While having the right equipment and supplies is normally considered essential to survival, having the right skills trumps them both. You can make up for an equipment or supply shortage by having enough skills, but it’s much harder to do the reverse. Eventually, your supplies will run out. Then what will you do?
Typically, we break most of these skills down into two basic categories: wilderness survival skills and homesteading skills. The general idea behind homesteading skills is that if we aren’t trying to survive in the wilderness, then we need to convert our homes into homesteads in order to survive. There are a few other skills, such as medicine, which don’t fall into either of these categories, but most of the survival skills we all work to learn can really be put in one or the other.
But I’d like to propose a third category of skills — one that will be highly necessary if we are ever attacked by an EMP. Those skills are the ones which will be necessary so that we can rebuild society. Our ability to survive long-term, especially our ability to survive as the United States of America, will depend largely on our ability to rebuild our society and the technology that makes it possible.
Make no mistake about this: If we are unable to rebuild our society, there are others who will be glad to move in and take over. For millennia, countries that became weak were conquered and absorbed by those who were strong. Technology was a large part of this, as military technology had a lot to do with determining a country’s strength.
In our weakened, post-EMP state, with millions of people dying off, the United States would be prime pickings for anyone who would want to attack. That is, unless we were able to rebuild our country, before the military ran out of beans, bullets and fuel to defend us.
So here are the skills which I see as the most important, in order to make the United States of America survive as a country, which will hopefully help us to survive as individuals as well.
One of the first things we will be forced to confront as a society is the massive number of people who will die due to the lack of proper medical attention. A fair percentage of our society is dependent upon regular doses of medicines to treat chronic conditions. Without those medicines, these people will begin to die off, causing the first wave of people dying after the attack.
Alternative medicine will be especially important during this time; when local stocks of medicines run out, there will be little that can be done to replenish them. Doctors will find themselves scrambling to find the natural remedies that were used 100 years ago, before the pharmaceutical industry grew so large. Those with this knowledge will suddenly find themselves sought after and respected by the medical industry.
Without the ability to mass-manufacture medicines and transport them across country, the only medicines that will be produced will be simpler medicines that are produced locally. While much of this will probably be natural medicine, the ability to produce chloroform and other simple medicines will be invaluable.
Food production will have to be localized, ignoring the massive agricultural industry that we have today, as well as the massive food production industry. According to the report of the EMP Commission, the largest number of people who will die during the first year after the EMP will be of starvation. The only chance those people have is for local farmers to pick up the slack and produce food locally.
This does not just mean growing produce and grain, although that is an extremely important component. It also means animal husbandry, breeding and growing animals for meat.
4. Practical Engineering
We are, to a large part, a nation of things. Without electrical power, many of those things will no longer work, even though they will still exist. Engineering will be extremely important in a post-EMP world; not from the point of view of designing new things, as finding ways of making the old things work. This will most likely require extensive modifications.
While our country has thousands of engineers, few are good at this type of engineering. An engineer who is only used to designing integrated circuit chips isn’t going to have much to do in a post-EMP world. But one who is used to working hands-on, finding ways of doing things, will be in high demand.
When you consider that we will need to figure out how to draw our own wire and build out own generators on a local level, in order to have electricity back in our cities, you can see how important this will be. These same engineers will probably be working out modifications for farm equipment, to run off of steam or animal power and modifying vehicles, so that the engines will run off of alternate fuels and without computers.
The oldest form of electronic communications we had was the telegraph. That was quickly replaced by telephones. If we are going to restore communications, these skills will be needed. But I’m not talking about the telephony of today, which is largely dependent on computers; rather, I’m talking about the telephony of yesteryear, with an operator connecting your call.
6. Electrical Power Production
Restoring society will require the ability to produce electrical power on a local level, more than anything else. This will mean building and rebuilding small power production plants, including hydroelectric plants and coal plants.
More than that, there will be the problem of rebuilding the distribution grid. Once again, that will have to start on a local level, which will then begin to be connected together, as transformers can be built and new power lines can be made.
There will be warehouses full of electronic equipment that will survive the EMP, even if there isn’t much equipment in use that survives it. Some will be able to be used as is, but much will probably need to be modified, in order to use it for purposes other than its original intent. There will be a lot of local modification going on, requiring people who know how to read a schematic and solder a connection.
8. Blacksmithing & Machining
Manufacturing the equipment to draw wire and wind transformers on a local level will be a huge challenge. First, an engineer will have to design the equipment, then it will have to be built. Since we won’t have the factories available that we do today, that’s going to mean going back to the old methods, with blacksmiths forming things out of metal and machinists who can modify those metal parts.
Of course, this will all have to be done with manpower or animal power, as there won’t be any electricity to run motors. That means that the first job these people will have to do is modify modern equipment, so that it can be run off of animal power or water power.
I mentioned modifying cars to run off of alternate fuels and without computers to control the engines. While we will need engineers working on this, we will also need the practical knowledge of mechanics, who know the engines better than anyone. These mechanics may very well need the services of the blacksmiths and machinists, in order to modify parts to meet the need.
What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below: