According to Wikipedia:
“Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who are actively preparing for emergencies as well as possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales ranging from local to international.” (Wikipedia, “survivalism”)
Survival minded individuals differ from one another; many are merely of the mindset that individuals should “be prepared” while never doing more than understanding what they may have to do in a SHTF situation. Many prepare their homes for disaster situations, storing a few days or a few weeks of food and water supplies. Some prepare for American societal hardship, with such expectations as economic collapse or war on the home front. Some expect plague or nuclear winter, and even doomsday, the apocalypse or Armageddon – and the more comical few actually believe in a zombie apocalypse (we can dream, right?)
Statistics of survivalists who believe in one theory or the other are cloudy at best. What is sure is there are MANY Americans who expect hardship.
According to a poll performed between March 6th and March 20th, 2012 for Reuters by Ipsos, a leading source in global market research, 14% of global citizens believe the world will come to an end during their lifetime (in a poll conducted among 16,262 adults in 21 countries). (Ipsos)
As of writing this (27 SEP 2012), according to Google’s Public Data resource citing the World Bank, the world’s population is approximately 6,973,738,433. Based upon Ipsos’ statistic, just under a billion people (976,323,381) believe the end of the world will happen in their lifetime.
While this poll was conducted in multiple countries averaging a 14% overall global population who believe the world ends during this saeculum, 22% of Americans polled expect the worse in their lifetime.
With such a large population of our nation sure of impending doom, it’s no surprise survivalism is finding its way into mainstream culture.
The National Geographic Channel aired its two-episode premiere of the hit show “Doomsday Preppers” on February 7th, 2012. According to their press release on February 9th, it became the highest rated Tuesday night show ever aired on the 11-year-old channel. Nearly 4.3 Million viewers tuned in, according to their market research.
Seattle Times staff reporter Eric Lacitis, in his article “Preppers do their best to be ready for the worst”, indicates the “Doomsday Prepper” viewership is made up of a sixty-percent male population (roughly 2,580,000), with an average age of 44.
Also discussed in Lacitis’ article is the American Preppers Network, a forums website founded in 2009. According to the site’s owner, 34-year-old Tom Martin, more than 16,000 participants regularly take part in discussions. This number is significant, as a large number of a website’s traffic will not participate in conversations – meaning the actual viewership of APN is a much larger statistic. This indicates large populations of Americans who are actively pursuing survival and prepping, and alludes to a much higher number of those interested in the niche – as indicated before.
What do Preppers Want?
Consumers preparing for the end of society as it is today, whether temporarily due to weather, or long-term as a result of war or economic collapse, generally have common needs. After all, the human body is required to be fed and watered like any living organism, and if supply chains disrupt the distribution of these resources the population will have to fend for itself.
Human nature suggests many starving victims will turn to looting and robbery to survive, as seen even in short-term disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In such scenarios, human interaction quickly turns to violence. These truths necessitate stockpiling and fortification.
What do preppers need? Like anyone else, survival minded consumers must eat and drink, and their passion for survival urges them to make the fulfillment of these needs possible at all times. For this reason, many stockpile long shelf-life food items such as Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE), dried and canned produce, and other pickled, dehydrated and canned goods. Many also plan for water supply shortages by stocking water filtration devices and purification chemicals, as well as water storage containers. These sources will provide for the most basic of needs, but have a time limit based upon the quantity of such supplies one is able to store.
How does one prepare beyond the limitation of their canning shelf? By diversifying their supply to incorporate a more sustainable lifestyle during societal collapse, preppers can provide for themselves by producing their own food, building and maintaining their own shelter, and protecting themselves from those willing to plunder their resources.
A diversified survival cache incorporates more than canned food and water bottles. According to Wikipedia, “Common preparations include the creation of a clandestine or defensible retreat, haven, or Bug Out Location (BOL) in addition to the stockpiling of non-perishable food, water, water-purification equipment, clothing, seed, firewood, defensive or hunting weapons, ammunition, agricultural equipment, and medical supplies.”
Survivors with such supply have needed food rations and sustainable water supplies to survive immediately, the tools to fortify and rebuild, reproduction of food sources, and a means to protect these provisions.
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