Best long term survival for a 'The Road' style scenario?

For those who haven’t seen the movie/read the book the premise of The Road is that an unspecified apocalypse has destroyed civilization and most life on Earth, a ‘nuclear winter’ appears to have descended and no crops or plants of any kind are capable of growing, there are very few animals left both on land in the ocean and things do not appear to have any chance of improving for the forseeable future, if ever. *

Basically all that is left for people to survive are what can be scavenged from the remnants of civilisation or each other. While most post-apocalypse stories can seem kind of fun in an anarchic way that of The Road really really isn’t.

So my basic questions are (a) would you want to survive for as long as possible or just decide its hopeless and end it all

(b) assuming you did want to survive what would be the best long term survival strategy, either retaining your morals or simply doing whatever was necessary, however horrendous

© what would be the maximum length someone could survive in those conditions, someone on another thread stated that the very last person might survive for thirty or forty years, I found that an incredibly creepy image, what would it feel like to know or suspect that you were literally the last human alive, and possibly one of the last creatures full stop

*please leave the feasibility of this aside, just take it as read.

Unless I had some rock-solid knowledge that it really, really is hopeless, I would try to survive and hold out hope that, eventually, plant and animal life would re-establish itself (and civilization could be re-introduced).

How long we could survive would depend on how many people there are, and how much non-perishable food is left and accessible.

The best long term solution is aquaponics or hydroponic staple crops grown using energy from wind, solar, geothermal, tidal energy or nuclear.

Rice, corn flour and wheat, stored properly, is good for decades. Potatoes produce more calories per acre but the storage life isn’t as good. So start growing and storing staple crops. Most humans would die but I think enclaves that did this would survive. Naturally you’d need a good military to protect against roving bands of desperate criminals.
Keep expanding the hydroponic crop production and expanding civilization. Eventually, hopefully you can start manufacturing the equipment needed for hydroponic food production.

I think the people with doomsday bunkers win in this scenario. You know, the traditional preppers that everyone always makes fun of and laughs at. My guess is that there are people with essentially unlimited quantities of food out there who could make it for decades, but no one really knows since smart preppers don’t advertise much.

One thing I didn’t like about The Road is the idea that ammunition was extremely scarce. I haven’t heard any estimates, but there must be tens of billions of bullets in the United States. There’s just no possible way mankind could go through all of it.

No plants means 2 immediate life threatening issues, 1) no more oxygen creationi and 2) no more carbon dioxide cleansing. The build up of CO2 would likely become a problem long before the existing oxygen runs out. How long? I’ll leave that to the scientists on the board to work out, but my gut says soon enough that long term survival planning would be a moot point.

If my wife and our babies are alive, or any one of them, I will do whatever it takes short of killing a child to survive as long as possible. If they’re gone, I wouldn’t care any more.

Then you’d meet an adorable scamp and/or robot and/or sentient dog, and you’d transfer your fatherly protective feelings to him/her, and together you’d find the key to restoring the world to its former health, beauty, and glory.

The Road is a particularly dark, dystopian future. As has been said, very little crops grow and the land is really dead. It might recover in time, it isn’t stated, but it will be a long way away.

Even the “preppers” have often been routed out of their hidey holes and murdered for their foods.

It is one of my favorite books except the ending. Because I just don’t think there would be a happy ending in such a world. Human life would die out. I would try to live as long as possible but I can easily see scenarios in which I would want to die. I don’t want to be one of the gang whores, for example, and this scenario is so bad that even more than whores, they keep stores of people for food.

I felt that it didn’t ring true in the book (other than to serve the story of course) that the man and his son didn’t stay in the stocked-up shelter they found for longer than they did.

If I recall, they only stayed for a couple days, and then moved on with whatever goods they could wheel in their shopping cart, because the father was concerned they’d be discovered. But the shelter lasted 10+ years before the father happened to notice it-- just move some more trash around it to camouflage it better, and spend the Apocalypse in style! No way would I have left that shelter.

Is that true? Everyone was talking about ammunition shortages a few years ago because Obama was elected/reelected. If something like that can cause shortages, wouldn’t an actual apocalypse empty the shelves pretty quickly? The Road supposedly takes place about 10 years after the unnamed event.

Yes, that did bother me. But IIRC weren’t they almost found out at one point? Wasn’t someone really close, or even knocking? I thought that’s what scared the dad.

It was undiscovered because it was buried all that time. The father was worried (rightly, in my opinion) that entering and exiting the shelter made it likely they’d be found, either seen in person or from tracks. Not leaving the shelter at all wasn’t an option - he was worried about rickets in his son from lack of sunlight already. And weren’t they also trying to make it to the coast before winter?

And finally:

At that point, they still had hope that things were different at the coast.

In the movie at least I think the father heard the sound of a dog nearby which spooked him into leaving, I can’t recall what happened in the book. I think also the climate was getting colder which is why they were moving south.

I’m not sure the ending was that happy, all that really could be hoped for was that the son wasn’t going to die alone, but with a larger group to feed the end was going to come faster. :\

Thats an interesting question in itself, Mad Max also had the ammunition running out pretty quickly with Max himself using an empty shotgun as a bluff, though I imagine Australia would have less ammo about in the first place.

Thanks for the answers everyone, for myself I’m not sure what I would do in this scenario, it would probably depend on how hopeful I was for things to start getting better, even if not for myself but for humanity and other creatures in general. Though I certainly wouldn’t want to be one of the last people around, makes you wonder how the last Neanderthals felt.

It was a jarring ending. Like, all this time the book fills you with this utter sense of loss and loneliness, and suddenly! voila! It is an Adam and Eve scenario with the other family even having a little girl child. (IIRC, it’s been a while since I read the ending).

But you may be right, too!

The Road is more hopeless than most others.

I can’t remember if it was from the book or the movie (I think the latter), but that family gave me a creepy vibe.

Shortage of stuff in stores, and it was (is) mostly specific stuff that manufacturers couldn’t make fast enough. Like .22. Especially .22.

I’m always amused that an ending where the world is still hopeless, the dad dies, and the boy joins another group with no long-term prospects for survival is considered happy. It says a lot about Cormac McCarthy’s other works.

I haven’t read any of his other works. And everyone is right that perhaps “happy” is not the exact right word. But that still doesn’t preclude the fact that I found the ending jarring and weird.

Bear in mind that the book takes place 10 years after the apocalypse event, and the protagonist occasionally recalls the period of chaos that followed. The U.S. may have a lot of ammo, but not enough to last half a decade or so of full-scale civil war.

Oh, you’re not the only one. I was surprised by it, as were many of his fans. It truly is “happy” compared to his other books.

Well I’m a sucker for happy endings anyway so I like to think it all worked out for the best (but rationally know it didn’t), the story wasn’t totally hopeless, despite how horrific things are there are still good and decent people out there and capable of surviving without losing their humanity entirely and who knows maybe the environment will begin to improve?

I don’t agree with thelurkinghorror, I think his new family were exactly who they seemed to be, decent people trying to survive and willing to extend a welcome to another. Though I do wonder how they managed to sustain themselves for so long with such a large group and including a dog, as the father and his son were starving for most of the story.