Before I even get started, let me say that no, this is not some tree-hugging climate change rant but an approach to the topic of weather and survival from an objective, practical point of view. I believe this is just one of those topics of great importance that is rarely addressed, or at least not often addressed from a practical, real-world perspective.
Trying to keep it simple, these are the top considerations I would keep in mind:
1)Accept the fact: Climate Changes, always has always will.
As explained earlier, my intention here is not to discuss the causes
for climate change, how much of it depends on human activity (or not) or
the different financial interests people on either side of the debate
have. From a survival perspective the important part to understand is
that climate change is real.
Climate change has happened before, it
will happen again, and in fact it does happen naturally all the time. I
happen to believe that we do affect the world around us to some extent.
The Dust Bowl is actually a good example of how certain natural
occurrences (drought), combined with certain… let’s call them unwisely
chosen agricultural practices have combined with disastrous results.
Either way, on a global level the climate is changing as it always has
and that unavoidably impacts people’s lives. Some areas will experience
far worse droughts, others become warmer and more tropical, maybe TOO
warm for their own good. At the same time some other areas may become
far colder than they already are.
Climate simply changes. We have
ice ages every 100.000 years, interglacial warmer periods lasting about
10.000 years and then you have events such as The 8.2 kiloyear event or
Younger Dryas stadial, think “Day After Tomorrow” movie where
temperatures drop very, very fast in a matter of months rather than
years. Scientists have different theories as of why these happen, but
the important thing to remember is that they have happen before. In case
you’re wondering, we’re now in whats called the Holocene geological
epoch, an interglacial period that started 11,700 years ago.
fascinating, other than the Younger Dryas stadial which Hollywood
considered worthy of using in a disaster movie, it would seem that
periods lasting thousands of years have little relevance in the disaster
preparedness world. The thing is, even a couple degrees difference can
have drastic consequences to crops, food production, water availability,
sea levels and floods. Therefore it is important to approach weather
not only as a static factor, but a dynamic one where towns may have to
shut down because of lack of water or find themselves under it. Both of
these have happen already, many times, in recent years.
2)The Rule of Three
You’re probably familiar with the Rule of Three, which says you can’t
survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours of extreme exposure, 3 days
without water or 3 weeks without food. Indeed, its more of a mnemonic
device but in very broad terms it does provide a general idea of which
are your priorities for staying alive.
Interestingly enough, all of
the 3s are mostly location dependant. Where you live will dictate the
quality of air (air pollution) the risk of it being compromised
(volcano, industrial disaster, wild fire), will dictate the kind of
shelter you can or can’t live without based on extreme temperatures, how
much water is available and how easy it is to produce and acquire food.
Like in Real Estate, a great part of survival is location, location,
Of these, the second and third line are of particular
important. While of course having fresh clean air is critical, it is
temperature and water availability that are often the hardest to
balance. Not only proximity to rivers and lakes, as well as availability
of wells, but also how much it actually rains each year is of great
importance. Without enough rain, streams, lakes and of course wells are
nothing but holes in the ground.
If possible, we also want mild to
warm temperatures for as much of the year as we can. Personal
preferences of course vary, but one thing stays the same: Most humans
have a comfort zone between 21 °C and 25 °C with a humidity of about
50%. The further away you move from that the sooner you’ll need to worry
about heating or air conditioning.
3)Growing Seasons and food production
Where you live and the kind of weather you have in such a location will
determine what you can or cannot produce in terms of food, what plants
can grow and which animals can be kept without having to use expensive
For many survivalists the ability to grow food
is essential, either as part of their planned food supply or because
they simply enjoy having fresh home grown food. But even if that’s not
you the ability to produce food in your area is of great importance. On
one hand, it means that you too can start your own orchard if it ever
becomes necessary or if you simply want to give it a go. On the other it
means that there’s a greater amount of locally produced food, bringing
down the cost, increasing local availability, both of which are
important aspects during economic downturns or disasters of great
4)The Cost of Cold Weather
Publications dedicated to homesteading often address the topic of
heating self-sufficiency. Keeping a supply of firewood, processing it,
having stoves, servicing them, having large tanks for fuel, above or
underground, and this is just a drop in the bucket. Again, when it comes
to personal preferences practically everything goes, but when it comes
to practical survival the answer is pretty simple: It’s better not to
need any of it in the first place! How bad winters are can make a big
difference. In some parts of the world being left without central
heating because of a power outage, or being left without firewood during
the worst of winter means you’re dead within hours. How long winter
lasts and how cold it gets matters greatly. In some areas even if you
don’t get covered in snow you still may need heating for most of the
winter and autumn. On the other end of the spectrum you have places
where summers are unbearable and you need AC. Here it really depends on
the kind of building we’re talking about. Poorly designed houses or
densely populated apartment buildings are sometimes impossible to live
in without air conditioner.
From a survival perspective, you would
ideally live in a place where you need neither one and don’t need
heating or AC to live comfortably. If forced to choose, survivability is
easier to achieve in warmer climates than in colder ones.
5)Temperature, humidity, sun exposure and the overall impact on your health and quality of life.
At the end of the day we end up living where we like doing so
indifferently from what’s purely practical. We’re not robots and we just
like what we like, sometimes without much of a logical explanation. One
thing to keep in mind though, is that we may like certain things, but
our bodies may not agree with our heart. By this I mean there’s a simple
physiological reality which is that our bodies need a certain
temperature, a certain humidity, a certain solar exposure.
reason why old folks retire to Florida rather than Maine, in spite of
Maine being a fantastic State. Our bodies feel better with somewhat
warmer temperatures, mid-range humidity and a certain amount of sun
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.