Life After Energy: How The World Would Change Without Fuels?

Are you the kind of prepper that suspects that diesel and gasoline will become unavailable soon after a major social collapse occurs? If so, then you have to read this article!

You may have made any one of the following decisions that can spell absolute destruction once these fuels are no longer available.

Since diesel and gasoline were only invented in the late 1800’s, it will not be so hard to “go back” to a lifestyle without these fuels. Even though there are isolated groups of people throughout the world that survive without these fuels, they also dedicate their entire lives to basic survival. If you are not accustomed to this lifestyle, a few camping trips and survivor practice drills won’t make you ready to live without these fuels.

Knowing that you will need diesel for farm equipment or transport vehicles, you may have decided to store away as much fuel as possible on your homestead. No matter how carefully you store the fuel, or the additives that you use to keep it fresh, there is no guarantee that the fuel will be viable once you have no other choice.

To make matters even worse, storing large amounts of fuel will make you a target for anyone that wants to take it from you. Why bother to defend something in your stockpile that may not even work for the purpose intended?

Convert all equipment that runs on gasoline to biodiesel, methane, or some other fuel you can make for yourself.  This move may sound appealing to many people because it can be practiced now, and it make for efficient use of all sorts of materials.  As with storing large amounts of fuel, rest assured that you will become the target of an attack by anyone that discovers you have fuel on hand and know where to get more.

There is no such thing as a perfect way to address how you will survive once gasoline and fuel are no longer available. Each possibility has benefits and disadvantages that you will have to compare with your on specific skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. For example, someone that is handicapped or cannot easily live off the land will more than likely need to consider finding ways to make diesel or be able to defend large stores of it.

Now let’s have a look at some ways to overcome both the social and tangible survival problems that will happen when diesel and gasoline are no longer available, or they are so expensive that no one can afford them.

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5 Things About a Possible Starting Scenario

Instead of one “major” event such as a solar EMP or a major earthquake disrupting the entire planet, let’s say a bunch of smaller, unrelated events converge steadily to create a social collapse that will happen in year 2018.

In our time frame, the scenario might include:

  • Less than 10% of commercial and wild bees remain to pollinate crops (bear in mind that commercial bee hives declined by 42% from April 2014 to April 2015 alone). Food shortages will lead to disruptions in oil, gas, and diesel production and transport.
  • Texas and the mid states remain either chronically under water or crops fail because of constant hail storms and other disasters. Food riots combined with the need to adjust or move in other drilling equipment will disrupt oil production and storage in this vital area.
  • California and the Western states become so hot and dry it is no longer safe to operate solar panels or drill for oil.
  • Russia, India, Japan, and China join currencies and create a situation where the US dollar is no longer the standard for international trade. As a result, the US banks go on “holiday” and the currency is devalued to around 25%. Under these circumstances, the US will not be able to import enough oil for consumer needs.
  • North Korea, Iran, and ISIS join forces to control the Middle East. A civil war across the land effectively shuts down almost all fuel exports to the United States.

Let me be very clear in saying that this “perfect storm” of seemingly unrelated events can easily happen in a 2 year time frame. When these events converge, the United States will run out of gasoline and diesel within 160 days (at the best case scenario, that’s about how long the fuel will last in the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

At that point in time, the currency situation, geographic considerations, and other world events will make it impossible for the United States to buy enough fuel or find ways to continue extracting it from petroleum or plant based sources.

crude oil

How Will You Know a Fuel Shortage is Coming?

Aside from watching for events similar to those listed above, you can:

  • Look at the cost of gasoline and diesel in comparison to the actual production levels.
  • Pay careful attention to the availability of food and other common household goods in popular stores. Are milk, eggs, flour, and other staples imported from outside the state running low?  Is inventory of first aid and health supplies on the low side?  How are the prices changing once new shipments come in?  These shortages and price increases may well have to do with actual production problems related to each product, or they may be related to problems with getting enough fuel to ship.  Remember how prices on just about everything jumped when gas prices went up just a few years ago?
  • It is also always important to look at the FOREX exchanges and see how the US dollar (USD) compares to other currencies.
  • I also watch the currency exchange rates and comparisons for key nations/currencies such as Russia (RUB), China (CNY), Hong Kong (HKD),  Japan (JPY), India (INR), Saudi Arabia (SAR), Iran (IRR),  the Euro (EUR), North Korea (KPW), Venezuela (VEF), Qatar (QAR), Iraq (IQD), Syria (SYP) and Israel (ILS).  Even though some of these countries have very little in the way of currency valuation, I still do the comparisons between them and other nations to look for changes.  To me, changes in currency among the smaller nations may indicate changes in trade agreements or something else going on that may not be noted in the news.
  • Gain a sense and understanding of global crisis patterns.  This includes how earthquakes, floods, and other large scale disasters may be increasing in intensity or focusing on areas where it will cause major disruptions that affect prices and availability of crude and petroleum products.

Likely Government Responses to Fuel Shortages

When naive people hear about the Strategic Oil Reserve, they tend to believe that this oil will be  made available to the public until it is all gone. Contrary to that belief is the fact that the government has been making disaster plans for years on end.

In these scenarios, the government and military always take priority and always get primary access to the resources.  Even though your tax dollars pay for the Strategic Oil Reserve, in the end the government will consider itself a priority over the needs of the people.

Before drilling and access to foreign oil become limited, you can expect the government to do the following:

  • They may release some petroleum from the reserves in order to keep prices low and keep the masses from catching on that there is a problem. Nevertheless, there is a point where the release of petroleum to the public will stop even though no new fuel is being obtained.
  • Fuel rationing.
  • Active seizure of fuel stored by preppers so that it can be redistributed to others that did not prepare for the crisis.
  • Attempts to limit the storage of fuel by preppers or find ways to ensure that stored fuel locations are known and under strict surveillance.

What About Your Neighbors and Others?

There are a number of conflicting views about how individuals and groups of people will respond in a disaster. Based on relatively short term scenarios, we can say that there is a mix of good and bad responses. Inevitably, in larger scale disasters such as a complete collapse of diesel and gasoline availability, things may get far worse over time.

On the good side, we saw people work together and help each other in the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. From tornadoes to blizzards, to other disasters, rescue teams and individuals that can help each other are often highlighted in the news.

We’ve also seen national guard, non-profit organizations, and other outside groups do what they can to deliver relief to people living in zones of sudden chaos and disruption. If we only had these responses to a major crisis, perhaps prepping would be much easier, or could even be scaled back.

As many have noted, there is also a very dark side that comes out in people during even a short term disaster. Here are just a few responses that every prepper must think about if diesel and gasoline become limited or completely unavailable:


  • When gas prices rose, we already saw people stealing from other people’s gas tanks or leaving gas stations without paying for the fuel.
  • After 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and many other disasters, people pretended to raise money in order to help victims, but then never used the money for that purpose. In a gas shortage, you will more than likely see all sorts of “charities” popping up to help people in the northeast “buy fuel” and so on.
  • As people abandon their homes, looters will come in and look to sell off “souvenirs” or anything else that will turn a profit.
  • Those who are panicked and desperate may start rioting or deliberately destroying any fuel reserves they can find. Contrary to popular belief, the riots may not start immediately or even during fuel rationing scenario. These riots may start slowly and then pick up speed in the weeks and months after fuel becomes more and more restricted. It would take a good bit of additional research to find out what the “magic” shortage level would be to generate a riot in any given city or community.
  • Business owners will raise prices and do what they can to keep a reserve of fuel for “black market” or underground customers. In essence, if you have the money or something else worth trading, then fuel will be made available through these sources, and this includes diesel made from non-petroleum sources. Biodiesel may not be as good as petroleum based fuel, but a trust worthy seller can, and will make as much money off the situation.


What About the Impact on Society?

On the surface, it is safe to say that the loss of diesel and gasoline will lead to massive social disruption. That isn’t just the general opinion of people that will be affected by the situation, it also appears to be the opinion of government leaders and others that pretend they don’t want to see these shortages happen.

Yes… I said pretend. Why?  Read on.

It is no secret that the rich make their money by selling products at a profit. Up until the last two or three decades, the masses (i.e. customer base of consumers) could afford to buy these products.  In the last two or three decades, consumer debt paired with a lack of jobs has resulted in 75% of our nation’s money in the hands of 10% of the population.

Perhaps I am being a bit jaded or leaning towards a conspiracy theory outlook when I say that 99% of the people in our nation will soon be completely unable to give more money to the rich. What is left to be made must be obtained quickly and at the greatest possible profit.

Remember when Rhett Butler (in “Gone With the Wind”) said that the two best times to make money are during a social collapse and then during the reconstruction? Riots, civil war, and even guerrilla warfare make an excellent disguise for the final tapping of any money and resources left among the masses that must be… eliminated before a new growth cycle can begin.

Consider that we are also a nation filled with obese, sick, addicted, and drone like citizens that are not even suitable for the military. It’s a dire situation to the rich, and the quickest way out is to cut off the diesel and gasoline that people rely on.

In this scenario, chaos will ensue and all the government has to do is pretend to be concerned about local and global converging situations that will lead to a disruption in gasoline and diesel supplies. From there, all they have to do is put up a few token fights (in which they are the only ones with suitable weapons to defend themselves) to try and stop the 99% from caving in and destroying itself.


What Will Happen to the Land?

Contrary to popular belief, the Earth will not suddenly become “healed” just because oil drilling, refining, and usage stop.

Chemicals used for fracking will continue to lubricate rocks beneath the surface and continue to increase the risk of earthquakes. As the rocks under the surface continue breaking apart, water will also continue to be polluted. As equipment and chemicals get left behind, they will cause even more damage to nearby water supplies and land, and it could take decades to a century for these problems to slow down.

Even if you have a homestead or are planning to buy land, make sure that you know everything possible about the petroleum, natural gas, and other mining leases within 250 miles of your land.  The closer a drilling or mining operation is to your land, the greater chances of it becoming impossible to live on in a crisis.

It is no secret that burning gasoline leads to smog and other forms of air pollution. What most people don’t realize is that without gasoline and other fuels, people may burn things that cause just as many problems.

For example, wood also releases large amounts of soot and other pollution into the air. Desperate people will also take to burning plastic and just about anything else that will catch fire, and this will release all kinds of dangerous pollutants that will do more damage than diesel and gasoline.

Some people say that when diesel and gasoline are no longer available, the people will turn to solar and other forms of “clean” fuel. The sad fact of the matter is that commercially available solar panels are just as hazardous as gasoline and diesel. From strip mining for rare earth elements to rooftops catching fire, modern solar power is not a clean let alone viable replacement for diesel and gasoline.

That being said, the individual prepper can still do a lot of good and get away from diesel and gasoline with solar cookers and other products made from household scrap.

In the short term, a lack of diesel and gasoline will cause more damage to the environment than expected. Without finding truly sustainable and suitable alternatives, the damage caused by the production and transport of diesel and gasoline will only be shifted to other fuel sources. And anything commercially built is going to have hidden environmental costs, and this cost may have a heavy impact on your bug out location.

Is Social Collapse an End or a Beginning?

According to recorded history, human societies have been rising and falling for thousands of years.  As ugly as the decline and chaos periods are, eventually people begin forming a new social order and working together again on common goals.  From that perspective, a social collapse caused by diesel and gasoline shortages can be seen as the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one.

The problem with this philosophical view of social rise and collapse is that there are millions of people that will not be around to see the new social order. As our society falls apart and decays from within, the greedy are locked into a struggle with those who realize what is coming and want to avert disaster for themselves and their family.

Is it such a surprise that independence, self sufficiency, the right to self defense, morality, and other prepper oriented cultural values are being systemically attacked? Without these values, those outside the elites that do manage to survive will form their own social order. This, in turn, will once again leads to a rise in population that threatens the utopia intended just for the rich or those with the right blood lines.

What Will Your Response Be as a Prepper?

When you think about diesel and gas shortages, remember that medicines and many other goods you take for granted may no longer be available. If you take a survey for just one week, you will be amazed at all the things you use that rely on diesel or gasoline for transport or production. Should you decide to end your reliance on diesel and gasoline, your plans must include the following:

  • Viable and sustainable substitutes for cooking, transportation, farming, and heating fuels.
  • The means to produce or make any product that you currently purchase. This includes shoes, clothes, weapons, medications, children’s toys, light sources, communication devices, tools, and personal care needs.  If you cannot make or produce a matching product, then you will need a viable substitute that does the same thing with an equal or near equal level of efficiency.
  • You must be able to defend all of your production materials, supplies, and output
  • you must be able to barter, trade, or make a profit on products now and in a crisis situation.

Many preppers think of a social collapse as something that will suddenly spring up and catch everyone off guard. Far too many people think about the kind of slow disaster evolving even as we enjoy the benefits of our modern world. A convergence of a handful of events can create a situation where diesel and gasoline are no longer available.

Without these fuels, just about everything you are accustomed to will unavailable. As such, if you are simply trying to stockpile diesel or gasoline, this may be the weakest part in your survival plans.

If you are not focusing on actively replacing diesel and gasoline in every area of your life, the looming social collapse may be something you are far less prepared for than expected.

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by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.