The End of the World as We Know It
To start out our analysis of what sort of catastrophic events might lead to TEOTWAEKI, I was looking at a couple of lectures given by TED and came across the 2002 lecture by Stephen Petranek “Ten Ways the World Could End” which I guess catapulted him as a guru for all sorts of modern day Cassandras. And there is a follow up lecture by Stephan in 2014: “Eight Ways the World Could Suddenly End. You can watch them here: https://www.ted.com/talks/stephen_petranek_counts_down_to_armageddon
And here (Spoiler alert: five of the events he cited in 2002 are still on the list in 2014).
He lists events that are not just huge disasters but events that would dramatically alter the earth as an ecosystem, in some cases making the earth uninhabitable. I think it is interesting to note that we currently live in an inter-glacial period. That means that the earth is usually frozen over, several of his listed events that would precipitate the return of the ice age – super volcanos, big asteroid, nuclear war. Prepper take away – be prepared for the weather to get colder which may strictly limit your ability to grow food. Or the opposite, the ecosystem collapses and we have runaway green-house effect. But since that has not happened in the history of Earth, I am thinking that one is unlikely.
And then there are those once in a millennium events like the Earth’s magnetic field reverses or a giant solar flare overwhelms our magnetic field or our orbit intersects a black hole. Yep, those would be pretty bad. But they are cosmic events that we really can’t do much about other than colonize space.
He has a couple of technology events like robots take over, technology advances to the point that we lose the will to survive (we don’t have to work), particle accelerator mishap (they successfully create a black hole and then we get sucked into it….) biotech disaster / new life form emerges and what the heck, I will include the aliens-invade-and-wipe-out-humans in this group. The use of robots or drones to fight humans does keep me awake at night – the Terminator movie plot becomes more and more possible every year, maybe not Skynet but certainly someone controlling drones to do fighting for them. Scary….
So if I were to condense the list down to the things you might be able to do something about it boils down to an event that disrupts our ability to live in a modern society with an interconnected system of distribution and delivery of goods and services. You need to be prepared to survive when
►you can no longer turn on the faucet and get clean water
► you can't flip the switch and get light or heat
► you can't go to the store and get food that was not grown locally
► you can't go to the store and buy manufactured items including clothes.
What does that leave on our list?
► A pandemic that sweeps the globe: Quarantine may not be possible and that means you would have to “bug in” or isolate yourself from risky contact that may spread the infection / disease. In that instance, what happens? Interruption of the interconnected system of distribution and delivery of goods and services simply because the infection will spread through these contacts. I was in Liberia in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak and we (that is everyone in the world) were quite lucky that this horrible disease is frankly pretty hard to catch. You have to be in close contact with someone in the late stages of the disease or handle their corpse(s) in order to catch it. The isolation facilities built by the international community and health care workers in level IV biohazard suits were able to get the epidemic under control. Thank God it was not an airborne disease or moved through a vector like mosquitos or fleas.
Possibility – low. Impact – high. Duration could be extended.
► Attack on the power grid: unfortunately our power grid appears to be quite vulnerable to several different types of attacks – attack on some key power transformers, an EMP attack, the solar flare mentioned above, or a cyberattack. In these instances, our society which relies heavily on power to do even some mundane things is suddenly thrown back into the 19th century. Your planning should focus on developing your capability to live for longer and longer periods off the grid – with the ultimate goal of being completely independent of the grid. Our template is to incrementally increase your “prep” from 3 hours to 3 days to 3 weeks to 3 months to 3 years. At that point, you should be able to establish some sort of renewable food sources and continue to live indefinitely.
Possibility – low but growing. Impact – high. Duration could be years.
Ok, let’s shift from the most dangerous events to ones that are more likely. In these cases, most of them are either weather events or earthquakes that leave certain areas (let’s say locally or regionally) in dire straits. Whatever the event, the results are very similar: can you survive without an interconnected system of distribution and delivery of goods and services for a certain amount of time (3 days? 3 weeks? 3 months?) until services are restored or can you move to an area where services are still operating?
You should be familiar with events more likely in your area (you live up north? Probably should be ready to survive a power outage during a blizzard) and have plenty of resources peculiar to those challenges and access to a lot of experienced people who have seen it before.
But look at the categories listed on the Prepper Skills and American Society of Preppers site (sustenance, shelter, medical, mobility, defense) and develop your plans for incrementally improving your ability to “weather” the crisis.
And that brings me to my last topic: man-made events such as might result if the rule of law is no longer in effect. These include terrorist attacks, war, revolution, and riots. In these instances, you need to be able to move away from the threat or defend yourself. I hope that you will be part of the solution to re-establishing the rule of law / bringing the crisis to a conclusion, but when society starts to break down, it is very likely you will encounter people who are simply following the “might makes right” axiom. Having a trusted group of people enhances your ability to defend yourself. And having plenty of arms and ammunition is going to be a necessity.
Possibility – more than likely. Impact – high at the site of the event. Duration – limited, we hope.
Look at what is most likely in your area and then what is most dangerous. Start organizing your “prep” and always seek to improve your status. Use PACE to develop your courses of action.
You can request an assessment of your “prep” on American Society of Preppers website and access resources to develop your plans. And keep your powder dry.
De Oppresso Liber