Survivalism, Prepping and Vandwelling: Strange Bedfellows?
Those of you who have been involved with my websites for long must know I’m actually something of an environmental extremist. I believe the environment is teetering on the edge of catastrophe and humans are the main cause. That’s why I live in a van and preach against civilization. It’s also why I so often promote a Hunter-Gatherer lifestyle and urge you all to be members of the “Tribe,” so we can live a more sustainable lifestyle.
When I get involved with something, I like to do a lot of research and read everything I can about it. One of the books I read was “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler. In it he makes a case that “Peak Oil” is just around the corner and the combination of peak oil, global climate change, global water shortages and environmental destruction are leading us to unprecedented disaster for civilization.To buy the book from Amazon, go here: The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Cent
When I read that book, it was like everything in my life had been leading me to that moment and all the threads of my life coalesced and became a sold, united point that I could build the rest of my life on. Threads like:
1) A Craving to Live in Nature: When I was a boy I read “One Man’s Wilderness” by Dick Proenneke. It’s the story of how Proenneke was dropped off into remote Alaska and lived there for years by the sweat off his brow and hunting and foraging for everything he could. I’m certain that book had more impact on my life than any other thing. He was an exceptional man who had the skills and abilities to live that way. But I know I’m not able to do it myself, so I’ve arranged my life to live as much like him as I can within my abilities. I find Boondocking in a van the ideal way to do that. Buy his book from Amazon: One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey
2) A Love for Adventure: I grew up in Alaska in the 60’s and 70’s when it was still a wide-open, last frontier, where almost anything went. All my heroes were men and women who took risks and stared death and hardship in the face and made them back down. They were the miners, Bush Pilots, explorers and trappers who opened up Alaska against nearly unsurmountable odds. I longed to live just like them! The ones I admired most all went “Native” meaning the land so captured their hearts and changed them that they adapted their lives to it. I’m trying to do the same as much as I can.
3) Concern for the Environment: As I grew up in the 60s and 70s we hadn’t yet learned all the horrible damage we were doing to the earth and then suddenly it became front page news virtually every day:
- Acid Rain was literally eating up the planet;
- DDT was wiping out whole bird species;
- Rivers were so polluted they literally were catching fire and couldn’t be put out. Swimming in them was almost a death sentence from poisoning;
- L.A. and many other cities had so much smog that there were routinely sunny days and months when you couldn’t see the sun through it;
- Species were going extinct at an astounding rate;
- There was a hole in the Ozone layer that was an immediate threat to all life on earth.
Fortunately the damage we were doing was so blatant that we recognized as a country that we had to stop it, so laws were passed and enforcement put in place (the EPA) to stop doing that damage and reverse it. And we were remarkably successful; today nearly all those problems have been brought basically under control. Unfortunately, we only solved the easy, obvious problems and did nothing about the more important and less obvious problems like green-house gasses and Ocean pollution and destruction. Today they are coming home to roost and we are doing next-to-nothing about them even though we are in extreme danger; much greater than ever before.
4) A Concern and Connection with Native Americans: Because Alaska was the very last place in America to be invaded by white Europeans, Native Issues were just being settled when I was a young man. Forty years before I was born, there were still Native Alaskans who had never seen a white man (they were very lucky!!). When I was in school we were given a reasonably fair look at Native Alaskans and I grew up with many of them as my best friends. I think that is where I gained my love for Anthropology and Hunter-Gatherer societies that remains a very dominant and shaping force in my life today.
5) Survivalism and Preparing for TEOTWAWKI (The End of The World as we Know It): I have always had a bit of a Survivalist/Prepper in me, and as I look back on my childhood, it’s easy for me to see why. I grew up during the Cold War and can remember doing Air Raid drills where we all ducked under our desks. Anchorage has Elmendorf Air Force Base and it was a very strategic base against the USSR. We all knew there were nuclear weapons stored there and on a very regular basis F4 Fighters were scrambled to intercept Russian Bombers who were probing our air defenses, looking for weaknesses. Had the cold war turned into a hot war, we would have been right in the middle of it. Because of how close we were to Russia, some of the very first Nukes would go off in the skies over Anchorage. Because of that, I’ve always had a little bit of a survivalist in me. Today that is more commonly known as “Prepping” and is still a big part of my thinking. One other thing happened that made me a Prepper: during the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake I saw first-hand the incredibly devastating power of Nature. In just a few minutes The World as I Knew It Ended, and I have never been the same since.
All of those threads have made me what I am today and you can see them in all my writing and actions. When I read “The Long Emergency” by James Kunstler, it resonated with me to the core of my being. In my next post I’m going to explain what Peak Oil means (and more importantly what it does not mean). In future posts I’m going to explain the concrete actions I am taking to prepare for it and why. Essentially we are going to be exploring how you can be a Survivalist/Prepper as a vandweller.
I’ve tried to find a middle ground and not go off to extremes. So if Peak Oil doesn’t happen, I won’t have done myself any harm. In other words, I think everything I’ve done is a good idea in itself even without the idea of Prepping or Peak Oil. For example, owning the Honda Rebel and an eBike is a good idea even if I am entirely wrong about peak Oil. Paying $2500 for an acre of land is a good idea just for legalities sake and preparing for my old age. Having 3-6 months’ worth of food in the van just seems prudent to me.
These are the things I’ve done or bought as a Prepper/Survivalist preparing for Peak Oil. We will explore each of them in future posts:
- Ebike and motorcycle: When gas hits $10 a gallon, they may be the most valuable things I own. Until then, they save me money every day.
- Land: A place to retreat to and cache supplies.
- Gas: Right now I’m carrying an extra 20 gallons of gas which is 1400 miles on the motorcycle! During TEOTWAWKI that could be a years supply. When I go to Alaska this summer, I can burn cheap gas through some of Northern Canada where it will be extremely epensive.
- Silver: As a hedge against inflation and future bartering. I think it is a whole lot smarter than having only cash in the bank!
- Guns and Ammo: For self-protection today, future bartering and hunting tomorrow.
- Food: When I find a really good sale on something, I buy an extra case of it. It saves me money in the long run. Having some extra just seems wise to me. I also have some #10 cans of freeze-dried foods.
In future post we’ll look at all of these things in detail and I’ll explain what I am doing and why.
For a history of Survivalism, check out this link: