Some scoff at doomsday prophecies, but this year alone, millions of people have endured catastrophes of seeming apocalyptic proportions. Consider:
• March 11 — A 9.0 magnitude earthquake violently shakes Japan, unleashing a tsunami that triggers a nuclear crisis. As of Aug. 15, Japan’s National Police Agency reported 20,364 people dead or still missing.
• May 22 — A Category 5 tornado rips through Joplin, Mo., wreaking 14 miles of havoc, including 159 lives lost and 7,000 homes destroyed. By July 23, recovery was just beginning, according to a Huffington Post report.
Those spectacularly devastating events were just two of dozens this year that left stricken survivors without the essentials of modern life: water, shelter, electricity. Could you manage for a few days? A few months?
Author Dan Martin is confident he could — and comfortably. He and his wife, Lucia, lived off the grid for 10 years on a self-sustaining Texas ranch they built themselves. They grew, raised or trapped their food; made their own ethanol fuel and solar panels; survived on rainwater they captured and purified. Martin’s newest book, Apocalypse: How to Survive a Global Crisis (www.ApocalypseTheBook.com
“We have a lot of backwards to go before we can even think about going forwards again,” Martin says. “We’ve become too comfortable; too secure; too complacent with our lifestyles. I’m not saying we should abandon everything, our air conditioning, our livelihoods, our technology, and go live in a cave. But when you’re 100 percent dependent on these systems and they fail for whatever reason, most people have no idea how to cope and continue.”
A Desert Shield/Storm veteran and former Boeing aerospace technician, Martin now works as a consultant on sustainable-living initiatives through his and Lucia’s company, Agua-Luna, Inc. He says people must first get back to the basics, and there are simple ways anyone can begin now. No matter what the future holds, they’ll gain valuable skills.
“Take some hunting and fishing trips with experienced hunters and insist on cleaning the carcass of your kill yourself, so that you know what to expect,” he advises.
While “Apocalypse” includes step-by-step instructions for gutting and skinning an animal, Martin notes that hunting involves complex variables, from tracking to using your senses, that can’t be taught in a book.
“If you don’t know how to work on cars, it’s essential you learn quickly,” he says. Take a class on basic repairs at your community college, and while you’re there, sign up for welding, first aid and food preservation.
Try sleeping without pillows and blankets; going for a day or two without food; taking a cold shower. Once you’ve experienced such deprivations, they won’t come as unnerving shocks following a disaster.
While Martin’s book hinges on predictions that the world as we know it will end Dec. 21, 2012, he acknowledges other doomsday dates have come and gone uneventfully. One has only to remember the devastation in New York City following Sept. 11, 2001, he says, or the 2004 tsunami that left millions of people in 11 countries homeless, to acknowledge that some of us may one day face surviving on a dramatically changed planet.
“Stop for a moment and take a look around,” Martin writes. “The quantity and size of today’s natural disasters are rising. It’s just a matter of time before we experience a major change, be it 2012 or beyond.”
“The end of this world isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, in this day and age, it could only be better for humanity. … We start anew again – better, stronger, healthier.”
Dan Martin is the author of dozens of do-it-yourself guides to self-sufficiency projects. A graduate of the University of Hawaii with a degree in environmental sciences, he also studied physics and engineering at the University of Texas, and practical skills such as mechanics at San Antonio Community College. He and his wife live on a self-sustaining Mexican hacienda, where they host people interested in learning more about sustainable lifestyles.