Today I’d like to open up a discussion about what could bring about TEOTWAWKI. Indeed, how do we define it? It stands for The End of The World As We Know It, but is this just a euphemism for a rough time or is it a real disaster that causes the breakdown of society in the United States for an extended period of time?
Recently there was a guy writing in the comments section going by the name of Jason (among other names) who was challenging various people about why they prepped. To paraphrase all his posts and email into one bold statement he claims that the United States is too big to fail. He’s not saying that there might not be some problems down the road, which is why he preps, but he doesn’t think there will ever be a complete breakdown of the political and economic systems that make up our country.
First of all, I’m glad to have the feedback from that point of view. Not that it doesn’t sting a little; however, I do value the points he makes in the argument. Second, it gives us a chance to sit back and look objectively at how we as preppers spend a lot of time and energy.
As far as I’m concerned, Jason has every right to question why we think the way we do. Honestly, I sometimes ask myself the same question. Is TEOTWAWKI a fantasy? After all, how bad could it really get? Could a large, modern, technologically advanced country really go down the tubes so fast that there’s anarchy in the streets and it’s not safe to move from one place to another?
What are some of the things that could cause problems for the country? I’ve talked with my wife at length and we both think that the economy is a big problem and that it’s currently looking for equilibrium with the big question being, “Where will it land?” (I think it’s worse than she does though, she probably leans more towards Jason’s argument.) High unemployment, lurking inflation, huge government debt, high personal debt, and no relief on the horizon does not make me feel warm and tingly. Granted, nothing major has happened yet and if there were a hyper-inflationary event that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be the end of the world as we know it. Sure, things could get tough and people might have to live out of the pantry for awhile, but does that qualify as a TEOTWAWKI event?
There are several things I can think of that would qualify for a TEOTWAWKI event. Nuclear war on a global scale comes to mind, although that seems to be extremely unlikely at this time. A large EMP event could potentially knock out the power grid, although again this is highly unlikely. A disease (think Avian Flu) could sweep through the land, although with modern medicine we have a pretty good shot at knocking it down before it wipes out the whole population. What about Peak Oil? I personally believe Peak Oil is here, although I don’t think it will cause a sudden collapse of society. It’s more likely to be a long drawn out gasp then a sudden collapse. Should we be putting more money into R&D for alternative energy then pouring it down the never-ending gullet of a multiple war front? I think so, but that’s just me.
Statistically speaking, it doesn’t look good for an end of the world event; however, does that mean we should stop prepping? While Jason seems to think the country is robust I see some area of weakness. One example is that our distribution system is based on the “Just In Time” model for the most part, which means very little inventory is kept in stock. If there were a disruption to transportation due a huge storm or an earthquake it wouldn’t take that long for people to start running out of food and water with very few supplies on-hand at your local grocery stores. Here in the northeast every time there’s a blizzard coming the shelves get wiped out of certain items because people come out last minute to stock up.
Another argument that doesn’t hold water with me is, “It’s never happened before, so it won’t happen now.” You could probably go back in history and find a thousand events that happened where someone said that, yet the event happened.
Now I’d like to open it up. What do you think? Just for clarity’s sake here are my questions:
1. What events could cause TEOTWAWKI?
2. How do you define it?
3. Which scenario do you feel is likely to be “the one?”
4. Are we – preppers – wasting our time getting ready for something that may never happen?
One of the best arguments I’ve heard about our economy comes from Chris Martenson. If you haven’t watched his Crash Course yet I’d encourage you to do so when you have some time. It’s on the left side of the site when you get there and it’s free to watch, although it is fairly lengthy.