Personal Preparedness, The Leibowitz Society, Coming Collapse and how long things will last…

The Leibowitz Society – coming collapse…how long things will last…

The Leibowitz Society – This is the official blog of the Leibowitz Society, a loose-knit group of like minded people who foresee the coming collapse of human civilization and want to preserve as much knowledge as possible for when the time comes to rebuild in the future. There is no membership requirement, nothing to do but read, discuss and start putting aside knowledge in preparation for the next Dark Age.

To Prep or Not to Prep?

The posts which have received the most comments on the blog have been centered around “prepping” and the speed at which we expect collapse to occur, if we expect it to occur at all.  Prepping has long been a staple of the idea of personal survival, even if it hasn’t always occurred in the framework of a breakdown of modern civilization.  After all, what’s a root cellar but a means of putting food aside for when it might not be available in the future?

Prepping, itself, is just a modern, reasonable, interpretation of “storing up for winter,” expect that we’re storing up for when there’s nothing left on grocery shelves and never will be left again.
The attitudes around it, either favoring prepping, or dismissing it, seem to really reflect our own personal views of how we think the course of civilization is most likely to proceed.  Logically, this makes a lot of sense.  If we think that we’ll see a gradual decline, why would we spend a lot of time and effort on acquiring supplies that would likely never get used, when we could still obtain what we needed?  Likewise, if we expect that the bottom could fall out from things overnight, we would want to have all we would potentially need because we would think that we could not acquire it again.

Logic tends to point to this being the safer route.  The assumption has always been the collapse of industrial civilization through attrition of resources as being the most likely form of collapse, to the point where looking at anything else becomes somewhat “heretical.”  The idea of a gradually decreasing slope on a curve of resource availability and industrial activity is just there to keep people from getting too nervous about the contraction.  The reality is that a best-fit isn’t going to reflect what is most likely to happen — a chaotic curve of fits and starts as we see pockets of collapse appear, followed by desperate human activity to try to restore some sense of normalcy (the “bailouts” in the past few years as evidence of this).  For a casual observer, that would be a blip on the radar, but for the person living through a food riot, it would be very real.

Collapse through de-industrialization would proceed in fits and starts, but what about a more sudden and profound sort of collapse?  A pandemic, resulting from the bird flu or somesuch, would be devastating and would quickly spell the end for our complex systems as people would not be able to maintain them.  War of some sort is always a specter waiting in the wings.  The poles shifting, pick something.  If we look at things from a mathematical perspective, the odds that there will be a civilization-ending event are almost certain, given enough time.

In the end, I think a reasonable case can be made for erring on the side of having more goods set aside, than not.  In a sense, this is a companion to Pascal’s wager — instead of dealing with the existence of God, we’re dealing with the possibility of collapse.  Does it make more sense to prepare for a collapse that may not come within our lifetime or does it make more sense to assume it won’t occur and then be left with only hoping that it doesn’t?

I drew up the following list as an intellectual exercise to try to figure out how long things would last following a complete collapse, based on general expiration dates. Obviously, it’s not complete, and these are just rough estimates. But, it’s interesting to still think this through in terms of a generational exercise. If we accept the core principle behind the Leibowitz Society — long term storage of knowledge — then we also should accept the idea that the preparations we’ve made for ourselves to get through the coming collapse are also likely to be used by our descendants, and we should plan accordingly for them, too. Also… knowledge must be saved in the form or printed books and materials… printed photos… tangible things… art, crafts, etc. Everything you own that is electronic or digital could be lost if we really go into a dark age. *Consider going back to a film camera, have your photos printed and have negatives to save for posterity.

2 years:
Canned foods, medicines, seeds

5 years:
Gasoline, diesel, kerosene
Batteries (dry and wet cell, lipo)
Non-leather shoes
Pens and ink

20 years:
Modern roofs, acidic paper

20-40 years:
Ammunition, preserved foods

50 years:
Metal tools

100 years:
Wooden furniture, wine, distilled liquor, firearms

While not inclusive, it would be interesting to hear of examples of people setting things aside for the long term, or if they can think of prepping supplies which don’t have long shelf lives and or will be used up quickly and people will have to find substitutes for them.

Video: ‘Rollover’ Movie (1981), predicts frightening worldwide currency crisis!

Dramatic scene from the Movie “Rollover” (1981). A frightening worldwide currency crisis we should be prepared for in our lifetimes. The Dollar has lost 95% of it’s value since the inception of The Federal Reserve system in 1913.

Preparedness Checklist for Hard Times

by Terence Gillespie – Contributor Marion Algier

(Editors note: Originally published at, this list supplements the Top 101 Things You Will Want In A Disaster Survival Situation)

As we approach what many say will be the “Greatest Depression” I was inspired to combine lists into items needed in hard times. What follows is a list of lists covering areas that sustain the average family.

Most U.S. families have no such checklist. Good times, as far as we can remember, don’t inspire planning for hard times. We’ve been immune from such worries for 65 years since the end of World War II. The average historical memory is probably only 20–30 years.

That lack of historical perspective is a handicap against what is currently happening to the U.S. economy. And, the U.S. is exporting their worst problems to the rest of the world. Ironically, “other” countries are facing hard times now, before the U.S.

My interest in optimizing all things leads me to prepare for good times and bad. I’m a natural optimist and believe that our Creator gave us the ability to overcome all obstacles. Checklists like this are proof of that ability. It was wise, not pessimistic of the Biblical Joseph to store seven years of grain before the famine.

To optimize one must first be thorough. When it comes to preparing for hard times that means making a thorough checklist. You may not have to purchase, store or do every item on the checklist. But, there’s many benefits to making one.

If your family could check off all the items on this list as either done,not applicable or have access to then you’ll be doing far better than average even in good times.

Benefits of The Checklist, Itself

Just making your own version of this checklist leaves you mindful of the many tools and things that sustain us. It may even point out some weaknesses you haven’t yet addressed or thought about.

Another benefit is realizing we don’t need to own everything on the list. Simple access to many items is fine, and sometimes better, than ownership. That’s where friends and community come into play: We trade and share to make life easier and to be smarter. Being more smart with what we have leads to needing less things to begin with.


  1. You need them, anyway, so nothing goes to waste.
  2. Buy them now, while they’re available.
  3. Buy them before inflation raises their price (And your boss doesn’t raise your wages).
  4. Get bulk discounts.
  5. Less trips to the store is more efficient.
  6. The cost of not having essentials is a “high price” to pay.
  7. Thinking through this checklist tends to optimize your household which leads to needing less things.
  8. Awareness of essentials gets your mind spinning on creative ways to obtain them.

You might say this is a good list for good times. And it’s a great list for hard times.

Gold, Guns, Groceries and God in Reverse

Gold comes last, not first.

“Before you buy gold, buy what you’ll need the gold for.”

We still have division of labor. That makes everything needed in hard times available for purchase now. If we get to a time when gold is needed to survive many essentials won’t be available at any price. Distribution channels for things that are available will be crippled. That will make their price rise even in gold terms.

By the way, have you seen the price of gold, lately? With one ounce in your pocket who will be able to make change for $1000 when you need milk and eggs at the store? It may be time to learn what our ancestors knew: Gold is for kings and Silver is for people.

The Checklist

Making this list forced me to recognize my limitations. As much as I value self-reliance being the sole provider of every item would be hard, if not impossible. For any truly hard times I’d want my family and friends around, at least. Any kind of optimal living, however, would need to go beyond that. That’s why I recommend adding one of the most urgent and crucial items onto your list in the ‘personal’ section: “Find people you can trust.”

Medical & Health

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • alcohol for sterilization
  • Vitamins / Minerals / Herbs  (Protein Powder)
  • Bandages
  • hot water bottles
  • Ice packs
  • sterile pads
  • slings/splints or raw material to make them
  • tweezers
  • hemostats
  • sutures and needles
  • clamps
  • stethoscopes
  • blood-pressure cuffs
  • thermometers
  • scalpels and blades
  • non-disposable syringes and needles
  • wound cleaning syringes
  • Iodine
  • Imodium
  • anti-histamine
  • aloe
  • Mercurochrome
  • Betadine
  • “Bag Balm” (an antiseptic lotion)
  • dental floss
  • baking soda, instead of toothpaste
  • Personal medications
  • Augmentin / general antibiotics
  • Get dental work up to date
  • Painkillers, aspirin
  • Anti-fungal spray
  • DIY Dentistry kits (Oil of cloves, temporary filling kit, extraction tools)
  • burn treatment supplies
  • minor surgery kit (inexpensive Pakistani stainless steel instruments)


  • Install Whole House Water Filter (Chlorine)
  • Install three-stage water filter under sink for drinking water
  • Atmospheric Water Generator/Filter for water from the sky
  • Rainwater catch from roof
  • House downspout (Redirected with sheet metal into barrels)
  • Water Containers for rainwater
  • Clorox hypochlorite bleach for sterilization
  • Berkley Water filters for rainwater/travel/car
  • Water containers for car
  • Water containers for barter
  • Dig a well
  • Install a cistern


  • Choose & Order 6-month supply of Freeze Dried food for entire family
  • See Water section for rehydrating freeze dried food
  • Decide on Storage Solution (Freeze dried makes that much easier)
  • Purchase containers to store the food
  • Designate cool & dry space for food storage
  • Purchase DVD canning instructions
  • Consider supplementing Freeze Dried storage with:
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Canned goods
  • tuna
  • salmon
  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • soup
  • chili
  • milk – evaporated
  • beans
  • rice
  • peanut butter
  • popcorn
  • Dried pasta
  • olive oil
  • coconut oil – Best for long term storage
  • coffee or tea
  • beer
  • wine
  • whiskey
  • pet food
  • protein bars
  • baby food/formula
  • spices (Makes all other list items taste better)
  • salt – sea salt and some iodized
  • seeds if you have land, water and ability to plant them
  • if possible put in a garden now and begin canning

Food Preparation

  • backup stove – BBQ Grill or portable Colemen or the like
  • fuel for backup stove – 6 propane tanks, Sterno, white gas
  • Grain mill if using flour or require grain grinding
  • pots, pans, utensils, dishes
  • paper towels
  • Mylar bags
  • Aluminum foil – Heavy (Can also be used for barter)
  • Wax Paper
  • pots and pans
  • buckets
  • mops
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • metal mixing bowls
  • baking sheets
  • roasting pans
  • cleaning brushes
  • canning jars with seals and lids
  • baby food jars (excellent for storage)
  • thermos bottles
  • can openers
  • potato peelers
  • spray bottles


  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Razors
  • Toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • lotions
  • Soap (hand, dish, laundry, cleansers)
  • Shampoo
  • Hairbrush
  • Ladies’ supplies
  • Toothpaste (or powder)
  • Floss
  • Q-tips
  • Sunscreen


  • Electricity Generator
  • call local utility company regarding solar panels
  • decide on which source of fuel (gasoline, diesel, natural gas/propane)
  • prepare city approval plans
  • decide on contractor or self-install
  • Consider only installing transfer switch and renting during emergency
  • install generator
  • test generator
  • house inventory of tools and box contents
  • garage sale items
  • sort out what needs to be stored
  • sort out what needs to be sold
  • inventory box contents
  • decide on storage for box contents
  • Decide on barter storage space
  • store barter items
  • pellets for winter
  • firewood
  • LED lights for all rooms in the house
  • lighters


  • Socket sets
  • pocket multi-tools
  • wrench sets
  • drill bits
  • chisels (wood and metal working)
  • files
  • Allen wrenches
  • screwdrivers
  • driver bits (with manual drivers)
  • cutters (side-cutters, end-cutters, snips)
  • clamps
  • hammers (of all sizes)
  • pry-bars
  • shovels
  • rakes (the heavy gardening type)
  • handsaws (hacksaws, crosscuts, etc.)
  • axes
  • oil
  • grease
  • WD-40
  • graphite grease
  • Gardening tools
  • Auto mechanics tools
  • Welding
  • Bolt cutters
  • Woodworking tools
  • Gunsmithing tools
  • work gloves
  • wire of various gauges
  • duct tape
  • chain
  • nails
  • nuts and bolts
  • weather stripping
  • glue


  • Alarm System (Connected via wireless cell, not landline phone)
  • Connect alarm system to smoke detectors
  • 3rd-Party (ICE) contact for separated family members
  • Handgun
  • Shotgun
  • Rifle
  • Ammunition
  • Magazines, speed loaders
  • Gun cleaning kit
  • Spare parts for all gun tools
  • Gun Safe(s)
  • DuraCoat
  • Bullet making equipment
  • eye and ear protection
  • carrying cases
  • bullet proof vests for all family members (even the pets)
  • Many people are again building bomb or evacuation shelters and panic rooms with supplies


  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Upgrade to a metal roof?
  • Clear brush around house
  • 2″ water line from your gravity-fed storage tank (to provide large water volume for firefighting)
  • Fire fighting rig with an adjustable stream/mist head.
  • Smoke and CO Detectors

Business & Finance

  • decide now on computer and hardware upgrades
  • decide now on software upgrades
  • Pay all vendors as far in advance as they will accept
  • Pay all subscriptions (internet, software upgrades, etc.) in advance
  • Pay all service providers in advance
  • Pay off all high-interest loans within reason
  • Keep money in a range of currencies or gold/silver
  • Reduce exposure to US Dollar as much as feasible
  • Consider 2nd backup business if primary is vulnerable
  • Read The Hyperinflation Survival Guide: Strategies for American Businesses(Paperback)
  • Spare copy of all crucial documents


  • Water (From ecoloblue generator)
  • Eggs (Freeze dried)
  • Milk (Freeze dried)
  • Salt
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Cooking spices
  • Ammunition (9mm, .38, ,.357, .40, .45 ACP, .44 Mag, .223, .308)
  • Rope
  • Candles
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Whiskey
  • Meds


  • Make separate list for everyone in house
  • Prescription and nonprescription medications
  • Spare copy of all crucial documents
  • Backup eyeglasses
  • Backup reading glasses
  • sunglasses
  • Keep dentistry up to date
  • Any elective surgery that you’ve been postponing
  • Work off that gut
  • Stay in shape
  • Find people you can trust


  • jeans
  • belts
  • warm durable jackets
  • wool sweaters
  • wool work clothes
  • T-shirts
  • Jean shirts
  • underwear
  • work gloves
  • boots
  • sneakers
  • sandals
  • baseball caps
  • hats for sun protection
  • Web gear/Bullet proof vests?
  • towels
  • leashes and harnesses for pets



  • Batteries of all types
  • pencils and pens
  • paper
  • Mosquito repellent
  • sleeping bags for each person
  • flashlights
  • penlights
  • Escape route maps
  • Topographic maps of your area
  • Safe room areas mapped out for your house/neighborhood
  • Home Invasion procedures & guidelines
  • Spare Masterlocks


  • AM/FM radios (crank power)
  • shortwave for local communication and monitoring
  • longwave for backup communications
  • police band monitoring
  • List of frequencies used in area


  • advance maintenance for cars
  • replace tires that will wear out within 1 year
  • make sure have spare tires for all cars
  • emergency kits for each car
  • Make sure bicycles are in shape

**Have an Emergency Bug out Bag for each member of family – packed and ready to go if you have to leave quickly without notice – These items should be separate from the items above if possible.  If not, make them your back-up items for the list above and include them in your use and storage rotation, if they are perishable or have expiration dates.  Also remember to include items for your dog or pets that you plan to take along.  Also include  the Bible or spiritual book, a pocket copy of the Constitution and few photos of your family and loved ones.**

What goes in a bug out bag?

Anticipating worst-case scenarios is never fun, but to properly pack your bug out bag with only the essential items, you must start here. Imagine no food, no electricity, no water, and no city services for days. What types of things would you need to survive?

  1. A couple rations of food (I buy from We have a big bag of rice, and several packs of packaged tuna with a two-years shelf life. Both have a lot of calories and are easy to prepare, but are relatively light to pack. (Also make sure you have food, water and supplies for any pets you plan to take.)
  2. 3 Gallon Rigid Water Containers. Keep a couple of these on hand and toss them in your trunk before bugging out. At 3 gallons, it is not so heavy that the wife and kids couldn’t lug a couple in an emergency, or if I wasn’t there or was out of commission. These rigid style containers are more durable than gallon water jugs, so they are less likely to leak.
  3. Flashlights. Be sure to pack at least one flashlight per bug out bag. And never burn more than one light at a time to preserve batteries. A hand-crank light can come in handy too, for battery-less operation.
  4. Batteries.  Be sure to have the right size for your equipment, and pack plenty of extras.
  5. Glow sticks. When flashlights fail, or when you don’t need a high concentration of direct light, glow sticks are a wise choice.
  6. Hand-crank emergency radio.  Staying informed is a key to survival. A hand-cranked radio requires no batteries or electricity, and can provide news bulletins, weather updates, and information on evacuation routes, etc.
  7. Multi-tool. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere without a multi-tool!
  8. Knives. At a minimum, I’d recommend a folding camp knife with a saw edge, a Swiss Army knife with attachments, and a large, fixed-blade survival knife.
  9. Rope/cord. Some 550 paracord is a must-have in your survival kit for tying up food, making a shelter, and plenty of other uses.
  10. Change of clothes. This is not vital, as you can always wash/dry clothing in the field. If you have room, take along an extra set and lean towards cold weather gear.
  11. Water purification tablets/drops. Boiling water is the most effective way to reduce the risk of ingesting a parasite. However, purification tablets are a close second when boiling isn’t practical. Of course, at home I’d just use my Berkey Light water filter.
  12. Anti-diarrhea medication. Be sure to have this one hand in the event you or a family member does suffer from diarrhea, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration very quickly in a survival situation.
  13. Stainless steel Kanteen. I like this stainless steel Kanteen for carrying water (no worries over BPA’s in plastic), and it can be heated by hanging above a flame through cord threaded through the screw-on cap.
  14. Bottle of multi-vitamins. While on a survival diet, chances are you will be lacking the required nutrients from food alone. A good multi-vitamin will help keep your immune system up.
  15. Emergency blankets. These Mylar blankets help hold in heat in an emergency. In addition to those in our bug out bag, we also have a couple in the glove compartment of our car, just in case.
  16. Bug repellent. After water disasters (floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc.) there will likely be standing water nearby, which is great breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, and other insects, are known for helping transmit diseases in these conditions, so keep your skin protected at all times.
  17. Compass. Nothing fancy needed here. Just look for a compass that can reliably provide a north heading.
  18. Map of your surrounding area. Who needs a GPS? When it hits the fan, I’d rather have a map of my city and state than something that requires power and communication with a satellite.
  19. Fire-starting materials. We have a butane torch lighter, water proof matches, a magnesium stick, kindling sticks, cotton balls and petroleum jelly.
  20. Signal mirror. Putting a signal mirror’s reflection on a rescue pilot or boat captain is one of the best ways of attracting attention.
  21. Sun block. If caught out in the open on a hot summer day, you’ll be glad you packed sun block to prevent the sun from cooking your exposed skin.
  22. A safety whistle for each family member. Safety whistles can be used to attract attention from rescuers, and to communicate with family members if separated. Plus, they take a lot less energy and make a lot more noise than screaming.
  23. Fishing lures and line. If you can get to a natural body of water, chances are there is a food source in there. It’s possible to catch fish without lures and line, but having it sure improves your chances!
  24. Ziploc bags. Great for waterproofing items, rationing food, etc.
  25. Hand sanitizer. We personally packed a few bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. If you shop the cheap stuff, just be sure it has a alcohol content between 60% and 95% to maximize germ-killing effectiveness.
  26. Camp axe. Probably the most important tool when setting up a camp. A good camp axe can help clear a camp site, split firewood, and chop down small trees for shelter.
  27. Folding shovel. It isn’t pleasant to think about, but you may have to bury waste, or have the less-gross task of digging a fire pit. Either way, a folding shovel will do the job.
  28. First aid kit. I prefer the soft-sided kits here because they are more compact and flexible than the large, plastic box first aid kits.
  29. Survival handbook. A good survival handbook should cover information such as how to make shelters, identify plants and animals to eat, and strategies to get rescued.
  30. Roll of duct tape. Duct tape is the do-it-yourselfer’s best friend, at home and in an emergency situation.
  31. Cash and coins. We keep a couple hundred dollars in cash in a waterproof tube (originally purposed to hold waterproof matches). Also consider taking along a roll of quarters for any coin-operated vending, or to make change.
  32. Ponchos. When you have to leave shelter in search of food, or to move away from danger, keeping yourself dry greatly reduces the chances of getting sick from exposure to a cold rain.
  33. Tarp. With a section of tarp and a little rope tied between two trees you can provide instant shelter in a survival situation.
  34. Deck of cards (to fight boredom). Don’t discount the psychological aspects of survival. After a day or two, boredom will set in and you’ll be glad to have a deck of cards to pass the time.

We are living in unusual times and the best gift you can give yourself is preparedness!!  If things don’t get this bad, so that you need these supplies, you will be overly prepared for any emergency…. just look at all the natural disasters and weather emergencies we have experienced just this year.

Don’t think you will need this if our system collapses?

This photo is of the grocery store shelves in anticipation of Hurricane Irene

Empty Shelves:  Hurricane, Disasters, and Civil Unrest – a Contingency Plan

The Stethoscope – Watch Video:  You Will Be Pleasantly  Surprised  We must learn to put our trust in the right place while doing what we can for ourselves!!

12 Things That We Can Learn From Hurricane Irene About How To Prepare For Disasters And Emergencies


About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
This entry was posted in Books, Changing Winds, Choices, Common Sense, Knowledge Is Power, Off the Grid, Politics, Self-Reliance, Preparedness and Survival, Solutions, Wake Up, Watch the Other Hand, Wisdom, You Be the Judge and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Personal Preparedness, The Leibowitz Society, Coming Collapse and how long things will last…

  1. Pingback: How to Create a First Aid Kit for Your Pet « JustOneMorePet

  2. Pingback: Doggie Survival Kits « JustOneMorePet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s