What resources would be in highest demand after "Shit Hits the Fan?

I recently heard this question and have been thinking about it and decided to try to answer it. My two favorite books about this are World War Z (no relation to the movie except for the name) and One Second After which have both had some influence on my though process below and if your interested in this question they are have interesting perspectives.

Below I outline how the Survival 3's will be the biggest determining factors starting with medicine and safety. After that it really depends on the available resources and the ability to create more of those resources and their lifespan. Once something like cigarettes are used up, if there is no way to make more, then something else will take their place. So perishable items that take a modern civilization to create will only last a short time.


The number one items, or possibly second, would be medical supplies. Keeping blood inside the body and infections are two things we spend a lot of time doing even today. This is true on the battlefield, (Hemorrhage is responsible for up to 40% of trauma deaths) or to mothers giving birth (Postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal mortality 2,3). In a world where an infected cut can kill you, having the proper medicine and knowledge will save your hand or your life. Certain medical equipment can be stored if refrigerated, but may not be able to be created, like insulin, so for families with a diabetic in the family that would be their highest concern but will most certainly lead to a tragic end. Likewise for other treatable diseases requiring medicine or vaccinations. According to the CDC, October 1st, 2019 through December 14th, 2019, there have been 1,800 to 4,500 deaths in the US due to flu. And that's with free to the public vaccines. Without those, the deaths could be in the millions. So in this case it would seem that knowledge would be more important that the medicine itself. This is why I put medicine before safety but I understand the arguments that safety could be put first.


Second, or possibly first, would be physical safety; for the single person, the family unit, and then the community. Defense and offensive weapons in the form of firearms and ammunition would be the most important at first because a woman with a rifle or pistol and ammunition can defend her family alone from a few men who are unarmed. Firearms are the greatest equalizer in terms of defense and protection. Hunting is a possible secondary use but that requires an abundance of wild game and the ability to go and spend time outside to get it, which depending on the variables may not be an option. Assuming there is still access to ammunition, or we learn how to make more, depending on how long it takes for ammunition to run out and the available resources. As with medicine, we see that knowledge will be more important in the long run.


The Survival 3's are the accepted (1, 2) amount of time you can survive without air, shelter, water, and food. 3 minutes of contaminated air can kill or destroy your lungs. 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment, meaning your body temperature will go dangerously up or down, can kill you. So staying cool in the heat, or warm and dry in the freezing and wet. 3 days without water, given that you have adequate shelter, will cause dehydration and death. So being able to purify or treat your water to provide about a gallon per person per day for drinking water. That does not include sanitation. Next is 3 weeks (or some will say 30 days) without food, given you have both water and shelter. Depending on activity level, anywhere from 1200 calories a day for kids to 3000 calories or more for an active grown man.


For a closed community, a whole food plant-based society may naturally happen over time as meat may become scarce if, and this will depend on a lot of factors, there is overhunting or possibly the inability to hunt. Milk from a cow is easy enough, but only if you can keep a cow healthy, and use manure for fertilizer or get ride of it. But crops will become the main diet of most societies if they need to be self-reliant, and they are unable to have a pasture to keep their animals safe and to breed them. But in a survival situation, the main food staple will work itself out based on factors like environment, weather, and knowledge of what and how to cook with what's available and ingenuity. You may have soil but no, or not enough, sunlight. But maybe you can make electricity and lightbulbs to feed the plants. But that's only as long as you can make or repair those lightbulbs. Necessity is the mother of invention after all.


I add 3 months without hope to the Survival 3's. Three months of just surviving will tear anyone down mentally if they don't have any hope of either rescue or of achieving a major goal to permanently change their lifestyle for the better. That is specific for each person but here are some examples for myself. This could be extended somewhat once all the major factors above have been met, but think about it even today, how long can you grind at your job and life without wanting a promotion, vacation, or time to pursue a hobby? Hope will be different to each individual in terms of time and how well they can forestall despair.


Next, I would add hygiene, to include personal hygiene and cleanliness, female hygiene (think available resources and ingenuity) and community hygiene meaning sanitation. Improper personal hygiene can lead to bacterial infection, like being filthy and getting a cut on your hand or back. Improper sanitation can kill off an entire community or large part of countries and the world. Diseases due to poor drinking-water access, unimproved sanitation, and poor hygiene practices cause 4.0% of all deaths and 5.7% of all disability or ill health in the world according to the World Health Organization. Sanitation can be a lifesaver and make you feel like a human and a person again (try hiking for two weeks without a shower) or can kill everyone in a community. This will be less of a person to person issue but it will be a determining factor for which shelter you choose to live in, or which shelters survives.

The Unknown

Once the above basic needs are taken care of, I don't think it's possible to really narrow down to specifics of what people will want, because it will entirely depend on what is available. If there's no toilet paper anymore and something else was used as available and you did find some toilet paper, using it may make you feel like 'the old days', or if you don't care about that, there will be somebody willing to pay or trade a lot for it.


A mixture of all the above items and needs will play in determining the barter system of any communal or closed system community where cash is worthless. The things that will have value will be items that keep you alive, keep you from getting sick, heal you if you get sick, or bring nostalgia, hope, and happiness just like they do in the real world. A shovel to you may be a tool you know how to make, but to me may mean I can plant more crops or dig a better latrine for my family or community, either way giving me hope for the future. People of any culture will trade and buy happiness, safety, health, and hope.


And of course, sex. I can't think of any scenario, involving humans, where sex won't sell for top dollar and may even be controlled as it affects the resources of the community. But even with controls in place sex will always sell. Maybe condoms (or whatever works) will be the most valuable item?

Some other places to check out for this topic that I enjoyed are ,, and The original topic for this came from

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