrigeration capability. In warmer climates the possession of an absorption or propane refrigerator will allow you to keep items frozen or cool for several weeks with only a few 20lb.cannisters of propane.
Propane will also take care of heating, cooking and lighting needs if you want to go that route. Otherwise, wood heat and basic lighting such as kerosene lamps, candles or small battery powered lamps can take care of your other environmental needs. The storage of basic foods, especially canned goods, and sufficient water will also insure your family has the things they need to ride out the situation. In the event you can buy or trade in the aftermath of the disaster it is always good to have some cash on hand and maybe some gold or silver for long term problems.
These basic things are the basis of being immune from the types of problems brought about by a loss of electrical technologies that bring society to a halt. The ability to communicate with others in the absence of public communication systems and the ability to maintain security in the absence of law enforcement are also things that need to be looked at for serious, long term situations. The ability to provide for sanitation during disasters is also something few prepare for so that needs to be addressed as well. A simple outhouse is worth its weight in gold when sanitation systems cease to function properly.
These items are practically immune from any cyber attack and will allow you to maintain minimum living standards for long periods of time in the event it becomes necessary. One does not have to go to extremes to become cyber proof. The security provided by normal camping supplies and preparations will go a long way to keeping you safe and healthy when technology fails. If everyone was a prepper, disasters would be non-events for most people and cyber threats would be little more than minor inconveniences.
By: Tom Chatham
There is much talk about the possibility of an EMP or CME that takes out the power grid causing chaos nationwide. Some have stated that having cash on hand is necessary to make some last minute shopping trips to top off supplies. That is a good idea but in today’s world how effective would that be?
In the early 80’s I worked in a small local grocery store after school like many kids in my generation. This store had two checkout lines of which only one was normally used except during rush hour when 5 or six people would be in line at once.
One Sunday morning the power went off for several hours. There were some people that made a usual stop at this store on Sunday mornings for their Sunday paper and to do some shopping. On this particular day they continued to come in as usual but we had no power.
My boss who was also the store owner did not want to lose the business so he improvised. He went to his office and brought back a small portable calculator that had a printer on top. He stood at the register and added up the items as the people came to the counter, they paid in cash as normal, he wrote down the total of the sale for his records, gave them a printed receipt from the calculator and they went on their way.
This was all possible for three reasons. We had a means to add up the items, the customers were able to pay in cash and the most important thing was that all of the items had a price stamped on them.
This sounds like a normal reaction to something like this but would it happen the same way today if the power went out?
Most of the people working at the registers would not be able to add up the items for sale if it were not for the computer doing all the work for them. Even if they wanted to sell items, practically all corporate owned stores use scanners to scan the prices. The days when items had the price stamped on them are long gone, at least as far as the major stores are concerned. This lack of prices would make it almost impossible for stores to sell items even if they wanted to. The cashiers have no idea what the prices are these days.
The other major factor is the ability to pay in cash. With the grid down and no POS terminals working, most people would have no way to pay for their goods. In the old days stores accepting credit cards had a manual machine they placed the card in along with a credit receipt and they would rack the press and imprint the receipt. The person would sign the slip and receive a copy of the credit transaction. The store would then send the credit receipt in to get their money. Unlike today, this antiquated system worked even if the power was off.
Today there is no manual fallback if the POS system does not work. This makes any longterm blackout a potential time bomb for any society that relies on immediate credit processing systems.
In the event of a blackout today, only small stores would likely have goods that are individually priced and a worker capable of adding the sale even if the person had some cash. These are the problems that modern society has created for itself. These are the things you need to keep in mind if you plan to shop after a blackout has occurred. You and your cash are only part of the equation. The store and its ability to sell during a blackout is on the other side of the equation.
Keeping these things in mind, it might be a good idea to scope out the local stores near you and assess their ability to sell during a blackout if the situation ever arises. Keeping some cash on hand for emergencies is always a good idea, just be aware of the limitations you may face in using that cash where you want to shop.
By: Tom Chatham
What happens when an unstoppable government agency meets an immovable public opinion? In this case the unstoppable agency is forced to change course. At least for now.
According to the Washington Times, the BATFE has apologized for a “publishing error” that led everyone to believe the M855 ammo, that so many people use, was already banned. There is still a comment period until March 16 on its proposal to ban the ammo.
According to an agency statement, “ ATF has not rescinded any armor piercing ammunition exemption, and the fact they are not listed in the 2014 online edition of the regulations was an error which has no legal impact. ATF apologizes for any confusion caused by this publishing error”.
The ATF’s statement specified that the exemptions for 5.56mm SS109 and M855 ammo, and for the U.S. .30-06 M2AP bullet “remain in effect”.
This is just another case of the Obama administration putting the cart before the horse. Just like the 100,000 illegals that were given documents before the official amnesty period was to begin, they have tried to slip past the gatekeepers by ignoring or rewriting laws that they cannot pass in Congress.
If the outrage had not been as universal as it was, it is likely ATF would have left the revised regulations as they were, without the exemptions for the popular ammo and the die would have been cast. This is not the end. They will be back with another scheme to deny the public guns and ammo.
This was no publishing error as described because the Obama administration was touting the benefits and need for this for weeks. If it was merely a publishing error, how did they know about it? Government corruption is beginning to wear thin on a populace that has had enough of big government incursions into individual rights.
If they cannot get this ban, they will try for something else very soon, that much is guaranteed. As I have stated before, when it comes to guns and ammo, the two critical items are primers and powder. Everything else can be made from scratch or reused multiple times. It’s these two items you really need to watch in the future. When they go after these items, you know they are getting serious and desperate. Just something to keep in mind in the days ahead.
By: Tom Chatham
Those that claim TPTB want to disarm Americans so they can take control are right to some degree. What many have not yet realized is that there are other items beyond guns and bullets that the government would have to ban to prevent individuals from acting out against the dictatorship many see taking form.
One of the things Dave Hodges lists as necessary for martial law is the elimination of guns, ammo and certain chemicals. It’s the certain chemicals that the average person thinks little about but can reap more havoc on occupation forces than bullets. In Iraq it was the IEDs and EFPs that caused the most fear.
Most people do not realize that many of the chemicals that they use on a daily basis have multiple uses. It is these everyday chemicals that the government will likely try to ban or restrict just prior to taking full control of the country.
Ammonium nitrate is used in ice packs and for fertilizer. Aluminum powder is used for radiator stop leak. Nitromethane is a fuel additive used for drag racing and model planes among other things. When these three items are mixed in the proper way they form a plastic compound similar to C4.
Rust is a common element found just about anywhere unprotected metal exists. When that rust is combined with aluminum powder and ignited, it produces a flame that can melt steel. It is commonly known as thermite.
Sulfur is used for many different things like gardening. Charcoal is used for things like water filtration and salt petre is used for things like food preservation. When these three items are combined they produce black powder.
This is just a short list of everyday chemicals that can be used by individuals fighting a rogue government. That is why these items will likely be taken off the market or restricted at some point to prevent those with the know-how from utilizing every means possible to fight for their freedom.
It is not a coincidence that environmentalism will likely be used to remove these things from society’s reach. Just like lead, a primary component of homemade bullets is under fire for damage to the environment and forces are trying to remove it from general use in things like bullets, wheel weights and batteries and is the main reason the last lead mine in the U.S. was closed down last year. This is the reason liberals are so close to the environmental groups. It is a means to an end.
Perhaps after reading this things will make more sense in the future when you see seemingly unrelated things happening. When you see legislation banning certain chemicals or products in the future as dangerous you will likely know what the real reason is. This is just one more reason to stock certain items for future use whatever your intended use is for them but you should be careful what you store and where you store it. It is now common practice for police when they search your property to look for certain chemicals that they can use to accuse you of being a bomb maker.
So, to some extent, the government is already beginning to tighten down the screws on the public. The long slow march to tyranny has begun and the worst is yet to come. Be prepared and be smart.
By: Tom Chatham
A recent article by Dave Hodges shines a light on a little thought of situation that many people may find themselves in during some future war or civil disturbance. That situation is you coming up against superior technology that you have no defense against. So, how do you deal with this threat?
Lets get right to the chase. Every weapons system is designed to operate in a certain environment and do a certain task within that environment. Because of that, every weapons system has weak points that it cannot hide from once you change that environment.
In WWII Sherman tanks were outmatched by German Tiger tanks. They were able to overcome this disadvantage by superior numbers and by putting the Tigers in situations that gave the Sherman the advantage. The Shermans were smaller and more maneuverable so they would try to engage tigers in dense areas where they could not maneuver and turn their guns because of obstacles. This allowed the Shermans to get behind the tigers and shoot them in their only weak point, their ass. The Tiger might get three Shermans but there was usually a fourth one that managed to get the Tiger.
When radar began to be used in WWII the RAF soon came up against German flak batteries that had radar. To get past this threat they came up with a simple solution. They deployed strips of aluminum foil, code named windows, that confused the radars and allowed the planes to get through. The Germans soon figured out how to deal with this but for a time it made their systems almost useless.
When you are faced with superior weapons you need to do two things.
Determine what its limitations are.
Determine how to attack it in that weak spot.
Those two things are the basis of counter weapons development for centuries. Not long after we got the tank we then developed anti-tank weapons. It’s the same with any new weapons system. Sometimes you need to develop your own superior technology to use against it and sometimes you need to resort to caveman technology.
Killer robots may come after us one day and be able to outrun us but how well do they rappel down a mountain or swim? They may be impervious to rifle bullets but what happens when they are hit by a 6 lb. steel ball from a cannon? A solid object traveling at high speed can do a lot of damage when it hits something. Just look at the DUC rounds the M1 Abrams fires or when a large meteor hits Earth. How do robots handle the bumper of a large truck traveling at high speeds? I have two words for the backyard inventors out there, rail gun.
New optical systems may be able to scan our retinas a mile away and tell who we are but how well do those optical systems work in fog, smoke or covered with mud or paint?
Those new MRAPs may be hard but how well do they operate in woods that have no roads? How well can they drive when all of the windows are covered with paint or other materials that blind them? How fast can they go when they are laying on their side or sitting in three feet of mud? The people in that vehicle must get in at some point and get out at some time. That is a weak point. That vehicle must be refueled at some time. That is a weak point. Are you getting the picture?
How well does any weapons system work when it is hosed down with fuel and ignited? How well does it work without fuel? How well does it work without ammo? How well does it work without repair parts or human operators? How well does it work when it cannot “see”? How well can it operate when it has no traction? How well can it operate in bad weather? What does it take to disable its electronics? What does it take to put a hole in it? What happens to an attack helicopter when a steel cable is suddenly propelled up into its rotors? How well can the operators function when they have no air to breathe?
Every system has a certain environment it works well in. Your job is to get it into a situation that is outside of its operating box so you have the advantage. That is the advantage that humans have over technology. We have the ability to adapt to new situations and learn new tricks. Most weapons systems cannot do that. Even if they can adapt they do not have our imagination. How many weapons systems would think of giving a group of enemy fighters diarrhea to reduce their combat effectiveness?
Our ability to think outside of the box is our greatest advantage. That is what we need to depend on in the days to come. Having weapon systems to fight back with will be important but the most destructive thing we have is our mind. Remember, it was a human that made that new weapon and it will be a human that designs the countermeasure to it.
By: Tom Chatham
No matter where you live, energy plays a major role in your life. Practically everything we do from the time we wake up in the morning to the time we close our eyes at night depends on energy of some sort. It is this dependency on energy for our everyday needs that makes us prone to great loss when those supplies are cut off for some reason.
Those in the off grid community know how important energy is. Locally produced energy enables individuals to become more secure and not take energy supplies for granted. Under normal circumstances, most people get their energy from the national distribution system. It may be gasoline, diesel, electric or gas. Due to the complex nature of the distribution system, it is all to possible to lose this supply for some duration when disaster strikes.
Solar, wind, hydroelectric, thermoelectric and power generators enable persons to utilize electrical devices anywhere. Wood provides the ability to cook and heat. Bio diesel, alcohol and producer gas units enable you to power internal combustion engines from local energy supplies.
One of the favorite energy systems of remote homes is propane. It enables those with little supply of electricity to cook, heat, refrigerate foods, heat water and even produce light. One of the advantages of gas appliances is the fact that some types of disasters that can permanently damage some systems, will not affect their operation.
It does not matter if energy supplies are cut off due to a national strike, natural disaster, economic collapse, enemy attack or solar event. The effects are the same. When it happens you are limited to the energy supplies you have on hand until the event stabilizes and the distribution system is working again. Depending on the event, it may be weeks months or even years before this is fixed.
Some events can even cause the permanent destruction of electrical appliances and equipment making gas appliances that much more valuable. These low probability/high impact events will likely have little effect on gas appliances which is a good reason to utilize this type of system. The problem then is how to provide the energy to run these appliances in a long term situation.
The nature of gas appliances provides a flexible solution. Bio gas is relatively easy to produce from many different sources. On some dairy farms today, cow manure is used to fuel generators to reduce the cost of operations. While small homesteads will not be able to produce that much bio energy, they do have the ability to produce small amounts to power critical equipment like stoves and refrigeration.
Bio gas units are relatively easy to build from local supplies. By utilizing livestock manure, you can provide a suitable alternative to the refined gas you normally buy. This can enable you to avoid the loss of necessary appliances during an event an can save you money in normal times that can be used for other necessities.
When manure breaks down, it releases methane. Left in the open this potential fuel is lost to the atmosphere. When manure is placed in a container the released gas can be drawn off and stored for future use. For those that have livestock, this can be a good energy supply that only costs you a little time. This can allow you to have functional appliances even during the worst types of events when energy supplies may be cut off for long periods. For those that have gas appliances, it is good to know you can produce your own energy supplies to avoid the hardship that would follow the loss of those units. The following links will help get you started with this line of knowledge.
By: Tom Chatham
There has been much talk the past few years of a possible EMP/CME that would cause a mass die off in society. There are those that rebuff the idea that a technological society like ours would simply die from something as simple as lack of power. In many cases these are the same people in society that expect the government to come to their rescue if something does happen. The idea of dieing from a lack of basic necessities is so far outside of their comfort zone that these people refuse to think about it or acknowledge it could happen.
These people like to think that simply losing power or technology is a temporary thing that someone will fix in short order and life will return to normal. They believe they will just survive as our ancestors did a hundred or so years ago and life will go on with few bumps until technology is restored. This type of thinking is shortsighted and naive at best, and here is why.
There are a few words that many people need to understand in order to wrap their mind around this threat. Those words are available resources, skills and infrastructure.
When technology fails society is suddenly limited to the resources it needs that are already produced and on hand for immediate use. If water suddenly stops being purified and pumped through the lines, you are limited to what you now have in the lines or storage tanks. Gas stations are limited to the fuel they have in storage tanks. Stores are limited to the food and clothing they have on hand. The failure of technology will stop water from being replaced, sewage from being removed, refrigeration from keeping foods edible, light from illuminating dark areas that must be traversed, elevators from getting people to upper floors, gas and electric for heating and cooking, water for fighting fires, communications for calling for help and medical devices to keep people alive.
The reason everything will stop is because of another word to remember, infrastructure. Without infrastructure nothing gets done, even on a simple basis. You cannot cook food without some type of infrastructure to produce heat, you cannot store food without some type of storage to keep it cold or some type of container to keep it protected from rodents and the environment. You cannot process or store food without equipment to cut, grind, dry, smoke, can or root cellar it. You cannot harvest, plant or grow food without some type of equipment to do those jobs.
The original definition of an acre was the amount of ground a farmer could plow in a full day. Farmers now plant hundreds of acres a day to keep Americans fed. With no modern equipment, how many acres can a farmer plant even if he had a trained team of horses and the equipment to pull behind them? Let us not forget that 2 percent of the population now grows the food for the whole country. How much would they now be able to produce even if they had the necessary equipment to do it manually? Let us also not forget that farmers need to buy their seed every year to plant. Very few individuals raise heritage seeds that they can plant every year from their own production. Where would these seeds now come from? Farmers also need lots of fertilizer to make these plants grow, where would that fertilizer come from? Many farms need irrigation to grow plants, so where would the power come from to pump that water? The age old practice of utilizing animal manure to fertilize fields only works if the farmer has livestock to produce that manure. Once harvested, how will that food now get transported to distant markets? How will farmers know where to send it without communications? A telegraph system is simple but must be built before it can be used.
Many people think that if technology fails we will simply live as past generations have but they conveniently neglect the fact that regardless of what systems you use you must have the infrastructure to provide for that system. If you go from mail to telegraphs or from analog to digital technology the problems are the same, you must have the infrastructure in place to switch to first. It is true we know how to build the older technology but where will the resources come from to actually build it? Remember, once technology fails you are somewhat limited to what you have on hand to work with.
If we had to return to 1880’s living, how many people have a team of horses, a wagon to hook them to, a butter churn, a grain mill, cheese making supplies, candles, oil lamps, matches, wood cook stoves, blacksmith supplies, hand pumps or dug wells? People were able to live back then because they had the infrastructure to do so. This is what many people do not understand. How hard would it be for us to go back to vacuum tube technology now without the infrastructure to support it, even if we do know how to build it?
In 1776 America, about 40% of men worked their own farm. Another 30% worked as laborers on farms. About 20% owned large commercial farms or plantations. The remaining 10% or so who were professional businessmen frequently owned modest farms where they might raise a cow, some chickens and have a garden to provide for the home table. Even those town people that had no farm usually had a cow, some chickens and a kitchen garden for home use. To go back to this model would be difficult if not impossible for many reasons only one of which is the fact that city dwellers have no room for gardens or the infrastructure to maintain cows and chickens on the large scale that would be needed.
The other thing that many people ignore are the skills required to live in a different system. Most people cannot simply plant seeds and suddenly become a great gardener. They do not know how to make cheese or how to improvise cheese making supplies from items now in the home. They do not know how to make soap or candles or something as simple as toilet paper. A roll of paper seems simple in design but how many know how to process wood pulp or other fibers to make paper? It does not matter if you are making ten thousand rolls in a factory or one roll at home, you need the skills and infrastructure to do it.
Skills come in many forms but the skills that society depends on the most are the craftsmen and engineers that design and build the technology we depend on. Without their knowledge, it would be difficult to replace the technology we now use. How many people know how to rebuild and maintain the phone system we now use? How many people know how to build and repair refrigeration units or make electric motors? How many people know how to refine oil into gasoline and diesel and make plastics and all the other things from petroleum?
In a long term grid down situation where society breaks down, many people would die and those that hold the keys to our technology would be among them. The longer the duration of disruption, the less likely it would be that those who could rebuild the systems would be able to do so. It is a situation where society’s capabilities decrease as time goes on.
Many people talk of hunting and fishing to fulfill their dietary needs but if even ten percent of the nation decides to do the same due to necessity, how long will the game and fish last before it is all gone? Even if you have some food and seeds to plant, it will take time to grow new supplies. In the days following an event, those that are not prepared will seek out supplies from those that have them, including those that have gardens. It is for this reason that it will be difficult to grow replacement supplies for the first one or two years following an event in most places. This would necessitate those that have supplies be able to support themselves and their families until new crops could be produced. The less prepared the population is the longer your initial supplies will need to last.
Once you take into account these things it becomes evident that it would not be easy to revert to an earlier type of system without major disruptions. It is for these reasons that it becomes necessary for the population in general to have the necessary resources to tide them over until infrastructure and skills can adjust to the new reality people find themselves in.
During the cold war the government maintained three years worth of grain in reserve to feed the population until agriculture could recover after a major attack. Today the government keeps little in the way of food for the entire nation. If something happens they depend on resources coming from unaffected areas of the country to help. In a nationwide disaster, there may not be any help to send. This is the reason individuals need to keep the necessary resources on hand to tide them over until the system can be stabilized in some way and some technology can come back on line.
Unfortunately in a worse case disaster, this would only buy some of the population a little time. If the technology we depend on is offline for longer than the resources that are available to the population last, then a mass die-off would ,occur. It is important to remember that only 2% of the nation farms today. Without the modern systems to farm large tracts of land, it would be impossible for any small percentage of the population to feed the whole nation utilizing older, manual techniques. The population would decrease until technology was sufficient to support the population. This would hold true for other parts of the system such as clothing production and healthcare as well.
Because of the high impact this scenario would have on the population, that is the reason people need to resolve to store supplies and resources to care for themselves in the unlikely event this happens. The possession of basic food supplies, medicines, toiletries, energy supplies and alternative transportation and communication systems can provide society the room it needs to extract itself from the worst of the situation. The lack of preparedness will only insure a higher casualty rate and more destruction of surviving infrastructure in the aftermath of an event. The lower the preparedness level of society, the less likely society will be able to survive and rebuild itself.
By: Tom Chatham
In the technological world we live in it is very easy to lose that capacity in a severe disaster. Our ability to use technology to leverage our resources and make informed decisions gives us a decided edge during disasters that improves our chances of surviving. When disaster strikes our ability to make certain things from scratch allows us to maintain some capabilities and overcome the problems we face.
When technology fails the need for keeping foods and medicines cold are still present. Those that have absorption units and a good supply of fuel can maintain refrigeration but most of society will lose that ability. In an emergency situation where refrigeration is a matter of life and death you need to have a reliable backup system to employ even if only for temporary periods. One possible backup system can be the use of CO2 fire extinguishers to produce ice for cooling. By “hosing down” a container of water with an extinguisher you can produce ice that can be used for keeping coolers or refrigerators cool inside for short periods of time. This may enable you to preserve some foods and medicines until other systems can be repaired or replaced. This type of cooling effect is due to the compressed gas in the container. When it is released and expands it creates a cooling effect. This is true with many compressed gasses such as Freon. A CO2 extinguisher works great for icing down a 6 pack when you are in the middle of the desert. This type of system is messy and should be used outside.
Canned Heat –
Canned heat, more commonly referred to as sterno, is an ideal substance to provide cooking ability and limited heat during a crisis when other forms of heating are not available. This substance can be made by utilizing a metal can and dissolving Styrofoam into different types of petroleum fuels. This causes the fuel to become thickened forming a gel. This type of fuel is more stable and safer to use than pure liquid fuels. Other types of liquids can be used such as alcohol. The following link provides one way to make sterno for emergency use. http://www.noodle.org/learn/323025/make-home-made-sterno-type-fuel-for-cooking-camping-prepping-a-vr-to-soulsurvivorx2
The ability to navigate from point to point following a disaster may become necessary to get to a safe area. This is not as difficult in a city environment as it is in open country that you are not familiar with. When you must travel long distances cross country and only have a general direction to your destination it is helpful to know what direction you are moving in. It is very easy to get disoriented in woods or mountains causing you to stray off course and get lost. A simple way to keep on course is the use of an improvised compass. The following link explains how to make a simple compass. This should be practiced before you actually need it to familiarize yourself with how it works. http://www.green-planet-solar-energy.com/experiments-with-magnets.html
During times of nuclear war or nuclear hazards such as the continuing Fukushima disaster it is important for you to know how much radiation you are being exposed to so that you can make informed decisions and take the appropriate actions to preserve life and health. It is easy to buy a radiation meter but it is a piece of equipment that is relatively expensive and may not be used very often making it a luxury that many average people cannot or will not purchase especially during times of financial difficulty. Because of this and the fact that
many people will not see a need for this type of device until something has already happened making acquisition of such equipment impossible it is good to know you can make a reliable radiation meter from household materials. The following link will allow you to make a meter from scratch. http://www.ki4u.com/free_book/s60p792.htm
When something severe such as an EMP or solar storm takes down the normal technology that we use, information will become very important. Even in the most severe cases it is likely that some transmitters will be restored in short order to transmit information. This will not matter to you unless you have receiving equipment to pick up the signal. The use of solid state devices and chips will render most if not all civilian receivers inoperable in such a disaster. Even if you have a functional unit you will also need power to operate it which will be difficult to produce under these circumstances. The ability to build a basic receiver from household materials that requires no power source will enable you to stay informed in the most severe circumstances which will help you stay ahead of the survival curve. The following link provides good information on building such units. http://scitoys.com/scitoys/scitoys/radio/homemade_radio.html
Clean Water –
The ability to produce clean drinking water has allowed modern society to control many diseases and keep people healthy. In a severe disaster you may be confronted with the specter of contaminated water. The ability to produce clean water and remain healthy when medical resources are limited will help provide an edge during disasters. The easiest way to purify water is to boil it killing all harmful organic organisms. This is something many do when water supplies are suspect. In a disaster this may not be enough. Organic threats are only one problem. Disasters can unleash chemicals and harmful particles into the ecosystem that cannot be made harmless by heat. Many of these threats may not be known by you until they accumulate in your system and suddenly cause disabling affects. The ability to construct a filtering system from locally available materials will give you one more wall of defense against unnecessary sickness. The following links provide a good starting point for making your own filters.
Many of the things we use today are taken for granted and we do not realize how dependant we are on them until they no longer work. The fact that basic science has been so politicized today and schools are dumbing down society means that many people do not know how many basic things work. Learning how things work is one of the best ways to combat the dangerous situations we encounter when disaster strikes. A little knowledge can go a long ways when things fall apart without warning.