Zombies optional
Published on May 10, 2006 By stutefish In Life Journals
I've recently revised my thoughts on surviving the Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland (PAW).

I'm convinced the key to not just surviving, but thriving in the PAW, will be resource management.

I figure, there will be four key resources in the PAW:

1. Food
2. Fuel
4. Knowledge

Of these four resources, I believe that Fuel will be the most critical in the short term.

Even though civilization will have collapsed in the PAW, the world will still be full of civilization's machines. These machines, and the Fuel to power them, can make up for a shortage of manpower.

Not only can these machines be used to jump-start our work on a better tomorrow, before we accumulate enough like-minded survivors to get all the work done by hand, but consider this: Our current civilization, at least in the West--and especially in America--is based on the assumption of mobility. Everything is spread out, and there's usually not a complete set of resources within convenient walking distance. So in the short term, mobility will be absolutely critical to making good progress. Mobility means being able to raid not just one gas station, but several. It means being able to loot not just one grocery store's canned goods, but all the grocery stores in the tri-state area.

Speaking of Food, I don't see this resource as critical in the short term, since with Fuel-based mobility a great store of prepared and preserved food will be accessible to us. I'll get back to long-term Food issues in a moment.

There's also Knowledge. This is also a critical resource, and it's not one that can be ignored in the short term. Since I don't have alll the necessary Knowledge myself, I'll have to attract a diverse group of skilled knowledge workers: engineers, doctors, mechanics, HAM radio enthusiasts, etc.

This need to attract knowledge workers brings me back to Fuel as the critical short-term resource. I figure, all the smartest and most productive people will be reaching a similar conclusion, so by putting myself close to the Fuel, I should end up close to the Knowledge workers we need. And by controlling the Fuel, I can attract Knowledge workers by reputation and even by a show of force if necessary.

That's another thing Fuel is good for: security.

So my plan for the PAW is this: get as close to the Fuel as possible. If I can control the Fuel personally, myself, that would be ideal. If not, then I intend to get as close to the guy who does control the Fuel as possible. If, on my journey, I am captured by some asshat local warlord who thinks the PAW is a good excuse to play Mad Max, I will offer my services to him, and encourage him to increase his power by seizing control of the Fuel.

I believe that this will give me and my companions the best chance of building a better tomorrow. I think that opposing violent asshats in the PAW will be too risky at first. Getting close to the Fuel, and getting deeply involved in controlling it, is going to be much more important than trying to regulate which of the PAW asshats gets to set themselves up as King of the Refinery.

Later, if the Asshat in Charge turns out to be unacceptable, then the rebel faction will certainly benefit from having me as their inside man.

In the long term, it may not be possible to sustain the fully mechanized infrastructure of the fallen civilization.

For this reason, I don't see controlling the Fuel as the end goal, but as the beginning.

My main objective, in controlling the fuel, will be to use it to bootstrap us into a new civilizational system that does not rely on Fuel.

I would use the Fuel to generate power for the labs and workshops of the Knowledge workers, so that they could quickly devise new systems (or revise old ones) that will allow us to build a better tomorrow.

I would use Fuel as a currency to trade with any local farmers, that might have established themselves: Using our Fuel to power their machines, we can work together to provide the key resource of Food to our growing population of hopeful and hardworking survivors.

I would use Fuel as a currency to barter with wanderers: Bring me engineering manuals from the Big City Library, and I'll gas up your Jeep; maybe even give you some combine-harvested produce from our most recent crop. I'd also pay for couriers, escorts, and scouts.

I'd use Fuel to power generators, refrigerators, hospitals. I'd use it to mount militia on pickup trucks and SUVs, since every asshat in the tri-state area will lust after our wealth and security.

And I'd use this Fuel-powered haven of relative peace and prosperity to attract more Knowledge, more Food, and more Manpower.

In the long run, the Fuel would run out. The key is to use it well before it runs out. To me that means using it to get a head start on building a civilization that doesn't need it. That'll take time, and until it's ready, we'll definitely need to run generators, operate automobiles, and possibly even power computers.

Our better tomorrow would probably look strange to passing space aliens: a civilization that makes heavy use of tools that could only be produced by a massive industrial infrastructure, but does not have such an infrastructure in place.

So that's my plan: In the event of an Apocalypse, I intend to raid the nearest gas station, and work my way up from there to the nearest refinery or storehouse.

I intend to encourage anybody I encounter to join me in this goal. I intend to avoid anybody who might interfere with this goal. If I can't avoid them, I intend to join them, support their goals, and encourage them to consider how controlling the Fuel will make it even easier for them to achieve their goals.

I intend to use Fuel to make myself and my companions mobile, so that we can access a wider range of resources, so that we can more easily avoid trouble, and so that we can more easily overpower anyone we can't work with and can't avoid.

I intend to use Fuel to attract and reward people who know more than I do, or who have resources I do not.

And if I can't do all this myself, I intend to get as close as possible, and support as best I can, whoever is in a position to do these things.

Please feel free to comment on these ideas.

on May 10, 2006
In Mad Max 2, they used pig shit for fuel. Kept a lot of post apocalyptic degenerates employed And in Waterworld, Dennis Hopper controlled a big ass tanker.

I think you're spot on that fuel will be the primary resource, at least in the mid-term. Controlling it will be essential to an particular faction's success. Do whatever it takes to control it, or to be with those who do. Prop up some madman if you have to, to secure control of a fuel rich area. Then take him down as necessary.
on May 10, 2006
The pig fart fuel solution is actually a viable solution, at least on small scale. It's common in some regions of rural China.

I wouldn't be suprised if my Post-Apocalyptic Smarty Men came up with just such a post-oil fuel solution.
on Aug 05, 2006
You end by saying that you may have to sleep your way to the top...
on Aug 05, 2006
I'm pretty sure the key to survival would be storehousing massive quantities of booze. Folks will trade you for everything else.