Monday, June 24, 2013

Prep Like NASA: Define your Scenario

NASA uses a winning formula for interplanetary exploration. It’s a rather simple set of steps that when followed they provide a clear path to success. The first step ground observation from earth. The next step is a flyby providing a general but more detailed observation. The third is close observation using an orbiting spacecraft. The fourth is a stationary landing craft. The fifth is a roving landing craft. And the sixth is a sample return mission that brings material back to earth.

Some objects in space, like comets, skip a step or two, but for larger bodies, the six steps work well by defining the environment and eliminating many surprises. The same should be true for your prepping.

For example, if you make a BOB filled with whatever odds and ends strike your fancy at that moment (or season, or news report, or movie plot), or you stockpile food of some kind somewhere and somehow, you might have tilted the overall odds in your favor, but you have still left a considerable portion of your prepping to luck.

Imagine you are lifting off earth in a spacecraft to a place where you cannot supplement your supplies. Well, if you were headed out, wouldn’t you want to know where you were going and for how long? Of course you would. So why is prepping any different?

You’ve defined your basic needs (water, food, shelter, protection, mobility), and you’ve defined some threats (humans with guns and bad intentions), and you’ve defined some possible locations (Bug in, Bugout location A, B, or C). Now what you need to do is face up to a major reality check. As much fun as it would be to get caught in a urban combat situation where you are vastly superior to the cement-headed fools trying to rob you, that is actually a highly unlikely scenario. And even if it were to happen, it would be over in seconds…and then what? You've still got a whole life ahead of you.

The most likely scenarios are of two kinds; short and civil, and long and WROL.  The short and civil kind are small scale natural disasters or localized man-made ones. Tornados, floods, epidemics, fertilizer plant explosions, etc. There is little to no threat of theft, assault, or victimization by anyone other than out-of-state internet scammers. The point of prepping for the short-civil is be comfortable while avoiding adding anymore bodies to the problem.

The long and WROL scenario is a whole different ball of wax. And prepping for such and event is somewhere between going to Afghanistan and going to the moon.  Trust me, your bag of gold and Rolex watches is not going to buy you any food or safety unless the there is a general belief that things will get back to normal sometime in the imaginably future. Weeks, months, years? It’s hard to tell, but value is only placed on things that serve a purpose.  So-called valuables work only if the value is mutual. I’ll offer you a glass of water for that Rolex Submariner. Fair deal? Depends.

So what does NASA have to do with prepping? Well, beyond the steps mentioned above, NASA also models the location it plans on going to. If Mars is the target, then NASA builds a model of Mars and plays around with the model to better understand what environment and situations are likely to be encountered. In the prepping world, there are many situations in the past and present worthy of inspection for insights as to what can happen and what to expect. It should not be a surprise that hungry people become desperate people. Or that when conventional law enforcement is unavailable or out gunned, the citizen will have to fend for himself because while you might see the situation as a threat, others view it as an opportunity.

And equally, it should be no surprise that a zombie apocalypse is a worthless scenario about which to prep for the very same reasons that NASA does not plan for finding intelligent life on Mars. The probability is so astronomically small that any effort even considering it is not only a waste of time, but also a critical deviation from rational thought.

Road trips, camping, and temporary bugging in could all be models for a true prep situation. You can learn much about the limitations of your gear, your skills, and your tolerance for discomfort. Further, as in the case of a road trip, you can experience the vulnerability of traveling in unfamiliar territory. Trust me, if your first night under the stars (or better yet camping in a thunderstorm) is because you have nowhere else to go, then you are in for a big surprise. Actually its an extra serving of surprises followed by seconds. I don’t mean to scare you, but put some prep in your prep.

You can have all the cool gear, dehydrated food, bottled water and carburetor-fueled four-wheel drives, but when you hear those fan blades struggling under a mighty load of excrement, there is no book in the world you can read fast enough to prepare you for what is about to happen.

NASA also addresses the potential for failure and considers the cascading mechanisms of additional failures. For instance, let’s say the rocket scientists created a scenario worthy of prepping, and that scenario was long and WROL. Before tricking out the Toyota FJ with the latest aftermarket bugout accessories, a realistic situation would need to be created for which then the BOV could be designed. In some cases it would not be an FJ but a Prius. Others would be a mountain bike or a horse, but in most cases it would be a sailboat.

A few possible scenarios include war, outbreak or epidemic, catastrophic natural and man-made disasters, major shortage of food, clean water, fuel, or freedom, and of course the ever-present threat of a nuclear accident or war. There are others, of course, but asteroid collision with the earth, and megavolcanos/earthquakes are a little tough to prepare for given their scale and lack of warning. In those latter cases your chances of survival are not really worth spending time thinking about.

While all the aforementioned scenarios are possible, none are occurring right now in America. Regardless of what the commercial gloom-and-doom survival blogs would like you to think, there are actually situations occurring right now that must be prepped for, and as they unfold before our eyes, you will have a clear path upon which to lay your prepping scenario. And that scenario is Global Climate Change.

The silliness of climate change deniers is sounding especially foolish today given the endless supply of evidence for massive inconsistencies in earthly operations.  Not to mention the total absence of measurable numbers challenging climate change. In fact the only actual measurable evidence against climate change is found in the imagination and misrepresentation of hard-to-starboard talking heads who are paid to say such thing. Just take a look at how military is adjusting for the treats of climate change. If they are, then so should you!

Personally, I don’t need no more stink’n data to prove climate change is real. I can see it. I can feel it. I can explain it. And most scary of all, I can model the cascading effects down to the point it where it will hit me square between the eyes. When dead fish are floating down the river because it is too hot, I don't really care what anyone else thinks. I am going prepare for it now while there is still time. Unfortunately the climate change effects I’m worried about in the near future are not those of immediate temperature increase, but instead the highly predictable human reaction to a large-scale long-term upheaval in their way of life that will fairly quickly contaminate my way of life. Famine, fires and fighting. The four F’s.

Just as NASA restructured the spacecraft designs after Apollo 13 in order to make parts more interchangeable and redundant, you can run out the climate change scenario in your neck of the woods an make predications of what to have on hand, where to go, and the most important element of all, the advanced warning signs that will allow you to get a head start on the masses. So paying attention might be the best prep tool ever. And it’s free!

Most likely there will be a slow but steady slide into chaos that will be covered in detail by the popular press. At first it will make a few headlines, but then sink below the fold until the bodies pile up. At that point there will be a rapid acceleration, a cascade of effects if you will. 

Have you considered how you will hunt for food when the forests are on fire? Or how you will fish when the rivers are too warm? Is your bugout location above 10,000 feet? Hiding out in your bomb shelter eating ramen noodles every day for a year is not going to work even if you supplement yourself with vitamin C, D, B complex, protein supplements, and the rest of the periodic table. If and when you surface, you will be at a significant disadvantage by not knowing how the new world disorder is operating. The moment you shut yourself out of the equation behind your blast door is the same moment you relinquished your position in society along with all your possessions, money, and land. Seriously, if you think others can do all the heavy lifting while you hide out, then hopefully they will be more generous than I. For when you wander back into town as if nothing happened, then good luck to you. If it really is that bad, then it is really is that bad.

However, on the up side things are pretty good right now so have fun and prepare like you mean if. You know, like NASA does.

Carrry on.

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