The weather in my neck of the woods may belie this contention, but winter is coming. Thus, getting ready may seem like a logical consequentialist strategy. Therefore I hope to embark on what will be a logical intelligent discussion of disaster preparation before the early frost kills our herbaceous borders. Today I offer part II, “Classifying Types of SHTF Events.”
In classifying SHTF events we can start with natural disasters versus man-made disasters.* Natural disasters on a large enough scale to qualify as an SHTF event are frequent, widespread, varying in area and temporal length. They generally can be broken down by species into meteorological, geological or biological events. Anthropogenic disasters can be broken down by species into political SHTF, military SHTF Technological SHTF and social SHTF. This can be difficult because man-made SHTF can bleed across multiple categories.
Natural SHTF events of the meteorological category involve severe weather. Hurricanes, blizzards, flooding and tornadoes are representative examples. These events are no picnic, but contrary to Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel; they are the least serious and deadly type of Act of God SHTF Event**. In my previous installment, I rated these events and couldn’t think of a Meteorological SHTF Event that went higher than 3 on a scale of 1 to 5. Perhaps the worst that can happen from this is drought-provoked famine such as the one that helped cause the Ethiopian Civil War in the Late 80’s/Early 90’s.
The really bad thing about these events is that they are no more predictable than the weather. Geological SHTF events encompass dynamic activities of the planet or even the solar system. They are typically no worse than the Meteorological Ones but there have been some rather impressive exceptions to this rule. Volcanoes, earthquakes, and tidal waves are common geological SHTF Events resulting from the unfortunately indifferent whims of plate tectonics. Solar storms and meteor strikes would be examples of Nature’s very own Plan 9 from Outer Space. One mitigating factor to these SHTF events is that they are cyclical and deterministic in nature – thus potentially predictable.
Geological SHTF Events can be on a catastrophic level. One scientific hypothesis of what happened to all the dinosaurs features a meteorite strike worthy of Lucifer’s Hammer. The Yellowstone Caldera is another scenario that captures the disaster-driven imagination. Less catastrophic mixes featuring this flavor of SHTF felled Pompeii, Herculaneum and even hacked down the entire Bronze Age Minoan Civilization.
Biological SHTF Events typically start on a nanoscale. They involve germs. These have historically spanned all levels of my Feke Scale. The famous Philadelphia Legionella Outbreak being a low-level SHTF Event. The Spanish Flu Outbreak in the US went a couple of notches higher. The Small Pox Epidemic amongst the Pre-Caucasian population of the Western Hemisphere and the Black Death have radically changed history. As Amerikan society degrades, the risk of this sort of SHTF goes up. Think Zika Virus in Venezuela and Brazil. Corrupt societies can sicken in ways beyond just moral.
Man-made SHTF can come in four broad categories. Political SHTF involves the failure of a society to govern and organize itself. Venezuela, Brazil and North Korea come to mind. Mao, Stalin and Hitler were even more awesomely leftist in how they swung the wrecking ball into otherwise functional societies. If people play stupid games with stupid leaders, they are going to win the most stupid of prizes. History does not care about anyone’s frikkin’ feelings. Bad political leadership and unchecked leftism will cause an SHTF Event.
Military SHTF is often connected to Political SHTF but will tend to take place even when the “Good Guys” start cooking off keg-loads of whoop-@$$ ordnance. This can be relatively limited in malignancy such as the ongoing terror killings in Iraq (when compared to the Three Punic Wars for example). It can even be accidental. Jon Anderson wrote a dreadfully bad song about “The Day of The Silver Cloud.”***
Military SHTF can also be WWII and can wipe entire civilizations out in a manner reminiscent of Genghis Kahn. It can also be overplayed by popular hysteria. I’m not arguing global nuclear war is easily survivable, but Carl Sagan’s Nuclear Winter Scenario is looking a bit over-cooked in light of data from volcanic eruptions and Saddam Hussein’s infamous Kuwaiti Oil Well Fires.
Technological SHTF entails what economists describe as negative externalities. We invent something brilliant, use too much of it and then suffer The Tradgedy of The Commons thereafter. We typically realize pollution and environmental degradation as an ongoing, low-level SHTF. Disasters like Chernobyl and fictional scenarios such as Terminator: Rise of The Machines make people more afraid of technology than they probably should be. Social and Political externalities such as The Luddite Movement can also be related SHTF events that result from poorly-handled technological change.
Social SHTF may well be the ongoing crux of why SHTF will get harder to survive. It results from people just getting sick and tired of one another and not seeing any reason to remain cohesive. Racial, class, religious and other types of (((diworsity))) enhance the likelihood of this sort of SHTF Event. Examples of these are mobs, riots, racial/ethnic conflict, jihadism/crusaderism, and attempted genocide. Low-level social SHTF occurs in crappy neighborhoods all over Amerika. Riots in LA and Ferguson are higher level events. The Rawanda-Burundi tribal genocide and other historical Shoah-Jobs throughout history would top the magnitude scale for this sort of SHTF Event.
So that’s a taxonomy of what could go wrong badly enough to make the SHTF. There are natural and man-made SHTF events. Things can go wrong in every way that’s pretty much imaginable. Most of the time it won’t quite be as bad as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. In Part III, we’ll talk turkey and discuss how to prepare yourself and look after the people you care about. Until then, let’s just hope we can all float on…
*- I’ve borrowed another motif from a large, obnoxious Leftist slob – Kathleen Sibelius.
**- Yours Truly was less than 3 miles from where an F5 Tornado went rip-@$$ on a gas station and a section of cheap housing back in AD 2011, but didn’t lose a single shingle off of my roof.
***- The old Field Artillerist saying about collateral damage was “Fvck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”