National Geographic's television show Doomsday Preppers reveals a growing trend in communities across America: Individuals and entire families "prepping" for a widespread disaster.
Families stockpiling food and water; stockpiling weapons; rehearsing doomsday scenarios with one another. Discussing ways to "bug out" -- how to pack and where to travel to should their neighborhood be overrun by looters or simply be in the disaster zone of a radiation cloud resulting from a massive nuclear attack on U.S. soil.
Each segment of each episode begins with a new person declaring something to the effect of:
"I'm preparing for global thermonuclear war."
"I'm preparing for a solar flare."
"I'm preparing for numerous terrorist attacks with dirty bombs".
"I'm preparing for World War III."
The list goes on.
Doomsday Preppers and Why They "Prep"
Looking at Doomsday Preppers, just what are the top ten threats to America and the rest of the planet?
A natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake or tornado is too localized to be considered a major threat to America or other nations to make this list.
Though a hurricane or series of deadly tornadoes can seem like the end of the world to people in the middle of the danger zone, it doesn't make my list today -- not unless we're talking about a hurricane the size of 15 states (the biggest hurricane the modern world has ever seen) that hits the Pacific or Atlantic Coast, wiping out 5-10% of the entire population; a hurricane perhaps the size of a hurricane Nasa's telescopes can see happening on other planets.
Or unless the disaster is the "New Madrid Earthquake" discussed on a Doomsday Prepper episode (read more below) that scientists say can wreck havoc along the mid-portion of the American heartland where the Mississippi River would then become an ocean, seperating the eastern portion of the United States from the western states.
The Top 10 Biggest Threats to America
So, with "average" natural disasters disqualified from this list for being too "localized" and not affecting a wide enough area, let's count down the list of the ten biggest threats to America that a number of our friends at Doomsday Preppers are prepping for, as well as a couple more that they're not prepping for yet, but just maybe they should. Starting with # 10:
When you hear about people prepping for a doomsday disaster caused by a solar flare -- well, I have to say it seemed a bit overboard, a lot like a person prepping for a zombie apocalypse -- not a very likely scenario. On a recent episode of Doomsday Preppers one man was prepping his family for the consequences of a collapse of the power grid from a massive solar flare. I decided to do some checking up on this -- coincidentally NBC News reports that same day that earth got extremely lucky -- a solar flare just took place (what amounts to a tsunami on the sun in the words of NBC's Brian Williams), but it happened on the far side of the sun. The resulting explosion of radiation from the flare went in the opposite direction of the earth. Brian Williams then says that scientists believe a solar flare could take place within the next year that would cripple the earth's power grid. See: NBC News 11-20-2012 "Giant Solar Flare Erupts".
What it is: EMP stands for "electromagnetic pulse". This is created when a nuclear weapon is detonated; for an electromagnetic pulse to be a danger to a wide area (such as the continental United States), the explosion has to occur high up in the atmosphere about mid-way over the United States (for optimal coverage). The emp will fry electrical circuits across the power grid, including your car's electrical system. Cell phone networks will go down; television networks will go down; radio stations (and their equipment) would be destroyed. Hospitals will power down. Prisons will power down. The internet will be gone. Electricity will be a thing of the past -- or will it? Civilization may go off line for a time, but slowly the lights are going to come back on as new power stations are built, new hydroelectric dams put in place -- but you can bet it's going to be a slow long road as even the modern day tools that are used for massive building projects (such as a hydroelectric dam) are useless, important electrical circuits fried by the global electromagnetic pulse resulting from a nuclear detonation.
According to one Doomsday Prepper there are steps a person can take to protect electrical devices at home -- that is to build (or own) a small metal box called a "Faraday Cage". What is said to happen is that the metal box protects items inside from an electromagnetic pulse -- causing the pulse to flow around the box and unable to reach electrical devices inside. These devices could be an emergency AM/FM radio, two-way radio, solar battery charger, small generator, emergency medical equipment, inverters, and a laptop or external hard-drive (should either have important documents or ebook downloads you want to hold onto and not lose). A Faraday Cage can apparently be built out of scrap metal or simply metal containers -- even an old microwave could be considered is what one writer claims.
How much weight is there to the risk of an EMP attack? Quite a bit. Many scientists have sounded off in a number of government reports about the ever present threat of an EMP... whether it's the result of a terrorist attack or the result of an attack by a foreign government using a single nuclear weapon (or even more than one should Russia or China be involved) detonated high in the atmosphere over the United States.
National Geographic has a documentary on an EMP and the probable consequences titled Electronic Armageddon.
Every few years -- according to scientists -- many of Earth's living organisms (including mankind) are on the line as huge space rocks (asteroids) fly by at various distances. Many of the big ones have been identified and their paths closely calculated. Scientists are able to give these asteroids names and even dates for the next close passes to Earth -- such as "2003 QQ47" reported to be an impact risk on March 21, 2014. Scientists say the odds are slim of this one hitting -- but what if other forces in the Universe could simply give this asteroid (or one of many others) a little "nudge" to bump it on to a collision course with earth? At some point in Earth's future an asteroid is likely to collide with the planet. How soon that will be no one can say for sure. Revelation (the last chapter of the Bible) describes a "fiery mountain" that is thrown to the earth that results in the death of a third of all life on the planet -- clearly a "doomsday" event.
This is a much rarer event than an asteroid collision but it makes our list simply because if a comet collided with earth this would be a doomsday event for most if not all of the planet. National Geographic reports, "Most comets, and potentially some asteroids, have orbits that bring them close to Earth only once every 200 years or longer. Such bodies are known to astronomers as long-period objects." The same report states: "A key difference is that long-period objects, like comets, will impact Earth with much greater speed than short-period objects, said Dan Mazanek, an engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia."
Under Yellowstone National Park sits the world's largest super-volcano -- the Yellowstone Supervolcano. CNN has reported on the Yellowstone Supervolcano in recent months due to activity in the ground that Physicist Michi Kaku says would wipe out the United States as we know it. The explosive eruption and resulting destruction would come with little or no warning, say some people. Here's a map on CNN that shows the amount of destruction that would take place to much of the western half of the United States.
The only way to survive the eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano -- don't live anywhere near the western half of the United States. It can blow up at any time -- between now and the next 100,000 years, according to the physicist CNN interviewed. The National Parks Service though doesn't quite agree with rumors of an eruption taking place with little or no warning. The National Park Service states: "The science of forecasting a volcanic eruption has significantly advanced over the past 25 years. Most scientists think that the buildup preceding a catastrophic eruption would be detectable for weeks and perhaps months to years. Precursors to volcanic eruptions include strong earthquake swarms and rapid ground deformation and typically take place days to weeks before an actual eruption."
If that's the case -- if we see earthquake swarms take place in the vicinity of Yellowstone National Park -- well, you might want to pack your bags, fill up your gas tank, and drive toward the East Coast or north into Canada.
But if we consider the effects that will take place when the Yellowstone Supervolcano blows -- namely massive dust and smoke pumped into the earth's atmosphere -- it's likely we're going to see a "nuclear winter" effect take place, minus a series of nuclear detonations; the sun will be blocked by clouds and dust for many months, temperatures around the globe will drop, extreme winter conditions will become the norm for most nations in the far north or far south of the equator.
With that in mind I would drive south from the U.S. It's typically sunnier and warmer near the equator. However if neither Mexico or Central America sound like friendly places to resettle (I don't think current governments are likely to welcome a few million American refugees), well there's always Africa, India, or islands in the South Pacific to consider.
Heck -- if primitive people can build rafts and sail across the world's seas and oceans at earlier points in history, surely we can set sail with any number of modern day boats and ships moored at America's many ports and marinas. Don't forget about boats.
New Madrid Earthquake
In 1811 and 1812 a series of earthquakes struck the Eastern United States, the most powerful earthquake seen in that part of the country. These earthquakes were named after the Mississippi town of New Madrid. Wikipedia states:
"In a report filed in November 2008, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that a serious earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone could result in 'the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States," further predicting 'widespread and catastrophic' damage across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and particularly Tennessee, where a 7.7 magnitude quake or greater would cause damage to tens of thousands of structures affecting water distribution, transportation systems, and other vital infrastructure."
It's relatively easy for terrorists to build a dirty bomb. According to nuclear terrorism expert Graham Allison in a PBS Nova interview, "radioactive substances are everywhere". A U.S. government report cites the danger of hospitals across America and that safeguards are needed to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on radioactive materials that can be used to build dirty bombs -- bombs that when explode result in radioactive material spread out over an area, poisoning people.
The good news: Most people contaminated by radioactive debris won't suffer immediately -- but later in life can die of various cancers or other health effects. People closest to the blast though will get the highest dose of radiation and could lose their lives shortly after. Most dirty bombs are likely to be small scale, such as a stick of dynamite. But a handful of these bombs (if this were part of a series of terrorist attacks) could be much larger with larger amounts of radioactive material. Most of the effects from a dirty bomb attack will be psychological -- a mass wave of fear and panic will surge across the American population and who knows just what all will happen from the resulting chaos.
Many are likely to consider an attack by dirty bombs "the beginning of the end."
Biological Agent / Deadly Highly Contagious Virus
Now we're getting down the list to the biggest threats that "Doomsday Preppers" have every right to be prepping for. The threat of a biological agent is a real threat today -- the fact is we don't know what our enemies (Iran and North Korea for example) have been experimenting with and developing in science laboratories deep underground and away from the eyes and ears of U.S. spies and drone surveillance -- but we do know this -- foreign nations like Iran have made a lot of money in oil and they have a lot of money to pay scientists to spend their careers developing dangerous viruses capable of killing Americans.
Will America fall to a modern day Trojan Horse? Will it come from an advanced biological agent our current technology does not have the means to detect? (For more specifics read this article: Bio-Chemical Weapons in the Hands of Terrorists).
We know or suspect that a number of our enemies stockpile chemical and biological weapons. I could spend the next two hours compiling links to government reports, but by the time I was done you probably wouldn't see me again. I would become the next Doomsday Prepper -- alarmed by what I'd found in these reports, like so many other people are today, including people in government. Maybe it's better that we don't dig too deeply into this subject. Just make a note of it -- that a foreign government could unleash Hell in America with the right virus; and it wouldn't be hard to infect a great deal of the population, not when so many people live and work and go to school in such close proximity nowadays.
World War III Starts with Invasion from Within
The ultimate conspiracy is a Cold War nightmare come true -- Russian agents fully Westernized and living in America for many years help put all the pieces in place to open the door for a full scale invasion -- think "Evelyn Salt" from the movie with Angelina Jolie, Salt.
There are two hurdles to overcome first -- America's nuclear defenses as well as America's entire military. So first the Ruskies have to figure out how to shut us down -- meaning shut down electricity and communications to the nuclear missile silos, where our main deterrent to a full scale attack on the homeland rests with our nation's promise of "mutually assured destruction" and our enormous stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Then the Russians have to disable or eliminate our nuclear sub fleet -- not a likely scenario, from the average American's point of view, but what do we really know about Russia's military capabilities, and the capabilities of their allies? We do know that both Russian and Chinese subs have surprised American forces at different times in recent years, showing up near U.S. battleships or aircraft carriers in international waters, as well as periodically off the coast of America.
In July a stealth Russian nuclear submarine was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico and had been there for several weeks -- this article in the Examiner is an eye-opener and a probably a little frightening for some, including the Pentagon. Other reports state that due to America's financial woes military budget cuts may effect our submarine patrols -- that means less defensive capabilities and more dangers from the ocean to America.
The Examiner writes: "The Russian stealth-like submarine that patrolled in U.S. waters is part of the SSN Akula (shark in Russian) class of submarines, according to NATO. The Russian sub has significantly improved its propellers to patrol much more quietly and was designed to destroy American subs.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Russian incursion caused concern for top-ranking military officials who point out the currently proposed $500 billion in military cuts would hinder America's submarine detection capabilities."
Decades of U.S., Russian, China, and other nations' military planning called for the build-up of nuclear weapons, as well as plans for self-defense measures, in case of nuclear attack. The fear of nuclear attack ramped up espionage across governments. Russian agents spy on America and China (and have been for years), American agents spy on Russia and China, China spies on Russia and America.
Today we can throw Iran and North Korea into the mix. Both are outspoken enemies of America but they're also allies of both Russia and China -- they trade with both nations, they consult with both nations, they have received support from both nations.
As America petitions the U.N. council to penalize Iran for supporting terrorists or developing nuclear energy (what Iran says is for nuclear energy), Russia and China have interfered many times with our efforts to penalize Iran on the U.N. council.
Today America is called the lone superpower in the world -- though China and Russia are building up their militaries to become superpowers once again. Combined their military is a superpower -- in this article we show how recent alliances between Russia and China and combat drills where both nations rehearsed attack scenarios together and launched mock attacks may not be as innocent as they try to make these drills sound. Both China and Russia called these drills anti-terrorist drills, where both nations would work together to combat terrorists.
But when did China and Russia suddenly care about global terrorism?
See: China: A Growing Threat
See: The Last Days of America
Government leaders in both China and Russia have made statements that don't bode well for America either. Finally, reports state that the amount of spying on America by both the Chinese and Russians is at Cold War levels nowadays. We have been hacked multiple times by both the Chinese and Russians and one of the greatest threats to America today is a massive cyber attack -- so let's say that a massive cyber attack takes place, knocking America offline, perhaps interfering with our nation's defense capabilities by temporarily cutting off some (or all) of our nation's military communications.
Would a coordinated attack follow in the minutes or hours after that massive cyber attack that knocks America offline? It's doubtful that such a move would not be followed by an actual attack of some sort. Why else would you want to knock out America's communications through a cyber attack?
It's like the threat of an EMP we face from terrorists -- a successful EMP attack would cripple our nation's power grid, shutting down electricity and knocking out communications across most U.S. networks.
What if that EMP attack and massive cyber attack were planned to occur at the same time?
I think that is a more likely scenario than simply a lone EMP attack or simply a lone massive cyber attack.
When hunters in tribal lands take down large elephants with spears, they don't throw just one spear -- one spear is only going to anger the elephant -- it's not going to have enough effect and the elephant is going to stampede.
So hunters work together -- they throw multiple spears at crucial points; when each of these spears hits, the elephant can't stand -- it falls.
Doomsday Preppers: "Am I nuts -- Or you?"
Let's take a second look at the "nut jobs" on Doomsday Preppers.
Maybe they're not so nuts after all. What happened is that each of these families has someone who has opened up "Pandora's Box" as the saying goes. Research into a threat America faces uncovered compelling evidence that points to a bigger threat -- which triggered more concern and more research, which pointed to more evidence, more news and government reports -- each threat on Doomsday Preppers is bigger than it first seemed, more imminent, in the minds of each of these preppers.
I have to say -- if you and I started digging into threats the way that some of these people on Doomsday Preppers have been digging into threats -- we would probably turn into Doomsday Preppers also.
Most of what I wrote about above is only scratching the surface.
Maybe it's better that we didn't open up Pandora's Box.
I'd prefer to open up my Bible -- the Bible has a lot to say about the last days. The Bible explains how to escape the ultimate doomsday scenario laid out in the Book of Revelation. Revelation sounds like all of the Doomsday Prepper threats taking place at once -- and then some.
I wonder if all this talk about doomsday is a sign that God is giving the world to prepare? We definitely won't be able to point our fingers at God and shout -- why didn't you warn us?
There seems to be a lot more warnings today that something is amiss in the world even more so than back in Noah's time -- before the flood hit.
Some kind of flood may be coming down the pike -- a flood of catastrophic events that we can't truly prep for -- outside of a spiritual surrender to God. You might want to read your Bible.
It's going to be the only way out.