The above graph is adapted from Limits to Growth, Revisited. It is not a hard and fast prediction, but rather the product of a model with 40 years of high correspondence with developments. We are, at present, at the top of the growth curves, many of which have already begun to plateau. Slopes of decline do not factor in such worst-case scenarios as widespread urban- or domestic nuclear facilities collapse consequent to economic collapse.

I've added the shading and 'crossover' circle' (coincident with 'peak everything') to indicate my best guess as to the high probablility zone for global, economic collapse, triggering the onset of TEOTWAWKI.

I fear a hard landing... no 'reboot' or 'transition' to a lower functioning economy. I urge high priority preparation now.

I've got a short glossary of terms at the bottom of this page... if you come across an unfamiliar term, please scroll down and check it out.

Information I'm including or pointing to doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it. Rather, I've found it to be stimulating and worthy of consideration. I'm sure you'll exercise your own judgement... we're nothing if not independent! 8)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Survival from a Survivor: Selco's SHTF School

Note foodstock at lower left

Learn things, people always need somebody who know to fix things (people, shoes, whatever).
It was not survival movie, it was ugly, we did what we have to do to survive.
Nobody wins, we just survived, with a lot of bad dreams.
-- Selco

Survival from a Survivor: Selco's SHTF School

In my opinion, there is a whole lot of BS in survivor circles.

Sometimes, this has to do with profiteers, hyping their nostrum for survival. Sometimes, it's those whose 'experience' is drawn from media stereohypes (sic). Sometimes the scenarios for which they prepare appear improbable in the extreme. Sometimes the scenarios are plausible, but advocated responses are not. Cruising through resources - both on and offline - it's buyer beware!

So I perk up when I encounter someone who a) has real life experience, b) seemed to learn from it, and c) can share it effectively.

Selco, a Bosnian man writing largely at, shares very hard-learned, first hand lessons from surviving a year of urban collapse in Bosnia.

In the early 1990s, his town of around 50,000 people was surrounded during civil war. Civil authority disintegrated, public services (electricity, water, information) ceased. A desperate struggle for survival ensued among civilians, gangs and the dregs of authority. And all the while, the town was being shelled and bombed.

It was dirty, messy, smelly and deadly.

Selco writes eloquently and movingly about impossible choices under pressure of life and death, and long and short term prices paid for survival. Paid in blood and soul. Not only what must be done to survive, but the impacts of survival itself. He affords both rare insight and example in the struggle to survive and the struggle to live with it.

His is a sobering counterpoint to those who revel in the idea of coming collapse. Who look forward to grand adventure.

Who lived and who died? Persons alone and Rambo types were  the first to go. Those who sought or prioritized violence. Those who were too curious. Or trusting. Or inflexible. Or just unlucky. Many, many choices led to quick death. No honor. No glory. Guts required.

As you read, recall that - bad as that situation got - it was not a full collapse. Airdrops of MREs were ongoing... while mostly commandeered by gangs, these reduce the overall competition for food. Smuggling provided a trickle of resources from less affected areas. It was a crisis, lasting 'only' a year before 'order' was restored (rather than permanent collapse).

From these experiences, Selco has assembled a unique resource. What he and others did, what they might have done, how we might see disaster coming and what we all might do before, during and after.

Social distance is a term borrowed from pandemic response. I believe it to be a foundational strategy of any response to SHTF with a chance of success. In urban settings, it is almost impossible to achieve, and - as Selco's experiences confirm - only then at considerable cost. Relocation to a rural or wilderness setting, outfitted with appropriate skills and tools, is strongly recommended.

If you live in or near a city, or if you must pass through one; if you plan to bug in or out; if you merely plan to survive, Selco and have something we all need.

List of open access articles by category, here.


  1. I have been reading him over the last few years, off and on. The biggest take-away I got was don't live in big cities, small towns seem to be the happy medium. Ferfal at has some interesting information on the risks of isolated farms, which also matches stories from various white communities in Africa. Hopefully a sailboat is enough of a moving target that gangs can't effectively target them, or you can move to a new area if things in any one locale get iffy.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Yes. I think that isolation is a good thing, but mobility compliments it.

      In many ways, where 'isolated' farms have had trouble, they're not really that isolated. They may have a bit of countryside between them and areas of higher population density, but not enough to provide a 'land moat'.

      Whether groups or individuals, like the army, they 'travel on their stomachs'. It's very hard to project force, as it were, far from some source of food. Cost/benefit must stay positive, so wandering around in hopes of finding something to loot has to pay its way.

      To my mind, one is only isolated if there is no chain of victims as a bridge between oneself and higher concentrations of desparate persons.

      In that sense, cost/benefit analysis (EROI or EROEI) is a vital survival tool. It gives at least a notion of the probabilities for trouble in any given situation.

      In another application, having at least one visible defense measure signals that there will be a cost to an intruder. The higher the percieved cost the more likely the intruder will be to move on to easier targets.

      'Course, none of this eliminate risk. But gimme isolation any day! And mobility is an option multiplier.

      Dave Z

    2. Oh, to mention the downside of mobility... on the water, one is very exposed, especially when closing on the land. By its very nature, we're sailing into a situation where the 'intel' is dated at best, wrong at worst.

      While this can't be helped, moving at night would likely be the best option. Networking with known, self-reliant groups in your cruising grounds will help. As will being hyper-alert to signs of trouble.


  2. Posted on behalf of JOHN:


    I'm finding it informative to read some of Selco's articles. As you mentioned in your blog Selco was caught up in the Bosnian civil war. It appears to me that civil wars can be much more messy than "simple" wars of aggression, and wars can be much more messy than natural disasters or economic failures such as the Great Depression.

    In the case of non-civil wars, natural disasters and economic failures I often hear of people working together for the mutual good of a large group or even a nation, to make it through the times of hardship.

    As you blog about your vision of societal collapse do you envision the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog, each-man(or small group)-for-himself of a civil war such as Selco writes about, or do you envision people putting aside their differences and pulling together to succeed against a common "enemy" (where the "enemy" might be other humans, but could be a natural disaster, etc)?

    1. Hi John,

      The lens through which I view most of this are Orlov's Five Stages of Collapse, taken as a whole (listed near the bottom of the blog pages... scroll down to view, and full article linked in the right hand side-bar).

      In these terms, Selco's city suffered all stages through Stage Four, leaving mostly family groups and gangs intact, and teetered at the edge of Stage Five. Here's their description.

      "Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that "your people will take care of you" is lost, as local social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush in to fill the power vacuum run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.

      Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in "the goodness of humanity" is lost. People lose their capacity for "kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity" (Turnbull, The Mountain People). Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes "May you die today so that I die tomorrow" (Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago). There may even be some cannibalism."

      This seems a useful way to think about any situation. It can be applied globally (generalized) and locally (specific), on a scale right down to the individual.

      So I see both happening in global collapse. Humanity's hope is that there are groups that avoid Stage 5. I would guess these would be southern hemispheric, rural communities still subsisting by traditional means (hunter/gatherer and forage).

      Full Stage 6 (Environmental Collapse) looks ominously plausible, however, and we may well be looking at an ELE. Whether any groups can adapt quickly enough is a question whose answer we won't see.

      Bottom line, preparation affords us a chance in the face of what's coming. Zero preparation doesn't rule out survival, but without it, we and the culture of which we're a part will edge further up that grim scale.

      So that's why I write... it's an attempt to nudge preparations up from zero! 8)

      Dave Z

  3. How to Make Pemmican The Ultimate Survival Food

    Invented by the natives of North America.

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    People really should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and also look at

    How folks 150 years ago did it!

    These guys were the last generation to practice basic things-for a living-that we call survival skills now.

    Survival Things Our Great Grandfathers Did Or Built Around The House!

  4. Dave, did you subscribe to the selco web. Kind of pricey and seems all focus in on the urban environment which I realize that some ideas also apply to southeast alaska. Do you have any ideas about the initial stage of the SHTF, a critical time when sailboat people are handicapped while fuel is available for power boat pirates in the raiding mode? Plus many sailboat people don't have extended families for mutual support (listed requirement for survival in most blogs.) Also, what's going on with Orlov promoting nuclear power as the salvation for Russia! Maybe his engineering background is in full bloom!

    1. Hi Karlos,

      We took his on-line course, in part toward supporting Selco and all his good info, and in part for access to the info itself.

      Yes, it's primarily urban, but there is a whole lot of real world experience regarding dealing with desperate people. Also, we travel away from our boat on occasion, and could well be stuck (at least initially) in an urban scene.

      RE Power Boat Pirates... I'm guessing they won't be a problem. Pirates tend to head for the biggest pile of booty (in town) and fight each other and others for possession. Few know the first thing about sailing, so our boat (at least while underway) is a positive danger to them. By the time town plunder phase is over, I doubt there will be fuel or working vessels left to go scouring among slim pickins'.

      That's all pure guesswork, though.

      RE Extended Families... We try to substitute 'networks' for 'family'. In that sense, we actively cultivate our relationships over our whole cruising range. Hard to say what happens when push comes to shove, but we believe in our friends, and where acquaintances are concerned, that were worth more alive and intact than not.

      RE Nuclear Power... I'm not a fan for a number of reasons. But I've not come across Dmitry's case, which is always thought provoking and often entertaining. 8)

      Dave Z

  5. Thanks Dave, your work as usual is "dead nuts on" and really appreciate that you are providing this information on these important topics.

    1. Just payin' it forward. Here's hoping it makes a dent in the hard times a'coming.

      Dave Z


Hey Folks... I'm not in a position to moderate comments. If discussion remains respectful and on topic, I welcome comments (passion okay). If it spins out of control, I'll have disallow them... I thank you for your civility.

I've opened comments to all 'Registered Users' (whatever that means!) to help weed out pesky spam.

- Dave Z