6 min read

Walking the Line

Walking the Line
Photo of a small campfire in the dark.
Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

This week I want to address everything we’ve talked about in the last month or so. We’ve had some good news recently, with Biden’s election and his relatively respectable commitment to climate change, and good news with climate change itself. We’ve also had some really bad, really scary news.

I don’t want this newsletter to feel like I’m chasing the end times. A lot of prepper content does that, and it feels desperate, and clickbaity. To come at readers every other week blowing an apocalyptic trumpet is, at least for my beliefs, counterproductive. While I want us to be ready for some heavy hits, I don’t want us to feel so concerned about upheaval that we turn inward, or that we resign ourselves to inaction even while we prep for continued survival. I don’t want us to just survive; I want us to live. I want us to be well-positioned in a world that is increasingly unstable so that we are able to help when things fall apart.

A lot of things are bad, but we have got to be able to relish small victories. Despite the fact that Biden’s election was a lukewarm win, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t acknowledge the fact that the Doomsday Clock maybe, by just a hair, just a titch, turned back from midnight. I also don’t want to continually crank the heat by writing up the latest disaster to cajole you into following this week’s guidance. That doesn’t seem like a worthwhile endeavor. But I want to provide an appropriate breakdown of events, and I want to provide a realistic context for our prepping.

So, today, I’m going to take a balanced approach to our main sources of impending doom, even if that’s not exactly the most realistic. Bad headlines tend to crowd out good ones, and it’s important to remember that good things happen. Sometimes.

Climate Change

Last week, we talked about the recent studies that have shown the cumulative heat from climate change will dissipate much faster than previously anticipated in the absence of further emissions. That is a big deal. Our understanding of climate change before this study basically meant that a critical part of our climate fight was filtering out CO2 from the atmosphere, because we’d already pumped enough into it for centuries of warming. Importantly, we don’t have CO2 filtration technology at the scale necessary to do this. Taken together, this means that an impossible task without an uninvented technology suddenly becomes possible with the tools we have today. But wait, there’s more!

  • The kids are all right: It’s the ones who will still be living on this planet in the year 2100 that are doing the work to stop climate change. We should lend a hand.
  • Biden is making moves: I’m pleasantly surprised by the amount of screentime Biden is giving climate change, and his opening executive orders on the matter are a decent start from a president that didn’t initially seem even the palest shade of green. It’s not enough, to be clear, but it’s more than expected.
  • Money is pouring in: Not an exciting subject from a leftist perspective, but nevertheless important while we are under a capitalist system. Investors are working with green companies at higher-than-expected speeds. The more money going in, the less going toward fossil fuels.

Now the bad. We’ve already discussed why we’re in a sinking boat in a hot-sewage creek, but, unfortunately, more holes keep appearing.


I’ll admit that this one is somehow harder to see silver linings on, since it’s mere existence is an indictment of humanity. Let’s try anyway, for the sake of our sanity.

  • Even the GOP turned back from outright fascism: When it came down to it, on the 6th, after being confronted by a ravenous mob, most members of the GOP took a step back and decided it was for the best that they allow democracy to run its course. A low bar, but they cleared it.
  • Mitch McConnell has called the behavior of Q-leaning members of Congress a “cancer”: While also defending pro-impeachment republicans like Liz Cheney. This is more important than it might seem. This is not an apologia for the GOP; rather, this is an acknowledgment that any step back from the brink is a good step.
  • The leader of the Proud Boys is a snitch: Just goes to show you that a lot of these Gucci-geared terrorists don’t have the courage of their convictions.

And now the bad news.

  • The problem with having fascists in your government is that these people now have keys to the joint: Boebert and MTG could feasibly, single-handedly or with help, carry out an(other) attack on members of Congress, or elsewhere within the government. While Biden’s presidency is firmly established, an out-and-out coup is not the concern right now—giving fascism oxygen is. We’ll talk about this at length later.
  • I’m not going to raise a second point, though there are more. We’ve seen enough.

Taking Stock

Since half of us are under snow right now, I figure I can put off the gardening newsletter for a week or two, yeah? Anyway, today is the perfect day for this prep—it's a recognition of how far we've come, how far we have to go, and you won’t even have to open your front door.

Get a sheet of paper, open an Excel spreadsheet, download a pantry app, what have you, and take inventory of the food you have, with expiration dates. Do the same for your water.

  • Make sure you've organized your supplies according to First In First Out, so you’re never letting food expire. Remember that most canned goods will have a printed expiration date well before the time the food has gone bad, so it’s not necessarily a “pitch this” date so much as an “open and eat with caution” date.
  1. Run kit on your bugout bag. Check the date of expiration on any rations. Make sure anything fuel-dependent, like a lighter, is still viable. If you still haven’t put in winter gear, do so now.
  2. Look for holes in your preps. Is there something you’ve been meaning to get, or do, that you just haven’t gotten around to? Are you lacking a tourniquet for your first aid kit? Do you need proper shelving space for your canned goods? Do you have sanitization drops or tabs for your water? Now’s the time to highlight these deficiencies and make a plan to fill the gaps.
  3. Where were you in your prepping journey when you started reading this newsletter? Were you prepping at all? Whether all you’ve done is put away a couple weeks of canned food, or packed a bag, or bought a first aid kit and stowed it in your car, you’ve taken steps toward preparedness and resilience in the face of disaster. If you’ve followed most of the preps outlined since this newsletter began, then you’ve done quite a bit of work, and you’re far more able to react positively to an emergency. Take a moment to appreciate your own effort. After a while you may lose track of how far you’ve come, and the value of simple things like having a week or a month’s worth of food on hand. If you’re lucky, you may never fully realize the value of it. But if you’re not—if you get caught up in something—you’ll be glad you took this time.
  4. Make goals. Where do you want to be in your preps six months from now? A year? What do you plan to accomplish in the next month? Are you going to expand your pantry? Pack a go-bag for your car? Take a first aid course, or maybe put in some range time? Whatever your goals are, don’t get complacent. There is no point at which a prepper is completely prepared—and trying to claw your way into that position will make you a hoarder at the least. What’s best, instead, is to find a reasonable goalpost—such as six months of food, or aptitude with a particular skill, before moving on to something new. This will prevent you from simply accumulating goods without a practical capacity for them unless you were to become a source of mutual aid—which is great if you have the means! Otherwise, remember that a well-rounded prepper is the most adaptable.

Given the premise of prepping, it’s easy to dismiss good news, to forget the good things that happen, and to ignore the good work being done. We can’t let that negativity get the better of us. Take time to appreciate victories, and remember that just because we may be getting ready for disaster, doesn’t mean we have to hope for one.