01 January 2010

Prepping for the Coming Ice Age

An Ice Age is an example of a long term survival setting. If you are prepared to survive an ice age, you are prepared for almost anything. But the chances are that you are like the residents of New Orleans during Katrina -- not even prepared for a few days without electrical power, ATMs, and supermarkets. Where do you go to learn to prepare, beyond the silly mainstream media offerings of "survival-lite"?

Preparedness Pro is a website that offers good articles on survival and preparedness, as well as on-site, hands-on preparedness classes. For example: Are you interested in a backup generator for your home or cabin? Backup Power Generators: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 take you through the selection process and tell you where you can obtain them for the best price.

Survival Blog is a well-known and respected personal effort by James Wesley Rawles. Survival Blog offers a wide range of survival advice -- much of it provided in letters and emails relating first-person experiences with different devices and approaches to surviving difficulties.

The Survivalist Blog is another well-known preparedness blog. Here is his "Best of 2009 Survivalist Articles".

The Prepper E-Book site offers practical articles from The Survival Mom on a wide range of "be ready" topics. Example: this posting provides links to 9 articles on the topic of "bugging out / evacuating" in a hurry. By preparing ahead of time, you can have what you need, where and when you need it. There is also a prepper forum where people can compare experiences and recommendations with others with similar concerns.

Tactical Intelligence is a site that deals largely with "gear" -- survival implements that are either ready-made or improvised.

The sites above usually have links to other prepper and survival websites and services. There are at least hundreds of them, but it is generally best to start with those that are well known that serve a wide audience. You can find fairly decent free online survival videos at YouTube and other "how-to" video sharing sites listed on the Al Fin sidebar in the "Reference" section.

So, how would you prepare for an ice age, anyway? Ice sheets have been known to grow miles thick. How does one live, stay warm, grow food, maintain transportation networks, and provide schools, health care, power, sanitation, and other essential services when the land is covered with ice 1 mile thick?

First, you need a large source of combined heat and power -- a nuclear plant is ideal, a coal or bitumen / kerogen plant might also work. You would need plenty of fuel to last hundreds of years. (You should begin to see the advantage of a nuclear plant, thinking of fuel volume for that length of time. Remember that next level humans will live hundreds of years or longer, on average.)

Second, you need a method of distributing heat over a large area, preventing that area from accumulating snow and ice on a year-to-year basis (winters may last 9 or 10 months). Al Fin ice age architects recommend redundant systems of conductive, convective, and radiative transfer of heat. A village-sized geodesic dome incorporating a network of heat-pipes should provide safe shelter for the community itself. Similar structures for croplands should extend the ice-free area well beyond the residential zones. (Crops and living zones will require artificial lighting most of the year -- confirming the wisdom of locating a nuclear power plant close by. Imagine trying to survive an ice age with solar and wind power!)

Third, you need to provide a wide range of human expertise for your community -- and sound means of transferring that expertise to new members. The community will need to provide its own power, water, farming, health care, education, defence, sanitation, entertainment, maintenance, construction, search and rescue, clothing, and a wide range of other services generally overlooked.

Fourth, although the coming ice age is unlikely to progress to "Snowball Earth" -- when the ice reached the equator from both North and South -- it won't hurt to plan for extremes. To achieve a Minimum Viable Population, plan for a village of about a thousand breeding pairs -- or a group of villages whose combined populations provide a thousand breeding pairs. (Most geneticists may recommend a founder population of at least 10,000 breeding pairs, but Al Fin geneticists have discovered that 1,000 breeding pairs should be sufficient for most situations where "time-to-discovery" of other compatible human populations is no longer than 10,000 years.)

Fifth, follow a plan of expanding the "ice-free zone" around your village(s) and agricultural / industrial / power generation zones. Always incorporate your ice-melting infrastructure into any new construction. Nature will never stop trying to defeat your efforts, so you must never stop using your brain and body to assert your own intentions.

Prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally to be a survivor. Then begin prepping for yourself, your family, your closest associates. Learn, teach, experiment. Always think in terms of "what could go wrong, and what could I do about it?" That should teach a bit of humility, and hopefully provide motivation for what you will have to learn to know and to do.

More: The Lifeboat Foundation has several projects dealing with existential risks which might be helpful in the event of a glaciation, including space habitats and "lifeshield bunkers." Josh Hall has devised a "weather machine" concept that would have the power to throw the Earth into an ice age, to bake the planet beyond livability, or anything in between.

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Blogger SwampWoman said...

Well, dang, I suppose the first thing for preparing for an ice age would be to purchase an actual winter jacket although, if the freeze were sudden, I suppose I could felt one in a few hours out of the fleeces I have on hand.

Friday, 01 January, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your idea about founding a colony reminds me of the Puritans landing and setting up a separatist colony in the New World. Much like yourself they sought to purify a previous system of its evils and decided it was better to start anew somewhere else.

Would Alfinistan be financed by private investors, or would it be like the early Israeli Kibbutz?

Saturday, 02 January, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Related, but if we are entering a period of low sunspot activity then this would be the perfect time for manned space flight. If I remember correctly sunspots are the main source of radioactive particles in the solar system, being the source of the vast rivers of radiation that flow outward from the Sun.

I could be wrong, so I am putting my speculation here for your review.

Saturday, 02 January, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Right. Low solar activity means less solar radiation exposure. Of course, more galactic cosmic rays get through as well.

The ice age "colonists" wouldn't really have to travel anywhere to establish their colonies. The glaciers would come to them, and it woud be up to them to fight the glaciers off.

Funding would come from anywhere you could get it. The alternative to fighting glaciation is to freeze or migrate away.

All the research going into colonising Antarctica might find a good application on the street where you live.

Friday, 08 January, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to beat this point further, but I think the massive biosphere 2 clones you intend to build when the Apocalypse comes may be too much for such a civilization. I can envision growing very simple plants such as lichen or derivatives of corn outdoors, spread across a much larger space than what you envision. In fact, such a polar colony is one of the few places where I can actually imagine your algaetech being useful, mainly for food production.

I say this because when I visited Biosphere 2 a decade ago the entire complex came across as amazingly complex compared to a normal greenhouse. I think one of the main causes of the failure of the B2 project is that the planners wanted to perfectly replicate our planet instead of trying to replicate planetary processes as simply as possible.

Any global ice age like what you are predicting would also lead to a New Dark Age as well, although we may be heading there anyway. The three biggest tasks would be basic survival, maintaining the knowledge that man has accumulated*, and preserving a fraction of the technologies we have now for use in the future.

*A copy of Wikipedia on DVD doesn't count.

Sunday, 10 January, 2010  

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