Friday, May 28, 2021

Attributes of people who would survive a 95% die-off


I think most readers would agree that mortality will not be totally random. For example, there are about 1.6 million people living on Manhattan's 23 square miles. Five percent of 1.6 million people is 80,000 people.

There are 1.6 million people living in Phoenix and 500k in Tuscon. In the absence of robust shipping and irrigation, it is not plausible that 80k would remain in Phoenix and 25k in Tuscon.

It is a huge issue that 19-out-of-20 will not quietly slip their mortal coil so the 20th will survive. We will claw and fight and all twenty will perish.

A more plausible scenario is that enclaves will survive and large areas will experience what is essentially 100% mortality. My best guess is that large cities will get hammer and areas lacking adequate rainfall or fertile soil or a predictable growing season will suffer disproportion losses.

Life will become intensely physical

 95% mortality will essentially destroy the petrochemical industry. Alternatively, destroying the petro-chemical industry would bring about 95% mortality. Either path would be acceptable to the environmental loonie-tunes.

The best data available for a non-petroleum based life is from a study done on the Amish in Southern Ontario. For a frame of reference, a typical adult requires 2000-to-2500 steps to cover a mile.

Amish men accumulated 18,425 ± 4,685 steps per day (mean ± SD), whereas Amish women accumulated 14,196 ± 4,078 steps per day, averaged over 7 d (see Fig. 1). The highest 1-d total was 51,514 steps per day, recorded by an Amish farmer who performed harrowing (smoothing the ground surface after plowing and planting), while walking behind a team of five Belgian horses for the entire day.   Source

Mortality will hammer those of us over 55. It will hammer those who cannot jump off the couch and walk three-to-time miles a day and do physical WORK for ten hours a day, day-after-day. Not only must they be physically capable of doing it, they must be willing to do it.

This willingness to step up and do physical work is one facet where populations with multi-generational entitlement income will likely fail; Native Americans on Reservations and many people living in inner-cities, Section 8 housing or recently emigrated from refugee camps fall into this category.


Nobody can do it all. Nobody can stay awake 24 hours a day. I don't know anybody who can put a bandage on a wound between their shoulder-blades. Some skills are specialized, blacksmithing and leatherwork for instance. Nobody can do it all, or even most of it.

I suspect that populations that are close to "traditional"roles for men and women will adapt most easily to the 95% die-off. I think women should be able to shoot guns and men should know how to sew but that doesn't mean there should be a 20 minute discussion every time something needs to be shot or darned, as if these needs have never arisen.

Who is left?

A subset of the younger rednecks. Not all of them. Many of them are even more addicted to motorized toys than city people. 

General Infantry and Marines.

Recent immigrants from rural areas from less-developed countries....say Bulgaria and less developed. That would be a value-added-per-employee of $10k per year or less vs $83k for the US. The value-added is a reasonable proxy for the mechanization on the farm.

Not run-the-row billionaires.

Not super techie weenies or the guy doing their post-doc on Quark theory. Sorry Sheldon.

Not the guy with a million gadgets.

Not the gourmet chef who does not have a recipe that uses less than 7 spices and herbs.

There will be exceptions.

Any thoughts will be appreciated.


  1. The Amish have many skills and advantages but have one weakness. They don't shoot people.

    With my Mennonite roots I too struggle with killing for survival. My great grandfather in the Ukraine was lined up with the rest of the men in the Mennonite village and shot by the rebels that had been released from the prisons.

    As a Canadian our armaments are much more restricted and there are a lot fewer guns around. This will get interesting.

    One good thing though -- this life is only temporary and a test for the next, much better one.

    1. How are you at making a trap or snare? Just a thought. OG

  2. 80% of City folks, 50% of Suburbia and 30% as you get out into the rural areas. Humans are a remarkably resilient animal. Normalcy Bias will kill most of the tamer citiots and suburbanites, they'll die of diseases and violence in large numbers early on. Out in the country we are used to helping each other on a regular basis, so the workings are already in place and we know who has what and who knows how. It won't be easy, but its doable.

  3. I'd say a lot of the people in our cohort, that is folks 60 or older who have been preppers, probably just built up stores of staple foods, guns and ammo and other supplies, that will end up being taken by whatever Thugs made it through the gauntlet coming out of the cities and exurbs.

    Even with a safe full of guns and ammo, with a disabled wife, we would be hard pressed to defend our home and property against a determined group of attackers. Especially since our cabin is surrounded by trees and underbrush.

    If I had enough warning, I suppose I could load up all our supplies, guns and ammo and run up to my late brother's lake house. I'd have to cut the lock at the gate for the four mile drive on 4WD trail to get to the enclave of 12 other houses, all solar powered. Only other way to the property is by boat. I know at least three of the other home owners up there.

  4. Not only people who are wsilling to work...but those who are wil;ling to fight to keep what is theirs.

    Firstly will be a massive die off as those who have no skills and/or are dependent on cheap, easy energy to survive find out that they are toast. As you said, NY and Phoenix. Plus a lot of other folks.
    THen those who can adapt...the rest will die quickly.
    THen of those that are left, those that can either fight, or those that are worth fighting FOR.....Due to knowledge or skills or fertility.

    I think your 5% is too high, personally.

  5. "General Infantry and Marines."

    This made me smile. On last seasons Gold Rush there were a bunch of Army types who were absolutely useless. Much loud congratulation of the half-wit who came up with the astonishing act of creatively of taking washers from a truck in scrap file to replace ones they'd lost. Their first priority on day one was building rails around every raised platform because that's what OHSA demanded.

  6. People with a knowledge of 19th Century food production, from growing and gathering to preservation, would be a must and the neighbors of those people would have to protect and assist them. And there are very few those people around and most of us are old. The second and third year would be the time when long-term survival of the family/community would be determined. ---ken

    1. Maybe you don't own a few acres to plant, but recognizing materials from LOCAL SOURCES AND HOW TO USE THEM will become vital information for long term survival. Both for food and medicinal purposes. These materials shouldbe studied with copious field notes made now.

  7. Skills, health and willingness will be a major factor in who survives and who doesn't but plain old fashioned luck will have a vote.....and a BIG vote at that.

  8. I wouldn't write all of us "gourmet chefs" off as effete limp-wristed dilettantes. Some of us forage and do our own butchering. Proper sanitation is a daily chore rather than a theoretical-- if we screw up just a little bit regarding allergens or pathogens, our customers can die. To be honest, every single one of our chores is neverending and require dedication; bullshitters and lollygaggers Do Not Make It.

    Work a twelve (or sixteen on a double) hour day in a busy kitchen. Food is heavy. Kitchens are hot. You'll pretty quickly realize we're not just garnishing plates while Vivaldi plays softly in the background.

    1. I was coming at it from a different angle.

      My daughter is a very, very good cook even if she falls short of being a gourmet chef.

      The foundational concept of food-as-fuel is offensive to her. Food is an end in itself.

      If the poop hits the propeller, it will be mostly about getting enough calories, in any form. While obtaining food may consume an inordinate amount of time there will be a dozen other urgent issues demanding time.

      The cook who stamps her feet because fresh rosemary and basil are not available or because morel infused, sustainably sourced olive oil from the Azores is not available will be road-kill.

      It is not that gourmet chefs are sissies. It is that many of the wanna-be chefs are hopelessly hyper-focused on quality and will be too slow to shift to brute quantity with "quality" meaning "won't make people sick"

  9. At my age (60+), with a bad knee, I don't expect to be among the five percent. But I will take a whole bunch of enemies with me in defense of my family and freedom.

  10. I hope to pass on to my kids the knowledge of gardening and food storage and hard work ethic, but as lazy as they are, I think most children would die off because they spend too much time worrying about their selfies, fingernails, mortal combat scores and playing video games on their phones.they have no idea what hard work is or how to exercise to keep strong. Maybe my oldest son would survive at age 14, because he is the most physically active and has learned to build and fix things to use, but I fear for the rest of them. Love my family, would want them to survive to keep spreading the gospel of Jesus, but we are not ready for this.

    1. From the physical standpoint, it depends how long they wallow in denial.

      Younger people, say in their twenties, harden up three or more times faster than a guy who is sixty. Sixty year-olds can harden up but we need longer recovery periods between physical exercise and we cannot ramp up from work-out to work-out as much.

      One thing those of us with a few miles on the odometer have is that we know that we can mix-up the muscle groups we use. An hour of sedately paced hoeing. An hour on the weed whip. A few hours collecting dandelion greens. A few hours drowning worms to catch fish.

      A young person is more likely to sprint at tasks and try to finish. They will get blisters trying to hoe the entire garden all in one go.

  11. I have no delusions that I will make it very far, busted up legs, cardiac trouble. But if I can take my military knowledge, assets and vision and pass it on to my children, nices and nephews I'd feel that I succeeded.

  12. When I was a kid long ago I was really interested in learning the skills and knowledge of my grandfathers and great uncles that they learned and used back at the turn of the last century. That was actually the most interesting thing in my life. Now when I try to teach these things to my family and friend's kids and they are totally disinterested. When the people like me that try to remember and pass on that information are gone it is gone. And I have no doubt that people will suffer greatly because of that. --ken

  13. We have a large immigrant from Burma that appear to be country bred and not city folk. They are hard workers and have a good sense of community. I see them harvesting some plant out of the flooded ditches on the side of the road. They will be fine.


  14. In metro and suburban areas, 99%+. In rural areas, 90%. It won't be Mad Max because in 6 months there won't be enough people to support a Mad Max world.

    You'll have a lot die in the first 2-4 weeks from various criminal acts or killed by those resisting criminal acts. In that time period you'll also see deaths from people who drink contaminated water, that that will be a lot more people than anyone thinks. Anyone dependent on some sort of supportive medical care, like medical oxygen, will also die in this time.

    In weeks 5-16, people who are on medications will start dying off, including those who are on some sort of psychotropic drugs. The first cases of starvation deaths will occur. More people will die as various sorts of gangs form to take from those who still have something worth taking.

    In weeks 17 and out, starvation will be the big killer. Roving gangs will still be dangerous, but I figure that they are, to some extent, a self-solving problem. Grasshoppers always are.

    The folks that will survive are the incredibly fortunate (won't be many in that category, but there will be some) and those who live so far out that no one can get to them. Those that live in areas with water and tillable soil who are way the heck back in the woods will be survivors as long as they can get food.

    I will not be a survivor, not will my wife or children. We all live in the wrong place in this scenario. Even if we lived in a suitable place, I'd call the odds 10-1 against.

    It won't be the end of humanity, but we'll devolve back into what are effectively hunter gatherers, living in the ruins of the old civilization. In a few hundred years, perhaps a thousand, we may claw our way back. What has been done once can be done again, Dr. Pournelle always said.

  15. Never underestimate the folks that have walked to America from Guatemala, half starved, sleeping rough... they know privation and how to endure. I’m guessing more than 5% of them will live.

  16. The illegal aliens may get here from Central America, but I'll shoot as many of them as I can before I get killed. Parasites!

    1. I suspect you will shoot as many parasites, regardless of origins, as you can before you die.

      Looters and invaders will be much too close if you can identify national origin or immigration status before you drop-the-hammer.

  17. If you can plan for a smooth landing after a year, you might be alright. You can defend a hardened structure against a mob with 5 people, properly armed. Plan for the rough first year, smooth it out with preps and newly grown food stuffs over the second year, build the community and you come out on top. That's a LOT of prepping, though.

  18. The higher you fall from, the bigger the splat.

  19. I don't know what time scale is on this 95% die off but if it is fast the nuke plants meltdown and flood the country with radioactivity. If it is slower then a nuke war is possible due to chaos plus meltdowns. Then there are multiple toxins from other sources released because no one is there to contain them.

    What now?

  20. I’m with Lucas, what triggered this? In addition to what all of you have mentioned, there’s multiple nuke plants along Lake Michigan that aren’t going to just go away quietly on their own! I’m not positive, but there’s a half chance Eaton Rapids is somewhat downwind of at least one of these!


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