What will it take to survive a global disaster?

In our facilitated discussion group on Thursday, February 18th, we discussed the potential outcomes of a catastrophic, mass extinction event with few survivors. Some of the questions that came up were: Who would survive such an event? Would society rebuild? If so, how would the new society be different from current times? I have some pretty strong feelings about these topics, and the necessity of basic survival skills. That being said, my goal with this blog isn’t to bring about feelings of doom and gloom. More so, I would like to contribute my own opinions about what it will take for people to survive a global disaster.

There are many different events that could bring about a collapse in society. If one such event was to occur, and the majority of the global population was eliminated, the only people who would stand a chance would be those who have invested time and interest into survival skills. The survival skills I speak of include, but are not limited to, the basics: fire and shelter building, hunting, gathering, fishing, medical skills, communication, mental and physical capacity, etc. The other skills that are critical to survival include understanding of resilience, (vulnerable flexibility, bounceback, adaptive transformation, renewal, persistence, and self-organization)(Week 6-“Everglades”powerpoint), as well as a thorough understanding of how a functioning socio-ecological system operates. This means that the current societal model of “optimizing for maximum efficiency,” (Walker & Salt) will no longer be the way of the world. Instead, the new society will have to be able to adapt to changes and shocks to the system. They will need to possess basic survival skills to get through the initial post-disaster period, but in the interest of long-term renewal and flourishment of civilization, people will have to completely change their ways.

So what will it take to prepare people for such an event? By the time such an event occurs, will society have adapted a resiliency-based way of thinking? As we have been discussing the numerous issues humanity is facing around the world and how we are impacting the environment, I’ve been thinking a lot about future generations. I look at my nieces and nephews, and worry about the kind of world they are going to grow up in. I am deeply disturbed by the fact that most kids today would rather gaze for hours at a cell phone screen rather than go outside and interact with nature. Young people today seem to have a very strong dependence on technology. It makes me wonder how these generations will cope with the potential environmental disasters they are facing in their lifetimes. This is why I feel very strongly about the idea of placing a stronger emphasis on environmental science and sustainability in elementary education. I believe that if we instill positive environmental values in young children, it will become engrained in them and shed a light of hope in a dark future.


2 thoughts on “What will it take to survive a global disaster?”

  1. This is a really interesting way of looking at the future–instead of finding ways to change our environment, learning to live within our ecological boundaries. Where do you think we should start in teaching survival skills, would people be willing to learn new skills if it meant life or death? Also, do you think that this would create more balance in the ecosystem around us?

  2. I think that in order to prepare people for such an event we will have to decrease our dependency on “daily comforts”. If we do not put some distance between these comforts, such as electronic devices we will not be ready/resilient enough to handle such an event. We lose basic survival skills as we become more comfortable with our everyday lifestyles. There are a lot of people who do not know how to make a fire or bandage/tend to a wound properly to prevent infection because we are no longer required to perform these skills. So unfortunately, at this particular moment, very few people could handle a catastrophic event, since we still rely heavily on “daily comforts”.

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