Aired on The History Channel
I DVR'd a bunch of stuff that aired during "Apocalypse Week" on the History Channel back in January. I was reluctant to watch this one since it's a talking-head-SMEs-with-reenactors show typical of the History and Discover channels. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that it was both informative and entertaining.
The show posits an outbreak of a virulent disease that wipes out the vast majority of humankind. We follow the experiences of a family during and after the pandemic, through multiple cycles of delay, deliberation and action stretching over years. Their experiences clearly demonstrate fundamental aspects of a survival mentality as well as practical advice.
The show reinforced some basic skills that we should all be familiar with now:
- Don't be a picky eater
- Look for water where ever it may be
- Beware of strangers
I was bemused to learn a new way to gather fuel that would have saved me many a foul mouthful of gas: Puncture the tank and drain it. Why didn't I think of that? I feel like a n00b. If you don't need the vehicle containing the gas, this is much easier than siphoning. I would imagine, though, that you'd need to be careful not to create a spark.
More important than the tactics of survival are the approaches they recommend:
- If you have a valuable post-SHTF skill, it's probably best that you hide that fact until you'r certain of your position. You wouldn't want to be held against your will just because the town you passed through doesn't have a doctor.
- Don't be stingy with your help, but remember your priorities. Lending aid when it would cost you little may pay you back many times over later.
- Understand that the old way of life is over. We were nice back then because we were well off. We could rely on people's good behavior because there was a long term cost to screwing someone over. But when your event horizon is no more than a day or two into the future, those long term concerns evaporate. This makes bad behavior easier.
Those who fail to grok all of these points tend not last long when TEotWaWKI hits.
Finally, the show ably addresses the issue of scale. Knowledge of the extent of the problem — the area affected and how long it will last — greatly increases the chances of survival. However, most people do not have access to this information or reject it when they do. It is hard to part with the world as you knew it. Most people were strongly invested in it: a nice house, a good job and kids in school. I've heard many comments criticizing the family's failure to act in a timely manner. But I understand, it's hard to let go.