An Honest Assessment
Updated: Oct 6
To many, prepping is a strange pastime. You spend tens of thousands of dollars on portable generators, guns and ammunition, water filtration and storage systems and dehydrated food you’ll likely never eat. I’ve been told that I’m preparing for things that are so random and improbable, they’ll never happen. I’ve been called crazy and accused of having fringe beliefs. Eh, perhaps a wee bit. I’ve also been scolded for thinking that I can prepare for eventuality. This is only partially true!
What exactly are you prepping for? In my journey as a prepper, I’ve been asked this question many times and these very thoughts have been patiently, passionately, and condescendingly shared with me. What gives? Am I and millions of others guilty as charged? Prepping has evolved considerably from the early days, so much so that preppers can be counted amongst both political parties and are surprisingly mainstream with respect to income, level of education and where we live. Unless you're in his home, you can't recognize a prepper as he walks across the parking lot into the bank or stands in line behind you at the grocery store.
I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of the mainstream media’s bias to anything well, not mainstream. Preppers and prepping are still portrayed as a fringe, almost extremist element in society, although, this attitude is softening. I'm not looking to embrace my inner lone wolf and I have absolutely no desire to be the last man standing. I truly believe that the path to survival lies in a resilient, resource-laden community. I have a fertile imagination but I'm also a practical man. It's a fact, you can't prepare for everything. With that in mind, I'm explicitly preparing for:
A severe weather event and subsequent power outage
Supply Chain disruptions
With this in mind, below are a few popular but unrealistic scenarios no one can prepare for.
Man versus Machine
Obviously, I can't say this will never happen, though I highly doubt that it will. As a species, we dream of beauty, wealth and immortality as a means of countering our violent and self-destructive tendencies but, I don't see this one leaping from the pages of science fiction to reality.
The natural world is far more wondrous than we can imagine and stranger than any science fiction we can dream up. We tend to romanticize the unknown, exotic and frightening ways in which Mother Nature can exact her revenge upon us. While what we don't know can fill several encyclopedias, there are some truly terrifying viruses and diseases out there that we know of. However, they're not zombie makers in the ways depicted in the movies.
The Nodding Syndrome, is a form of pediatric epilepsy prevalent in certain regions in South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania during the 1960s. To call it a zombie-like disease is cruel given that the children afflicted with the condition suffered from seizures, stunted growth, significant cognitive impairment and, of course, head nodding. Thankfully, there were no reports of children attempting to eat their parents or WHO health officials.
BSE, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy was featured prominently in news cycles in the early 2000s, although scientists knew of its existence in the 1980s. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, vCJD, the human version of what's commonly called Mad Cow Disease, is a fatal brain disease with very long incubation periods. (This, to me, is genuinely scary in and of itself!) It works by destroying the brain and cognitive functions. Death is casued by complications related to lung failure, heart issues, pneumonia or other infections. Again, there are no known reports of anyone rushing out to attack and consume other human beings.
The only virus known to science that is transmissible to humans and turns living things into something akin to a flesh-craving zombie is Rabies. Rabies is nearly 100% fatal and there’s no cure. Rabies can be transmitted by any mammal, though, the usual vectors are infected bats, skunks, raccoons, and foxes. Yes, your precious Himalayan Quincy and beloved Goldendoodle Oscar can also be vectors, if bitten by an infected animal. Rabies is nothing to trifle with and let’s hope that no one is cooking up a mutated strain in a clandestine lab deep in the middle of nowhere.
The mere mention of extraterrestrial life causes others to look at you in polite amusement. Like belief in Bigfoot, alien invasion is another level of "out there." All I’m going to say about this one is that we should revisit what happened when the technologically superior Europeans contacted the less developed people of the New World. There are far more pressing terrestrial concerns that can be prepared for.
I like to think that deep behind the scenes in Washington D.C., Beijing and Moscow, cooler heads will always prevail. The God-King in Pyongyang is different altogether and the millionaire mullahs in Iran don't want any. The public saber-rattling and blustering are perfectly normal and understandable forms of behavior. If nothing else, you present yourself to the people at home as strong and tough while giving your foreign counterparts something to think about should they consider testing you.
The games of tit-for-tat are just that, games. Restraint and backroom diplomacy have always been the order of the day. There’s never been a full-scale thermonuclear war, and no one knows how it will play out once the missiles fly. My guess is that there will be no one left to rule a world of rubble.
The End of The World as We Know It. This topic requires more thought and a higher degree of discernment than the others. TEOTWAWKI can come about by any number of events both natural and man-made. Our modern, hyper-connected world is far more fragile than we care to admit. TEOTWAWKI is real, and doesn’t necessarily mean the end of human life on earth, though.
Most definitely, it’s the end of the age of running down to the local coffee shop for a soy, pumpkin spice latte with no whip cream and extra caramel. Knowledge-based jobs would be a thing of the past as the infrastructure; the electric grid and the Internet- that make them possible would be destroyed or largely unavailable in many areas. As the name implies, life as we know it would drastically change, overnight.
In the man-made column: war- civil or global; hyperinflation; collapse of the financial system; unchecked incompetence and ineffectiveness on the part of elected officials at every level of government; extreme act(s) of terrorism; continued tampering with the DNA of the animals and plants we depend on for food; our obsession with paving over every patch of dirt. I could go on, but you get the idea.
In the natural events column: a solar flare, (CME); a large, celestial body colliding with the Earth; a sudden two to three degrees rise/decrease in average global temperatures; any magnitude 9.0 or greater earthquake in a major population center; another pandemic.
TEOTWAWKI events are difficult to prepare for simply due to the magnitude. Such events impact not just a handful of counties in a state or two, but are measured in distances of hundreds to thousands of miles. This makes recovery- if possible- difficult, lengthy, and costly.