Disclaimer: there are people reading this forum who are WAY more knowledgable about literally everything I'm talking about in here. This is just my perspective which I'm always willing to admit is wrong if proven so. Also any of these hypotheticals go down the drain the moment you have to flee due to violence, fires, hurricanes, lack of resources, etc. The honest truth about who survives a near extinction level event like that is it all comes down to who is consistently at the right place at the right time.
I'm glad I read this thread. I never knew there were years without summer in recent years.
I've never considered that, but it seems with Mt St Hellen's and the volcano in Iceland both happening in my lifetime, it's something I should consider.
My main strategy would be stockpiling foods with a very long stable shelf life (beans and rice mainly) preferably hitching my bets and doing it in multiple locations spread out geographically.
Not to be a defeatist, but I don't honestly think my chances of survival are very good. I don't think most of the people who live around me have very good chances either. I live in an apartment in the middle of a large city in a largely populated area. If we're talking about half the population disappearing, we're talking about breakdowns of governments, increase of violence, gangs, mobs, etc. My main goal would be to get the hell out of dodge until things settle down a bit more. This is where i see farming communities thriving because they tend to work very well together.
One thing to consider is that oil pumps and logging companies work the most in the winter, so expect a likely increase in production in that case. However, once the food stores start to fail, and that will happen very quickly due to "lean" manufacturing. I could see research and development and production go hard core into hydroponics, petrochemical fertilizers and indoor farming. I would also expect that Monsanto couldn't resist the gleaming opportunity to claim IP ownership of everything that grows, but I honestly think that by that time, so much would have happened in the world that the general population is no longer willing to take orders from a group of rich people who have a lot of juicy resources.
The question though was how would we deal as permies? My number one goal would be to educate as many people about survival skills as possible. I've focused a lot of my life toward learning skills like making cordage, pottery, alcohol, herbal medicinals, western medicine, preserving, weaving, knitting, waterproofing, hiking, hunting, carving, etc. General bushcraft and primitive living things. I'm also doing a lot of research on electrical circuits, programming, lab sciences, etc. I'm trying to learn how to live like a modern primitive and teach my wife everything I know.
So I have to say education is number one because what good is anything if we don't know how to use it? 98.6 degrees would be a great place to start, but you need to understand how things work on a systemic level. Studying systems thinking is an invaluable starting point. I honestly think some permies have the best shot of anyone alive today. There are so many man powered, animal powered appropriate technologies in use right now, I think permies will be the wizards of the new world.
Number one and a half would be stockpile food and supplies (nails, screws, saw blades, files, electrical wire, scrap metal, cutlery, plastic metal and glass containers, fabrics of many types, etc) general hoarder stuff. People used to burn down their houses to collect the nails when they moved. That should give some context to how valuable those things will be in a situation like this.
Number two would be community building and studying groups which have lived peacefully in primitive times and using their methods of conflict resolution, but generally forming groups whose chosen ethics are based on permaculture principals, while not forgoing whatever means of production or defence are attainable since we are literally talking about not only surviving the winter, but then rebuilding afterward.
Although community building is third on the list, I think it's the most important, because we can't survive on our own. Mountain men who were better suited for survival than anyone alive today only lived to about 40 at most because their lives were so stressful as well as occupational hazards of no safety standards while alone in the open wilderness for an extended amount of time.