Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Tale of Two Wookiees

(with much homage to the great George Lucas)

A tale of two wookies; a close approximation of the pronunciation of the acronym “TEOTWAWKI” a word that is cropping up more and more in the Peak Oil blogosphere. If you do not already know, it is short for The End of the World as We Know It. The word may conjure images of survivalistism and anarchy, because I think people have been focusing on the “End” part and not on the “as We Know it” part.

TEOTWAWKI is not the end of the world, only of the way we have come to know it. The death of a spouse, losing one’s job as well as severe climate or economic changes would qualify as TEOTWAWKI events.

What is important to remember that with preparation and practice these events are all survivable, if you so chose. I have been told on several occasions something on the order of, “I would rather die than try to have to figure out where I’m getting my next meal.” I think this is just laziness. It is too uncomfortable for people to imagine themselves in survival situations, so they just don’t think about it. I would be willing to bet, however, that should the grocery stores empty out, and the government food lines begin forming, they would chose to queue up with the rest of the town for their loaf, rather then die in their apartments.

Part of the process of surviving is just imagining our way through it. I think, not being caught completely by surprise, is paramount to avoiding the shell shock of finding out that your life has permanently changed. I remember a documentary I saw once about the Loma Prieta quake that occurred in the bay area in ’89. There was one young woman being interviewed a few weeks after it had occurred. She had an apartment in the Marina district which was pretty heavily hit and her apartment had been completely flattened. What got me was the look in her eyes and her listless affect; she could not get past everything she owned being destroyed. In her own words she had, “lost her identity.”

I am not trying to be unsympathetic, nor am I saying that we can imagine ourselves out of life and death situations. However, as a people, we are rather complacent and lack preparedness; we lack training.

I practice a Filipino martial art called Escrima Serrada. In Serrada, you learn two to three defenses against each of a variety of angles of attack. There are only so many directions from which an attacker would feasibly come at you, so in effect the defenses are few and can be learned in a short time. The real mastery comes from practicing regularly for years, to the point that when you see something coming at you from the attacker’s right hand, for instance, be it a fist, a broken bottle, a stick, you reflexively defend in the most appropriate manner. It is a thoughtless process. We ought to be practicing alternate ways of living too, not necessarily until they are reflexive, but at least until they are familiar.

How many of us could improvise a solar distiller? They are quite easy to make, and could save your life. What about a snare? You can easily get your dinner in the wild with a whittling knife and some heavy fishing line. Those are some extreme examples, but what would you do if the electricity was off for a week and the stores were empty of batteries – no flashlight; no radio. Well, there exists a wind-up radio and a flashlight that generates two hours of light if you shake it for a minute. Do you have these devices?

By taking the Boy Scout motto – ‘be prepared’ – seriously, the changes brought about by TEOTWAWKI might not challenge our very identity, but rather might actually be welcome.


Anonymous et said...

How long before we snare all the little chipmunks, though? I mean, either the rest die, or everyone learns to snare chipmunks and then we all starve. When the titanic sank, the band kept playing. Why not die in exctacy?

7/13/2005 10:31 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Or will many, a majority in fact, die-off, having absolutely no skills at survival, urban or otherwise.

If a complete collapse occurs, how long before people die of starvation? Two weeks. Before that though, within days people would die of thirst and those that tried drinking the contaminated pools of water, would die even sooner.

It is certainly a situation I would not hope for, but would definitely plan for.

Having an emergency food/water stash is like having a savings account; it gets you through a tough spot, in this case dieoff.

After that, resources would be more plentiful as they were before we created this completely unsustainable civilization.

As for dying in ecstacy? I will be dying, fourty to fifty years from now, surrounded by my family and tribe. It will have been a long and adventurous life.

PS. Do not discount hunting feral domestic animals, not just chipmunks, in a survival situation, there would be plenty, just don't eat your own.

7/15/2005 3:11 AM  

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