Posted on May 14, 2013 by Thoreau
These are not “end of the world” scenarios, but rather “The End Of The World As We Know It” scenarios. A TEOTWAWKI event does not involve the extinction or near-extinction of humanity. Instead, it involves an event or set of events that changes the way that we live, perhaps not permanently, but at least long-term. This prepping and survival post examines various TEOTWAWKI events and how likely they are to occur.
1. Disease Pandemic – An epidemic is a widespread disease. A pandemic is an epidemic that spreads to multiple nations, continents, or even worldwide. The CDC actually has a pandemic flu assessment tool to assess the severity of any outbreak. The refer to this tool as part of their “pandemic preparedness”.
How severe does a disease have to be to qualify as a TEOTWAWKI event? The 1918 Spanish Flu “infected 500 million people across the world, including remote Pacific islands and the Arctic, and killed 50 to 100 million of them — 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population at the time — making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.” [Wikipedia]
How likely is a future flu pandemic? There have been three flu pandemics in the last 100 years, each lasting very approximately 2 years:
The Spanish flu 1918–1919 — 675,000 deaths in the U.S. and 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The Asian Flu 1957–58 — 70,000 deaths in the United States and 2 million deaths worldwide.
The Hong Kong Flu 1968–69 — 34,000 deaths in the United States and 1 million deaths worldwide.
In my view, a flu pandemic is the most likely / most severe TEOTWAWKI event, for which we can and should prepare. Medicine is much improved since the Spanish flu outbreak. Vaccines can be made relatively quickly in high volume. But we still don’t have a medicine that outright cures a viral infection, the way that an antibiotic can cure bacterial infection. And new strains of bacterial with resistance to most antibiotics are also a threat.
2. Use of Nuclear Weapons in War
So far this type of grave harm to a large population has only happened twice: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Total killed: 150,000 to 246,000 or more. But since then, nuclear bombs have become much more powerful, and are possessed by more nations. The use of one nuke against one major city would kill far more persons.
But is this a TEOTWAWKI event? Such an event must change the way we live. A severe pandemic changes the way we live: causing widespread fear of death, reducing the frequency with which people go out in public, especially in crowded places. A nuclear attack on one or two cities would not only kill a vast number of persons, it would put other cities and nations in fear that they might be attacked next. This is particularly true if the attack is not in the context of a conventional war, but is rather the malicious act of a rogue nation. The high number of deaths and the fear of further attacks makes this a society-changing disaster. TEOTWAWKI
All all-out nuclear war between some combination of the U.S., Russia, and/or China — as was feared in the 1960′s and 1970′s — now seems unlikely. But the nuclear weapons programs of North Korea and Iran make a nuclear attack by a small nation ever more likely.
3. Food Shortages and Rationing
A TEOTSAWKI event (with an S) is The End of the Supermarket As We Know It: panic buying of food, empty shelves in supermarkets, government food rationing, high incidents of food theft from stores and homes, restaurants going out of business for lack of food. Food is essential to survival. It is also one of the cornerstone sectors of the economy. Yes, this type of event is TEOTWAWKI
The number of deaths would be, hopefully, quite limited. There might be violent protests at the lack of food. Some persons might be killed in food thefts gone bad. But it is not so much a case of starving to death, as of major changes to society, to the way we live. Preppers with plenty of food storage will have an advantage. But we will also be under a greater threat of robbery.
How likely is this type of event? Given the decline of the economy, the high national debt, the economic problems in several European nations, the interconnectedness of the world food economy, and the current severe U.S. drought — it is one of the more likely severe events. And it has happened in the not too distant past. During World War 2, there was food rationing, lines for food, shortages of certain items, and a government program encouraging “victory gardens”.
Aren’t we already at the point where the threat of terrorism has changed the way that we live? Perhaps. But it could become much worse. Technology has unfortunately made it ever easier to make weapons used in terrorism, especially improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It is reaching a point where any individual can self-radicalize (often via the internet), learn how to make an IED (the internet again), and cause grave harm to many innocents. In a nation of over 300 million persons, a one-in-a-million type event can become all too common. Domestic terrorism could get worse and become a society-changing scenario. We are already partway there.
5. Civil Unrest
Civil unrest occurs much more often than the above described events, but it is also more limited in scope and in the number of deaths. Wikipedia as a list of civil unrest incidents in the U.S. It is surprisingly long. The likelihood of this type of event is therefore high.
But is it a TEOTWAWKI type event? If the outbreak of civil unrest only affects a small area within one city, very sporadically, then it is not TEOTWAWKI. But if civil unrest ever reaches the tipping point where it becomes commonplace, a continual threat hanging over every city, small and large, then it would change society and be TEOTWAWKI.
The trigger for this type of endemic and chronic civil unrest would need to be substantial and long-lasting. So I suggest that the Civil Unrest scenarios is most likely to occur as a result of another TEOTWAWKI event. For example, food shortages and rationing would inevitably result in widespread protests, violence, and crimes (theft/robbery of food). Our entitlement society would have a hard time coping with this type of severe change in the way that we live.