|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
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!